Maya Boddie

'He didn't like that I opposed him': Rick Scott says McConnell removing him from committee is 'retribution'

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) believes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is seeking retribution by removing Scott from the Senate Commerce Committee, CNN reports.

Scott, who recently announced his senatorial reelection campaign, attempted to end the Kentucky Senator's 15-year streak as minority leader by running against him for the seat in November.

“He didn’t like that I opposed him because I believe we have to have ideas – fight over ideas. And so, he took [Sen.] Mike Lee (R-UT) and I off the committee,” the Florida senator told CNN.

READ MORE: 'Highly contentious': How 'bad blood' fueled a bitter rivalry among 'warring' Senate Republicans'Highly contentious': How 'bad blood' fueled a bitter rivalry among 'warring' Senate Republicans

Though Scott still holds positions on four other committees, he "doesn't know why" he was ousted from the Commerce panel.

The former Florida governor also commented on McConnell's opposition to his controversial "Rescue America" plan that would likely push millions of poor Florida residents to pay more taxes.

“I believe that everybody up here – this is not a Republican-Democrat issue – we all ought to be putting out our ideas and fight over ideas up here,” Scott said.

Per CNN, the senators have a prolonged history of opposing ideas, and eventually reached an inflection point following Republican midterm election losses, which led Scott to challenge McConnell's seat.

“Our job is to represent the people of the country — this is not about winners and losers, it’s not about partisan stuff, this is about who are the best people to solve the problems of this country?” Scott said. “We have a lot of problems, so I’m going to keep fighting for them. I don’t know why he did it. That’s life.”

READ MORE: His influence has 'diminished': Mitch McConnell offers brutally honest assessment of Trump's political career

Idaho GOP launch 'long shot' effort to absorb eastern Oregon counties: Portland runs 'everything there'

GOP Midvale, Idaho Rep. Judy Boyle introduced legislation this week in an effort to invite conservative eastern Oregon counties to join the Greater Idaho movement, the Idaho Statesman reports.

The purpose of the “joint memorial” is to provide the Oregon counties with the option of becoming part of a the more conservative Idaho. As the Idaho Statesman reports, the resolution "would ask the Democrat-dominated Oregon Legislature to discuss the Greater Idaho movement with the Idaho Legislature."

“Eastern Oregon has been quite unhappy with their state,” Boyle said. “Portland seems to be able to run everything there.”

READ MORE: 'This is big': Oregon Governor Kate Brown commutes death sentences and dismantles execution chamber

Per the Idaho Statesman, Oregon legislators recently initiated “a similar measure” to Boyle’s, asking Idaho lawmakers "join the conversation," but nothing has come from the proposal.

So far, 11 Oregon counties are eager to push the idea, and Idaho GOP official Mike McCarter urged the rest of Oregon to “stop holding our counties captive in this unhappy marriage.” He clarified, “Actually, it’s not even as dramatic as a divorce because we’re not breaking up a family.”

According to The Idaho Statesman, the territories cannot join together without approval from Oregon and Idaho state lawmakers and Congress.

“Is it a long shot? Probably,” Boyle said. “But how will we know if we never start?”

READ MORE: Justice Department sues Idaho over abortion restrictions

GOP Attorneys General warn CVS and Walgreens against delivering abortion pills

Republican attorneys general (AGs) warned the two largest pharmacy store chains in the United States not to mail abortion pills or legal action will be taken, The Week reports.

A press release distributed by the office of conservative Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey notes that he penned two letters to Walgreens and CVS "informing them that their announced plan" to deliver abortion pills by mail violates the 150-year-old Comstock Act.

The 1873 law, according to Axios, prohibited "sending what at the time was deemed to be pornographic publications through the mail," as well as "the mailing of any article or thing intended for the prevention of contraception."

READ MORE: The abortion pill, abortion bans and Republican policies that kill

AGs from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia all signed on to the letter.

According to Axios, the letters come weeks after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a rule change authorizing community pharmacies to sell mifepristone, an abortion pill.

Referencing the Comstock Act, the letter read, "Although many people are unfamiliar with this statute because it has not been amended in a few decades, the text could not be clearer: 'every article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion ... shall not be conveyed in the mails.' And anyone who 'knowingly takes any such thing from the mails for the purpose of circulating' is guilty of a federal crime."

WATCH: GOP senator vows to 'make abortion unthinkable'

However, The Week reports that Department of Justice (DOJ) Legal Counsel asserts that abortion pill delivery is allowed "to states that have strict limits on abortion."

Still, Bailey contends that "he will enforce the laws as written," and that despite what the DOJ says, he and his conservative comrades do not agree.

Axios reports Walgreens confirmed that the pharmacy is "not dispensing mifepristone at this time."

READ MORE: Texas Republicans are trying to sidestep abortion after Roe's demise

Elections expert says Kari Lake tweet 'looks like a felony'

Kari Lake, the 2022 GOP gubernatorial candidate who has spent nearly three months claiming that she won the election, may have committed a felony by illegally tweeting confidential information, an elections expert tells the Mesa, Arizona NBC News affiliate KPNX.

This comes after Arizona Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes requested an investigation into Lake’s tweet, which alleged that 40,000 ballots were "illegally counted" and included 16 voters signatures.

Tammy Patrick, former Maricopa County elections official and Chief Executive for Programs at National Association of Election Administrators, said that aside from “very few exceptions,” voter signatures should “never” be distributed in any way.

READ MORE: Kari Lake criminal referral sent to Arizona AG from secretary of state

“Arizona statute is very clear about when and where a voter signature can be shared or replicated or reproduced, or put online or used in social media,” Patrick said. "When I read the law, it looks to me like that's a felony.”

On Tuesday, the Republican National Committee’s “National Election Integrity Team” released a draft “election integrity” report, which restates the GOP talking point that more secure “access to the ballot box is needed in the face of a ‘continuing onslaught of Democrat election manipulation.’”

But Patrick warns Lake's tweet may have the opposite effect and may, in fact, harm election integrity.

"Having signatures being promoted and presented online and other places actually does great harm to the potential integrity of the outcome of an election," he said.

According to 12News, defying the Arizona statute could lead to a jail sentence.

READ MORE: 'These signatures are from 2020': Elections expert debunks Kari Lake's latest 'bombshell' evidence

Regarding the investigation, Fontes said in a statement, "It is my responsibility to protect Arizona voters. In keeping with my duties, I have referred this matter to the attorney general."

READ MORE: Kari in 'Neverland': Arizona columnist buries GOPer Lake for 'duly-elected governor' claim

'You set yourself up for problems': Republican leaders worry Trump will deter GOP voters from early voting

Republican officials are worried that former President Donald Trump's recent 2024 presidential campaign appearance in New Hampshire will deter GOP voters from participating in early in-person voting, Bloomberg reports.

During his campaign speech, Trump mentioned that he hopes "someday" the U.S. will be more like New Hampshire and go "back to “be back to doing it the way it’s supposed to be: one-day voting.” According to Bloomberg, New Hampshire is only one of four states that does not offer early voting.

While states such as Ohio, Texas and Virginia move towards cutting the length of early voting periods or ending the tactic all together, other GOP leaders across the country see the importance of adapting the strategy.

READ MORE: GOP leaders urge fellow Republicans to be 'less skeptical' about early voting after suffering midterm losses

“When you stick all of your eggs in the basket of in-person voting on a single day, you set yourself up for problems,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

Likewise, during the recent RNC chair election, Chair-elect Ronna McDaniel and former RNC Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dillon both asserted that their party should "embrace" the idea "despite Trump's opposition" in order to defeat Democratic opponents.

Dhillon, who ran for chair against McDaniel said, “We have differences of opinion in the party. I’ve come around to the position that we need to be voting as early as possible, everywhere legal in the country.”

READ MORE: New 'bipartisan' data debunks Donald Trump's 'false' claim that early voting harms Republicans: report

Reinforcing the party's desire to beat Democrats after suffering midterm election losses, Wisconsin GOP Chair Brian Schimming agrees with Dhillon and says he's "trying to sell the advantages of Republicans voting early to skeptical activists."

Schimming believes his GOP allies see the benefit of early voting, and added that he, himself, will be voting early by mail in his state's upcoming Supreme Court justice election. “I think there’s a sea change on early voting,” he said.

Robert Cahaly, a GOP consultant would like his respective party "to be pragmatic in its approach," and consider "all of the methods" of voting.

Referencing professional baseball, Cahaly said, “It’s just accepting the rules of the game, even if you don’t like them. If you play in the National League, you might not like the designated hitter rule, but it’s there, and you’d better learn to win with it.”

READ MORE: Fox News hosts mocked for awkward blunder as they inadvertently offered a resolution for their own complaint

Bloomberg's full report is available at this link (subscription required).

Tucker Carlson makes 'racist joke' about George Floyd in response to murder of Tyre Nichols

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson managed to incorporate a racist “joke” into a recent segment of his show covering the murder of Tyre Nichols, Huffpost reports.

The host began his rant by targeting President Joe Biden’s recent decision to end the COVID-19 emergency, and claimed the White House’s decision means he’s forced to turn his attention to 29-year-old Nichols' murder last month.

Carlson then proceeded to take aim at Democrats, complaining that the party “needed an emergency, so they found one,” and that’s “white racism.”

WATCH: Tucker Carlson urges Republicans to embrace racist conspiracy theory as central campaign theme

"White racism is getting harder to find," Carlson lamented. "Very few unarmed Black men are killed by white cops these days. Where’s George Floyd when you need him?”

Contrary to Carlson's statement, Rolling Stone found that in 2023, police have already killed at least seven unarmed black people.

Watch the segment below or at this link.

'I don't have that money to throw around!' Santos’ relative denies ever donating $5,800 to his campaign

A relative of New York GOP Congressman George Santos is denying that they ever made a $5,800 donation to his 2022 congressional campaign, Mother Jones reports.

The Federal Election Commission reports that Santos’ campaign raked in over $45,000 from his Queen, New York-based relatives. However, during an interview at their home, one of the relatives told a Mother Jones reporter that they never donated to the congressman’s campaign.

The reporter noted to the anonymous relative that included in Santos’ financial report were two separate donations of $2,900 listed under their name.

READ MORE: George Santos is living the GOP's values

“I’m dumbfounded,” the relative said. “It’s all news to me. I don’t have that money to throw around!”

According to Mother Jones, the relative’s reaction suggests that “money was improperly donated” to the congressman’s campaign.

Additionally, Santos 2020 campaign financial reports also listed the name of someone who never contributed to his campaign. Stephen Berger was listed as a retiree living on Brandt Road in Brawley, California, who made a $2,500 donation. A Santos spokesperson said that the actual owner of the home, GOP donor William Brandt, “does not know Stephen Berger nor has Stephen Berger ever lived” there.

READ MORE: Does the real George Santos even exist?

Saurav Ghosh, director for federal campaign finance reform at the nonpartisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center, said both of these instances are referred to as a “contribution in the name of another,” and is “something that is explicitly prohibited under federal law.”

These donations were revealed just days after Santos stepped down from his House GOP committee assignments as he faces significant outside pressure over his fabricated stories.

AlterNet reports that the Department of Justice is currently investigating the congressman.

READ MORE: DOJ suggests it is conducting a criminal investigation of George Santos

Michael Cohen gives Manhattan DA his cell phones as hush money investigation proceeds: report

Michael Cohen, who once served as a personal attorney to former President Donald Trump, turned over his cell phones to Manhattan prosecutors this week, CNN reports.

This comes as the district attorney’s office investigates the Trump Organization’s role in the “hush money” that was given to former adult film actor Stormy Daniels during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Cohen told CNN host Don Lemon, “Most recently, they asked for my cell phones because they want to be able to extract from it the voice recordings that I had had with Keith Davidson, former attorney to Stormy Daniels before Michael Avenatti, as well as a bunch of emails, text messages and so on.”

READ MORE:Michael Cohen reveals the weird truth about Trump's trading card

Although Cohen’s cell phones were previously confiscatedfrom his home during a 2018 FBI raid, The Independent reports that the phones are “new to the district attorney.”

The former Trump attorney pleaded guilty in 2018 to coordinating the $130,000 payment to Daniels under the direction of his former boss. Now, Manhattan prosecutors are investigating whether the Trump Organization lied by disguising the hush money payment as a legal expense, which according to CNN, would be classified as a misdemeanor in New York.

Cohen commented on the recently-released video footage of Trump asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a deposition to New York Attorney General Letitia James.

“Donald cannot keep track of the lies that he tells, and so, what better way to stop a fool from being deposed and hurting himself further than to tell him to plead the Fifth at least 400 times,” Cohen said.

READ MORE: Maddow hammers sketchy behavior at Bill Barr’s DOJ involving Michael Cohen

'False and defamatory' tweets provoke former Herschel Walker campaign staffer to sue for $500,000: report

The former Herschel Walker campaign staffer who sued American Conservative Union (ACU) Chairman Matt Schlapp earlier this month for alleged sexual assault has filed another lawsuit against a GOP fundraiser for defamation, NBC reports.

The lawsuit names top Trump campaign fundraiser and "Stop the Steal" supporter Caroline Wren as the defendant for tweeting “false and defamatory” statements about "Mr. Doe."

Last month, in an interview with The Daily Beast, the former Walker staffer alleged that Schlapp “groped” him “in a sustained fashion.” After the report, Wren, a close friend of Schlapp’s and his wife, took her thoughts about the incident to Twitter.

READ MORE: Text messages corroborate sexual assault allegations against CPAC Chairman Matt SchlappText messages corroborate sexual assault allegations against CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp

According to Politico, Wren is accused in the suit of including the staffer’s name in tweets that claimed he was “fired from multiple jobs ‘for lying and unethical behavior’ and ‘for being a habitual liar.’”

And when the plaintiff’s legal team requested that she retract her tweets, the rally organizer “continued to maliciously post statements about 'Mr. Doe'.”

This week, Wren tweeted directly at the plaintiff, saying "it's pretty absurd" that he "would sue for defamation" because she "said he has been fired from multiple jobs considering he was just fired AGAIN from yet another job (this time for being a white supremacist)."

The suit claims Wren’s words “have placed Mr. Doe into contempt, ridicule, and disgrace within the community." As a result, the staffer is seeking $500,000 in damages.

READ MORE: ‘Are you uncomfortable?’: Details emerge in groping allegations by male staffer against CPAC’s Matt Schlapp

Over $5 billion in pandemic relief went to businesses with 'ineligible' Social Security numbers: report

As House GOP members prepare to convene for their first hearing to review the trillions in federal stimulus support distributed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a watchdog revealed that the federal government possibly paid $5.4 billion to support small businesses with ‘ineligible’ Social Security numbers, The Washington Post reports.

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) shared with The Post its discovery after submitting a fraud alert earlier this week proving it found that 69,233 small businesses used “questionable” Social Security numbers to receive COVID-19 relief payments.

CNN reports that the programs that provided pandemic support were both launched under former President Donald Trump, “and run by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the paycheck Protection program (PPP) and the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).”

READ MORE: Speaker Kevin McCarthy clashes with quarreling House Republicans over spending cuts: report

The PRAC’s revealing alert reflects what The Post calls “the latest indication that Washington’s haste earlier in the pandemic opened the door for widespread waste, fraud and abuse.”

Near the start of the pandemic, from April 2020 until October 2022, nearly 70,000 small business applications out of a total of 221,000 were approved to receive financial aid, the alert also revealed.

The alert reads, “The ability to perform the type of SSN check the PRAC conducted was not readily available to SBA when it faced a deluge of applications in 2020 for COVID-19 EIDL and PPP relief, as described in more detail throughout this Alert. Nevertheless, the results of this Fraud Alert demonstrate the benefit of a consent-based verification process to authenticate basic applicant information—such as name, date of birth, and Social Security Number—to ensure applicant eligibility and to prevent program and identity fraud."

READ MORE: 'Pro-job' Senate Republicans tank COVID relief bill to prevent 90,000 small businesses from closing forever

A spokesperson for the Small Business Administration said in a statement that SBA is “committed to tackling issues of identity theft and other types of fraud to prevent the theft of funds from the government, taxpayers and deserving small business owners.”

The alert also noted that PRAC officials found that the 221,000 ineligible numbers were “either were not issued by the government or did not match the name and date of birth on record with the government, ‘suggesting potential identity fraud.’”

Michael Horowitz, chair at The PRAC will testify during this week’s hearing.

READ MORE: 'How could this lesson not be learned?': critics condemn Senate's 'stupid' COVID relief package

The Washington Post's full report is available here (subscription required).

'Corrupt, fixable and usable': Why Trump’s 'decades-old playbook' is finally losing its appeal

While former President Donald Trump pursues a third presidential run amid a flurry of criminal investigations, it’s clear that the effectiveness of his typical tactics of “defiance and counterattacks” is starting to dwindle, Maggie Haberman at the New York Times reports.

Haberman named nearly six current investigations facing Trump — from his pending classified documents case, rape accusations, potential indictment in Georgia following allegations that he attempted to overturn the 2020 election and more.

New York Attorney General Letitia James recently filed a $250 million lawsuit against Trump for “widespread financial fraud.”

READ MORE: Trump hits Bob Woodward with $50 million lawsuit for releasing audio of interviews

Sources close to Trump, Haberman reports, say the former president’s main worry is the potential of facing criminal charges, which “he has worked to avoid since the late 1970s,” under the guidance of his former attorney, the late Roy M. Cohn.

In an attempt to distract officials from pending litigation, Trump has kept Cohn's legacy alive by attempting to ambush the legal system while finessing his way around potential consequences.

“Always distraction, and apparent scorched earth and counterattacks at the start, and after much passage of time, settlement as quietly as possible,” First Amendment attorney and New York Democratic activist Victor A. Kovner said. “And the counterattacks as scurrilous as possible. Mostly from the Roy Cohn playbook.”

Trump has continuously engaged in harmful tactics such as calling Black prosecutors like Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis “radical, vicious and racist,” or accusing the Department of Justice of partisanship.

READ MORE: How a Kansas mayor pulled off a 'coup' using Trump-like tactics: report

As lawsuits come for Trump, he has proceeded to file a few lawsuits himself — most recently against Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward.

But former attorney and FBI official, Chuck Rosenberg, told Haberman that this approach is losing its power.

“You can wear down a private party if they do not have the same resources as you, or you can settle a civil case and make it go away, but criminal cases are not about money,” Rosenberg said. “Criminal cases are about liberty and justice, and it is really rather difficult — if not impossible — to wear down federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. and make them go away.”

Rosenberg continued, “I think he thinks that everything can be bought or fought. And that is just not true.”

READ MORE: 'Acting in bad faith': Trump lawyer in 'judge’s sights' over courtroom stunts and 'frivolous' claims

In the past, and still, according to former Trump Organization employee Alan Marcus, “Trump views the judicial system as he sees everything else: corrupt, ‘fixable’ and usable as a bullying tactic.”

Marcus mentioned that when he worked under Trump in the 1990's, he noticed that Trump would quickly dismiss cases against him as a “waste of time and money” but proceed to search for a “friendlier” judge to take on the case.

Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks of South Florida, who fined Trump $1 million this month for his 2016 “frivolous lawsuit” against Hillary Clinton, likely would not be considered a “friendly” judges in Trump’s eyes.

“Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries,” Middlebrooks said. “He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process, and he cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer.”

Trump dropped his lawsuit against Letitia James as a result of the $1 million fine, proving Haberman's point that Trump's “decades-old playbook” is becoming worn and torn.

READ MORE: Questions raised about former US attorney who knew the DOJ was protecting Trump

RNC supports six week abortion ban as it encourages members to pass 'strongest anti-choice legislation'

The Republican National Committee wasted no time pushing “pro-life” legislation after re-electing RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel last week, New Republic reports.

The GOP members moved to enact a new resolution that specifically urges Republican colleagues to “go on offense in the 2024 election cycle” by enforcing strict laws like six-week abortion bans.

According to New Republic, the extreme resolution calls on GOP state lawmakers to pass the “strongest anti-choice” bills they can possibly conceive.

READ MORE: Profanity-filled tirades and threats about grassroots dominated RNC meeting

The resolution comes as South Carolina GOP Rep. Nancy Mace asked her colleagues to consider a more “centrist” approach to the issue of abortion. Still, the RNC is not letting up on its attack on women’s reproductive rights.

Many women are not even aware of their pregnancy at the six week mark, and an abortion ban that early is part of the GOP’s “radical strategy,” as New Republic calls it, that could only further impede on the party’s electoral success.

READ MORE: Anti-abortion Republicans have 'learned nothing' from their midterms disappointments: columnist

Why a billionaire’s lawsuit against Beto O’Rourke portends a bleak future of 'dark money contributions': analysis

Billionaire Kelcy Warren is suing former Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke for defamation after he publicly denounced Warren’s $1 million donation to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s 2021 campaign, Truthout reports.

Truthout reporters Andy Lee Roth and Steve Macek analyzed the pending lawsuit — which was originally reported by Jordan Uhl at Lever News — and what the legal action means for the future of the relationship between money and political campaigns.

The donation was reported by the Texas Ethic Commission and Federal Election Commission to be the “single largest donation” towards any political campaign — both state and federal.

READ MORE: How Donald Trump's massive 'dark money machine' is 'designed to confuse': report

The former Texas congressman has called out Governor Abbott in the past for not holding the Texas oil and gas companies from which Warren’s company, Energy Transfer Partners, makes a billion-dollar profit.

Despite Warren’s claim that O’Rourke's public criticism is defamation because he suffered “mental anguish,” Lee Roth and Macek offer three reasons why the lawsuit likely won’t go anywhere:

  1. First, truth often prevails in defamation cases. And the assertion that Warren’s top-dollar donation influenced the campaign outcome is “likely true.”
  2. Lee Roth and Macek highlight that subjective opinions “are not generally actionable.” And O’Rourke’s criticism is based on his opinion of the billionaire’s contribution, but his critique also sits on “factual evidence”.
  3. Warren, who is worth $5 billion, is considered a “public figure” by the Supreme Court’s definition: someone with “general fame or notoriety in the community and pervasive involvement in ordering the affairs of society.” There’s proof that Warren has donated to a long list of political candidates across the country, to political actions committees, proving his “pervasive involvement” in campaigns. Therefore, it would be difficult to prove that O’Rourke exhibited “malice” or “knowingly uttered falsehoods or, at least, acted in reckless disregard of the truth — in order to claim any damages.”

READ MORE: How 'dark money' funded the far-right campaign against Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 policies: report

Nonetheless, as Uhl wrote, the legal action against O’Rourke still “could send an intimidating message to political candidates across the country: if you suggest billionaire donors buy political influence, you could face severe punishment.”

Additionally, Lee Roth and Macek assert that the lawsuit is an example of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), which are defined as “attempts to use civil tort action to stifle political expression.”

And although SLAPPs are not legal in Texas, the lawsuit also exemplifies use “of the legal tactic to deter critical speech,” Uhl reports.

Nonetheless, The Texas Citizen Participation Act (TCPA) says that people like O’Rourke who are “defendants of frivolous SLAPP actions” — and being sued for exercising the freedom of speech — can request that the case be dismissed.

In their conclusion, Lee Roth and Macek warn this specific lawsuit is a direct reflection of dark money groups' influence on political campaigns. The writers also pointed to a recent Project Censored report that found GOP lawmakers continue to push legislation that makes "it more difficult, if not impossible, to identify the sources of dark money contributions, ultimately shielding them from public scrutiny.”

Read the full report at Truthout.

READ MORE: Dark money groups pump nearly $90 million into "independent state legislature" case

DeSantis-appointed board member vows to take on 'pledges of fealty' to wokeness

A Ron DeSantis appointed board member at The New College of Florida warns that he will propose removing current employees and hiring new staff to align with “the school’s new financial and business model," the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

The upcoming meeting will be the first for Eddie Speir, who is behind the proposal, and six fellow conservative DeSantis-appointed board members.

In a blog post titled “My Intentions for the Jan 31st Board Meeting,” Speir mapped out his plans to revamp leadership and listed additional agenda items he plans to raise at the meeting. As the Herald-Tribune reports, one of Speir’s proposals includes an effort to “identify 'wokeness' as a 'set of beliefs' akin to religion."

READ MORE: How a determined Ron DeSantis is trying to 'seize ideological control' of education in Florida: journalist

Per the Herald-Tribune:

[Speir] then wants to identify aspects of wokeness that are "shared values" worth preserving, that are "dogmatic" and should be excluded from curriculum and that are "pledges of fealty" that should be actively fought against.

New College Professor Amy Reid told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that she is calling on the board members not to move so “rashly” on the college’s leadership roster changes.

“We’ve heard a lot of saber rattling from individuals, but we still haven’t heard from the majority of the board,” she said. “I encourage the board to find out more about the institution, to really look before they leap when it comes to leadership changes.”

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis's huge step toward academic control

Johnson & Johnson’s bankruptcy claim rejected by federal court as talc lawsuits linger

Philadelphia's U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals denied Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) attempt to claim bankruptcy to settle a "multibillion dollar" lawsuit alleging that its talc products lead to cancer, Reuters reports.

Specifically, the federal court rejected J&J's LTL Management unit, it says, because the unit was "created solely to access the bankruptcy system." Reuters reports the unit was up against over 38,000 lawsuits over the company's products, including its popular baby powder.

"Applied here, while LTL faces substantial future talc liability, its funding backstop plainly mitigates any financial distress foreseen on its petition date," the court ruling read.

READ MORE: Katie Porter slams Johnson & Johnson for trying to separate its assets amid massive lawsuit: 'This is an injustice'

Reuters reports that J&J tried to use bankruptcy as a way to resolve those "tens of thousands" of lawsuits "more efficiently and fairly," as opposed to taking on each trial separately. But, as the ruling states, the corporation's promised financial support of the unit to guarantee its ability to pay plaintiffs automatically disqualifies claims of "financial distress."

Furthermore, rejection of the company's bankruptcy claim was encouraged by the plaintiffs, who "argued one of the world's largest healthcare companies should not be using bankruptcy to protect itself from lawsuits."

Despite the legal action, the New Jersey-based company asserts that all of its products "are safe" and plans to challenge the court ruling by elevating the lawsuits to bankruptcy courts.

Allison Fennell, spokesperson for J&J said, "As we have said from the beginning of this process, resolving this matter as quickly and efficiently as possible is in the best interests of claimants and all stakeholders. We continue to stand behind the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder, which is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.”

READ MORE: 'This ruling is huge': Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $572 million for fueling opioid epidemic

Twitter message reveals Elon Musk forced Twitter staff to suspend 'community activist' account

Twitter CEO Elon Musk forced staffers to suspend the account of a "left-wing activist," as revealed in a "leaked internal Twitter message," Insider reports.

A screenshot of the message, Bloomberg reports, included the Twitter account for Chad Lodor along with an email that read: "Suspension: direct request from Elon Musk."

According to Lodor’s Mastadon profile, they identify as a "community activist, cybersecurity expert, and citizen journalist.” Their Twitter account was one of the politically left-leaning accounts that Musk suspended in November.

READ MORE: Dr. Anthony Fauci weighs in on Elon Musk's call for him to be prosecuted

The activist told Insider they assume their profile was suspended as a result of "an organized mass-reporting campaign," by which a conservative group shared a Substack blog post that included "instructions on how to falsely report breaches of Twitter's rules by particular accounts" — which included Loder’s profile “at the top of the list.”

Although the billionaire CEO has referred to himself as "somewhere in the middle" when it comes to politics, social media extremism expert J.M. Berger told Insider he believes Musk is "intentionally empowering right-wing extremists."

This comes after Musk reinstated the Twitter account of right-wing extremist Nick Fuentes this week, which only lasted for a day.

Contrary to Musk's claim that he falls "in the middle" of the political spectrum, Insider reported in November that he urged his followers "to vote Republican the day before November's midterm elections."

READ MORE: Elon Musk did not vote in the midterms: report

Trump made 'secret' $1M donation to failed Arizona election 'grift disguised as an audit': report

Former President Donald Trump made a “secret” $1 million donation to the election audit conducted in Arizona following his false claims that the election was stolen from him, the Guardian reports.

The audit was requested by Arizona GOP senators, and doubted by many of their colleagues due to the “wild conspiracy theories” it mirrored. An assertion “that bamboo fibers found in ballot sheets proved they had been printed in Asia” even caused some local GOP members to deem the probe a “grift disguised as an audit.

But nevertheless, the audit persisted.

READ MORE: Arizona newspaper exposes all the Republicans rushing into the state to learn about bogus election audit

Although eventually proven baseless and unsuccessful, The Guardian reports that “one of the largest benefactors” behind this attempt to counter the 2020 election results remained a secret for nearly two years.

But watchdog group “Documented” was able to track funding for the failed assessment and eventually landed on Trump’s super PAC, Save America.

First, the group discovered that Cyber Ninjas, the Florida company that conducted the audit, was provided $5.7 million by far-right groups, and then given an additional $1 million from former Trump advisor and attorney Cleta Mitchell.

Still, questions around the origin of the $1 million remained unanswered.

READ MORE: Behind the shady Florida consulting firm trying to upend election results in Arizona and Michigan: 'Such a farce'

The New York Times reports that in September of 2021, “unnamed ‘officials,’” as well as Arizona GOP senators who requested the election audit, adamantly denied Trump’s contribution.

However, with its research on many corporate, tax and campaign finance filings, as well as emails and text messages between Trump allies that were obtained by nonpartisan accountability group American Oversight, "Documented" managed to counter those claims.

The Guardian broke down the process of how the watchdog group traced the donation back to Trump.

Like many incidents surrounding Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020, tracing back Trump’s contribution to the audit starts with the Jan. 6 committee.

READ MORE: Arizona secretary of state urges criminal probe of Trump's efforts to overturn 2020 election results

The committee’s final report mentioned that Trump super PAC, Save America, donated $1 million to the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) — led by former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows — but did not disclose the origin or the reason for the money.

Further research revealed that Trump’s contribution possibly began around June 2021, as accountability group American Oversight tracked text messages between retired Army officer and “arch election denier” Phil Waldron and Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company that conducted the audit.

Waldron texted Logan, “Kurt is going to talk to 45 today, about $.”

According to the Guardian, “Kurt” likely referred to Kurt Olden, an “election denying lawyer.” He continued, “Mike L talking to Corey L,” referring to CEO of MyPillow and devoted Trump supporter Mike Lindell and Trump campaign manager Corey Lewondowski.

READ MORE: How Trump's toxic presence in Republican state party politics is being entirely underestimated

A couple of weeks later, Waldron asked Logan if he had received a $1 million payment from Lewondowski. He texted, “Supposedly Kurt talked to Trump and they got 1 mil for you,” but he noted he “couldn’t verify who sent and received.”

According to The Guardian, the Federal Election Commission reported that less than two weeks later, on July 26, 2021, Save America transferred the $1 million to CPI. Two days later, a new group, American Voting Rights Foundation (AVRF) “registered as a corporation in Delaware.”

CPI donated $1 million to AVRF — the group’s first and only donation — in 2021, and although the date of donation is unknown, the clear relationship between the groups, the “timing and amounts” of the transfers, as well as the revealed text messages between Trump allies all leads to one culprit: Trump.

Furthermore, on the day AVRF registered as a corporation, Trump attorney Mitchell emailed Cyber Ninjas CEo Logan and put him in touch with the audit spokesperson, Randy Pullen as well as AVRF treasurer Tom Datwyler.

READ MORE: GOP lawmaker facing allegations of 'massive violations' after FEC audit reveals he lent money to his own campaign

The Arizona Republic recently confirmed that Trump was notified of the process the whole time

GOP vice-chair of Maricopa County board of supervisors Bill Gates told The Guardian he is “disappointed, but not surprised” by the revelation.

“At the very least, it is highly hypocritical for the Arizona state senate to have allowed the audit to be funded in this fashion,” Gates said.

Ultimately, even after the great lengths Trump and his cohort of election deniers went to assist in the audit, the goal to overturn Arizona's election was never met. The Guardian reports that in 2020, President Joe Biden won Maricopa County, the most populated in Arizona and where the audit took place, by 45,109 votes.

Regarding the morality of the audit, Gates added that Arizona law states, “electoral candidates are not allowed to fund vote recounts which have to be financed with taxpayer dollars.” And although the audit was “technically not a recount,” it’s clear the intent was the same.

READ MORE: Arizona newspaper exposes all the Republicans rushing into the state to learn about bogus election audit

'Drop the hammer': Judge releases footage of 'violent attack' on Paul Pelosi

Full video of the violent attack on Paul Pelosi last year, along with audio of his 911 call, were released after San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stephen M. Murphy ruled that the footage must be released to the public by the district attorney's office, CNN reports.

Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, was attacked around 2 a.m. on October 28, 2022 by David DePape at their California home. He has since had surgery and progressed in his recovery. According to the Department of Justice, Depape originally intended to attack Nancy, and upon entry into Pelosi's home, shouted, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” before turning to her husband instead.

READ MORE: Paul Pelosi's suspected attacker claimed House Speaker Nancy used 'fake evidence to spy on' Donald Trump

Pelosi was able to call 911 after convincing the attacker "to let him go to the bathroom, where his phone was charging."

Footage was posted to Twitter revealing body-cam video of officers arriving to Pelosi's residence during the attack. Eventually, as the camera focuses on DePape and Pelosi standing in the entry of the home, an officer can be heard saying, “Drop the hammer."

DePape immediately replies, “Um, nope," then proceeds to pull the hammer out of Pelosi's hands, charging at him "in plain sight of the officers," which led to his immediate arrest.

In a recent interview, when asked about footage of her husband's attack, Nancy Pelosi said, “It would be a very hard thing to see an assault on my husband’s life. But I don’t know.”

Watch the video below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Groomers,' Paul Pelosi and so much more: The most unhinged GOP conspiracy theories of 2022

AOC hits back at Republican House member who told her to 'educate herself'

New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not mince words when South Carolina GOP Rep. Jeff Duncan urged her to “educate herself” after she proposed an amendment to a fossil fuel bill, HuffPost reports.

The bill, according to Roll Call, would “require the federal government to approve a plan to increase drilling on deferral lands and waters prior to any non-emergency drawdown of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve."

Ocasio-Cortez argued on the House floor that “leading more land to fossil fuel companies wouldn’t guarantee a drop in gas prices," and that the corporations financially benefiting likely wouldn’t “pass along” funds to consumers.

READ MORE: AOC mocks GOP 'meltdown' over her gas stove remarks

In his response on the House floor, Duncan said to the New York lawmaker, “Go and learn for yourself about this. Educate herself on how America attained its low emissions. You care about the air quality. You care about climate change. Natural gas is what got America there. Educate yourself on that and then we can have a better debate about future resources.”

"This is not the first time that the opposing side can’t seem to be able to debate the issue, and so they must come after my character," Ocasio-Cortez said.

She continued, "While I cannot control that the other side seems to have made the assumption that I am uneducated, one of the things I can say is that — while I may not work for Wall Street, that is true. I may not be here with the mission to increase profits for corporations — my mission here is for the well-being and dignity of our family and for our future. For our children’s ability to live on this planet. That is what this amendment is about.”

Using Duncan’s words, Ocasio-Cortez concluded her address by charging all of the lawmakers with the task to “educate ourselves on the science of the challenge of climate change that is before us.”

Following the debate, Ocasio-Cortez took her thoughts to Twitter.

She tweeted, "Fewer things are more predictable than Republicans having a meltdown when I'm clearing them in debate."

She continued, "In case you’re curious about why this man is so angry with me, it may be because I introduced an amendment to a GOP bill that would prohibit oil and gas companies who engage in stock buybacks from leasing federal lands. Seems as though I hit a nerve!"

Watch the video below or at this link.

READ MORE: AOC reveals what was said when she was spotted speaking to Matt Gaetz

National Archives asks former presidents, VPs to 'conduct an assessment' of records for classified documents

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) requested that all former presidents and vice presidents since Ronald Reagan’s administration double-check their personal records for classified documents, CNN reports. The request comes after the discovery of classified documents in the private homes and offices of President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, and, most recently, former Vice President Mike Pence.

The formal letter distributed to representatives for past presidents and vice presidents covered by the Presidential Records Act (PRA) asks that the current and former leaders ensure any documents mistaken for personal materials do not “inadvertently” involve classified documents “that are required by law to be turned over to the Archives.”

According to CNN, former president Jimmy Carter is not “technically” covered by the Act, as it was not implemented until his departure from office.

READ MORE: Biden, Trump, classified documents, and the pain of false equivalence

Spokespersons for former Presidents Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, and former Vice Presidents Pence, Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Dan Quayle all received the letter.

It reads:

“The responsibility to comply with the PRA does not diminish after the end of an administration. Therefore, we request that you conduct an assessment of any materials held outside of NARA that relate to the Administration for which you serve as a designated representative under the PRA, to determine whether bodies of materials previously assumed to be personal in nature might inadvertently contain Presidential or Vice Presidential records subject to the PRA, whether classified or unclassified.”

The letter also states that “while much of the attention of these instances has focused on the classified information, the PRA requires that all Presidential records of every Administration from Reagan onward must be transferred to NARA, regardless of classification status.”

Representatives for past presidents confirmed to CNN that there are no classified documents in their homes, while representatives for former Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama and the late George H.W. Bush contend all classified documents were submitted to the National Archives.

Sources for Quayle, Cheney and Gore all confirm their documents were turned over to the Archives.

WATCH: Lindsey Graham defends President Joe Biden in classified documents probe

Political science experts explain how rural voters’ growing 'resentment' fuels a rural-urban 'apartheid'

The rural-urban voter divide has plagued the United States for nearly three decades, and only continues to increase. For decades now, rural districts are typically governed by Republican House members, while suburban and urban areas tend to be governed by Democrats.

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall spoke with many political science experts who have done extensive research on how rural voters’ growing "resentment" continues to fuel a rural-urban “apartheid,” and why it will likely persist for years to come.

MAGA politician Ron Johnson’s Senate win over Democrat Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin last year, Edsall wrote, is the one of the best case studies for “rural realignment and the role it plays in elections.”

READ MORE: Republicans don’t serve their states. They immiserate them

Johnson is a Trump-backed lawmaker who staunchly denies the reality of climate change, has referred to Jan. 6 rioters as “people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement,” and proposed cuts to social programs. Still, he has managed to win reelection.

Edsall talked to Marquette Law School scholar Craig Gilbert who found in his analysis that Johnson’s votes were much lower in the “red and blue suburbs of Milwaukee” compared to his 2016 race, but the group of voters that ultimately steered his win came from “white rural Wisconsin.”

He won the rural vote by 25 points in 2016, but that increased to 29 points this time around, leading him to victory.

University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist Katherine Cramer summarized the reasons for this shift in her study “The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker," highlighting three points: “A belief that rural areas are ignored by decision makers, including policymakers; a perception that rural areas do not get their fair share of resources; and a sense that rural folks have fundamentally distinct values and lifestyles, which are misunderstood and disrespected by city folks.”

READ MORE: GOP voters have bought into an 'apocalyptic, grotesquely distorted' view of 'Blue America': Paul Krugman

Edsall likens rural voters’ resentment towards Democrats to the “upheaval in the white South after Democrats, led by President Lyndon Johnson, won approval of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

But the start of the rural-urban split, according to Boston College political scientist David Hopkins's book “Red Fighting Blue: How Geography and Electoral Rules Polarize American Politics,” began during a “conflation of cultural and racial controversies starting in the late 1980s and accelerating into the 1990s,” such as two major Supreme Court abortion rulings and the 1993 debate over gay people in the military.

However, Hopkins says the milestone that really solidified the divide was the 1992 presidential election, as it started “the emerging configuration of ‘red’ and ‘blue’ geographic coalitions that came to define contemporary partisan competition.”

After the election, the percentage of House Democrats representing suburban districts increased by nearly 20 percent while Democratic seats in rural districts dropped from 24 percent to 5 percent.

READ MORE: Robert Reich: Agricultural 'monopolies are slowly killing rural America'

Hopkins wrote in a 2019 study, “The Suburbanization of the Democratic Party, 1992-2018, that “Democratic suburban growth has been especially concentrated in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, reflecting the combined presence of both relatively liberal whites (across education levels) and substantial minority populations, but suburbs elsewhere remain decidedly, even increasingly, Republican in their collective partisan alignment.”

One of the reasons Republicans continue to pull in rural voters, Jordan Gest of George Mason University gathered in recent research, is that “Republicans are now beginning to attract socioeconomically ascendant and white-adjacent members of ethnic minorities who find their nostalgic, populist, nationalist politics appealing (or think Democrats are growing too extreme).”

Harvard postdoctoral research fellow Kristin Lunz Trujillo and University of Minnesota Ph.D candidate Zack Crowley, in their research found, “the key factor driving rural voters to the Republican Party: anger at perceived unfair distribution of resources by government, a sense of being ignored by decision makers or the belief that rural communities have a distinct set of values that are denigrated by urban dwellers.”

The scholars also found that, “culture differences play a far stronger role in determining the vote than discontent over the distribution of economic resources.” And stances on what they call symbolic issues “positively predict Trump support and ideology while the more material subdimension negatively predicts these outcomes, if at all."

READ MORE: GOP voters have bought into an 'apocalyptic, grotesquely distorted' view of 'Blue America': Paul Krugman

Rick Scott announces Senate run, promises to push 'controversial' plan that forces the poor to pay more taxes

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) announced that he is running for reelection, promising to push his tax-raising plan that has already received “bipartisan condemnation,” NBC reports.

The senator’s announcement came amid speculation that he was planning to run for president in 2024. But he insists that because he knows every Republican that is considering a presidential run, he is “going to focus” on the Senate race.

Now that Scott is all in on his senatorial campaign, he is committed to implementing his “controversial conservative” plan, also known as “Rescue America.”

READ MORE: Rick Scott asked for an 'emergency donation' to Herschel Walker — and kept most of the money for the NRSC

NBC reported the “Rescue America” plan proposal, which was "panned by Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell" last Spring, as well by his Democratic colleagues, received major backlash due to the impact it would have on tax increases for the poor.

However, the former Florida governor decided he is not backing away from the plan as he campaigns for his second term.

“I’m going to continue to push it," Scott told NBC. “I tell people these are my ideas. Let’s start fighting over ideas. If Democrats have a better way of getting people back to work, it doesn’t seem to be working. Labor participation rates are down. We’re not creating full-time jobs. Look at the job market. All we’re doing for last few months is adding part-time jobs. That’s not a great economy. Inflation: 40-year high. If we did what I put in my plan, then it would be better for Americans, all Americans.”

According to NBC, the senator thinks that many “able-bodied” individuals are opting out of work, and that, perhaps, forcing more of them to work “would grow the workforce and expand the number of taxpayers.”

READ MORE: Palm Beach writer delivers lesson on 'real problem facing Floridians' — and it’s not 'drag queen story times'

But regarding claims that he aims to raise taxes for poor people, Scott maintains that is not his intention. He said, “It’s the opposite of what I do. I’ve cut taxes and fees, and I’ve never voted for a tax or fee increase.”

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told NBC that he isn’t buying Scott’s claims.

“We’ve seen this movie so many times,” he said, also mentioning the House GOP members who aim to cut taxes for the wealthy while intentionally cutting social services millions depend on.

Relatedly, a Palm Beach writer recently asserted that the “real problem facing Floridians” is the GOP’s persistent efforts to gut Social Security.

READ MORE: Republican Sen. Rick Scott continues to distance himself from his own tax hike plan

Bates said Scott is doing just that by "tripling down on his ultra MAGA agenda to raise taxes on middle class families and schedule Medicare and Social Security to expire,” which puts the senator “fundamentally at odds with the wishes of the American people."

The Biden administration staffer said President Biden “is firmly against” the plan.

“Instead of selling out working families to rich special interests, the President is fighting to build an economy that works from the bottom up and the middle out," Bates asserted.

Although Democratic lawmakers are expecting GOP officials to “echo similar arguments'' to Scott's around the current state of the economy, they are confident that inflation and gas prices will continue to decrease, and that "wages are higher now than in the summer."

Scott, who has “never won” his elections “by more than a percentage point” and spent a total of $149.5 million on previous races, contends that he’s “ready to do whatever it takes to win this time.”

READ MORE: Khanna warns House GOP wants to 'hijack the entire US economy' to cut Social Security

Trump lied about firing COVID response official who said he 'failed to communicate seriousness' of the virus

Former President Donald Trump fabricated one major detail in a social media rant about his time working with former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx, Huffpost reports.

Trump used his Truth Social platform to criticize the former high ranking health official, while throwing in one backhanded compliment.

“One of the greatest privileges I had as President was firing Deborah Birx,” the former president wrote. “The only thing she had going was nice scarves.”

READ MORE: 'We tried our best': Retiring Dr. Anthony Fauci recalls challenges of serving Donald Trump during COVID-19

Birx, who has publicly said the Trump administration “underplayed the seriousness of the pandemic,” actually retired from her position at the end of 2020 following a Thanksgiving trip amid a “difficult” time for her family.

In his social media post, Trump also wrote, “I remember so well when she was lecturing the American people not to leave their homes for Thanksgiving, and then she traveled hundreds of miles to visit her family who, incredibly, turned her in to the police. The only one who thought highly of her was herself!”

Additionally, he included a link to far-right blog RedState’s article alleging Birx “openly lied to the American people” about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The retired infectious disease expert revealed last year that the Trump administration “gave Americans a false sense of security” by comparing COVID to the flu, and “pressured her to alter the COVID statistics she submitted to the states at the height of the COVID pandemic.”

WATCH: Deborah Birx admits more lives could have been spared if Trump officials hadn't 'underplayed' the pandemic'

New York woman says parole officers stole $6K from her home 'right before the holidays': report

A Greece, New York woman is seeking justice after she says parole officers entered her home and stole $6,000, Rochester City Newspaper reports.

Shannon Carpenter lives in the home with her boyfriend, John Grandberry, who was on parole following a prison sentence for criminal possession of a weapon.

The four officers who searched the home left with a kitchen knife, a bag of cannabis, a drug scale, a gun, and a whopping $6,000, which was stashed away in a pair of Carpenter’s boots.

READ MORE: 'He will be resigning': New York county GOP official to plead guilty to criminal charges in January

Parole officer Doris Hernandez and an “unidentified male officer” can be seen on video captured from Carpenter’s phone-activated web camera rummaging through Carpenter’s room and discussing what they’d do with the money they discovered.

The male officer turned to Hernandez — who is now on leave with pay — and said, “We can share the money.”

She replied, “You're right.”

“As long as there’s enough money to go around,” the male officer said.

READ MORE: Police violence reached an all-time high in 2022. Are we ready to shrink police budgets?

Following the search, Grandberry was sent back to jail for “violating parole” with the possession of a weapon, cannabis and a scale.

But Carpenter asserts that she has “never seen the gun” before and that the knife, scale, marijuana and money — which she saved up while working at a local food truck — all belong to her, not Grandberry.

She told the Rochester City Newspaper that the incident has been “both financially and emotionally draining” for her.

READ MORE: Police are convicting people for murder based on 'guilty sounding' 911 calls

“It’s hard because it was right before the holidays,” she said. “I dip into that when it’s time for rent or something like that, and now I have nothing.”

Buffalo defense attorney Brittany Penberthy, filed two notices — both of which can lead to a lawsuit — with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and the Parole Division, as well as the Greece Police Department, arguing that her client was “a victim of unlawful search and seizure.”

The notices said, “As a result of the aforesaid incident, the claimant, Shannon Carpenter, was subjected to numerous violations of state and federal civil rights, and sustained mental anguish, pain, and suffering and shock to her system as a result of subjects’ unlawful actions.”

Believing that this occurrence is not a “freak occurrence,” Carpenter proceeded to file a complaint with the State police, which led the department to put out a statement confirming an investigation, asserting that “Greece officers were not the focus of the probe.”

READ MORE: 15-year old campaigning door-to-door for Raphael Warnock shot through door — 'no indication' politically motivated: police

The statement read, “The New York State Police is conducting a criminal investigation into the allegations referenced in the notice of claim filed on behalf of Shannon Carpenter. The Greece Police Department is cooperating with the investigation, and members of the department are not the subject of the investigation.”

Penberthy told City News in a phone interview that she doesn’t believe Carpenter’s story is the first of its kind. And she spoke about how residents complain often about the actions of parole officers, and that they are rarely believed.

“The crazy thing is you hear these complaints all of the time from parolees, from loved ones of parolees, that a parole officer did x, y, or z,” the attorney said. “And the immediate rebuttal from any agency or what have you is, ‘Oh, don’t believe the parolee, we believe our parole officers.”

She continued, “There’s bad people in the world. And just because they sit at a desk for parole doesn’t mean they’re good guys.”

Watch the footage below or at this link.

A Greece woman says these parole officers stole money from her

READ MORE: Hundreds of police officers in the United States have been trained by right-wing extremists: report

Read the full report in the Rochester City Newspaper.

'This is a madhouse': Jan. 6 texts from 'Stop the Steal' leader reveal his key role in attack

The Jan. 6 committee’s final report revealed that far-right activist, conspiracy theorist and “Stop the Steal” leader Ali Alexander’s text messages from Jan. 5, 2021 and Jan. 6, 2021 display his key role in the unfolding of the Capitol insurrection, Rolling Stone reports.

Alexander’s “Stop the Steal” campaign grew out of his false belief that the 2020 election was stolen from former president Donald Trump, which helped to fuel the attack.

The Guardian reported that the hard-right organizer’s name was mentioned in the committee’s final report “more than 100 times” for his consistent efforts to de-legitimize the outcome of the 2020 election.

READ MORE: New questions raised about 'nefarious' gap in Trump’s day on Jan. 6

The committee’s release of Alexander’s text messages solidify his commitment to overturning the election by any means necessary, as well as his “advance knowledge that Trump would send masses marching on the Capitol.”

On the evening of Jan. 5, Gateway Pundit journalist Cassandra Fairbanks texted Alexander, “I’m getting nervous for you guys tbh. They’re f***ing scared and it’s showing. Be safe.”

Alexander replied, “They’re so scared. We’re on razors.”

All was calm in organizer's inbox until around 12:00 pm on Jan. 6. Alexander texted Republican strategist Roger Stone, “Get you a** to the U.S. Capitol. We have a stage & the president’s order.”

READ MORE: Kristi Noem levels attack at Jan. 6 committee — accuses panel of hacking her phone

Minutes later, the course of the rally took a turn for the MAGA organizers.

Alexander texted Joel Northrup, a “tech contact” associated with “Stop the Steal,” saying, “Tell them not to antagonize the police.”

About ten minutes later, he messaged “Stop the Steal” coordinator Mike Coundrey, warning him that 50,000 people were heading over to the Capitol.

Coundrey replied, “It’s over. They broke through and stormed the Capitol.”

READ MORE: Law professor’s Jan. 6 takeaway: the 'threat of political violence' is 'far from over'

At that point, Alexander texted Thomas van Flein, Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar’s chief of staff, warning him to leave. “This is hell out here,” he said.

As the insurrection prevailed for the next few hours, one of Alexander’s group chats titled “STS (Stop the Steal) Patriots” exploded with excitement.

STS member Scott Pressler asked if the group should head back to their hotel. To which another STS member, Brandon Straka responded, “F*** no!! I’m at the Capitol and just joined the breach!!! I just got gassed! Never felt so f*****g alive in my life!!"

He continued, “We’re hearing that somebody was shot and killed,” to which Coundrey replied, “Hahaha,” and later said, “a moment of history folks.”

READ MORE: Republican desperately tries to downplay his involvement in Jan. 6: 'Time is not important'

Almost immediately after, Alexander warned everyone to stop texting in the group chat and migrate over to the Signal, an encrypted instant messaging app.

Meanwhile, Moms for America founder Kimberly Fletcher shared her disappointment with Alexander, voicing that she was "heartbroken."

"Ali, this is a madhouse. Makes us all and the president look very bad," she said.

A few days after the attack, the far-right activist was banned from Twitter, but was reinstated by the platform’s CEO, Elon Musk, earlier this month.

Read the full report and transcript here.

READ MORE: Trump advisors were angry about all of the 'crazies' he featured at the Jan. 6 rally

'Come on, man!' Fox News host whines GOP has 'to be fair' — says Pence 'could’ve just destroyed' documents

Fox News host and commentator Jesse Watters and a few of his Republican colleagues on Tuesday shared their discontentment with news that “about a dozen” classified documents have been discovered in former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home, Huffpost reports.

In a clip from Fox News Tuesday night show "The Five," Watters suggests that because documents were found in Pence’s home, all the fun Republicans were having with President Joe Biden’s classified document matter is officially over.

“I mean, Pence, seriously," Watters said. "We have this great thing going with Joe."

READ MORE: Classified documents found in Mike Pence’s Indiana home

Fellow commentator Greg Gutfeld responded, “Yeah, he just ruined it!”

Jeanine Pirro agreed, “He did!”

But the group of displeased pundits didn’t stop there.

“Come on, man!” Watters continued.

WATCH: Lindsey Graham defends President Joe Biden in classified documents probe

Gutfield asked, “Now what are we gonna do?”

Watters asserted that he personally would have preferred if the former vice president broke the law by getting rid of the documents instead.

“And then he confessed to it,” Watters said. “I mean, he could’ve just destroyed it, we never would’ve known! And we have to be fair and balanced and show both sides!”

READ MORE: 'Not how the law works': Why Joe Biden's classified document snafu will not absolve Donald Trump

Critics have argued there’s a “big difference” between the discovery of hundreds of classified documents at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate and "a small number" of classified documents discovered at Biden's Delaware home and former think tank office. And U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently defended President Biden, asserting he'd be "shocked if there was anything sinister going on with his handling of classified documents." Still, many Republicans insist on comparing the two discoveries.

“I know Pence is so clean," Watters said. "Squeaky clean! It’s nothing like the real bad documents that Joe Biden was squirreling away." Gutfeld then facetiously wondered whether Pence’s documents were discovered for attention.a

“Do you think [Pence] just wanted to be included?” Gutfeld asked.

“He’s like 'Hey! I’m running for president, too! Investigate me!'” Watters replied.

Watch the clip below or at this link.

READ MORE: New analysis highlights the 'big difference' between Trump and Biden’s classified documents cases

A 'hallmark of Elon Musk's tenure': Twitter reinstates white nationalist Nick Fuentes' account

After being banned for almost two years, Twitter has officially reinstated the account of white nationalist leader Nick Fuentes, Rolling Stone reports.

Twitter banned Fuentes for "repeated violations" of the platform's rules in July 2021, and when he attempted to create another account in October after Musk took over, the platform banned him again.

The reinstatement of his account comes two months after Twitter CEO Elon Musk posted a poll to Twitter, asking users whether the accounts — he, himself, suspended — that “have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam” should be reinstated. Following the majority “yes” vote from users, the billionaire began restoring accounts of MAGA Republicans, such as MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, who'd been banned from Twitter since 2013. Rolling Stone referred to "the return of extremist figures to Twitter" as a "hallmark of Musk's early tenure."

READ MORE: Trump’s bigoted dinner guest Nick Fuentes favors burning women alive

However, Musk is not treating all Twitter users equally. The tech CEO had suspended a select list of journalists, himself, last year from the platform "for, he said, violating the company’s terms of service." A few weeks later, he asserted that the journalists "were welcome to return to the platform" only if they would "abide by Twitter's rules."

Washington Post journalist Paul Farhi reported, “Twitter has privately demanded that the suspended journalists delete the tweets that drew Musk’s ire in the first place — a condition the reporters have refused to accept. The result is a stalemate: The suspended journalists remain in Twitter purgatory, unable to access their accounts.”

Unlike his treatment of the journalists, Musk is granting Fuentes, 24, free reign back on the platform.

The extremist first gained notoriety as a Boston University student attending the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he and other attendees chanted “Jews will not replace us.” He later founded the “America First Political Action Conference,” which has been attended by far-right MAGA Republican House of Representatives members like Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

READ MORE: Does Elon Musk have the right to destroy Twitter?

But more recently, the extremist anti-Seminite met with former president Donald Trump and rapper Kanye West, now known as “Ye,” — who, at the time, also publicly spewed antisemetic remarks — at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

According to Rolling Stone, prior to reinstatement, Fuentes has been able to expand a "cult-like following" called the Groypers, and although the coalition describes itself a "Christian-conservative," members and followers often "weaponize antisemitic and racist tropes against their targets."

READ MORE:Elon Musk has invited 'suspended' journalists to return to Twitter, but there’s a 'catch': report

Retired chief FBI official involved in Trump-Russia probe arrested for ties to Russia, stealing $225K

A retired chief Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) official who reportedly worked on the Trump-Russia probe was arrested and charged in federal court for allegedly having close ties to a U.S. sanctioned Russian billionaire and stealing $225,000 in cash while investigating high-profile cases, The Washington Post reports.

Over the course of his 22 years as a top official at the agency, Charles McGonigal served in many roles including the chief of the FBI’s cybercrimes office in Washington, D.C., and chief of the FBI’s New York Counterintelligence office, in which he was responsible for investigating Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

McGonigal, Fox News reported, was one of the original FBI officials to discover Trump advisor George Papadopoulos’ claim that “he knew Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton,” which led to the start of the Trump-Russia probe, known as Operation Crossfire Hurricane, and allegations of election interference. A source revealed to Fox News that McGonigal “likely was briefed on Crossfire Hurricane at the time the investigation was launched.”

READ MORE: 'He will be resigning': New York county GOP official to plead guilty to criminal charges in January

However, unbeknownst to McGonigal’s colleagues, in 2019 — one year post-retirement — the former top agent teamed up with former Soviet and Russian official-turned U.S. citizen, Sergey Shestakov, to work alongside Derispaska in an attempt to remove him from the U.S. sanctioned list.

As a result, according to Fox News, McGonigal, 54, and Shestakov, 69, have both been charged with “one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ("IEEPA"); one count of violating the IEEPA; one count of conspiring to commit money laundering; and one count of money laundering,” with the possibility of a “maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.”

McGonigal’s money laundering charge is a result of his “hiding payments totaling $225,000 that he allegedly received from a New Jersey man employed decades ago by an Albanian intelligence agency,” according to The Post.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams confirmed in a statement to Fox News that both McGonigal and Shestakov “previously worked with Deripaska to attempt to have his sanctions removed, and, as public servants, they should have known better.” Williams noted, “This Office will continue to prosecute those who violate U.S. sanctions enacted in response to Russian belligerence in Ukraine in order to line their own pockets.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump still calls Russia probe a 'hoax' and 'witch hunt.' It wasn’t: journalist

Speaking to the seriousness of sanctions, FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll said, "After sanctions are imposed, they must be enforced equally against all U.S. citizens in order to be successful." He continued, “There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal. Supporting a designated threat to the United States and our allies is a crime the FBI will continue to pursue aggressively."

McGonigal pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this week through his attorney and former Department of Justice official, Seth DuCharme, who claims to have “a lot of confidence” that his client will prevail. “As you all know, Charlie’s had a long distinguished career with the FBI. He served the United States for decades,” DuCharme noted. “This is obviously a distressing day for Mr. McGonigal and his family.”

The case may be distressing for McGonigal and his family, but it is also distressing for current agency officials.

"The FBI is committed to the enforcement of economic sanctions designed to protect the United States and our allies, especially against hostile activities of a foreign government and its actors," Driscoll said. "Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska perform global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are associated with acts of bribery, extortion, and violence."

READ MORE: 'Carefully, precisely, surgically': Russian oligarch tied to Putin admits to interfering in US elections

Addressing McGonigal’s alleged disloyalty, Donald Alway, FBI assistant director at the Los Angeles field office, contended that “McGonigal is alleged to have committed the very violations he swore to investigate while he purported to lead a workforce of FBI employees who spend their careers protecting secrets and holding foreign adversaries accountable.”

But despite distress, FBI director Christopher A. Wray is confident that the agency upheld its responsibility with integrity. “The way we maintain the trust and confidence of the American people is through our work — showing, when all the facts come out, that we stuck to the process and we treated everyone equally, even when it is one of our own,” Wray said. “We hold ourselves to the highest standard, and our focus will remain on our mission and on doing the right thing, in the right way, every time.”

READ MORE: 'Putin is getting desperate': National security experts warns that Russia’s leader won’t give up easily

Palm Beach writer delivers lesson on 'real problem facing Floridians' — and it’s not 'drag queen story times'

A columnist at The Palm Beach Post highlighted what he believes is the “real problem facing Floridians,” arguing the most pressing issue in the state is "not trans swimmers, unvarnished Black history or diversity training at your job," but the right's ongoing effort to gut Social Security.

According to Frank Cerabino’s column, Florida relies on social security payments to its residents more than any other state. He reported that more than 1 million residents look to the program to keep "from living below the poverty line."

But even with that knowledge, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) has his sights set on eventually cutting Social Security payments as he claims the program is "going bankrupt."

READ MORE: Advocates say 'hell no' as Manchin pitches social security deal with GOP

Cerabino counters Scott's assertion with a statement from the Social Security Administration.

“After the projected trust fund reserve depletion in 2034, continuing income would be sufficient to pay 78 percent of program cost, declining to 74 percent for 2095,” the administration confirmed.

Scott's ideas around the program approaching bankruptcy are outlined in his "Rescue America" plan, which Cerabino asserted could "gut" Medicare and Social Security in five years.

As of now, Floridians can receive Social Security payments if they're at least 62 years old, and "as late as 70." But Scott's fellow GOP lawmakers are considering raising the "retirement age" — or "the point that the monthly payments are paid at 100 percent of the primary insurance amount" — from 67 to 70.

READ MORE: Senator Raphael Warnock's re-election is a victory for Social Security

Matt Bruenig with The People’s Policy Project explained that "there are really 96 retirement ages in Social Security, one for each month between the ages of 62 to 70." Further, "the earlier you take your benefit, the less you get; the more you wait, the higher the monthly payment," Cerabino reported.

"A proposal to raise the retirement age to 70 is just a proposal to cut monthly benefits by around 23 percent at all 96 retirement ages," Bruenig said.

The AARP Policy Institute studied the number of people who use Social Security at age 62 versus the number of “later claimers,” and found that “early takers have less education and are more likely to live in rural areas and less likely to have IRAs or other defined-contribution plans.” They also are prone to live with a “work-limiting health condition.”

As a result, Cerabino reports that cutting their Social Security will result in poverty for many.

READ MORE: House Republican claims people 'want to work longer' to justify attack on Social Security

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said, “Without Social Security benefits, 37.8 percent of older adults would have incomes below the official poverty line, all else being equal. With Social Security benefits, only 9 percent do.”

Research done by the center highlighted that over 1.3 million Floridians, or 6 percent of Florida's population, aged 65 and older can live above the poverty line with the help of Social Security.

Cerabino concludes his analysis by once again drawing attention to the issues Florida lawmakers are focusing on, such as "peril from asylum seekers in Texas, drag queen story times or felon voters." Perhaps, the sunshine state's lawmakers and those voting for them should instead turn their attention to the stealth "retirement" of Social Security.

READ MORE: Paul Krugman: House Republicans will risk a 'financial crisis' to 'slash Social Security and Medicare'

'This is unacceptable': Mike Pompeo uses new book to criticize murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Former Secretary of State and potential 2024 presidential candidate Mike Pompeo heavily criticized Jamal Khashoggi in his upcoming book, NBC reports.

Khashoggi, who was based in the U.S., was known to openly write about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam at The Washington Post before he disappeared in October of 2018 upon arrival to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. It was announced he was brutally murdered days later.

In his book titled “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,” Pompeo wrote, "And as even the New York Times reported, Khashoggi was cozy with the terrorist-supporting Muslim Brotherhood."

READ MORE: Nikki Haley fires back at Mike Pompeo accusing him of 'lies and gossip to sell book'

He goes on in the book to mock the media's coverage of Khashoggi’s murder, claiming the outlets portrayed the late journalist as “a Saudi Arabian Bob Woodward who was martyred for bravely criticizing the Saudi royal family through his opinion articles in the Washington Post.”

Pompeo claimed Khashoggi "didn’t deserve to die, but we need to be clear about who he was -- and too many in the media were not.”

Khashoggi’s widow, Hanan Elatr Khashoggi, spoke with NBC about her frustration with Pompeo’s words about her husband.

"Jamal Khashoggi is not part of the Muslim Brotherhood. I confirm it to you," she asserted. “Whatever he [Pompeo] mentions about my husband, he doesn’t know my husband. He should be silent and shut up the lies about my husband. It is such bad information and the wrong information...This is not acceptable.”

READ MORE: Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Dismisses Killing of Jamal Khashoggi Because Nobody Knew Him Two Weeks Ago

She mentioned to NBC that because her late husband "had a nuanced view of the Muslim Brotherhood," he believed that he should be "close to an ideology to speak about it." Therefore, he would "condemn their actions in some countries and appreciate it in others."

Khashoggi's widow continued to say that her husband “always condemned" the Sept. 11 attack and hailed Saudis as “the biggest loser of Sept. 11."

Pompeo mockingly called Khashoggi an “activist” in the book, claiming that he was a journalist only “to the extent that I, and many other public figures are journalists." He said, "We sometimes get our writing published, but we also do other things.”

He also asserted in the book that he'd "seen enough of the Middle East to know that this kind of ruthlessness was all too routine in that part of the world," and added that Khashoggi's murder "violates the norms of international law" but affirms the necessity of the continuing U.S.-Saudi relationship, according to NBC.

READ MORE: Here's What the Killing of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Reveals About Trump and the Saudis

Hanan Elatr Khashoggi is insistent on setting the record straight on her husband's legacy and to quiet those who insist on tarnishing that legacy.

In advocating for her husband's remembrance, she is determined “to silence all of these people who publish books, disparage my husband and collect money from it.”

READ MORE: 'Morally deplorable': Biden admin recommends immunity for Mohammed bin Salman in Khashoggi Case

'Never been a part of this process': Trump lawyers won’t attend GA hearing where judge could release report

Donald Trump’s attorneys will not attend the Georgia hearing where a judge is set to potentially release a grand jury’s report on the state’s investigation of the former president’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, USA Today reports.

The Fulton County grand jury that investigated Trump and his GOP allies for months over their alleged interference in the 2020 election recently finished its final report, complete with recommendations. Now it’s up to Judge Robert McBurney to decide whether to release the jury’s findings — partially or wholly — to the public in the upcoming hearing.

USA Today reports that McBurney did note the jury “voted to recommend that the report be published.”

READ MORE: 'One step closer': Georgia special grand jury concludes probe of Donald Trump's 2020 election actions

Trump’s attorneys, Drew Findling and Marissa Goldberg, are convinced the former president has nothing to hide. The two said in a statement, "To date, we have never been a part of this process. The grand jury compelled the testimony of dozens of other, often high-ranking, officials during the investigation, but never found it important to speak with the president."

The lawyers continued, "Therefore, we can assume that the grand jury did their job and looked at the facts and the law, as we have, and concluded there were no violations of the law by President Trump.”

The hearing will dictate whether there are any challenges or opposition to consider before proceeding with further legal action, according to USA Today.

AlterNet previously reported that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis could use the jury’s recommendations “as the basis of an indictment of Trump and others.”

READ MORE: Legal expert breaks down why Trump may be facing a 'greater legal threat' in Georgia as opposed to the Mar-a-Lago case

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