The year that was 2023 is on its way out, and 2024 — along with its consequential and increasingly complicated presidential election — are quickly approaching.
Between a historic ousting of a House speaker to cocaine found at the White House, 2023 proved to be an eventful year in America.
Here are the top six political stories of 2023.
Arguably the biggest political story of the year, the House of Representatives saw the ousting of its leader for the first time in American history this October.
Now-former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was removed from his post by eight Republicans, led by Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz.
The House Republicans who voted McCarthy out were joined by every Democrat in the chamber in the vote.
McCarthy’s ouster led to a near-monthlong fight to determine the House Republican who would take the gavel.
Three top House Republicans — Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota — made gambits for the gavel, but all were shot down by their conference.
The speaker fight culminated with the election of Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to the position.
Just weeks after being elected to the speakership, Johnson made a massive move in congressional transparency. He released 40,000 hours of footage from the January 6 Capitol riots.
“When I ran for Speaker, I promised to make accessible to the American people the 44,000 hours of video from Capitol Hill security taken on January 6, 2021. Truth and transparency are critical,” Johnson said in a statement.
“Today, we will begin immediately posting video on a public website and move as quickly as possible to add to the website nearly all of the footage, more than 40,000 hours. In the meantime, a public viewing room will ensure that every citizen can view every minute of the videos uncensored.”
He continued, “This decision will provide millions of Americans, criminal defendants, public interest organizations, and the media an ability to see for themselves what happened that day, rather than having to rely upon the interpretation of a small group of government officials.”
Johnson said that roughly 5% of the footage would likely be held back due to “sensitive security information related to the building architecture,” and that some faces would be blurred “to avoid any persons from being targeted for retaliation of any kind.”
While drugs may not be far removed from politics, they typically do not make public appearances at the White House.
However, that is exactly what happened this July as Americans geared up to celebrate Independence Day.
While President Biden and his family were at Camp David, the Secret Service found a bag of cocaine in a White House locker.
The Secret Service launched an investigation into how the July snowstorm happened at the White House.
Speculation surged on how the nose candy ended up in the White House, and legal experts were baffled when the Biden administration invoked the Hatch Act to dodge a question about former President Trump’s claim that the cocaine belonged to either the president or Hunter Biden.
The Secret Service investigation was closed 11 days later with no conclusive cocaine culprit.
In general, Hunter Biden has been at the center and center-adjacent of several controversies throughout 2023. The president’s son is also facing several criminal tax charges as his father seeks re-election in 2024.
The younger Biden’s federal charges are in connection with an alleged “four-year scheme” in which he did not pay his federal income taxes from January 2017 to October 2020 while also filing false tax reports.
Special Counsel David Weiss alleged Hunter “engaged in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million in self-assessed federal taxes he owed for tax years 2016 through 2019, from in or about January 2017 through in or about October 15, 2020, and to evade the assessment of taxes for tax year 2018 when he filed false returns in or about February 2020.”
Weiss said Hunter spent millions to fund an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills.
Hunter will make his initial appearance in a California federal court on nine tax-related charges on Jan. 11, 2024.
In another first, now-disgraced GOP New York former Rep. George Santos became the first Republican to be expelled from the House of Representatives.
The lower chamber voted to remove Santos after a damning House Ethics Committee report alleged campaign finance abuses and that the congressman had “engaged in fraudulent conduct.”
Expelling a member of Congress takes a two-thirds majority vote. The last time a House lawmaker was expelled was more than two decades ago, when late former Rep. Jim Traficant, D-Ohio, was voted out of Congress in 2002.
Prior to his ousting, Traficant had been convicted of 10 felony counts, including racketeering and taking bribes.
Santos has not been convicted of a crime, but he has been indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, falsification of records, credit card fraud and other charges. Santos has been accused of using campaign funds on a number of luxury goods and treatments such as Botox. He has pleaded not guilty.
The 311 to 114 vote was strongly bipartisan, although slightly more Republicans voted to keep Santos than to oust him.
Former President Trump is facing criminal charges of his own in Georgia after the former president was indicted on state charges out of Fulton County related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the crucial southeastern battleground state.
The current GOP presidential primary frontrunner is facing charges that include violating the Georgia RICO Act — the Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations Act; Solicitation of Violation of Oath by a Public Officer; Conspiracy to Commit Impersonating a Public Officer; Conspiracy to Commit Forgery in the First Degree; Conspiracy to Commit False Statements and Writings; Conspiracy to Commit Filing False Documents; Conspiracy to Commit Forgery in the First Degree; Filing False Documents; and Solicitation of Violation of Oath by a Public Officer.
However, Trump is also facing criminal charges elsewhere.
Trump was first charged in March through Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s yearslong investigation related to hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Bragg alleged that Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.”
Trump pleaded not guilty to all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree in New York.
Fox News Digital’s Brandon Gillespie, Cameron Cawthorne, Elizabeth Elkind, Brooke Singman, Joe Schoffstall, Paul Steinhauser, Louis Casiano, Chris Pandolfo, Anders Hagstrom and Andrew Mark Miller contributed reporting.
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