Trump wants back on Facebook, set to hit campaign trail; White House blasts GOP: Politics recap for Jan. 18

For the latest politics news and updates, follow our live coverage for Thursday, Jan. 19.

Former President Donald Trump is set to return to the campaign trail, and prominent conservative activist Matt Schlapp is facing groping allegations by a former Herschel Walker campaign aide.

Meanwhile, the discovery of classified documents at President Joe Biden’s residence and office continued to reverberate Wednesday as newly empowered Republicans were pushing forward with congressional probes of Biden’s handling of the documents.

The White House has criticized Republicans for “faking outrage” and appointing far-right conservatives to key investigative committees. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers continue to squabble as the deadline nears for raising the limit on nation’s debt ceiling.

Here’s what’s happening:.

  • White House slams Republican appointments of ‘extreme MAGA’ devotees.
  • Conservative Matt Schlapp is sued for $9 million, denies groping accusations.
  • Trump heading to South Carolina.
  • Kevin McCarthy blasts Dems for double standard on documents.
  • White House accuses Republicans of “faking outrage”.
  • Go deeper on the docu-drama: Everything all in one place.
  • Stay in the conversation on politics: Sign up for the OnPolitics newsletter.

    White House: Charges against New Mexico candidate ‘shocking and horrifying’

    The White House called Wednesday on leaders of both major political parties to condemn violence as a political tool after an unsuccessful Republican candidate in New Mexico was accused of orchestrating a spate of drive-by shootings at the homes of elected Democratic officials.

    “The allegations are shocking and horrifying, and it’s a miracle no one was hurt,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

    Solomon Peña, who in November lost his bid for a state House seat in New Mexico, was charged Tuesday with conspiring with and paying four other men to shoot at the homes of Democratic elected officials. Peña was upset that he lost the election, according to a criminal complaint.

    Jean-Pierre condemned what she said has been an increase in “violent rhetoric and political violence” and urged leaders of both parties “to reject lies and conspiracies.”.

    — Michael Collins.

    The latest on the New Mexico shootings:Court papers reveal details on former Republican candidate linked to shootings at New Mexico lawmakers’ homes.

    5 key unanswered questions about Biden’s documents

    Key questions about classified documents found at the home and former personal office of President Joe Biden remain answered more than one week after the White House confirmed the first discovery of classified material.

    The revelation has turned into a White House crisis, blunting the president’s momentum from the midterm elections and handing Republicans new attacks. Complicating matters has been the inability – or unwillingness – of the White House to answer several basic questions about the handling of the documents.

  • Why didn’t the White House immediately disclose the existence of the documents when they were found?
  • Have all the documents been located? How many documents have been discovered ? What do the documents contain?
  • And why were the documents taken to Biden’s personal office and residence?
  • These questions still lack clarity as a special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland investigates the matter. The White House, citing the Justice Department’s investigation, has offered few details beyond information provided by the White House’s legal counsel.

    — Joey Garrison.

    Lingering questions in Biden documents case:5 key questions we still don’t know about Biden’s documents.

    6 GOP congressmen from New York say Rep. George Santos should resign

    Most Republican House members from New York are ready to see GOP Rep. George Santos leave less than two weeks after he took office, with six saying he should resign for a string of campaign lies exposed after his election.

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    That contingent consists of every other GOP rookie from the state who joined Congress this month, two of whom represent Long Island with Santos. Each issued statements saying it would be impossible for him to serve after losing the trust of his colleagues and constituents with flagrant deceptions about his work experience, education and more.

    The lawmakers are:.

  • Rep. Mike Lawler.
  • Rep. Marc Molinaro.
  • Rep. Nick Langworthy.
  • Rep. Nick LaLota.
  • Rep. Anthony D’Esposito.
  • Rep. Brandon Williams.
  • — Rockland/Westchester Journal News.

    The full story:Six GOP congressmen from NY say embattled Rep. George Santos should resign for lies.

    The debt ceiling and your money:5 ways your finances could be impacted if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by the deadline.

    ‘It ain’t good’: Document discovery harms Biden’s reelection bid, Sununu says

    New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu says the discovery of classified documents in President Joe Biden’s home and personal office will make it harder for the Democrat to win reelection.

    “It ain’t good,” Sununu said. “It’s not a singular issue, I think, that it’s going to topple Joe Biden and make it challenging, but it is every drop in the bucket.”.

    In an interview with USA TODAY, Sununu, a Republican who is considering a presidential bid in 2024, said the revelation makes Biden, who is expected to seek the White House again, more vulnerable to a serious primary challenge.

    “It’s just another very significant drop in the bucket,” Sununu said. “It’s just another step, if you will, that I think the party as a whole on the Democrat side is going to take to push him right out.”.

    — Francesca Chambers.

    Poll: Majority thinks Biden handled classified documents inappropriately

    In one of the first public opinion surveys since the discovery of classified documents at Biden’s residence and office, more than 60% said they believe the president’s handling of the materials was inappropriate.

    The Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found more than 70% of Americans felt the discovery was serious. But only 46% think he should not face criminal charges. The split fell mostly along party lines with most Republicans faulting Biden and favoring charges and Democrats opposing them.

    The issue has captured Americans’ attention at a critical juncture, as Biden begins the second half of this term and Republicans take over the House – and the 2024 presidential race begins. Quinnipiac found 67% of those surveyed are closely following news about the Biden document discoveries.

    — Donovan Slack.

    Trump wants back on Facebook

    Another sign that former President Donald Trump is revving up his 2024 presidential campaign: he wants back on Facebook.

    Trump’s lawyer sent a letter to the social media giant asking to be reinstated on Instagram as well. Jessica Guynn and Davis Jackson have the full story:.

    Looking for Meta reinstatement:Trump has formally petitioned to get back on Facebook and Instagram.

    — Donovan Slack.

    White House slams appointments of far-right Republicans to House committees

    The White House slammed the appointments of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., And other far-right Republicans to House committees, arguing the new Republican-controlled House is setting the stage for “divorced-from-reality political stunts.”.

    “Republicans are handing the keys of oversight to the most extreme MAGA members of the Republican caucus who promote violent rhetoric and dangerous conspiracy theories,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement provided to USA TODAY.

    Greene, stripped of her committee assignments two years ago by the Democratic-led House following a series of menacing social media posts, was named Tuesday to the Oversight and Accountability Committee.

    Greene, Gosar back on committees:GOP-led House reinstates Greene, Gosar on committees after Democrats had removed them.

    Republicans also reinstated Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, who had been removed from his committees after being censured in 2021 for posting an anime video that was edited to show him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., And attacking President Joe Biden. Gosar was named to the Committee on Natural Resources.

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    Other hardline conservatives assigned to committees include: Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Was assigned to the Oversight and Accountability Committee, and Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, will remain on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

    The White House has seized on the influence of Republicans’ far-right wing – which held up Kevin McCarthy’s election as speaker of the House – in a push to make Greene, Boebert and others the face of the party.

    “House Republican leaders should explain why they are allowing these individuals to serve on this Committee and reveal transparently once and for all what secret deals they made to the extreme MAGA members in order to elect a Speaker,” Sams said.

    — Joey Garrison.

    Lawsuit accuses conservative activist Matt Schlapp of groping Walker campaign staffer

    A staffer for Herschel Walker’s 2022 Republican Senate campaign filed a lawsuit against prominent conservative activist Matt Schlapp on Tuesday, accusing Schlapp of groping him during a car ride in Georgia before the midterm election.

    Schlapp denies the allegation, and his lawyer says they are considering a countersuit.

    The staffer’s battery and defamation lawsuit was filed in Alexandria Circuit Court in Virginia, where Schlapp lives, and seeks more than $9 million in damages. It accuses Schlapp of “aggressively fondling” the staffer’s “genital area in a sustained fashion” while the staffer was driving Schlapp back to his hotel from a bar in October the day of a Walker campaign event. The allegations were first reported earlier this month by The Daily Beast.

    The staffer filed the lawsuit anonymously as “John Doe,” citing his status as an alleged sexual assault victim and fearing backlash from supporters of Schlapp, a longtime adviser to former President Donald Trump and chair of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the Conservative Political Action Conference.

    — Associated Press.

    Trump plans to hit the campaign trail Jan. 28 in Columbia

    More than two months after announcing he would again seek the presidency, Donald Trump hits the campaign trail next week with a low-key stop in the early primary state of South Carolina.

    It will not be a rally; instead, the former president will travel to Columbia, S.C., To appear with prominent Republican supporters, including Gov. Henry McMaster and Sen. Lindsey Graham.

    Trump, who is being blamed by some Republicans for the party’s faltering performance in last year’s elections, will also appear with “members of the South Carolina congressional delegation and state lawmakers as he unveils his South Carolina Leadership Team,” the campaign said in a statement.

    As a number of Republicans consider challenging Trump for the Republican nomination, it seems he is eager to show off his support in a state that is again expected to hold an early primary.

    South Carolina also just happens to be the home of two potential Trump opponents: Former Gov. Nikki Haley and current U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

    — David Jackson.

    House Republicans plow ahead with probes of Biden documents

    Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, had barely taken the Judiciary Committee gavel from Democrats when he announced the panel’s first investigation would target Biden’s document discoveries.

    Jordan fired off a letter Friday to the attorney general asking who knew what and when about the documents at the president’s Delaware residence and office in Washington. He said some were marked “sensitive compartmented information” and kept in an unsecure space, suggesting the mishandling of the most sensitive intelligence information in the U.S. Government.

    “The American people deserve transparency and accountability from our most-senior executive branch law enforcement officials,” Jordan wrote.

    Republicans take over:Biden’s most vocal Republican antagonists emerge from the sidelines – with subpoena power.

    House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., Sent a letter Sunday to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain asking for more information and alleging that Biden’s “mishandling of classified materials raises the issue of whether he has jeopardized our national security.”.

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    White House officials declined to say Tuesday whether they will provide documents sought by House Republicans in their investigation. “We’ve received a few letters from the House Oversight chairman on this issue,” White House counsel spokesperson Ian Sams said. “We’re reviewing those letters. We’ll make a determination about our response in due course.”.

    — Donovan Slack and Michael Collins.

    How the GOP got here:The rise of ultra conservatives from Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump.

    Kevin McCarthy: double standard on Biden and Trump

    House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Republican investigators are looking into both Biden’s and Trump’s handling of classified documents with a goal of ensuring fair treatment and handling of both cases.

    He excoriated Democrats for criticizing former President Donald Trump for retaining classified documents at his Florida home, when it turns out Biden also had some.

    “We’ve had all the Democrats attacking — they even have a special counsel, prosecutor, to go after President Trump about this,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday. “Before the election they found out that President Biden had these documents… At no time did he get raided by the FBI.”.

    In November, Garland appointed former federal prosecutor Jack Smith special counsel to oversee the Trump document investigation. Federal agents located the documents while executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago in August.

    The first Biden documents were discovered at a Washington office by the president’s personal lawyers before the election in November – and more than two weeks before Garland announced the appointment of Smith. But it wasn’t until the discovery became public and more Biden documents were found that Garland appointed a different special counsel, Robert Hur, to investigate Biden’s handling of classified documents.

    — Donovan Slack.

    White House blasts Republicans for “faking outrage” on classified documents

    The White House accused congressional Republicans of “political theater” and “rampant hypocrisy” for investigating how classified documents ended up in President Joe Biden’s home and former personal office.

    “They’re faking outrage even though they defended the former president’s actions,” White House counsel spokesperson Ian Sams said Tuesday, referring to Donald Trump storing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

    Sams also slammed GOP lawmakers for claiming to care about disclosure and transparency “at the same time, for example, that they will not ask their speaker to release the secret deals that he made in order to get support from the far right, extreme MAGA members of his caucus for speaker.”.

    — Michael Collins.

    How the GOP got here:The rise of ultra conservatives from Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump.

    Karine Jean-Pierre declines to answer questions

    White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeatedly declined to answer questions about the Biden document discoveries Tuesday, saying she wanted to allow the Department of Justice to continue its probe without interference.

    She referred inquiries to Ian Sams, the White House counsel spokesperson, and to the Justice Department and special prosecutor.

    “I’m just not going to go down any rabbit hole here,” she said. “I’m going to be very consistent. I’m going to be very prudent. And, again, I’ve been asked, just asked that question. I’ve answered it. It’s been noted, the question, and we’re just going to move on.”.

    — Donovan Slack.

    Go deeper

  • Biden batch found:DOJ reviewing classified documents found at Biden facility from time as VP.
  • Biden ‘surprised’:He says he doesn’t know what’s in the documents.
  • Second batch found:Biden aides find second set of classified documents at separate location.
  • More found:Additional classified documents found at Biden’s home in Delaware.
  • GOP investigating:House Republicans launch reviews of Biden’s handling of classified documents.
  • FBI executes warrant:Trump Mar-a-Lago home searched by FBI in probe into handling of classified documents.
  • ‘Lives could be at stake’:Trump document review to gauge whether US sources put at risk.
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