Former Rep. Liz Cheney on Saturday called Speaker Mike Johnson a "collaborator" in former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overthrow the 2020 election.
In an excerpted interview posted to social media, CBS’ John Dickerson asked Cheney: “The speaker of the House is a collaborator to overthrow the last election?”
“Absolutely,” she said.
“If you look at what Donald Trump is trying to do, he can’t do it by himself. He has to have collaborators. And the story of Mike Johnson is a story of a collaborator,” Cheney said.
In 2021, as Congress prepared to certify the election results, Johnson urged his colleagues to join him in opposing the results. He was a key voice in shaping the legal arguments denying the results of the 2020 election, and led efforts in Congress to support a Texas lawsuit that sought to invalidate the election results of four other states.
Cheney was the top Republican on the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and has been outspoken about her belief that the former president was responsible for the violence that occurred that day.
After chairing the Republican conference for several years, Cheney’s standing in the party suffered deeply over her vocal criticism of Trump. In 2022, she lost her reelection bid for her Wyoming seat.
Muslim leaders from several swing states on Saturday descended on Dearborn, Michigan, to launch a national campaign against the reelection of President Joe Biden — a response to his handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Organizers from Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania are calling the campaign #AbandonBiden, vowing to ensure that Biden is a one-term president. These leaders have run separate pressure campaigns in their respective states, members of the coalition said, but they felt now was the time to coordinate their response ahead of the 2024 election.
“We’re looking into finding ways to build a mechanism of coordination between all the swing states so that we’re constantly working together to ensure that Muslim Americans will come out in all of these states, and that Mr. Biden will lose each and every one of them,” said Hassan Abdel Salam, a professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of the #AbandonBiden National Coalition during a press conference Saturday. “Right behind me, what Mr. Biden should see is 111 electoral votes. And he won last time with 74.”
It’s unclear how expansive or successful the campaign will be, but its creation speaks to the mounting political pressure facing Biden amid the conflict in the Middle East. For nearly two months, Muslim and Arab leaders have pushed the president to call for a cease-fire, and now, with more than 15,000 dead in Gaza, this new coalition is dialing up the pressure.
The bubbling anger among Arab and Muslim Americans could threaten Biden’s chances of reelection in many of the swing states in 2024, all of which contain key pockets of Arab American and Muslim American voting blocs.
“We are not powerless as American Muslims. We are powerful. We don’t only have the money, but we have the actual votes. And we will use that vote to save this nation from itself,” said Jaylani Hussein, a member of the coalition and the executive director of CAIR-MINNESOTA.
The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The growing Muslim American population is roughly 3.45 million people, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2020, roughly 59 percent of Arab Americans supported Biden, according to the Arab American Institute, but recent polling suggests this support has continued to deteriorate.
The leaders said Saturday they are not voting for Donald Trump next year, though they recognized that their effort to rally support against Biden could elevate the former president. They said they’ll continue to have discussions as a community about which candidate to throw their support behind as the primaries rapidly approach.
“We’re not supporting Trump,” Hussein said. “We’re not going to make the same mistake of thinking about President Biden the way we thought. We don’t have two options. We have many options, and we’re going to exercise that.”
The political challenge facing Biden has only intensified as progressive-minded Democrats ramp up calls for a cease-fire. The U.S. has been working to secure the release of more hostages, and Biden has said he’s urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to focus on reducing the number of casualties while trying to eliminate Hamas.
Several administration officials say the recent deal to release several hostages is evidence their strategy toward the war is working, but pleas for Biden to go further and call for a cease-fire have only grown louder.
“This is a dangerous president for Americans,” Hussein said during Saturday’s press conference. “And for those who are watching at home, you want your sons to be sent to another war that we know will never end? No. Most Americans agree with us that a ceasefire and bringing peace is the right action.”
House Speaker Mike Johnson on Saturday called the House vote to expel former Rep. George Santos a “regrettable day,” lamenting what he viewed as an affront to due process principles and the rule of law.
The House voted Friday to expel Santos 311-114, with 105 GOP members joining Democrats to oust their fellow Republican.
“We allowed [House Republicans] to have a vote of conscience,” said Johnson in an interview with Fox News. Johnson opposed Santos’ expulsion.
Santos’ tenure in Congress has been scandal-ridden: He initially told bold-faced lies about his education and resume. A recent House Ethics Committee report found substantial evidence that Santos used his House campaign for his own personal benefit, misusing funds and misleading donors. He now faces a 23-count federal indictment that accuses him of stealing the identities of campaign donors and using their credit cards in unauthorized charges.
However, Johnson noted, Santos has not yet been convicted on any of these charges.
“Our party believes in the rule of law and due process,” he said, arguing that expelling Santos was in conflict with Republican values.
Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik said during the joint interview that members who supported Santos’ expulsion had expressed concerns over the Ethics committee report’s findings. She dismissed questions about the dent in the already slim Republican majority and expressed optimism that the seat would be filled by another Republican.
“We saw a red wave on Long Island at the local level, so we’re very optimistic that we’ll have a strong candidate to join our Republican majority in February or March," Stefanik said.
MIAMI — The woman accusing Republican Party of Florida Chair Christian Ziegler of rape told him over Instagram messages that she was distraught and “terrified” of him after their encounter and unable to work, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The affidavit also revealed that Ziegler’s wife, Bridget Ziegler, who co-founded the conservative parents group Moms for Liberty, acknowledged to police that she, the victim and her husband had consensual sex together over a year before the alleged crime occurred, per an interview police conducted Nov. 1.
The search warrant, filed by authorities with the Sarasota County court, provides additional details about the accusations against the state GOP chair and his wife following the revelation about a rape accusation that shocked party members and led Gov. Ron DeSantis to call for Ziegler to resign.
Both Zieglers are active in Florida Republican politics. Ziegler is a former Sarasota County Commissioner while his wife, besides her role with Moms for Liberty, won a position to Sarasota’s school board after DeSantis endorsed her. She also serves on the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District that governs Walt Disney World, which DeSantis overhauled after the California-based entertainment giant publicly objected to a state law that restricted how gender and sexual orientation can be taught in schools.
The search warrant affidavit reveals that police sought a search warrant of Google’s servers because Ziegler admitted to police that he’d filmed the Oct. 2 encounter between himself and the woman accusing him of rape. He said he initially deleted the video but put it on Google Drive, though police filed a request for a search warrant after they had been unable to locate it.
Ziegler hasn’t been charged with a crime but the investigation is still underway. Ziegler admitted in the search warrant affidavit that he and the woman had sex, but said it was consensual.
He and his wife didn’t respond to a request for comment about the affidavit. Derek Byrd, his attorney, said on Saturday that they intend to let the investigation play out and previously said he expects Ziegler to be “completely exonerated.”
The search warrant affidavit, obtained by POLITICO from the Florida Center for Government Accountability — which first broke the story about the rape complaint — shows the alleged victim and Ziegler had known each other for over 20 years. The contents of the affidavit were first reported by the Orlando Sentinel.
On the day of the alleged assault, the woman had initially agreed to meet because she thought Bridget Ziegler would be joining them. She canceled when she learned Bridget Ziegler wouldn’t be there, saying she had only agreed to the encounter because she wanted her there.
Video surveillance footage, reviewed by police, showed that Ziegler went to her residence anyway. As she was exiting her apartment to walk her dog, the woman alleged that Ziegler entered her home and had sex with her without a condom. She told police she couldn’t consent because she had been drinking alcohol, as it was her day off work. Christian told her after the alleged assault that he would be “leaving the same way I came in.”
The woman called a relative to tell her she was raped and the relative confirmed to police that she was “very emotional and distraught.”
The search warrant affidavit revealed the victim received a rape kit from Sarasota memorial hospital after telling police on Oct. 4 that she had been raped two days earlier.
With police keeping track of messages, the woman began texting Ziegler over Instagram in late October, telling him she “wasn’t OK” with what he’d done and that she’d been unable to work. “You didn’t bring her and then you did that to me,” she wrote.
In follow up calls that were recorded, the woman accusing Ziegler of rape told him that he had hurt her when he went to her house and demanded to know why he forced her to have sex. When she accused him of raping her, he said, “Those are big words, please don’t, no I didn’t. You invited me in, that’s it. I did not at all, and I never want you to feel that way,” according to the documents.
Ziegler then asked how he could help, including financially, and she demanded he acknowledge “that he has been using her all these years.” After he asked whether she was recording him and trying to get him to say something, the victim asked Ziegler to leave her alone.
Police had first gone to the alleged victim’s home on Oct. 4 after a friend of hers called 911 and said she was worried about her, per a call posted by the Florida Center for Government Accountability. She said the woman hadn’t gone to work, that she told her she was afraid to leave her house after being raped.
The Republican Party of Florida didn’t respond to a request for comment and said previously — when the complaint first came to light — that it wouldn’t be commenting on the ongoing investigation. Moms for Liberty said “Bridget was an original founder of Moms for Liberty but she stepped back from the organization’s board in 2021.” Bridget Ziegler spoke at the organization’s Philadelphia summit this summer and still works on a non-governing board for the group.
The governor’s office and a representative for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight did not respond to inquiries from POLITICO about whether Bridget Ziegler would be resigning from her position. DeSantis on Thursday night called for her husband to step down from leading the state party.
"I don't see how he can continue with that investigation ongoing given the gravity of those situations," DeSantis told reporters following a debate with California Gov. Gavin Newsom. "I think he should step aside."
Gary Fineout contributed.
House Speaker Mike Johnson signaled Saturday that he plans to tee up a formal vote on the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, calling it a “necessary step.”
“We're being stonewalled by the White House, because they're preventing at least two to three DOJ witnesses from coming forward, a former White House counsel, the national archives ... the White House has withheld thousands of pages of evidence," Johnson said in an interview on Fox News.
"I think it's something we have to do at this juncture," Johnson added.
The speaker’s comments came after several Republicans predicted Friday that a vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry would come before the House breaks for December recess.
The Biden administration has argued that the impeachment inquiry is illegitimate since it has not yet been formalized by a House vote. Such a vote is not technically required, but has been used in the past to legitimize the process.
MANCHESTER, N.H. — For two hours, Dean Phillips sat at a Democratic Party dinner here as one top party official after another rose to fete his opponent, Joe Biden, and encourage voters to write in the president's name on next month's ballot.
The longshot presidential candidate was among some 500 Democrats at a downtown Manchester event hall for the party’s Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner. And all around him were attendees sporting “write-in Joe Biden” stickers.
On stage, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told the audience to make “the nation’s first primary the very first victory for the Biden-Harris campaign.” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, the event’s headliner, started his speech by noting “there’s an important primary next month.” To make his point — that people should write in Biden’s name — he held up a pen “in case anyone needs.”
Off to the side, Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), was asked about Phillips presence there. “I can’t imagine that there’s anybody here that even cares,” she said, sporting a write-in sticker on her pink blazer.
For Phillips, the congressmember from Minnesota, it was a blunt reminder of the long odds he faces in his effort to primary Biden. The president may not be on the ballot here. But the weight of the party establishment is lined up behind him.
And it’s not just in New Hampshire, either. Earlier this week, Phillips threatened a lawsuit because the Florida Democratic Party appears poised to forgo a presidential primary after it submitted only Biden’s name as a candidate up for nomination.
But it’s in New Hampshire where Phillips needs to make his mark if he’s to have any chance of wrestling away the nomination. And the early signals are that Democrats aren’t going to let him make a run at it without serious pushback. Biden will not be on the ballot due to a dispute between the state and national parties — but top Democrats are working to ensure he wins, anyway.
On Friday, longtime New Hampshire Democratic operative Kathy Sullivan confirmed to POLITICO that she is helping launch a super PAC to encourage voters to write in Biden in the primary.
Sullivan, former chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said the PAC is beginning to fundraise. The organization, Granite for America, has also filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The super PAC’s kick-off comes as some Democrats in the state quietly express concern that more needs to be done to encourage primary voters to not only support Biden, but also educate them that they will need to write in his name on the ballot to do so.
“Thank God his name is easy to spell,” Kuster said of Biden. “It’s not like Lisa Murkowski or something.”
Phillips, for his part, didn’t take the stage at the dinner Friday, but he did attempt to work the room to drum up interest in his campaign as his supporters staffed a table outside.
“I love and have great affection for many of the people that spoke tonight, many of my colleagues,” Phillips told reporters afterward.
But, “we all know the polls” he said, in an apparent reference to some national polls that show Biden trailing former President Donald Trump in head-to-head matchups. “And I'm disappointed that we have a political culture that doesn't reward truth and honesty and principle right now.”
Biden left his name off the primary ballot in New Hampshire because the state is holding a primary in violation of the Democratic National Committee’s rules. In order to avoid an embarrassing early loss to Phillips or self-help guru Marianne Williamson, top Democratic elected officials and strategists in the state are mobilizing to help Biden win a write-in campaign.
The PAC, Sullivan said, has “been formed to help people know that they can go out and vote for Joe Biden by writing his name in on the ballot.”
New Hampshire strategists have already created a separate grassroots organization to encourage voters to write in Biden’s name as well. That group is also slowly ramping up operations and has brought on two staffers, according to organizers of the effort. Aaron Jacobs, a Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) alum, is advising on communications, and Patrick Conway, who most recently was campaign manager for Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess, is leading organizing efforts. The group will focus on voter education, like organizing volunteers to hold signs at the polls on Jan. 23, New Hampshire’s primary day, and urging voters to write in Biden’s name.
The grassroots organization, known as Granite State Write-In, got a boost from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) on Thursday when he rallied roughly 100 volunteers on a Zoom call.
Sullivan, who had until recently been helping with the grassroots group, provided few details about the super PAC where she is now treasurer. She said more information about it would be released in the next couple weeks.
Democrats who want to see a more robust effort to persuade voters to write in Biden’s name are not panicking. And officials have said that under the DNC’s penalties, those presidential candidates who have filed to get onto the ballot, such as Phillips, won’t win any delegates.
But some Democrats are anxious to see TV ads soon, more yard signs, and a more aggressive presence at party events throughout the state. So far, the write-in campaign has been mostly volunteer-run. And though Phillips is polling behind Biden, his independent wealth would allow him to fund his own commercials here.
At the state Democratic Party dinner on Friday, the nascent grassroots effort put on a show of strength. Dozens and dozens of the state’s top Democratic officials and activists milled about the event hall with the write-in campaign’s stickers on their blazers.
When Jefferies went on an extended riff about Biden’s legislative accomplishments, he brought the crowd to its feet. Phillips, who was sitting at a nearby table politely applauding along, rose with them.
As Phillips lamented to reporters afterward that New Hampshire voters were being “disenfranchised” by the president not putting his name on the ballot here, a line formed a few feet away of people looking to take home yard signs for the Biden write-in campaign.
Kuster described the write-in campaign as “going great — we’re signing up all kinds of people” and “we’ve got signs everywhere.”
Ray Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said that within the state “it’s pretty well-understood that Biden is not going to be on the ballot.”
However, he said he hopes voters are aware of the sometimes arcane rules that they must follow in order to write in a candidate.
“I want to make sure everyone that leaves has done it correctly,” he said. “There's a danger of someone writing in someone’s name and not filling in the oval.”
That Biden’s allies need to wage a write-in campaign on his behalf is a circumstance of his own making. At the president's urging, the DNC moved to make South Carolina the party’s first 2024 nominating contest, with New Hampshire voting second on a shared date with Nevada.
But New Hampshire has a state law on the books that says it must hold its primary a week before any similar contest. Republicans who control the state’s government refused to change it, while Democrats shot down the idea of holding a party-run primary to circumvent the law as too costly and complicated. State officials set the primary nearly two weeks before South Carolina’s Feb. 3 contest.
A recent University of New Hampshire/CNN poll showed that while support for Biden has slipped somewhat in the state compared to past UNH surveys, Phillips and Williamson are still long shots. Sixty-five percent of 674 likely Democratic primary voters contacted said they would write Biden in over Phillips, who earned 10 percent support, and Williamson, who got 9 percent. The poll was conducted online from Nov. 10-14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Khanna, a member of the Biden campaign’s national advisory board, expressed optimism that the president will be victorious in next month’s primary, though he reiterated previous calls he’s made for him to participate in the contest.
“From talking to voters in the state, I’m confident Biden will win the primary and hope he will be involved in supporting these efforts,” he said. “Voters trust the president and he has a compelling record to run on. As a campaign surrogate, I’ll be working to help get that message out.”
Elena Schneider contributed to this report.