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Welcome to politics. I'm Ron Suslow, if you've been with us for some time, welcome back. This is our first weekly round up under a new name. And if you're new here, I'm so glad to have you with us. Each week we bring in a rotating panel of experts to discuss the truth. You need to know behind the most important stories of the week and how they're shaping the political landscape in this country.


And on today's episode, I'm joined by an incredible panel of Familiar Voices, a co-founder and former adviser to the Lincoln Project and a former political director of the California Republican Party. And all around expert, of all things, election data and demographics, our good friend, Mike Madrid. Mike, it's great to have you back. It's great to have a longer intro. And returning to our panel is political strategist and crisis communications consultant, former Lincoln Project senior adviser and MSNBC political analyst Susan Pirko.


Hello, Susan. Great to have you. Great to be back. Thank you for having me. And Lucy Caldwell, political strategist, former campaign manager for Joe Walsh's primary challenge to Donald Trump and a former senior political adviser and communications director at the Goldwater Institute. Lucy, thank you again for being on today. Thanks so much for having me. On today's episode, we're going to discuss the exodus of registered Republicans in the wake of the capital insurrection, the latest and most egregious voter suppression efforts Republicans are implementing across the country and the mounting legal jeopardy the Trump family and their family businesses are facing.


So let's start with the Republican exodus in the week after the January 6th terrorist attack at the Capitol. Tens of thousands of registered Republican voters switched or canceled their party registration, according to NPR. And reporting from across the country, about 4600 Republicans in Colorado changed their party status. There were roughly 6000 defectors in North Carolina, 10000 in Pennsylvania and five thousand in Arizona. And as we know, despite Biden winning the popular vote by over seven million, the Electoral College was decided by comparatively thin margins in a few key battleground states margins where a few thousand voters reexamining their party loyalty may have monumental impacts on their elections down the road.


Despite these numbers not being monumental themselves, most of these voters switched to unaffiliated, independent or a third party option and just a fraction reregistered as Democrats. But this is a huge signal that January 6th was a major turning point for how Americans feel about their political affiliations and the groups they want to share a big tent with. So, Mike, I want to start with you. You know, a few thousand votes moving away from Republicans in states like Pennsylvania and Arizona could actually spell disaster for a GOP that is desperate to appeal to voters they've lost during the Trump years.


So how should Republicans be thinking about the political costs of the insurrection? There's a couple of things to this, and it's important to step back and understand what this means. These are not monumental numbers, but as you pointed out quite accurately, history is made on the margins, as we say, in campaigns. So even a one percent shift in registration is significant. Now, normally, we'd see a one percent shift happen over time, like over the period of a year.


This happened in the immediate aftermath. So it's clearly a reaction to that. And it was more than just a shift in public opinion. This was people literally proactively either getting online in states where they allow online registration, not all of the states that you mentioned to do or literally going in to the county registrar center or the DMV or whatever, or the library to affirmatively say, I no longer want to be a part of this. And that's a significant factor for where they're at.


And remember, during the during the campaign, we talked often about the ban in and we talked about it a lot on this podcast where four percent of Republicans was all we needed to shift off and move that to limit the Republican Party from being a viable infrastructure for a presidential campaign. If Trump lost just four percent, he would not be re-elected. We, of course, doubled that a national you can see the outcomes of that. This is happening everywhere.


Just a report from San Diego County this morning in California. Forty seven hundred Republicans left the party in that time frame. That's as many as the entire state of Colorado, as you just mentioned. So this is not an isolated incident.


So, Lucy, we saw the number of people who left the Republican Party in Arizona ballooned to about ten thousand throughout January after the insurrection and a series of censuring high profile Republican figures. Can you talk about what's going on in the Arizona Republican Party?


Yeah, I think that the Arizona Republican Party is a story that we are going to begin to see happening in other places, in places like Georgia, probably down the line, places like Texas. But the Arizona Republican Party has been for several years run by perennial loser Kelly Ward, who is a kind of self-styled Tea Party candidate, served in the legislature, mounted several unsuccessful runs for the US Senate.


And she has really positioned herself as a chief Trump ally, even in the aftermath of the election, and continues to just be write or die with Donald Trump and Kelly Ward and the forces at play in the Arizona Republican Party in the aftermath of not just the election, but even in the face of the events of January six, have just doubled down with Trump and with them. So go the rank and file Republican Party member. So that means censuring Cindy McCain for support of Joe Biden, censuring former US Senator Jeff Flake, even censuring Governor Doug Doocy, who is a person who, frankly, has been pretty wishy washy this whole time and has been a pretty strong and consistent Trump ally, I would say.


And and so part of the exodus that you're seeing in Arizona of regular voters who want nothing to do with this insanity is going to have the effect of actually making the Arizona Republican Party even worse, because people who have been high profile, lifelong Republicans, people like Kirk Adams, who is a former state speaker of the House and long term time adviser to the U.S., they have left party leadership and infrastructure. And so the voices in the room are voices of people who share the views of someone like Kelly Ward and Q and on adjacent kind of talking points.


Yeah. So there's a party leadership piece of this. And then there's the, you know, the voter shift at large. And part of this I'm having a little bit of trouble with is why now or why was this the moment that led to a rejection of the GOP for these voters? And Susan, I want to start with you and then just go around the table here, because it goes without saying that the capital attack was a horrific and appalling moment in this country's history.


But frankly, these Republican voters showed immense loyalty to the party through some pretty egregious moments and un-American policies, but really anti conservative policies also during the Trump years. So we've got family separation and the Muslim ban bailing out Wall Street instead of Main Street, ballooning the deficit, give tax breaks to millionaires the malice and indifference shown toward the American people throughout the pandemic. Why do you think all of these moments led to an exodus of folks that were otherwise content with the Republican Party from twenty sixteen until January 5th?


Well, I think what happened, as you said, you saw January six unfold on television. It definitely affected people strongly. But you add to that look how President Biden has conducted himself even before he took the oath of office. But even in the last two weeks, he looks like he's managing things. The world did not fall apart because Biden was elected and that when you see the stark comparison of leadership and governance, it is kind of shocking. Not to mention you also have the likes of Margaret Taylor Green coming up and and Kuhnen and that force there.


Plus, there's one other thing. When we talk about those voters leaving the Republican voters leaving the party is that they're the moderates that prevent the absolute right from winning primaries. And that's when you start seeing even more of a fall down of the Republican Party at the state level and all the way down because the primary fights are fights to the extreme right between the really right and the extreme right. So the party has a lot and and will lose more Republicans as a result.


So the party has a long way to go before it hits rock bottom.


Yeah. So, Mike, I can't wait to hear your take on this. And then, Lucy, I love you to speak to the like the policy pieces of this that were tolerated by so many voters, almost like, you know, despite Trump's tweets. Right. Let me say this.


I believe that there are really. All three factions in the Republican Party that are making it extremely difficult to govern and lead, and I think it really explains the dissonance between the way Kevin McCarthy is handling his caucus and the way Mitch McConnell is handling his. There still remains a small but important faction of what I articulate is classical conservatives, of which probably the four of us are somewhat aligned, or at least that's why we became Republicans in the first place.


This is the Liz Cheney wing that I would even argue just to an extent, that kind of the Mitch McConnell wing. The second is the Freedom Caucus, right. When a lot of us were kind of watching and kind of deep concern. Right. And Susan Collins is parlance. We're deeply concerned about where the party is heading this the emergence of this kind of ferocious, kind of angry wing of the party that is now tipped into the kuhnen wing.


And the challenge is, you know, John Boehner and Paul Ryan were not able to ride the tiger of the two to two factions within their caucus and ultimately left after a very short period of time in the leadership. Kevin McCarthy has three factions and he's said by going to mar a Lago and by essentially giving a pass to Marjorie Taylor Greene, that he believes that the Cuban wing is either ascendant, which I believe that it is, or that it is the future of the Republican Party.


And so he's going to appease that faction at a minimum. At best case, he's appeasing it at second. Second, he's actively encouraging it very different than what McConnell is at least attempting to do. And if there's a master of his caucus, it's Mitch McConnell who may or may not want to find out next week, lose control of what is happening to his own caucus right as this evolves. And the real problematic part of this is without a common threat, a common enemy, and the Democrats don't seem to be out at this point.


These three wings really don't want to have anything to do with one another anymore. Right. Matt Gates and Liz Cheney are like, I don't even know who you are, but you do belong in my house. Right? Right. And so this infighting is is not just about disagreeing on tax policy or personality. Right. This is foundationally different politics. And I don't think it's going to be very long before this just completely rips open. You did see Marjorie Taylor Green just a few moments ago acquiesce and saying, OK, 9/11 absolutely did happen.


But this is not just going to go away and not be breaking news. No, but it is. Yeah, but that's a headline.


It's a frightening headline. Yeah, absolutely it is. But the broader point is they're going to have to now start trying to walk back all of the conspiracy theories that they have been feeding this beast for the past four years. While Donald Trump, by the way, is sitting in Mar a Lago with his new makeshift office. And it's golden laden.


Yeah. Palace going. No, he's going to be encouraging. This activity is not going away. And those Trump loyalists, of which we know a preponderance of the party remains so are going to be an ascendant faction. And I'm not convinced that the way Kevin McCarthy is handling this by appeasing this look, appeasing extremists has never proven beneficial in the course of political history. Like basically anywhere you have to smash the insurrection, as I've said before, in order to quell it.


Otherwise, it just makes it stronger. You're feeding it. And I think that that is the most likely scenario. And to Susan's point, you're seeing the average Republican voter start to vote with their feet at this moment in time. One of the quick point about that, these have got to be something we've been doing for a long time, very high propensity Republican voters, because if you're walking out in January, February and the earliest part of the off year, you are consciously saying, I am done.


And that is somebody who is watching us paying very close attention, I guarantee you. Ninety five percent of those people voted for Donald Trump. And they're like, this is not everything that we were hearing. The Never Trump and the Lincoln Project folks say come to watching it come to fruition. That had to be the straw that broke the camel's back. And I don't believe it's the end. I think it's just the beginning. Yeah, OK. So, Lucy, I want to get your take on whether or not there's even a philosophical core left to the Republican Party.


And especially among among the base are the people who are leaving the party now. Are they the only ones who who actually had policy views that you might put in the moderate bucket or like how do we make sense of what people actually believe?


Well, I think that the people who are leaving now are probably people who a year ago would have said the kind of things that people like Will heard the congressman from Texas who's now retired, have said, which is we just have to let the fever break. They thought that this was going to kind of resolve itself through the defeat of Donald Trump. This is why, as Susan and I agreed a couple of weeks ago, we need a better phrase when talking about Trump ism.


And so I think that for those folks, it is as if they have just found out that what some of us have been saying all along is true, that this is much bigger than one bad guy. So to that, and I don't think that we can really say who they are in terms of their public policy views, I've really been thinking about what makes someone go along with Magga, right? What causes people to be swept up in it.


And I have I've been really kicking this around a lot this week. I actually think we have overemphasized discrete political issues as a thing that drives this. I think that there's a kind of lazy attitude that is like people who are Trump supporters hate people who live on the Upper West Side and they hate, you know, like latte drinking, Volvo driving, organic food, eating people. They hate our way of life. They like they're these kind of left behind people.


I don't think that's true. We see a lot of places where rich communities of highly educated people are big time Trump boosters. And I think that if you start actually talking to Trump supporters, like if you go and walk a rally line at a Trump rally, you will actually get them to make all kinds of concessions on policy issues that might really surprise you. Like they might tell you that they don't care about abortion. Right. Or that they're pro-choice or a view that might surprise you.


And so I think we have to stop talking about it as a political force and and talk about it as a cultural force. Even some of the people who've been featured, you know, sort of average everyday voters who've left the party, they are leaving it for cultural reasons. They some of them are saying things like, I'm very, very pro-life and I'm going to keep trying to try to make Democrats more pro-life. Right. Or taking a position on an economic issue.


One this way, one that way. So I don't think that we can really sum up what, but I don't think that there are a nucleus around a kind of core set of public policy views. Bookmark that point, because we are absolutely coming back to it over and over again, but let's let's talk about the conspiracy charges. So last week, prosecutors announced conspiracy charges stemming from the capital attack against two members of the white supremacist group, the proud boys who the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group.


Conspiracy charges have also been brought against members of the Oath Keepers, which is a so-called militia group that allegedly began plotting to storm the Capitol and prevent the Electoral College vote certification just days after the November election. And Reuters reported on Wednesday that the Justice Department is considering charges under RICO against some of these far right groups. And if you're unfamiliar, RICO is a federal law typically used for breaking up organized crime. In fact, the five families of New York City's mafia were brought down with the RICO Act charges, including extortion and labor racketeering, murder for hire.


Now, the conspiracy is to stop the vote and to attack. Members of Congress did not form in a vacuum. That's the big takeaway here. The attackers were clearly encouraged by a lie and emboldened by rhetoric from Giuliani, from Trump's allies in Congress and the media, and most damningly from Trump himself. And as we know, Trump welcomed and encouraged these groups who were once on the fringes to take center stage in his coalition. So, Susan, how do you draw the line from the conspiracy charges brought against the attackers to the president?


How do we make that connection?


I think we're going to see that happen next week when the Senate trial begins on the impeachment charges that the House approved of and voted on. So Donald Trump has a problem there because there is a difference there. His team is trying to argue free speech, and that's what a lot of the rioters said they were doing. It's not free speech when you're breaking things, when you're killing people, when you're maiming people. That doesn't that that is goes beyond free speech and it's an incitement that gets them there.


Now, for example, we saw I just saw recently there is an owner of a supermarket in Florida and he doesn't require mass in the supermarket, has some sign saying we can't ask you if you decide not to wear one, but the employees don't wear them. No one way or some. You know what he also did? He paid to have one hundred people go to Washington to be at that what was supposed to be a rally that turned into a riot.


Now, Donald Trump very clearly asked people to show up. He rallied them up. He said, go fight for me. Even when he was coming down, they he said, I love you, but go home. He has his embrace this and he has told them and expects those people to follow what he says. So it comes as no surprise that being rounded up by Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani and Don Junior that this happened. And that's the accountability that people need to see.


And when it comes down to the individuals like those 180, which I think that number is going to increase, they are going to be held accountable. And you've heard me say this before, they're going to turn on everyone they can to avoid getting any type of prison sentence or fine, because if there's someone else to blame, that's what this group is about.


And just to kind of go back to Lucy's point, these are people who say they want straight they want to blame someone else for their trouble and they are going to blame someone else, that that's why they were there and the damage they caused. So the line is the line is really clear in this case. If you have someone who goes out, buys a box of matches, lights a match and then throws it onto a onto a gasoline entrenched system, well, there you go.


You have a big old bonfire and that's what Donald Trump did.


So, Mike, as Susan notes, the House impeach President Trump on January 13th, one week after the siege for inciting insurrection. And earlier this week, we got our first look at the Trump team's response to the charges. And it rests almost entirely on procedural arguments, which are also, you know, they're also falsely reasserting the big lie in in this in this defense. So their defense is hardly a response. It's not a denial to Trump's involvement on January 6th at all.


So to what degree do you think we're going to see the former president be held accountable? And when the case seems to be so clear cut, that's actually important to. Because what they're basically going to do is seed the argument, the primary reason and the purpose for impeachment. Right. And I do believe that what we're going to see is a lot of visual data and we're going to learn a lot more about how deep this ran from information that we have not heard yet.


And I think it's going to shock Americans on how explicit and how direct and the correlation between what was happening from the White House enablers very close to him and allies, members of Congress that will be sitting in on these impeachment hearings and the hearings themselves. So, look, there is no question this is going to be extraordinarily damaging in the court of public opinion to the Republican Party. And it's going to make it extremely difficult to hold back when the basic argument is going to be a procedural defense, which is and by the way, impeaching somebody after they're out of elected office is not unheard of.




For a lower level officials, I think it's a very, very weak argument, not just legally, of which I'm not a lawyer, but in the court of public opinion, which is really what this is about. Yes. Which I do dabble a little bit in that space. So I think it's going to be really extraordinarily difficult for Republicans to hold the line. And I really does come down to Mitch McConnell. And make no mistake, McConnell has thrown down the gauntlet.


He said this is the most consequential vote of my entire career, more than war, OK? This is about him wresting control of the party and his legacy. And he has said this is that important to me. So now this is a direct threats to his leadership. If he can't deliver this caucus or if he equivocates, it changes the entire trajectory of the history of the Republican Party. And I don't think I'm being overexaggerating or hyperbolic by making that statement.


This is McConnell basically saying I'm going to be the most powerful Republican in the country in Washington, D.C., and this is what the Republican Party is going to be. Yeah, Kevin McCarthy basically abdicated that responsibility by going to Mar a Lago and punting the Marjorie Taylor Green question. OK, so now it's up to McConnell and that's the decision before him. And he has already indicated that Margaritaville is a cancer on the party. The Cuban problem is something that needs to be gutted out and removed and destroyed.


And he's already acting against what could be perceived as the best interest of Donald Trump. So it's not just about the party in an abstract sense. This is a direct attack, a direct challenge to Mitch McConnell's leadership. And if he can rest of those votes, he's probably, I'm sure, working behind the scenes to make sure that the visual and audio and written evidence is so damning, so damning that he can go back into his caucus in between these hearings to say, you better put up these damn votes because otherwise it's going to be a noose around your neck politically and you're in deep, deep, deep trouble.




And just one other thing on that is let's not forget Mitch McConnell saying I can raise money from corporate America if I sound like this. He can go out there.


They can't give to the House because Kevin McCarthy, Macu or whatever they're calling card is is going peddling and crazy. And the other thing is he's looking at the scenario of its 50 50 in twenty twenty two. Georgia is in play again. I mean, so is Arizona, but Georgia is again in play because that was a special election to fill a seat. So we're not is a pretty open target right there. And that's a pickup that changes just Georgia, which is another reason why they need to get that kuhnen.


Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green out of there because it's Georgia.


Yeah, but the connection between the impeachment and Marjorie Taylor Green and those twenty, twenty two midterms, there's a much bigger common thread than I think it's clear at first blush, which is that the Republicans who, by the way, have a ton of seats that they have to defend in twenty, twenty two, it's not going to be a walk in the park for them at all. They are going to have to really work to hold seats. They have really decided and this comes down to that McCarthy McConnell tension, that the only thing you can do is turn out the hardcore folks.


You've just got to get enough of those people out. And that's why I think when you hear something like that, that part of the impeachment defense is that he was just expressing his First Amendment rights as though that's our standard for the president of the United States or that Marjorie Taylor Greene going onto the House floor and saying, oh, yeah, I was like a key, went on to vote a few months ago, but now I'm not so. They want to basically trick people, they're trying to gaslight Americans into thinking that the standards that we have for the president, a member of Congress, are the same as the standards you should have about like the gal who lives down the street and has like a florist shop.


Right. As though, you know, well, I've changed my mind, so it's fine. I was just expressing my views as though, you know, cancel culture of of the president or a totally out of control cult mentality congressperson. It means that they're coming for you next and they're going to come for you and knock at your door and find out if you had a Trump yard sign. And those are just not comparable. But that's their game.


And it's to continue to motivate people by fear to hang with this incredibly destructive force that is today's Republican Party.


Let's leave that topic there. I think that's a really good point, Lucy. All right, I want to talk about voter suppression and specifically what Republicans have quietly been up to in the wake of the November election. So we now know that Republican officials across the country have been urgently devising new ways of making it harder to vote and specifically making it harder to vote for groups of people that tend to vote for Democrats. The threat of an ever growing Democratic majority and the pretext provided by Trump's big lies claims of massive voter fraud have reinvigorated the Republican Party's anti-democratic efforts with a small D.


So Republicans in Georgia specifically have their sights set on restricting mail in or absentee voting, which President Trump attacked relentlessly through twenty twenty as being rife with fraud, which does not. Obviously, that was never the case. Republicans only started to hate mail in voting in twenty twenty because Trump began attacking the method, mostly because it's a safe and secure way for more people to vote. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, where GOP senators refused to seat one of their Democratic colleagues until they were forced to by a federal judge, Republicans are preparing to restrict both the processes for receiving and for counting mail in ballots.


And in all, the Brennan Center for Justice counts more than a hundred bills in twenty eight state legislatures intended to restrict voting access. So, Mike, the Republican Party has won the popular vote in a presidential election one time in this millennium. And the demographic trends will continue to disadvantage what has become, thanks to Trump, infected by white grievance politics, among many other problematic ideologies. And we've talked about how voter suppression and disenfranchisement is now the only path to national victory the GOP has.


And yet more people voted for Republicans than ever before in twenty twenty and they outperformed in the Senate and the House. So how should we expect to see this combination of both systemic disenfranchisement, systematic disenfranchisement and over performance at the same time play out in the coming midterms and the twenty, twenty four race?


Well, the first thing to be mindful of, as any party that is working to restrict the franchise, to restrict voting, is a party that is not confident in its own beliefs and ideas to actually win a majority. And that's important because it's also a sign that the Republican Party is not going to change and it's not going to change probably for the next couple of decades, as I've been talking about, for demographic reasons. And I do believe actually this is Susan will be shocked.


I'm actually a bit optimistic about what this portends because there's going to be a fight on this. And just like the first Civil Rights Act, which came upon us in the mid 60s as a result of Jim Crow segregation and trying to suppress African-American votes. I think the federal government's going to start taking a much more significant role in our voting processes, because when we're talking about things like absentee ballot voting, it's not just about a pandemic. It's about the very ways our society has changed since the late seventeen hundreds.


Things have changed. Things changed in the last two years, let alone the last two hundred years. And as we seek to push greater enfranchisement, more voters are going to fall under different protections. And it's not just going to be by the typical categories that we've looked at since the 1960s. We're going to be looking at our processes more and it's not going to be a sufficient answer for some of these red states to simply say, we want to clean the deadwood out of the voter rolls or there's going to have to be some sort of voter identification.


That's those types of things I think will be will be brought up. They will be pushed legislatively. And I believe even with with a conservative jurist, they will be slapped down summarily. And I think it's going to open the door for very sweeping voter rights reforms that are going to dramatically expand the way that we vote. This will have a very significant impact on our elections. That's that is really what the Republican Party is afraid of at this point in time.


You never see the Republican Party working to find processes where more people can vote. You just don't. I never have in 30 years of doing this. It's just not part and parcel of the strategy. And it's because their demographic is already of a higher propensity. It's already of a demographic and economic class that works for their purposes. It also happens to be dying out, literally dying out at a rate far faster than they are being replaced. And that is the primary concern.


I am not worried about the legislative fight. We will have those. The bigger and the louder, the uglier that they become, I think works towards our benefit in the courts, because what's going to happen will be similar to what we saw in nineteen sixty five, which is a much more dramatic, much more. Or sweeping federal hand in assuring that there are more processes, more ways to vote and more people enfranchised in the process, which I think is ultimately very, very healthy for democracy, regardless of which party it benefits, absolutely necessary.


So, Susan, we've talked a lot about the role Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger played in defending election integrity after the presidential election. And we're now seeing him support a bill requiring voters to submit a photocopied ID with an application for an absentee ballot and the ballot itself, he's supporting another measure that would make it easier to challenge of voters legitimacy at polling places. This is all according to The New York Times. We also just watched the Georgia election results hold up in two recounts.


So how should we be thinking about Republicans who recognize Joe Biden won the election? These are establishment Republicans, but who are willing to tip the scale for the next election?


Well, at the end of the day, elected officials are trying to do a good idea of who they want in their districts and who they want voting. You just can't take the voters and you can't you have to recognize you're representing everyone in your district, but they only want certain people to vote so they can say that's who I'm supporting. On the face of it, of what's happening in Georgia, it's absurd. I mean, it's bananas. How can you say we just had the safest election and most with the highest integrity and then say we need more effort to restrict people from voting because that was two thousand twenty twenty, rather, and that was a pandemic.


We had to make changes. It was a pandemic. Well, maybe what we should learn from the pandemic is that look how many more people voted. We had the highest voter turnout in nearly a hundred years. Now it's as it turns out, the Republicans, even though they had a high turnout, didn't get the result they want.


Why? Because the fact is, is that a lot of people turned away from Donald Trump and their ideas and their and the philosophies there and in the flawed and hurtful policies. So, of course, the Republicans are trying to do this because they have no other option. I think Mike's right that there's no other path unless you are truly willing to really take a hard look at who you are as a party and who you want to represent.


The problem is, is that people don't want to represent Republicans don't want to represent the people in their districts.


Think that's a good point. It's it's the idea that you're only accountable to the people who voted for you as opposed to everybody in your district.


And that's why, ironically, that's what Joe Biden was basically saying when he said, I will be a president for all Americans. Doesn't matter if you voted for me or not. You're still you still need the vaccine, for example. I'm not going to prevent you from getting a vaccine, whereas Donald Trump was like New York. No vaccine for you. I don't like your governor. I mean, it's just that's that's what's needed. And in some cases, we need just enough people to kind of come together to move decent policies.


But, boy, I think these these these proposals to restrict voter participation are going to get hammered. And they should at the state level, the feds take too long and there's too many complications. But I want to take every I want to take on every state.


I'll start with Georgia and Texas, maybe.


Well, let's talk about Arizona, because a Republican lawmaker in Arizona just introduced a bill at the end of January that would allow the state legislature to override the secretary of state's certification of its electoral votes any time before the presidential inauguration. So, Lucy, we saw this level of wholesale voter disenfranchisement in the court cases while Trump tried to overturn the election. Can you help us understand how we should think about this method of election rigging carrying over beyond Trump and take the Arizona case specifically?


Yeah, well, that bill is really egregious. I just read it the other day because I saw a press release from the member who introduced it. Her name is Shawna Bullock. And I'm mentioning that because I want to tell you a little story about who she is.


I read a press release from her claiming that the media was disenfranchising voters by their take on on her bill, which is very sort of Marjorie Taylor Green esque thing to say. So I went and read the language of the bill, and it is very clear it is a very clear effort to disenfranchise voters by saying in this bill, which will not pass, that the legislature between Election Day and Inauguration Day can just simply choose different electors to send as part of the Electoral College process.


So that means that I mean, if I mean, what would even be the point in voting in the presidential election in Arizona if that were the case? But the reason I mention the member who introduced this is that she is such an interesting microcosm of the kind of cult of Trump. So she is if you want to kind of make the link to the Clarence Thomas Ginni Thomas episode that has been in the news this week, she herself is married to an Arizona Supreme Court justice named Clint Bolick, who is a guy who is a protege of Clarence Thomas.


But he himself came up in kind of libertarian free market conservatism, co-wrote a book with Jeb Bush a few years ago, 10 years ago, probably called Immigration Wars. Very, very classic conservative guy, socially libertarian fellow. They live in a district, his wife's district, where she barely eked out a win. She barely won re-election. Every legislative district in Arizona as one senator and two members of the state house, the other state House member is a Democrat.


That district is part of metro Phoenix, a part of a larger area that went clearly for Biden. It's why Biden won the state of Arizona. And it is exactly what Susan is saying. You have this woman who comes from a tradition of classic conservatism, who has decided to go all in with Trump because she doesn't give a damn about representing all of her voters. She even coming out of this race, coming personally from a tradition of classical liberalism, you know, kind of that tradition.


She has decided to go all in on Magga. And in addition to being short sighted, it is just so interesting that it is not the case that this is just, again, like she represents downtrodden people and there are all these coal miners. It is it is just such a weird story of a person who thinks, OK, well, I crave being in office. I mean, I get so many nasty notes after saying this is one of the most desperate people you'll ever meet.


She has just been desperate to be in office for years. She finally gets in. This woman now is in a district in metro Phoenix and she has decided to appoint herself the person to disenfranchise voters because she only cares about the Republicans who voted for her. I'm obviously making this a little too personal. You know, this was shot.


But but that's but that's where it starts. That's where it starts. You're right. And, Susan, this is exactly this is exactly the phenomenon that that end Applebaum described in that book Twilight of Democracy, which we discussed in this podcast, because she actually used Laura Ingram as a perfect example of someone who had a very, very refined educational pedigree, who was a like a classical liberal conservative who then ultimately went all in in in this sort of like alternative facts world.


And and and part of the book is sort of an exploration of how people, you know, how you lose friends over politics when they when they succumb to or choose to go down that path. It's a Susan, I'm interested in what you have to say about this, because it's it's you're right that it starts there and then and then you start continuing making these concessions and and then eventually you wind up and you're you're you're full on.


Q Well, in part look at what the Q on on lady. The Congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Green said when she was accused of it. She's of of not accused when she was responding to everything that she had said and looking to make things. What did she say? We have nothing to apologize for. We will continue to fight. It's always we it's always bringing in more people into a fight. It doesn't matter what fight it is. It's a fight, though.


It gives us we are stronger together. And that that, especially in the time of the pandemic, is very strong when people are isolated and you start you know, I used to say my mom is just like one click away from becoming part of a conspiracy theory because she just keeps looking. And it was a friend of hers that sent something. And then she clicks on and then she clicks on something else.


And, you know, before you know it, she's asking me is some really crazy questions.


But she's learned. So it's really good. But I'm proud of her.


But the fact is, is at the end of the day, a lot of people don't learn. They end up finding more people that think like that.


And then that starts to build and that starts allowing you to block out other people who don't think that way. And you can give them as much information as you want. Is proving these theories, I mean, just on the basis that some of the cute stuff is just bananas makes no sense like doing, I would think no one could possibly believe it until we see how people come into it and what it is. Is it something to fight against?


And it's something that people can join in together and it is making its way into the mainstream much more than we're acknowledging. People who would denounce Kuhnen are talking about things like, you know, the conspiracy that Joe Biden won't be president in a year because he's just like having brain aneurysms right and left and will soon be out because the far left is trying to to push him. I mean, all these things that seem bananas and until you're having a conversation with the person who may not even be a Trump voter, may not even be a supporter of some of these bills.


That's the irony of someone like Marjorie Taylor Green acting as though, you know, the media is just as guilty as on when, in fact, the media has even allowed some of this stuff to seep into relatively mainstream stuff, to the fact that to the point that mainstream people even are taking on Q and on adjacent theories without even realizing it.


Yeah, this is like this is a point that you have made repeatedly here and elsewhere about how big and dangerous this phenomenon is and how we we really haven't come to grapple with it yet. Well, it's a social phenomenon, right? It's not it's not a political problem that we see it evidently in our our political institutions because it's starting to consume them. Yeah, but there's something very significant. These are tectonic plates that are moving in our society and it's not going to go away.


And I think this is it's kind of the same way that we were we were warning people over the past year that the goal here was to to to derail democracy. The goal here was to upend and overthrow the government, essentially. And again, sometimes when you hear that language, listen or hear the language, they kind of dismiss it and say, OK, it's just Madrid being Madrid. And I get that. But but when it's proven right, I want to say again with clarity, the Kuhnen segment of the Republican Party is far bigger than we think it is and it's growing.


And the reason why is you don't necessarily have to have a cute flag and dress up with, you know, bullhorns and and, you know, coonskin cap and, you know, paint your chest and stormed the Capitol to be kuhnen. It begins, like Susan said, with very small, incremental steps, with people clicking on one thing and starting to go down this very slow road. And there are gradations of this of the way you become radicalized online.


And part of radicalization is breaking down the confidence you have in the systems that we all agree on in society. And again, that doesn't happen with somebody just knocking on your door and saying, hey, I want to preach to the gospel of Q on. That's not how it happens. The way it happens is through nickels and dimes there very small steps. And there are many, many thousands of people who are already slowly going down this road and kind of casually saying that maybe this government that isn't working, maybe there is something else afoot, maybe there is something else going on and maybe there is something wrong with the voting systems.


And there is a community out here. A lot of people talking about this. And, you know, and I'm kind of pissed off about it myself. And then it just grows and grows and grows into this deeper and crazier conspiracy theory. So I think in many ways the media's characterization of Kuhnen basically saying that it's a philosophy, belief that believe that there is an international child sex ring being run by the Democrats under a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. That may be an element of it, but that's not like people are just one day convinced of that.


Right. It's thousands of people going through what we have seen in different parts of the world, which is radicalization. Look, if the storming of the Capitol was not a radical radical element with people who have become political radicals and domestic terrorists, I don't know what is. And we've got to if you believe that is just this small coalition and crazy faction of people, you really need to pay better attention because it is growing and it has a lot more to do with the way that misinformation has moved, the way our brain works, the way that we become radicalized, we become more hyper partisan, which leads to this radicalization and this tribal element, which is really dominant and is going to get bigger over the next couple of decades where people's identity is feeling threatened and when whatever, with somebody whose identity is threatened, look out.


They will start to look to find news or evidence or facts in their own alternative facts to to confirm their pre-existing beliefs. They're not mentally or biologically in a place where they're like, oh, yeah, OK, let me learn about change and figure out how I can kind of make things change. Change is very difficult for human beings by design, by biological design, and that that is very problematic and that's really what is happening and not talking about it that way, which is why the only way we can talk about it is watching the silly circus kind of unfold going what is going on?


That woman's crazy. Listen to what she's saying. And you realize it's not just her, it's an entire caucus. And there's a whole group of candidates. It's a social phenomenon.


Yeah. Yeah. Think about it the way in the past year as we've fought a global pandemic, it turns out that we learn things after the fact, like how covid is transmitted. Right. Whether it's on surfaces, how is it passed? Right. And we are learning all these things where we are only able to learn about it because it's happened. Right. Because we're all try to sort of take this on in real time. It is the same thing with a force like what I guess we're calling for these purposes Kuhnen, which is that we are currently using the wrong measuring sticks around metrics to see it.


We are looking for things like, did you vote for Donald Trump, right? No, I didn't vote for Donald Trump. OK, well, you must not be in it because they my Venn diagram, everyone in the Q and on circle is also consumed by the larger circle of Trump voters. Right. Did you do you support random issue? OK, and we are not seeing right now, we don't know yet what are the ways that we should we should measure this.


And so that's going to continue to be a very big challenge.


OK, let's move to the topic I'm looking forward to the most tax fraud in The New York Times reported that a state judge ordered Trump family business and associates to share documents with investigators looking into tax fraud. The investigation began after Michael Cohen, the former president's former attorney and fixer, told Congress that Trump inflated his assets when applying for bank loans and had understated them to reduce his tax bill. This is just one of a barrage of heat seeking missiles headed for the former president.


Now, as a private citizen, Trump is threatened by both a criminal investigation led by the Manhattan district attorney, which is currently stalled pending a Supreme Court ruling and a civil inquiry by the New York attorney general into possible fraud in Trump's business dealings before he was elected. So the 44th president is also obviously in the midst of his historic second impeachment. Lucy, if charges are filed against the president or his close associates, it feels like we already know how his defenders are going to respond, that that this is another witch hunt because Democrats hate the former president and so on.


Does the former president's legal jeopardy create additional political risk for the Republican Party and especially his most ardent defenders? So this is separate apart from the insurrection and all of the political problems that that creates for them. But does his personal and business legal risk present problems for them as well? I don't think so.


I don't think that we've already seen such a ratcheting down of standards and going back to not not knowing how to read the signs or read the tea leaves of the general public. I think that a lot of people are pretty bought into this idea that all politicians are corrupt. This happens on both sides. I mean, there's a lot of false equivalency. And so I think the attitude, if you are talking to a loved one or a close friend or colleague who says, well, you know, what about Hillary Clinton or, you know, what about this or that Democrat, I think you'll start hearing a lot of that.


And the answer should be, yeah, everyone right and left, if they're committing crimes, should be prosecuted and it should be fully investigated. But I already hear some of those conversations happening. And so I don't think it'll make a difference. I think anyone who right now, after everything that has happened, including the events of last month, it still feels like they want to take, you know, the name of someone with an R at the end of their name who is enabling a lot of this sort of craziness they're still going to do.


Why the hell would it make a difference if Trump is is prosecuted? We already know all the stuff we really know about all of this. We already know about his extensive corruption. So I don't think so.


Mike, how do you expect as as these investigations continue, how do you expect the former president to act now that he lacks his cyber bully pulpit?


Well, as you look and listening to the first podcast with Mary Trump, it's a great conversation to have with somebody who knows them intimately.


Right. These are not good days for the president. And the beauty of it is we don't have to be exposed to it on a day in and day out basis. Look, I think that the way Donald Trump has survived in his life is by creating whatever narrative allows him to excuse or deny the realities that get in his way. Right. And the problem here is he's always done that in a very public way. It's been kind of fascinating to see the mental state of somebody who is in deep, deep trouble, who simply lies bigger every time to get out of whatever problem he's into.


It's kind of like a reverse Ponzi scheme right in your own mind. And it works. It works until it doesn't. And I think we're at the point where it doesn't anymore. And I don't know personally, I think it's going to be a very I think it could be very tragic, sad ending for somebody who's going to have to live in his own mind, who has always, always sought public adulation, external validation, because you can't live in his own mind because you'll have to look at what is actually going on.


He's not wired to do that. The coping mechanisms that he developed to become Donald Trump and overcome whatever trauma he experienced has always been to seek greater adulation, greater external validation now that he doesn't have his primary tools to do that, which is the social media handle his rallies, I think it's going to be a really ugly crash for him as an individual. I do think I do think as time goes away, there's going to be an erosion of support for him, especially as there is not the constant communication.


I think, as I've said before, I think it will factionalized. Think like when when bin Laden died, it's al-Qaida didn't go away, just smashed into a thousand cells, went from a number of different directions, and I think we're already beginning to see some of that. Right. There's the proud boys. There's the there's the. All right, folks. There's different white supremacist groups. There's different, you know, white nationalist groups that emanate and pop up.


I think that that is continuing because, again, it's a larger social problem. While this has looked very much like a cult and it behaved very much like a cult and a cult of personality, specifically, it happened for a reason. He was able to corral this sentiment and identify what was going on, consciously or not. But those pieces still remain. And I think that there will be groups that will still look to him forever until their own death because he's like the center of gravity for all of the grievance in all of its different factions.


His psychosis allowed gave it voice. Right. That's who he was and he channeled it. So when people were saying, I like Donald Trump because he speaks his mind, they were they were right. They just what he was saying was racist and misogynist and xenophobic.


And it's like, yeah, yeah. That's the way I talk. That's the way I think. And that's that was that is part of a broader social problem. So I think I think he has, you know, November 3rd began a very steep decline in his own personal history. I think it's going to be very it's going to be pretty. Doesn't that leave us vulnerable to another person who could build or or has just as large a platform in order to give voice to the same grievance all over again, but maybe in a better way and in a more effective and less less incompetent way?


I think potentially. But let me say this. And again, I'm just a political data guy. One of the things that was really interesting about Donald Trump is if you look at the polling and when it was accurate, when it was inaccurate, it was always inaccurate. When his name was literally on the ballot in 16 and 20, what he did was he over performed well, everybody, Republicans, Democrats, polling data that did not happen in twenty eighteen.


And it did not happen in the Georgia special election. Even though she was out on the stump and rallying, he was not pulling out the same amount of people unless his name was literally on the ballot. And I think that that same intensity, the cult of personality, allows for a supercharging of an extremist group. And again, to use the analogy of bin Laden against bin Laden, when he when he catalyzed a lot of these efforts and of course, some of that extremism has always been there.


But what he catalyzed it, there was a similar cult of personality. There was somebody that they could look to, very hard to recapture and and emulate that. It doesn't mean that there aren't despots and cult of personality that don't rise throughout history. There always will be. But to follow in the footsteps of one is extraordinarily difficult. And it's why you don't see a clear heir apparent, even his own children. Right. Ivonka is probably looked at as probably the next likely Don George got his own issues.


Josh Holli's desperately trying to do what Ted Cruz is trying to weasel into there. But there is no heir apparent to this because nobody is Donald Trump. And that's the point. He was unique and that uniqueness is part of the attraction.


OK, back to the actual topic here.


Although I could we need to spend a lot of time on this. But but but I want to go to New York. Susan, I have a question for you.


As someone who knows New York very well, not only is Trump facing significant legal troubles, it's well known, thanks to The New York Times, that he's in a bit of financial trouble as well. And that's putting it mildly. First, can you remind our listeners what we learned about Trump's taxes and debts last fall and how this is all tied together with the investigations that are that are now underway?


So we've learned that Donald Trump owes about four hundred million dollars to various people and that we don't know he owes it to. Correct because we haven't seen his tax returns.


We do know, though, that he hasn't paid taxes in forever and that's been public. And when I said, I mean, decades like he is, or maybe seven hundred or just little here and there, how this ties back and I think is the bigger problem for Donald Trump and why I think he is just so afraid of all this happening is now we start seeing him exposed through those tax returns because that's what these lawsuits were going to be. That's going to be the foundation.


These are literally the receipts. This isn't some random phone call that people may not want to pay attention to in some place called Ukraine. This isn't as insightful and guilty as I think Donald Trump was on January six, some people can say. But that's what's the difference between that and freedom of speech. And we talked about that.


But this is the receipts.


This is showing what he has and doesn't have and what he owes. And he has always been playing it out. He always settles a case. He will take you to court and he'll act like he's going to go all the way down. And if he thinks he's going to lose, he settles because he doesn't want to expose himself. He also showed something very, very interesting in the last weeks of his presidency. He vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act and he said, oh, because I don't want we should allow bases to be named after Confederate soldiers and we should fight social media.


No, I think it was all about something that was tacked on to that and it was called the Corporate Transparency Act. And why I'm going down this rabbit hole is because the Transparency Act requires that LLC no longer be secret. You must show up to the Department of Treasury who owns that LLC and what do LLC do, especially in New York? They buy a lot of apartments.


They watch a lot of money. And I am convinced not conspiracy theory, but I actually think there's a good case to be made that that's why he tried to veto the Defense Authorization Act, because he knows that. Really reveals him to show who he's been doing business what with, whose money he's been washing. Is it legal? And that all comes out of these lawsuits or investigations from Letitia James in New York, state attorney general. And let's not forget, she's already interviewed Eric Trump under oath back in October.


So there is this is all settling in, Donald Trump having to face potential criminal charges certainly does scare him. There's no doubt about it, because now he has no resource that he can call upon. He can't rely on public opinion. He can't get big rallies and take him to New York and stand outside the courthouse and support me. That won't get him where he needs to go.


And the problem is, is that he is going to all his finances are there for the world to see. His banker at Deutsche Bank who was let go was done. So under suspicious circumstances for him, money was being lent. No one will come to him and give him money. There's no bank that he can literally, even if he has it, he wants to give it to the bank. They're not accepting it. Think about that, that's going somewhere.


Donald Trump's money.


That's how bad the relationship is. But when you look at these L.L.C. and what they are going to expose, I think underneath it, that's one of the things that this investigation will bring up and really scare Donald Trump. Watch this space. Wow. OK, now we're up to speed on the biggest stories of this week. Let's look ahead briefly to next week. What stories and developments are you watching for, Lucy?


Well, we now know that the House will strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments most likely. And I'm really worried about that. I'll tell you why I'm worried about that, because I think in keeping with a lot of the stuff that we've talked about in the last hour, that in a way, these kinds of small acts where Republicans are are basically taking the posture like, yes, we don't want that here is more dangerous than then when they sort of say nothing about it, because it allows the kind of stuff that's happening underneath that really had not bubbled up to the surface for a long time to go on.


It's like, no, look, we took care of that, right? We nothing to see here. And so I'm interested in how that shakes out and how after that vote, how people will hear about it. I'm also really, really interested in some of these issues that are cropping up, for instance, in the fallout of the Robin Hood redit the Wall Street episode, how they shake out among federal lawmakers.


We saw that AOC and Ted Cruz were oddly aligned in that. But there's so much bad blood, understandably, that one wonders, will they ever as we kind of get through the impeachment trial and get on to governing, will they be able to come together now that Democrats and Republicans have a power sharing agreement? What is the actual vibe of Congress going to be?


And so I think that we're starting to see little issues pop up covid relief bill and more that even as the impeachment trial rolls through, we'll have to see what what will the dynamic be there?


How will it actually function? Mike Smartmatic, the voting software company that Trump's lawyers falsely accused of election fraud, has filed a two point seven billion billion dollar defamation lawsuit against Fox News.


Yeah, seven billion. They're going full dominion. Look, this is going to bring a lot of the conservative media conspiracy theory companies to their knees. It's going to crack them. They're just going to be drowned in litigation. And again, we've talked about this on previous episodes on how you kind of limit the false news stuff. I'm really proud of these companies to be stepping up and just crushing, crushing these these these news sources that have been peddling a conspiracy theory financially.


It's like if you're going to you don't get a free ride here. If you're going to try and destroy democracy, you're going to try to incite revolution using our company's name and smearing us in the process, there's going to be a price to pay. So two point seven billion dollars, a huge number that's on top of dominion. My guess is any other voting software or hardware company that was named by these groups is going to be coming with multibillion dollar lawsuits as well.


And I think that only serves the republic well.


Absolutely. Susan. Just one thing to follow up on, Mike's thing is that these dominions specifically gave so many warnings, stop doing this, stop doing it, or we will sue you like they have such a record that they are going to lead the way in having again, bringing the receipts as to where this happened. I think they'll be very public. What I'm looking for next week is what's going to be done under the bright light of impeachment. That's where the lights are going to be shined on.


Everyone is going to be following it. We're going to see it all over again. But what deal perhaps could Joe Biden make with the Republicans? Maybe they can get bipartisanship done under the cover of that inauguration story, or where does potentially Joe Biden decide to go full on like Biden and just take advantage of the situation and know that the news media is covering this impeachment and see what he can maybe do, something a little more controversial. So what I guess I'm saying is this the stories of the week are going to happen under that guise of of impeachment under that bright light.


So I'm looking for those stories. Mike, Susan Lucci, thank you so much for making the time to have this conversation for our very first political roundup. And thank you to everyone at home for listening. If you enjoy the show, you would help tremendously. If you could read and review us wherever you get your podcasts and tell your friends about us. I'm Ron Artest and I'll see you in the next episode.