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Florida Republicans Push to Let People Carry Guns Without a Permit

A new bill would allow people to carry concealed loaded guns without any permits.

A man has a gun in the holster on his hap. His hands are on the gun as his shirt is tucked up.
George Frey/Getty Images

In Florida, just weeks before the anniversary of the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Republicans are pushing to allow people to carry concealed loaded guns without any permits.

Republicans hold supermajorities in both state chambers. The bill, filed Monday by State Representative Chuck Brannon, has a clear path of passage, especially under the wing of Governor Ron DeSantis, who had promised to pass such a bill. Just hours after the bill was filed, a mass shooting in Lakeland, Florida, left 10 people injured.

Meanwhile, though Florida is dominated by Republicans in office, voters seem less enthused by such a proposition. A poll conducted by the Global Strategy Group in December showed that 68 percent of voters in Miami-Dade oppose permitless carry—this includes 65 percent of registered Republicans and 60 percent of voters who said they voted for DeSantis in November.

Once voters were told explicitly that the bill would allow anyone who can purchase a gun to carry it in public, opposition grew by 12, to 80 percent—with 81 percent of Hispanics and 69 percent of DeSantis voters being opposed to such a policy. Moreover, more voters were found to attribute crime to lax gun laws than to lack of police funding.

Another poll conducted last September showed similar results, with 61 percent of Floridian voters opposed to permitless carry, including 71 percent of Hispanics.

Republicans, however, no strangers to proceeding with dangerous and unpopular policies, look poised to steamroll ahead. Along with DeSantis, the bill is endorsed by House Speaker Paul Renner, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, the Florida Sheriffs Association, and of course, the NRA.

If the bill passes, Florida would become the twenty-sixth state to allow permitless concealed carry. This, as the country continues to be plagued by deadly mass shootings. A recent analysis found that states that pass a permitless carry law suffer from a 22 percent increase in gun homicide for the three years following the law’s passage. While states could be responding to the crisis of gun violence in this country, especially after another string of mass shootings this month, Florida instead looks poised to loosen restrictions even further—against the will of its voters, and threatening their lives too.

This post has been updated.

Trump Sues Journalist Bob Woodward for Making an Audiobook of Multiple Interviews He Agreed To

Donald Trump is seeking nearly $50 million in damages over the audiobook of his interviews, which Woodward says were voluntary and on the record.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Donald Trump sued Bob Woodward Monday for using recordings of interviews they did to make an audiobook, claiming he only gave the journalist permission to use them for a book.

Woodward interviewed Trump for hours over the course of 19 interviews in 2016, December 2019, and August 2020. The recordings became the basis for Woodward’s 2020 book Rage, which was about the Trump presidency. About two years later, publisher Simon & Schuster released the recordings as an audiobook, The Trump Tapes.

The lawsuit, first reported by Bloomberg, focuses on Woodward’s alleged “usurpation, manipulation, and exploitation” of the material, according to court documents filed Monday.

“Defendants have converted the audio not only into an audiobook but also into derivative works, including a CD, paperback, and e-book—again, all at the expense of President Trump and without accounting to him,” the lawsuit says.

Trump is seeking nearly $50 million in damages from Woodward, Simon & Schuster, and the publisher’s parent company for alleged violation of his copyright interests, arguing that he never gave permission for the recordings to be made public.

Trump criticized Woodward right after the audiobook was released, insisting on Truth Social that he allowed the interviews to be recorded “only for the purposes of making sure that he got my quotes & statements correct for ‘the WRITTEN WORD.’”

Trump also claimed The Trump Tapes was “highly inaccurate” and edited to make him look “as bad as possible.”

Woodward, however, told CNN that the recordings were “done voluntarily” and “all on the record”—meaning, agreeing “for people to report and repeat what you are saying.”

Trump has a history of suing news outlets and people who do or say things he doesn’t like. He has filed libel suits against The Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN, the latter two of which have been tossed out of court.

Last week, he dropped a lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James, who had sued his Trump Organization for fraud. Less than a week before, Trump was hit with about $1 million in sanctions for what a Florida judge slammed as a “completely frivolous, both factually and legally, lawsuit against Hillary Clinton.”

CNN Welcomes Bill Maher, Who Once Used a Racial Slur on Air, to Its Lineup

If CNN wanted to dip its toe into comedy, Bill Maher wasn’t the only option.

Matt Winkelmeyer/VF20/WireImage

When Chris Licht took over CNN last year, he told employees he sought to make CNN “an organization that exemplifies the best characteristics in journalism,” pillaring values like “fearlessly speaking truth to power” and “educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary.” Seeming to forget all of that, CNN will now be hosting Bill Maher’s late night HBO segment, Overtime, every Friday night, beginning this week. Falling short of some of these pillars, Maher comes with a spanning history of issues.

In 2017, Senator Ben Sasse appeared on Maher’s show, where he invited the host to “come work in the fields with us” in his home state.

“Work in the fields?” Maher replied. “Senator, I’m a house n*****.” Sasse and the audience awkwardly laugh (Maher later apologized for using the word).

Maher once questioned where Zayn Malik, the Pakistani-British member of One Direction, was during the Boston bombing and has described Muslims as dangerous and anti-American. He once said, “What if during Black History Month, we all bought lobster with food stamps? What if for Cinco de Mayo we all went swimming in blue jeans?” Maher also hosted alt-right commentator and alleged pedophilic advocate Milo Yiannopoulous. 

Maher hosted anti-vaxxer Jay Gordon, giving the “doctor” open and unopposed headway to peddle anti-vaccine talking points. He also praised Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for being a “voracious consumer of the scientific literature” on Covid-19. Maher said DeSantis “protected his most vulnerable population, the elderly, way better than did the governor of New York.” As of January 30, Florida’s seven-day average of Covid deaths stands at 53.6 deaths; New York’s is 32.3.

Maher appeared on Chris Cuomo’s show to talk about the need for “an honest history of racism,” only to then use right-wing terms to denounce “critical race theory,” manufacturing a nonexistent conflict between the two ideas.

To be fair, Maher has hosted people from across the political spectrum for years: from Cornel West and Ann Coulter to Andrew Yang and Barbara Lee. Maher, and his guests, may not fit in one particular ideological box, and some use that as evidence of Maher’s independence. After all, though espousing some culturally conservative and simply problematic stances, Maher has also earned favor with different factions of the left. Liberals may support him for his general anti-Trump stances; progressives may find appreciation in his endorsing Medicare for All and marijuana legalization or platforming people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

But Maher isn’t unique; millions of people have complicated and cross-ideological views. And if someone peddles baseless conspiracy or dehumanizes (or gives permission for others to dehumanize) entire groups of people, there’s no need to pay them to lead your network’s expansion. Even if CNN wanted to expand into comedy, and wanted a charismatic host who can roll with wherever punches may come, it’s not as if Maher was their only option.

A White Officer Involved in Tyre Nichols’s Death Has Been Put on Administrative Leave

Preston Hemphill is the sixth officer implicated in Nichols’s death. The five others, all Black men, were charged with second-degree murder.

A Black protester holds a sign reading, "What about the other officers?"
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Demonstrators march through downtown protesting the death of Tyre Nichols, on January 28, in Memphis, Tennessee.

A white officer present during Tyre Nichols’ brutal beating at the hands of Memphis police was put on administrative leave, Memphis Police confirmed Monday.

The Tennessee city is reeling over the fatal beating of Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man. The Memphis Police Department released the body camera footage of the tragedy on Friday, showing multiple officers were involved in his death.

Preston Hemphill is the sixth officer implicated in Nichols’s death, but the first white one. Memphis P.D. would not say how he was involved, local news outlets reported. Hemphill was hired in 2018, according to the department.

Administrative leave is when an employee “is asked to remain at home during regular work hours but continues to receive regular pay and benefits,” according to the University of Washington.

Five other officers were fired over Nichols’s death and charged with second-degree murder. All five men were Black.

Social media was already in uproar over Hemphill’s involvement after Amber Sherman, a Memphis-based policy analyst and activist, identified him as the officer who tased Nichols.

Sherman told The New Republic that the police affidavit for Nichols’ death was posted on Facebook. She already had the names of the officers in the Scorpion (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) unit, the armed unit that stopped Nichols, from research she was doing with a local nonprofit.

I looked up the individual named person that had not already been charged and found their mom’s Facebook page. In a picture she posted, he was wearing the same Apple Watch and green band and that’s how I confirmed his identity as Preston Hemphill,” Sherman told TNR.

A local news channel reported Monday it had also identified Hemphill as the officer who tased Nichols. Sherman’s finding was picked up by The Tennessee Holler, an independent news organization that said Hemphill was also the officer who said, “I hope they stomp his ass” of Nichols.

Many Twitter users demanded to know why Hemphill was not also fired or charged for Nichols’s death.

This post has been updated.

RNC Directs Party To “Go on Offense” on Abortion, Supports Six-Week Bans

The Republican National Committee passed a resolution urging lawmakers to pass extreme anti-abortion legislation, like six-week abortion bans.

Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg/Getty Images

After reelecting Ronna McDaniel as its leader, the Republican National Committee has passed an anti-choice resolution instructing the party to “go on offense” against abortion rights and pass legislation including six-week bans.

In the resolution passed Monday, the RNC pushes the party apparatus—candidates, consultants, and committees—to “go on offense in the 2024 election cycle,” with regard to abortion. It further urges Republicans in state legislatures and Congress to pass the “strongest” anti-choice legislation possible, using language previously used to justify so-called “heartbeat” bills that would ban abortions at six weeks, before many even know they are pregnant.

By passing such a resolution, the RNC is both directing the party to pursue extreme legislation that would strip away significant bodily autonomy from women and gender minorities, and doubling down on a radical strategy that helped the party’s projected midterm red wave fizzle away.

In the lead-up to the midterms, Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a nationwide ban on abortion after 15 weeks, seeking to present a “reasonable” abortion talking point for the party. Some Republicans took issue with the introduction, worrying, perhaps correctly, that any nationwide ban would give Democrats ample ammo to hammer away on. But the new RNC resolution makes clear that the party apparatus has wanted such a ban, only preferably more extreme.

Neither here nor there, the resolution also farcically cites the party’s “proud heritage of challenging slavery, segregation” as a complement to their anti-choice resolution. The former, of course, has little to do with the latter and is an effort today’s Republican Party would be hard-pressed to support, given they don’t even want kids to learn about slavery, segregation, or race generally.

“I’m Just Trying to Get Home”: Memphis Police Release Videos of Fatal Beating of Tyre Nichols

The city of Memphis police released four videos of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols.

RowVaugn Wells has her head in her hands, covering her face with a tissue.
Brandon Dill for The Washington Post/Getty Images
RowVaugn Wells at a press conference at Mount Olive Cathedral CME Church after she viewed footage of the police beating that led to the death of her son Tyre Nichols, in Memphis on January 23. She is flanked by, from left, attorney Antonio Romanucci, husband Rodney Wells, and attorney Ben Crump.

Memphis police released video footage of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols right around 7 p.m. E.T. Friday night. The videos showed not just the brutal beating death of Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, but an inexplicable series of events leading up to the beating in which many officers—more than the five who were charged—were on the scene yet no one seemed to be in charge as many minutes passed, and officers stood passively by for around 25 minutes as a dying man lay on the street before them, seemingly doing nothing.

The videos were released in four sections. The first three are from officer body cams, and the last is a Police Department camera positioned on a light pole at the intersection where Nichols was left for dead by police,* just minutes away from home. The fourth video showed the repeated kicks, punches, and baton lashings that took Nichols’s life.

The videos will surely raise dozens of questions about the incident and about the MPD officers’ handling of it. The first video shows Nichols being stopped, although it isn’t clear why he was pulled over. Nichols asks why he was stopped, but there is no apparent answer (large chunks of the video are either silent or unintelligible). Nichols is heard saying, “Damn! I didn’t do anything!” and, later, as the cops tell him to get on the ground, “I am on the ground!” Nichols also says, “You guys are trying to do a lot right now. I’m just trying to get home.”

Toward the end of the first video, he flees down a street identified in the crosstalk as Ross Street, and reinforcements are called. “I hope they stomp his ass,” one cop says of the others giving chase.

In the second video, Nichols is found down the street. He is wrestled to the ground, and pepper spray is administered. Nichols is screaming for his mother. In the third, a large number of officers, eight or 10, are surrounding Nichols, who is lying on the street handcuffed with his back propped up against a patrol car. He is kicked and punched. Many minutes pass. Finally, paramedics arrive, but they do not take him away.

It’s the fourth video that shows the brutal violence, and the police leaving Nichols to lie there. There is no sound with this video, unlike the other three. Two officers are holding him down. One administers several fierce kicks, some to the head. Another punches him. Another uses his baton. Within five minutes, Nichols lies on the ground, motionless. For several more minutes, three or four officers surround Nichols, just watching.

On CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta expressed shock that no one offered Nichols care and said it was likely given the blows that Nichols’s brain was severely damaged and swollen and he needed immediate care. But at least five officers are standing around. Doing nothing. For several minutes.

Bottom line: The violence is shocking. But every bit as shocking: the officers’ nonchalance at the death happening in their midst, the death they caused (he died three days later in the hospital). Even cops who shoot an assailant call 911 immediately. The fourth video shows Nichols’s body going apparently lifeless and 26 minutes passing before a stretcher arrives. There is no urgency; one officer, who had kicked Nichols, limps down the street, walking it off.

* This post has been updated to clarify the timeline of Nichols’s death.

Ronna McDaniel Reelected as RNC Chair, Despite Republican Party’s Recent Losses

Ronna McDaniel won a fourth term as head of the Republican National Committee, in a sign the party is doubling down on the strategy that led it to underperform in the midterm elections.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Republicans voted Friday to reelect Ronna McDaniel to lead the party’s national committee, doubling down on the agenda that led them to underperform in the midterm elections.

Incumbent McDaniel won 111 votes, while Harmeet Dhillon won 51. They also faced off against Mike Lindell, the founder of MyPillow and wild conspiracy theorist, who won four votes.

A total of 101 RNC members endorsed McDaniel in October for another two-year term. She sought to cast herself as a solid leader who could unite the GOP’s warring factions. Under her leadership, the RNC spent at least $20 million trying to thwart Democrats’ attempts to make voting easier during the pandemic. She also shared an RNC-sponsored video containing falsehoods about voter fraud ahead of the 2022 midterms.

McDaniel is staunchly loyal to Trump, who has been widely blamed for Republicans’ poor performance during the November elections. Despite the lack of a promised “red wave” at the time, the GOP endorsing her for RNC chair shows the former president still holds considerable sway over the party.

Dhillon, on the other hand, tried to capitalize on the growing dissatisfaction with Trumpism. A lawyer, Dhillon insists she is not an election denier, but she has represented several in court, including failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Trump himself.

In a major coup, Ron DeSantis—who is favored to beat Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination—endorsed Dhillon Thursday.

Dhillon ran a complicated campaign, trying to highlight both her ties to Trump’s MAGA message and her independence from the party establishment. Her campaign manager also organized the January 6, 2021, rally that turned into the Capitol insurrection. But Dhillon also said she had not sought either Trump’s or Desantis’s endorsement, playing to the party activists demanding new leadership.

It seems her strategy did not pay off.

The Right Is Somehow Already Using Video of the Attack on Paul Pelosi to Push Conspiracy Theories

After video footage was released, the right began to seize on minor details, like what Paul Pelosi was wearing, overlooking the other graphic details of the attack.

Screenshot of Fox News hosts talking (4 women and 1 man, sitting in a semicircle) with the chyron: Paul Pelosi Hammer Attack Bodycam Video Released

Nearly three months after Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, was attacked by a home invader, the authorities released body cam footage and 911 call audio tape detailing what exactly transpired during the attack. The footage, warning, is graphic, and can be seen here.

Before the footage was released, right-wingers fomented gross conspiracy about the attack, even going as far as to simply joke about and laugh at it.

One of the conspiracies was that the attacker, David Depape, was a lover of Paul Pelosi. Despite the footage, 911 call, and testimony, some right-wingers (and their fans) are still persisting in peddling their baseless theories, citing things like Pelosi not wearing pants or that he was holding a glass in his hand.

This Twitter user, a proud self-proclaimed “MAGA” “Elon Groupie” gleefully wrote “it’s finally hammer time!”

And even Fox News, both the home of mainstream already-radical conservatism and the off-ramp toward even more extreme sources, couldn’t simply say, “This is horrifying,” and move on:

But contrary to this Fox host’s point, it doesn’t matter if your impulse is to feel conspiratorial about a straightforward case of violence (especially when your network is primarily guilty of training that impulse). As right-wing hero Ben Shapiro always says, facts don’t care about your feelings. But for some reason, facts—and even video evidence—just aren’t a match for the visceral, mind-melting conspiracy sensations that right-wingers have developed.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Says Biden “Abused His Power” by Lowering Gas Prices

Do Republicans even want lower gas prices or not?

Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Marjorie Taylor Greene claimed Friday that President Joe Biden “abused his power” by lowering gas prices in order to influence the outcome of the midterm elections, leading many to speculate whether Republicans wanted lower gas prices.

In the months ahead of the November vote, Biden took multiple steps to bring down gasoline prices that had surged due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. One major move was to release 15 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which helped flood the U.S. gas market. The national average price per gallon dropped dramatically to $3.76 in October from about $5 per gallon in June.

Speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives, Greene accused Biden of driving down gas prices for political gain. Republicans campaigned heavily on inflation, particularly gas prices, ahead of the 2022 midterms. While Democrats saw historic wins during the elections, about a third of voters said inflation was a top factor in how they voted, according to a CNN exit poll. More than seven out of 10 of those people voted for Republicans.

Republicans spent months blaming Biden for the exorbitant gas prices, and now they apparently are also angry at him for bringing those prices down.

As if this nonsensical about-face weren’t enough, Greene apparently has zero sense of self-awareness.

“It’s a shame to trick the American people just to win an election,” she chastises. “No president should be able to use their emergency powers for politics.”

Says the woman who apparently has Donald Trump on speed dial, the man who lied that the 2020 election was stolen from him and used his emergency powers several times for his own political agenda.

Tyre Nichols’s Mother: “They Beat My Son Like a Piñata … I Feel Sorry for Them”

In a gut-wrenching interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, Tyre Nichols’s mother discussed the police killing of her son.

RowVaughn Wells speaks in a podium (wearing winter clothing, outdoors).
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“Where was the humanity? They beat my son like a piñata.”

Friday morning, CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed Tyre Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, and stepfather, Rodney Wells, about the violent police beating to death of her son, Tyre.

On January 7, Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was reportedly pulled over about 250 feet away from his home by Memphis police officers. A police statement said Nichols was pulled over for suspected reckless driving, after which a “confrontation” ensued. Five officers were involved in beating Nichols to the brink of death; he succumbed to his injuries three days later from said “confrontation.” He died in the hospital.

The five officers were fired nearly two weeks after the traffic stop; each was arrested and charged with numerous crimes, including second-degree murder, on Thursday.

In an interview following the indictment of the five officers, Nichols’s mother revealed that police had initially blocked her from seeing her dying son at the hospital because he was “under arrest.”

Nichols was “already gone” by the time she and her husband arrived at the hospital, she said. “They had beat him to a pulp.”

After losing their son to such heinous violence dealt by those supposedly meant to “protect and serve,” Nichols’s family now is just trying to make sense of such senselessness.

“Where was the humanity?” Nichols’s mother asked. She described the shocking imbalance—her 150-pound son, afflicted with Crohn’s disease, being beaten to death by five police officers.

She actually feels “sorry” for the officers. She described the harm and shame the officers have brought to their own families and to the Black community. “They didn’t have to do this.”

“I don’t hate anybody, that’s not in my nature,” she said. “I just feel sorry for them because they did something horrendous.”

To hear Nichols’s mother is to attempt to understand the profoundly difficult burden she now holds. Mired in the grief of such unspeakable violence, she speaks to the severe lack of humanity that plagues our structures of policing, and the vicious consequences of that poison.

Watch the CNN interview here.