Liz Cheney says the Capitol riot investigation ‘threatens’ GOP lawmakers because they ‘played a role they should not have been playing’

Rep. Liz Cheney speaks with NBC News after being voted out of leadership on Wednesday.
Rep. Liz Cheney speaks with NBC News after being voted out of leadership on Wednesday.

  • Liz Cheney said some of her GOP colleagues oppose an investigation into the Capitol riot because they played a role in it.
  • The commission “threatens people in my party who may have been playing a role they should not have been playing.”
  • She said accusations of violence associated with the Black Lives Matter protests should be investigated separately.
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Rep. Liz Cheney said that some of her Republican colleagues in Congress are opposed to a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot because they helped provoke the attack or are otherwise culpable.

Cheney, who was ousted from leadership by her own party on Wednesday, has repeatedly called for a bipartisan commission comprised of retired officials with subpoena power to investigate the attack on the Capitol. But GOP leadership and many other lawmakers are opposed to a commission solely focused on the deadly assault and instead want to expand it to include violence that resulted from Black Lives Matter protests last summer.

“There is real concern among a number of members of my own party about a January 6th commission,” Cheney said. “That kind of intense, narrow focus threatens people in my party who may have been playing a role they should not have been playing.”

She argued that there’s no legitimate reason for lawmakers to oppose the proposed commission and noted that Congress has created similar commissions to investigate other attacks, including 9/11, President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and the Pearl Harbor bombing.

Cheney argued that violence associated with the Black Lives Matter protests should be investigated separately.

“We should not dilute the investigation we have to have into January 6,” she said.

A slew of Republican lawmakers, including Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and several House members, have been criticized for actively encouraging the pro-Trump loyalists who stormed the Capitol in the days leading up to Jan. 6 and even on the morning of the attack. 147 Republican lawmakers voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results after the riot.

Far-right activist Ali Alexander, who organized the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the Capitol attack, says he planned the protest with help from GOP Rep. Paul Gosar and two other Republican members of Congress, Reps. Mo Brooks and Andy Biggs.

Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the riot, called rejecting the GOP’s lies about the election and seeking justice for the Capitol riot “the most important issue we are facing right now as a country.” She’s urging her party to reject Trump’s “cult of personality” and rebuild itself on conservative principles and policy. She added that Trump should “never again be anywhere close to the Oval Office.”

“We have to embrace the Constitution, we have to reject the lie, because we have to be a party of substance,” Cheney said. “We have to be able to say to those voters who left us, you should trust us.”

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Clyburn says the Republican Party is ‘losing its way’ and Mitch McConnell ‘is contributing to that’

James Clyburn
  • House Majority Whip James Clyburn said that the Republican Party is “losing its way.”
  • In an interview with CNN State of the Union, Clyburn blamed Mitch McConnell as a contributor.
  • His remarks follow McConnell’s comments to reporters that his focus is “standing up” to Biden’s administration.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic House Majority Whip James Clyburn responded to Mitch Connell’s comments from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that the GOP is focused on standing up and stopping President Joe Biden’s administration.

“One hundred percent of my focus is on standing up to this administration,” McConnell said on Sunday after CNN “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper played a clip of his recent remarks to reporters. The statement casted doubt on hopes for bipartisanship under Biden’s administration and reignited calls to end the filibuster.

The Republican part, Clyburn said, “is losing its way.”

“Mitch McConnell has some personal animus toward Democrats that ought not to be,” the 80-year-old Congressman from South Carolina added.

Clyburn continued: “We are one nation, under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Let’s operate like that. This Republican Party is losing its way on all fronts and Mitch McConnell is contributing to that in a big way.”

In the interview, Clyburn said that the Republican party today is showing “dishonor to the people who made it possible.”

His remarks come as Rep. Liz Cheney faces backlash for criticizing former President Donald Trump and as Republicans are working to replace her leadership position in the House.

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Liz Cheney refuses to say whether Trump should be prosecuted for inciting the Capitol riot

Liz Cheney
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Washington

  • Rep. Liz Cheney refused to say whether former President Donald Trump should be prosecuted for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
  • The third highest-ranking House Republican said the decision should be left up to the Department of Justice.
  • She also said the House commission investigating the Jan. 6 riot shouldn’t be expanded to include an investigation of BLM protests.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Liz Cheney, the third highest-ranking House Republican, refused to say whether former President Donald Trump should be prosecuted for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump earlier this year, told reporters at a House GOP retreat in Florida that the decision about whether to prosecute Trump should be left up to the Department of Justice. She also said that the bipartisan House commission investigating the Jan. 6 riot shouldn’t be expanded to include an investigation of Black Lives Matter protests, as her fellow GOP leaders are pushing for.

“I’m very concerned, as all my colleagues are, about the violence we saw from BLM and antifa last summer,” she told reporters. “I think it’s very important that the January 6 commission focus on what happened on January 6.”

The Wyoming congresswoman was one of just 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” and is the most anti-Trump in GOP leadership.

“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” she said in a January statement about the riot. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Cheney, who’s said she won’t support Trump if he becomes the 2024 GOP presidential nominee, has since accused Trump of “embracing insurrection” by continuing to spread lies about the 2020 election.

“The election wasn’t stolen. There was a judicial process in place,” she said earlier this month. “If you attack the judicial process and you attack the rule of law, you aren’t defending the Constitution. You’re at war with the Constitution. And for us as a party going forward, we have to embrace the Constitution and we also have to put forward positive solutions.”

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Mississippians’ unwillingness to get vaccinated stems from a distrust of government rooted in decades of Republican messaging

vaccine shot covid Virginia
A nurse administers a shot at a Covid-19 mass vaccination site in Ridgeway, Virginia on March 12, 2021.

  • “States’ rights” has been a GOP rallying cry in Mississippi for decades.
  • With vaccine appointments left unfilled, experts are worried that no more residents will get the vaccine.
  • A fear of government intervention has crippled the state’s COVID response and vaccination efforts.
  • W. Ralph Eubanks is the author of A Place Like Mississippi and is a visiting professor of Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When Ronald Reagan opened his 1980 general election campaign at Mississippi’s Neshoba County Fair, he proclaimed, “I believe in states’ rights … And I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the Constitution to that federal establishment.”

On that distant hot summer afternoon Reagan’s message resonated with the audience since it was something they had heard before. “State’s rights” was the same phrase used to justify Jim Crow segregation, poll taxes, and literacy tests for Black voters. In the words he chose, Reagan showed that he spoke Mississippi’s language.

Reagan’s speech was also thinly-disguised racism – and uttered not far from where three murdered civil rights workers were buried in an earthen dam in the summer of 1964 – yet its sentiment of brash independence rang true with those who heard it.

Today the Republican party dominates Mississippi politics. After a period of racially-integrated governance from 1980 to 2000, Mississippi has now entered a second phase of disenfranchisement – much like the period that followed the two decades of Reconstruction – in which the legislature’s mostly Black Democratic minority has been locked out by the entirely white Republican majority. The idea that government can help Mississippians, with policies such as Medicaid expansion, is immediately dismissed. The same can be said about the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has largely avoided government support and public health guidelines during the crisis.

Although the rallying cry of state’s rights has not been used to justify the way the COVID crisis has been handled in Mississippi, it might as well have been. The language used by Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and those in his circle of Republican legislators echoes the belief that government cannot interfere in anything, even if it is during a pandemic that threatens the lives of every last citizen of the state. Yet the question remains, can the good the government is seeking to do during this crisis overshadow years of Republican messaging to the contrary?

States rights and COVID

Ever since COVID cases began to rise in Mississippi a year ago, the state has handled the crisis with a complete lack of consistency, with one message from the governor and Republican state legislators and another from local officials who have been seeking to keep their communities safe. Initially, the governor’s message was that as a rural state, the pandemic was not going to have the same impact as it was having in large cities, so there was no need for tight restrictions. Gov. Reeves’ brand of exceptionalism proved to be wrong, as COVID cases escalated over the summer months, striking the poor and communities of color hard.

By July, about one in six state lawmakers tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Dr. Thomas Dobbs of the Mississippi Health Department, since most lawmakers flouted mask requirements in the state Capitol, citing their personal freedom as a reason not to wear a mask.

Then there was Mississippi’s patchwork quilt of county-by-county mask mandates and COVID restrictions on bars and restaurants, which ignored that the virus could travel across county lines, since people in rural Mississippi often shop and seek medical attention across those artificial borders. When Gov. Reeves lifted the mask mandate in March, he told CNN’s Jake Tapper that while he strongly encouraged the wearing of masks, he did not feel the number of COVID cases in the state “required government intervention.”

Widespread vaccine hesitancy

Today Mississippi may have vaccinated nearly a quarter of its population, but the mixed messaging from Gov. Reeves over the past year has now kept the needle from moving quickly on getting enough shots in arms. As The New York Times recently reported, there is now a pile up in unclaimed vaccination appointments in the state, and public health officials believe it is a sign of vaccine hesitancy. And this is during a period when anyone over the age of 16 is eligible for the vaccine.

The state needs to do something to overcome this issue, but the question remains, will a push by the state to get more people vaccinated be viewed as, to use Gov. Reeves’s phrasing, “government intervention?” Given the history of the state, an aversion to the idea that government can help the common good stands at the root of the hesitancy.

Interestingly enough, Mississippi has one of the nation’s best child vaccination rates, largely because of a strict mandatory vaccination law that lacks the loopholes found in many states. Mississippi does not allow religious or philosophical exemptions to child vaccination.

But the COVID vaccine is another story.

Bear in mind that Mississippi is a place defined by a volatile mixture of politics and culture. The white population includes a sizeable number of Republican anti-vaxxers since nationally nearly half of Republican men and 40% of Republicans overall have said in surveys that they do not plan to be vaccinated. Mississippi’s Black population, which is roughly 38% of the population of the entire state, includes many who are suspicious of the medical establishment and thus the vaccine. White evangelicals have also expressed resistance to taking the vaccine.

When you combine all those factors with a populace conditioned to be suspicious of government, it is little wonder that there is a vaccine surplus in the state. I have seen more yard signs in the college town of Oxford, Mississippi commanding me to trust in Jesus during this pandemic than I have seen signs commanding me to wear a mask or urging me to get vaccinated.

No escaping the past

Since Reagan’s speech in Neshoba County in 1980, the message from Mississippi’s Republican establishment has been that government is the problem. Now that there is a problem that government can potentially help solve – a solution that provides the key to herd immunity in a state that has been ravaged by the pandemic – any sign of government intervention is still automatically seen as suspect by a large portion of the population, because, for years, their leaders have steadily sent the message to citizens that a government solution as an intrusion.

I often say that in Mississippi, nothing is ever escaped. The past and the present live beside each other across the state’s landscape and reverberate against each other. If anything has exposed the years of lies about fear of government that the Republican party has inflicted on Mississippi and the nation, it is this pandemic.

It is time for Mississippians and Americans to learn from our past – and unshackle ourselves from it – rather than continuing to be defined by it. Government help and guidance can help us through this crisis, just as it guided the nation out of the Great Depression. 40 years later, this pandemic has made one thing clear: Ronald Reagan’s message of freedom from government has blinded many of us to the realities of the present.

W. Ralph Eubanks is the author of A Place Like Mississippi and is a visiting professor of Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi.

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GOP official said he ‘felt like I was going into a den of virus’ after catching COVID-19 at a nearly-maskless Republican meeting

surgical mask
  • A Michigan GOP official raged at state party officials after catching COVID-19 after a party meeting.
  • Jason Watts attended an indoor meeting after some officials petitioned for his removal after he criticized Trump to The New York Times.
  • Watts told MLive that masks and vaccines “shouldn’t have a political party.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A local GOP official in Michigan tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a nearly-maskless party meeting discussing a petition to fire him, Michigan Live reported Wednesday.

Jason Watts, an elections official in Allegan County, Michigan, and party treasurer in the 6th Congressional District, told MLive on Tuesday that he was one of at least three people he saw wearing a mask at the March 31 meeting, which took place at an indoor restaurant.

The meeting was called because some officials were petitioning to remove him as treasurer after he criticized former President Donald Trump in an interview with The New York Times. He said he felt required to be at the meeting in person because “there was no Zoom option.”

Watts said he attended the meeting wearing two cloth masks but noticed that others were not wearing any masks at all.

“I felt like I was going into a den of virus,” he told MLive, estimating that there were about 70 people in attendance.

The restaurant, Travelers Café and Pub in Portage, Michigan, was operating under the state’s restaurant restrictions – reducing occupancy by 50%, allowing 80 people indoors, General Manager Brandon Jeannot told MLive. Jeannot added that staff generally encourage guests to wear masks if walking around the restaurant but are permitted to take off masks at their tables while eating.

After the meeting, Watts tested positive for COVID-19. At least four Michigan Republicans – up to as many as eight – also tested positive following the meeting, the Chicago Tribune reported. Two weeks after the meeting, Watts is still in recovery at a hospital in Grand Rapids.

Kalamazoo County Republican Chair Scott McGraw said he believes that appropriate precautions were taken in order to have the indoor meeting.

“We had a meeting,” McGraw told MLive. “Some people got COVID unfortunately after the meeting. I assume it was from the meeting but I can’t really pinpoint what these people were doing before and after a meeting. I just think you can still follow all the rules and the virus can spread easily.”

McGraw, who was vaccinated before the March 31 party meeting, said “there’s a faction of the Republican Party who don’t want to get the vaccine,” and encourages others to get the vaccine and wear masks.

“I would think it would probably have its roots in in our resolve for freedoms,” McGraw told MLive about some people being resistant to taking health precautions against COVID-19, but he said he does not have the same reluctance to follow them.

McGraw did not immediately respond to Insider’s questions regarding the March 31 event.

Watts slammed other Republicans who refused to wear masks and get vaccinated in general, saying a mask and a vaccine “shouldn’t have a political party.”

“But we’ve conjured these things to have these connotations,” Watts told MLive. “People are getting sick. And to put these connotations on these things does nobody any good.”

Insider has reached out to Scott McGraw, chair of the 6th District, for comment.

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John Boehner said he skewered Ted Cruz in his book because Cruz was ‘stirring up some of the crazies in my own caucus’

Boehner
Former Speaker of the House John Boehner at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in 2017.

  • Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner doubled down on his criticism of Sen. Ted Cruz on Monday.
  • Boehner said he “zeroed in” on Cruz because the senator was “stirring up some of the crazies in my own caucus.”
  • The former speaker even added in the audiobook of his memoir: “PS, Ted Cruz, go f— yourself.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner doubled down on his criticism of Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, on Monday.

Boehner told CBS News that he singled Cruz out, calling him “dangerous” and a “reckless a–hole,” in his forthcoming book, “On the House: A Washington Memoir,” because Cruz had amplified divisions within the GOP House caucus.

“This guy wasn’t even a member of the United States House of Representatives, he was a member of the Senate, stirring up some of the crazies in my own caucus to cause all kinds of problems,” Boehner said of Cruz during a Monday morning interview. “And that’s probably why I zeroed in on him – probably the only person in this book – in the way that I did.”

He added, “As I say in the book, there’s nothing worse than a reckless jackass who thinks he’s smarter than everybody else.”

Boehner writes that Cruz was the “head lunatic” leading “the chaos caucus in the House” of Tea Party members and right-wingers more focused on appearing on right-wing media and escalating “outrage” news cycles to drive campaign donations than passing legislation in Washington. In the audiobook of his memoir, Boehner added an unscripted, “PS, Ted Cruz, go f— yourself.”

In a tweet responding to Boehner’s criticism last week, Cruz called the former Speaker “the Swamp” and said he’s proud to receive his “drunken, bloviated scorn.”

The Ohio Republican, who’s also a sharp critic of former President Donald Trump, paints himself as an establishment Republican looking to find common ground with Democrats and get things done on policy. He criticizes multiple high-profile right-wing lawmakers, calling Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio a “political terrorist” and former Rep. Michele Bachmann a “lunatic.”

But Boehner, who served as speaker from 2011-2015, was overpowered by more right-wing forces in his party and is now out of step with a voter base that remains deeply loyal to Trump and more focused on culture wars than policy change.

Boehner has repeatedly taken aim at Cruz since leaving office. In 2016, he called the senator “Lucifer in the flesh” and told an audience that he’d “never worked with a more miserable son of a b—- in my life.”

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The Great GOP Migration: How South Florida became a shadow capital for Trump conservatives

Trump mask Miami
Supporters of then-President Donald Trump in Miami after the 2020 election.

  • As conservatives flee Blue State hostility and lockdowns, South Florida has become a GOP power base.
  • The GOP social calendar orbits Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, while revelers party mask-free at swank house parties and penthouses.
  • Greater Miami has lured California tech and right-wing news. Florida’s politics is meanwhile shifting Red.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Brittney Reed needed to get in front of Donald Trump and it had to happen fast.

It was the eve of two special elections in Louisiana, and Reed–the head of the Louisiana GOP–knew an endorsement from Trump could make the difference. So, she had secured a last-minute ticket for a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago and flew to Palm Beach to make her case in person.

It was mid-March, and Mar-a-Lago had partially closed a section of the club after several workers tested positive for COVID-19. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who became a national figure for loosening coronavirus restrictions, had booked the club for the evening and his event went on as planned.

When DeSantis and Trump finished their remarks, Reed made a beeline for the former president to discuss the two Republicans she wanted in Congress: Julia Letlow, the widow of congressman-elect Luke Letlow, who had died from COVID complications, and Claston Bernard, a former LSU track star.

Trump turned to DeSantis and others around him.

“Ron, what do you think of this race here?” Trump said, according to sources with knowledge of the event. (Representatives for Trump, DeSantis, and Bernard did not respond to Insider’s questions about the encounter.) “Is it possible, what do you think?”

The crowd agreed that Letlow was a good bet, while DeSantis said Bernard’s seat “wasn’t winnable” because the district was heavily Democratic. Trump had praised Letlow before, but it wasn’t widely known his removal from social media platforms had silenced the former president’s preferred megaphone. “How am I going to do this endorsement if I do it?” Trump asked.

Mar a Lago better
The Atlantic Ocean is seen adjacent to former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, in 2018

“Put a press release out. We’ll get it everywhere,” Reed said.

The following day, Trump released a statement promoting Letlow’s candidacy. She won easily.

Mar-a-La-Go-Go

South Florida has long been a haven for those fleeing frigid winters and high taxes. Once the pandemic began, a jet set of monied Manhattanites, tech entrepreneurs, and untethered influencers restless from Blue State lockdowns flocked to Miami en masse — helping turn Greater Miami into a conservative power base.

Once Mar-a-Lago went from being Trump’s “Winter White House” to full-time residence, the Republican Party’s social calendar has increasingly orbited his beachfront Xanadu.

“Republicans used to go to the Upper East Side to raise money but most of those people aren’t even in New York anymore. They’re in their second home in South Florida,” said Adam Weiss, a Miami-based public relations executive. “Now that New York completely shut down, that drove a whole new group of people to come down here.”

So far this year, Trump’s members-only resort has hosted high-dollar soirees for DeSantis, Utah Senator Mike Lee, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Alabama Senate candidate Lynda Blanchard.

“I have to say, I’m getting calls from senators, they all want our endorsement and I’m being very selective,” Trump said at the Noem gathering, which donors paid $4,000 to attend.

Party honchos even relocated their confabs to South Florida to ensure a Trump appearance.

The American Conservative Union switched its annual CPAC event from suburban Maryland to Orlando in February to avoid limits on large indoor gatherings. It was there that Trump made his first public remarks since leaving office.

Trump won
Former President Trump’s supporters gather near his Mar-a-Lago home on Feb. 15, 2021.

The Republican National Committee picked Palm Beach for its spring donor retreat in April and set a portion of the weekend at Mar-a-Lago to appease Trump after officials angered the former president by using his image in its fundraisers.

When Air Force One touched down in West Palm Beach on Jan. 20, hundreds of MAGA-hatted faithful lined Southern Boulevard gripping blue “Trump 2020” flags and hand painted “Trump Won” signs as the former president’s motorcade whizzed by.

It was a far friendlier atmosphere than he had lately experienced in Manhattan, where raucous protesters would pack Fifth Avenue, at the foot of Trump Tower, whenever Trump returned from Washington.

“It’s a wealthy place and there’s not many places where there are so many heavy hitters who are Republican,” Weiss said.

Arrest Trump 2
A protest in front of Trump Tower on March 8, 2021 along New York’s Fifth Ave.

“Isn’t it so nice that Miami is open?”

Power lunches in Palm Beach still reign among Trump’s inner circle. Rudy Giuliani is known to hold court at The Breakers and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been seen dining at La Bilboquet, a Worth Avenue outpost of a high-end Manhattan eatery that opened in February. The afterparty crowd for Mar-a-Lago events often hits Cucina Palm Beach where Kimberly Guilfoyle, who purchased a $9.7 million mansion with her boyfriend Don Jr. in nearby Jupiter, has been spotted dancing on the tables.

The love for Trump spreads 70 miles south of Mar-a-Lago to Miami, a city that never sleeps thanks to many coronavirus restrictions lifting months ago.

They pack into Carbone, one of the restaurants dotting Collins Avenue in South Beach. Or Socialista, a swanky lounge attached to Cipriani Restaurant, where transplants from San Francisco start-ups rub shoulders with maskless models and the occasional conservative influencer, before moving on to an all-night party at a South Beach penthouse or at the Star Island mansion of plastic surgeon Leonard Hochstein and “Real Housewives of Miami” star Lisa Hochstein.

“Isn’t it so nice that Miami is open?” one tech founder, who called himself a COVID refugee, said. “I’m so over COVID.”

But the hottest reservation in Biscayne Bay is Joia Beach, a Mykonos-inspired beach club with views of megayachts and the Miami skyline.

There’s currently a three-month wait on Open Table but VIPs like Akon, Maluma, Adriana Lima, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb, and Tiffany Trump have snagged tables to nibble on Tasmanian trout crudo ($20), Turkish octopus ($30), and winter fennel and crab salad ($28).

It helps to be on a texting basis with one of the restaurant’s partners. Others have tried more unusual measures.

“People have swam in,” Marko Gojanovic, a Joia Beach partner and real estate agent, said. “There are people who have tried to pull jet skis in areas we can’t see. People have paddled up to us. Thank God we have security.”

Ron and Kim
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Kimberly Guilfoyle at a Trump campaign rally at Orlando Sanford International Airport in 2020.

Coronavirus is still raging in Florida a year after the pandemic began. The state has had more than 2 million cases and 33,000 deaths, with a quarter of the state’s total occurring in Miami-Dade County alone. But South Floridians–old timers and new arrivals alike–have largely shed their coronavirus concerns like a chunky sweater at the beach.

No one shames people for forgoing masks at hotels and restaurants or packing house parties. Mar-a-Lago remains a mask-free zone.

Contrast that to what happened in the northeast last winter, when a video of a Queens Republican club’s Christmas party, featuring a maskless conga line, gained 3.7 million views online and drew torrents of condemnation. Manhattan Young Republicans were so spooked by the media they held their winter gala at a secret location in New Jersey.

Washington has become less hospitable to Trump-friendly conservatives too. American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp said he’s had several hostile encounters with progressives in public. He and his wife, former White House communications aide Mercedes Schlapp, are eyeing a move south.

“I was eating a salad last weekend at a restaurant in Old Town Alexandria and was berated by a woman who called me an ‘a–hole,'” Schlapp said. “Usually you have to cut someone off in traffic to earn that kind of title but here you just have to be someone recognized for being a Republican.”

The Great Republican Migration

South Florida has been beckoning conservatives for years, but locals say the influx has accelerated since Trump took office in 2017.

Thank U Trump
Supporters of outgoing US President Donald Trump await his return to West Palm Beach, Florida.

Fox News is still headquartered in Manhattan but other right-wing outlets have proliferated along the Gold Coast. Newsmax, the Boca Raton-based cable channel, is adding a news bureau in Miami later this year. Conservative radio host and Palm City resident Dan Bongino is one of several commentators trying out for the slot that Rush Limbaugh anchored from Palm Beach until his death earlier this year. Far-right podcaster Bill Mitchell has been broadcasting his YourVoice America program from Miami since 2019. And MAGA influencer Maggie Vandenberghe fled California for Palm Beach this winter.

The party’s donor class soon followed. Billionaires fleeing Blue State progressivism decamped to Miami’s most exclusive islands. Palantir co-founder and Republican megadonor Peter Thiel plunked down $18 million in September for a Venetian Islands chateau where MTV’s “The Real World: Miami” was filmed. Founders Fund partner Keith Rabois chided San Francisco for being “massively improperly run and managed” before dropping $29 million on an estate near Thiel in December, while Blumberg Capital’s David Blumberg blamed “poor governance” in California before making his cross-country journey.

“Miami should be the easiest and cheapest city in the country for somebody to start a business,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “I want to make sure everyone around the country knows that Miami is here to help you grow, not keep you from growing.”

A political shift is underway

Florida’s transformation from swingy purple to deeper red would have been unthinkable two decades ago when George W. Bush won the state and the presidency by a minuscule 537 votes. Southeast Florida swelled more than a million people since 2000 but it is far less of a Democratic stronghold than it used to be.

Trump and FL GOP
US President Donald Trump at Florida’s Lake Okeechobee in 2019, with Governor Ron DeSantis and Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio.

President Barack Obama won Palm Beach County by 24 points and Miami-Dade by 16 points in 2008 en route to statewide victories during both presidential campaigns. But Trump won twice by making up ground in Democratic counties.

Florida Republicans knocked doors for months boosting turnout while the Biden curtailed canvassing during the health crisis. The Trump campaign also accused Democrats of supporting socialist policies — a message that resonated among Cuban and Venezuelan immigrants who fled brutal left-wing regimes.

“Democrats were flat-footed in dealing with accusations of socialism in commercials where people had lived under the boot of socialism,” Dan Gelber, Democratic mayor of South Beach, said. “I don’t think we responded aggressively enough.”

Latino voters in Miami-Dade also feared economic damage from school and business closures more than getting sick, according to voter data Equis analyzed.

miami volleyball
Beachgoers play volleyball on Dec. 19, 2020 in South Beach.

“As bad as the coronavirus pandemic was in terms of caseloads and deaths, apparently a lot more Floridians were concerned with the economy and that certainly helped Trump,” Aubrey Jewett, University of Central Florida political science professor, said.

Trump’s presence in Florida has benefited the state’s ambitious officeholders. Ron DeSantis has become a 2024 frontrunner in several polls after being one of the first governors to reopen his state. Marco Rubio has a clear shot at re-election and is again seen as a likely presidential candidate.

While the coronavirus has sped up the conservative influx, it’s not clear what will happen once the pandemic recedes. New arrivals could stay in South Florida now that remote work has become more prevalent and there’s less of a need for face-to-face meetings.

There’s always been a stigma about Miami but people told me in their New York circles that stigma has been lifted,” said Reid Heidenry, a Sotheby’s agent who sold over $100 million in real estate in the past year, said. “In the business world, it’s now socially acceptable to live in a place like Miami Beach.”

Whether a COVID refugee or long-time fixture of Miami Beach, there’s one thing that’s indisputable across party lines.

“Freedom tastes pretty good,” Zangrillo said at a house party.

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Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner in new book excerpt calls Ted Cruz a ‘reckless a–hole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else’

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, answers questions on his opinion on the resignation of Speaker of the House John Boehner at the Values Voters Summit at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington D.C., Friday, September 25, 2015.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, answers questions on his opinion on the resignation of Speaker of the House John Boehner at the Values Voters Summit at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington D.C., Friday, September 25, 2015.

  • Former House Speaker John Boehner didn’t mince words about his ex-GOP colleagues in his new book, “On the House.”
  • Boehner calls Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas “dangerous” and a “reckless a–hole” in an excerpt of his forthcoming book.
  • This isn’t the first time Boehner, who served as House speaker from 2011-2015, has made his dislike for Cruz known.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former House Speaker John Boehner didn’t mince words when reflecting on his GOP congressional colleagues, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who he called “dangerous” and a “reckless a–hole” in an excerpt from his new book.

“By 2013 the chaos caucus in the House had built up their own power base thanks to fawning right-wing media and outrage-driven fundraising cash,” Boehner wrote in “On the House: A Washington Memoir,” a portion of which was published in Politico on Friday. “And now they had a new head lunatic leading the way, who wasn’t even a House member. There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless a–hole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz.”

This isn’t the first time Boehner, who served as House speaker from 2011-2015, has made his dislike for Cruz known. Axios reported in February that Boehner went off-script in the recording of his book and, when discussing Cruz, added, “Oh, and Ted Cruz, go f— yourself.”

And in 2016, Boehner called Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh.”

“I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,” Boehner said during a talk at Stanford University.

Boehner had comparatively nicer things to say about former President Barack Obama than he does about a whole segment of his own party, which he argues has succumbed to “paranoia” and is led by conspiracy theorists. Boehner wrote that while Obama didn’t do enough to appeal to Republicans in Congress, it would’ve been difficult for him to negotiate with a party led by “right-wing propaganda nuts” and “kooks on YouTube spreading dangerous nonsense” about the then-president.

“[Obama] could come off as lecturing and haughty. He still wasn’t making Republican outreach a priority,” Boehner wrote. “But on the other hand-how do you find common cause with people who think you are a secret Kenyan Muslim traitor to America?”

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More than 70 top Black business leaders are reportedly urging US companies to fight against Republican voting laws

Kenneth Chenault speaks onstage in 2018 and Merck CEO, Kenneth Frazier, speaks at a briefing on the production of the Covid-19 vaccine in 2021
Kenneth Chenault speaks onstage in 2018 and Merck CEO, Kenneth Frazier, speaks at a briefing on the production of the Covid-19 vaccine in 2021

  • 72 Black executives are urging US companies to speak out about new voting laws, the NYT reports.
  • They claim the new bill, being advanced by Republicans, could restrict the rights of Black voters.
  • Former American Express CEO, Kenneth Chenault and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier are in charge of the letter.
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Top Black business leaders in the US are calling on companies to fight against restrictive voting rights laws being put in place in at least 43 states, according to a report from The New York Times on Wednesday.

So far, 72 Black executives have signed a letter to American firms, urging them to publicly oppose new laws by Republicans that they said would restrict the rights of Black voters. It comes after Georgia signed a bill on March 25 that the business leaders allege is discriminatory against Black voters.

Former American Express CEO, Kenneth Chenault, who is now a director at Berkshire Hathaway, and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier are spearheading the letter about the new voting bill, known as SB 202, or the Election Integrity Act of 2021.

Robert F. Smith, CEO of Vista Equity Partners, Mellody Hobson and John Rogers Jr., the co-chief executives of Ariel Investments, Raymond McGuire, a former Citigroup executive, and Roger Ferguson Jr., the chief executive of TIAA, are among the 72 signatories, the Times reported.

“As Black business leaders, we cannot sit silently in the face of this gathering threat to our nation’s democratic values and allow the fundamental right of Americans, to cast their votes for whomever they choose, to be trampled upon yet again,” the letter said, per a CNN report.

“We call upon our colleagues in Corporate America to join us in taking a non-partisan stand for equality and democracy. Each of us stands ready to work with you on what can and must be done,” it said.

Read more: I asked MyPillow whether it sells customer data to political committees. Mike Lindell called back – and things got interesting.

The letter doesn’t specifically mention companies’ names. But critics of the bill have called on major firms in Georgia, such as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, to speak out after Gov. Brian Kemp signed it. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said Wednesday in a public memo that “the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.”

Democratic officials and civil rights groups have criticized the new law, saying it suppresses voters, particularly those who are Black. President Joe Biden called it a “blatant attack on the Constitution” and likened it to “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Chenault said: “What we’re calling on corporations to do is not just say they believe strongly in the right to vote. It’s to publicly and directly oppose any discriminatory legislation and all measures designed to limit any individuals ability to vote.”

The election bill also says volunteers shouldn’t hand out water and snacks to voters waiting in line and there should be no “ballot selfies” taken. Another controversial measure is adopting stricter voter ID laws for absentee ballots.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is the most recent executive to condemn Georgia’s new election law. On Thursday, Cook said: “It ought to be easier than ever for every eligible citizen to exercise their right to vote.”

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GOP Sen. Ron Johnson falsely claimed Greenland only recently froze and now admits he has ‘no idea’ about its history

ron johnson stimulus checks
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

  • In an attempt to undermine climate science, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson falsely claimed that Greenland was named for its once-green landscapes.
  • Johnson admitted to The New York Times last week that he had “no idea” how Greenland got its name.
  • Johnson has rejected the science proving that climate change is overwhelmingly caused by human activity.
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In an attempt to undermine climate science, Sen. Ron Johnson falsely claimed in 2010 that Greenland – a largely ice-covered island – was named for its once-green landscapes.

Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, admitted to The New York Times last week that he had “no idea” how Greenland got its name.

“You know, there’s a reason Greenland was called Greenland,” Johnson told Madison news outlet WKOW-TV in 2010. “It was actually green at one point in time. And it’s been, you know, since, it’s a whole lot whiter now so we’ve experienced climate change throughout geologic time.”

In reality, Erik Thorvaldsson, a Viking settler also known as Erik the Red, gave Greenland a misleading name in the hopes of attracting Europeans to the island. The Danish territory has been covered in ice and glaciers for at least 2.5 million years.

“I could be wrong there, but that’s always been my assumption that, at some point in time, those early explorers saw green,” Johnson told The Times last week. “I have no idea.”

Some of those who deny the scientific consensus on climate change spread the myth that ice ages and warm periods between them prove that the global warming the Earth is currently experiencing is natural. Johnson has repeatedly rejected the science proving that climate change is overwhelmingly caused by human activity. He’s falsely claimed that global warming is caused by sunspots and that there’s nothing humans can do to reverse the phenomenon.

“If you take a look at geologic time, we’ve had huge climate swings,” Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a 2010 interview. “I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven, not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate.”

He went on, “The Middle Ages was an extremely warm period in time too, and it wasn’t like there were tons of cars on the road.”

Johnson also claimed that attempting to reverse climate change is a “fool’s errand” that would wreck the economy.

“I don’t think we can do anything about controlling what the climate is,” he said.

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