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Making it in Donald Trump’s Republican Party

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In another generation, the young, Harvard-educated, ambitious Elise Stefanik would have tried to cultivate the image of a Reasonable Republican, creating enough of an effect of moderation to get a lot of fawning press coverage and an effusive tribute from Chuck Schumer when you retire even as you cast reliably conservative votes. But this is 2019, so if you’re on the Intelligence Committee your path forward is to be a clownish asshole:

The second day of the impeachment inquiry’s public hearings, on Friday, began the same way as the first: with an attempt by Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, to interrupt proceedings with a procedural objection.

Stefanik accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., of shutting down Republican questions, prompting Schiff to bang his gavel and declare her objection out of order.

Stefanik again engaged in theatrics later in the hearing, forcing Schiff to gavel down her attempt to break the rules of the hearing and ask questions of the witness before it was her turn.

“What is the interruption for this time?” Stefanik snapped at Schiff, turning to glare at him.

Schiff again explained the rules: Only Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and his legal counsel Steve Castor were authorized to ask questions during the first 45 minutes of Republican questions, just as only Schiff and his legal counsel Daniel Goldman were allowed to ask questions during their first 45 minutes.

And after the hearing was over, Stefanik — standing at the front of a group of Republicans who spoke to a large crowd of reporters — talked about the hearing in sharply partisan terms and offered misleading statements about the rules governing it.

“This was Day 2 of an abject failure of Adam Schiff and his regime of secrecy,” Stefanik said. She accused Schiff of “making up the rules as he goes” because he “did not let us control our own time.”

The rules for the hearings were laid out and voted on by the full House on Oct. 31, and have been written about in the press.

Ward does a good job of putting this into the context of her district. But the crucial thing is that her objectively embarrassing behavior is probably good for her goal of being a Fox News superstar, and in a party where the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and Gym Jordan have top leadership positions it doesn’t take much to climb the ladder. This party will still be with us when Trump is gone.

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