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The Sunday Shows Gave Quite the Platform to Incoming House Democratic Leaders to Preview What's Next

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

We are less than a month away from the start of the new Congress, which will see Republicans control the House. Democratic members have elected their leaders for the body, touting diversity and youth, especially in the case of House Minority Leader-elect Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), though the real takeaway is what a fierce election denier he is. The most recent Sunday shows gave such leaders, including Jeffries, a platform to preview what to expect from them once Republicans control the House, though narrowly.

Jeffries himself was on ABC's "This Week." To host George Stephanopoulos' credit, it was a far tougher interview than when Jeffries appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" two weeks prior. 

Despite having a habit of frequently demonizing Republican opponents as "extreme MAGA Republicans," Jeffries tried to convince Stephanopoulos that his party would work with Republicans, though he made it clear, "We will also oppose them when we must, particularly as it relates to any effort to go down this rabbit hole of unnecessary, unconscionable, unacceptable investigations of the administration." This is also despite Jeffries admitting there haven't been any conversations with Republicans yet. 

Jeffries also mentioned that Democrats aren't likely to work with Republicans on finding a suitable alternative for Speaker of the House if likely pick Kevin McCarthy does not reach the necessary 218 votes. Although he was not mentioned by name during the segment, this dumps cold water all over Rep. Don Bacon's (R-NE) idea to work with Democrats to find an alternative, which has led to disputes within the Republican Party. 

When asked for his response to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accurately calling out Jeffries for being an election denier with regards to the 2016 presidential election, Jeffries could have hardly tried harder to sidestep the question, as he tried to offer up as a response, "It's unfortunate that Republicans have chosen to focus on me, House Democrats are going to focus on solving problems for the American people." 

Stephanopoulos gave just one example. As Guy and RNC Research have highlighted, there are plenty more where that election denialism comes from. 

In asking once more for his response, Stephanopoulos pointed out that Jeffries "did say that history will never accept Donald Trump as legitimate president." Jeffries did provide more of an answer, though he didn't deny his own examples of election denialism; rather, he sought to excuse and move on from it. 

"Well, here's the Republican playbook. Facts don't matter, hypocrisy is not a constraint to their behavior. And in many cases, they believe shamelessness is a superpower," Jeffries began. "My view of the situation has been pretty clear; I supported the certification of Donald Trump's election. I attended his inauguration even though there were many constituents and others across the country pushing me and others to do otherwise," he said, trying to tout his record as an excuse, as he "found ways to work with the Trump administration being the lead Democrat in negotiating historical criminal justice reform."

Later in the segment, Jeffries was asked about his thoughts on President Joe Biden running again in 2024. While other Democrats have avoided the question or have outright called for someone else to be the party's nominee, Jeffries was right on board with another term from Biden. "I certainly expect him to run. And I absolutely look forward to strongly supporting him," he shared, going on to list supposed successes of the Biden administration. 

"If you think about President Biden's track record of success, it includes but is not limited to the American Rescue Plan, save the economy, shots in arms, money in pockets, putting kids back in school, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, creating millions of good paying jobs, fixing our crumbling infrastructure, all across America. Urban America, rural America, suburban America, small town America," Jeffries offered. He, of course, failed to mention that the American Rescue Plan Act led to record-high inflation not seen in decades, as even Democratic economists warned would happen

He went on to list other legislation, including "gun safety legislation for the first time in 30 years," which he claimed "will save lives." This is despite last Sunday's segment on "State of the Union" between host Dana Bash and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), where it was acknowledged that gun control legislation did not stop shootings from late last month in Colorado or Virginia and certainly have their faults. 

Jeffries did tout the so-called "historic Inflation Reduction Act" but did not discuss it in terms of claims that it will help lower inflation, as, in reality, it will do no such thing. Instead, he focused on how it will supposedly "strike a decisive blow against the climate crisis, lower energy costs, strengthening the Affordable Care Act, low healthcare costs, and drive down the high price of life-saving prescription drugs for millions of Americans."

For all that he mentioned, Jeffries also pointed out that "those are just the highlights" and spoke to it as "an extraordinary record" and "a compelling track record of success."

Reiterating his support for Biden, Jeffries added, "I know he'll have a vision for the future. I look forward to strongly supporting President Biden's re-election." It's worth noting that the president has not formally declared he is running again and has himself cast potential doubt, though a decision is expected early next year. Polls also show that Americans don't want Biden or former President Donald Trump for 2024, though Trump formally announced last month he is indeed running again. 

From Jeffries' segment, other than his gushing over a Biden run in 2024, what to expect looks to be more of the same, especially when it comes to what appears to be strong resistance to these supposed "unnecessary, unconscionable, unacceptable investigations of the administration," as Jeffries phrased it. Adding insult to injury, Jeffries seems to be in the same mindset as he was beforehand, even though Republicans won enough seats to control the chamber. 

Democrats have also chosen Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) to take on the role of House Democratic Caucus Chair, the role which Jeffries presently serves. Aguilar also had a Sunday show appearance of his own on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

It's worth highlighting that Rep. Aguilar is on the soon-to-be-ended January 6 select committee, which also came up during the segment with host Margaret Brennan. Unlike Vice Chair Liz Cheney, who lost her primary by nearly 40 points in August, and to some degree Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Aguilar was not as willing to say there was enough evidence for them to send a criminal referral to the Department of Justice for Trump. 

"I'm not going to get ahead of what our report may or may not say," Aguilar responded. While he did go on to say, "I think it's pretty clear, based on the evidence, based on the hearings that we've done, who was responsible." Aguilar stuck to how "right now we're to the point, we have a couple of weeks remaining here."

Aguilar pivoted to discussing the 118th Congress when asked by Brennan about McCarthy's charges that the Capitol wasn't properly secure on January 6, 2021. "How do you respond to that question of why there isn't more of a focus on security breakdowns?" Brennan asked.

Although no such part of that question focused on McCarthy's aim to become speaker, Aguilar took it there anyway, as he took the chance to highlight potential rifts in the Republican Party that could prevent McCarthy from being selected for the position.

"If and when that individual becomes the possible Speaker and can count the votes to get there. I have my – I have my doubts. We stand willing for anybody to stand the test of time and to look at the history of the documents of what we've put forward," he said, offering only the most basic of answers. 

"But we are talking about security; we are talking about what happened that day. I think that what's happening is Kevin McCarthy has to do anything he can to appease the MAGA extremists within his party. He's trying to count to 218. If that means sending subpoenas to the committee members, if that means being tough to committee members, that's what he has to do right now because he's practically auctioning off real estate in the Capitol in order to secure the votes," Aguilar ranted. 

Such a response could hardly be more about petty partisan politics. Concerns about whether or not the Capitol was secure that day exist regardless of which party is in power. Republicans had tried to make that a priority, but Democrats and RINOs, like soon-to-be-former Rep. Cheney, have been more preoccupied with going after Trump. 

If Aguilar's appearance shows us anything for the next Congress, it's that the incoming House Democratic Caucus chair can be counted on to be very much as divisive and partisan as his predecessor. The two even call out their political opponents as "MAGA extremists." 

Democrats will have Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) serving as House Minority Whip for the next Congress, meaning yet another East Coast Democrat in leadership. She, too, had a Sunday show appearance on NBC News' "Meet the Press."

Host Chuck Todd brought up the lack of geographic diversity in leadership, and for a party that frequently touts diversity, no less. "While there's diversity of life experience here between the three of you, there's not a lot of geographic diversity. This -- you’ve -- very much blue strongholds; Southern California, Boston suburbs, Brooklyn, New York. Do you think there's enough geographic diversity inside the leadership team?" Todd asked.

From the start of the segment, Clark wasn't one for very complete answers, as she claimed that their caucus being "historically diverse" includes "geography" as well. She went on to claim, "What we have demonstrated over the last four years that we have been in leadership, working together as a team, is that we reach across our Democratic caucus to make sure that those perspectives are brought to the table. We put people together with solutions. And the strength of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives is that we are diverse, and we know that that gives us a great strength and that coming together gives us our power." 

She also made quite the fool of herself when asked about a change in how things would be run from current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to how Jeffries will run things. 

Clark's answer involved an acknowledgment that a difference this time is that their party will be in the minority but mostly had to do with rambling about their legislative priorities. "The commitment that we have had to the people of this country, to workers, to women, to the climate, is going to continue on," she offered. "And one of the things that the incredible leadership team that is transitioning out of leadership has shown us is how to lead by putting the American people first. But they've also given us a model to become our own leaders."

As our friends at Twitchy highlighted, people really reacted to what Clark said next when it came to how she addressed "a different generation." 

"I remember my middle child waking up with nightmares over concern around climate change. I've had my family at a movie theater, when the movie stopped, my children immediately felt, 'There must be a shooter in the theater with us.' These are the type of experiences that we are going to bring as we continue to push to meet this moment of challenge for the American people with progress," she offered.

As memorable as such a response was, and for all the wrong reasons, it didn't actually draw any kind of a distinction between the leadership of Pelosi and Hoyer and the soon-to-come leadership from Jeffries. 

Again, the name of the game here is more of the same, and that very much includes dialing it up on the craziness. 

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