Brandon Gage

'That president is used to bankruptcy court': House Democrat hits Trump over calls for US to default

United States Representative Jared Moskowitz (D-Florida) made fun of former President Donald Trump's business failures during an interview about the debt ceiling on Monday's edition of NBC News' Meet the Press Now.

"All right. You said you plan on using the debt ceiling actually in your campaign messaging. This is something that you said in Axios. 'Moskowitz who just won by five points in 2022 says he does plan to incorporate the debt ceiling into his campaign message, arguing that a vote for Democrats is a vote for normalcy on the issue.' And you said, 'We already had Donald Trump saying live on CNN that the US should default. Imagine what he would say in January or February or March of the next year,'" the host recalled.

"Do you think your voters are paying attention to the debt ceiling, that they know what's going on, that that's something you can use as a pitch to them to see you reelected in the next campaign?" Moskowitz was asked.

READ MORE: 'A moment to sue': Why America’s debt ceiling must be abolished once and for all

"Well, look, obviously, thankfully we didn't see, like, a decrease in our credit rating like we saw ten years ago So I don't know that they were paying attention to it as much this time as they, we were, they were last time. Quite frankly, Washington has cried wolf a lot on the debt ceiling, so possibly people tune it out," Moskowitz replied.

"But I will say I, I was concerned when I see a former president of the United States saying, 'We should default' as if somehow the United States would just go to bankruptcy court, which is what that president is used to," Moskowitz quipped of Trump's history of insolvency.

"Imagine what he would say a year from now — exactly my point — weaponizing, you know, the full faith and credit of the United States," Moskowitz added. "So what I am gonna say to my voters is, what I did say before, is what you saw in the midterm election. I was elected in the midterm election where Democrats did a lot better than everybody thought. It's because I am pushing normal. I am pushing sanity. I am pushing logic. It's enough of all the noise. I mean, we're not gonna govern via Twitter."

Watch the segment below or at this link.

READ MORE: Using the debt ceiling as a 'bargaining chip' is 'dangerous and irresponsible': ex-Treasury secretary

Crypto trading giant Binance charged with mishandling funds and deceiving federal regulators

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday filed thirteen charges against Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, and its founder Changpeng Zhao.

The SEC stated in a press release that it "charged Binance Holdings Ltd. ('Binance'), which operates the largest crypto asset trading platform in the world,; U.S.-based affiliate, BAM Trading Services Inc. ('BAM Trading'), which, together with Binance, operates the crypto asset trading platform, Binance.US; and their founder, Changpeng Zhao, with a variety of securities law violations. Among other things, the SEC alleges that, while Zhao and Binance publicly claimed that U.S. customers were restricted from transacting on, Zhao and Binance in reality subverted their own controls to secretly allow high-value U.S. customers to continue trading on the platform. Further, the SEC alleges that, while Zhao and Binance publicly claimed that Binance.US was created as a separate, independent trading platform for U.S. investors, Zhao and Binance secretly controlled the Binance.US platform's operations behind the scenes."

The agency "also alleges that Zhao and Binance exercise control of the platforms' customers' assets, permitting them to commingle customer assets or divert customer assets as they please, including to an entity Zhao owned and controlled called Sigma Chain. The SEC's complaint further alleges that BAM Trading and BAM Management US Holdings, Inc. ('BAM Management') misled investors about non-existent trading controls over the Binance.US platform, while Sigma Chain engaged in manipulative trading that artificially inflated the platform's trading volume. Further, the Complaint alleges that the defendants concealed the fact that it was commingling billions of dollars of investor assets and sending them to a third party, Merit Peak Limited, that is also owned by Zhao."

READ MORE: Elizabeth Warren is putting together a bipartisan coalition on 'cryptocurrency oversight': report

Zhao and Binance "enriched themselves by billions of U.S. dollars while placing investors' assets at significant risk," the SEC wrote in its 136-page civil complaint, The New York Timesreported.

"The charges were the latest actions by U.S. regulators and prosecutors to rein in the Wild West of crypto trading and force major players in the space to come into compliance with U.S. laws," the paper explained. "Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, which had been a big crypto trading rival of Binance's until it filed for bankruptcy in November, faces an October trial for fraud and other charges. In recent months, the S.E.C. has also levied fines and other penalties against crypto lending firms."

The Timesnoted that the SEC "has taken the position that most crypto tokens issued by exchanges like Binance and FTX should be treated as securities under federal law."

READ MORE: FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried arrested and indicted for 'massive, years-long fraud'

The New York Times' report continues at this link (subscription required).

Raskin: GOP’s FBI contempt of Congress hearings 'a huge distraction' from Trump’s troubles

United States Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) ridiculed House Oversight Chairman James Comer's (R-Kentucky) Monday revelation that contempt of Congress hearings will begin on Thursday into the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Comer held a press conference at which he claimed that the FBI refused to hand over supposed evidence incriminating President Joe Biden's son Hunter in various schemes and crimes that Republicans have accused him of committing.

Raskin responded by highlighting that the timing of Comer's announcement conveniently coincided with former President Donald Trump's defense attorneys asking Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith not to indict their client.

READ MORE: 'Indictment anytime' or 'guilty plea'? Legal experts assess Team Trump’s DOJ visit

"I noticed that the former president's lawyers are today in Washington meeting at the Department of Justice about, um, you know, the very serious allegations that the former president took government documents — including classified and top secret documents — and didn't, and deliberately didn't return them," Raskin said.

"In the meantime, we're involved in what I see as a huge distraction," the congressman added, "which is trying to get contempt charges brought for the first time in American history against the director of the FBI. So I, I leave it to your judgment, whether that's political or not."

READ MORE: The Hunter Biden 'investigation is not dead': House Oversight to hold FBI contempt of Congress hearings

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'How can DOJ possibly charge me?' Trump explodes as lawyers scramble to prevent indictments

The Hunter Biden 'investigation is not dead': House Oversight to hold FBI contempt of Congress hearings

United States Representative James Comer (R-Kentucky) announced on Monday that the House Oversight Committee which he chairs will begin holding contempt of Congress hearings later this week against Federal Bureau of Investigation officials for their handling of documents in the Republican-led probes into President Joe Biden's son Hunter.

The FBI has "again refused to hand over the class, unclassified record to the custody of the House Oversight Committee, and we will now initiate contempt of Congress hearings this Thursday. Given the severity and complexity of the allegations contained within this record, Congress must investigate further. Americans have lost trust in the FBI's ability to enforce the law, impartially and demand answers, transparency, and accountability. The investigation is not dead. This is only the beginning," Comer declared in his press briefing.

Comer revealed his plans amidst media coverage of former President Donald Trump's attorneys attending a meeting with Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith's prosecutors, to whom they reportedly pleaded that their client not be criminally indicted.

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene: House Republicans 'plan to punish' FBI and DOJ

Comer also got into a spat with a reporter who asked for additional details.

"Why do you need the document in, we just got a chance to view it. So why do you need it and why move forward with contempt when the FBI says they're cooperating in a good state?" the journalist asked.

"Well, if, let's just look at what, what I've read in a lot of the media accounts, uh, and, and with statements that [White House Counsel's office spokesman] Ian Sams has made from the White House that, you know, 'there's no merit to this, this is crazy, this is a conspiracy theory. And, and I'm, you're just supposed to take my word or, or, or the FBI's word? I'm supposed to take the FBI's word that they're investigating this or that?" Comer groused. "Uh, you, you're gonna write that the source is unverified, whatever. Remember the, the, the main reason they're not wanting to make this public is because they're concerned about the source."

Watch the clips below or at this link.

READ MORE: Oversight chair appears to admit his Hunter Biden probe is designed to help Trump win the White House

'How can DOJ possibly charge me?' Trump explodes as lawyers scramble to prevent indictments

Former President Donald Trump erupted at United States Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith on Monday amid reports that indictments may be imminent.

Members of Trump's legal defense team were spotted entering DOJ headquarters early Monday morning, leading to speculation that Smith may have reached a decision on if and how to charge Trump for mishandling classified documents after he left office. Smith is also investigating Trump's role in the January 6th Capitol insurrection.

Raw Story noted that Team Trump requested for their client not to be criminally charged.

READ MORE: Trump’s attorneys just walked into DOJ amid swelling indictment anticipation

Nevertheless, at 12:16 p.m., Trump attempted to deflect blame onto President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton for the alleged "witch hunt":


Trump has maintained his innocence through improper invocations of the Presidential Records Act to justify his unauthorized confiscation of sensitive government property, including "war plans."

READ MORE: 'Indictment anytime' or 'guilty plea'? Legal experts assess Team Trump’s DOJ visit

Mike Pence files to run for president

Ex-Vice President Mike Pence officially filed as a 2024 Republican presidential candidate on Monday morning according to paperwork submitted to the Federal Election Commission.

"I hereby designate the following named political committee as my Principal Campaign Committee for the 2024 election(s)," the document states:

Mike Pence for President

10201 N Illinois Street

Meridian Tower, Suite 400

Carmel, IN 46290

Pence's "statement of candidacy" adds, "I hereby designate the following named committee, which is NOT my principal campaign committee, to receive and expend funds on behalf of my candidacy."

READ MORE: 'Who is the Mike Pence voter?' Analysts rag on ex-veep ahead of 2024 campaign announcement

Pence is the eleventh person to enter the GOP field, where twice-impeached and indicted former President Donald Trump is the presumed frontrunner.

READ MORE: 'Deliver us from evil Knievel': Mike Pence mercilessly mocked for motorcycle photo op

This is a breaking news and developing story.

Tim Scott knocks GOP primary rivals’ 'message around populism'

United States Senator and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott of South Carolina took a swipe at the personal grievance politics and petty bickering between primary rivals Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump during an appearance on Monday's edition of The View.

"Well, I'll just say that as a guy on the campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, the early voting states, what I found to be really refreshing is that the optimistic positive message has not been shared in so long," Scott said.

"We've been embroidered in battles for so long that when people hear the message, as long as it's anchored in conservatism and you have a backbone, people are interested in engaging in the conversation as opposed to having a, a message around populism."

READ MORE: Tim Scott transforms from 'gentler' Republican to parroting claims the left is the 'enemy' of the people

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Tim Scott’s presidential committee got off to a 'weird' and 'grossly dishonest' start: conservative

'Anti-intellectual': CNN’s Bakari Sellers rips Nikki Haley’s 'stumbling' definition of 'woke'

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) is being criticized for her long-winded reply to CNN's Jake Tapper's challenge to define the word "woke" at the network's Sunday night town hall in Iowa.

"There's a lot of things. I mean, you wanna start with biological boys playing in girls' sports. That's one thing. The fact that we have gender pronoun classes in the military now. I mean, all of these things that are pushing what a small minority want on the majority of Americans. It's too much. It's too much. I mean, the idea that we have biological boys playing in girls' sports, it is the women's issue of our time. My daughter ran track in high school. I don't even know how I would have that conversation with her. How are we supposed to get our girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker rooms? And then we wonder why a third of our teenage girls seriously contemplated suicide last year. We should be growing strong girls, confident girls," Haley said.

"Then you go and you talk about building a strong military. How are you gonna build a morale in a strong military when you're doing gender pronoun classes? Why is it that, why is it that you have, you know, kids undergoing critical race theory where if a little girl's in kindergarten, if she's goes into kindergarten, if she's white, you're telling her she's bad. If she's brown or Black, you're telling her she's never gonna be good enough and she's always gonna be a victim. All of these things have gone to where they are pushing, you know, and transgender, the whole issue of the transgender, it's not that people don't think in America, you should live the way you wanna live. I want everybody to live the way they wanna live, but stop pushing your views on everybody else. That's the problem, is they're starting to push everything on the rest of it," Haley added.

READ MORE: 'You pay the price': Nikki Haley denounces Jan. 6 during Iowa visit

On Monday's edition of CNN This Morning, political analyst Bakari Sellers blasted Haley’s boilerplate right-wing response.

"No, I, I, first of all, that's not the definition of woke. Woke has been co-opted by a lot of white folk, a lot of conservatives, debased, and then used to mean you talk about that on Friday show. It's used to mean anything that's, that's not white, that's not straight. And so, oh, so that's just not what it is. And you hear people talk about things like cultural Marxism, that's not the root of the word. In fact, the word started in 1920 for most of America, so that they understand it was about Black folk talking to other Black folks saying, 'stay woke when you're in Mississippi or Alabama. Stay woke politically.' Stay woke philosophically. That is what the word means," Sellers explained.

"Now, to take it and make it mean something and debase it that it does not. And you saw her last night. She was stumbling across the definition," Sellers continued. "It means it means, uh, transgender, uh, girls in a girl's bathroom. Is that what woke means? I mean, what does it mean to you, Nikki Haley? She can't define it. Neither can Ron DeSantis. Most Republicans can't. I really hate the debate cuz it's anti-intellectual, but it's a part of their cultural war that they're trying to wage against."

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Nikki Haley demands New York governor 'pardon' Jordan Neely’s accused killer Daniel Penny

'No one tells Vladimir Putin what to do': Martha Raddatz smacks down GOP candidate’s foreign policy plan

Right-wing 2024 Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy shared his solution for ending Russian President Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine on Sunday's edition of This Week.

Ramaswamy — a millionaire biotech mogul who subscribes to the "America first" doctrine of former President Donald Trump — believes that appeasing Putin is an acceptable price to pay to resolve a conflict that he thinks is irrelevant to the United States.

"Let's talk about Ukraine. You said in a speech in New Hampshire on Friday that you would not spend another dime of American money on a war that does not affect our interests. You don't think the possibility of Russia taking over Ukraine is not, is in our interest?" ABC News moderator Martha Raddatz asked.

READ MORE: 'Right of Trump': Longshot GOP presidential hopeful wants to abolish the FBI, the IRS and the Education Dept.

"I don't think that's a top foreign policy priority. But I did also in that same speech identify with our top priority," Ramaswamy stated.

Raddatz forcibly pushed back.

"I wanna, I wanna stick to this for a minute. You do not believe that Russia taking over Ukraine would be bad for our national interest?" she reiterated.

"I do not think it is a top foreign policy priority for us. I don't think it is preferable for Russia to be able to invade a sovereign country that it's its neighbor. But I think the job of the US president is to look after American interests and what I think the number one threat to the US military is right now, our top military threat, is the Sino-Russian alliance," Ramaswamy replied, referring to the blossoming relationship between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. "I think that by fighting further in Russia, by further arming Ukraine, we are driving Russia into China's hands. And that Sino-Russian alliance is the top threat we face. And what I've said is I would end this war in return for pulling Putin out of that treaty with China. That's actually the foreign policy position."

READ MORE: Fringe GOP presidential candidate wants to unconstitutionally raise voting age to 25

Raddatz's responded with palpable skepticism.

"How do you do this? No one tells Vladimir Putin what to do. That has not worked yet. And you said you would wanna give him the Donbas. That would be rewarding Putin, wouldn't it?" Raddatz pressed.

"I don't trust Putin. But I do trust Putin to follow his self-interest. I don't think he enjoys being the little brother in the relationship with Xi Jinping. And so what I think we need to do is end the Ukraine War on peaceful terms that yes, do make some major concessions to Russia including freezing the current lines of control in a Korean War-style armistice agreement," Ramaswamy elaborated.

"Which Ukraine really wouldn't want to do," Raddatz interjected.

"Which Ukraine wouldn't wanna do," Ramaswamy concurred, adding that he would demand a "permanent commitment not to allow Ukraine to enter NATO." That happens to be Putin's longstanding goal too.

"But in return," Ramaswamy concluded, "Russia has to leave its treaty and its joint military agreement with China. That better advances American interests and actually further deters China from going after Taiwan, which I think is a much higher priority for the United States."

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Disconnected from reality and unworkable': Twitter tanks fringe GOP candidate’s plan to axe the FBI

Republican senator: 'I’m gonna have to reassess' supporting 2024 GOP nominee 'if it’s not' Tim Scott

United States Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on May 22nd, 2023, joining a growing crowd of GOP contenders who believe that they can appeal to voters as an alternative to former President Donald Trump.

But Trump holds commanding leads over his competitors in polls and has the loyalty of large portions of the conservative base. Yet some within the party are turned off by his mounting legal entanglements and bombastic rhetoric.

On Sunday, Senator Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) revealed on Meet the Press that Scott is the only White House hopeful who has his full-hearted endorsement — although he notably avoided mentioning Trump.

READ MORE: Tim Scott transforms from 'gentler' Republican to parroting claims the left is the 'enemy' of the people

"Are you resigned to support whoever the Republicans nominate, even if it's the former president?" NBC News moderator Chuck Todd asked.

"Well, right now I'm hoping it's gonna be Tim Scott and if it's not, then I'm gonna have to reassess because I've always supported the Republican nominee in the past. I hope Tim is the nominee. There are gonna be some other good people as well. But I'm gonna hold that back until we find out how Tim does. I'm gonna support Tim Scott at this stage of the game. I think he's got a good shot," Rounds said.

"You know, your lack of the fact that you're not ready to automatically pledge it says a lot. Are you waiting to see what the legal, uh, what the legal issues are with the former president?" Todd wondered.

"Not so much that," Rounds replied, "I just simply think that there are some very good Republican nominees out there and I'm gonna wait and see which one comes out ahead. But I've supported the Republican nominee in the past. I hope I can support the Republican nominee in the future. If it's Tim Scott, I know I can report the nominee. And I think there's a whole lot of Republicans out there and independents who would like to see Tim win this as well."

READ MORE: 'Deceitful': Tim Scott blasted as op-ed unearths 'cringe' ad that sums up his career in 3 words

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Ex-GOP strategist lays out the fatal flaws in DeSantis and Tim Scott’s campaign launches

'Not the most honorable profession': Joe Manchin complains about lack of 'common sense' in Congress

United States Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) appeared on two Sunday morning news programs to tease his political ambitions, equate partisan "extremism" within both parties, and complain about being a member of Congress.

First, Manchin was pressed by Fox News Sunday anchor Shannon Bream to reveal his possible desire to run for president in 2024.

"I gotta ask you about this. The No Labels political group continues to fund and organize. They're trying to get in all fifty states. They wanna be on the ballot to run a third-party ticket. New York Times says that's got Democrats very upset and worried it's gonna reelect President Trump. And they say this: 'At the top of the list of potential candidates is Senator Joe Manchin, III, the conservative West Virginia Democrat, who has been a headache to his party and could bleed support from President Biden in areas crucial to his reelection.' I always ask you, you have not ruled it off and taken it off the table. Is a third-party run still in the realm of possibilities?" Bream queried.

READ MORE: 'Can't I be a moderate centrist?' Joe Manchin refuses to commit to a party if he runs for president

"Shannon, No Labels has been moving and pushing very hard of the centrist middle. Making common-sense decisions. People that basically expect us to do our job and not put the political party ahead of the policy in our great country. That's what we've seen happening and there's more noise and more extremism coming from the far left and far right," Manchin replied.

"They've been pushing this middle," Manchin continued. "If the middle's pushed, what, what we saw happen that was the middle pushing. So that's basically a, a movement where No Labels has been proposing or a long time — ten, eleven, twelve years. That middle basically has a voice."

Bream immediately pointed out that No Labels "sounds a lot like what Joe Manchin says, too."

But Manchin nonetheless insisted that "it's always what I've believed. I believe that basically that's where you make the decisions. You listen to the left and the right. You make sure you leave nobody behind and you listen to the different persuasions that they might have and concerns. But when it comes, you've gotta make common sense."

READ MORE: 'Holy moly': Manchin slammed after threatening to repeal his own bill

Manchin then gave an interview on Meet the Press, where he lamented to outgoing NBC moderator Chuck Todd the challenges of serving as an elected official.

"You know, it's interesting to me that in many of these bills that you've been in the middle of, right, you've actually been working with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Are you surprised Mitch McConnell's spending so much of his political activity trying to convince you not to run for reelection? Does that, does that make it harder to work with Republicans?" Todd asked.

"It doesn't make it harder for me. I understand at this link. It's a shame to say that, and it's supposed to be the most honorable profession when you can provide services to the people that you represent. But when you have to fight your own colleagues to try to do your job, it makes it pretty tough," Manchin responded.

"When I said people put, sometimes they put politics — I think that Mitch is in the position where it's all about if I've, I've observed — politics first, protecting his caucus. Fifty-one votes is what his determination is. And with that, sometimes policy doesn't get the benefit. Mine's about the policy end of it. If we can do something good, I don't care who takes credit cuz I can't do it by myself," Manchin asserted. "There's no way we could pass any of this without the help of the other side. So I look at it differently. And then also my oath to the Constitution. So my performance from my state and my oath to the Constitution more than takes care of everything I'm supposed to do versus the politics. I can work with fifty-one on either side."

READ MORE: 'A personal betrayal': Democratic lawmakers are growing increasingly impatient with Manchin

Watch the clips below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'This is not a theocracy': Joe Manchin shredded for supporting bill ending VA abortions for rape victims

Using the debt ceiling as a 'bargaining chip' is 'dangerous and irresponsible': ex-Treasury secretary

The 2023 debt ceiling debacle brought on by congressional Republicans refusing to pass a clean increase to the United States Treasury Department's borrowing cap was ultimately resolved by President Joe Biden and House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California).

This cyclical scheme of holding the global economy hostage and dragging it to the brink of disaster by risking a default causes needless disruptions to the nation's overall financial health.

According to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, the time has come to kick the habit once and for all.

READ MORE: House Freedom Caucus member: 'We failed' to block debt ceiling deal

"I'm proud to have served in an administration that balanced the budget. And I've been concerned about rising debt and deficits in the years since. But creating a crisis over the debt limit is dangerous and irresponsible," Rubin wrote in a Sunday CBS News opinion column.

"Consider what raising the debt limits does: it allows the Treasury Department to make payments on already existing debt. It does not authorize any new spending. It's not like buying something on a credit card; it's like paying your bill after you've already bought something on a credit card. As everyone knows, if you don't pay your bills on time, it's more expensive in the long run, and your credit score goes down," Rubin, who served from 1995-1999 under then-President Bill Clinton, explained.

In his brief essay, Rubin stressed that "threatening to force the United States to default on its debt is risky and irresponsible."

He therefore recommended that "going forward, lawmakers should stop using the threat of default as a bargaining chip, and use the normal Congressional budget process to deal with issues of taxation and spending."

READ MORE: Lauren Boebert lashes out at 'garbage' debt deal and explains why she skipped vote

Rubin's editorial continues here.

Ex-RNC chair: 2024 GOP field 'a cover band trying to dethrone the Bruce Springsteen of the MAGA movement'

Ex-Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus said on Sunday's edition of ABC's This Week that the growing field of 2024 presidential hopefuls has little chance of knocking former President Donald Trump off of his frontrunner pedestal because Trump is the sole "Make America Great Again" superstar.

"And they are getting to know Ron DeSantis. What is, you talked about him, but what is his path to the nomination? How does he differentiate himself? He's not really going after Trump at rallies," host Martha Raddatz noted of Florida's right-wing governor.

"And that's the thing, is really not going after Donald Trump, and the problem that all of these folks have. And I think — with respect to Donna [Brazile] — I think the difference between this year and 2016 is that Donald Trump is the Bruce Springsteen of the MAGA movement, and these guys are, are a cover band trying to dethrone the Bruce Springsteen of the MAGA movement," Priebus opined.

READ MORE: 'Who is the Mike Pence voter?' Analysts rag on ex-veep ahead of 2024 campaign announcement

"So they're banking on a lot of things happening between now and 2024," Priebus added. "And I think that these other folks that are getting in — a Ron DeSantis — if they're not willing to go toe to toe with Donald Trump, smash mouth politics, it isn't going to work."

READ MORE: Trump second term would mean war with Iran is 'more likely' than peace: report

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Donald Trump takes aim at right-wing targets as 2024 GOP primary heats up

Chuck Todd announces resignation from 'Meet the Press'

NBC News anchor Chuck Todd announced on Sunday that he will be resigning as the 12th moderator of Meet the Press "in the coming months" after hosting the weekly show for nine years.

"Kristen Welker, NBC News' co-chief White House correspondent, will succeed him," the network reported.

"It's been an amazing nearly decadelong run. I am really proud of what this team and I have built over the last decade," Todd said. "I've loved so much of this job, helping to explain America to Washington and explain Washington to America."

READ MORE: 'What say you?' Chuck Todd and Pete Buttigieg spar over how to reduce the national debt

Per NBC, Todd added that "When I took over Meet the Press, it was a Sunday show that had a lot of people questioning whether it still could have a place in the modern media space. Well, I think we've answered that question and then some."

NBC noted that Todd "plans to remain at NBC in a new role as chief political analyst, where he will serve as a key voice both in the field and during coverage of major events. He will also focus on long-form journalism."

Watch Todd's full address below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Just sheer paralysis': Chuck Todd roasts Republicans over their inability to dethrone Donald Trump

NBC News' report is available here.

This is a breaking news and developing story.

'Who is the Mike Pence voter?' Analysts rag on ex-veep ahead of 2024 campaign announcement

A Sunday morning MSNBC panel poked fun at former Vice President Mike Pence's forthcoming entry into the 2024 presidential race because of how little political ammunition Pence has to challenge ex-President Donald Trump and other candidates for the Republican nomination.

"Mike Pence jumping in, plans to launch his campaign in Iowa next week. Please, if you will, explain to me who is the Mike Pence voter?" host Alicia Menendez asked.

Columnist Philip Bump of The Washington Post responded with a brutal assessment of Pence's standing.

READ MORE: 'Can I do one?' Critics troll CNN for scheduling Mike Pence 'presidential town hall'

"Well, there's Mike Pence. There's his wife. I mean, look, I, I, I don't know, right? I mean, he's sort of trying to, he, he's trying to walk a, a non-existent line, which is appealing to Trump voters who did vote for him to be vice president, but not because of him, right?" Bump said.

"It could have been literally anyone on the ballot in 2016, 2020, and they would've voted for Donald Trump's vice president, but at the same time, to be critical of Donald Trump," Bump continued. "I mean, you know, this is a guy whose primary goal over the course of the next week is, 'How do I manage to talk about the way that Donald Trump's people wanted to have me hanged on January 6th that doesn't alienate you from Donald Trump?'"

Watch the exchange below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Deliver us from evil Knievel': Mike Pence mercilessly mocked for motorcycle photo op

House Freedom Caucus member: 'We failed' to block debt ceiling deal

The deal to raise the debt ceiling that was negotiated by United States House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and President Joe Biden last week ultimately made it through the House and Senate before landing on Biden's desk for his signature on Saturday despite opposition from members of both political parties.

The right-wing House Freedom Caucus was perhaps the most vocal coalition against the legislation. And on Sunday, Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colorado) conceded to CNN's Dana Bash that he and his confederates fell short of their goal of stopping its passage.

"You call the deal atrocious, and yet it passed by almost two hundred votes, including a majority of Republicans. President Biden, I should say, signed the law yesterday. What does this say about the power of your colleagues in the Freedom Caucus at this moment?" Bash asked Buck, who responded by calling her the wrong name.

READ MORE: Why House Freedom Caucus were the biggest 'losers' of all in the debt ceiling battle

"Well, first Ann, if I may, I wanted to correct something that Jamie Raskin said earlier, my colleague from Maryland. There is no MAGA group in the house that wants to make sure that we default. That, that, that, that's just a, a, a talking point that is unfair. There are a lot of people in the House and a lot of representatives in the House Freedom Caucus that wanna make sure that we don't spend more money than we have, and that we don't spend ourselves into a really bad situation," Buck said.

"But I think the House Freedom Caucus, with a five-vote majority in the House still retains a lot of influence in the House. The key is that we use that influence in a way that brings conservative results, and I think that's what we tried to do with this case. And we failed, honestly," Buck continued. "The speaker got Democrats to vote for this bill. Because the bill is — and in fact, more Democrats voted for this bill than Republicans — this bill is a Democrat bill. It is a bill that not only avoided a default, but also locked in the progressive gains that the President made in the last two years."

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Lauren Boebert lashes out at 'garbage' debt deal and explains why she skipped vote

Why Bannon’s pardon from Trump is powerless to stop prosecution in New York: report

Ex-White House chief strategist and twice-convicted felon Steve Bannon's trial in New York for allegedly running a fraudulent scheme to bilk supporters of former President Donald Trump is less than a year away. And although Trump pardoned him before leaving office, that act of clemency offers the disgraced conspiracy theorist no legal protection,The Daily Beast's Jose Pagliery reported on Sunday.

Bannon, Pagliery recalled, "is accused of quietly enriching himself with donor money from a nativist GoFundMe campaign to build Trump's Mexico border wall. The case is essentially the exact same one as the federal proceedings two years earlier that, before trial, fell apart when Trump swooped in and saved him. But in New York now, it's only considered double jeopardy when a person has been fully prosecuted twice. That is, when someone was indicted and pleaded guilty—or, at the very least, had a jury sworn in."

Pagliery noted that "the federal prosecutors at the Southern District of New York, however, never got Bannon's case to trial. Trump used his powerful presidential authority to kill the investigation into his former White House chief strategist before federal prosecutors could get to that stage."

READ MORE: Watchdog says Trump's decision to pardon Bannon fails 'to live up to the ethical standard of Richard Nixon'

In 2019, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed reforms into law that closed the so-called "egregious loophole" that would "prevent someone from being prosecuted twice for the same crime," Pagliery explained.

Cuomo did this "specifically because Trump started handing out pardons," John Jay College of Criminal Justice adjunct lecturer Diane Peress told The Daily Beast. "New York State took the position that these people need to be answerable to crimes they committed in New York State."

Trump, ex-prosecutor Todd Kaminsky added to the Beast, "was 'corruptly using the pardon power' to shield himself by saving his powerful friends."

All of this, Pagliery expounded, "means the Manhattan DA can go after the right-wing media personality for his role in 'We Build the Wall,' the GoFundMe that ludicrously promised to keep Latin American migrants out of the United States by amassing private funds to construct a wall at the southern border—even though the feds had proof that the small cadre of men leading the project had siphoned off donor funds."

READ MORE: 'A clown show': Steve Bannon lambastes DeSantis’ 'historic screwup' of a campaign launch

Pagliery's full analysis continues here (subscription required).

Trump falsely claims Bragg 'will be immediately forced to drop his weak and disparaged' case in Truth Social fit

Former President Donald Trump threw a midnight Truth Social tantrum about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Trump wrote at 12:24 a.m.:


Trump appears to be alluding to an exclusive New York Poststory published late Saturday night that Jeremy Rosenberg, an investigator inside Bragg's office, "has been suspended for his contact with the former president’s ex-lawyer and bitter adversary Michael Cohen."

READ MORE: Classified Pentagon 'war plans' document Trump bragged about in audio recording is missing: report

According to the Post, sources said that Rosenberg "had his gun removed recently for his interactions with Cohen" and that "Bragg's office is looking at how Rosenberg shared communications about Cohen with the office."

But the Postarticle also specifically states that "defense lawyer and former Manhattan prosecutor Mark Bederow said the suspension might not affect the case against Trump, but the defense probably would want to know what led to the review."

Even the right-wing-leaning Gateway Pundit stressed that "it is unclear if Jeremy Rosenberg's suspension will have an impact on the case against Trump."

Nonetheless, Trump's ire could be related to NBC News' revelation that United States Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith's grand jury in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case will meet again this week.

READ MORE: 'Fasten your seat belts': Indictment rumors swirl amid report that Jack Smith’s grand jury is reconvening

The New York Post's exposé continues here.

'Fasten your seat belts': Indictment rumors swirl amid report that Jack Smith’s grand jury is reconvening

Late Saturday night, NBC News dropped a potential bombshell when it reported that the federal grand jury that has been examining evidence in the United States Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith's investigation into former President Donald Trump's mishandling of classified documents will reconvene this upcoming week.

"Prosecutors face two central legal questions: 1) Did Trump wrongfully retain classified documents after he left the White House? 2) Did he later obstruct the government’s efforts to retrieve them?" NBC noted. "If Smith decides to indict Trump, it would be the first time a former president has been charged with a federal crime. Though Trump has already been charged in New York with state crimes related to hush money payments, the cases differ dramatically."

Although NBC stressed that "it's unclear whether prosecutors are prepared to seek an indictment at this point," rumors nonetheless swirled amongst legal experts following the publication of NBC's story.

READ MORE: Classified Pentagon 'war plans' document Trump bragged about in audio recording is missing: report

Ex-Deputy Attorney General Harry Litman tweeted that "the obvious inference-not the only one but the most obvious— is they're reconvening to vote out an indictment. Fasten your seat belts."

Conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin responded that "the special counsel's recommendation has been made" and that Attorney General Merrick Garland "has decided to follow it."

Watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) wrote that "Trump's first federal indictment could be just days away."

Law professor and author Jennifer Taub quipped, "I love it, especially later in summer," referring to possible charges filed against Trump by Smith.

READ MORE: Declining to charge Pence in classified docs probe a 'prelude to DOJ seeking charges against Trump': expert

Veteran Allison Gill stated that "this could be a number of things including: 1. He's ready to ask for indictments 2. He's got a new cooperating witness."

Former White House Ethics Czar Norm Eisen said that "reports that the Trump classified document grand jury is meeting again shortly, what can we expect? Charges! (If not this week, soon).

Ex-federal prosecutor and legal analyst Renato Mariotti, however, cautioned that the update "doesn’t tell us much about the timing of a potential indictment. The grand jury could be considering a proposed indictment, but prosecutors could just be presenting evidence to the grand jury."

READ MORE: A 2021 recording could be among DOJ’s 'most important' evidence against Trump: ex-federal prosecutor

NBC's News full report continues at this link.

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant now a 'nuclear Hindenburg' because of Vladimir Putin: columnist

As Ukraine prepares to initiate its anticipated counteroffensive against Russian President Vladimir Putin's illegal invasion, concerns are mounting over the possibility of a radiological incident at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside of Enerhodar, which has endured repeated rounds of shelling and power outages since Putin's troops captured the facility in March 2022.

Zaporizhzhia is the largest of its kind in continental Europe, and although there are rigorous safety protocols and routine inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, a worst-case scenario could play out if the plant is caught in the crossfire between Ukrainian defense forces and Russian artillery.

Sky News reported on Thursday that employees are worried that if Zaporizhzhia sustains significant damage — or is unable to run its backup generators to maintain its reactor cooling pools — that "the level of radioactive pollution, and most importantly the area of contamination, will be thousands of square kilometers of land and sea." The workers stressed that "it would be much, much worse than Fukushima and worse than Chernobyl."

READ MORE: Kremlin propaganda laden with 'clashes and contradictions' over visions of Russian 'victory': report

Sky News also noted that "five of the six reactors are now in cold shutdown, but there are fears Russia may use the power plant to stage a false flag attack."

Columnist Joseph Cirincione of The Daily Beast expanded upon the dangers in a sobering opinion column on Saturday.

Zaporizhzhia, Cirincione wrote, "is a ticking nuclear time bomb. Through accident, attack, or sabotage it could become the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl."

Cirincione posits various sequences of events through which the "nuclear Hindenburg" could come crashing down to Earth:

  • Fighting irreparably disconnects Zaporizhzhia from the electricity it needs to prevent a meltdown.
  • Staffing errors, due to a "deficit of workers for repairs who can actually do the servicing and fix problems."
  • Russian sabotage.

READ MORE: Putin struggles to recover from 'most significant' attack on Russia 'since the Second World War'

A key variable, however, is how Putin decides to respond if his military faces additional defeats or if Ukraine strikes targets within Russia.

Experts have warned that Putin is "running out of options" other than to make good on his ongoing threats to unleash his vast atomic arsenal to level the playing field.

Consequently, Cirincione explained, "There is no winning hand here. It is not only Ukrainian drones that can reach Moscow. Winds could carry the radioactive plumes from smoldering Zaporizhzhia fires deep into Russia. A move intended to harm Ukrainians could instead sow new panic among Russians supporting Putin's war."

Either way, Cirincione concluded, "We would have to say that the odds of just such a disaster are better than even. "The nuclear time bomb is ticking."

READ MORE: Vladimir Putin issues 'dirty bomb' threat in response to drone strike on Moscow: report

Sky News' full report is available at this link. Cirincione's full editorial continues at this link (subscription required).

Ex-Hedge fund CEO eyeing GOP Senate seat helped corporations outsource to 'low-cost countries': report

David McCormick, the former chief executive officer of the world's largest hedge fund, revealed in a March interview with Politico that he is weighing a run for the Republican nomination in Pennsylvania for the United States Senate in 2024.

"I believe that our political system always will self-correct," McCormick, who was defeated in the 2022 GOP Senate primary by failed candidate Mehmet Oz, told Politico. "We're in such a moment of self-correction in my opinion, and that's what I'm trying to do, is support that with the agenda here around educating our people and confronting China and securing America."

The Associated Press noted in April 2022 that "McCormick and his wife estimated the value of their assets between $116 million and $289 million, including a valuable stake in Bridgewater Associates."

READ MORE: 'Objectively Amazing': Economists cheer 'extraordinarily robust' jobs report

This week, Heartland Signal revealed that part of McCormick's massive net worth came from his experience consulting corporations on how to ship American jobs overseas.

"From 2001 to 2004, McCormick was the chief executive officer of a global software company called FreeMarkets. The company described its operations as a resource to help other businesses 'lower costs, reduce risks and increase profitability,'" Heartland Signal reported. "When FreeMarkets was purchased by Ariba in 2004, McCormick stayed and became the president of Ariba while FreeMarkets’ many services carried over, which included 'procurement outsourcing.'"

During McCormick's tenure as CEO, Ariba "released a guide for 'Low-Cost Country Sourcing,' which lays out strategies for businesses to cut costs and save money via shipping jobs overseas. The company also had a specific page on its website that outlined its strategy for 'low-cost country sourcing.' One of these 'low-cost countries' was India, which McCormick called an important location for country sourcing," Heartland Signal explained.

According to Heartland Signal, McCormick defended his work in 2004, stating that "big multinational companies are interested in doing business in India and, being in the business of spend management, we help them to work out what they buy and who they buy from. Services like the low-cost country sourcing program are a key differentiator for Ariba, as they enable it to offer complete spend management solutions to customers."

READ MORE: GOP’s 'fealty to megadonors on full display': IRS cuts will cost $40 billion in lost revenue

Heartland Signal's full report continues here. Politico's conversation with McCormick is here.

How Amazon and Google are 'proving to be complicit' by bankrolling both sides of the abortion debate: report

Thanks to the United States Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling that established money as a constitutionally protected form of free speech, countless dollars have flowed into political campaigns, candidates, and causes.

On Saturday, The Guardianreported that Amazon, Google, and other giant companies have waded into the fight over reproductive freedom. The British outlet revealed that these entities have been making financial contributions to an organization that has bankrolled right-wing lawmakers in North Carolina who voted to overturn Democratic Governor Roy Cooper's veto of the state's twelve-week abortion ban.

"The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) received donations of tens of thousands of dollars each from corporations including Comcast, Intuit, Wells Fargo, Amazon, Bank of America and Google last year. The contributions were made in the months after Politico published a leaked supreme court decision indicating that the court would end the right to nationwide abortion access," The Guardian learned from an analysis conducted by the Center for Political Accountability (CPA).

READ MORE: 'Treat humans like humans': Amazon drivers file 16-page lawsuit alleging inhumane working conditions

"Google contributed $45,000 to the RSLC after the leak of the draft decision, according to the CPA's review of the tax filings," The Guardian explained. "Others contributed even more in the months after the leak, including Amazon ($50,000), Intuit ($100,000), and Comcast ($147,000)."

The paper noted that "although these companies did not directly give these vast sums to North Carolina's anti-abortion lawmakers, the CPA's analysis is a case study in how corporate contributions to organizations such as the RSLC can end up being funneled into anti-abortion causes. When Republican state legislators successfully overturned a veto from the Democratic governor last month to pass the upcoming abortion ban, nine of lawmakers voting to overturn the veto had received campaign contributions from a group with links to the RSLC."

Also pointed out by The Guardian is that "these donations are evidence that corporations are proving to be complicit in the broader movement to limit abortion rights, the CPA non-profit argues, even as many of these companies publicly tout women's empowerment and employee access to healthcare."

Moreover, these businesses have vested interests in both sides of the debate. Per The Guardian, "The companies which donated to the RSLC are also large donors to Democratic political groups, and tech giants such as Google and Amazon tend to spend millions each year more broadly on lobbying efforts."

READ MORE: Critics slam Amazon's billion-dollar 'corporate welfare' for Oregon data centers

The Guardian's report continues here.

Is free will 'compatible with what we know about the laws of nature'? This physicist says no

Is free will real? The topic has long been a subject of debate among philosophers and material scientists alike. Yet a growing number of physicists, such as Sabine Hossenfelder, are leaning toward an unnerving possibility: that the concept of free will could be nothing more than an illusion generated in the human brain.

According to Hossenfelder, the question of executive independence comes down to how the Universe behaves at its most fundamental level.

"Free will is often described as the possibility that one could have done otherwise. But this description stopped being useful with quantum mechanics because it'd mean that single particles also have free will," Hossenfelder explains.

READ MORE: Hot mic catches Roger Stone revealing how he gets Trump to do his bidding

To showcase her argument, Hossenfelder alludes to the counterintuitively fuzzy nature of subatomic reality and then extrapolates its effects on the macro world.

"I think free will is incompatible with determinism. I also think it's incompatible with indeterminism. And since the real world is governed by a mixture of determinism and indeterminism, I arrive at the conclusion that free will doesn't exist. It's sometimes called 'hard incompatibilism,'" Hossenfelder says.

Because of this, Hossenfelder stresses, "You don't need to explain what free will is in any detail. You just need to say, 'Whatever it is, it isn't compatible with what we know about the laws of nature."

Hossenfelder believes although "many of us have grown up thinking our brain works in a particular way," eventually "we learn that this isn't compatible with science, and we have a hard time readjusting how we think about ourselves. The free will story suggests that the brain works like this. You use your neural circuits to consider different options, for example, what you could eat for lunch. You draw on your memory and the associations you have for each possible option and try to imagine how much you would enjoy it. Then you take this thing called 'free will' and use it to pick one. The challenge is now to integrate the knowledge that the thing you call free will is just another part of this algorithm that runs in your neural circuits."

READ MORE: 'The curse of the human condition': Neuroscientist explains how COVID drove 'everyone into a collective existential crisis'

Hossenfelder emphasized, however, that this does not mean that people do not make real choices.

"You decided to watch this video, didn't you? Good choice by the way," Hossenfelder continues. "Did the Big Bang make me do this video? No. That's because all those structures in the universe, including this planet and life on it, were created by quantum fluctuations in the plasma in the early universe. Their details were not determined at the Big Bang, if there was a Big Bang. It's also extremely likely that one or the other quantum event played a role for the world becoming just exactly as it is today."

Nonetheless, Hossenfelder concludes that misinterpretations of how individuals process incoming information have profound impacts on civilization:

Fact is that our brains will process input whether we want that or not. Once it's in, we can't get it out. This is why trauma is so hard to cope with. This is why misinformation is so hard to combat. This is why what the FIFA called 'three victorious hands around a soccer ball' will forever look like a facepalm once someone told you it does. You can't 'unsee' something. And this is also why I take issue with upbeat climate change activists, who attack realists as 'doomers' because they believe we just need the 'will' to take action. The idea that 'will' is all we need has led to utopian plans for staggering amounts of carbon capture, home insulation and renovation, upgrades of the electric grid, energy storage, and a hydrogen economy, all of which is somehow magically supposed to pop out of nowhere if we just have the 'will.' This belief in free will puts the blame on individuals when really the problem is the way that we've organized our societies. I'd say it isn't me who is a problem for action on climate change, it's people who disregard the limits of human cognitive ability.

Watch below or at this link.

I don't believe in free will. This is

READ MORE: Is politics all in the mind?

How John Roberts can 'tap his inner LBJ' to 'dare his colleagues to dissent' to ethics rules: columnist

The United States Supreme Court is facing historically low approval ratings and accelerating public distrust amid the docket of corruption scandals surrounding multiple jurists — including Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts — who is under mounting pressure to enact a code of ethics.

The starkest example of conflicts of interest, however, is the financial relationship between billionaire Nazi memorabilia collector Harlan Crow and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, whom Crow has blessed with lavish gifts such as vacations and expense coverage throughout Thomas' judicial tenure.

At present, though, Roberts has expressed reluctance to directly police the behavior of his colleagues, stemming from his view that doing so could chip away at the Court's independence as a co-equal branch of the federal government.

READ MORE: Chief Justice John Roberts’ anti-abortion activist wife may have 'influenced' his 'judicial decisions'

But that need not be the case, according to Washington Post Associate Editor Ruth Marcus, who in a Friday opinion column suggested how Roberts could assert his authority and prevent further degradation of the Court's perceived legitimacy.

"As unnatural an act as it would be for the conflict-averse Roberts," Marcus said, he should mirror the approach that President Lyndon Baines Johnson employed when he appointed Senator Richard Russell (D-Georgia) to the 1963 Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of his predecessor John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Channeling his "inner LBJ," Marcus explained, would provide Roberts the cover "to decide what the court needs to do and effectively dare his colleagues to dissent."

Marcus's recommendation came in two distinct parts.

READ MORE: 'Judicial power grab': Georgetown law professor details the Roberts Court’s overt 'contempt' for America

The first is for Roberts to reclaim the narrative and put the justices on notice.

"Roberts should simply tell his colleagues that he plans to announce that the court will officially subject itself to the ethical standards that are binding on other federal judges. Period," Marcus said, adding that Roberts "should further name a committee — perhaps of retired judges — to consider what adjustments need to be made to tailor the ethics rules to the particular needs of the High Court."

Marcus' second idea would apply to Thomas in the short term while establishing an enforceable precedent for the future.

"Again, the LBJ model: Roberts should privately tell Thomas that he plans to announce he is asking the Judicial Conference of the United States, which reviews the justices' disclosure forms, to examine Thomas's past compliance," Marcus opined. "But, Roberts should say, this request would be much better coming from Thomas himself — a voluntary move to assure the public that the justice has followed the law."

READ MORE: 'Ethics-free zone': Senate Judiciary member says Congress 'absolutely can' impose reforms on SCOTUS

Marcus' full editorial is available at this link (subscription required).

'Passed for an impermissible purpose': Trump-appointed judge rules Tennessee anti-drag law unconstitutional

A federal judge appointed to the bench in 2017 by former President Donald Trump ruled on Friday night that Tennessee's anti-drag law is unconstitutional.

District Judge Thomas Parker of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee issued an injunction against the state's Adult Entertainment Act (AEA) at the conclusion of a two-day trial, which followed his March issuance of a restraining order blocking the AEA from taking effect after the non-profit production group Friends of George's sued Shelby County District Attorney General Steven Mulroy.

In his seventy-page opinion, Parker determined that the ban on "adult cabaret entertainment" is "an UNCONSTITUTIONAL restriction on the freedom of speech and PERMANENTLY ENJOINS Defendant Steven Mulroy from enforcing the unconstitutional statute."

READ MORE: 'Missed the mark': Judge shoots down Tennessee GOP anti-drag show law

Parker explained that "the Court finds that the legislative transcript strongly suggests that the AEA was passed for an impermissible purpose" due to its "substantially overbroad" language and that "Plaintiff's exhibits are performances that both described and represented sexual content that is arguably constitutionally-protected."

Parker sided with Friends of George's because they proved that performers would face a "certain threat of prosecution" because "the chance that an officer could abuse that wide discretion is troubling given an art form like drag that some would say purposefully challenges the limits of society's accepted norms."

The AEA's "narrowing construction by substituting 17-year-old for 'minors' veers so far from the AEA's text that neither reasonable people nor officers in Shelby County would have fair notice of the AEA's meaning," Parker said. "It would have to eat the proverbial mushroom to find out whether it is poisonous."

Parker also pointed out that the AEA's provisions at their core are inherently discriminatory.

READ MORE: Watch: House Republican claims 'friends of mine that are homosexual' support drag bans

"Given an appropriate scope, [Tennessee] may regulate adult-oriented performers who are harmful to minors. But it cannot, in the name of protecting children, use the AEA to target speakers for a reason that is unrelated to protecting children," Parker wrote. "The Court finds that the AEA's text targets the viewpoint of gender identity —particularly those who wish to impersonate a gender that is different from the one with which they are born."

Law Dork founder Chris Geidner noted in his analysis that "the effect of the ruling was not immediately clear. Enforcement is only enjoined as to Mulroy and Shelby County."

READ MORE: Tennessee Republican says taking guns from dangerous people creates more danger

'I am there to ask questions': Sean Hannity will not fact-check Donald Trump at Fox News town hall

Fox News host Sean Hannity vowed on Thursday's edition of his Premiere Radio Network show that he will not challenge, correct, fact-check, or question whatever former President Donald Trump says during Thursday night's Fox News town hall in Iowa.

"We're gonna try and cover as much ground as we can. One thing I will tell you, this town hall is not going to be like fake news CNN," Hannity said of that network's controversial New Hampshire event in April.

"I am not there to debate the candidate. I am not there to argue with the candidate. I am there to ask questions and let the candidate give their answer and let the audience ask their questions," Hannity continued. "That's my job tonight. That will be a great distinction."

READ MORE: 'Embarrassing': Chris Sununu slams GOP and undecided voters' behavior during Trump Town Hall

Hannity then took a jab at correspondent Kaitlan Collins, who moderated CNN's event and faced blowback for what people perceived as either fact-checking Trump too little or too much.

"'Well, Hannity, you went easy, you weren't like whatever those -- whoever the person was on fake news CNN that did hers.' Okay, she was doing that show for an audience, a group of fellow journalists, so she'd be accepted into that elite, you know, ridiculous blue checkmark media cult on Twitter that talk to themselves in a bubble, that are out of touch with we the people," Hannity complained.

Despite Collins' best efforts to get to the truth, Trump still managed to spout a torrent of falsehoods and conspiracy theories, which the carefully selected audience gobbled up.

Hannity, however, wants Trump to be Trump.

READ MORE: 'Dereliction of duty': Fox News host hammers Kaitlan Collins for inadequately fact-checking Donald Trump

"So I'm doing the show so you can get answers from a presidential candidate that's leading for the Republican Party. It's not about me debating the president," Hannity added. "And people can fact-check them all they want afterward, but the reality is I want to hear what he has to say in his own words and actually let him finish a thought, which was not very common during the first one."

Listen below via Media Matters for America or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Republican fundraisers scared to death' after Trump town hall performance: former GOP lawmaker

'He’s not picking on them': Sarah Palin defends 'loyalist' Donald Trump against those who 'draw first blood'

Ex-Alaska governor, failed vice presidential nominee, and twice-defeated Republican candidate for the United States House of Representatives Sarah Palin gushed over former President Donald Trump's supposedly incomparable loyalty during a conversation with Trump's daughter-in-law Kimberly Guilfoyle on Thursday. Palin also suggested that Trump is a victim of bullying from his political detractors.

"In terms of character of Donald Trump, he is a loyalist and I know that personally for years and years and years, he, he, uh, I don't have anything to offer him, and yet he has been so loyal to me and so caring about my kids, about my family, about what's going on in Alaska, and I so appreciate it. I, I've witnessed firsthand since way before he got so heavily into politics that sense of loyalty and loyalty, man. And that, that's one of the rarest virtues in our country, in our world today. I, I so respect that," Palin said.

"So, yeah. Good question that you're asking is, why in the world would people turn on him and they draw first blood when it's not coming from him? He's not picking on them," Palin added.

READ MORE: 'One of the worst hours I’ve ever seen': Critics erupt at CNN over Donald Trump’s 'spectacle of lies'

Guilfoyle, who is married to Donald Trump Junior, agreed with Palin in her response. She then argued that the 2024 GOP presidential primary is a waste of time because Trump was already president for four years.

"Right. That's the thing, like be realistic about it. And what do you, what do you expect? I mean, no offense, it's actually sort of insane that we have this whole primary, cuz let's be honest, you know, he was the president of the United States," Guilfoyle said. "If he was still in office, there would be no one running against him or primarying him. So now we're gonna spend all this money and time beat each other up when we should be focused on the end game, on the general election."

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Disloyalty': Trump goes after evangelicals in fiery new rant

Marjorie Taylor Greene says trans Americans 'have the same rights' while pushing gender-affirming care ban

United States Representative and House Speaker Pro Tempore Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) declared on her Battleground podcast this week that transgender Americans enjoy full equality under the law. Greene also ordered private companies — the free market — to refrain from exercising their rights if they have viewpoints with which conservatives disagree.

"Let me remind everyone. As a member of Congress, I can tell you right now people that are trans have the same rights as every single other American, and we want them to have the same rights," Greene proclaimed.

Greene introduced a bill last year call the Protect Children's Innocence Act to restrict access to life-saving gender-affirming care, which Greene and other right-wing lawmakers deem "genital mutilation."

READ MORE: 'How is this idiot in Congress?' Rep. MTG slammed over claim FBI 'set up honeypots' for Jan. 6 rioters

Greene on Thursday begged Congress to hold a vote, tweeting that "we must pass my bill, the Protect Children's Innocence Act, to END the genital mutilation of kids in America." She added that "my bill would charge any person who knowingly performs 'gender-affirming' care on a minor with a Class C Felony and prohibit all taxpayer funding for this barbaric surgery."

Raw Story noted that a circumcision ban is not included in Greene's legislation.

Nonetheless, Greene continued her lecture.

Transgender individuals "have the same freedom of speech. They have the same Second Amendment. They have the same ability to vote. They have the same ability to get an education. They can buy a house. They can get a job. They can identify however they please," Green pontificated. "But when it turns into a political agenda and it's run through major corporations, it's run through businesses and it's shoved in your large percentage of your customer base that doesn't agree and doesn't wanna participate, then you are not acting like a business. You are acting like a political organization, and that needs to stop."

READ MORE: Laughter breaks out on House floor when Marjorie Taylor Greene calls for 'decorum'

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'I’m literally lol’ing': Marjorie Taylor Greene defends drag-dressing beau after he misgenders Brittney Griner

'My existence should not be an issue to you': Students blast Florida school board over right-wing policies

Parents, students, and teachers expressed their outrage at the Hernando County, Florida School Board meeting on Tuesday amid crackdowns on free speech, civil rights, and education curricula led by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and GOP lawmakers.

On Thursday, The Recount posted videos of two students railing against DeSantis' policies and his attacks on LGBTQIA+ youth.

The first speaker referenced DeSantis' crusade against what right-wingers call "woke indoctrination" in schools:

I am extremely concerned for our future if these are the issues that the Florida state government focuses on, and you should be too. You ever wonder why you don't hear many teachers speaking out on this issue? It's because they're scared. Teacher vacancy has more than doubled since January of 2019, going from 2200 to numbers as high as 5,300. Could it be because students are getting worse? Maybe. Could it be due to the backlash of COVID? Maybe. Or could it be because they're scared to, they're scared to say anything that will get them fired — nonetheless scared to show a Disney movie in class and read a book with a gay character in it, most likely. How are we supposed to get an unbiased education when the teachers are walking on eggshells? To end my point, I'd like to leave you with this. Every person on the school board and the Florida state government most likely has children or grandchildren, and those kids are going to build our future alongside me. While they may build it, teachers are the ones who mold them to be an active member of society, and I am so scared for the future if our teachers, our mentors, are being silenced.

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis accuses teachers of 'forcing' students to pick pronouns

The second individual blasted the school board for ostracizing students.

"And before I begin, I'd like to ask every board member to please give me their full attention as I have not seen that. Good evening. My name is Robert Corden. I am a junior, soon-to-be senior," he excitedly began.

"Calm down," he was told.

Corden restarted:

I'm a junior soon-to-be senior at Nature Coast Technical High School, and I love my school. My school means a lot to me. This county means a lot to me. Over the years of my education here in Hernando County, I have seen a lot of change. Students have changed. School procedures have changed. And what it means to be a student has changed. Members like Member [Shannon] Rodriguez and Member [Mark] Johnson see an issue of teacherless classrooms and instead focus their energy on the LGBTQ community and other problems like getting Superintendent [John] Stratton removed.

READ MORE: Florida law targets education unions that Ron DeSantis says 'defied the state'

News Channel 8 reported on Wednesday that the school board voted 3-2 in favor to keep Stratton, whom conservatives demanded to step down because fifth-grade teacher Jenna Barbee showed Disney's Strange World to her class.

News Channel 8 noted that "the PG-rated movie includes the depiction of a gay teenager" and that "Barbee admitted she didn't receive the required approval before showing the film."

Corden alluded to the incident as he concluded his speech:

This is why teachers are leaving the profession because members like Member Rodriguez and Member Johnson don't listen to the people that they serve. When taking this position, you accepted the responsibility to represent every single student fairly and justly. I do not feel you have done that instead of representing me and other LGBTQ-plus students — cuz yes, we exist — you instead, you instead have alienated and made us feel as if our entire existence is an issue to you. My existence should not be an issue to you, but come next election season, my vote will be.

Watch the clips below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Bigotry and megalomania': Scientific American Editorial board warns of DeSantis’ 'antiscience agenda'

Inside the 'egregious' Texas GOP 'power grab' Republicans nationwide are copying to usurp elections

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott is likely to sign two pieces of legislation into law that will reshape how elections are conducted in heavily Democratic Harris County.

"One of the bills the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature approved would eliminate the job of county election administrator, who is appointed by a five-member commission that includes the county judge, the tax assessor, the county clerk and the chairs of the Harris County Republican and Democratic parties. Election administration duties would revert to two elected officials, the county clerk and the tax assessor-collector, who performed them before 2020," Stateline reported on Thursday. "The second bill would allow the secretary of state to take over election administration if there are persistent voting irregularities."

Democrats have understandably decried what Republicans are trying to do. State Representative Jarvis Johnson of Harris County — the Lone Star State's largest — called the proposals "an egregious, disgusting, despicable act" and "a power grab on behalf of Republicans to try to take over elections and certainly steer elections their way."

READ MORE: Texas GOP passes bills allowing Abbott appointee to take over Democratic county’s elections

According to Stateline, the effort undertaken by the Texas GOP to potentially render democracy inert in blue districts is metastasizing in other states where Republicans have statehouse control.

"During this year's legislative session, Republican lawmakers in Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Florida, Georgia and Montana have approved measures that restrict election administration, including prohibiting nonprofits from donating to local election offices, tightening the time local election officials get to count votes and limiting local governments' ability to create new voting ordinances," Stateline explained.

Stateline noted that Arizona's Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs recently vetoed proposals that mirrored those in Texas,

"Republican-backed bills in Arizona would have given political parties more powers to observe the signature-verification process when counting ballots, along with setting up livestreaming of that process," Stateline wrote. "The Republican-controlled legislature there also passed measures that would have made more voter information and ballot images public."

READ MORE: Former Texas mayor hails Ken Paxton’s impeachment as a 'substantial bipartisan act of government'

Stateline's report continues here.

Trump attorney Jim Trusty: DOJ 'filtered' recording to 'justify a persecution' of his client

Former President Donald Trump's attorney Jim Trusty insisted to CNN's Kaitlan Collins late Wednesday night that his client had "absolute authority" to take whatever sensitive materials that he wanted out of the White House at the end of his term.

The interview occurred hours after CNN published an exclusive blockbuster report that United States Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith and his team of prosecutors possess a recording of Trump from 2021 in which he admits to keeping a top-secret document related to a potential military strike on Iran. According to CNN's sources, Trump can be heard acknowledging that he did not have the post-presidency power to declassify and share its content despite his desire to do so.

Scores of legal experts quickly noted that the tape is "a hugely significant piece of evidence" indicating that Trump illegally disseminated information and that he is likely to be indicted under the Espionage Act.

READ MORE: Prosecutors obtain recording of Donald Trump boasting about classified documents in 2021: report

Recall, though, that ever since the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago compound in Palm Beach, Florida last August, Trump and his defenders have maintained that the Presidential Records Act provided Trump the authority to remove and retain government property with impunity.

CNN explained in March, however, that "Trump's claims are false. The Presidential Records Act says that, the moment a president leaves office, NARA gets custody and control of all presidential records from his administration. Nothing in the act says there should be prolonged 'talk' or a negotiated 'agreement' between a former president and NARA over a former president's return of presidential documents – much less that there should have been a months-long battle after NARA first contacted Trump's team in 2021 to try to get some of the records that had not been handed over at the end of his presidency."

CNN further pointed out that "the key sentence from the Presidential Records Act is unequivocal" pertaining to Trump's situation: 'Upon the conclusion of a President's term of office, or if a President serves consecutive terms upon the conclusion of the last term, the Archivist of the United States shall assume responsibility for the custody, control, and preservation of, and access to, the Presidential records of that President."

In April, The Washington Postalso quashed Trump's assertions, writing that "Trump cooks up a deceiving stew of half-truths in a misleading effort to suggest that the PRA protects him from prosecution and gives him the right to haggle over whether he can retain presidential documents at his home. NARA is able to enlist the help of the Justice Department to demand return of the documents under another law — and, in any case, the possible criminal case against Trump does not hinge on the PRA at all. That law gives a president leeway to determine whether documents are presidential in nature before he leaves office — but not when he no longer is president. As is often the case with Trump, he's venturing where no recent occupant of the White House has tried to go. The sparse judicial review of the PRA gives him an opening to suggest he has a stronger case than many legal experts believe. But don't be fooled — in sum, this is a Four Pinocchio claim."

READ MORE: 'Absolutely blockbuster evidence': Stunned experts say docs recording is game over for Donald Trump

Nonetheless, Trusty doubled down on Trump's excuses in his interview with Collins — who broke the recording story along with correspondents Katelyn Polantz and Paula Reid.

"You referenced the fact that Trump was still president when he left office. He left Washington. I think he had about an hour left in his presidency. Are you saying that it was in that hour that he declassified the documents that were taken with him?" Collins asked Trusty.

"No. Your, your timing is a little bit off that he, he landed in Mar-a-Lago and was at his residence while still president. It was a little bit after that that Biden was sworn in. So he, he had the absolute authority to take every one of those documents. Any document he wants with him when he left the White House. What happens throughout history, through modern history is that if you take documents and Archives thinks they're entitled to it, they start negotiating and that's what he did. He was telling 'em things like, 'Hey, just ask if you want anything more.' He gave them fifteen boxes in January of 2022," Trusty said.

"Well after some back and forth," Collins interjected. "But just to be clear, you are making the argument right now that by the time he was on the ground in Florida after he left Washington, that that is when he declassified all of these documents that he took with him?" she pressed.

"No, no, no. I'm saying that documents he brought with him are effectively declassified and personalized under the Presidential Record Act. We're talking about constitutional authority under the Constitution to declassify. If he wants to take stuff with him and say anything I take with him is declassified, if he wants to take stuff and say, anything I read at night is declassified, that was absolutely his right as president. And the personal, the Presidential Records Act makes it clear that we don't even care about classified information. It is a statutory scheme that deals with presidential or personal only," Trusty replied.

"But if this was deal classified, Jim, if this was declassified, then why are we told that he's on this tape basically telling the people in the room that he can't share it with them?" Collins wondered.

"You are told by DOJ or FBI or whoever filtered that to you anything they can think of to justify a persecution," Trusty declared.

"No, but Jim, that's..." Collins responded.

"Kaitlan," Trusty interrupted, "I'm telling you, this is, they, they had rumors out yesterday. There's gonna be one every day. They had rumors out yesterday."

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: The audio is all special counsel needs on Trump: Former DOJ official

CNN's March fact check is available here. The Washington Post's analysis is here (subscription required).

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