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Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz at a hearing, in Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz at a hearing, in Madison, Wis., on Sept. 7, 2023.Morry Gash / AP

GOP talk of impeaching Wisconsin justice is latest example of delegitimizing political defeats 

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.

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Happening this Friday: President Biden arrives in India for G-20 meeting… Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro gets convicted of failing to comply with congressional subpoena in Jan. 6 investigation… California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he’s not running in 2024 and that he’s all in for Biden… Donald Trump holds rally in South Dakota… Several of the 2024 GOP candidates, including Trump and Ron DeSantis, attend Iowa-vs.-Iowa State tailgates on Saturday… And don’t miss a note below from Chuck Todd. 

But FIRST... If you can’t beat ’em, then impeach ’em.

That’s the blaring message Wisconsin Republicans are sending as they openly discuss impeaching newly seated liberal state Supreme Court Janet Protasiewicz, who won her statewide race in April by 11 percentage points, 55.5% to 44.5%.

Wisconsin Republicans are accusing Protasiewicz of not recusing herself from a redistricting case given that she criticized the state’s maps as being “unfair” and “rigged” — and that she received money from the state Democratic Party during her run.

(No matter that conservative justices on the state court haven’t recused themselves on issues like abortion or gay rights after making their viewpoints known, or that conservative Supreme Court candidates have received money from the state GOP.)

But this talk about impeaching Protasiewicz, whose victory gave Democrats a 4-3 liberal majority on the court, goes to the heart of delegitimizing elections that Democrats win in this crucial battleground state.

It’s become a pattern: After Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ gubernatorial wins, the GOP-controlled legislature stripped away some of the governor’s powers. And of course, after President Joe Biden’s 20,000-vote victory in the state in 2020, there was the “fake electors” scheme in the state.

Part of being a democracy is being able to accept defeats at the ballot box — and move on to the next election.

Now Republicans might counter: What about the Dem recall race against GOP Gov. Scott Walker? Or the 2019/2020 impeachment effort against Donald Trump?

But what makes this impeachment talk different is that it’s coming before Protasiewicz even hears her first case on the court.

Headline of the day

A note from Chuck

This will be my last First Read. To say that it’s been a labor of love is an understatement. For some 30-plus years, I’ve woken up before the sun to figure out and decipher what the most important political news stories of the day are and more importantly what they mean. Wherever I’ve been, I’ve kept my eye on trying to explain “why” something is happening. Anyone can tell you what’s going on, but figuring out the “why” is what has driven me and what will continue to drive me in my endeavors going forward. Every day, we here at First Read attempt to not just tell you what’s happening and not just tell you WHY it’s happening but also challenge conventional wisdom and get you thinking from different angles. That won’t change even as I step away.

First Read will continue, and you’ll be in good hands with Mark, Ben, Bridget, Alexandra and the rest of the NBC News political team. 

As I’ve said before, while today is it for me with First Read (and Sunday is my last “Meet the Press” as moderator), it is not the end of my time at NBC News. In my role as the news organization’s chief political analyst, I’ll be focusing less on the day to day and more on exploring our political divide and finding new ways to pierce the polarization bubbles and get folks talking to each other, instead of past each other. Getting out of Washington and going direct to the voters is something we could all use more of.

And while I do plan to take a few weeks off in September, beginning in October, I’ll get back to my writing roots and write a weekly reported column and taping at least twice weekly the Chuck ToddCast (Mondays and Thursdays). And in November, I will be fronting the 7th season of “Meet the Press Reports.” 

There’s nothing I revere more than our democracy and the history of this country; it’s how I’ve always tried to ground my enthusiasm for politics and campaigns. Yes, it’s fun at times and the characters in politics can be intoxicating, but the real reason I have such a passion for it is that it matters. Politics is a good thing when it’s practiced the right way. I’ll never “trash” politics and pretend I’m above it. In fact, I lose respect for elected officials and members of the influencer media community that claim they are above politics. Politicking is what civilization created to resolve differences without violence. I think that’s something worth devoting a lifetime of work exploring, explaining and elevating. I’ll see you on the trail.

Thank you for letting me into your inboxes every day. You’ve been such a loyal audience.

The number of the day is … 4

That’s about how many hours it took a federal jury to decide to convict Peter Navarro, a former Trump White House adviser, with two counts of criminal contempt of Congress. 

Navarro didn’t comply with the House Jan. 6 Committee’s subpoena, and had argued that the former president wanted him to assert executive privilege. 

He’ll be sentenced Jan. 12, 2024, and each count could land him a maximum fine of $100,000 and between 30 days and one year in prison. 

Other numbers to know

4: The number of felony convictions of Navy officers in a landmark bribery case (nicknamed the Fat Leonard scandal) that were vacated after prosecutorial misconduct a federal judge referred to as “outrageous.”

$50 million: The value of a renovation of the White House Situation Room, which was unveiled this week.

$163 million: The amount of U.S. aid being sent to help Sudanese refugees fleeing the civil war there, NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell Abigail Williams and Owen Hayes report. 

6.5 years: The length of a prison sentence for a Jan. 6 rioter who sprayed police officers with bear spray.

3%: How much Apple shares fell on Thursday after reports that the Chinese government may ban government workers from using iPhones.

30 years to life: The prison time a Los Angeles judge sentenced actor Danny Masterson to after he was convicted of raping two women

49: The number of civilians who died in attacks in Mali linked to al-Qaeda insurgents on Thursday.

Eyes on 2024: Newsom has no plans to run for president in 2024

In an early peek at California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s interview with “Meet the Press,” the two-term Democratic heavyweight tells NBC News’ Chuck Todd that he has no plans to run for president in 2024, and he’s confident that President Biden will see his re-election campaign through. 

“President Biden is going to run, and [I’m] looking forward to getting him reelected. I think there’s been so much wallowing in the last few months, and hand wringing in this respect. But we’re gearing up for the campaign,” Newsom said.

He added, “We’re looking forward to it.”

When asked what would happen if Biden decided to suspend his campaign this year, for any reason, Newsom said he would back a bid by Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Well, I think the vice president is naturally the one lined up,” Newsom told “Meet the Press.”

And, asked what he would say to donors and supporters who are still hanging on to hope he might run, the governor said, “Time to move on. Let’s go.”

In other campaign news…

Friends like these: Former President Donald Trump is holding a fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club for Rudy Giuliani, who faces charges in Georgia related to the 2020 election. Giuliani’s son told WABC the fundraiser had already raised $1 million. 

A “banana republic”: On a conservative podcast Thursday, Trump addressed attempts to use the 14th Amendment to remove him from the ballot in certain states as “nonsense” and “election interference.” “This is like a banana republic,” he said, per NBC News’ Jake Traylor.

Not taking no for an answer: Florida is appealing a court decision that struck down the state’s congressional map that nixed a district with a significant Black voting-age population, a map championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

Tense exchange: In Jacksonville on Thursday night, DeSantis engaged in a heated argument with a man who blamed DeSantis’ gun policies for a mass shooting targeting Black people in the city a few weeks ago. “I’m not going to let you accuse me of committing criminal activity,” DeSantis told the man, per NBC News’ Alec Hernández.

“Significant damage and destruction”: The Government Accountability Office says that former President Trump’s signature border wall caused major damage to the environment and to cultural sites. 

Text-to-win: Politico reports on how the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down super PAC is utilizing a texting campaign to collect data it hopes will help its favored candidate in the presidential nominating fight. 

A bear of a race: A new Berkeley IGS poll shows California Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter virtually tied in the 2024 California Senate primary, with fellow Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee finishing in single digits near a handful of other candidates. That said, a full one-third of voters say they are undecided. 

Map battle: The Ohio Supreme Court dropped lawsuits against state Republicans over congressional maps (which were previously ruled unconstitutional) after the plaintiffs dropped their challenge

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world:

In an interview with NBC News, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russia is making “tangible progress.

In a talk on Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh said he expects there to be “concrete steps soon” on the court to address ethics concerns. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan plans to investigate inappropriate pressure by the Justice Department in their investigation of the classified documents case against Trump and an aide.

Reporting from Texas, NBC News’ Jane C. Timm breaks down a key day of testimony in the impeachment trial of suspended state Attorney General Ken Paxton.