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Justice Department and EPA File Lawsuit Against Norfolk Southern for Polluting East Palestine

The lawsuit seeks to hold the rail company responsible for a disastrous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Norfolk Southern train
Nick Hagen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern for the “unlawful discharge of pollutants, oil, and hazardous substances,” seeking liability from the company for past and future costs incurred.

“When a Norfolk Southern train derailed last month in East Palestine, Ohio, it released toxins into the air, soil, and water, endangering the health and safety of people in surrounding communities,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced on Friday. “With this complaint, the Justice Department and the EPA are acting to pursue justice for the residents of East Palestine and ensure that Norfolk Southern carries the financial burden for the harm it has caused and continues to inflict on the community.”

The Justice Department filed the suit on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, and in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio. The lawsuit cites Norfolk Southern’s violations of the Clean Water Act, or CWA, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or CERCLA.

Ohio filed a federal lawsuit on similar grounds two weeks ago, seeking to ensure the company paid for environmental cleanup and damages and for groundwater and soil monitoring in years to come.

While conservatives have attacked practically every level of government for the response to the East Palestine disaster, it’s worth noting that if Republicans had it their way, there would be less legal basis, like the CWA and CERCLA, for agencies to actually hold corporations accountable. Even since the derailment, Republicans—essentially every single congressional Republican and 24 attorneys general, including Ohio’s—have been working to weaken water protection. The effort, if successful, would implicate waterways similar to the ones polluted in the East Palestine disaster.

In a statement regarding the lawsuit, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said the agency will hold Norfolk Southern “fully accountable.”

“No community should have to go through what East Palestine residents have faced,” he said. “With today’s action, we are once more delivering on our commitment to ensure Norfolk Southern cleans up the mess they made and pays for the damage they have inflicted as we work to ensure this community can feel safe at home again.”

Tucker Carlson Teases an Insurrection over Trump

The Fox News host seemed to be inciting viewers to violence.

Tucker Carlson speaking
Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has privately said he hates Donald Trump “passionately,” called for violence and for people to stockpile AR-15s after the former president was indicted.

Trump became the first former president ever to be criminally charged Thursday when a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him for his role in paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Carlson, who has remained a full-throated Trump supporter on air despite knowing full well the man lied about the 2020 election, was livid. He referred to the indictment as a “political purge” during his show Thursday night, all while spreading harmful transphobic conspiracies about the shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.

He then proceeded to appear to call for violence.

“It almost feels like [Democrats are] pushing the population to react,” Carlson said while talking with presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. “At what point do we conclude they’re doing this in order to produce a reaction?”

Carlson also said it was “probably not the best time to give up your AR-15,” a comment that is both dangerous and incredibly tone deaf considering what just happened in Nashville.

His guest at that moment, conservative activist Ned Ryun, had also warned the U.S. was barreling toward “that path to a one-party state and authoritarian government”—which is incredibly ironic considering Republican-led states are already trying to overturn the will of the voters.

Keep in mind that Carlson knows better. Documents released in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News revealed that the network’s hosts and executives never believed any of the conspiracies they spread about the 2020 election.

Carlson had texted someone two days before the January 6 insurrection that “there really isn’t an upside to Trump,” adding, “I hate him passionately.”

And yet Carlson continues to be a glorified spokesperson for Trump and the Republican Party.

Trump Lawyer Says Trump Will Not Be Handcuffed and There’s “Zero” Chance He Takes Plea Deal

Trump lawyer Joe Tapocina’s comments represent a shift in how the former president is approaching his indictment.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s attorney says there is “zero” chance the criminally charged twice-impeached former president will take a plea deal.

Appearing on the Today show Friday morning, Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina insisted “there’s no crime” here, after Trump was indicted Thursday on more than 30 counts related to business fraud for his role in paying hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Tacopina also said on Good Morning America Friday that Trump will not be put into handcuffs when he arrives in New York and that Secret Service will not let the process turn into a “circus.”

“The president will not be put in handcuffs; as far as a mug shot, perp walk, I am sure they will try to make sure they get some joy out of this by parading him,” Tacopina said, in contrast to Trump’s earlier fantasies about being cuffed in his own self-constructed media spectacle.

Tacopina’s defense was revealing in some aspects. While Trump and allies originally cast doubt on the allegations against the former president, Tacopina’s comments reflect a new shift in what the Trump camp is now running with: Yeah, he might’ve paid Stormy Daniels, but it’s entirely legal.

“It’s still, I believe, all focused around this Stormy Daniels confidentiality settlement agreement, um, completely legal settlement agreement that was made years and years ago,” Tacopina said when asked about the case.

The goalposts, as expected, have shifted as more evidence of Trump’s crimes are revealed. And honestly, that’s worked up until now. But given the history-breaking indictment that’s just been announced, and that there’s still three other ongoing criminal inquiries into Trump, he and his allies might just be running out of juice.

Donald Trump Responds to Indictment News With Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory and a Very Big Typo

Could have written this statement ahead of time, man.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

After becoming the first former president to ever be criminally charged, twice-impeached former President Donald Trump reacted in classic Trump fashion: typos, dramatic capitalization, and antisemitic dog-whistling.

On Truth Social, Trump called America a “THIRD WORLD NATION” and misspelled the word ‘indicted.’

“These Thugs and Radical Left Monsters have just INDICATED the 45th President of the United States of America, and the leading Republican Candidate, by far, for the 2024 Nomination for President,” Trump wrote, slipping on the banana peel of a word he should be aptly familiar with by now.


Despite the humor, it’s not promising for Trump to connect the indictment to “A CONTINUING ATTACK ON OUR ONCE FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS,” given the last time Trump whipped up so much anger around a central event, he incited an attack on the Capitol.

In a longer statement, Trump called the indictment “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history.”

Trump went on to falsely describe the Manhattan district attorney as being “hand-picked and funded by George Soros,” peddling an antisemitic conspiracy about wealthy Jewish people influencing society.

Trump (who still faces three other criminal investigations) said he believes the so-called “Witch-Hunt” will “backfire” and mobilize his followers to beat Joe Biden.

While Trump is leading in the polls, he is yet to actually secure the Republican Party nomination; and while some may determine, ex-ante, that an indictment will make him a martyr, it merits saying, plainly: It’s not great for an elected official to be criminally charged! And perhaps it can be left to the Republican primary voters to decide whether that matters to them—there’s no need for the press to prematurely cast predictions and renege on communicating the basic fact that Trump is (still) unfit for office.

“Never before in our Nation’s history has this been done,” Trump complained. Perhaps this unwittingly highlights his especially high propensity to commit crimes—given how unclean the hands of past presidents have been.

Donald Trump and Gwyneth Paltrow Battle for Top News Story

The two stories are obviously very different, but the fact that they’re jockeying for top spot feels very classic America.

ALON SKUY/AFP/Getty Images Rick Bowmer/Pool/Getty Images

On Thursday evening, a wealthy blond American business mogul finally got some justice.

No, not Donald Trump.

Gwyneth Paltrow.

Trump and Paltrow duked it out in the headlines Thursday, each battling for top spot at major news outlets and on Twitter. Both were trending throughout the United States, although Trump had a slight edge.

A jury decided that Paltrow was not responsible for a 2016 ski accident with a retired Utah optometrist, awarding her $1 and legal fees. Terry Sanderson had originally sought more than $3 million from Paltrow, alleging that she crashed into him, leaving him with four broken ribs, a concussion, and lasting brain damage that affected his daily life, including his ability to taste wine. He later dropped the sum to $300,000 but still lost the case.

The Goop founder has made headlines since the start of the trial last week for her outfits and seemingly unbothered demeanor in court.

Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for his role in hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. The charges are still unknown, but he is the first former U.S. president to be criminally charged.

The two stories are obviously vastly different in terms of national importance, but the fact that they are jockeying for top billing feels pretty classic for America. News consumers love a good spectacle—see the many, many jokes made during Trump’s 2016 run, as people failed to realize he was a serious threat—as well as a chance to poke fun at the uberrich. And both these legal cases are perfect situations for both those things.

“Congrats to Donald Trump on Finally Winning a Majority of Votes!”

Here are the best reactions to the criminal indictment of the former president.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

On Thursday evening, Donald Trump became the first former president to ever be criminally charged.

And while Republicans complain of a “banana republic” because an incredibly wealthy and powerful man is facing a slice of consequence for the crooked life he has led so far, most others are responding in a way that reiterates the extremely basic value of holding powerful people to account.

Here is Yusef Abdus Salaam, one of the five exonerated members of the infamous “Central Park Five” group of young boys arrested in 1989 after being falsely connected to a murder in Central Park. Trump spent his own money at the time to take out an ad in four newspapers calling for their death penalty—and refused to apologize for doing so even decades later.

And reminders of what this indictment is really about, beyond jokes, or Republicans lashing out:

Of course, some humor, to be expected on a day that welcomes the revelry reminiscent of Twitter before another incredibly wealthy and powerful man bought it.

Republicans Are Already Losing Their Minds Over the Trump Indictment

“Communist-level shit”

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The news that former President Donald Trump was indicted is still hot off the presses, and Republicans are already freaking out.

A Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump Thursday, making him the first former U.S. leader to be criminally charged. He was investigated for his role in hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, although the specific charges are still unknown.

Republicans are unable to contain themselves.

Representative Jim Jordan was so upset that he could only muster one word: “Outrageous.” Former Representative Madison Cawthorn branded the United States a “Banana Republic.”

Representatives Matt Gaetz and Elise Stefanik both accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of leading a politically motivated “witch hunt,” a favorite term of Trump’s.

Representative Ronny Jackson, who was also Trump’s physician, went on a capital-letter-strewn Twitter tirade in which he insisted that “the hateful Deep State wants this country to BURN. Today they didn’t just indict President Trump, they attacked EVERY ONE of his supporters.”

Representative Andy Biggs said it was a case of “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” and accused the judicial system of overreach. Donald Trump Jr. called the indictment “Communist-level shit.”

Failed Republican candidates Kari Lake and Bo Hines urged people to continue supporting Donald Trump and put on as strong a show as they did last week in New York.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy put out a prepared video statement in which he warned the indictment “will undermine public trust in our electoral system & justice system.”

Thursday’s indictment is expected to be just the first of several charges against Trump, who is at the center of other criminal investigations, including efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and his handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Here Is the Moment Fox News Learned Donald Trump Has Been Indicted


Screenshot/Fox News

Fox News hosts couldn’t contain their shock Thursday when they learned that former President Donald Trump had been indicted.

The hosts audibly gasped on air as their colleague read out the breaking news announcement.

Trump is now the first former president ever to be criminally charged. A Manhattan grand jury had been investigating him for his role in hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The grand jury voted Thursday to indict Trump. The charges are not yet known.

Donald Trump Becomes First Former President to Face Criminal Charges

The Manhattan grand jury was investigating Trump’s involvement in a hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels.

Donald Trump
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Donald Trump

Donald Trump has become the first former president to ever be criminally charged.

A Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Trump on Thursday, though the charges are not yet known, The New York Times and CNN have confirmed.

The grand jury has been investigating Trump for his connection to his lawyer Michael Cohen paying hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Cohen had admitted to paying Daniels $130,000 on behalf of Trump during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election. Cohen was aiming to silence the actress from making public that she had shared a sexual encounter in 2006 with Trump, who was married to his current spouse, Melania, by then.

Cohen had paid Daniels through a shell company; he was then reimbursed by Trump, whose company subsequently filed the reimbursements as legal expenses. The Trump lawyer also coordinated former Playboy model Karen McDougal to be paid $150,000 by the National Enquirer tabloid magazine, in order to silence her own story about an alleged affair with Trump. The Trump organization shelled out $420,000 to Michael Cohen in 2018 after he finished his tasks as a good lackey.

Through a recording Cohen took of some of the conversations surrounding the payments, Trump can be heard asking how much will be needed for “the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David,” in reference to David Pecker, the executive of the Enquirer’s parent company.

“What do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?” he asked.

Trump has previously denied wrongdoing, and doubled down immediately after the indictment’s announcement.

Trump, who is the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination for president, still faces numerous other criminal investigations, including into efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and whether he and his family lied to lenders and insurers by overvaluing their assets.

This post has been updated.

GOP Tennessee Congressman Doubles Down, Says Praying Is the Only Way to Fix School Shootings

The “we’re not gonna fix it” lawmaker isn’t sure why people are so mad at him.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Tennessee Representative Tim Burchett

On Monday, Tennessee Republican Representative Tim Burchett said, “We’re not gonna fix” school shootings, in the aftermath of three children and three adults being shot dead at a school in Nashville, Tennessee.

And appearing on Fox on Thursday, Burchett doubled down on his appalling disinterest in doing even the barest minimum of his job. When asked why his initial comments somehow made people mad, the representative was incredulous.

“They come back to me and say, ‘Burchett, look what your prayers have done for us.’ The people doing the praying aren’t the ones doing the shooting, ma’am, and it’s just a very unfortunate situation,” Burchett said.

“And, and um, I don’t—there’s no easy answers,” he continued, as if he was interested in any answer whatsoever. “Um, I don’t know, I—I—, you know, repenting of your sins and um, and having some sort of um, reform in this country seems to me to be the way we’re going to have to turn this thing around because we have some very sick, evil people doing some very vile things, and um, and revival seems to be the way to go for me.

“But I realize their hatred toward me and my beliefs, and that’s—that’s fine,” Burchett finished.

What must be dispelled once and for all is the notion that there are “no easy answers.” There is a whole catalog of policies the government could be pursuing to confront gun violence—policies that Republicans have not only fought tooth and nail to oppose but countered by making it even easier for people to get death machines. The astoundingly lazy assertion of “Bah, there’s no easy fix” has enabled Republicans to instead do nothing to fix anything.

Republicans have long insisted that gun ownership is a “God-given right,” while also insisting that the cause of gun violence is anything but guns. But if it takes hate to become a mass shooter, Republicans have been on the front lines of fomenting it. If it takes social alienation to become a mass shooter, Republicans have done everything in their power to erode public life and solidarity in favor of individualism. If it takes compounded mental distress to become a mass shooter, Republicans have time and again opposed strengthening mental health care in this country.

And if it takes easy access to guns to become a mass shooter, well, you already know where Republicans stand on that.