A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Everybody Makes Mistakes
Just hours after he was caught on tape trashing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Putin-esque terms at a recent town hall, far-right Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) held another town hall at a North Carolina county Republican HQ on Thursday and expressed his deep regret that there was an election.
- “I have got to tell you how sorry I am that in Washington, DC, we were not able to stop the 2020 election from happening,” a somber Cawthorn told his supporters.
- Cawthorn’s apology, which was obviously rooted in Trump’s Big Lie, came after he accused Zelensky of pushing “misinformation on America” on Thursday as the GOP lawmaker was defending his previous attacks against the Ukrainian president.
- There’s no evidence Zelensky’s been spreading misinformation about Russia’s assault on his country.
‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Pops Up In Georgia
Republican state senators in Georgia have introduced their own version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would make it illegal for teachers to “promote, compel, or encourage classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not appropriate for the age and developmental stage of the student.”
- The Georgia bill weirdly only targets private schools, unlike Florida’s. It’s titled the “Common Humanity in Private Education Act.”
- The measure is unlikely to pass given that it was introduced this late in the legislative session (right after Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature passed its bill on Tuesday, in fact), as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. But that’s obviously not going to stop it from getting brought up again later down the road.
- The bill also takes aim at “critical theory” being taught in schools, an efficient way to make sure all the GOP’s “anti-wokeness” bases are covered in one strike (not clear why it’s not the full “critical race theory” though).
- Two of the bill’s 10 co-sponsors are running for higher office, including lieutenant governor.
Congress Passes $1.5 Trillion Spending Bill
The Senate approved the massive omnibus spending package on Thursday evening, and now it heads to Biden’s desk. The 2,700-page bill, which includes $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, funds some of the Democrats’ top priorities in social spending. CNN breaks down what’s in it here.
Russia Dials Up Ukraine Siege
- Wall Street Journal: “Russian Airstrikes Intensify in Western Ukraine”
- The Guardian: “Bombs hit Lutsk, Dnipro and Ivano-Frankivsk amid relentless bombardment of Kharkiv”
- BBC: “Large Russian convoy redeploys near Kyiv – satellite images”
- The Washington Post: “U.N. says it has received ‘credible reports’ of Russian forces using cluster bombs”
Mike Flynn Takes The Fifth
It was convicted ex-Trump adviser Michael Flynn’s turn in the hot seat yesterday in a meeting with the House Jan. 6 Committee, which tried to get Flynn to testify on the infamous Dec. 18 Oval Office meeting where he and other Trump goons reportedly cooked up a scheme to seize voting machines.
- Flynn didn’t answer any of the committee’s questions, according to his lawyer. The ex-Trump official pleaded the Fifth on the advice of counsel instead.
- Flynn had tried to sue his way out of testifying in front of the Jan. 6 panel, but the judge shot down his lawsuit the day after he filed it. And Biden ain’t extending that sweet executive privilege to him either.
Why Hasn’t Garland Indicted Trump? Ex-Prosecutor Has An Explanation
Michael Stern, a former federal prosecutor who worked at the Justice Department for 25 years, wrote a New York Daily News op-ed laying out the probable reasons why Attorney General Merrick Garland hasn’t indicted (or taken any serious action against) Trump despite, uh, everything.
- Short version: Garland and other DOJ officials fear that the ex-president would pounce on a criminal trial as a megaphone for advancing his lies about the 2020 election and fundraise off the whole affair for an almost certain 2024 bid. And above all, Garland knows Trump wouldn’t be convicted.
Cruz Gets To Ride The Big Boy Truck
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) joined the trucker convoy on Day Four of the protesting truckers’ unhurried tour of the Capitol Beltway, and boy howdy did the senator have a great time sticking his thumbs up and shaking them at trucks!
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