Mary Papenfuss

Two-faced Pence trying to have it both ways with cowardly Trump attack is 'not sufficient': Rick Wilson

While former Vice President Mike Pence delivered his harshest rebuke to date against Donald Trump for the 2021 insurrection, he did so at a private dinner as he tried to play both sides of the issue, critics charged Sunday.

"Make no mistake about it, what happened that day was a disgrace, and it mocks decency to portray it in any other way," Pence declared Saturday night at the Gridiron dinner, a white-tie event thrown by journalists in Washington.

"President Trump was wrong," Pence said. "I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day. And I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable."

The words were startling from Pence, but didn't reach nearly far enough, detractors complained.

"I'm glad he said it, but it's not sufficient that he refuses to say so on the record, and in front of the appropriate investigative bodies," Trump critic and Lincoln Project cofounder Rick Wilson told the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC's Politics Nation.

If Pence "wanted to make a difference with these comments, he would've done [so] in front of the J6 [House] committee, or in front of the special counsel. He would not be fighting the special counsel tooth and nail to avoid giving testimony. But he is willing to [talk] at the Gridiron dinner," Wilson added. "He should be speaking in a way where the official weight of these words would have an impact on Donald Trump."

But Mike Pence, "like every other Republican, wants to have it both ways," Wilson charged. "They want to nod and wink at normal America, and say: 'I know how bad he [Trump] is' — and they also want to nod and wink at Trump's base, and say, 'I'm trying to fool the normies.'"

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) agreed. While she was encouraged Pence declared Trump's actions as "wrong," and that "history will hold him accountable," she also told Sharpton: "I want to know if these comments were not made in front of the American public — or before the special counsel which has subpoenaed him to testify about the events leading up to Jan. 6."

What is the "purpose of him saying this now?" she asked. "It's a little too late for this now."

Jackson reiterated the horror of insurrection day when she was "on my stomach" hiding in the House from angry Trump supporters. "It was a mob takeover," she recounted. "It was violent."

Check out Wilson's full comments here or at this link.

MSNBC Politics Nation 3/12/

Can Mike Pence’s 'dad jokes' make him a likable candidate?

If he decides to go for it, uptight Mike Pence would predictably be chill-challenged in a race for the presidency.

Take his appearance during the Trump administration standing in for his boss to headline the Gridiron Club Dinner. After a few jokes written by someone else, he "didn't exactly slay," Politico snarkily noted in a story Saturday on some of Pence's candidate personality issues.

He's headlining the dinner again tonight.

His "comedic sweet spot is squarely in the 'Dad joke'" zone, quipped Politico.

But believe it or not, some think Pence has a killer, if extremely subtle, sense of humor that he keeps hidden away. "His humor is under-estimated," Nick Ayers, Pence’s former vice-presidential chief of staff, told Politico.

Pence's former chief strategist and senior adviser Tom Rose claims he's "a dangerously fantastic mimic — scary good. I don’t know why he never lets anyone see that."

Former Indianapolis Star cartoonist Gary Vavel, who first met Pence in 1994 as a guest on "The Mike Pence Show," praised the future vice president's "self-deprecating sense of humor" — something he would never learn from Donald Trump. Pence referred to himself on the program as “His Mikeness," which is difficult to imagine.

Politico noted, again snarkily, that the true test of Pence's humor is "audience dependent."

Donald Trump may face an anonymous jury in rape defamation suit

An anonymous jury may hear writer E. Jean Carroll's upcoming rape defamation suit against Donald Trump, a judge in the case indicated Saturday.

Carroll, a former columnist for Elle magazine, has accused Trump of raping her in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store in the late 1990s. She sued him for defamation after he derided her claims, said she was not his "type," and that her accusation was politically motivated.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan issued an order Saturday asking Trump and Carroll to respond by March 17 if either side has any objections to using an anonymous jury, Bloomberg reported. Kaplan didn't explain why he might opt for an anonymous jury. But jurors could be targets of threats in the politically charged case. Anonymous juries have been used in the past to protect jurors' safety in cases involving organized crimes and terrorists.

Kaplan ruled Friday that Trump's controversial hot-mic comments to an Access Hollywood host in 2005 will be allowed at the trial. Trump boasted then about "grabbing" women without their consent, saying he could get away with it because he was famous.

Neither Carroll's nor Trump's attorney could immediately be reached for comment.

The trial is scheduled for April 10.

Carroll initially sued Trump for defamation in 2019. Late last year, Carroll filed an upgraded suit against Trump under the new Adult Survivors Act, which temporarily lifts the statute of limitations for a year on civil claims over alleged sexual offenses.

Watch: Adam Kinzinger predicts how the GOP will react if Donald Trump is criminally indicted

Former GOP congressman Adam Kinzinger predicted Thursday that Donald Trump will "absolutely" continue his campaign for the presidency even if he's indicted in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's investigation — and will "probably" be even more "popular."

Kinzinger spoke on CNN after The New York Times reported that an indictment appeared to be near for the former president regarding hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

He'll still run if he's indicted and will "play the victim card," Kinzinger told Wolf Blitzer. "Sadly," it could help him in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, he added.

"Look what happened when he evaded impeachment the first time around," the Illinois Republican noted. "His popularity increased."

Kinzinger called news about what appears to be a likely indictment against Trump a major story, but admitted it's not the "big enchilada" many have been hoping for.

The Times reported Thursday that prosecutors offered Trump the opportunity to testify next week before the grand jury hearing evidence in a potential case against Trump. Such an offer would likely not be made unless indictments loomed, the newspaper reported.

The Manhattan probe centers on a $130,000 payment to Daniels to keep her quiet about her alleged relationship with Trump. The payment was made by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, who has testified that he was later reimbursed by his boss. Any case against Trump, even if proven, would likely be a "low-level felony" involving campaign finance laws.

Watch video below or at this link.

George Conway taunts Donald Trump over his rape trial after attack over Kellyanne divorce

Conservative attorney and media pundit George Conway hit back hard Saturday at Donald Trump's gleeful attack over his reported divorce from the former president's aide Kellyanne Conway.

After a Page Six report Friday that the couple was divorcing, Trump crowed on Truth Social: "Congratulations to Kellyanne Conway on her DIVORCE from her wacko husband, Mr. Kellyanne Conway. Free at last, she has finally gotten rid of the disgusting albatross around her neck."

Conway cooly fired back Saturday: “Looking forward to seeing you in New York at E. Jean's trial next month! Hugs and kisses." Conway was referring to a lawsuit against Trump by writer E. Jean Carroll.

Carroll has accused Trump of raping her in the late 1990s in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store, which Trump has denied. She filed a suit against Trump late last year claiming sexual battery under the recently passed Adult Survivors Act, which temporarily lifts the statute of limitations for a year on civil claims over alleged sexual offenses.

Carroll also sued Trump for defamation in 2019 after he angrily denied her allegations in a White House interview. He claimed that Carroll was not his “type” and that she was just out to get publicity.

Ex-Trump campaign manager ordered to pay $3.2 million settlement for tax-dodging charges

Donald Trump's one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort is paying a whopping $3.2 million in fines to finally settle federal tax-dodging charges.

A judgment against Manafort was entered for his "willful" failure to file timely legally required annual reports disclosing his ownership — or control — of more than three dozen offshore companies and accounts, according to the watchdog news site The Florida Bulldog. The penalties and interest assessed against him covered the tax years 2013 and 2014.

The $3.2 million settlement was approved by Miami U.S. District Judge Rodolfo Ruiz last week.

Trump pardoned Manafort before he left office in 2021, which freed him from jail, but didn't let him off hook for tax fines.

Manafort served as Trump's campaign manager from May to August of 2016. He left his job before he was charged with any crimes, following a flurry of concerns about his ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin and his firm’s lobbying on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs.

He was convicted of eight criminal counts in 2018, including tax and bank fraud. He later pleaded guilty to two other counts ― one against the U.S. and the other conspiracy to obstruct justice — as part of his plea deal. He was sentenced to a total of 7.5 years.

According to Palm Beach County records, the IRS withdrew federal tax liens totaling $6.3 million against Manafort for the years 2010-2014 and 2017 after he apparently paid those back taxes in 2021.

Donald Trump attacks 'racist' Alvin Bragg and 'horseface' Stormy Daniels in social media rant

Former President Donald Trump must be feeling the hot breath of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on his neck, which triggered another vicious attack Friday on Bragg and Stormy Daniels, who's part of the investigation into Trump's activities.

"The Racist Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg [who is Black] is being pushed relentlessly by the Radical Left Democrats, the Fake News Media, and the 'Department of 'Injustice,' to bring charges against me for the now ancient 'no affair' story of Stormy 'Horseface' Danials," Trump posted on Truth Social, misspelling "Daniels," as he does with so many words in his messages.

Among Trump issues Bragg is investigating is alleged "hush money" payments to adult film star Daniels shortly before the 2016 election. Trump's former "fixer" Michael Cohen has testified that he followed orders from his boss to pay Daniels $130,000 to not talk to reporters about her relationship with Trump. Cohen claims he was later reimbursed by Trump.

Cohen, who served time in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of violating campaign finance law, including making the Daniels payments, is reportedly cooperating with Bragg's investigation. Trump has never faced charges for the payments. He could face possible charges linked to allegedly falsifying business records and secret payments to manipulate information that could have affected his election.

Daniels tends to take Trump's vicious attacks in stride. She responded in January after he erupted over the issue on Truth Social, mocking his poor grammar and claiming that he had inadvertently confirmed their affair. He failed to flatly deny the relationship in his post, only complaining that the "Stormy nonsense ... is VERY OLD & happened a long time ago."

Daniels responded on Twitter: "Thanks for just admitting that I was telling the truth about EVERYTHING. Guess I'll take my 'horse face' back to bed now, Mr former ‘president.'"

Trump insisted in his post Friday that "there is no crime and charges have NEVER been brought on such a case before." He added: "In the meantime, Hunter & Joe Biden skate." He did not detail what kind of charges Joe Biden and son may be "skating" on.

Trump usually lashes out when there's new information that he could be at increasing risk of an indictment. His former White House aide Kellyanne Conway earlier this week met with investigators in Bragg's office.

Legal observers have noted that Conway's questioning can't be good news for her old boss.

"Make no mistake: Charges against Trump are coming from the Manhattan DA for 2016 election wrongdoing to complement those from the Atlanta DA for 2020 election wrongdoing," attorney and senior fellow at the Brookings Insstitute Norm Eisen tweeted on Wednesday. "And soon!"

Donald Trump oddly agrees with DOJ's reproach to his immunity

Donald Trump's spokesperson on Thursday hailed a Department of Justice legal brief that in fact represented a significant legal blow regarding Jan. 6 lawsuits against him.

The Department of Justice has "rightfully agreed that presidential immunity is broad and absolute," Trump's statement flatly declared. The former president has claimed that he has complete, "categorical" immunity for any action while he was in the White House.

But the DOJ urged a federal appeals court Thursday to reject Trump's sweeping claim of immunity from several civil suits linked to his actions and statements on Jan. 6, 2021. "The United States respectfully submits that the Court should reject that categorical argument," it wrote.

It noted in its 32-page brief that "absolute immunity" only applies to a president's "official acts" — and not to actions outside of those duties.

It indicated the president is not protected if it can be demonstrated that he "precipitated the ... attack on the Capitol" on Jan. 6, 2021, or that his speech "encouraged imminent private violent action."

While the DOJ "expresses no view on the truth of the allegations in plaintiffs' complaints" in the suits, in the "United States' view, such incitement of imminent private violence would not [even] be within the outer perimeter of the [duties of the] Office of the President."

The Trump statement insisted he "repeatedly called for peace, patriotism, and respect for our men of women of law enforcement" that day. The statement didn't mention Trump telling his supporters ahead of the riot to march on the Capitol and "fight like hell."

The statement also claimed Trump authorized up to 20,000 National Guard troops to ensure peace, but that then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "rejected that offer." None of that is true.

If presidential immunity were not "absolute," President Joe Biden would be "personally liable for disasters in Afghanistan [and] our Southern Border," the Trump statement, though U.S. actions in Afghanistan and on the Southern Border would reasonably be considered part of a president's official duties.

Kentucky officials fear measles outbreak after 'spiritual revival'

Kentucky health officials have warned people who attended a large "spiritual revival" to be on the lookout for any measles symptoms after an unvaccinated participant came down with the disease.

Measles are re-emerging as a concerning health issue as anti-vaxxers have spread their message to cover other vaccines. Some religious groups also preach against vaccines. Measles can have serious complications, such as pneumonia and encephalitis. Nearly 250,000 kindergarten children are now vulnerable to the disease amid a drop off in vaccinations, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control.

“Anyone who attended the revival" at Asbury University in the town of Wilmore on Feb. 18 "may have been exposed to measles,” Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, warned in a statement. “Attendees who are unvaccinated are encouraged to quarantine for 21 days, and to seek immunization with the measles vaccine, which is safe and effective.”

He also warned anyone with symptoms not to show up at hospitals, clinics or emergency rooms without advance notice so health care workers can take precautions to protect themselves and others. Measles is extremely contagious.

The latest case is the third in three months, according to officials, but cases can spike quickly.

Symptoms may include fever, cough, runny nose and a rash three to five days after symptom onset.

The Kentucky Health Department is working with local agencies to boost the number of children who receive the combination measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination. MMR vaccine coverage among Kentucky kindergarten children is among the lowest in the nation, according to CDC statistics.

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