January 29, 2023

A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

More Bad Things George Santos Did

Where to even start with this stuff?

The list keeps growing every day. You might expect the lowest hanging fruit would have already been picked, and the new revelations would start to seem derivative or duplicative. But, oh no, not at all. It keeps getting worse!

  • Santos allegedly swindled a disabled veteran with a dying dog out of $3,000 that Santos purported to raise through GoFundMe to provide care for the pooch. Santos allegedly took the money and ran – and the dog died without the promised care. You can’t make this shit up.
  • Santos allegedly used a made-up name that he thought sounded Jewish to do the GoFundMe fundraising for his bogus sick pet charity because, as he put it, the Jews will give more if they think you’re Jewish, a former Santos roommate told CNN:

Santos Lands Two Committee Slots

The congressman who is more fictional character than human, it seems, now proudly sits on two House committees: Small Business and Science, Space and Technology.

That prompted an expert troll from astronaut Scott Kelly, the brother of the Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ):

Who Santos Is Surrounding Himself With

This has gotten bit of attention on the margins in the past couple of weeks, but the staff Santos is assembling points in the direction of him taking a hard-right MAGA track even though he’s representing a Biden district in Queens.

We know he’s glommed onto the craziest of the crazies on the House floor and went on Steve Bannon’s War Room with Matt Gaetz guest-hosting, but the among the staff Santos has hired is a guy named Vish Burra. Here’s Burra leading Santos to his office on the Hill:

Until coming aboard with Santos as his operations director, Burra was the executive secretary of New York Young Republican Club, the far-right group you might remember from last month: Their annual gala is where Marjorie Taylor Greene declared that Jan. 6 would have been a win if she and Bannon had been involved.

A quick rundown on Burra from the NYT:

Mr. Burra, who has been seen leading Mr. Santos through the halls of the Capitol complex, has a number of ties to provocative right-wing figures. He previously worked as a producer on Mr. Bannon’s podcast and, according to LegiStorm, once worked for Mr. Gaetz.

He also recently served as a spokesman for Carl Paladino, a Buffalo-area real estate executive and politician with a track record of racist and homophobic comments. Mr. Paladino, who ran unsuccessfully in a Republican congressional primary last year, in 2021 praised Adolf Hitler as “the kind of leader we need today” and has boosted conspiracy theories about mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas.

The Extremists Are Back On Committees

After being stripped of their committee assignments in the last Congress for their extremism, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) are back in the fold in Kevin McCarthy’s House.

How The House GOP Thinks About Oversight

A lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the worst of the worst House Republicans getting plum committee assignments. And I agree it’s bad. But it also makes plain that Republicans see the job of oversight as mere theatrics and point-scoring. Not that we didn’t know this! But look who all they’ve crammed onto the Oversight committee. It’s the perfect cast for doing bogus investigations intended to damage political opponents:

Grim

The failed GOP candidate in New Mexico so enthralled by his own Big Lie theory that he allegedly conspired to shoot up the homes of local Democratic officials was displeased that the initial shootings happened too late at night and aimed too high on the walls – apparently reducing the risk of anyone actually getting shot.

Manhattan DA Back On The Trump Hush Money Case

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met with Manhattan prosecutors Monday:

The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Tuesday took a significant step forward in its investigation of Donald J. Trump, meeting with his former personal lawyer about hush money paid to a porn star who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The questioning of the lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, offered the clearest sign yet that the district attorney’s office was ramping up its investigation into Mr. Trump’s role in the $130,000 hush money deal. Mr. Cohen has said publicly that Mr. Trump directed him, in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign, to buy the silence of Stephanie Clifford, the actress known as Stormy Daniels.

Inside Biden’s Effort To Cooperate In Classified Docs Probe

The WSJ has a very intriguing rundown on the dance the Justice Department and Biden lawyers have been doing in the early stages of the probe into the mishandling of classified documents.

Conservative SCOTUS Poised To Remake The Law

Joan Biskupic on the upcoming Supreme Court term: “Their actions in a series of pending cases, reaching out for issues before they’ve been aired in lower courts and taking precipitous steps on culture war dilemmas, demonstrate that they will continue to defy norms and the usual judicial bounds.”

Arson At Planned Parenthood Clinic In Peoria

A reported firebombing at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Peoria, IL, caused extensive damage at the facility Sunday. No arrests have been made.

Matt Schlapp Sued By Alleged Sex Abuse Victim

The Herschel Walker staffer who went public with his allegations that conservative gadfly Matt Schlapp sexually assaulted him is now suing Schlapp. The staffer, who filed the lawsuit anonymously, also named Schlapp’s wife Mercedes, accusing the Trump loyalists of defaming him. Mercedes Schlapp was a Trump White House aide. Schlapp denies the allegations and threatened a countersuit.

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