The Heritage Foundation is looking for fascism’s new foot soldiers. It might not go well

We’ve previously reported on The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, an effort to provide a future Republican presidential administration with a pre-built agenda and an army of loyalists who have already been vetted. This would weed out anybody who might have qualms about bending the law in an administration planning mass deportations, a purge of those who are disloyal from government and the military, and the arrest of Donald Trump’s enemies.

A major part of that effort is assembling that army of loyalists, which is being done through an online pre-vetting process that will allow the next Republican administration to check that each potential administration hire is, in fact, a MAGA-style hard-liner.

Axios has now followed up on its prior reporting on that effort by obtaining and publishing the loyalty “questionnaire” Donald Trump’s team was subjecting hires to during the waning, ultra-paranoid months of his administration. Their premise is that it might be a hoot to compare that vetting effort to this vetting effort, and you know what? They’re right. It is a hoot.

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Newsom and DeSantis debated on friendly turf for DeSantis, but it didn’t go well for him

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made a last-ditch, doomed-to-failure bid for relevance when he debated California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Fox News on Thursday night. Doing it at all was an admission by DeSantis that he’s losing the Republican presidential primary: As Newsom noted, “one thing … that we have in common is neither of us will be the nominee for our party in 2024.” The difference between them, of course, is that Newsom isn’t running. Yet there was DeSantis, debating a noncandidate.

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Ted Cruz proposes new law that would prohibit preferred names. Like ‘Ted’?

Can one man have only bad ideas? Sen. Ted Cruz is testing it out.

In mid-November, he proposed a new bill that would “prohibit the use of funds to implement, administer, or enforce measures requiring certain employees to refer to an individual by the preferred pronouns of such individual or a name other than the legal name of such individual.”

Unfortunately titled the “Safeguarding Honest Speech Act,” many people have pointed out that the Canadian-born Cruz’s “legal” name is not “Ted.” It isn’t “Theodore” or “Teddy,” either. It’s Rafael Edward Cruz. Says it right here on his birth certificate. According to the Texas senator’s own law, we should call him Rafael Cruz. His law would also likely allow us to call him Edward Cruz.

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Lawsuits against Trump over Jan. 6 riot can move forward, appeals court says

Lawsuits against Donald Trump brought by Capitol Police officers and Democratic lawmakers over the U.S. Capitol riot, can move forward, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Trump’s request to dismiss the civil lawsuits that accuse him of inciting the violent mob on Jan. 6, 2021. But the court said it’s ruling was not the final word on whether presidential immunity shields the Republican from liability in the case and said the judges express “no view on the ultimate merits of the claims” against the former president.

Trump had challenged a lower court’s ruling denying his effort to throw out the lawsuits, arguing his words involved “matters of public concern” and fall within the scope of absolute presidential immunity. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled last year that Trump’s words during the rally before the storming of the Capitol were likely “words of incitement not protected by the First Amendment.”

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With gag order reinstated, Trump shifts attacks to judge’s wife

On Thursday, the Supreme Court of the State of New York reinstated a narrow gag order against Donald Trump that prohibits him from making statements about court staff. The order was originally put in place by Judge Arthur Engoron after Trump repeatedly attacked law clerk Allison Greenfield, including falsely claiming that she was the “girlfriend” of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Trump’s statements have been tied to multiple threats on the life of both Greenfield and Engoron.

In response, Trump posted a series of false claims about Engoron’s wife, using a widely debunked series of images posted by conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer. Trump also reposted the images along with statements sure to generate threats against Engoron’s wife and family.

Not only is this vivid confirmation that Trump is a low-life POS, it’s also an obvious threat aimed at every prosecutor, judge, or other member of the justice system who tries to hold him to account for his crimes.

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George Santos was just expelled. Here’s what happens to his seat

Voters in New York’s 3rd Congressional District will soon choose a new representative after the House voted to expel Republican Rep. George Santos on Friday by a 311-114 margin, with 105 Republicans joining 206 Democrats to eject the scandal-plagued freshman. 112 Republicans and two Democrats voted against ousting Santos, while two other Democrats voted “present.”

This Long Island-based constituency, which includes northern Nassau County and a small portion of Queens, supported Joe Biden 54-45 in 2020, and Santos’ infamy could drag down the eventual Republican nominee.

However, the GOP is hoping a fresh face will give them the chance to hold on in a region that has swung their way since Biden’s inauguration. Republicans flipped the Nassau County executive and district attorney posts in 2021, while Bloomberg’s Greg Giroux reports that Republican Lee Zeldin carried the district 56-44 last year against Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul. Republicans also performed well in local elections last month.

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Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court, has died at age 93

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, an unwavering voice of moderate conservatism and the first woman to serve on the nation’s highest court, has died. She was 93.

The court says she died in Phoenix on Friday, of complications related to advanced dementia and a respiratory illness.

In 2018, she announced that she had been diagnosed with “the beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease.” Her husband, John O’Connor, died of complications of Alzheimer’s in 2009.

O’Connor’s nomination in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan and subsequent confirmation by the Senate ended 191 years of male exclusivity on the high court. A native of Arizona who grew up on her family’s sprawling ranch, O’Connor wasted little time building a reputation as a hard worker who wielded considerable political clout on the nine-member court.

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Live coverage: House votes to expel George Santos, now an ex-congressman

Early this week, Rep. George Santos looked overwhelmingly likely to be expelled from the House of Representatives, as he himself acknowledged. But with the actual vote looming, Republicans started wavering. They’d be sacrificing an important vote in their narrow majority, after all, and while Santos faces 23 federal criminal charges, their party’s likely presidential nominee faces 44 federal and 47 state criminal charges. They have a strong incentive to extend “innocent until proven guilty” from the criminal justice system to qualification for the country’s top offices.

The House is voting, and it will take a two-thirds majority vote to expel Santos. Will Republicans boot someone who was elected based on a series of lies about his own biography and who allegedly engaged in massive campaign finance violations and outright fraud through his campaign? Or will they decide he is still a welcome member of the House Republican conference?

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Speaker Mike Johnson endorsed book filled with conspiracy theories and homophobic slurs

Mike Johnson’s work as a lawyer for a far-right group opposing LGBTQ+ and abortion rights mostly came to public attention after Republicans unanimously elected him House speaker, putting him second in line for the presidency. Since then, one ugly detail after another has emerged. The latest: Johnson wrote the foreword for a 2022 book filled with conspiracy theories and bigotry, then went on to promote the book on his own podcast.

The book, “The Revivalist Manifesto,” by Scott McKay, takes numerous homophobic shots at Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, CNN’s KFile reports, “calling the former mayor a ‘queer choice’ for the Cabinet position and saying he had ‘queer sanctimony’ and was ‘openly, and obnoxiously, gay.’ At one point, the book labels him ‘Gay Mayor Pete Buttigieg.’” It also describes poor voters as “unsophisticated and susceptible to government dependency,” then makes clear what race the author imagines poor voters to be, saying they can be manipulated by “bowdlerizing old monuments, or midnight basketball, or Black Lives Matter ‘defund the police’ pandering.”

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