Trump jury selection moves ahead as his allies threaten chaos in Congress

It is happening, again.

The line from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks has spawned a zillion memes on political Twitter, and we should expect a few more this week as Marjorie Taylor Greene’s threat to kick Mike Johnson out of the Speaker’s chair appears to be gathering steam.

As Donald Trump appeared in a Manhattan courtroom once again for day two of his hush money trial, some of his loudest allies on Capitol Hill are threatening to do something that could break the already strained patience of their colleagues: fire the Speaker of the House. The latest threat became real on Tuesday when Thomas Massie, a right-winger from Kentucky, signed on to Ms Greene’s lonely effort.

Readers may recall the weeks of chaos and inability to govern that prevailed in the lower chamber last fall when Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted by the so-called “Gaetz Eight”, a squad of Republican malcontents who, with the support of every Democrat in the chamber, successfully passed a motion to vacate and left the chamber rudderless.

Now, the House appears to be on the brink of that same disaster as Ms Greene threatens to bring her motion to the floor if Mr Johnson allows a bill to fund Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s onslaught to pass the chamber — which it almost certainly will if the Speaker calls a vote. Currently, the legislation is set for a vote on Friday as part of a four-stage package of supplemental national security funding.

Mr Johnson’s slim vote majority in the lower chamber means that he will need at least a few Democrats to back his speakership in order to save himself from Ms Greene’s motion. His political rivals seem more willing to extend that olive branch than they were for his predecessor, with the no. 2 Democrat on the Foreign Affairs panel, Brad Sherman, telling The Independent on Tuesday that Democrats would not “allow” Ms Greene’s motion to pass if Ukraine funding passed the House.

That could be enough to protect Mr Johnson from a conservative backlash; it could, however, engender a reputation for Mr Johnson of relying on Democrats to bail him out of tough votes among his Republican colleauges — the same concern that led to some votes against Mr McCarthy in his own fight to remain in the chair.

In New York, Mr Trump appeared to fall asleep again as his trial proceedings entered their second day. He was awake for at least some parts, however, and at one point was reported to have begun audibly “muttering” under his breath about one of the prospective jurors during the process — an outburst that earned him a rebuke from Judge Juan Merchan.

"Your client was audibly uttering something,” he told Mr Trump’s attorneys. “I won’t tolerate that. I will not have any jurors intimated in this courtroom. I want to make that crystal clear."

At issue were some Facebook posts reportedly made by the juror around the time of the 2020 election; his allies on Twitter argued that the judge was allowing a vocal supporter of Joe Biden onto the jury.

Mr Trump will be required to attend court every day the trial is in session; Judge Merchan warned on Monday that there would “be an arrest” made if the ex-president did not comply. A spokeswoman for Mr Trump lashed out at those remarks, calling them “Banana Republic” tactics.

Donald Trump is barreling towards his first criminal legal judgement while the House is in danger of falling back into anarchy — all as the US seeks funding for military assistance in two major wars and deals with renewed hostilities with Iran. Here we go, again!