Like any game of chicken, the government shutdown was always an all-or-nothing proposition for the tea party. Now, with a deal about to be done, it’s pretty clear that what they got was nothing.
The movement, running out of steam after the 2012 election, got a shot in the arm after the IRS scandal broke, then roared back to life to support Ted Cruz’s defund-or-shutdown movement over Obamacare. For a moment this fall, it even felt like a bit like 2010.
But unlike 2010, when the tea party helped Republicans win 60 House seats, this time the movement has only hurt itself—perhaps mortally. A new Pew survey out today shows just how bad the damage is. The tea party is less popular than ever, with nearly half of Americans holding a negative view of the movement and just 30 percent of Republicans saying they view it favorably. Just a third of GOPers say the tea-party movement is even part of their own party.
Much of this collapse has happened since June, suggesting it was the government shutdown that killed the beast. Democrats, Republicans, and independents all agree here.
And there’s now a huge split between tea party-Republicans and non-tea-party Republicans, reflecting the split already visible in Congress.
Nowhere in the Pew poll is this more evident than in the numbers for Ted Cruz, who emerged from obscurity to become the de facto leader of the right wing of his party. While his favorable rating among tea-party Republicans has risen since July by 27 points—from 47 to 74—his unfavorable numbers have risen 15 points among non-tea-party Republicans over the same period, from 16 to 31 percent.
Democrats were dinged, too, and Republicans even more so, but the tea party got the worst of it.
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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.
"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."