Travis Gettys

Jim Jordan tells DOJ to turn over details of Jack Smith’s Trump investigation

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is apparently trying to give Donald Trump a peek inside the special counsel investigation.

The House Judiciary Committee chairman sent a letter Thursday to attorney general Merrick Garland seeking details about the FBI's involvement in special counsel Jack Smith's sprawling investigations of the former president, including his mishandling of classified documents found at his private residence at Mar-a-Lago, reported The Federalist.

"Explain whether any FBI employees who have worked on Special Counsel Smith’s investigation previously worked on any other matters concerning President Trump," Jordan wrote, "and explain whether Special Counsel Smith’s investigation relies on any information or material gathered exclusively by the FBI prior the Special Counsel’s appointment."

The Ohio Republican claimed congressional oversight authority to request a briefing by deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco on any changes made by the FBI to correct any failings cited by Trump-era special counsel John Durham, who recently submitted his final report following a years-long investigation.

"Public trust in the FBI is low," Jordan wrote. "Recent examples of political bias in FBI and Department of Justice operations show that the so-called 'corrective measures' the FBI instituted after Crossfire Hurricane have done nothing to address, let alone cure, the institutional rot that pervades the FBI.

"It is clear that Congress must consider legislative reforms to the FBI, and the Committee has been engaged in robust oversight to inform those legislative proposals. In the interim, however, due to the FBI’s documented political bias, the Justice Department must ensure any ongoing investigations are not poisoned by this same politicization."

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

Roger Stone explains in a new documentary how he manipulates Donald Trump by planting lies in his head.

The Republican dirty trickster and longtime Trump adviser is shown in the documentary, A Storm Foretold, by filmmakers Christoffer Guldbrandsen and Frederik Marbell, talking on a hot mic about how he has manipulated the former president for decades, even while he served in the White House, reported The Daily Beast.

“I have a 40-year record of being able to convince the big man to do what’s in his best interest -- he’s not easy to deal with," Stone says in the film. "It’s complicated. He resents any implication that he is handled or managed or directed.”

Stone says he plants ideas in Trump's head by making him think they're his own, with a dollop of flatter.

“You have to say, ‘Remember that night when we were in Buffalo and you gave that speech, and God, it had to be 10,000 people, the biggest crowd they’d ever seen, and you said XYZ, and the place went crazy, remember that?'" Stone says. "I don’t know where you came up with that line, but it’s one of the best things.’”

Stone then says Trump often might say he'll use that line again, and adds that he's used that tactic almost as long as he's been advising the ex-president.

“Doesn’t f*cking matter that he never said it — doesn’t matter,” Stone says. “It’s time-consuming, but it works. I did it for 30 years.”

Guldbrandsen, whose film focuses on the period before and after the 2020 election, told The Daily Beast that he believes Stone had forgotten he was wearing a microphone during that conversation.

“Those are kind of mishaps,” Guldbrandsen said. “I think he had forgotten that he was wearing a mic. I know he had forgotten, because the next morning, he was really, really anxious about what I had recorded.”

Is Mark Meadows cooperating with Jan. 6 investigators? If so it’s 'game over': legal experts

Mark Meadows is rumored to be cooperating federal investigators looking into Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, which legal experts say could be ruinous for the former president.

A source connected to Trump told CNN they've heard rumors that the former White House chief of staff, who's advising Republican lawmakers during the ongoing debt-ceiling negotiation, may be cooperating with federal investigators or possibly is a target of a criminal probe himself, and Newsweek reported that legal expert Ryan Goodman said that would be a major development.

"If he's cooperating, it's game over," tweeted Goodman, a former Defense Department special counsel.

Meadows spent Jan. 6, 2021, with Trump as the insurrection unfolded and played a key role in the ex-president's attempts to remain in power in spite of his election loss, and he reportedly was in direct communication with the organizers of the "Stop the Steal" protest that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot.

Special counsel Jack Smith reportedly subpoenaed Meadows in February to testify before a special grand jury, but it's unclear whether he has answered questions under oath after a judge rejected Trump's claims of executive privilege over his testimony.

"I'll believe it when I see it," tweeted Harry Litman, a former deputy attorney general, of Meadows' testimony.

Morning Joe panel piles on 'terrible senator' Josh Hawley after actor Jon Hamm mocks him in ad

"Mad Men" star Jon Hamm cut a new ad questioningSen. Josh Hawley's (R-MO) courage on behalf of Democratic challenger Lucas Kunce, and panelists on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" piled on.

The actor narrated a campaign spot questioning the Missouri Republican's convictions and his ostentatious masculinity, which includes a book on the topic, and draws attention to his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection -- which he then fled as Donald Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol.

"Obviously, when you have somebody on the other side that took an active part in stirring people up to overthrow the United States government like Josh Hawley did, to riot that day, who tried to overthrow a presidential election, yeah, I would hope the people in Missouri might actually just give a damn about that," said host Joe Scarborough.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson praised the ad and said Hawley was richly deserving of the criticism.

READ MORE: Trump's big mouth is getting him into 'deeper trouble' and could get him incarcerated: legal expert

"You know, it goes right at Hawley's manhood thing, which is, I guess I don't know what he is trying to do with this, but I'll tell you, he's not exactly a Schwarzenegger," Robinson said. "He's a terrible senator. I think his record -- we've seen what he did on Jan. 6, we've seen his record in the Senate, which is quite undistinguished. Let's see if Kunce can do it. Missouri is a tough state, a very red state, but Josh Hawley, you know, we'll see if he could be a vulnerable candidate running for re-election."

Watch the video below or at this link


Ex-DeSantis staffers sharpen their knives against his 'vindictive' wife Casey ahead of presidential run

Donald Trump's allies are sharpening their knives against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' wife as they try to snuff out his presidential ambitions, and even the Florida governor's former aides and donors are piling on.

Casey DeSantis plays a crucial role in her husband's political rise and counts as his most trusted adviser, but several former administration staffers and even the governor's 2024 supporters complained that her influence isn't always helpful, reported Politico.

“She is both his biggest asset and his biggest liability, and I say biggest asset in that I think she does make him warmer, softer,” said Dan Eberhart, a DeSantis donor and supporter. “But he needs to be surrounded with professional people, not just her."

“I’ve heard from staffers frustrated that they think the governor’s made a decision, he talks to her, comes back, the decision is the opposite or different,” Eberhart added. “The sad part is I think she’s very smart. I think she’s very talented. But she also needs to realize if they want to play on this stage, they need serious help. I worry that winning the gubernatorial race, winning the re-elect, has made her overconfident in her ability to de facto run a presidential campaign.”

Eberhart suggested she take a “take a more traditional role" as a presidential candidate's wife, meaning that the former TV reporter and anchor remain "active and visible" but not necessarily the "architect" of his campaign, but staffers who worked for DeSantis don't see that happening.

“He’s a leader who makes political decisions with the assistance of his wife, who was elected by nobody, who’s blindly ambitious,” said one former DeSantis administration staffer, "and she sees ghosts in every corner.”

A second former staffer agreed.

“She’s more paranoid than he is,” that staffer said.

One of the knocks against DeSantis has been his dour persona, and a former campaign official said the first lady fed into that.

“He’s a vindictive motherf*cker -- she’s twice that,” said a former high-ranking campaign official. “She’s the scorekeeper.”

DeSantis also has difficulty with retail politics, which former staffers say his more outgoing spouse does well, but they said she's not especially warm to those around the couple.

“Does she sort of humanize the robot?" said a former gubernatorial staffer. "Does she push him on the grip-and-grin, the baby-kissing, give him a cleaner, softer image? Yes. Does she also feed into his, I guess, worst instincts, of being secluded and insular and standoffish with staff? Yes.”

David Jolly, a former GOP congressman from Florida who's now an MSNBC analyst, recalls an interaction he had with Casey DeSantis when he and DeSantis were both running for Senate in 2016, and his elderly mother asked the couple if she could take their photo as a keepsake -- which they agreed to do and the older woman thanked them.

"Casey turns and snaps at my mom and says, ‘I better not see that photo in any opposition research,” Jolly recalled, calling the first lady an ice queen. “Both ice and queen are doing the work there.”

Consultants, lawmakers and lobbyists all agreed that one of the major mistakes DeSantis made on his recent trip abroad was putting the first lady in an even more conspicuous role, which some sources said diminished the governor.

“I have never received so many messages from Republicans, from Republican consultants, from lawmakers … saying, ‘What is going on here?’” a consultant said.

“To me,” one lobbyist agreed, “and I think to a lot of other people, it kind of comes across almost as if she wishes that she was the elected official.”

Hunter Biden's lawyer fires shot at 'unhinged' Marjorie Taylor Greene

Hunter Biden's legal team fired shots Monday morning at two of his chief Republican antagonists.

Attorney Abbe Lowell sent letters asking the Treasury Department's inspector general to investigate how former Donald Trump loyalists obtained reports of Biden's alleged "suspicious activity" and seeking a congressional ethics review of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's public attacks against President Joe Biden's family, reported Politico's Playbook.

"We write to request the Office of Congressional Ethics initiate a review of and take appropriate action as a result of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA 14th C.D.) suspected violations of House Ethics rules and standards of official conduct," Lowell wrote. "Representative Greene’s unethical conduct arises from her continuous verbal attacks, defamatory statements, publication of personal photos and data, and promotion of conspiracy theories about and against Robert Hunter Biden. None of these could possibly be deemed to be part of any legitimate legislative activity, as is clear from both the content of her statements and actions, and the forums she uses to spew her often unhinged rhetoric."

The attorney listed several statements and allegations Greene has made against Biden that were false and easily debunked, and Lowell said her conduct reflected poorly on the House and went far beyond her legislative duties.

"Since her election to Congress in 2020 (and before), Representative Greene has engaged in steady, dogged verbal and defamatory attacks against Mr. Biden, and members of his family," Lowell wrote. "Her online statements and public appearances are neither legislative drafting, nor oversight, nor real congressional business — they are a spray of shotgun pellets of personal vitriol that are the definition of conduct that does not reflect 'creditably on the House.' Her actions are not merely the expression of political views or private 'free speech' because she uses her official position to disseminate them and often expresses them in official proceedings."

"Perhaps Representative Greene is beyond conducting herself properly. Many have so concluded," Lowell added. "However, the House has a duty to make loud and clear that it does not endorse, condone, or agree with her outrageous, undignified rhetoric and brazen violations of the standards of official conduct that do not reflect creditably on the House of Representatives."

Lowell also wrote that former Trump White House official Garrett Ziegler did not have a First Amendment defense for obtaining and publishing confidential Treasury Department records regarding the president's son, and he said those actions may have violated the Bank Secrecy Act.

"We write on behalf of our client ... to request that the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Treasury review how Garrett M. Ziegler came to acquire and then retain and publish on his website, Marco Polo USA, illegally obtained Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) from JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A. concerning what are alleged to be financial activities by Mr. Biden," Lowell wrote. "Ziegler has stated that he worked (conspired) with a person or persons in a bank resulting in his illegally obtaining and then disclosing five SARs, which involve or concern Mr. Biden."

Lowell wrote that those interactions with a bank employee to obtain protected information violates federal law, and he complained that the reports remain publicly available on the former Trump White House official's website and had been publicized by the Daily Mail and other media outlets.

"While he may try to cloak himself with the protection of a real journalist, by now, it is clear that Ziegler is nothing other than a possessed and self-described political warrior against the Biden Family," Lowell wrote. "Even if he would now like to hide in some First Amendment protection, his actions in concert with those to violate the law (e.g., the JP Morgan Chase banker to obtain and publish the SARs) necessarily exclude him from any such claim."

Trump’s unused mansion falls under investigation for possible tax fraud

The latest financial disclosures filed by Donald Trump raise new questions about a large tax break he got on a Batman-like estate north of New York City.

The former president reduced his tax bill on the land listed as Seven Springs LLC by more than $3.5 million in 2015, when he first entered politics, and new filings show the property earned him less than $2,500 in the form of a vaguely labeled "rebate," although he valued the land at $50 million, reported The Daily Beast.

“There has been an enormous amount of valuation abuse," said Nancy Assaf McLaughlin, a national expert on conservation easements, who was speaking generally because she did not know the details of Trump's property. "People will come up with a ‘before value’ that exceeds anything a willing buyer would pay, using ‘subdivision development analysis’ and coming up with a hypothetical subdivision of lots."

“It has no relation to what somebody would actually pay you for that property on the open market," added McLaughlin, a law professor at the University of Utah. “Income tax deduction is inappropriately lucrative in those cases."

Trump has reported no income on the estate since he started filing federal disclosure forms required by some executive branch officials, and an expert compared his arrangement to a rancher who decided to leave their land to sit unused.

“Many ranchers are earning next to nothing on their farmland, but as soon as they give it up, they get a very generous tax break relative to what they were earning," said James Vercammen, a land economist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. "You’re going to learn a lot more from the tax break than what you’d earn from the land itself."

Trump had hoped to build a golf course and several mansions on the property, but local residents opposed any land development, so he instead cashed in on the tax break -- and New York attorney general Letitia James is now investigating the value he placed on the underdeveloped land.

“When an appraiser comes back with values that are lower than what Trump wants, he’ll get fired, won’t get paid, or they’ll hire another,” said a source who had seen some of Trump's transactions in recent years. “He’s extracted the highest possible he can find.”

'Two-bit televangelist' Lindsey Graham ruthlessly ridiculed by Morning Joe panel

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele heaped mockery on Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) tearful pleas for donations to help Donald Trump's legal defense.

The South Carolina Republican appeared Tuesday night on Fox News host Sean Hannity's program to beg Trump supporters to donate through his website to pay the former president's legal fees following his arraignment on New York fraud charges, and the "Morning Joe" host compared him to sketchy TV preachers.

"He's even looking more like a 1980s televangelist," Scarborough said. "You've got some of that Jimmy Swaggart crying going on, of course, he looks a lot like -- oh my God, he's slowly morphing into Jim Bakker. I don't know who his Tammy Faye is. He's looking more and more like Jim Bakker."

Steele suggested that he was sounding more and more like Trump, and he said Graham's conduct was shameful.

READ MORE: Trump 'messed the bed in stupendous' fashion with 'crazy display at Mar-a-Lago': Morning Joe

"It's so, so ridiculous, so embarrassing, so embarrassing that this is what the leadership of the Republican Party has become," Steele said. "Some two-bit televangelist hawking for Donald Trump -- not even good, not even good hawking."

Watch the video below or at this link


Rupert Murdoch breaks off engagement to conservative radio host Ann Lesley Smith: report

Fox News baron Rupert Murdoch and his fiancée have abruptly called off their engagement.

Sources close to the 92-year-old media mogul told Vanity Fair that he and 66-year-old Ann Lesley Smith, a former dental hygienist turned conservative radio host, had planned to marry this summer, less than a year after he finalized his divorce from fourth wife Jerry Hall.

According to one source, Murdoch had become uncomfortable with Smith's outspoken evangelical views.

The couple were first photographed together vacationing in January in Barbados, and the following month Murdoch reportedly planned to buy a $30 million residence near Central Park South in Manhattan.

They announced their engagement last month in the Murdoch-owned New York Post, and the Daily Mail reported last week that he had given Smith an 11-carat diamond engagement ring believed to be worth upwards of $2.5 million.

Morning Joe defends Marjorie Taylor Greene '60 Minutes' interview: People should see 'the craziness'

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough held off on criticizing "60 Minutes" for giving Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) a platform because the program was known for interviewing infamous but newsworthy public figures.

The Georgia Republican appeared Sunday on the long-running CBS News program and accused President Joe Biden and other Democrats of being pedophiles, but the "Morning Joe" host said the congresswoman's comments were sadly newsworthy.

"So much of that is mainstream Republican [ideology], including the part where you talk about a $31 trillion national debt and you don't primarily blame Donald Trump, who raised the debt more than, you know, presidents of the first 210 years of this republic, but that's mainstream Republican, but of course it went off the tracks right here," Scarborough said.

"Marjorie Taylor Greene has said horrific things," Scarborough continued. "I think she is a sign of just how badly things have gone, but if I'm not mistaken, '60 Minutes' interviewed Charles Manson, and '60 Minutes' has interviewed one terrible person after another terrible person, and so if they interview Charles Manson, they can interview a member of Congress and if you don't want to watch, you can do what Mika [Brzezinski] and I did and not watch until this morning, but if you want to watch, you can watch and actually understand some of the craziness that has infected the Republican Party, and that just may be good to understand what American democracy is up against."

"By the way, if anybody thinks that one of the leading Republicans in the House of Representatives telling America on a top-rated news show that she believes Joe Biden is a pedophile," Scarborough added, "If you think that helps Republicans in the next election in Wisconsin, in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, in Georgia, in Arizona, in every single swing state, even in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race tomorrow, if you don't think that doesn't further tarnish the Republican image nationwide, up and down the ballot, well, you don't know politics, so I think sunlight is the best disinfectant."

Watch the video below or at this link.

04 03 2023 07 13

'They’re ready for executions': Author sounds alarm after interviewing 'ordinary' conservatives

Author Jeff Sharlet has spent years interviewing conservatives and found many unassuming Americans are ready and eager for violence against their political enemies.

Sharlet's latest book, The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War, is the result of more than a dozen years of reporting on the religious right, compiling numerous interviews conducted throughout the Midwest and Great Plains, and he's more worried than ever about the possibility of civil war, reported The Guardian.

"I’ve been writing about the right for a long time," he told the newspaper. "I’m always interested in the margins of things that tell us about what’s happening at the center. An undertow is a metaphor for that, for the force that’s been pulling us to this place for a long time. If you’d asked me 10 years ago if I ever thought another civil war would be possible in the United States, I would have said no. But to think so [now] is to not understand that the right in America is as dangerous as it is."

He cited a "nice-looking" family he met near Eau Claire, Wisconsin, who seemed like "ordinary" conservatives, as the newspaper described them, but harbored bloodthirsty fantasies rooted in extreme conservative politics.

"[The father said] he had a 'Let’s go Brandon' sticker because he didn’t want to swear around his son," Sharlet said. "They’re a middle-class dad and mom. They were always gun people, but not a lot of guns. Now they’re up to 36, now they are arming up. The father had always been anti-abortion. But now it was like a dream had moved into his and his wife’s mind. He described, in incredibly violent detail, the process of abortion. Then he described, in incredibly violent detail, the punishment he thought he and others were going to give to abortion doctors. They were ready for executions."

The current political moment was rooted in a decades-old struggle against fascism, and Sharlet said Donald Trump, intentionally or instinctively, used its "dream logic" to spellbind his followers, who fill in the unfinished thoughts in his pronouncements with their own beliefs -- and that creates the illusion that he's speaking their truth into existence.

"The free association that happens at Trump’s rallies, the ways people make connections that make no sense – it has dream logic," Sharlet said. "One minute, a scary man is crawling into the window to rape your wife, and then the next minute we’re laughing at windmills, and then the next minute we’re sad for the birds that were killed by windmills. And then, in the next minute, we’re yelling, 'Lock her up.'"

"This is dream logic, and there’s vanity in it, right?" Sharlet added. “'I will interpret what they’re saying and I will bend it.' It’s the vanity of the base, the vanity of the mob, the aggregate grotesque imagination of power. It becomes a spinning whirlpool that pulls more and more people in. These are people for whom reality is not enough."

The illusion that's created for Trump and his followers feels interactive and very real to them, Sharlet said, and that's where the twice-impeached former president gains his power.

"This is why the right feels they are more democratic than the left," he said. "The intellectual rightwingers are like, 'F*ck democracy, we don’t need it.' But the everyday people, they’re like, 'This is the most democratic I’ve ever felt. I am not only receiving – I receive, I interpret and then I transmit back.'"

Sharlet sees a similar dynamic at work within the anti-abortion movement, which the left sees as an effort to control women's bodies, but the right sees as a cause so righteous that violence is necessary.

"Yes, the project is misogynist to the core," he said. "But it is not experienced as such by many on the right. Once you make that move, that we’re talking about children, what kind of person are you if you don’t want to save that child?"

"It’s astonishing there hasn’t been more violence," Sharlet added. "I think we’ve had a shield from that violence for a long time and now that shield … I sound like Jerry Falwell saying the hand of God is being removed from America."

Conservative judge issues stark new warning about GOP’s 'war against democracy and rule of law'

One of the nation's most prominent conservative judges warned that the Republican Party presented a grave peril to democracy.

Former federal appeals court judge Michael Luttig, who famously told Mike Pence the vice president did not have the authority to alter election results, made clear in a new interview with The Bulwark that the ongoing threat from Donald Trump and his GOP allies had only grown more ominous since Jan. 6, 2021.

"With the former president’s and his Republican Party’s determined denial of Jan. 6, their refusal to acknowledge that the former president lost the 2020 presidential election fair and square, and their promise that the 2024 election will not be 'stolen' from them again as they maintain it was in 2020," Luttig said, "America’s Democracy and the Rule of Law are in constitutional peril — still -- and there is no end to the threat in sight."

The conservative legal icon memorably testified during the House select committee investigation that Congress must update the Electoral Count Act of 1887 or risk another attempt to subvert the will of voters, and he said this week that the failure to do so was undermining the rule of law.

"We are a house divided and our poisonous politics is fast eating away at the fabric of our society," Luttig told The Bulwark. "The Republican Party has made its decision that the war against America’s Democracy and the Rule of Law it instigated on Jan. 6 will go on, prosecuted to its catastrophic end."

GOP’s Tommy Tuberville singlehandedly blocks military promotions to protest abortion

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is single-handedly blocking a handful of military promotions to protest a Pentagon directive giving service members access to abortion services.

The Alabama Republican is holding up 160 promotions, which usually sail through the Senate Armed Services Committee, to force the Department of Justice to reverse a February policy directive that Republicans say amounts to using taxpayer funds for abortions, reported Punchbowl News.

“I hate to have to do this, it’s unfortunate, but we make the laws over here -- the DoD doesn’t," Tuberville said. "This is not about abortion. It’s about taxpayer-funded abortions … If this was about a list of personnel, people actually doing the fighting, this might be different … If this had to do with winning a war, obviously I wouldn’t be doing this.”

Although other GOP senators on the Armed Services panel agreed with Tuberville's objection, they're not entirely comfortable with his decision to use the promotions -- which includes commanders assigned to theaters with active conflicts -- as leverage in the domestic policy spat.

“Clearly, on the DoD policy, I absolutely agree with Sen. Tuberville,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the ranking Republican on the committee. “That said, there are a lot of military positions that need to be filled, and so we’re working with leadership and Sen. Tuberville to see what can be resolved.”

The second-ranking Republican on the panel was more blunt.

"It’s a tactic that he chose to use," said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE). "He has that right as a senator. It’s not one that I would use.”

Committee chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) warned that Tuberville's blockade would disrupt the military "at the highest levels," but some Republicans are cheering on the former college football coach from the sidelines.

“I think what [the Pentagon is] doing is illegal," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). "I don’t think they have the authority to do this. Basically they’re setting a policy to give people leave, to use taxpayer dollars, which I think runs afoul of existing law.”

'Dark, scary, stupid, moronic': Morning Joe hosts excoriate Donald Trump's affinity for dictators

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough slammed Donald Trump for presenting a "dark, scary and stupid" vision for the nation.

The ex-president gave a speech Saturday in Waco, Texas, on the 30th anniversary of the fiery end to the Branch Davidian cult siege, and Trump told his supporters that he was waging a battle against "high-level politicians" such as Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, former House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and President Joe Biden.

"Because he is Donald Trump, because he hates America, because he has a dark view of America, because he always talks about how terrible America is when he's not running it, and he preferred Vladimir Putin to U.S. presidents, yes, he said that on our show, because he runs down our military when he's not in the White House, of course, his answer is that President Xi and Vladimir Putin are brilliant, are great, are smart, did it again in this rally," said Scarborough. "Once again, he goes back to, who is the greatest threat to western civilization? America, leaders in America. Same speech where he praises President Xi and he praises Vladimir Putin, once again saying they were brilliant. We can make a thousand arguments about how what they've done over the past five years has been devastating for their countries. He then says they're not the greatest threat."

"In fact, Xi and Putin are pretty great in Donald Trump's eyes, always praising them," he added.

MSNBC's Jonathan Lemire said Trump had been making those claims since first running for office in 2015, and he said the ex-president's speech was "dark," "scary" and full of signals that he intended to emulate "strongman" leaders, and Scarborough agreed.

"I suppose it could be dark and scary, so long as it can be stupid at the same time," Scarborough said. "It was dark, scary, stupid, moronic, to be going around praising President Xi, to be going around praising Vladimir Putin. Once again, blame America first. Always, he's of the blame America first crowd when he's not in the White House. Republicans blame America first, would rather have the Russian military than our military. Would rather have Russian intel than our intel -- you name it. Again, the praise, the lavish praise for dictators, for people who go out and kill journalists, people that go out and kill political opponents, that's who Donald Trump praises every time they get a chance. It tells you, again, what leader he'd want to be and tells you what he respects more than anything else. But, again, it is all very shortsighted. He spent most of this speech talking about himself."

Watch the video below or at this link.

03 27 2023 06 25

Jim Jordan busted for helping Trump 'tamper' with probe: 'Beyond all bounds of what's legal'

Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg rebuffed a Republican House demand for a peek inside an investigation involving Donald Trump as "unlawful," and MSNBC's Al Sharpton agreed it amounted to "tampering."

Bragg's general counsel denied a request for documents and an interview with the district attorney by Judiciary, Oversight and Administration Committee chairs Jim Jordan (R-OH), James Comer (R-KY) and Bryan Steil (R-WI), calling the congressional inquiry an "unprecedented" intervention into a pending local prosecution undertaken at Trump's request.

"Any man that is up in the middle of the night, that is going with this kind of language, is scared to death," Sharpton said of Trump, who has been posting highlyprovocative online attacks against Bragg. "The problem, though, is that he is inciting people, no matter how small they have become as a crowd, to do something. Add that to him having the photo of the bat at a sitting prosecutor, I mean, it's unimaginable. You're right, we'd be arrested for that."

"We have chairmen of committees telling a prosecutor, who is in the middle of an investigation, to come and give us the evidence," Sharpton added. "I mean, they're really tampering with an investigation. This is not an investigation that's concluded. Before we know whether there is an indictment or charge, they're saying bring us the evidence? I mean, this is unheard of. What is Jordan talking about? They're in the middle of a grand jury proceeding. You want the prosecutor to leave the proceeding and tell me the evidence you're giving, and we'll put it on national television so the target can understand the evidence? I mean, we are going beyond all bounds of what is legal, what is respectful, and we have a man who is scared to death, that is up in the middle of the night inciting violence, having a photo with a bat, because he's scared to death he's going to have to face this prosecution."

Watch the video below or at this link.

'Burn it to the ground': Kari Lake undeterred after Arizona ​Supreme Court smacks her down

Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake suffered a devastating blow after the state Supreme Court refused to take up her case challenging the results of her election last November, reported Newsweek on Thursday.

“Speaking at a rally organized by Turning Point Action, Charlie Kirk’s right-wing organization, Lake said: ‘They have built a house of cards in Maricopa County. I’m not just going to knock it over. I’m going to burn it to the ground,'” reported Giulia Carbonaro. “Lake shared a video of her speech, with a caption quoting her comments and a fire emoji.”

Lake is one of the only major statewide Republican candidates last year in a hotly contested race who has refused to concede her loss. She has alleged that her voters were illegally suppressed because of technical glitches with ballot tabulators in certain precincts of Maricopa County, the state’s largest population center, on Election Day.

In reality, there is no evidence of foul play, and Maricopa County election officials provided a backup method for affected ballots to be counted. Furthermore, one reason the glitch may have disproportionately affected Lake’s voters is Trump counseled voters not to mail in their ballots early, based on conspiracy theories — though Lake herself had done the opposite and asked her supporters to vote by mail.

READ MORE: Former Trump official: ‘Folks on both sides of the aisle want to see him arrested’

“Her challenge was thrown out by both Maricopa County Judge Peter Thompson and the Arizona Court of Appeals, which said Lake’s case lacked evidence that the hiccups in the county were intentionally caused by election officials to disenfranchise Lake’s supporters,” said the report. “Lake brought her case to the Arizona Supreme Court, which has declined to hear her case, but did send one of her claims back to a county judge for review. A superior court judge in Maricopa County is now reviewing Lake’s claim that the county did not follow signature verification procedures.”

On top of her litigation failures, Lake was referred to the Secretary of State’s office for investigation after she tweeted out images of what appeared to be real voter ballot signatures, which would be a violation of Arizona state law.

'This is a huge deal': Legal expert explains how judge finally nailed Trump

A legal expert explained why an appeals court ruling forcing Donald Trump's lawyer to turn over evidence is a "huge deal" for prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell directedTrump lawyer Evan Corcoran to produce documents in a case involving classified documents stored at Mar-a-Lago, and former federal prosecutor Andrew Weismann told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that was a damaging blow to the ex-president.

"The reporting is that Mr. Corcoran is going to say, 'It wasn't me, I wrote this, but I was told what to put in there by my client,' meaning Donald Trump," Weismann said. "You're absolutely right. This is a way of getting that direct evidence. How did that certification come about? Yes, it is very unusual for the prosecutors to seek this kind of order from the court. It is not something that has never happened, it happened during the special counsel [Robert] Mueller's investigation with the exact same judge, but it is unusual. In order to make this ruling, the judge has to find that it is likely that Donald Trump committed a crime. It's not necessary that the lawyer did, but at least the client did. The standard is likely. That's exactly what she wrote in the [Paul] Manafort case that I handled."

"So this is a huge deal," he added. "In terms of the case, this really could be the key evidence of obstruction. It also differentiates this case from what we know about the [Mike] Pence case and the [Joe] Biden case. There's absolutely no circumstance where we're thinking there is obstruction and false statements made. This could be a critical difference as to why the Department [of Justice] treats Donald Trump differently than the other two cases."

Private communications with GOP legislators read like 'Handmaid’s Tale' excerpts: report

A trove of leaked emails between South Dakota legislators and anti-trans lobbyists read like excerpts from "The Handmaid's Tale," according to a new report.

The communications between lobbyists, state Rep. Fred Deutsch and other South Dakota legislators use deeply religious language that shows Christian nationalists are pushing restrictions on LGBTQ rights as part of what they believe is a holy war, reported Vice News.

“Know that many have prayed and are praying for you this day," wrote Vernadette Broyles, a lawyer and president of the Georgia-based Children and Parental Rights Campaign in a 2020 email. "Do not back down, nor should you be afraid. Know that the Lord is with you. The children of South Dakota belong to him. He is jealous over them. Let his jealousies be spoken forth in the House of Representatives of South Dakota today so that his children would be made safe. Know you are HIS representative today. Do not be afraid. Stand firm in what is right."

The emails were shared with Vice by Elisa Rae Shupe, a trans woman who had de-transitioned and become an anti-trans advocate before re-transitioning and renouncing her ties to Christianity.

“I fell prey to the belief that if I did what they suggested that I would be cured of my gender dysphoria," Shupe said. "I was encouraged to confess my sins, ask for forgiveness by Jesus, and turn my plight over to the Lord Jesus Christ. I was also asked to accept that my transgender status was a sexually motivated sin and to cure myself by attending a religious 12-step program, which I did for approximately a year."

The messages are peppered with references to blessings, prayers and apocalyptic warfare.

“It is the language of Christian nationalism,” said Thomas Lecaque, an associate professor of history at Grand View University. “It is the language of people who very much believe they are doing God’s will, and it is the language of people who very much believe that they are engaged in a holy war.”

Lecaque said South Dakota Republicans, who've gotten three anti-trans bills signed into law by Gov. Kristi Noem, and GOP legislatures around the country are trying to eradicate the trans community while presenting themselves as underdogs.

“They are not trying to protect children," Lecaque said. "They are trying to murder the transgender community,”

“Stopping the existence of transgender people and the acceptance of trans people in the public sphere is to them some sort of religious imperative,” Lecaque added. “It’s particularly fascinating that this group that has all this money, control in state legislatures, control of the house, they had a presidency, is acting like somehow they are David in the struggle.”

Trump Media auditor and business partner go silent as Russia money laundering probe revealed

An auditor responsible for overseeing Trump Media's books is ducking calls seeking comment on a pair of loans totaling $8 million that have fallen under investigation as possible money laundering.

Top executives at Donald Trump's social media raised concerns about the loans from Paxum Bank and ES Family Trust, which both are linked to an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and it remains unclear whether the SEC-licensed broker-dealer who sourced the loans or auditor BF Borders completed any due diligence under anti-money laundering and “Know Your Customer” requirements, reported The Guardian.

"A person who picked up the phone at BF Borgers this week put a reporter seeking comment on hold until the line disconnected," the newspaper's Hugo Lowell reported. "On a subsequent call, the person said they would pass the request on to managing partner Ben Borgers."

The payments came as Trump Media, which owns the Trump Social platform, was running out of money in December 2021 and February 2022 as its planned merger with the blank check company DWAC was halted by an SEC investigation, and top executives at the fledgling tech company were so concerned about the origins of the loans they considered returning the money.

However, according to Trump Media co-founder turned whistleblower Will Wilkerson, chief financial officer Phillip Juhan ultimately decided not to return the money because giving up $8 million of the roughly $12 million of cash they had on hand would have put the company in a precarious position.

DWAC chief executive Patrick Orlando sourced the first loan, $2 million from Paxum Bank, just before Christmas 2021 and later charged a $240,000 finder’s fee to Trump Media, and he declined to provide requested information about the lender to company executives who voiced concerns.

Donald Trump Jr., who had taken a more actively role in the company since that summer, personally signed off on the loan Christmas Eve 2021 in a communication sent to outside counsel, but Juhan raised concerns again about the sources of the loans on March 8, 2022.

"Our auditors require confirmation statements signed by all noteholders," Juhan wrote in an email reviewed by The Guardian. "We don’t have a contact for ES Family Trust other than the name of Angel Pacheco (Trustee). Can you provide contact info (email) so that our auditor (BF Borgers) can email this confirmation? Thanks!”

It's unclear whether any further information or a signed version of the loan agreement were ever passed on to Juhan or the auditor, and the CFO and Orlando also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Trump allies hit DeSantis with Florida ethics complaint

Donald Trump's allies have slapped Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with an ethics complaint.

Make America Great Again Inc. will file a 15-page complaint Wednesday with the Florida Commission on Ethics formally accusing the Republican governor of violating state ethics and election laws with his “shadow presidential campaign," according to a draft obtained by NBC News.

"Certain activities related to Governor DeSantis’s ascension to the national stage, insofar as they are funded by a vast network of political committees, non-profit organizations, and prominent political operatives, are unlawful because they serve his personal political objectives, are in furtherance of his personal financial gain at the expense of Florida taxpayers, and are intended to influence his official decision to resign from office," the complaint states.

The complaint, which is addressed to ethics commission chairman Glenton Gilzean, a DeSantis appointee, claims DeSantis is "already a de facto candidate for president" but had intentionally delayed a formal announcement to get around restrictions in federal election laws.

"Governor DeSantis’s failure to declare his candidacy is no mere oversight; it is a coordinated effort specifically designed for him to accept, as unethical gifts, illegal campaign contributions and certain personal benefits that are necessarily intended to influence his official decision to resign from office under Florida’s resign to run law," the complaint alleges. "Governor DeSantis’s ham-handed maneuverings have rendered him irreparably conflicted and have left the statehouse vacant."

"Adding this to the list of frivolous and politically motivated attacks — it's inappropriate to use state ethics for partisan purposes," DeSantis' communications director Taryn Fenske told NBC News.

Florida law requires politicians running for a new office to resign if the terms of the two offices overlap, and DeSantis was re-elected last year to a second four-year term, although Republican state legislators have openly discussed changing it to allow the governor to run for president in 2024.

“This letter provides ample evidence to support a finding of probable cause by the Florida Commission on Ethics that Governor DeSantis, in concert with certain associated political committees, political consultants and a 501(c)(4) organization, has solicited and received millions of dollars' worth of illegal gifts in violation of Florida State ethics laws and the Florida Constitution,” the draft complaint reads.

Donald Trump Jr. personally approved sketchy loan now being probed as Russian money laundering

A pair of sketchy loans to Trump Media now under investigation for possible Russian money laundering were personally approved by Donald Trump Jr.

Federal prosecutors in New York are scrutinizing two loans totaling $8 million from two Kremlin-linked entities, and company officials set aside their own concerns about the origins of the money because Donald Trump's eldest son had confirmed to Trump Media's lawyers that the transaction should proceed, reported The Guardian.

“Just want to keep you in the loop — no guaranty that these will get signed and funded, but we remain hopeful,” wrote John Haley, outside counsel for Trump Media, in a Dec. 24, 2021, email reviewed by the newspaper.

“Thanks john much appreciated. d,” Trump Jr. replied.

Trump Jr. had joined the board of the company along with the former president's ally Kash Patel and former Rep. Devin Nunes, who served as the tech company's chief executive.

Trump Media co-founder Will Wilkerson first alerted federal prosecutors on Oct. 23, 2022, to the loans, which came from Paxum Bank and ES Family Trust, both of which were controlled by an individual named Anton Postolnikov, who appears to be a relation of Vladimir Putin ally Aleksandr Smirnov.

Wilkerson and Trump Media’s then-chief financial officer Phillip Juhan considered returning the money in spring 2022 due to their obscure origins but the company had only $12 million cash at hand at the time as it awaited approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission for a merger with the blank-check company Digital World.

Digital World's chief executive Patrick Orlando sourced the loan from Paxum Bank, which is known for providing services to the adult entertainment industry, in December 2021, and two months later an unexpected second $6 million payment showed up in Trump Media’s account from ES Family Trust.

Orlando, as an SEC-licensed broker-dealer, is obligated to comply with the SEC's “Know Your Customer” requirements to guard money laundering.

The former president was chairman of Trump Media at the time, but it's not clear whether he was aware of the origins of the loans, Wilkerson said, adding that he was not typically interested in managing day-to-day operations of the company bearing his name.

However, Trump was interested in the deal because he would receive 90 percent of the shares without putting any of his own money into the venture, although one source familiar with the matter said the ex-president did invest some money into Digital World, which would have allowed him to cash out twice if the merger went through.

Parallels between Trump Media loans and i​nfamous Trump Tower meeting drawn by reporter

Trump Media accepted two loans from a pair of Russia-linked entities as the fledgling tech company struggled to stay afloat, and a reporter revealed why investigators started probing the transactions as possible money laundering.

Federal prosecutors in New York have expanded a criminal inquiry of Donald Trump’s business venture last year and began probing the loans totaling $8 million Paxum Bank and ES Family Trust, both of which appear to be controlled by the relative of a Vladimir Putin ally, and The Guardian‘s Hugo Lowell explained his reporting on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“There was an existing criminal investigation into Trump Media, the parent company of Truth Social, that started last year,” Lowell said. “Then towards the end of last year, what happened was they got a tip and they started looking at basically two $8 million payment that came through at a time they were cash poor, because it happened late because of the SEC investigation they went and got bridge financing from first a bank, then in February 2022 they got a second loan of $6 million from two different companies. As it turned out, they’re pretty much one and the same company, and if you trace the beneficiaries back you get to the nephew of a Putin ally who was the first deputy justice minister in Russia and previously served in Putin’s executive office.”

“When you look at the whole thing,” he added, “difficult to know there’s going to be exposure here, but the optics of Trump coming out of the White House his first business venture is getting loans from conduits from offshore banks is not a great look.”

The loans raised concerns inside the company, but the startup was struggling financially while awaiting approval for its merger with the blank-check company Digital World at the time, and board member Donald Trump Jr. had personally approved acceptance of the funds.

“Some of the officers of the company saw the $2 million and the later $6 million, and saw that there had been no vetting, really no information about the people who were lending $8 million to Truth Social company, effectively. I mean, they had $12 million in cash, $8 million a significant portion of the stuff they had in their account. It’s funny you say, going back to the beginning in December, when the first $2 million was coming in, a lawyer e-mails Don Jr. to say, hey, this $2 million is coming in, no guarantee it’s going to get signed, are we going to proceed with this? Don Jr. goes, ‘Thanks, John, much appreciated — let’s go ahead with it.'”

“Some of the officers of the company saw the $2 million and the later $6 million, and saw that there had been no vetting, really no information about the people who were lending $8 million to Truth Social company, effectively. I mean, they had $12 million in cash, $8 million a significant portion of the stuff they had in their account. It’s funny you say, going back to the beginning in December, when the first $2 million was coming in, a lawyer e-mails Don Jr. to say, hey, this $2 million is coming in, no guarantee it’s going to get signed, are we going to proceed with this? Don Jr. goes, ‘Thanks, John, much appreciated — let’s go ahead with it.'”

Watch the video below

Trump Media under investigation for Russian money laundering: report

Federal prosecutors are investigating Donald Trump's social media company for possible money laundering involving Russians.

Trump Media, which owns the Truth Social platform, first came under investigation by federal authorities in New York over its potential merger with the blank-check company Digital World, and prosecutors started looking at two loans totaling $8 million wired through the Caribbean to Trump Media from two Kremlin-linked entities, reported The Guardian.

The first $2 million payment came when Trump Media was on the brink of collapse in December 2021, when the merger was delayed by a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry, but Digital World's chief executive Patrick Orlando got the loan wired from Paxum Bank registered in Dominica, according to financial records obtained by the newspaper.

"The wire transfer identified Paxum Bank as the beneficial owner, although the promissory note identified an entity called ES Family Trust as the lender," The Guardian reported. "Two months later, an unexpected second $6 million payment arrived in Trump Media’s account from ES Family Trust, the transfer receipt showed."

Orlando declined each time to provide details about the true identity of the lenders or the origin of the money, according to Trump Media co-founder-turned-whistleblower Will Wilkerson, and an individual named Angel Pacheco appears to have simultaneously been a trustee of ES Family Trust and a director of Paxum Bank.

"The Russian connection, as being examined by prosecutors in the US attorney’s office for the southern district of New York, centers on a part-owner of Paxum Bank – an individual named Anton Postolnikov, who appears to be a relation of Putin ally Aleksandr Smirnov," The Guardian reported.

Smirnov, who oversees the Russian maritime company Rosmorport, served in the Central Office of the Russian government until 2017 and was previously first deputy minister of justice of Russia until 2014, and he served in the executive office of the president for most of Vladimir Putin's first two terms.

A spokesman for the US attorney’s office for the southern district of New York declined to comment on the investigation, as did outside counsel for Trump Media and representatives for Rosmorport and Paxum Bank.

Ivermectin advocate dies from horrifying side effects — and followers report 'severe' symptoms

A Rhode Island man who promoted ivermectin died from a common side effect to the veterinary medicine, sparking concerns from his followers about their own reactions to the drug.

Danny Lemoi, of Foster, had been taking a daily dose of veterinary-grade ivermectin since 2012, after he was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and he said he quit all other medical treatments five years later because he believed the drug intended for large animals like cows and horses had "regenerated" his heart muscle, reported Vice News.

“Though it was obvious that Danny had the biggest heart, it was unbeknownst to him that his heart was quite literally overworking and overgrowing beyond its capacity, nearly doubled in size from what it should have been,” wrote the administrators on his Telegram channel. “We understand that this is going to raise questions for those who were following him.”

Ivermectin became a popular -- but ineffective -- alternative to COVID-19 treatments promoted by anti-vaccine advocates, and some of Lemoi's followers followed his dosage recommendations for themselves and children who have autism, Down syndrome and other conditions, and some of them reported alarming side effects after his March 3 death.

“I’m 4 months now and all hell’s breaking loose, all pain has hit my waist down with sciatic, shin splints, restless leg syndrome, tight sore calves & it feels like some pain in the bones,” a member wrote last week.

The conditions they reported matched numerous well-known side effects from ivermectin, which is used to treat parasitic worms like tapeworm in livestock, but the administrators pledged to continue Lemoi's Telegram channel while some followers cast doubt that his death was related to the drug.

“I am very new to this... I’ve been on Bimectin paste for 20 days,” said one follower, who also claimed to have Lyme disease. “I have severe chest pain. Costochondritis symptoms. Air hunger, internal tremors, brain fog, headaches on the back of my head, anxiety, depression, doom and gloominess.”

GOP insiders panic as Donald Trump calls Capitol rioters 'patriots'

The Republican base has made it all but impossible to move on from Donald Trump.

As much as many Republicans might want to move on from the twice-impeached ex-president, Fox News resuscitated conspiracy theories around Jan. 6 and Trump has been invited to testify before a New York grand jury, which could be the first but possibly not the last case where he could be indicted, and those developments have centered the 2024 campaign squarely around him, reported Politico.

"Ignore it, deflect it all you want," said Mike Noble, the chief of research and managing partner at the polling firm OH Predictive Insights. "This is, right now, going to be the Trump show … The oxygen is just going to be sucked out of the room focusing on Trump."

Trump's approval ratings are drooping and GOP voters say they're willing to back another candidate, but some of his would-be challengers -- Nikki Haley, Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo -- all served in his administration, and even Gov. Ron DeSantis has strong ties to him and is measured in comparison to the former president.

"It's going to be Trump, or it’s going to be the Trumpiest son-of-a-b*tch out there," said former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, who unsuccessfully challenged him in 2020. "That is what this base wants."

GOP strategists dread a rehashing of Jan. 6 on the 2024 campaign trail, but Tucker Carlson's broadcasts of selectively edited footage from the Capitol riot makes that difficult, and any Trump indictments would shine a spotlight on his alleged misdeeds -- and place him squarely in the center of any story.

Trump himself has added to this dynamic by promoting Carlson's work and hailing the jailed January 6th rioters as "patriots" whom he would pardon should he win a second term.

"The press likes him -- he's the story, he’s conflict," said longtime GOP strategist Beth Miller. "How do you not continue to write about him, since all of those issues are still at the forefront."

'Power rankings' of Trump criminal probes delivered by legal expert

Former President Donald Trump faces possible prosecution in at least four cases, and a legal expert assessed the peril he faces in those investigations.

New York prosecutors have indicated the former president will likely faces criminal charges for allegedly paying hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels, and MSNBC legal analyst Barbara McQuade told "Morning Joe" that's not the only investigation that could end in prosecution.

"I see four criminal cases that are lurking out there," McQuade said. "This is probably the least significant of them, but any felony is a serious charge, so I don't want to diminish it in any way. I think the likely prison sentence for this is relatively small but not insignificant because not only was it a falsification of a business record, it was done to achieve the presidency in 2016. Imagine if those facts came out shortly before the election in 2016. It would have amplified some of the things we heard in the 'Access Hollywood' tape, in his reputation about women, so I think it could have been a very damaging revelation if it had come out at that time, including with his base. That includes the religious right, information about an affair."

"The other three cases that are in the constellation, interfering with the election in Georgia with Fani Willis, very serious case because it undermines democracy, which I think is a more serious crime," McQuade continued. "Same with the federal case that is being investigated about theJan. 6 attack, and the Mar-a-Lago documents, you know, so blatantly and brazenly abusing the public trust that comes with safeguarding our nation's secrets. All four of these cases are serious, but I would rank it slightly behind those other three."

The most serious jeopardy that Trump faces would likely be the Department of Justice investigation into his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, which special counsel Jack Smith has been overseeing since Trump launched a re-election campaign.

"At the end of the day, the one that could be the most serious is the special counsel's investigation federally into Jan. 6," McQuade said. "It's likely to encompass more than Georgia. It'll include what Fani Willis is doing in Georgia. I rank it first only because she's said her charging decision there is imminent. We know from that grand jury and the grand jury foreperson who said so publicly, that they've recommended there be more than a dozen indictments. I include the likelihood of indictment there that puts it higher. I think if, ultimately, the special counsel Jack Smith were to charge Donald Trump relating to his activity for Jan. 6, that encompasses seven other states where he attempted to overturn the election results, the attack on the Capitol. that's the looming giant out there."

Regardless of what happens next, co-host Willie Geist said the situation appears grim for the twice-impeached ex-president.

"Probably not a good sign when legal experts have power rankings for the legal cases against you," Geist said. "Here we are in the case of Donald Trump."

Watch the video below or at this link

Arkansas Republicans 'outwitted' by local high school students: report

A group of quick-witted teenagers managed to insert their objections to an Arkansas education bill over the repeated attempts by a Republican legislator to shut down their arguments.

The state Senate ultimately approved Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' education bill, known as the LEARNS Act, which would implement school vouchers that opponents say would "usher in a new era of segregation" in Arkansas schools, and students from Little Rock Central High School found a way to speak out against the wishes of state Sen. Jane English, reported the Arkansas Times, which described the students' maneuvering as having successfully "outwitted" the legislator.

“I’m sorry, you just don’t get to talk on the bill," English told the students. "If you want to talk on this amendment, specifically things that are in this amendment, you’re free to do that, but you cannot speak on the bill.”

The students had missed two previous hearings on the measure that were held during school hours, and English told them the bill had already passed both chambers so they could only comment on a six-page amendment that had been sent back to the education committee for debate.

“I’d like to speak on the amendments, and how they do not go far enough to tear down and decimate this bill,” said student Ethan Walker, over repeated interruptions by English. “These petty little wording rearrangements don’t do anything to address how bad this bill actually is."

Another student, sophomore Rhone Kuta, worked around English's objections by referencing a specific line on a specific page, as the Republican chair repeatedly interrupted him.


"Where it deletes ‘and’ and substitutes ‘or,' the reasons I believe this amendment is bad is, this should actually say we are deleting the voucher program on section 63 because the voucher program absolutely reallocates resources from the working class Americans and Arkansans and reallocates it to the upper class," Kuta said.

He was able to work in criticism of a ban on teaching anti-racism content before English sent him back to his seat, and other students who followed managed to roll through English's objections by pointing to specific passages and calling for more sweeping amendments to the bill.

“The amendment that says page 90 line 3, delete ‘and’ and substitute ‘or,’ is insufficient because there’s nothing that amends the clause that is talking about having school choice policies that will make it so that students who are minority groups will be left in public schools while privileged students go to private schools," said senior Gryffyn May.

The adults who followed the students were given their full two minutes of public comment without much trouble from English, and Little Rock School Board member Ali Noland told the committee chair she had inadvertently given the teens a much larger platform by attempting to silence their criticism.

“By talking to them and cutting them off in this way, believe me, you are giving them much more of a platform than you would have if you had just listened to their criticism of the amendment in the first place," Noland said. "They showed up after school on their own time to tell you these amendments do not satisfy their concerns.”

Steve Bannon stiffs lawyers as legal woes mount

Steve Bannon has been stiffing his lawyers who represented him in a series of criminal cases.

The former White House chief strategist is trying to find new attorneys to defend him against money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud after refusing to pay the lawyers who represented him against contempt of Congress charges, three sources told The Daily Beast.

“I don’t have any reason to believe he doesn’t have money,” said one associate.

The sources told the website that Bannon owes "significant" amounts of money to attorneys E. Even Corcoran and Robert Costello, who spent months wrangling with the Department of Justice in 2021 and 2022 before Bannon's conviction for contempt.

Bannon at one point last summer owed Costello more than $100,000, according to one source with direct knowledge of the situation, and he still owes the former federal prosecutor quite a bit, according to the two other sources.

Costello has defended Bannon for years in cases involving his GoFundMe campaign called "We Build the Wall" and his involvement in the U.S. Capitol attack, and he helped the right-wing podcaster secure a pardon from Donald Trump, and federal prosecutors seized his emails and phone logs in the Jan. 6 case.

Bannon has appealed his conviction in the Jan. 6 obstruction case, and U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols noted at his sentencing in November the appeal might likely result in a reversal or new trial, so the sources are baffled that he hasn't paid the attorneys who have shepherded him through the case.

“The tragedy here is the judge said he expects it to be reversed on appeal," one source said. "Highly unusual."

David Schoen, who represented Trump at his second impeachment trial, filed his appeal on Nov. 12 and appears to be the only attorney working on that, but it hasn't moved forward since that initial filing -- although he tells The Daily Beast that he's been paid for his work.

“I can tell you unequivocally that I have been paid and the withdrawal motion has nothing to do with that, nor is it a delay tactic,” Schoen said.

'We’re on the point of attack': Steve Bannon fanned the flames of insurrection — will he be stopped?

'We’re on the point of attack': Steve Bannon fanned the flames of insurrection — will he be stopped?Steve Bannon // Credit: Gage Skidmore

Another Santos? Cracks found in newly elected GOP lawmaker's backstory

Another newly elected Republican House member has had doubt cast on her backstory after a deeply-reported Washington Post profile found several discrepancies.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) has described herself as a Hispanic conservative who grew up poor, survived a home invasion and lost her grandmother to HIV/AIDS due to heroin use. But those details have come as a surprise to family members and friends who knew her before she entered politics about five years ago, reported the Washington Post.

“She had everything, what she needed and more,” said her aunt Jolanta Mayerhofer, "and not only did [her mother] Monica provide for her, but my father-in-law did, too.”

Luna grew up in Los Angeles and joined the U.S. Air Force in 2009, at age 19, the Post reported. Friends who knew her then, when she used her given last name of Mayerhofer, say she described herself variously as Middle Eastern, Jewish or Eastern European and supported then-president Barack Obama. She was a registered Democrat as recently as August 2017.

“She would really change who she was based on what fit the situation best at the time,” former roommate Brittany Brooks, who lived with Luna for six months and was a close friend during her military service, said in the report.

Luna graduated from the University of West Florida in 2017 with a degree in biology following a six-year stint in the Air Force, where she met her husband Andrew Gamberzky. After leaving the military she works as a model, a cocktail waitress at a gentleman’s club and an Instagram influencer.

She was ushered into politics by Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk after making online statements about human trafficking and the Second Amendment, and she was named that conservative group's director of Hispanic engagement. She ran unsuccessfully for Congress against Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) in 2020.

Luna started publicly embracing her Hispanic heritage around that time, and she changed her last name to Luna at age 29, the same year she updated her ethnicity on voter registration records to Hispanic after identifying herself as "White, not of Hispanic origin" in 2015, the Post reported.

Her mother Monica Luna disputed to the Post that her daughter had only recently identified her Mexican ancestry, although she herself only recently took steps to make her own mother's family name part of hers.

“Anna has never not identified as being Hispanic as far as I know,” she wrote in an email, adding that Luna’s father spoke Spanish around her when she was a child. “Anna can check both boxes. She’s bicultural and biracial. It’s not easy to figure out what box to choose.”

Luna's campaign website claims her father was incarcerated off and on throughout her childhood, but the Post was unable to find any public records of felony charges or prison sentences for George Mayerhofer in California, where she lived in those years. Monica Luna and Jolanta Mayerhofer told the newspaper that he was jailed several times for failure to pay child support.

Monica Luna said Mayerhofer, who she never married, served at least a year on a drug-related charge in Orange County, but corrections officials say they have no record of that.

Luna has claimed her father raised her as a Messianic Jew, which her mother corroborated, but her extended family say Mayerhofer was Catholic and they had no recollection of him practicing any form of Judaism.

Her paternal grandfather, Heinrich Mayerhofer, emigrated in 1954 to Canada from Germany, where he served in the Nazi Army as a teenager, though relatives told the Post he had no choice and did not harbor antisemitic views.

“It hurt for him to talk about it,” Jolanta Mayerhofer, who was married to one his sons, told the Post. “He said, ‘You getting the letter, you need to show up, otherwise your life is over. … He did not like it, but that’s what life was.”

'Wild' GOP government weaponization hearings will be loaded with Fox News contributors

House Republicans will hold their first hearing on the alleged "weaponization" of the federal government against conservatives, and Fox News viewers will recognize plenty of familiar themes and face

Two current Fox News contributors, former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former FBI agent Nicole Parker, will testify Thursday at the House subcommittee hearing, along with GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson, constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley and former FBI official Thomas Baker, reported Politico.

“They have very specific stories to tell. We’ll see what they say," said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), "but this hearing was needed, outside of all of the politicization."

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) will chair the subcommittee, which includes Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA), to investigate alleged unfair targeting of conservatives by the Justice Department and other federal agencies, and their work will run parallel to investigations by the Judiciary Committee, Oversight Committee and other panels, and their findings will likely get widespread airing on conservative media outlets.

"[Johnson will discuss] coordination between government agencies, Democrat members of Congress, and the liberal media to suppress and censor the truth," said a spokesperson for the Wisconsin senator.

Democrats selected Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and CNN contributor Elliott Williams, a former Justice Department official under Barack Obama, to give statements but not face questioning, and a House Democratic aide said Raskin was selected to be “a calm and sober voice on what will be a wild first panel.”

“He’s going to talk about the threats to our democracy posed by this select committee and why weaponizing congressional oversight against your political opponents is so dangerous,” the aide said.

Burn bags and personal email: Justices’ security practices were even worse than leak investigation revealed

Supreme Court employees raised security concerns that were not made public when an internal investigation was completed following the leak of a draft opinion reversing abortion rights.

Multiple sources familiar with the court’s operations told CNN that justices often used personal email accounts for sensitive communications, employees used printers that didn’t produce logs and “burn bags” to collect sensitive materials for destruction were often left open and unattended in hallways.

"This has been going on for years,” one former employee said.

Some justices were slow to adopt email technology — they were “not masters of information security protocol,” according to one source — and court employees were afraid to confront them over the security risks.

Supreme Court marshal Gail Curley in her investigative report noted that printer logs intended to track document production were insufficient, but a former employee said employees who had VPN access could print documents from any computer, and remote work during COVID-19 shutdowns and otherwise meant draft opinions could have been taken from the building in violation of court guidelines.

Curley’s report noted that court methods for destroying sensitive documents should be improved, but three employees said striped burn bags supplied to chambers were often left sitting out unattended, and each justice had their own protocols for disposing of court documents.

A source familiar with court security practices said some colleagues stapled burn bags shut, while others filled them to capacity and left them near their desks, and others simply left them sitting in hallways where anyone with access to non-public areas could have taken sensitive materials.

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