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Nikki Haley Desperately Tries to Walk Back Comment on Alabama Embryo Ruling

As hospitals across Alabama pause IVF treatments, Nikki Haley is suddenly trying to claim she never said what she said.

Nikki Haley closing her eyes and looking down
Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is frantically trying to quell the controversy over comments she made about IVF after an Alabama court’s recent ruling that frozen embryos are children.

“We don’t want fertility treatment to shut down, we don’t want them to stop doing IVF treatment, we don’t want them to stop doing artificial insemination,” Haley said on CNN on Thursday. “But I think this needs to be decided by the people in every state. Don’t take away the rights of these physicians and these parents to have these conversations.”

It was Haley’s second such attempt to explain away her controversial stance on the issue. On Wednesday evening, Haley blurted out a much more gibberish response.

“Well first off all, this is, again, I didn’t say that I agreed with the Alabama ruling. The question that I was asked is ‘do I believe an embryo is a baby?’” Haley said on CNN Wednesday evening. “I do think that if you look in the definition, an embryo is considered an unborn baby. And so yes, I believe, from my stance, that that is.”

But calling an embryo—the stage before the microscopic cellular mass is labeled a fetus—an unborn baby is not exactly correct.

In Handmaid’s Tale-esque fashion, Haley has tried to toe the line on the issue of third party fertility in a futile effort to keep voters from turning away from her floundering campaign, even though she conceived her son via artificial insemination.

Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court decided that embryos created through in-vitro fertilization would be protected under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, effectively classifying single-celled, fertilized eggs as children. The decision has spelt certain doom for IVF clinics across the state, three of which have already announced that they will no longer be offering the procedure for fear of being hit with wrongful death suits.

So, when Haley initially claimed that embryos “are babies” and that she could see where the court was “coming from” on the issue, people were stunned.

“Embryos, to me, are babies,” Haley told NBC News. “When you talk about an embryo, you are talking about, to me, that’s a life. And so I do see where that’s coming from when they talk about that.”

Guess What Just Disappeared From GOP’s Biden Impeachment Website

It’s not going great for House Republicans after their star Biden impeachment witness was indicted.

Representative James Comer looks at the camera
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

House Oversight Republicans have yanked a reference to their major flop of an FBI informant on the committee website, where it previously had pride of place as part of the impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden.

Republicans have hinged their Biden investigation on accusations from a supposedly credible but confidential FBI source that Biden and his son Hunter accepted bribes from a Ukrainian oligarch. But the Justice Department has since charged that source, former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, with making false statements and revealed his accusation may have been Russian disinformation.

As of Thursday, the House Oversight website displays a list of key evidence in the committee’s Biden family investigation, including an error-ridden timeline of the president’s supposed corruption, the family’s bank records, and a transcribed interview with a witness who actually debunked all of the Republicans’ claims.

But an archived version of the website shows the key evidence list used to include a link to “FBI Form 1023 alleging then-Vice President Joe Biden engaged in a bribery and extortion scheme and ultimately received $5 million from a Burisma executive.”

FD-1023s are forms that the FBI uses to record anonymously sourced, unverified information. The form in question alleges that a source reported Biden and his son Hunter each accepted a $5 million bribe from an executive at Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter served.

Republicans have repeatedly cited this form as concrete proof that Biden is guilty of corruption, despite the fact that the FBI could not prove the information was credible. GOP leadership was warned as much, but they still pushed forward with the investigation into the Bidens.

As it turns out, the story was totally made up. Last week, the Justice Department charged the source, businessman Alexander Smirnov, with making a false statement and creating a false record related to the bribery allegation. And on Tuesday, the department revealed Smirnov confessed that Russian intelligence officers helped him smear Hunter Biden.

With the investigation going up in smoke around them, Republican leaders have started to erase references to Smirnov. House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and Oversight Chair James Comer, who have spearheaded the probe, sent a letter Tuesday evening to former State Department official Amos Hochstein requesting an interview. The GOP has accused Hochstein of advising Hunter Biden at Burisma.

The original letter, which was obtained by The New Republic, included a section explaining the reason for the Biden investigation, with a paragraph that described a credible, confidential source’s accusation that a Ukrainian gas company executive had bribed the president. This background information has been standard for Republicans’ interview request letters during the impeachment inquiry thus far.

But an hour later, Republicans sent out a second version of the letter, also obtained by TNR. This time, the entire paragraph about the informant had been deleted.

John Fetterman Claims Democrats Criticizing Biden Are Basically MAGA

The Pennsylvania senator is railing against Democrats who try to voice some criticism of the president.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman can’t seem to wrap his head around negative reviews of President Joe Biden, claiming on Thursday that Democrats who criticize the president are only helping Donald Trump return to the White House.

“I don’t understand why,” Fetterman said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I don’t know what’s in it for you to do that whether you’re just chasing clout or you want to make it in the news or anything like that. But if you’re not willing to just support the president now and say these kinds of things, you might as well just get your MAGA hat, because you now are helping Trump with this.”

Fetterman’s attack comes as Democratic strategists and voters are raising concerns about the 81-year-old president—whether in regards to his age, his immigration policies, his stance on Gaza, or something else.

“The president is going to win here in Pennsylvania, and I’ve always believed that whoever wins Pennsylvania is going to be the next president as well, too,” Fetterman said, adding that it’s going to be “difficult” and Democrats have to “lean in on that.”

It’s not the first time that Fetterman has dismissed criticism of the sitting president, adding to what seems to be a developing portrait of a DNC bootlicker rather than an independent lawmaker. In December, Fetterman resorted to the political strategy of a middle schooler to push back against a dire 2024 prediction for Biden by longtime Democratic political strategist James Carville.

“I’ll use this [as] another opportunity to tell James Carville to shut the fuck up,” Fetterman told Politico at the time, responding to a question about Biden’s floundering polling results. “Like I said, my man hasn’t been relevant since grunge was a thing. And I don’t know why he believes it’s helpful to say these kinds of things about an incredibly difficult circumstance with an incredibly strong and decent and excellent president. I’ll never understand that.”

Fetterman has spent the last few months transforming himself into a full-blown liberal, insisting  that he was never a progressive politician despite previously leveraging the label for fundraising, claiming to be one online, and calling himself a “Bernie Sanders 2.0.

Texas Judge: It’s Totally OK That School Punished Black Kid Over His Hair

The shocking ruling comes after a Black high school student’s monthslong punishment over his locs.

Michael Wyke/Associated Press

A Texas judge ruled Thursday that the monthslong punishment of a Black high school student over his hairstyle somehow does not constitute race-based discrimination by his school.

Darryl George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School, has spent most of his school days since August in either in-school suspension or in an off-site disciplinary program. The 18-year-old wears his hair in long locs twisted on top of his head. His school says the hairstyle violates the school district dress code, which states male students’ hair cannot hang below the eyebrows, earlobes, or neckline of a T-shirt.

George says he plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

George’s mother filed a federal lawsuit in September against the Barbers Hill school district and state officials. Darresha George accused the district of violating federal civil rights law and the state’s Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, which bans discrimination based on hair texture or protective hairstyles associated with race. Darresha George also argued that Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton are failing to enforce the CROWN Act.

Darryl George says his locs are an expression of cultural pride but have unfortunately resulted in demeaning treatment and a loss of education.

“I am being harassed by school officials and treated like a dog,” he said in the lawsuit filing. “I am being subjected to cruel treatment and a lot of unkind words from many adults within the school including teachers, principals and administrators.”

After just a few hours on Thursday, state district Judge Chap Cain III ruled in favor of the school district. Cain said that disciplining George for the length of his hair is legal under the CROWN Act, which does not mention hair length.

But the lawmakers who wrote the act argue that length should be inherently protected. Democratic state Representative Ron Reynolds testified as much on Thursday.

“Length was inferred with the very nature of the style,” Reynolds told the courtroom. “Anyone familiar with braids, locs, twists knows it requires a certain amount of length.”

Reynolds said it is “almost impossible for a person to comply with this [grooming] policy and wear that protective hairstyle.”

Lawmakers and civil rights advocates say that the Barbers Hill dress code is based on anti-Black prejudice and stereotypes. In fact, George’s case isn’t the first time the school has caught heat for hair discrimination.

In 2020, Barbers Hill High School told a Black student that he could not attend his graduation ceremony unless he cut off his locs. His cousin, a sophomore at the time, was also given in-school suspension due to his hair length.

The students’ families filed a federal lawsuit arguing the dress code was discriminatory. That case is still ongoing, but it did prompt Texas to implement the CROWN Act statewide last year. Only 23 other states have passed the anti-discrimination law.

Before Abbott signed the CROWN Act, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved the measure in 2021. The county does not encompass the Barbers Hill school, but some Harris residents have been following George’s case.

Rodney Ellis, a Harris County commissioner and the sponsor of the resolution to enact the CROWN Act there, told The Texas Tribune he saw the Barbers Hill case as part of a larger national strategy. Throughout the country, Republican leaders have sharply restricted schools’ and libraries’ ability to teach Black history or have books about race.

“When young students are punished for simply expressing their cultural identity through their hair, it sends a chilling message that their heritage is unwelcome and that they do not belong,” Ellis said.

This story has been updated.

Biden Considers Asylum Ban, Using Same Statute as Trump’s Muslim Ban

Joe Biden is eyeing a sweeping new executive order on immigration.

Joe Biden
Eric Thayer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Biden administration appears to be dutifully taking advantage of the ways Donald Trump reshaped executive power on immigration, even going so far as to consider utilizing the same statute that Trump relied on to enact his Muslim Ban.

President Joe Biden is reportedly mulling an executive order that would restrict asylum access in the U.S., following the rejection of a border deal in Congress that would have placed a weekly threshold on unlawful entries through the U.S.-Mexico border, capping it if more than 8,500 tried to cross the border on a single day. Biden is considering instituting a similar trigger via executive order.

To do so, he would leverage the section of the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act that allows the suspension of entry for anyone determined to be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” This is the exact statute Trump used to ban travelers from several from Muslim-majority countries during the course of his presidency.

If true, Biden’s executive order would essentially reverse a longstanding law that any person arriving at the border is entitled to seek asylum protections, whether or not they have a sponsor, passport, or plane ticket. The National Immigrant Justice Center notes this right to claim asylum is critical since “people fleeing for their lives are often unable to access pathways that require identification documents and a safe haven to wait for processing.”

No decisions have yet been made in regards to the order, according to an unidentified White House official who spoke with The New York Times.

The proposal is a stark contrast to the campaign promises of 2020 candidate Joe Biden, who had pledged a more humane future for immigrants entering the country than the one offered by his predecessor. But whether or not the proposal passes may not matter—it could prove the difference for American voters, who as of a January poll ranked immigrants as their primary concern.

Meanwhile, Trump is finding his own ways to escalate his old border policies, promising to bring back President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback,” which used military tactics to ship some 1.3 million immigrants to locations without food or water, and radically expand detention centers.

Pot, Meet Kettle: Tuberville Mocks Biden’s Walk, Forgets Own Viral Fall

The Alabama Republican had the gall to criticize Biden after his own epic stumble, trip, and nosedive down the stairs.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senator Tommy Tuberville took aim at Joe Biden’s physical capabilities during the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday—conveniently forgetting his own recent struggles.

Republicans have repeatedly argued (and some Democrats worry) that Biden, who at age 81 is the oldest president ever, is mentally and physically unfit to hold office. Thursday was no exception: during an onstage interview, Tuberville claimed Biden has declined so much that “he doesn’t know what day it is.”

Later, Tuberville told Newsmax that it has been concerning to “see [Biden’s] decline over the last few months.”

“I don’t think he’ll make it,” Tuberville said. “Just watched him yesterday walking on a tarmac in L.A. with Nancy Pelosi, shuffling his feet, looking at the ground.”

Tuberville, though, is 69—no spring chicken himself. And the Alabama Republican appears to have conveniently forgotten a major lapse in his own physical abilities, when exiting a plane in October.

Biden and Tuberville are not alone in their advanced years. This Congress is the third-oldest since 1789, when the legislative branch in its current form was first established. And the Senate is the second-oldest in all of U.S. history.

CPAC Kicks Off With New Round of Legal Troubles in Matt Schlapp Scandal

Things are not looking good for the CPAC chairman accused of sexual assault.

Matt Schlapp stands in front of a huge CPAC logo
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)

An official at the Conservative Political Action Conference allegedly oversaw the mass shredding of documents just days after the organization’s chief Matt Schlapp was accused of sexual assault.

Schlapp is the head of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the annual CPAC. He, his wife, and CPAC are being sued by Republican strategist Carlton Huffman, who accused Schlapp in January 2023 of groping him while Huffman was working as a staffer on Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign.

Just five days after Huffman came forward, the ACU’s manager of strategic initiatives Lynne Rasmussen personally oversaw a group of interns shredding documents in or near her office, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday. The Beast cited a subpoena to Rasmussen released earlier that day by the Alexandria City Courthouse, as well as three anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

Communications from someone inside the CPAC office which were dated January 11, 2023, alleged that Rasmussen and CPAC general counsel David Safavian oversaw the shredding. The messages also speculated whether Schlapp was involved, as well. At the time, Huffman had not taken concrete legal action against Schlapp. In fact, Huffman didn’t file his lawsuit until five days later.

Huffman alleges that Schlapp made “sustained and unwanted and unsolicited” sexual contact with him while he was driving the ACU chief back from an Atlanta bar in October 2022. Huffman says Schlapp bought him drinks at two different bars and then proceeded to grope his crotch on the drive back to Schlapp’s hotel. When they arrived at the hotel, Schlapp allegedly invited Huffman to his room.

Huffman recorded several tearful videos of himself describing what happened. “Matt Schlapp of the CPAC grabbed my junk and pummeled it at length,” he says in one video.

“From the bar to the Hilton Garden Inn, he has his hands on me. And I feel so fucking dirty. I feel so fucking dirty.”

The Schlapps have denied Huffman’s accusations, but in March last year, Schlapp reportedly offered Huffman a sum in the low six figures to settle the suit. Huffman countered with a significantly higher amount, which Schlapp turned down.

Former ACU employees, including its former vice president Charlie Gerow, have accused the organization of rushing to shield Schlapp—including well before Huffman officially accused Schlapp of assault. Huffman made his first post alluding to inappropriate drunken behavior in December 2021, tagging Schlapp. According to the Beast, that set off a wave of precautions in the CPAC offices.

Three people familiar with the situation, speaking anonymously, told the Beast that CPAC officials conducted an in-depth, informal inventory of the organization’s records and imposed new non-disclosure agreements on all office employees. Non-compliant staffers had their pay docked.

Despite the bombshell revelation from the subpoena on Wednesday, Schlapp seemed unfazed the next day at the opening of CPAC.

If you call yourself a journalist but you spend all your time trying to destroy Americans…we don’t want you here,” he told the crowd.

DeSantis Suddenly Finds Backbone in Responding to Trump VP Shortlist

A shocking development!

Ron DeSantis wears a blue jacket that says "Ron DeSantis Governor of Florida."
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he has zero interest in joining Donald Trump’s presidential ticket, nixing the possibility of bonding with the man who dubbed him “Ron DeSanctimonious” and sparked rumors that he needed heels to reach the debate podium.

“People were mentioning me [as a potential vice president]. I am not doing that,” DeSantis said on a private video call with more than 200 supporters, obtained by the New York Post. Instead, DeSantis says he’s not ruling out another bid for the White House after his gubernatorial term runs out in 2027.

At a Fox News town hall on Tuesday, the GOP front-runner was presented with several names he could tap as potential vice presidents, including one time Democratic presidential primary candidate Tulsi Gabbard, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, Florida Representative Byron Donalds, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, and of course, DeSantis.

“Are they all on your shortlist?” asked Fox’s Laura Ingraham, to which Trump responded that “they are.”

“They’re all solid,” Trump added, noting that the “first quality” he looks for in a running mate is the ability to serve as a good president. “And I always say I want people with common sense because there’s so many things happening in this country that don’t make sense.”

Despite having never gotten far enough in the general election to legitimately consider a running mate, DeSantis had some of his own advice to pass on to Trump for picking someone to run what John Adams coined as the nation’s “most insignificant office.”

“My criteria was, basically, I need someone who can do the job if it came to that, and I would have been the third-youngest president elected so chances are, actually I would probably be in pretty good shape, but you never know what else can happen, it’s happened before,” the 45-year-old said, adding that he would have been “partial to governors.”

DeSantis also warned Trump against leveraging “identity politics” in his choice for No. 2.

“I think that’s a mistake. I think you should just focus on who you think the best person for the job would be,” DeSantis said.

Trump’s campaign wasted no time in slapping back the unsolicited advice, with a spokesperson noting that DeSantis had “failed miserably in his presidential campaign” and has no “voice in selecting the next vice president.”

Other members of Team Trump had less kind words for the former GOP favorite.

“Chicken fingers and pudding cups is what you will be remembered for you sad little man,” posted Trump 2024 adviser Chris LaCivita.

It Sure Looks Like Trump Can’t Pay the Bond in His Fraud Trial

Donald Trump has made a desperate, last minute gamble to delay paying the massive fraud judgment.

Donald Trump sits in a courtroom and turns to look behind him
Steven Hirsch-Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s lawyers have asked to postpone enforcement of his multimillion-dollar civil fraud fine, even as delay tactics cost the former president $87,500 a day.

Trump was fined $354 million on Friday for real estate-related financial fraud in New York state and temporarily banned from doing business in the state. Presiding Judge Arthur Engoron gave Trump 30 days to pay the fine. But Engoron also ordered Trump to pay pre-judgment interest dating back to March 2019, when New York Attorney General Letitia James first began investigating the Trump Organization.

James’s office calculated last week that, including interest, Trump owes more than $450 million. Trump can appeal the decision, but he has to pay the penalty in full first. And unfortunately for him, he accrues more interest every day.

In a desperate bid to keep the bill as low as possible, Trump’s lawyers filed a request Wednesday night to delay enforcement of the fine. In a letter to Engoron, lawyer Clifford Robert slammed what he described as James’s “unseemly rush to memorialize a ‘judgment.’”

“Defendants request the Court stay enforcement of that Judgment for thirty (30) days,” Robert wrote.

The request for delay is likely so Trump can try either to raise enough capital to pay the fine, or to find a company willing to help him post a bond. Trump reportedly holds only about $600 million in liquid assets, not nearly enough to pay the millions he owes in this and other legal penalties.

Trump owes writer E. Jean Carroll $88.3 million for sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s and then defaming her twice when denying it. He also owes thousands of dollars in fines that he racked up during his recent trials for attacking courtroom staff, and $400,000 to The New York Times.

Unfortunately for Trump, the longer he delays paying the civil fraud fine, the higher it gets. With the statutory annual interest rate set at nine percent, that shakes out to an increase of $87,502 per day. According to a penalty calculator created by Associated Press journalist Mike Sislak, as of Thursday, Trump owes the state of New York a grand total of $454,069,281.

House Republican Levels Massive Allegation Against Comer and Jordan

Representative Ken Buck is exposing the Republicans leading the Biden impeachment crusade, after all the revelations about that ex-FBI informant.

Representative Ken Buck speaks with a mic in front of him

Republican Representative Ken Buck went on the attack against his colleagues on Wednesday night, revealing to CNN that House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and House Oversight Chair James Comer had both been warned ahead of time that the story sold by their primary witness, Alexander Smirnov, was full of holes.

“Obviously, this witness—and we were warned at the time that we received the document outlining this witness’s testimony—we were warned that the credibility of this statement was not known,” Buck told Kaitlin Collins on CNN’s The Source.

“And yet people, my colleagues went out and talked to the public about how this was credible and how it was damning and how it proved President Biden’s—at the time Vice President Biden’s—complicity in receiving bribes,” Buck continued. “It appears to absolutely be false and to really undercut the nature of the charges. We’ve always been looking for a link between what Hunter Biden received in terms of money and Joe Biden’s activities or Joe Biden receiving money. This clearly is not a credible link at this point.”

In response to a point-blank question as to whether Comer and Jordan pushed the Burisma narrative knowing full well that Smirnov’s claims were not corroborated, Buck said “that’s what it appears.”

“I certainly didn’t have any evidence outside the statement itself that it was credible,” he added. “And as a prosecutor for 25 years, Kaitlan, I never went to the public until I could prove the reliability of a statement. And even then, the only one public statement a prosecutor makes is the charging document. Let’s see what the evidence is in this impeachment, if there is more evidence before going forward.”

The GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden has crashed and burned in a spectacular way since its main witness, an informant who claimed Biden had pocketed millions of dollars from a Ukrainian oligarch, was indicted by the Department of Justice for lying to the FBI. Since then, Smirnov has reportedly admitted to law enforcement that top Russian intelligence officials were involved in the smear campaign against the sitting president.

Regardless, Republicans are still scrambling to revive the probe. On Wednesday, Jordan insisted to reporters that Smirnov’s indictment “doesn’t change the fundamental facts”—although, of course, those “facts” have now turned out to be Russia-baked lies.