Democrats go after Hur and dismiss GOP attacks on Biden’s age
A source close to the Biden-Harris campaign said today that GOP attacks on the president’s age are nothing new and that voters have elected him anyway.
Democrats are also going after Hur.
“Hur, a lifelong Republican and creature of DC, didn’t have a case against Biden, but he knew exactly how his swipes could hurt Biden politically,” Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, said on X.
Some Democrats point out that Hur was appointed U.S. attorney during the Trump administration. Hur, though, was also appointed special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland, whom Biden appointed.
Republican lawmakers call for invoking the 25th Amendment against Biden after Hur report
Several Republican lawmakers are calling for the invocation of the 25th Amendment after Hur’s depiction of Biden’s memory in a report released today.
The 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which says the vice president assumes the powers of the presidency if the incumbent is unable to fulfill his or her duties, is an appropriate step given the lapses in Biden’s memory, several Republican members of Congress said.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., posted, “The Special Counsel’s report exposing that Joe Biden’s mental decline is so severe that he can not stand trial means he is unfit for office.” She continued, “We must demand either the 25th amendment be invoked or impeachment.”
Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Rick Scott, R-Fla.; and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga., echoed her sentiments in similar posts on X.
Many others called Biden’s fitness to serve into question but stopped short of calling for the 25th Amendment to be invoked.
Biden, 81, had difficulty remembering the timing of his son Beau’s death, as well as a debate about Afghanistan, Hur’s report said.
Trump’s push to remake the RNC could get messy
As Trump works on locking up the Republican presidential nomination, he’s setting his sights on remaking the Republican National Committee in his own image. But it’s a task that is likely to come with some political peril, and it may not happen without a fight.
Trump has said in recent days that he’s looking for change at the RNC, which could mean Ronna McDaniel’s stepping aside as chairwoman. The Trump campaign has openly signaled that if she does, its preferred pick for a successor is North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley, a veteran operative with deep ties to the party’s establishment who is currently the RNC’s general counsel.
It’s those establishment ties that could prove to be a complicating factor.
Trump says he was subject of ‘selective prosecution’ in a ‘two tiered’ justice system
In a statement and a Truth Social post, Trump compared the Hur report to his classified documents case and argued he was being treated unfairly by the justice system.
“This has now proven to be a two-tiered system of justice and unconstitutional selective prosecution!” Trump wrote in his statement in all caps. “The Biden Documents Case is 100 times different and more severe than mine.”
Trump argued that Biden’s retention of classified documents was “outrageously criminal.” He addressed the report’s comments on Biden’s age, saying that when Biden took the documents in question he was in his “mental primetime.”
He also urged special counsel Jack Smith, whom he called “Deranged” in his social media post, to drop the case against him, and repeated past claims of election interference.
White House pushes back on ‘inappropriate criticisms’ of Biden’s memory
White House spokesman Ian Sams pushed back against the characterization of Biden’s memory in the special counsel’s report.
“The inappropriate criticisms of the President’s memory are inaccurate, gratuitous, and wrong,” Sams wrote on X.
Sams pointed to a letter White House counsel Richard Sauber and Biden’s personal counsel Bob Bauer issued to Hur on Monday, which asked Hur to review comments about Biden’s memory before he finalized his report.
“The report uses highly prejudicial language to describe a commonplace occurrence among witnesses: a lack of recall of years-old events,” they wrote.
The letter refers to Biden’s October interview in the probe, saying it was preceded by “calls with heads of state, Cabinet members, members of Congress, and meeting repeatedly with his national security team” in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct. 7.
The letter also suggests that Biden was asked for particulars about the work of his staff, which Sauber and Bauer said the president was unlikely to remember in detail.
“The president’s inability to recall dates or details of events that happened years ago is neither surprising nor unusual, especially given that many questions asked him to recall the particulars of staff work to pack, ship, and store materials and furniture in the course of moves between residences,” they wrote.
Trump addresses Virgin Islands Republicans in new video
Trump addressed Republican caucusgoers in the Virgin Islands by video today, saying: “I want to say a very special hello to my friends in the United States Virgin Islands. It’s a very, very special place and even more special today and tonight, because this is the day you’re going to be caucusing, and you’re going to caucus for me, and I appreciate it.”
Voters are caucusing there today in a contest with four delegates to the Republican National Convention at stake.
At a news conference at Mar-a-Lago before he headed to Nevada, a state with its own GOP caucuses today, Trump accused his lone remaining major opponent, Haley, of “playing it very hard” in the Virgin Islands. She has not visited the territory, but she did several virtual events, including one this week.
Biden points to ‘stark differences’ between his probe and Trump’s
In his first on-camera remarks after the Hur report was released, Biden said that the special counsel “made clear the stark differences” between this probe and that of Trump.
“Special counsel acknowledged I cooperated completely. I did not throw up any roadblocks. I sought no delays,” Biden said at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference, noting that he took part in a lengthy interview in the probe in October shortly after the Hamas attacks in Israel.
Biden referred to Trump’s indictment, saying the former president, by contrast, refused to return classified documents that were in his possession over an extended period and allegedly made efforts to obstruct justice by destroying evidence.
“That’s the distinction, among others. Bottom line is a special counsel in my case decided against moving forward any charges. This matter is now closed,” Biden said.
Haley says ‘double standard’ in Biden and Trump classified docs
Haley said on X today that a special counsel’s decision not to prosecute Biden for retaining classified documents revealed special treatment of Biden compared with Trump, who was charged over his handling of classified materials after he left the White House.
“The double standard is glaring. Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump were reckless with classified documents,” Haley wrote. “If Biden’s defense is old age and forgetfulness, Trump can easily make the same claim. Trump should quickly hire Biden’s lawyers.”
Voter concerns about Biden’s age echoed in special counsel report
Biden managed to avoid any legal consequences in connection with his handling of classified documents, but special counsel Robert Hur’s report echoed concerns about his age and memory that voters have expressed.
In declining to prosecute Biden, Hur’s office said he “would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” The report suggested that, by the reasonable doubt standard, a jury might have difficulty convicting Biden “of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.”
The report also said in interviews with Biden, he “did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended.” He also “did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died.”
Republicans quickly seized on the language report online, with strategists like Trump adviser Jason Miller saying on X, “If Biden’s (current) mental state is so bad he can’t be prosecuted, per the Special Counsel’s rationale, how can he run the country?”
An NBC News poll released this week found 62% of registered voters have “major concerns” about “Joe Biden not having the necessary mental and physical health to be president for a second term.” An additional 14% said they have moderate concerns about Biden’s mental and physical health.
Special counsel says there’s evidence Biden ‘willfully retained and disclosed classified materials,’ but he won’t be charged
WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Hur has declined to prosecute Biden for his handling of classified documents, but he said Biden’s practices “present serious risks to national security” and added that Biden portrayed himself as an “elderly man with a poor memory” who would be sympathetic to a jury.
“Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen,” the report said, but the evidence “does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
About a month after he left office as vice president, in a recorded conversation with his ghostwriter in February 2017, Biden remarked that he “just found all this classified stuff downstairs,” the report said. Biden was believed to have been referring to classified documents about the Afghanistan troop surge in 2009, which Biden opposed.
Biden’s memory, Hur’s report said, “was significantly limited” in his interviews with the special counsel last year.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the latest House Republican to retire
McMorris Rodgers has served her Spokane-based district, Washington’s 5th, since 2005, including six years in House Republican leadership as chair of the conference. Most recently, she has chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee.
She is the 18th House Republican to announce her retirement from the chamber this year.
McMorris Rodgers was a supporter of Trump, and she told local media that she planned to object to the certification of his election loss on Jan. 6, 2021. But after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, she reversed course and supported certification.
Although Washington is a blue state, McMorris Rodgers’ district is fairly red. Trump won it by 10 points in 2020.
Biden campaign plans to hit Trump on guns ahead of NRA forum
The Biden campaign is preparing to highlight Trump’s “commitment to siding with the gun lobby over keeping Americans safe” as the former president delivers a keynote speech at tomorrow’s NRA forum, according to plans first shared with NBC News.
The Democratic National Committee will launch a billboard campaign reading “get over it,” aiming to underscore how Trump has responded to gun violence in the past. The billboard references the former president’s reaction to a school shooting in Iowa earlier this year, where he said that people “have to get over it, we have to move forward.”
“If Trump is allowed back in the Oval Office, he’s promised a new plan to arm teachers and allow universal concealed carry permits across the country. More guns, not less,” said Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler. “That’s Donald Trump’s plan to make us safe. We simply cannot allow his extreme agenda in the White House that will cost more American lives.”
The Biden campaign also plans to work with former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot at an event in 2011, as well as Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention organization, to fact-check the former president and respond to his speech.
Trump blasts Haley before heading to Nevada
Trump told reporters outside his Mar-a-Lago resort that he was about to head to Nevada to celebrate an expected victory in the state’s GOP caucuses.
“All polls indicate we’re in the 90s. Maybe more than that,” he said.
The former president also dinged Nikki Haley, who participated in Tuesday’s Nevada primary instead of today’s caucuses, meaning she isn’t eligible to earn any Republican delegates.
“I don’t know why she continues but let her continue,” he said, adding, “I think she hurts herself but I think she hurts the party, and in a way hurts the country.”
“She did very poorly in Iowa … she did poorly in New Hampshire … and in Nevada, she lost to ‘no name,’” Trump said, referencing the fact that more voters selected “none of these candidates” in the primary than voted for Haley.
Supreme Court signals it’s unlikely to let Colorado kick Trump off the ballot
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today signaled deep skepticism that Colorado had the power to remove Trump from the Republican primary ballot because of his actions trying to overturn the 2020 election results.
A majority of the justices appeared during the two-hour argument to think that states do not have a role in deciding whether a presidential candidate can be barred from running under a provision of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment that bars people who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.
Justices raised concerns about states reaching different conclusions on whether a candidate could run and several indicated that only Congress could enforce the provision at issue.
Haley won’t win. But it makes (some) sense for her to stay in.
It’s obvious why Haley would abandon her presidential bid now.
She’s all but certain to lose. Just ask her: she can’t identify a state where she’s likely to beat Trump.
She risks being seen as either a nuisance or an impediment to Trump — a Dean Phillips-style afterthought or a serious threat to the GOP’s hopes of ousting Biden — neither of which makes her stronger in the future.
And she could incur the wrath of Trump and his base in a way that permanently damages her standing.
The upsides of continuing to campaign may be less clear, but they are just as present.
The conventional wisdom is that Haley wants to be viewed as the clear alternative if an intervention — divine or criminal — prevents Trump from carrying the GOP flag in November. There’s a lot of Disney-level wish-upon-a-star thinking baked into that conventional wisdom, most of it conjured by the anti-Trump establishment types who have hated him since he first appeared on the electoral scene.
But there are two related rationales that make a lot more sense.
First, there’s a long modern history of runners-up in one Republican primary winning the nomination the next time it’s available: in the last half century, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney moved up from second fiddle to first. There’s even some precedent for participation-trophy winners forcing their way onto the ticket — think Bush in 1980 — though Trump’s process for picking a No. 2 is anyone’s guess.
More broadly, Haley is building a network of donors and voters every day.
Whatever she wants to do in the future — whether it’s run in 2028 or simply have influence in politics — she is expanding her footprint. Her platform is higher, and it reaches a wider audience, because she is in the race. After all, who would have predicted that the candidate of Americans for Prosperity would also appear on Charlamagne tha God’s Breakfast Club and Saturday Night Live in the span of a week?
That network-building is a major reason candidates tend to run until they don’t have enough money to put gas in the campaign bus.
Haley’s calculations may change if she loses her home state of South Carolina later this month. But for now, she has enough incentive — and cash — to stay in the race.
So, she keeps on running.
Why Trump and Haley aren’t appearing on the same ballot in Nevada
Nevada is typically a major, hard-fought stop on the path to the Republican presidential nomination — except this year, the fight is off.
Nevada Republicans are holding caucuses today, which will be used to allocate delegates to the national convention. Trump is running virtually unopposed after Haley didn’t put her name on the caucus ballot.
Instead, she participated in Tuesday’s state-run primary, which is mandated under state law but had no delegates at stake. In a stinging rebuke, more people chose to vote for “none of these candidates” than for Haley, even though she was the only candidate on the ballot.
So, why the split?
Amid the national Democratic Party’s attempts to reorganize the presidential nominating calendar after the 2020 election, Nevada enacted a law in 2021 that required the state to hold “a presidential preference primary” if multiple candidates file. The primary must be held the first Tuesday of February and be run by the state.
The law, which was passed by a Democratic-controlled Legislature and signed by the then-Democratic governor, was in part an attempt to secure the state’s spot at the front of the 2024 presidential nominating calendar. And it came as Democrats were looking to move away from caucuses like those both parties had long used in Nevada, de-emphasizing those contests in favor of higher-turnout primaries.
But the state GOP pushed back and is holding caucuses. From the point of view of the national Republican Party, that is the only recognized contest for the purpose of awarding delegates.
For the GOP, 26 delegates are at stake, a bit more than 1% of the total delegates up for grabs nationally. The at-large and congressional district delegates are awarded proportionally.
Democrat holds a slim lead in the special election for George Santos’ former seat
A Newsday/Siena College poll released today found that former Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat, leads Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip by four percentage points in a special election in New York’s 3rd Congressional District, which was previously represented by ousted GOP Rep. George Santos.
In a head-to-head between Suozzi and Pilip, 48% of likely voters said they would vote for Suozzi and 44% said they would vote for Pilip. Seven percent said they don’t know who they’ll vote for. Suozzi’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error.
Pilip and Suozzi are vying to replace Santos in a special election taking place on Tuesday, Feb. 13, where immigration and the border has become a focal point.
The survey also showed that 47% of voters said they have a favorable view of Suozzi, while 45% of likely voters said they have an unfavorable view of him.
Meanwhile, 41% of voters said they have a favorable view of Pilip, while 43% have an unfavorable view of her.
Forty-nine percent of voters said Pilip would do a better job handling the influx of migrants into the U.S., while 40% of voters said Suozzi would do a better job handling this issue.
In the district, Trump has a slight lead over Biden in a hypothetical general election matchup, with 47% of those surveyed saying they would vote for Trump and 42% saying they would vote for Biden.
This poll was conducted from Feb. 3 to Feb. 6 among 694 likely voters in New York’s 3rd District. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
Jockeying begins to replace Ronna McDaniel at the RNC
LAS VEGAS — As Ronna McDaniel considers whether to step down from as chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Drew McKissick — who is her co-chair, as well as the chair of the South Carolina GOP — is actively placing phone calls to other RNC members about replacing her if she resigns.
Three sources familiar with his calls said he is lobbying for support and gauging interest from the RNC’s body of 168 members responsible for formally selecting the party chair.
If McDaniel resigns, “he certainly wants to be the next chair,” said an ally of McKissick, Robin Armstrong, the RNC committeeman from Texas. “He is the chair of the South Carolina party. He’s currently the co-chair [of the RNC]. I think it’d naturally be the next thing for him to step up as chair of the RNC.”
One of the sources said McKissick spoke with Trump this week about the prospect of becoming chair. The Trump campaign did not reply to a request for comment.