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Liz Cheney would rather see Democrats win in 2024

Politico -

Former Republican Rep. Liz Cheney would rather cede power to Democrats than see members of her own party win in 2024, she said, calling a Republican majority a “threat,” and warning of an existential crisis leading up to next year's election.

“I believe very strongly in those principles and ideals that have defined the Republican Party, but the Republican Party of today has made a choice and they haven't chosen the Constitution, and so I do think it presents a threat if the Republicans are in the majority in January 2025,” the Wyoming Republican said during an interview with CBS, when asked whether she would prefer a Democratic majority in 2025.

Once the No. 3 leader of the House Republican Conference, Cheney was booted from her role and later lost her seat after bucking her party to take a stand against former President Donald Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Cheney overwhelmingly alienated members after refusing to tamper her criticisms of the former president in the weeks and months following the insurrection — unlike the then-leader of the caucus, Kevin McCarthy, who quickly returned to Trump’s side after initially condemning him for his role in the riot. Cheney became the top Republican on the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack. In 2022, she lost in the primary for her Wyoming seat.

Cheney has since written a book that details the groundwork laid by members of her party — including new House Speaker Mike Johnson — that led to the events of Jan. 6. "Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning" is to be released Tuesday.

In an excerpt of the interview that aired Saturday, Cheney called the Louisiana Republican a “collaborator” in Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In the full interview Sunday, Cheney warned against sending the little-known Republican back to the role in 2025.

“What happens if Mike Johnson is the Speaker on the 6th of January 2025?,” CBS’ John Dickerson asked.

“He can't be,” Cheney replied. “We are facing a situation with respect to the 2024 election where it's an existential crisis and we have to ensure that we don't have a situation where an election that might be thrown into the House of Representatives is overseen by a Republican majority.”

Pentagon: US warship and multiple commercial ships have come under attack in Red Sea

Politico -

DUBAI, United Arab Emirate — An American warship and multiple commercial ships came under attack Sunday in the Red Sea, the Pentagon said, potentially marking a major escalation in a series of maritime attacks in the Mideast linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

“We’re aware of reports regarding attacks on the USS Carney and commercial vessels in the Red Sea and will provide information as it becomes available,” the Pentagon said.

The Carney is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

The British military earlier said there had been a suspected drone attack and explosions in the Red Sea, without elaborating.

The Pentagon did not identify where it believed the fire came from. However, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been launching a series of attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, as well as launching drones and missiles targeting Israel as it wages war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the attack began about 10 a.m. in Sanaa, Yemen, and had been going on for as much as five hours.

There was no immediate comment from the Houthis. However, a Houthi military spokesman earlier said an “important” statement would be released shortly.

Global shipping had increasingly been targeted as the Israel-Hamas war threatens to become a wider regional conflict — even as a truce has halted fighting and Hamas exchanges hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Earlier in November, the Houthis seized a vehicle transport ship also linked to Israel in the Red Sea off Yemen. The rebels still hold the vessel near the port city of Hodeida. Missiles also landed near another U.S. warship last week after it assisted a vessel linked to Israel that had briefly been seized by gunmen.

However, the Houthis had not directly targeted the Americans for some time, further raising the stakes in the growing maritime conflict. In 2016, the U.S. launched Tomahawk cruise missiles that destroyed three coastal radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory to retaliate for missiles being fired at U.S. Navy ships, including the USS Mason, at the time.

Democrats need to stand firm on foreign aid and immigration, Rep. Jayapal says

Politico -

Rep. Pramila Jayapal said Sunday that Democrats need to stand their ground as Republicans look to condition foreign aid on changes in immigration policy.

Speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Jayapal (D-Wash.) said, “They are holding aid for Israel and Ukraine hostage to changes to the asylum system that would destroy the asylum system. Things that they could not get done through regular order. And I think we need to put our foot down and say, no.“

The chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus added: “Vote on the aid package without those border policy changes. And recognize that some of the things that the Biden administration have been doing have really been working.“

New House Speaker Mike Johnson said last week that he expects Congress will be able to pass additional funding for Ukraine and Israel in the coming weeks, provided that border security issues are also addressed. Speaking Sunday directly before Jayapal, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) pushed for Ukraine aid to be connected to immigration changes. “I will not vote for any aid until we secure our own border,” Graham said.

Republicans have said that changes in the system are needed to address the number of immigrants arriving at the Southern border, particularly the parole system, which allows the temporary release of some immigrants into the United States. They also want to change U.S. policy on applying for asylum, a safeguard which is supposed to be for those who are either facing persecution in their native land or have a reasonable expectation that they will face persecution.

Jayapal saw something more sinister than mere reform at work.

“This is not about addressing the border," she said. "This is about destroying the immigration system, something they have not been able to do through regular order. So they want to try and trade destruction of the asylum system for aid for Ukraine. That’s just outrageous. We should say 'no,' and force them to vote against this critical aid if that's where they want to be."

Israel ‘receptive’ to American warnings about civilian casualties, John Kirby says

Politico -

Top American officials have begun publicly offering stark warnings to Israel about the consequences of the rising civilian death toll in Gaza. Israel is listening, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Sunday.

“What I can tell you is that in our conversations with them they have said that they agree with our idea here that the approach they take matters, that the reduction of civilian casualties and, quite frankly, minimizing damage to civilian infrastructure is important to them, that they understand that,” Kirby said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

On Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin cautioned that Israel risks “strategic defeat” in Gaza if it doesn’t do more to protect civilians. While speaking to reporters at an annual climate conference, Vice President Kamala Harris was even more forceful.

“As Israel defends itself, it matters how. The United States is unequivocal: International humanitarian law must be respected,” Harris said after her meetings at COP28, which is being held in the United Arab Emirates this year. “Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating.’’

The fighting began on Oct. 7, when Hamas led a surprise attack on Israel’s southern border, killing 1,200 people. Israel has since launched a siege of Gaza, killing more than 15,000 and periodically choking the flow of food and fuel into the region while Hamas continues to launch rockets into Israel.

“We believe they have been receptive to our messages here in terms of trying to minimalize civilian casualties, and I can tell you we saw that when they went into north Gaza, they did that in a more precise way, a smaller way,” Kirby said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” pointing to the map that Israeli forces have published online that shows “evacuation zones” the IDF says are meant to help reduce casualties.

Israel has also been dropping leaflets urging civilians to exit areas before attacks.

“There's not a whole lot of modern militaries that would do that. … to telegraph their punches in that way. So they are making an effort,” Kirby added.

But one U.N. agency noted it is unclear where the roughly 2 million people living in Gaza are supposed to evacuate to.

“Reportedly, the map is intended to facilitate orders to evacuate specific areas ahead of their targeting. The publication does not specify where people should evacuate to,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs pointed out in an article. “It is unclear how those residing in Gaza would access the map without electricity and amid recurrent telecommunications cuts.”

The conflict has roiled the Biden administration, as President Joe Biden and other top officials try to balance the need to support the U.S.’s most vital ally in the Middle East with calls from the left to push for a ceasefire and greater protections for civilians in the besieged region.

"If we want to defeat terrorists, we have to abide by international humanitarian law. That is just my fundamental belief," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

Defenders of Israel said the criticism is misplaced. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that the United States would never accept the types of limitations that the United States is advocating.

"No Republican is telling Israel to change their military tactics, because I don't know how to change them," he said on "State of the Union." "I think the goal of destroying Hamas is important for Israel, really important for the Palestinians, and Hamas is making it impossible for Israel to fight without hurting innocent people."

But Republican Rep. Mike Turner, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, agreed Sunday that the U.S. is troubled by the rising death toll.

"Broadly, as you've reported, the United States is very concerned" about the "extent that Israel is not doing enough to protect civilians," the Ohio Republican told CBS' Margaret Brennan during an interview on "Face the Nation."

I've lost confidence in Lloyd Austin, Lindsey Graham says

Politico -

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday he has lost confidence in Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin because of his recent comments about the Israel-Hamas war.

“He's so naïve. I mean, I just lost all confidence in this guy,” the South Carolina Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union” in response to a question in which host Dana Bash characterized Austin as saying that Israel’s tactics are turning civilians in Gaza into future enemies.

In remarks Saturday in California, Austin said, “The lesson is that you can only win in urban warfare by protecting civilians.” He said Israel could turn a military victory into defeat by not doing its best to protect civilians in Gaza.

“Strategic defeat would be inflaming the Palestinians? They're already inflamed,” Graham continued. “They're taught from the time they're born to hate the Jews and to kill them. They're taught math: If you have 10 Jews and kill six, how many would you have left?”

Bash circled back to Graham’s statement, and Graham doubled down.

“I like Secretary Austin, but this war has shown to me … if we were attacked like this, which we were on 9/11, if somebody called for us within two months to have a cease-fire against Al Qaeda, we would have laughed them out of town, we would have run them out of town. Secretary Austin is telling Israel things that are impossible to achieve,” Graham said.

US intelligence community was not aware of Hamas’ plan to attack Israel, Kirby confirms

Politico -

The U.S. intelligence community was not aware of Hamas’ plan to attack Israel, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Sunday, after the New York Times reported last week that Israeli officials obtained the plans more than a year before the Oct. 7 attack occurred.

“The intelligence community has indicated that they did not have access to this document,” Kirby told NBC’s Kristen Welker on "Meet the Press." POLITICO reported Friday that there was no indication Israel had shared the blueprint for the attack with the United States.

Officials told the Times that if the Israeli military had taken the roughly 40-page document more seriously, they could have prevented the attacks, which killed more than 1,200 Israelis and led Israel to launch a devastating invasion of Gaza that has reportedly killed more than 15,000. But according to the report, Israel's leadership disregarded the warning signs, viewing the attack as something beyond Hamas' capabilities.

“Intelligence is a mosaic and sometimes you fashion things together and get a pretty good picture, and other times there’s pieces of the puzzle that are missing,” Kirby added, when asked if the U.S. should’ve been made aware of the attack plans.

The U.S. has long held an intelligence-sharing relationship with Mossad, which has previously established a robust data-collection operation on Hamas in Gaza. But the failure to provide details of the plan has led some lawmakers in Congress to question U.S. reliance on Israel for intelligence on Hamas.

On Sunday, Kirby declined to say whether the Oct. 7 attack represented a failure by Israel’s intelligence operations, saying there would be a “a time and place” for Israel to further investigate what went wrong.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu has already spoken pretty candidly about this calling it a failure on their part. They'll take a look at this at the right time, they need to do that,” Kirby said, but for now “the focus has got to be on making sure that they can eliminate the truly genocidal threat” or Hamas.

DeSantis says he will win Iowa

Politico -

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has staked his campaign’s success on his performance in Iowa, where he’s secured a key endorsement from Gov. Kim Reynolds and recently completed a 99-county campaign swing.

“We're going to win Iowa. I think it's going to help propel us to the nomination,” the GOP presidential hopeful said during an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Republicans will vote in Iowa on Jan. 15. The latest FiveThirtyEight average has former President Donald Trump leading the field in Iowa by nearly 30 percentage points. And Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been closing the gap on DeSantis is the state in recent weeks. An NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll released at the end of October had the two tied for second behind Trump.

Though Iowa’s early caucuses offer a first glance at where voters are at, who wins the state’s support is far from predictive of who will win the party’s nomination. Republican candidates Ted Cruz in 2016, Rick Santorum in 2012 and Mike Huckabee in 2008 all won in Iowa, but none made it to the general election.

“I do recognize that there have been people that have won who have not gone on to win the nomination,” DeSantis told NBC’s Kristen Welker. But this year, he said, is different as the once-crowded field has winnowed to just a few big-name candidates.

“Ultimately, Republican voters are going to have the choice of Donald Trump, which I think would make the election a referendum on him and a lot of the issues that he's dealing with, or me, and that will be a referendum on Biden's failures, on all the issues in the country that are affecting people,” DeSantis said.

‘Time to Be Bold’: Advice for Democrats from a Quietly Powerful Governor

Politico -

Perhaps it’s because he’s a quintessential Midwesterner, but Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has flown a bit under the radar on the national political scene, despite having won two terms and enacting a raft of progressive bills with a paper-thin legislative majority.

But he might soon become a bit more familiar, having been newly tapped to lead the Democratic Governors Association, responsible for defending and growing the party’s share of chief executives in the states.

Today the map is almost equally split — 26 states run by Republicans and 24 states run by Democrats — and he’s got some potentially tough races next year, particularly efforts to hold governorships in North Carolina and Washington state. A close presidential race will also loom large over the 11 governors’ races taking place in 2024, but he pointed to Gov. Andy Beshear’s victory in Kentucky last month as evidence that Democrats can win even in difficult environments.

“This is going to be nationalized in some of these races,” Walz said in an interview with POLITICO Magazine. “But governors have a much better way, and especially good ones, of bringing it back down.”

Like many Democrats, Walz doesn’t think President Joe Biden is getting the credit he deserves on a relatively strong economy, but the campaign can still retool their message as needed.

“They may — I think — rework, refine, this message, but it doesn’t change the fact that Joe Biden invested in the middle class, just like Democratic governors did, and made life more affordable,” Walz said Saturday on the sidelines of the DGA’s winter meeting in Phoenix.

Regardless of what happens in 2024, the party boasts a deep bench going forward, and Walz believes the 2028 Democratic nominee could indeed be a sitting governor.

“I'm biased towards governors,” he said. “But they’re proven.”

We also asked him whether that could even include him.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Elena Schneider: First, congratulations, Mr. Chairman. People often use the DGA chairmanship as a way to build a national fundraising network as they think about running for president, so should we read anything into your move here?

Tim Walz: Well, I’m flattered that you would say so. No, I just believe in the DGA. I want to give back. I’ve seen the effectiveness of it. They helped me in my race. But also, I’m a firm believer now that governors do make a difference. We saw it in Minnesota, we saw it in Michigan, we saw it in Colorado. We see these trifecta states improving folks’ lives, and so this is my way to give back. I believe in the organization. And I’m just honored to do it.

Schneider: But you’re not ruling anything out in the future?

Walz: I have a friend of mine who always said, “Don’t ever turn down a job you’ve never been offered.” So, my job is to focus on this, and to be honest, I’ve got 11 races next year and that is my focus.

Schneider: What are the most important governors’ races next year?

Walz: I think holding those races we have. I tried my hardest to get [Washington Gov.] Jay Inslee to stay again. He could be my governor forever. There, of course, and in North Carolina and Delaware, where we're term limited with [North Carolina Gov.] Roy Cooper and [Delaware Gov.] John Carney. I think there's a golden opportunity in New Hampshire [where GOP incumbent John Sununu is retiring]. I can tell you those four states are a priority, especially with our incumbent governors being term-limited.

Schneider: You mentioned North Carolina. In Democratic candidate Josh Stein’s launch video, he explicitly tied GOP Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson to former President Donald Trump. How much do you think Trump is going to play a role in governor's races in 2024?

Walz: They own him. He is going to play a role.

But look, the DGA does something different, and Andy Beshear did this. He didn’t spend a ton of time talking about President Trump. He talked about the things impacting people in their states. I think that’s the difference with governors.

We’re not naive. This is going to be nationalized in some of these races. But governors have a much better way, and especially good ones, of bringing it back down. Andy Beshear did that and he won because of that. He stayed focused on disaster relief, about recovering, caring for people, delivering on that, so they’re going to have to explain why they’re supportive of President Trump, but I think our candidates will be out there saying, “This is the difference it makes. We’re functional, not dysfunctional. We get things done,” and I think that’ll be the message.

Schneider: President Joe Biden didn’t campaign with Beshear in Kentucky. He didn’t show up in Virginia for those state legislative races. What kind of role do you think Biden is going to play?

Walz: I think it will depend on each place. Certainly, governors know this: President Biden has delivered on infrastructure, he’s delivered on the CHIPS Act, he continues to deliver across the board in Minnesota. We’re seeing it every day. Governors can message that, but I think we’ve always said this — each race is unique. There’ll be states where the president will be campaigning with our candidates and others he won’t.

Andy Beshear talked about it this morning, he said, “Look, I’ve disagreed with the president on some things, but I’m 100 percent supportive of him.” We need to message our own races. When you have good candidates in these races, when we get a good candidate out of North Carolina, we’ll run a good race, we will win that governor’s race. There may be some states that our candidates will help the president.

Schneider: Governors like Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan and Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania have job approval ratings that are 10, 15, 20 points better than Joe Biden. Can you explain that gap?

Walz: I think it’s not surprising to see governors do that, because we’re delivering every day. I think the constant drumbeat of dysfunction in D.C. gets attached to the president. But we all run into this. When we’re running against the generic Republican, our races are always really close, but there's no such thing [as a generic Republican]. These guys are weird. Once they start running, their weirdness shows up, and especially with the nominee on the other side. I don’t think it’s that surprising.

This is going to be a binary choice. Democracy, or what we saw with the former president. Projects, like roads getting built, or dysfunction. Pre-existing conditions being covered by health care, or having that ripped out. Those binary choices will start to become clear. They saw us act, how we acted during Covid, they saw us act on the recovery. It’ll work itself out.

Schneider: As somebody with experience as both a federal candidate and as a statewide candidate, is there any advice you’d give to the president or his team?

Walz: I think it’s hard for him and I think Joe Biden, especially, is a fairly humble guy. We have a saying in Minnesota: “If you do something good and talk about it, it no longer counts.” I think there was a slowness to talk about the things they did.

It’s one of our jobs to get out there and talk about it. I’ve talked to [White House infrastructure czar] Mitch Landrieu and the White House on infrastructure. Look, this is a golden age of infrastructure because of the president. Governors are the ones that are managing that — broadband expansion, removal of lead pipes. Put the signs up. Say where it came from.

I wouldn’t be so bullish on Joe Biden or be so excited about it, if I saw that he wasn’t delivering. I’ve watched him deliver. We, as governors, who lived through what President Trump did not do during Covid, I’m not going back there again. Tell the story. Put some signs up for building bridges. Let us know where the money came from.

Schneider: It’s no secret that people like Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, Josh Shapiro, JB Pritzker, Wes Moore, Phil Murphy are potential presidential contenders one day. In 2028, do you think the Democratic presidential nominee will be a sitting governor?

Walz: Yes, I do. Potentially. Well, I shouldn’t say that. For me, personally, I think it would be a good choice for it to be one of them because I’ve seen them deliver. I’ve seen all these governors have to make hard decisions every day and they have to deliver. They’re executives, they’re counselors, at times, they’re budget managers. I’m biased towards governors, but they’re proven. They’ve done great.

Schneider: In the 2020 primary, though, governors didn’t do great. Is there something different about 2028?

Walz: I think our profiles all changed — and the importance of it — after COVID. I think people understood how important governors were. Even in things like name recognition, things shot up. I think it was delivering on these hard things. All those folks you mentioned, a lot of people already know because of the work they’ve done over the last four years.

Schneider: By most measures, the economy is doing very well right now. And at the same time, people don’t feel it — at least they don’t say they feel it, even as Biden has tried to talk about Bidenomics as a vehicle to sell it. What do you see as the messaging disconnect? 

Walz: The most powerful message from Joe Biden is this economy needs to be built from the bottom up, the middle out: investing in things like infrastructure, investing in affordability of college, investing in childcare, housing, those are all things governors did with the help of the president.

We just came back from a trade mission in Australia, and every other country in the world would give just about anything to have our economy — 5 percent growth in the third quarter, unemployment rates, things like that. The pandemic, broken supply chains and everything — we did see inflation. Now, we’re taming inflation, we’re bringing it down, but we don't have deflation. So some of those prices that went up didn’t come back down, but we’re paying $2.89 a gallon for gas in Minnesota again. Things are starting to stabilize. I think by next November, there’ll start to be more of a realization on that.

Schneider: Do you think Biden and his team need to rethink how they're talking about the economy?

Walz: Maybe. I think it’ll evolve. Every campaign changes as things go. I do think you’re going to start to see it sink in that people are moving in the other direction. For the first time, we saw consumer confidence up in November. I think the holiday season will make a difference. If we see a rate reduction [at the Federal Reserve], I think that’ll make a difference. But we’ve got a year.

Schneider: Less than a year.

Walz: I think they can retool their message. I think the acknowledgement is that people are paying higher for some things because of inflationary pressures, but we also need to talk about how real wages are up.

Who do they blame? You know the sitting president gets blamed for some of those things. So they may — I think — rework, refine, this message, but it doesn’t change the fact that Joe Biden invested in the middle class, just like Democratic governors did, and made life more affordable after some of the most challenging times that we’ve ever seen.

Schneider: Abortion is a hugely important issue in governors’ races. But Biden isn’t comfortable talking about it. Do you worry about a mismatch in the messenger with arguably the most important issue Democrats are running on?

Walz: No. His actions show that he is supportive of those rights. Look, this was never an easy issue for anybody. But this does contrast, once again, this idea of freedom versus their extreme policies on this, and they continue to grab that rail. They can’t let it go. And I think the president, you know, he’s, probably, personally torn. But all of his policies are right in line with that. People know that. And the big thing is that they see what the contrast is. I can’t say that enough about this binary choice that’s coming. It’s still not a binary choice. It’ll be a binary choice after February. And you’ll start to see that, so no, I don’t worry about that.

Schneider: You’ve managed to pass an enormous number of Democratic policy priorities, even with a narrow majority in your legislature. Do you have any advice for your former colleagues in Congress about how to do it?

Walz: Be bold. A one-vote majority is a majority. But here’s the thing: We pass things that are popular. They want to make the case — okay, go ahead and try, turn back reproductive rights, go ahead and try. Turn back paid family medical leave, go ahead and try. Turn back some of these initiatives we made around climate. These things are popular. This is the time to be bold.


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