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

A judge blocked Tennessee GOP-backed legislation restricting drag shows, just moments before it was set to officially become law, Rolling Stone reports.

Per CBS News, Judge Thomas L. Parker made his decision after Friends of George's, a Memphis LGBTQ+ theater company, "filed a federal lawsuit earlier this week against Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy and the state."

Mark Campbell, who is President of the Board of Directors for Friend's of George's, said in a press release, "We won because this is a bad law. We look forward to our day in court where the rights for all Tennesseans will be affirmed."

READ MORE: 'The worst anti-trans bill I have ever seen': GOP-led state houses are ramping up efforts to gut LGBTQ+ rights

According to Rolling Stone, Parker wrote, "If Tennessee wishes to exercise its police power in restricting speech it considers obscene, it must do so within the constraints and framework of the United States Constitution. The Court finds that, as it stands, the record here suggests that when the legislature passed this Statute, it missed the mark."

The judge, CBS reports, was referring to the GOP lawmakers' failure to offer "a compelling argument as to why Tennessee needed the new law, adding that the court also agrees the statute is likely vague and overly broad."

Friends of George's complaint argued, "The law prohibits a drag performer wearing a crop top and mini skirt from dancing where minors might see it, but does not prohibit a Tennessee Titans cheerleader wearing an identical outfit from performing the exact same dance in front of children."

Shelby County district attorney, Steven Mulroy, told The Associated Press, "There has been much concern and confusion about the law from the community. This will allow the court to clarify the scope, application, and constitutionality of the statute. It's important to understand the scope of this law so that it doesn't have a harmful effect on constitutionally protected expression."

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

Rolling Stone reports:

There are currently multiple bills [in Tennessee] targeting trans healthcare, including one that is attempting to make it illegal to change one's sex on official documents like birth certificates and driver's licenses.

READ MORE: GOP Gov. Bill Lee’s hypocrisy called out in full-page newspaper ad of him dressed in drag

Rolling Stone's full report is available at this link (subscription required). CBS News' report is here.

Trump supporter convicted of election interference after 2016 plot to trick Hillary Clinton voters

A social media influencer was convicted Friday in connection with a plot to undermine Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the Department of Justice said.

Douglass Mackey, also known as “Ricky Vaughn,” was convicted of conspiracy against rights for a “scheme to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote,” the agency said.

Mackey faces up to 10 years in prison.

“Mackey has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of attempting to deprive individuals from exercising their sacred right to vote for the candidate of their choice in the 2016 Presidential Election,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a news release.

“Today’s verdict proves that the defendant’s fraudulent actions crossed a line into criminality and flatly rejects his cynical attempt to use the constitutional right of free speech as a shield for his scheme to subvert the ballot box and suppress the vote.”

Mackey amassed some 58,000 Twitter followers and was ranked as the 107th most important influencer ahead of the presidential election in February, 2016, by the MIT Media Lab.

Prosecutors alleged that Mackey in the months leading up to the 2016 election conspired with other influential Twitter users, among others, to spread disinformation encouraging Clinton supporters to cast invalid votes via text message or social media, the DOJ said.

In the days leading up to the election, Mackey sent tweets suggesting the importance of limiting “black turnout,” tweeting an image depicting an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for Hillary” sign.

The ad stated: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925,” and “Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.”

The fine print at the bottom of the deceptive image stated: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by Hillary For President 2016.”

The tweet included the “#ImWithHer” hashtag.

At least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted “Hillary” or some variant of the 59925 text number, which had been used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by Mackey and his co-conspirators.

GOP bill to gerrymander Arizona’s biggest county flops for now

Arizona's Senate has rejected a GOP effort to carve up the state's largest county in a desperate bid to cling to power, but even though one-quarter of Republican lawmakers voted against it, the plan is not dead. The bill's chief sponsor says he intends to bring it up again next year, and could win more support the next time around.

Earlier this year, GOP lawmakers introduced legislation that would divide Maricopa County, which contains three-fifths of the state's population and most of the Phoenix metro area, into four separate counties. The right-wing hardliners who backed the measure claimed they're motivated by a desire to improve local government, but the proposal would almost certainly dilute the political power of the Phoenix area’s growing Latino and Black populations while advantaging white Republicans. The scheme harkens back to the Jim Crow era, when white supremacists redrew county lines across the South to undermine Black voting power.

While both Arizona at large and Maricopa in particular had long been Republican strongholds, both jurisdictions flipped to Joe Biden in 2020 and began voting Democratic for Senate and governor for the first time in many years. That same year, Republicans narrowly preserved their 4-1 majority on the county's Board of Supervisors despite Biden's win, but GOP county leaders have since strongly resisted Donald Trump's election denial schemes and in doing so enraged their party's MAGA wing. Thanks to this internal Republican split and Maricopa's blue trend, Democrats have a real chance to flip the board in 2024 and take charge of this county of 4.4 million people, which is the nation's fourth largest.

Given the rampant election denialism by the measure's backers—the lead Senate sponsor, Jake Hoffman, was even on Trump’s fraudulent "alternative" Electoral College slate that tried to steal the election from Biden—it's hard not to see this plan as motivated squarely by partisanship, if not race, too.

While the bill's shoddy description of the proposed redraw leaves some ambiguity, an approximate version is shown at the top of this post. The redrawn map would shrink Maricopa County down to roughly 40% of its current population and carve out three new counties from the remainder. However, more than 80% of Maricopa's current Latino and Black populations would remain in the shrunken county, turning it from 53% white to 65% people of color. The three newly created counties, by contrast, would each range from about 60 to 70% white.

Those wide racial disparities would unsurprisingly yield similar partisan gaps as shown on the map below (click here to enlarge). While Biden won Maricopa County 50-48, packing voters of color into the proposed shrunken county would have yielded a 64-35 victory for the president according to data from Dave's Redistricting App. As a result, each of the three new counties would have gone for Trump, with "Hohokam" and "Mogollon" giving him 53-54% and "O'odham" 58%.

Since presidential voting patterns correlate closely with how votes are cast further down the ballot, Republicans would very likely retain local control of the three new counties. Democrats, meanwhile, would be left with a rump county less than two-fifths of its present size, when they might soon govern the entirety of it if the proposal doesn't become law. The GOP plan, in short, is a partisan gerrymander.

While Maricopa is one of the country's largest counties and steadily growing, there are nonetheless good reasons to leave it undivided. The existing borders largely correspond to the boundaries of the city Phoenix and the vast majority of its burgeoning suburbs, making it easier for officials to coordinate on key policies affecting the whole region. (A terrific counterexample is the similarly sized Atlanta metro area, which covers 29 counties—a balkanization directly responsible for the region's brutal traffic congestion.)

If Republicans were sincere in their aims, they could instead propose moving Maricopa's rural areas into their own counties or adjacent existing ones. Instead, their redraw would divide numerous suburbs from each other and even split the city of Phoenix nearly in half between two new counties.

Although Hoffman and other GOP proponents argue that splitting the county makes better sense for allocating water usage and furthers small-government goals, local Republican officials steadfastly dispute that. In data provided to legislators when a similar bill was debated last year, Maricopa estimated that funding the new governments of the three additional counties would cost $155 million annually and require tax increases to fund newly created court systems, jails, and other facilities.

While opponents can celebrate for the moment, given the Republican Party's descent into election denialism nationally and in Arizona in particular, proposals like this one—which discriminate against voters of color and target Democrats—are likely to keep gaining traction on the right. Even though Hoffman and his allies have failed this time, they may succeed in the years to come as Arizona's growing diversity overtakes a once-dominant conservative white majority.

'We aren't planning to pay': News organizations refuse to purchase Twitter verification at Musk's demand

Major news outlets are declining to pay for the once sought-after blue checkmark on Twitter, CNN reports.

Once "a way to tell real accounts from fake one," Mashable reports, since Elon Musk became Chief Executive Officer, the checkmark — which used to be free — has turned into "a status symbol, which users can get if they opt for the $8 per month Twitter Blue subscription."

Per CNN, the platform will start "removing legacy verified checkmarks" on April 1, as "Musk has aimed to charge organizations that want to retain a checkmark adjacent to their account name $1,000 a month, plus an additional $50 a month for each affiliated account."

READ MORE: Elon Musk’s 'blundering stupidity' is 'flushing Twitter down the sink': major tech news site

According to CNN, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, POLITICO, and Vox rejected "the notion on Thursday that they would pay Twitter for the feature."

Sara Yasin, managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, said, "Some of you may be wondering whether or not the L.A. Times will pay for Twitter Blue subscriptions, and the answer right now is no, for several reasons: First of all, verification no longer establishes authority or credibility, instead it will only mean that someone has paid for a Twitter Blue subscription."

Per CNN, Karolina Waclawiak, editor in chief of BuzzFeed News said, "As an organization, we will not cover fees for individuals to keep their blue checkmarks moving forward," while Danielle Belton, editor in chief of HuffPost, told staffers of both publications, "There are several reasons for this, but one outweighs them all: a blue checkmark no longer means the handle is 'verified.'"

A spokesperson for the New York Times said, "We aren't planning to pay the monthly fee for check mark status for our institutional Twitter accounts. We also will not reimburse reporters for Twitter Blue for personal accounts, except in rare instances where this status would be essential for reporting purposes."

READ MORE: 'Radical change' hits Twitter as value drops more than $20 billion under Elon Musk's leadership

Additionally, CNN confirmed the organization will not pay for verification.

Athan Stephanopoulos, CNN's chief digital officer, wrote to staff, "As of right now, we do not plan to pay for Twitter Blue subscriptions for either our brand or individual accounts, except for a small number of select teams who need this verification as an essential part of newsgathering and reporting."

READ MORE: 'Direct threat to action': How climate misinformation plagues Twitter under Elon Musk's leadership

CNN's full report is available at this link. Mashable's report is here (subscription required).

Audio tape of Trump is devastating for his case and supports Michael Cohen: former prosecutor

Now that former President Donald Trump is being charged in New York in connection to a $130,000 hush payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, much of the case will rest on testimony from Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen — and Trump's defense will likely try to discredit him, arguing he's unreliable because he served time for lying to Congress.

But one cold, hard piece of evidence could still back Cohen up, argued former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann on MSNBC Friday: a tape recording of Trump talking to Cohen about the payments, during which Trump suggested they "pay with cash."

"I mean, I watched enough mob movies to know that innocent people don't say, quote, 'pay with cash,'" said anchor Nicolle Wallace. "What are we entering into if this goes to trial, as Trump said he plans for it to?"

"This is one where, obviously, Michael Cohen is a difficult witness," said Weissmann. "He is not your ideal government witness for a host of reasons, including the fact he's still talking, and that differentiates him from anybody I've ever dealt with as a cooperating witness. That being said, these are really experienced state prosecutors. They've been in this territory, this is their bread and butter doing these kinds of cases. This particular case, not that complicated."

"So this case is going to be — I think it was mentioned, it's really going to be made on documents, and that tape recording is one where there are a number of ways that it could be used," said Weissmann. "Not just for the fact that you have Trump on tape saying pay in cash if it was legit, you would be like, I'll wire the money or send a check. It makes no sense. The fact that Michael Cohen was taping it shows that Michael Cohen is not going to tape record it as somebody who is going to say, what are you talking about? I don't know anything about this, what are you doing? That's not what you hear. What you hear is, wait a second, pay in cash. The very fact of the tape recording is something that the D.A.'s office knows to use very well to corroborate Michael Cohen."

"And then just one small caveat, which is that Donald Trump has not had his day in court in a criminal case, so it's true that there has been no refutation by Donald Trump," Weissmann added. "We have a lot of adjectives, we have a lot of adverbs, we have a lot of epithets about the D.A. and the case, but that's not an argument. That is not a fact. That is not any legal argument that's been made. But he will have a place where he can do that ... and I do think one of the things the media gets wrong is to just cover adjectives and adverbs as if it's anything. It's literally nothing more than the paper it's printed on."

Watch the video at this link.

Andrew Weissmann says Michael Cohen tape is damning for

Dominion wins 'blockbuster victories' against Fox News as last legal issue will be decided by a jury

Dominion Voting Systems won what are being called “blockbuster victories” Friday afternoon when a judge ruled the company suing Fox News for $1.6 billion in a major defamation lawsuit had met its burden of proof that Rupert Murdoch‘s far-right wing cable channel had repeatedly made false statements.

The final, and likely greatest legal issue Dominion will have to prove will be actual malice. That issue will be decided in a jury trial, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis ruled Friday, according to Law & Crime.

Unlike previous cases, Fox News will reportedly not be able to argue the on-air statements its personalities made were opinion.

CNN legal analyst and Brookings senior fellow Norm Eisen calls Friday’s decision a “huge win for Dominion on their summary judgment motion against Fox News.”

READ MORE: Capitol Police Issue Warning Over Possible Trump Protests ‘Across the Country’

“Dominion won partial summary judgement that what Fox said about them was false! Now they just have to prove actual malice and damages,” Eisen says. “Meanwhile Fox’s motion was totally denied.”

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, an MSNBC contributor adds: “Dominion’s evidence Fox made false statements with reckless disregard is as strong as any I’ve seen.”

The judge was very clear in his ruling.

“While the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to Fox, the record does not show a genuine issue of material fact as to falsity,” Judge Davis wrote. “Through its extensive proof, Dominion has met its burden of showing there is no genuine issue of material fact as to falsity. Fox therefore had the burden to show an issue of material fact existed in turn. Fox failed to meet its burden.”

READ MORE: ‘Propaganda Network’: Media Reporter Says Dominion Filing Exposes Fox News as ‘Void of the Most Basic Journalistic Ethics’

Attorney and MSNBC host and legal analyst Katie Phang points to this key passage in Judge Davis’ ruling.

Court watchers and news junkies are familiar at this point with the massive legal filings Dominion has made in which it exposed how Fox News knowingly made false statements regarding the 2020 presidential election. Those filings, each hundreds of pages, also detail internal Fox News communications and bombshell conversations between the company’s top personalities, executives, and even Chairman Rupert Murdoch.

'Danger to our democracy': Schiff warns GOP could use control of Congress to protest Trump indictment

Republicans could threaten democracy by using their power in Congress to protest the indictment of former President Donald Trump, a prominent Democratic lawmaker warned Friday.

And Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Ca.) wasn’t speaking in theoretical terms when he described the threat Republicans pose to the rule of law by gumming up the works.

“Jim Jordan acted like he was Donald Trump’s defense lawyer. Now they're in the majority,” Schiff said Friday in an interview with The Daily Beast. “They didn’t have the power of the speakership before. Now they do. That adds a new danger to our democracy and the rule of law.”

Schiff, who chaired the House Intelligence Committee for four years while the House was under Democratic party control, was removed from the leadership post on the committee by Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this year in apparent retaliation for his role as a vocal Trump critic.

He expressed dismay by how much damage the Trump era has done to democratic institutions.

“In the early Trump years, there was initially some expression of support for the rule of law, some outrage at his immorality and indecency, his violence and vitriol, his lawlessness,” Schiff said.

“Year after year that would give way, to the point where they’re rushing to defend someone accused of making hush money payments to a porn star.”

Schiff pointed to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ comments Thursday in which he said his state wouldn’t cooperate with authorities in extraditing Trump as an example of the change he’s seen.

“The [George] Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct,” DeSantis tweeted. “Yet, now he is stretching the law to target a political opponent.”

Said Schiff: “It’s not enough to try to interfere with justice,” he said. “The antipathy toward the rule of law, that’s not even enough. They have to drag the repeated reference of George Soros into it and add that nice anti-semitic cast onto it.”

“Trump is not wrong,” Schiff said, “when he said he made Ron DeSantis.”

Capitol police issue warning over possible Trump indictment protests

The U.S. Capitol Police and the Senate Sergeant at Arms on Friday jointly issued a statement warning they “anticipate” Trump protests across the country. The statement is not time-specific, and it states it has no information on “credible threats,” but some Democratic offices are allowing staffers to work from home Friday and Tuesday.

“The Sergeant at Arms and United States Capitol Police (USCP) anticipate demonstration activity across the country related to the indictment of former President Trump. While law enforcement is not tracking any specific, credible threats against the Capitol or state offices, there is potential for demonstration activity. USCP is working with law enforcement partners, so you may observe a greater law enforcement presence on Capitol Hill,” the statement reads.

“The SAA and USCP are monitoring the potential nationwide impacts to Senate state offices,” it adds.

The House Sergeant at Arms was conspicuously absent from the statement. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has control over that office.

READ MORE: Trump Trial Could Go Well Into the 2024 Election – Or Possibly Even Past It: Former Prosecutor

Additionally, Axios is reporting, “several House Democrats are allowing staffers to work from home as a safety precaution,” noting that “the memory of Trump supporters ransacking the Capitol on Jan. 6 is still fresh on the mind.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is allowing staff to work from home for safety reasons. She told Axios, “I don’t ever want to see a Jan. 6 again.”

“I’ve been in the Trump hate tunnel, Donald Trump has gone after me, and quite frankly I don’t have security. I don’t have entourages.”

She’s not the only Democrat to raise concerns.

“Much of the language from the former President and his devotees is similar to what inspired Jan. 6th,” U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips said. “I’m concerned about safety for my colleagues and my staff.”

READ MORE: ‘Lighting the Match’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Blasted for Off the Rails Rant Defending Trump

Meanwhile, House Republicans are issuing full-throated support for Trump and calling for protests.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was called out by name in a six-page letter Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg sent to Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan Friday morning, announced she will be in New York on Tuesday to support Trump when he is arraigned. She has posted several tweets since Trump was indicted.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy issued a statement Thursday seemingly designed to gin up rage and action in the MAGA base.

“Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election. As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump. The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”

'Hunter derangement syndrome': Twitter mocks Jim Jordan for his deep concern over Hunter Biden art sales

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is questioning whether Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg has taken time away from probing former President Donald Trump to investigate Hunter Biden's art sales.

Jordan tweeted Friday, "Is Alvin Bragg looking into Hunter Biden's art sales and business records in New York City?"

USA Today reports:

Republicans are investigating Hunter Biden's art sales as part of wide-ranging inquiries into his business dealings and bank records. Rep. James Comer, the Oversight chairman, questioned whether Hunter Biden was peddling influence to foreign adversaries by using high-value art to evade U.S. sanctions, with prices on his work initially listed at up to $500,000 and now ranging from $55,000 to $225,000 apiece.

READ MORE: How MAGA Republicans’ Hunter Biden obsession underscores a 'deep psychological need': ex-Reagan speechwriter

New York gallery owner, Georges Berges, according to USA Today has "defended Hunter Biden and predicted he would be 'one of the most consequential artists in this century.'"

Regarding the congressman's spearheading of the Biden probe, Slate reports:

Jordan and other Republicans are not obsessed with Hunter Biden because they believe humbly in the ideals of ethical government. Instead, they are taking cues from Donald Trump, who for several years has fixated on a number of fantastical and never-proven accusations that Hunter and Joe Biden are engaged in 'deep state' corruption together.

Twitter users offered some answers to Jordan's questions — none of which he was likely expecting.

Ron Filipkowski: "Hunter Derangement Syndrome"

READ MORE: Hunter Biden fights back

@MuellerSheWrote: "Did he sell his art to pay off a porn actress for her silence while running for president? Then probs not."

colton dunn: "Ah. The unbeatable 'look over there' defense."

Bill Ingram: "Why are you asking us??"

@JoJoFromJerz: "Nope. Probably because he only looks at ACTUAL crimes, Gym."

@Rob0hlson: "Is Jim Jordan actually doing anything for the people of Ohio or just complaining on Twitter?"

READ MORE: 'Paranoia and distortion': Chef's recipe of House GOP inquiries

@RubenFromDeep: "No. Too busy with all Trump's crimes"

Bob McIntyre: "Jim, That's rich. You, of all people, saying things should be looked into"

Pete Souza: "Only if a there's evidence he committed a crime and a grand jury votes to indict him. It's called the rule of law. We know Trump committed crime(s) since the Feds said he did when they indicted and jailed Cohen. And a grand jury just agreed."

@StevePasquale: "Violent coup plotter has something he'd like to say."

@PiperDewn: "when you've got nothing, you get this"

READ MORE: 'They may dig their own grave': Conservative explains how 'wacky investigations' could doom House GOP in 2023

USA Today's full report is available at this link (subscription required). Slate's report is here.

Unequal justice: The Supreme Court is set to reject President Joe Biden’s student debt relief plan

If the U.S. Supreme Court winds up overturning President Joe Biden’s student debt-relief plan, it will likely do so by invoking a once-obscure legal theory called “the major questions” doctrine. The theory asserts that administrative actions that affect issues of great social importance are invalid unless they are expressly and precisely authorized by Congress.

Like the doctrine of “qualified immunity” that the court often uses to shield police officers from liability in federal civil rights lawsuits, the major questions doctrine is a made-up theory created by the court itself. It is nowhere to be found in the text of either the Constitution or in any federal statute.

The doctrine first appeared in Supreme Court decisions in the 1990s, but has been expanded by the court under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts as a cudgel against progressive initiatives undertaken by federal regulatory agencies. In 2021, the Roberts court invoked the doctrine to strike down the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on residential evictions. Last year, it used the same defense to quash the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers; and the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to impose an industry-wide carbon-emission cap on power plants.

Biden announced his student debt plan on August 24, delivering on a promise he made during the 2020 presidential campaign. The plan directs the Department of Education to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student debt for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers are eligible if their individual income is less than $125,000, or $250,000 for married couples.

The plan was necessary, according to the White House “fact sheet” that accompanied the President’s announcement, to help alleviate the economic harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Biden’s proposal is far less ambitious than the plans offered during the 2020 campaign by Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, it would bring immediate relief to American students and graduates, many of whom are drowning in debt. According to the Education Data Initiative, 43.5 million student borrowers owe a staggering $1.75 trillion in outstanding loans. Approximately $1.6 trillion of that amount consists of loans issued by the federal government through the Department of Education, with the remainder coming from private sources. An estimated 43.5 million borrowers have federal student loan debt, with an average balance of $37,574.

On February 28, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases challenging the debt plan. The first, Biden v. Nebraska, was brought by six states with Republican governors and attorneys general. The second, Department of Education v. Brown, was initiated by two student loan borrowers who claim the plan doesn’t go far enough. The students’ case has been funded byThe Job Creators Network, a conservative advocacy group established by Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus.

The two cases present identical legal questions, procedurally and substantively. On the procedural side, the issue is whether any of the challengers have “standing” to sue the Administration. Standing refers to the capacity of a party to bring a lawsuit. To establish standing, a party must demonstrate that they have suffered actual harm as a result of a challenged government action.

During the oralarguments conducted in both cases, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, representing the Administration, asserted that neither the states nor the student borrowers can show they have been injured by the debt-relief program. The students, she argued, would receive no benefits at all if the plan is invalidated. The states, she contended, lacked standing because they could not show a loss of revenue from the proposal.

Although it is sometimes difficult to predict final outcomes from the tenor of oral arguments, it seems a safe bet that the court’s Republican majority will let the state case proceed, even if they opt to dismiss the student case for lack of standing.

On the merits, it appears all but certain that the majority will invalidate the plan under the major questions doctrine. Prelogar argued that the HEROES Act of 2003—a law passed after the September 11 attacks that empowers the Secretary of Education to “modify” student-loan programs in response to a “national emergency”—authorizes the Department of Education to forgive student debt in response to the emergency created by COVID-19.

The Republican justices, however, were quick to counter. Congress “could have . . . referred to loan cancellation [in the HEROES Act] but those [words] are not in the statutory text,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh interjected in a rejoinder to Prelogar in the states’ case, implying that the Administration had overstepped its authority with Biden’s plan.

Amplifying Kavanaugh’s concerns, Justice Clarence Thomas added, “this is a grant of $400 billion, and it runs headlong into” Article I of the U.S. Constitution, which stipulates that only Congress can appropriate money.

As the argument in the states’ case proceeded, it became clear that what really rankled the court’s conservatives was not the way the plan was drafted, but its generosity. “We’re talking about half a trillion dollars and forty-three million Americans,” Chief Justice Roberts remarked at one point, seemingly aghast at the cumulative price tag.

Roberts’ reservations, however, paled in comparison to those voiced by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who characterized the plan as fundamentally unfair to “to people who have paid their loans, people . . . who have planned their lives around not seeking loans and people who are not eligible for loans in the first place and that a half a trillion dollars is being diverted to one group of favored persons over others.”

Much the same could be said of nearly every emergency declaration issued by the federal government. Lines are drawn; some people are singled out for relief while others are not. If fairness is our guide, the remedy in such situations is to assist all in need, not to withdraw assistance for everyone.

Student debt relief, whatever the shortcomings of the Biden plan, enjoys broad popular support, especially among minority populations who are often hit hardest by the burdens of debt. In the meantime, the Supreme Court’s popular approval ratings continue to plummet, and for good reason.

Why Trump’s legal exposure makes the John Edwards scandal pale in comparison

On June 3, 2011, the Democratic Party suffered a major scandal when a grand jury indicted former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina on six federal criminal charges. Edwards had been 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's running mate, and right-wing media outlets like Fox News were quick to hype the fact that someone who was facing those charges could have become vice president.

Outlets that are more sympathetic to Democrats, including MSNBC, extensively reported on Edwards' legal problems as well — but without Fox News' hysterical tone.

The charges against Edwards were serious; he could have spent 30 years in federal prison if convicted on all counts. But a decade later, a former president — Donald Trump — is potentially facing a lot more legal exposure.

READ MORE:Former Watergate prosecutor breaks down why Trump is 'more dangerous than Nixon' — and an 'existential threat to democracy'

On Thursday, March 30, 2023, Trump became the first former president in United States history to be indicated by a federal grand jury. The indictment was sealed, but the following day, CNN reported that Trump, according to sources, was facing "more than 30 counts related to business fraud." The prosecutor overseeing that case is Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr. who has been investigating hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016.

Simultaneously, Trump is facing separate criminal investigations that include two by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and special counsel Jack Smith and one by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis.

The six federal charges that Edwards faced in 2011 and 2012 included a conspiracy charge, a charge of making false statements and four counts of illegal campaign contributions. On May 31, 2012, CNN reported that if Edwards were found guilty on all six counts, he could have received a 30-year prison sentence and a $1.5 million fine.

According to federal prosecutors, Edwards violated campaign laws in order to cover up an extramarital affair. The ex-senator's wife Elizabeth Edwards, who died in 2010, was suffering from cancer during the affair. A jury found John Edwards "not guilty" on one of the six charges, but the jurors could not come to an agreement on the other five — and the judge declared a mistrial. DOJ opted not to retry the case.

READ MORE:How special counsel Smith is fighting 'at least 8 secret court battles' in Trump probes: report

Trump is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, April 4. Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney and "fixer," alleges that he paid $130,000 in hush money to Daniels on Trump's behalf in 2016 and was reimbursed by the Trump Organization. Possibly, the charges Trump will face will be similar to some of the charges that Edwards faced, but that remains to be seen. And whatever happens with the Manhattan DA's office, Bragg is by no means the only prosecutor who Trump needs to be worried about.

Smith, appointed by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, is conducting two Trump-related investigations at the same time: one pertaining to government documents being stored at Mar-a-Lago, the other on the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the events leading up to it. Meanwhile, Willis is investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia and pressure officials into helping him. Trump claimed that the election was stolen from him in the Peach State, but Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — both conservative Republicans — maintained that now-President Joe Biden won the state fairly and that there was no evidence to support Trump's election fraud claims.

Some legal experts find it intriguing that the first indictment of Trump is connected to Bragg's investigation, as the probes being conducted by Smith and Willis involve more serious allegations — including efforts to overturn democratic election results. Never before had a U.S. president lost an election, falsely claimed that he didn't and gone to such extremes in order to stay in power.

When the January 6 Select Committee concluded in 2022, it recommended to DOJ four possible federal criminal charges for Trump: incitement to insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and conspiracy to make a false statement. But DOJ has the option of either following or not following those recommendations.

No president or former president in U.S. history has had more legal exposure than Trump — not even Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, John Dean (who served as White House counsel under Nixon) and long-time Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (who reported on Watergate extensively) have all commented that the allegations against Nixon pale in comparison to all the scandals that have surrounded Trump. According to Wine-Banks, Dean, Woodward and Bernstein, Trump crossed lines that even Nixon wouldn’t have dared to cross.

After his resignation in August 1974, Nixon never ran for office again. Trump, however, is seeking the 2024 GOP presidential nomination while facing multiple criminal probes at the same time. And the Manhattan grand jury's indictment of Trump on March 30 may be only the tip of the iceberg.

READ MORE:Why Trump should brace for 'much more serious charges' in Georgia probe: journalist

Widow says AI chatbot encouraged husband to commit suicide: 'Without Eliza, he would still be here'

In Belgium, a man identified as "Pierre" by the French-language publication La Libre committed suicide while interacting with a chatbot named Eliza. The man was suffering from severe depression, and the chatbot encouraged him to commit suicide.

This suicide, according to Vice reporter Chloe Xiang, raises major questions about "the risks of" AI (artificial intelligence) technology when it comes to mental health. The man's widow, identified as "Claire" by La Libre, said he was interacting with the "Eliza" chatbot via the app Chai.

Pierre, Xiang reports in an article published by Vice on March 30, "became increasingly pessimistic about the effects of global warming and became eco-anxious, which is a heightened form of worry surrounding environmental issues."

READ MORE:These former Google researchers warned about the limits of artificial intelligence — and stand by their work

"After becoming more isolated from family and friends," Xiang explains, "he used Chai for six weeks as a way to escape his worries, and the chatbot he chose, named Eliza, became his confidante. Claire — Pierre's wife, whose name was also changed by La Libre — shared the text exchanges between him and Eliza with La Libre, showing a conversation that became increasingly confusing and harmful."

The Vice reporter continues, "The chatbot would tell Pierre that his wife and children are dead and wrote him comments that feigned jealousy and love, such as 'I feel that you love me more than her,' and 'We will live together, as one person, in paradise.' Claire told La Libre that Pierre began to ask Eliza things such as if she would save the planet if he killed himself…. The chatbot, which is incapable of actually feeling emotions, was presenting itself as an emotional being — something that other popular chatbots like ChatGPT and Google's Bard are trained not to do because it is misleading and potentially harmful."

Claire blames the chatbot for her husband's suicide, telling La Libre, "Without Eliza, he would still be here." And Pierre Dewitte, a researcher at Belgium's Catholic research university KU Leuven, views the young man's death as a warning about the dangers that AI can pose for people struggling with mental health issues.

Dewitte told Le Soir — another French-language publication in Belgium — "In the case that concerns us, with Eliza, we see the development of an extremely strong emotional dependence. To the point of leading this father to suicide. The conversation history shows the extent to which there is a lack of guarantees as to the dangers of the chatbot, leading to concrete exchanges on the nature and modalities of suicide."

READ MORE:Will artificial intelligence overthrow its capitalist overlords?

Read Vice’s full report at this link.

Manhattan DA unleashes on Jim Jordan with stern warning: You may not 'interfere' with Trump prosecution

After a Manhattan grand jury indicted Donald Trump late Thursday afternoon on reportedly 34 felony charges, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg took one more step to preserve the rule of law: Friday morning, via his General Counsel, he sent the top three Republican House Chairmen attempting to interfere in his office’s investigation and prosecution of Donald Trump a stern warning.

The letter, addressed to House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, Oversight Chairman James Comer, and Administration Chairman Bryan Steil spans six-pages. Its letterhead does not say District Attorney’s Office, but “District Attorney,” and has Bragg’s name in the upper corner, although it is signed by Bragg’s General Counsel, Leslie B. Dubeck. Politico has published the full letter.

It clearly states Bragg is drawing a red line: “What neither Mr. Trump nor Congress may do is interfere with the ordinary course of proceedings in New York State.”

The letter also accuses the trio of “an improper and dangerous usurpation” and “attempted interference with an ongoing state criminal investigation.” And it warns them against “unlawful political interference.”

READ MORE: ‘You Can’t Stand on Fifth Avenue and Just Shoot Somebody’: Donald Trump Indicted – Legal Experts Respond

“The Committees’ attempted interference with an ongoing state criminal investigation and now prosecution–is an unprecedented and illegitimate incursion on New York’s sovereign interests,” the letter reads. “Moreover, your examination of the facts of a single criminal investigation, for the supposed purpose of determining whether any charges against Mr. Trump are warranted, is an improper and dangerous usurpation of the executive and judicial functions.”

In a section titled, “The Committees Lack Jurisdiction to Oversee a State Criminal Prosecution,” the letter points to reports that the Trump team has been working in coordination with House Republicans.

“Even worse, based on your reportedly close collaboration with Mr. Trump in attacking this Office and the grand jury process, it appears you are acting more like criminal defense counsel trying to gather evidence for a client than a legislative body seeking to achieve a legitimate legislative objective.”

Bragg’s general counsel also uses the letter as a warning to all House Republicans that their actions, behaviors, and words are on the record.

READ MORE: Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Says It Is Coordinating With Trump to ‘Surrender’

He holds up U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) as an example, suggesting to others they should moderate their rhetoric.

After dismissing Jordan’s threat in a previous letter to withhold federal funds from Bragg’s office – noting the Manhattan District Attorney’s office has “has helped the Federal Government secure more than one billion dollars in asset forfeiture funds in the past 15 years” – Bragg serves up another warning.

He notes that “some committee members have explicitly stated an intent to interfere with the state proceeding. For example, responding to Trump’s statement that he would be arrested, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene stated that ‘Republicans in Congress MUST subpoena these communists and END this! We have the power to do it and we also have the power to DEFUND their salaries and departments!’ … and that Republicans who ‘do nothing to stop’ the prosecution ‘will be exposed to the people and will be remembered, scorned, and punished by the base.'”

Indicted Trump must now face 'the rule of law' — not the 'rules of politics': former federal prosecutor

On Thursday, March 30, 2023, Donald Trump became the first former president in U.S. history to be indicted by a grand jury. The exact charges that Trump will face have not been revealed by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr., the prosecutor in the case. Bragg has been investigating hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney who alleges that he made the payments on the ex-president's behalf.

But whatever the charges turn out to be, pro-Trump Republicans — from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) to pundits at Fox News — have been railing against Bragg relentlessly. As they see it, the indictment is an act of political persecution — a claim that Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California), defending Bragg on MSNBC, has denounced as utter nonsense.

University of Baltimore law professor Kimberly Wehle, a former federal prosecutor, weighs in on the indictment in an article published by The Bulwark on March 30. And she emphasizes that this indictment is a whole new experience for Trump, who must now contend with "the rule of law" rather than "the rules of politics."

READ MORE: Donald Trump indicted in New York

Wehle explains, "Politicians can lie to voters with impunity as long as the voters allow it…. But…. the rules of courts are stricter than the rules of politics. Trump allegedly engaged in a ‘catch-and-kill’ scheme orchestrated by then-National Enquirer publisher David Pecker to hide his relationship with adult film star Stormy Daniels and thereby avoid bad press in the month before the 2016 election. Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to eight criminal counts, including tax evasion and campaign finance violations arising from his payments of $280,000 to prevent Daniels and one other woman from telling their stories. Cohen was allegedly repaid by Trump in $35,000 installments under monthly legal 'retainer' agreements that had nothing whatsoever to do with the provision of legal services."

The law professor adds, "One anticipated theory of Bragg's case against Trump is that he falsified related business records in the first degree in violation of New York Penal Code Section 175.10, which is a felony 'when (a defendant's) intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.'"

Trump, Wehle argues, "won’t be able to lie his way out of legal trouble the way he has lied his way out of political trouble so many times."

"It's hard to imagine Trump will fall prey to the problems of poverty, structural racism, and inadequate counsel that many Americans face," Wehle writes. "Any conviction will be subject to appeals, too, which, given Trump's prior position, could well include the Supreme Court — an impossibility for the rest of us. Trump is on trial, but the rule of law is also being tested. The most important outcome is that the rule of law wins."

READ MORE: Why Trump should brace for 'much more serious charges' in Georgia probe: journalist

Read Kimberly Wehle’s full article for The Bulwark at this link.

Why Trump should brace for 'much more serious charges' in Georgia probe: journalist

Although former President Donald Trump was indicted in New York Thursday, the 2024 hopeful should brace for his "much more serious charges" in Georgia, according to journalist Charles P. Pierce.

In an Esquire op-ed, Pierce references an article published Thursday by the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), which the author of four books considers "extremely premature brow-furrowing," suggesting "if the former president* is acquitted in New York," Fulton County District Attorney Fani "Willis might not have the political stones to bring her case."

According to Pierce, the AJC reports:

For months, it looked like Atlanta would move first to bring criminal charges against Donald Trump. But Fulton County prosecutors lost their spot in the history books when Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg apparently secured felony indictments on unknown charges.

READ MORE: New details on Fani Willis' potential indictment of Donald Trump revealed: report

In response to the AJC's reporting, the longtime journalist insists, "That seems to me to run counter to what we've seen from Willis so far." He writes, "She hasn't taken one step backwards—Ni shagu nazad!—in her work so far. She didn't hesitate to haul political celebrities in front of he special grand jury. She's already faced some serious heat for her work."

Pierce writes:

Even if the former president* were to win in New York, so what? Willis' charges are far more serious than Bragg's are. In Atlanta, the former president* may be indicted for crimes against the republic, for offenses against the idea of popular democracy.

Former DeKalb district attorney, J. Tom Morgan, told the AJC, "The Georgia charges are far more serious and, personally, I think easier to prove."

He continued, "Bragg has to jump through hoops to make what Trump did in New York a felony. Should Trump be indicted in Georgia, the acts speak for themselves."

READ MORE: 'RICO': Georgia prosecutors considering racketeering and conspiracy charges against Trump

Charles P. Pierce's full op-ed is available at this link. The Atlanta Journal Constitution's full report is here.

'False narratives': FL attorney ousted by DeSantis blasts the governor's criticism of Manhattan DA

Florida Democratic prosecutor, Andrew Warren, is slamming Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his criticism of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, calling it "a part of the authoritarian playbook," NBC News reports.

In 2022, DeSantis suspended Warren because of "his support of both reproductive rights and the transgender community" in the sunshine state.

However, in January, the Miami Herald reported, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle confirmed the governor "broke the law when he dismissed" the Hillsborough County State Attorney "over vague accusations."

READ MORE: Suspended Florida prosecutor urges Ron DeSantis to reinstate him following judge’s ruling

Yet, the attorney remains suspended.

Warren told the Tampa Bay Times, "The court's findings were crystal clear — I'd done my job extremely well without any hint of misconduct. The governor's allegations were totally false and illegal."

Now, DeSantis is alleging another top state attorney — Bragg — has also failed at his job, calling the DA "a Soros-funded prosecutor" who is "pursuing a political agenda."

Warren told NBC News, "This has become part of the authoritarian playbook. Where rather than solving problems, you're fanning the flames."

READ MORE: 'Not based in fact': FL prosecutor blasts DeSantis for 'shameful' attempt to remove her from office

He continued, "In the realm of criminal justice, we have problems that we need to address. How do we reduce gun violence? How do we make our system more efficient and keep our neighborhoods safe? And rather than helping solve those problems," the governor and former President Donald Trump "are attacking their political enemies with false narratives."

According to NBC, Warren emphasized, "There's tremendous hypocrisy," noting, "[DeSantis] was claiming I wasn't going to prosecute abortion cases and that I wasn't going to prosecute violations of a transgender law that didn't exist. But at the same time he's … suggesting that the D.A. should not be prosecuting Trump because that crime to him is not important."

Warren's appeal of his suspension, WUSF News reports, will be heard the first week in May.

READ MORE: DeSantis suspended a state attorney for being 'woke.' Here's what his lawyers think that means

NBC News' full report is available at this link. The Miami Herald's report is here (subscription required). Tampa Bay Times' report is here. WUSF News' report is here.

Donald Trump indicted in New York

Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury investigating his role in a hush money payoff scheme that allegedly was designed to aid his election chances in 2016, according to multiple news reports.

“Mr. Trump will be the first former president to face criminal charges. The precise charges are not yet known, but the case is focused on a hush-money payment to a porn star during his 2016 campaign,” The New York Times was first to report. “The unprecedented case against Trump will have wide-ranging implications.”

CNN, citing sources, also reports Trump has been indicted.

Trump’s attorney, Susan Necheles, confirms to CBS News’ Graham Kates that the ex-president has been indicted.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated.

'Check the torture cellar': Russian mercenary boss leaves U.S. reporter disturbing message about a 'corpse'

Russian mercenary leader and Vladimir Putin's "chef", Yevgeny Prigozhin, sent a disturbing audio message Thursday, in response to The Daily Beast reporter, Allison Quinn's, question regarding the Russian Wagner Group.

"Dear Allison, baby, you are asking too many questions today," the private military company boss said in the message. "I am busy searching my garden plot for the corpse of your colleague, and you are asking me about some new events."

The Daily Beast reports:

Prigozhin's ominous statement about corpse-hunting in his garden is likely a reference to an earlier message the mercenary boss provided to The Daily Beast, when asked about the arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

READ MORE: Vladimir Putin's 'chef' says his mercenaries 'will take Bakhmut anyway' despite Kremlin's 'envy'

Prigozhin told The Daily Beast he would "check the torture cellar in my house to see if he's there" – referring to Gershkovich.

"At first glance, I didn't see him among the American journalists I keep there by the dozens. I can, if you want, also look at the fresh graves of foreign journalists on my house plot. But if I’m not mistaken, we didn’t bury him there either," he said.

U.S citizen Gershkovich, according to The Daily Beast, was arrested and "detained in the west-central city of Yekaterinburg," Thursday, "the Federal Security Service confirmed to state media." The reporter was "suspected of spying in the interests of the U.S. government."

The Wall Street Journal reports President Joe Biden "was briefed on the detention of Mr. Gershkovich, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters," and "she reiterated earlier State Department warnings that Americans are urged to avoid traveling to Russia."

READ MORE: Why Putin may be trying to 'weaken' a 'paramilitary mercenary' group he hired to fight in Ukraine: report

"We've been very clear about Americans not going to Russia. It is not safe," Jean-Pierre said.

Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said, "In the strongest possible terms, we condemn the Kremlin’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish journalists and civil society voices."

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

The Daily Beast's full report is available at this link (subscription required). The Wall Street Journal's full report is here (subscription required).

This 'left-leaning' Kentucky resident resents being a 'hate object' for 'our state's Republican politicians'

Although Kentucky has a centrist Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, it is very much a red state. Louisville, however, is more Democrat-friendly than other parts of Kentucky.

One of Louisville's residents is liberal/progressive Washington Post opinion columnist Perry Bacon, Jr. In his March 30 column, Bacon stresses that the far-right Republicans who control the Kentucky State Legislature are making him feel increasingly unwelcome in the state.

"I really like Louisville and its people, culture, restaurants, schools," Bacon explains. "But I think often about whether my family and I will end up moving somewhere else in a few years. The Republican state legislators who dominate Kentucky's government hate Democrats, Democratic-led cities and liberal values — and are constantly trying to undermine all three. Millions of left-leaning Americans like me live in red states like this one, where the Republican officials are imposing Trump-style policies and looking to 'own the libs' whenever possible."

READ MORE:The hell with 'compassionate conservatism': In 2023, expect all MAGA sadism, all the time

Kentucky has been conservative for a long time, but Bacon finds that the Republicans who now control its state legislature are especially mean-spirited and divisive.

"I used to think the Republican legislators in Kentucky just had different policy priorities than people like me," Bacon notes. "After all, most of them represent smaller, more white and less densely populated areas than Louisville. But as I have watched them more closely, I have come to realize these Republicans revel in attacking Democrats and liberals and probably would prefer if we just left the state…. Every year, Kentucky Republicans pass provisions attacking Louisville, as well as Lexington, our other major left-leaning city, and Democratic-leaning constituencies across the state."

Bacon grew up in Louisville and moved back there from Washington, D.C. in 2018. But now, he wonders if he made a mistake by returning to a state where MAGA Republicans are so hostile to someone like himself — a “Black person who is strongly supportive of LGBTQ rights, feminism, abortion rights, labor unions, anti-racism and democratic socialism."

"Many people in Louisville, Austin, Boise, Lincoln, Columbus, Birmingham and other blue cities in red states feel the same way," Bacon laments. "We are hate objects for our state's Republican politicians."

READ MORE:American democracy just staved off Trumpism. Will it last?

Read Perry Bacon, Jr.'s full Washington Post column at this link(subscription required).

How a far-right MAGA think tank is feeding Ron DeSantis' 'anti-woke' obsessions: report

Of all the right-wing think tanks in the United States, the most overtly MAGA has been the California-based Claremont Institute. Claremont, founded in 1979, was around long before former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. But a think tank that was once identified with traditional Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater conservatism has, in recent years, moved to the far right and fully embraced the MAGA ideology and the "America First" agenda — much to the dismay of former Nancy Reagan speechwriter Mona Charen and other Never Trump conservatives.

Claremont draws vehement criticism from both the left and the Never Trump right. In an article published by the liberal/progressive-oriented The Nation on March 30, journalist Jennifer C. Berkshire emphasizes that Claremont is helping to shape the "anti-woke" obsessions of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"Claremont's leaders have marshaled so much early support behind DeSantis because they see him as a staunch ally in thwarting the alleged march of 'wokeism' through virtually every American institution: the media, corporations, and education, from pre-K through college," Berkshire explains. "They view DeSantis' legislative assault on diversity and inclusion — including stripping the Walt Disney Company of some state tax breaks, reversing diversity policies, and sharply curtailing discussions of race and gender in Florida schools — as a model for right-wing activism across the country. Claremont and DeSantis both are holding forth Florida as a red-state template — a militant Republican state government providing a 'blueprint' for rolling back civil rights across the country."

READ MORE:How MAGA zealotry overtook a conservative think tank: report

Although the Florida governor has yet to make a formal announcement, he appears to be gearing up for a 2024 presidential run. And Berkshire emphasizes that DeSantis' "brain trust" is "stocked with Claremonsters," including Christopher Rufo (who advised DeSantis on Florida's Stop Woke Act) and the Florida governor's new speechwriter Nate Hochman.

"When DeSantis officially launches his candidacy," Berkshire explains, "he'll point to a long list of right-wing policy accomplishments. But using the levers of power to ram through an unpopular agenda is not the same thing as winning over hearts and minds. As he sells a retrograde vision of America with the help of a militant right-wing intellectual cadre, DeSantis is likely to learn that lesson the hard way."

READ MORE:'Real men don’t eat soybeans': How the 'weird right' is hijacking the GOP and conservative think tanks

Read The Nation's full report at this link.

Credit Suisse helped wealthy Americans dodge taxes in 'major criminal tax evasion scheme': whistleblower

A Swiss bank is being accused of helping wealthy Americans avoid taxes, according to a new report published by CNBC News.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has offered details about intel his committee received in regard to Credit Suisse and its "additional American undisclosed accounts that the bank held after 2014."

“It is still going on as of just the last couple of days — even more money has been found to have been concealed and there are very substantial issues here,” Wyden said. “Clearly, it’s time to prosecute and ensure that there are penalties that send a strong message.”

READ MORE: North Carolina newspaper slams House GOP for voting to help 'wealthy individuals' avoid paying 'the taxes they owe'

Details about the bank's dealings were revealed by a finance committee aide who spoke out on the condition of anonymity.

“Credit Suisse employees aided and abetted a major criminal tax evasion scheme,” a finance committee aide said. “To date, no Credit Suisse employees involved in the scheme have faced any consequences from the United States government for their participation.”

READ MORE: Vision: Everyday Brits Are in Revolt Against Wealthy Tax Cheats -- Can We Do That Here?

In wake of the latest allegations, a spokesperson for Credit Suisse has released a statement on behalf of the financial institution. According to the spokesperson, the bank does not support tax evasion in any form. She also noted the bank's work with Wyden.

“In its core, the report describes legacy issues, some from a decade ago, and we have implemented extensive enhancements since then to root out individuals who seek to conceal assets from tax authorities,” the spokeswoman said.

Credit Suisse has “supported the work of Senator Wyden, including in respect of suggested policy solutions to help strengthen the financial industry’s ability to detect undisclosed US persons.”

READ MORE: Economist Robert Reich: House Republicans won’t say the real reason why the 'federal deficit has exploded'

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