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Just Call Trump a Loser

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Let’s assume Donald Trump runs again for president in 2024. Yes, I know, caveats, caveats. Republicans say it’s too early to discuss ’24. A lot can change between now and then. Maybe Trump won’t actually run. Maybe he’s just teasing the possibility to milk the attention. Apparently, he likes attention.

But if Trump does decide to inflict himself on another race, he will enter as the clear Republican favorite, enjoying a presumption of invincibility inside the GOP. This has engendered a belief that anyone who challenges Trump must tread lightly, or end up like the roadkill that his primary opponents became in 2016.

That notion is outdated.

Trump’s bizarre and enduring hold over his party has made it verboten for many Republicans to even utter publicly the unpleasant fact of his defeat—something they will readily acknowledge in private. I caught up recently with several Trump-opposing Republican strategists and former associates of the president who argued this restraint should end. The best way for a Republican to depose Trump in 2024, they said, will be to call Trump a loser, as early and as brutally as possible—and keep pointing out the absurdity of treating a one-term, twice-impeached, 75-year-old former president like a kingmaker and heir apparent. In other words, don’t worry about hurting Special Boy’s feelings.

“Why on earth would we hitch our wagons again to a crybaby sore loser who lost the popular vote twice, lost the House, lost the Senate, and lost the White House, and so on?” said Barbara Comstock, a longtime political consultant and former Republican congresswoman from Virginia. “For Republicans, whether they embrace the Big Lie or not, Trump is vulnerable to having the stench of disaster on him.”

Trump’s wasn’t an ordinary election defeat, either. Some nervy Republican challenger needs to remind everyone how rare it is for an incumbent president to lose reelection, and also that Trump was perhaps the most graceless loser and insufferable whiner in presidential history—the first outgoing commander in chief in 152 years to skip his successor’s swearing-in. And that he dragged a lot of Republicans down with him. As Comstock hinted, Trump was the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over his party’s loss of the House, Senate, and White House in a single term. Said nervy Republican challenger could even (just for fun) remind the former president that he once called the person he lost to “the worst presidential candidate in the history of presidential politics.”

“So what does that make you, sir? At least Jimmy Carter lost to, you know, Ronald Reagan.”

This is a devastating point of attack against Trump. He knows it, too, which is why he has taken such pains to loser-proof himself and scrub his MAGA universe of any doubt that he was in fact reelected “in a landslide.” Don’t let him get away with that, the cabinet of critics urged. Abandon all deference, and don’t forget to troll the troller.

“It is erroneous to think there’s a benefit to being the adult in the room against Donald Trump,” said Michael Cohen, the former president’s fixer turned antagonist, who clearly knows him and all of his trigger points.

“There’s a way of going after Trump that I would call intelligent mockery,” continued Cohen, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal charges for lying to Congress on behalf of his former client and paying hush money to Trump’s porn-actor paramour, Stormy Daniels. “If you can make your criticism personal to him, he will become flustered. And when he gets flustered, his level of stupidity rises and then morphs into complete idiocy.”

If it was true in 2016 that other Republicans couldn’t touch Trump, it’s not necessarily so now, given the win-loss record he has since accumulated.

“The problem with 2016 is that people waited ’til they were at their politically weakest point before they started pounding Trump,” said Tim Miller, a former top campaign aide to Jeb Bush who now writes for The Bulwark. “Could that have worked for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz if they started in September? I don’t know, but it helps not to be on your deathbed.”

Miller and others point out that Trump’s defeats in office go well beyond the loss of just his job. Despite Trump’s repeated claims of “promises made, promises kept,” most of his big-ticket promises from 2016 never came to fruition.

The attack riff practically writes itself: “Remember how Trump kept saying how easy it would be to balance the federal budget (‘very quickly’), repeal Obamacare and replace it (‘with something terrific’), and sign a massive infrastructure bill? None of those things actually happened, except the infrastructure bill—which was signed by Joe Biden.”

Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” along the southern border? Only about 80 miles of new barrier were built where no structure was in place previously. Trump mostly presided over repairs and enhancements to the existing wall. And Mexico paid for none of it.

Another inconvenient data point for Trump is that he left office with a 34 percent approval rating, the worst of his presidency. The average throughout his term—41 percent—was four points lower than that of any other president in Gallup’s history of polling. (President Biden’s approval numbers haven’t exactly been gangbusters either—stuck in the low 40s since the fall.) “Voters can be practical,” Miller said. “They want to win, and they need to be reminded that you can’t win with a big fat loser.”

We’re already seeing contours of some early strategies for running against Trump. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is mostly ignoring the former president while establishing his own cachet of lib-owning, base-arousing, culture-splitting bona fides. Former Vice President Mike Pence is pursuing a loyal-deputy and next-man-up course, despite his refusal to go along with Trump’s January 6 caper, which rendered him dead to his old boss and sentenced to hanging by Trump’s “Stop the steal” brigades.

Both of these are Trump-adjacent approaches predicated on keeping the faith with “the base” while asserting that, in many ways, Trump was still a great president. Essentially, DeSantis and Pence are positioning themselves as more competent and disciplined versions of Trump, without the baggage.

I doubt that this Trump-but-different tactic would work, especially with Trump himself in the race. Plus, why waste so much good material? A “He’s a loser” strategy would be way more direct and satisfying, and would have the added benefit of driving Trump nuts.

Who could make this work? Perhaps a popular Republican governor such as Maryland’s Larry Hogan or New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu, neither of whom has much use for Trump. “You know, he’s probably going to be the next president,” Sununu said of Trump earlier this month in a comedic speech at Washington’s annual Gridiron Club dinner. “Nah, I’m just kidding; he’s fucking crazy.”

The line killed, according to Comstock, who was at the dinner. It underscored how effective humor—or ridicule—can be in the airing of unspoken and commonly understood truths. “This will be an important weapon for some Republicans to use against Trump at some point,” Comstock told me.

Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor, also could serve as a useful nuisance against Trump. Christie used to brag in Trenton that he knew how to deal with bullies: “You can either sidle up to them, or you can punch them in the face. I like to punch them in the face.”

Christie dropped out of the 2016 presidential race after New Hampshire and promptly sidled up to Trump, where he remained for the better part of four years before reaching his end with Trump late in his term. The final indignity occurred when Christie attended the September 2020 super-spreader reception at the White House for the Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, after which the president, the first lady, and several guests, including Christie, tested positive for COVID-19. Trump was nice enough to call and check in on Christie when he was laid up in a New Jersey ICU. “Are you going to say you got this from me?” Trump asked, according to Christie. “It was one of the few laughs I had in the hospital,” Christie told me later of Trump’s gesture of deep concern. “I got off the phone, and I just shook my head. Like, this guy will never change.”

Christie is probably doomed to being dismissed as both a Trump traitor (by MAGA world) and a Trump doormat (by anti-Trumpers), but he could still make for an effective pugilistic foil. He has been a vocal proponent of Republicans moving on from 2020—which Trump of course has taken note of, and not in a nice way. The former president put out a statement saying that no one wanted to hear from a guy like Christie, “who left New Jersey with a less than 9 percent approval rating.”

In fact, Christie’s approval numbers in New Jersey bottomed out at about 13 percent, but that’s beside the point. The main point was how Christie came back at Trump. “When I ran for reelection in 2013, I got 60 percent of the vote,” Christie told Axios on HBO. “When he ran for reelection, he lost to Joe Biden.”

That could bear repeating.

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U.S. Senate Candidate Alan Grayson Loses Libel Lawsuit

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The Second Amended Complaint also alleges that the same content appeared online, alongside other statements that Plaintiff: “used international government travel to drum up business for his hedge fund”; “used Congressional staff to work for the fund” (omitting the fact that the staffer worked for the fund when Plaintiff was not a member of Congress); and called for a reporter’s arrest after the reporter asked Plaintiff some questions (omitting the fact that Plaintiff called for the reporter’s arrest because the reporter repeatedly chest-bumped him in an ambush interview)….

Both mailers cite to a December 18, 2015, report by the Office of Congressional Ethics (“OCE”) and encourage readers to review it themselves and “check the facts” in three different places. As is relevant here, the nearly 1,000-page OCE report, also attached to Defendants’ brief, finds “substantial reason to believe” that: Plaintiff “improperly allowed the use of his name by four entities connected to [his] hedge fund,” including entities in the Cayman Islands, “and received compensation through management fees”; Plaintiff “improperly omitted information related to his assets, unearned and earned income, reportable agreements and positions from his [annual financial] disclosure statements”; and “[Plaintiff’s] congressional staffer improperly used official resources for unofficial purposes, including the use of staff time and resources to perform work for [his] hedge fund.”

In addition to the OCE report, one of the mailers cites to a June 30, 2015, Politico article, “Grayson hedge funds skirt ethics rule,” and Defendants attach the article—which they assert has not been retracted and remains available online—to their brief. In it, Politico reports that Plaintiff managed “hedge funds that use his name in their title[s],” “two of which are based in the Cayman Islands,” “a practice prohibited by congressional ethics rules designed to prevent members from using their elected post for financial gain.” Defendants also attach a February 11, 2016, New York Times article, “Alan Grayson’s Double Life: Congressman and Hedge Fund Manager,” to their brief, again asserting that it has not been retracted and remains available online:

This highly unusual dual role—a sitting House lawmaker running a hedge fund, which until recently had operations in the Cayman Islands—has led to an investigation of Mr. Grayson by the House Committee on Ethics. The inquiry has become public, but emails and marketing documents obtained by [The New York Times] show the extent to which Mr. Grayson’s roles as a hedge fund manager and a member of Congress were intertwined, and how he promoted his international travels, some with congressional delegations, to solicit business.

As to their statements regarding the incident between Plaintiff and the reporter, Defendants attach July 2016 articles by Politico, The Washington Post, Orlando Weekly, and Vanity Fair,totheirbrief,oncemore asserting that these reports have not been retracted and remain available online. Thus, Defendants correctly contend that their reasonable reliance on previously published reports from these independent, reputable sources for all their advertisements, as well as their citation to some of these sources in the mailers,rebutsthepresenceofactualmalice….

[Plaintiff’s] purported “proof” of actual malice consists of:

 

  • No Labels, ‘s boast to donors that it could destroy Plaintiff’s political career.

 

  • An overview of the donations received by and the transfers among Defendants during the 2018 election, accompanied by Plaintiff’s speculations that Defendants used this money to publish the allegedly defamatory statements against him.

 

  • Plaintiff’s observation that he and one of Defendants’ major donors, Fox News, “had attacked each other for “

 

  • Emails from Defendants’ counsel and opposition researcher evaluating various advertisements for potential defamation liability, most of which advise the qualification of certain statements and the accurate quotation of source materials, and Plaintiff’s commentary that Defendants failed to heed this advice in numerous allegedly defamatory publications.

 

  • Plaintiff’s statement that although Defendants were aware that the OCE report does not contain final conclusions regarding his guilt or innocence of the ethical violations alleged against him, their allegedly defamatory publications “indicate the opposite.”

 

  • Plaintiff’s counsel’s cease and desist letter to Defendants, “informing them that their attacks were false and defamatory,” and Plaintiff’s remark that “[t]here is no indication that the Defendants did anything to check … their facts after this.”

 

As a preliminary matter, Plaintiff’s various theories and conjectures regarding Defendants’ liability are insufficient at the summary judgment stage of this proceeding to carry his case, and Plaintiff’s counsel’s cease and desist letter characterizing Defendants’ publications as defamatory does not make them so. And, as to the actual pieces of evidence referenced, Plaintiff’s disorderly citation to the record makes it impossible for the Court to locate them. The Court is under no obligation to sift through the record and, in fact, doing so would be improper, as the Court cannot remediate haphazard advocacy.

But, even accepting Plaintiff’s professions at face value, this is far from a demonstration of actual malice. At most, this “evidence” merely shows ill will in the ordinary sense of the term and, perhaps, a deviation from professional publishing standards. Thus, there is no clear and convincing proof that Defendants published the first category of allegedly defamatory statements with actual malice, and summary judgment in favor of Defendants as to these publications is proper.

[B.] The Second Category: Allegations of Abuse Against Plaintiff by Lolita Carson-Grayson, His Ex-Wife

Next, the Second Amended Complaint generally alleges that Defendants knew Lolita Carson-Grayson’s charges of abuse against Plaintiff were false and, nonetheless, published her statements, omitting her recantation of those allegations. However, the Second Amended Complaint does not state what allegations of abuse were recanted by Lolita Carson-Grayson, attach the challenged publications, or otherwise describe the allegedly defamatory statements at issue with any specificity.

In their brief, Defendants list the allegedly defamatory statements (apparently) at issue and attach the (supposedly) challenged publications: “Her  husband came up behind her and hit her on the back of the head with a large book”; “Mr. Grayson … hit her in the back of her head … and told her ‘I’m gonna kill you'”; “Alan Grayson’s ex-wife repeatedly reported Grayson to police for verbally and physically abusing her over two decades”; “Alan Grayson, serial abuser”; “Two decades of reported abuse. Alan Grayson: enough is enough.” Again, many of the challenged publications cite to articles by independent, reputable sources and encourage readers to review these sources themselves and “check the facts.” And, again, Defendants assert that they reasonably relied on these previously published reports of Lolita Carson- Grayson’s allegations against Plaintiff, particularly a July 26, 2016, Politico article titled “Grayson’s ex-wife claimed domestic abuse over two decades.” As part of the article, Politico published police reports and medical records provided by Lolita Carson-Grayson that seem to corroborate her allegations.

In response, … Plaintiff then provides a completely irrelevant narrative of the tumultuous annulment proceedings between him and his ex-wife, announcing that “[w]ithout question Lolita Carson-Grayson is a vicious, violent, world-class liar.” Plaintiff’s opinion of his ex-wife’s veracity is immaterial to the question of Defendants’ state of mind when publishing this undefined category of allegedly defamatory statements.

As evidence that Defendants knew Lolita Carson-Grayson is a “liar,” Plaintiff cites to an opposition research report and an email exchange between Christine Dolan, a consultant for No Labels, Inc., and Nancy Jacobson. Once again, Plaintiff’s citations to the record are incorrect and incoherent. Even so, the highlighted excerpts from this “evidence” in Plaintiff’s brief only discusses an altercation in 2014 between Plaintiff and Lolita Carson-Grayson in which a video proved that she was the aggressor. Thus, at most, Plaintiff’s “evidence” shows that Defendants were aware that Lolita Carson-Grayson instigated the domestic violence incident in 2014 and lied about her role in the event; it does not show that Defendants were aware she was the aggressor in every domestic violence incident between herself and Plaintiff or that she lied about all allegations of abuse.

Defendants’ reply highlights this point. They argue that Plaintiff’s response brief relies on an outdated September 2015 opposition research report. They also state that they based the challenged publications on the 2016 Politico article, which included police reports and medical records spanning over 20 years, some of which seem to corroborate Lolita Carson-Grayson’s allegations of abuse. This position adds some clarity to Plaintiff’s comment that, “[h]ad Defendants updated their research on the annulment proceedings, they would have learned” of Lolita Carson-Grayson’s allegedly incessant deception.  However, there is no indication that Defendants “purposefully avoided further investigation with the intent to avoid the truth,” and “a failure to investigate, standing on its own, does not indicate the presence of actual malice.” Thus, there is no clear and convincing proof that Defendants published this amorphous second category of allegedly defamatory statements with actual malice, and summary judgment as to these publications is proper.

{Most of Plaintiff’s response brief is in single-spaced, bullet-pointed, 12-point font. Normally, the Court would strike this filing as a blatant violation of Local Rules 1.08 and 3.01, but it suffers through this headache-inducing format in the interests of judicial efficiency.}

Congratulations to Raymond Michael Rufat and Todd R. Legon of Legon Fodiman, P.A., who represented defendants. Grayson was represented by Brittany Michelle Wages and Tucker H. Byrd of Byrd Campbell, P.A.

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Buffalo Mass Murderer’s Manifesto Disproves Carlson Responsibility

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Dr. Jill and Joe Biden in Buffalo this week (TGP screengrab)

By Matt Mackowiak, with permission to republish from Real Clear Politics

The left in America has an instinct to use horrific events for their own purposes, to help them achieve what they were already attempting through other means. The mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y. over the weekend is only the latest example.

Within hours (minutes?) of the news that a deranged racist drove to Buffalo to open fire at a grocery store serving primarily African American residents, an array of liberals launched intense criticism of the highest rated cable news host in prime time: Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

When seeking to blame a cable news host for the actions of a mass murderer, one would hope facts would be considered before leveling such a charge.

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In his 180-page manifesto, the shooter includes a chart claiming that Fox Corporation’s predecessor, 21st Century Fox, was run by Jews and accusing Rupert Murdoch of being secretly Jewish. The shooter posted photos of 34 individuals – all Fox News executives, anchors, reporters, or contributors – who either are Jewish (32), have a Jewish spouse (1), or is a Christian Zionist (1).

In the same manifesto, the shooter specifically denies he’s a conservative, writing that “conservatism is corporatism in disguise, I want no part of it.” He then goes on a long rant attacking conservatism. He specifically credits 4Chan and white supremacist websites for his own radicalization. Tucker Carlson, whom the hard left is blaming for this tragic mass murder, was not mentioned in the screed.

If using domestic terrorism incidents to achieve political goals is now a widely accepted tactic, then liberals and their platformed messengers need to answer for these recent incidents:

  • The 2022 New York subway shooter was virulently anti-white and an adherent of black identity extremism.
  • The 2021 Waukesha Christmas parade killer wrote an anti-Donald Trump rap that included the lyrics “f— the pigs.”
  • The 2019 Dayton shooter self-identified as a leftist and supported Antifa, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.
  • The 2017 congressional baseball shooter was a left-wing Bernie Sanders supporter who targeted Republicans.
  • The 2016 Dallas police shooter was a supporter of Black Lives Matter and the New Black Panther Party.

Let’s return to host Carlson for a moment. His nightly opinion news program certainly offers sharp commentary, much as MSNBC and CNN do, and he has been rewarded with high ratings and a large and loyal audience built over time.

His critics, who have tried to destroy his nightly platform with advertiser boycotts, smear campaigns, and public pressure, have failed up until now. But they also intentionally miss a key fact: Carlson has repeatedly denounced political violence as a tactic, something the left refuses to do (as we have seen at the homes of Supreme Court Justices and during police protests in recent years).

Reviewing Carlson’s show transcripts and public record, it is easy to identify at least 26 instances when the host specifically denounced political violence in no uncertain terms. Here are five of the most recent examples:

May 4, 2022

CARLSON: No, we should not put up with this stuff. No violence. Period.

January 6, 2022

CARLSON: We’ve consistently denounced political violence of any kind, no matter who commits it, even [when] places like Yahoo News were giving a pass to the BLM rioters who killed dozens of Americans.

May 22, 2021

SEN. RON JOHNSON: Now, I have to say, I condemn the violence. We all do. It is repugnant. It was repulsive.

CARLSON: Of course.

January 22, 2021

CARLSON: Well, we’ve been against, obviously, violence and terrorism since the day the show went on the air.

January 19, 2021

CARLSON: We don’t like mobs. We don’t like vandalism. We don’t like violence. We said it at the time. We’ll say it again now, we’ll never stop saying it.

While Carlson has repeatedly condemned violence, those on the left continue to ignore violence and refuses to condemn it, except when they can blame anyone they define as a “right-wing figure.”

The Buffalo mass murder was an unspeakable, racist crime that deserves the harshest punishment allowed by law. Law enforcement must be investigated as to why the shooter was legally able to buy a gun after making threats against a school previously. Liberals and progressives should focus their attention on 4Chan and white supremacist websites, which the shooter specifically cites as the cause of his racism and hate.

Facts matter – or at least they should.

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Bill de Blasio Announces Run for Congress | National Review

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‘I know how to do it from years of serving the people of this city,’ the former mayor said.

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