Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Nikki Fried and Other Top Florida Democrats Arrested in Abortion Rights Protest

Florida is moving to ban abortion at just six weeks, before many people even realize they are pregnant.

Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried smiles as she meets with constituents
Gerardo Mora/Getty Images
Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried

Florida Democratic leaders were arrested during a protest for abortion rights, just hours after the state Senate passed a bill banning the procedure at six weeks.

Senate Bill 300 prohibits abortion after six weeks, down from 15 weeks and before many people even know they are pregnant. It also lowers the amount of money that the state Department of Health is required to spend on pregnancy and parental support, but dramatically increases the amount of state funds given to anti-abortion pregnancy centers.

People gathered Monday night in the park outside City Hall in Tallahassee to protest the bill. A group of about 12, including Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried and Senate Minority  Leader Lauren Book, sat in a circle inside part of the park that was closed at sunset. They held hands and sang songs including “Lean On Me.”

Police had warned the protesters they would be arrested if they did not vacate the barricaded area, and when they continued to demonstrate, law enforcement arrested the dozen who were seated.

Fried has already changed her Twitter profile picture to a photo of her arrest and urged Floridians to get out and vote.

At the start of the protest, Book reminded those gathered that “the battle is not over.” She had given a powerful speech on the Senate floor earlier in the day before the bill was voted through.

“We must work to make things different, because abortion is health care,” she said, “and because women deserve to be equal & free.”

If it becomes law, as it is expected to, S.B. 300 will have a significant negative effect across the rest of the South. Florida currently allows abortion up to 15 weeks and has become an abortion haven in the region, as many neighboring states have imposed harsher restrictions on the procedure since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Tennessee Republicans Are Trying to Expel Three House Democrats for Siding With Kids on Gun Control

The Democrats have already been stripped of their committee assignments.

Crowded hallway packed with students (sitting, standing) looking at Representative Lamberth. The students hold phones and cameras documenting.
Seth Herald/Getty Images
Republican Representative William Lamberth speaks with students inside Cordell Hall in Nashville after students walked out of schools to gather at the Tennessee State Capitol in protest to demand action for gun reform laws in the state on April 3.

Tennessee Republicans are pushing to expel State Representatives Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson for the bold act of standing in solidarity with thousands of children asking for more gun control after a mass shooting at a school in Nashville last week.

Earlier Monday, the Democratic trio were stripped from their committee assignments, and their membership IDs were shut off. On Monday evening, Republicans officially filed resolutions to expel the three. The vote is set to come Thursday. Given the balance of power, if every Republican goes along with the farce, the representatives will likely be removed, resulting in the first partisan expulsion of lawmakers in Tennessee history.

On Monday, thousands of Nashville students staged a walkout to demand stronger gun control laws in the aftermath of a shooting at Covenant School that left three children and three adults dead. The students marched to the state Capitol building, leading chants and singing songs, with one student simply saying, “We all just want to live through high school.”

The huge walkouts followed similar mass action by thousands of people rallying at the Tennessee State Capitol last Thursday for stronger gun control laws.

Throughout the protests, students and parents were supported by Tennessee lawmakers who actually cared about their constituents. Tennessee Republicans are voting to punish them, on the basis that the trio walked up to the well of the House during the Thursday protest, which violated “rules of decorum.”

The lawmakers say they decided to do so after being repeatedly silenced by House Speaker Cameron Sexton.

“Our mics were cut off throughout the week whenever we tried to bring up the issue of gun violence,” Jones told local outlet WKRN. “When I went outside to support those protesting the Speak cut off my voting machine—the first time I’ve ever seen that happen. The Speaker refused to let us talk during welcoming and honoring to welcome our constituents—the thousands gathered outside the Capitol building.”

Sexton has called the trio’s walk up to the well an “insurrection”—an inane comparison, both when considering the motivations of the gun control protests versus the January 6 attacks, and moreover given that no one in Nashville tried harming public property or people’s lives as rioters did on January 6.

Jones accused Sexton of spending “more time on Twitter this weekend talking about a fake insurrection than he did about the deaths of six people including 9-year-old children.”

With this vote, local Republicans are responding in mere hours to lawmakers standing alongside kids begging to not be shot. On actual gun control, things look very different. In 2021, Governor Bill Lee signed a bill allowing people to openly carry handguns without permits (and since then, state Republicans have been looking to expand the ability to people as young as 18, and for any firearm, not just handguns). And in 2020, Republicans shut down a red flag law that in fact could have stopped the Covenant School shooter.

Meanwhile, there have been 377 school shootings nationwide since 1999 (the year of the Columbine High School massacre). Republicans have done nothing in those 24 years.

“This is not what democracy looks like. We are elected to serve our constituents,” said Representative Jones. “I’m the youngest Democratic lawmaker here—the most diverse district—and by shutting me down, they’re shutting down the voice of my constituents.”

Perhaps Republicans are punishing the lawmakers who stood with the children out of disdain for gun control as policy, or in annoyance at the pesky kids asking to not be killed in school. Or perhaps they are doing it to stamp out any expectation of lawmakers actually doing their job and caring about people.

This post has been updated.

A Day Before His Arraignment, Trump Throws a Hail Mary and Hires a New Lawyer

Trump has added Todd Blanche, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer, to his legal team.

Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Twice-impeached and criminally indicted former President Donald Trump (who faces at least three other criminal investigations) has hired a new lawyer one day before his arraignment.

Todd Blanche, an elite white-collar criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, has been tapped to be Trump’s lead counsel as he heads into Manhattan to face his indictment over a hush-money payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels, reports Politico.

The hire comes amid turmoil within Trump’s legal team, as a number of the former president’s other lawyers have derided co–lead defense attorney Joe Tacopina as “dumb” and a “loudmouth,” according to Rolling Stone.

And perhaps the complaints are not unwarranted: In recent weeks, Tacopina has taken a shovel and only dug his boss in deeper. Appearing on MSNBC, Tacopina tried to snatch notes away from host Ari Melber as he fact-checked Tacopina in real time.

Melber asked Tacopina if he would defend Trump in the investigation into his role in inciting the January 6 attack. Tacopina said he would if he “believed in the case,” but wouldn’t definitively say yes.

These instances, among others, seem to have swayed Trump’s allies against the lawyer. One source called Tacopina “such a frickin’ idiot” to Rolling Stone.

Blanche has previously represented Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Igor Fruman, a former Rudy Giuliani associate who allegedly helped search in Ukraine for damaging information on Trump’s rivals. He was sentenced to a one-year prison term for a campaign finance violation.

Both Manafort and Fruman had been charged by Manhattan courts. Manafort was charged specifically by then–Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and was able to evade mortgage fraud and other charges with the help of Blanche.

Blanche had called charges against Manafort “politically motivated,” which perhaps gives Trump all the more comfort as he throws the same accusations at current Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

In a separate case, federal prosecutors have also expanded investigations into whether Trump’s social media company (which owns Truth Social) violated money-laundering laws. Manafort was able to strike a deal that avoided a money-laundering charge; perhaps Blanche will get to try the same with Trump.

Every Detail About Donald Trump’s Motorcade to New York for His Indictment Was Perfect

Who doesn’t need 11 SUVs to get to the airport?

Two men in suits stand in front of a black SUV
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Donald Trump headed to the airport Monday to fly to New York for his arraignment in a motorcade that was 11 cars long.

Trump became the first former president ever to be criminally charged last week, when a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him for his role in paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels. He is due to be arraigned in a Manhattan court on Tuesday.

He headed up ahead of time with a perfectly reasonable number of cars in tow.

And since Twitter is not broken yet (despite Elon Musk’s best efforts), the internet had some jokes. Many people were quick to note that there was one white SUV among the black ones and drew a comparison to another infamous celebrity run-in with the law.

Some Trump supporters lined the road to show support for the former president, but as Fox News inadvertently pointed out, some of them were also law enforcement officers to prevent the “death & destruction” Trump called for.

Trump’s adviser Dan Scavino and son Eric Trump both posted videos that showed a thick crowd of fans. But network aerial coverage showed that the crowd was fairly sparse.

Most people were just confused about why Trump needed 11 SUVs to get him to the airport.

This post has been updated.

Florida Senate Passes Bill Banning Abortion After Six Weeks

This will have massive repercussions on abortion access in the South.

Sign reads: "Keep Your Laws Off My Body"
John Parra/Getty Images for MoveOn

The Florida Senate passed a bill Monday banning abortion after six weeks, a measure that is expected to quickly and easily become law.

Senate Bill 300 passed by a vote of 26–13. The bill prohibits abortion after six weeks, down from 15 weeks and before many people even know they are pregnant. It makes exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, or to save the pregnant person’s life. However, two doctors have to agree the abortion was “necessary,” and the patient “must provide a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record, or other court order or documentation proving” they were the victim of rape or incest.

“I know many of you fundamentally believe abortion is wrong. So guess what? No one is forcing you to have an abortion,” said Senator Tina Polsky. “But don’t tell me, my daughters, and all the daughters of Florida that they can’t do that if it’s right for them.”

A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in early March and is still in committee hearings. Republicans hold a supermajority in the state legislature, and they and Governor Ron DeSantis are unlikely to face much opposition in their attempts to make the near-total abortion ban a reality.

The bill passed Monday would also ban individuals, government agencies, and public education institutions from using state funds to help someone travel out of state for an abortion, unless it is medically necessary to save the pregnant person’s life, or unless those groups are already legally required to use federal funds for such aid.

The bill would also lower the amount of money that the state Department of Health is required to spend on pregnancy and parental support services to 85 percent, down from 90 percent. These services include pregnancy testing, counseling, prenatal classes, adoption education, and material aid such as diapers and formula. Abortion rights advocates regularly point out that states with some of the toughest abortion laws often fail to set up social welfare systems to support children after they are born. People can currently receive such support for up to a year after the child is born. The bill removes that element.

The measure removes the clause that specifically states abortion regulations “may not impose an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s freedom to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy,” specifically stripping away people’s autonomy.

The vote was temporarily delayed when protesters shouted at Republican senators that “people will die” if the abortion ban is passed. The chamber took a 10-minute recess while security cleared the gallery.

If it becomes law, as it is expected to, S.B. 300 will have a significant negative effect across the rest of the South. Florida currently allows abortion up to 15 weeks and has become an abortion haven in the region, as many neighboring states have imposed harsher restrictions on the procedure since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Days After Nashville Shooting, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Quietly Signs Bill Allowing Permitless Carry

It is now legal to carry concealed firearms in Florida without a permit, training, or background checks.

Ron DeSantis closeup
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis quietly signed a bill to allow people to carry concealed loaded guns without any permits, training, or background checks.

The change, the execution of a promise DeSantis had repeatedly made in the past, comes after it passed the state legislative chambers largely on party lines.

Florida now becomes the twenty-sixth state to allow permitless concealed carry. One study found states that pass such laws experience a 22 percent increase in gun homicide during the three years after the law’s passage.

The bill was first introduced in late January, and just hours later, a mass shooting in Lakeland, Florida, left 11 people injured. Now the bill’s passage comes in the wake of a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, that left three children and three adults dead.

The timing, as well as the mass unpopularity of gun deregulation amid what is now a continual cycle of mass shootings, explains why DeSantis passed it with little fanfare (compared to the ceremony he exhibits when signing bills like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, for example).

But, as with most changes Republicans pursue nowadays, permitless carry is massively unpopular.

A December poll showed 68 percent of voters in Miami-Dade opposing permitless carry,  including 65 percent of registered Republicans and 60 percent of voters who said they voted for DeSantis in November.

Moreover, once voters were told explicitly that the now-signed 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. And cutting against the bipartisan crime panic, more respondents attributed crime to lax gun laws than to a lack of police funding.

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

Still—despite the unpopularity and the material threats such a bill introduces to his own people, all after yet another horrific mass shooting—DeSantis has now made it even easier for people to carry guns and schoolchildren to get murdered.

Thousands of Students Walk Out to Demand Gun Control After Nashville Shooting

“We all just want to live through high school.”

Seth Herald/Getty Images
Protesters gather inside the Tennessee State Capitol on March 30.

Thousands of students in Nashville staged a walkout Monday to demand stronger gun control laws, a week after a shooter killed six people at a grade school.

A shooter opened fire at the Covenant School last week, killing three children and three adults and wounding several others. State Republicans have insisted that there is nothing they could have done or could do differently to prevent such a tragedy.

Thousands of students marched to the state Capitol building, chanting for more gun regulations. Local reporter Chris O’Brien estimated there were 2,500 to 3,000 people there. Gun control organization March for Our Lives put the number at more than twice as many.

They rallied outside the building, where they sang songs and called on lawmakers to protect them. “We all just want to live through high school,” one student said.

The students passed out a flyer with their list of demands, which include a red flag law, safe storage laws, and a ban on permitless carrying.

The protest comes just days after thousands of people, including students, rallied at the state Capitol building to protest Tennessee gun regulations.

Protesters marched inside the Capitol ahead of the House and Senate regular floor sessions on Thursday, calling for gun control and for lawmakers to “protect our kids!

Governor Bill Lee and his fellow Republicans have carefully evaded the fact that they helped create the circumstances that allowed the shooting to occur. The GOP holds a supermajority in the Tennessee legislature, as well as the governor’s office.

Two years ago, lawmakers failed to pass a red flag law that would have prevented the shooter from legally acquiring seven guns, three of which were used in the attack. In the past few years, Republicans also loosened gun restrictions, focusing instead on attacking LGBTQ rights.

This post has been updated.

What on Earth Was 60 Minutes Thinking With That Majorie Taylor Greene Interview?

This was a masterclass in how not to interview someone on the far right.

Sergio Flores/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has called for a “national divorce”; lied about the 2020 election; spread conspiracy theories about 9/11, the 2018 Parkland shooting, and Jewish space lasers setting forests on fire in California; and repeatedly expressed support for fatal violence against Democrats.

And she was given an open platform on 60 Minutes.

On Sunday, the radical member of Congress joined CBS’s Lesley Stahl for an exclusive and much-promoted interview special, in which the duo were seen walking the halls of Congress and Greene was filmed showing off her CrossFit skills.

Aside from the odd “day in the life” aesthetic of the interview, Stahl’s interview of Greene, and perhaps CBS’s edits of it, displayed a shocking deference to the Georgia congresswoman and her dangerous ideas. One moment in particular embodied the shortcomings of the interview: just enough pushback to show an effort, not enough to prove that the effort meant anything at all.

Stahl asked Greene about things she has said in the past, like: “The Democrats are a party of pedophiles.”

“I would definitely say so,” Greene affirmed. “They support grooming children.”

“They are not pedophiles,” Stahl responded. “Why would you say that?”

“Democrats, Democrats support—even Joe Biden, the president himself, supports children being sexualized and having transgender surgeries,” Greene said. “Sexualizing children is what pedophiles do to children.”

“Wow. OK,” Stahl responded. “But my question really is, why can’t you fight for what you believe in without all that name-calling and without the personal attacks?”

That Stahl was unprepared to more directly confront for a major talking point among Republicans, and that she reduced their attacks on trans kids and gender-affirming care to “name-calling,” speaks volumes about the folly of the entire interview.

After an ensuing back-and-forth about name-calling, Stahl offered to move on. “Let me button this up, and we’ll move on,” she said, before asking about Greene’s hopes to bring America closer to her views, which include instituting a Christian government, banning abortion nationally, defunding the FBI, and stopping immigration for four years.

Stahl focused on the former. “The Constitution, the very First Amendment, prohibits having a religion in the government,” she pointed out.

“Yet the Founding Fathers quoted the Bible constantly and were driven by their faith,” Greene responded, somehow with the production leaving that as the last word.

The interview concludes almost like a foreboding movie trailer.

“As a fervent supporter of the now-indicted Donald Trump, she was a featured speaker at his rally in Waco last weekend. While she’s adored here, the latest national poll has her approval rating at just 29 percent,” a following voice-over read.

A clip of Trump follows.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene, you happened to be here,” Trump says. “Would you like to run for the Senate? I will fight like hell for you, I’ll tell ya.”

“The question for her, and the country, is can she expand her brash MTG brand beyond the right-wing, populist base?” the voice-over finishes.

This half-critical, half-not approach characterized much of the interview. “Before Congress, she helped run the family construction company in Georgia,” the interview’s voice-over read in another part of the special on Greene. It continued, describing her as “known to be smart and fearless and has a history of believing in conspiracy theories.” Why, exactly, she is characterized as “smart”—and by whom—is not completely clear. And in a broader sense, calling Green “smart and fearless” is like calling The SimpsonsMr. Burns “resourceful and bold.”

The production overall was too willing to move on, offering mere samplings of Greene’s issues paired with a touch of pushback. It embodied the sort-of journalism that insists on its merit by arguing that the best spokesperson for showing the wrongness of something is itself, rather than another observer explaining why exactly it is wrong. Stahl doesn’t need to actually interrogate the absurdity or danger of something Greene says; she just needs to push back once to show the contrast, and then the viewers can just see for themselves.

In some sense, the production felt like a time-warp back to 2016; the special was a piece built for intrigue, a self-proclaimed holistic examination into someone who is neither intriguing nor enigmatic. And though it should be needless to say, apparently it is not: Providing such room for complexity about someone so simply unfit to represent this country is exactly how we got Donald Trump—and exactly how we’ll keep getting more like him (heck, maybe even more of him).

Elon Musk’s New Plan Is to Make It Impossible to Tell Who Paid Him for a Blue Check

Everything is going just fine at Twitter under Elon Musk, thanks for asking.

 In this photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a smartphone with Blue Tick logo in the background.
Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Another day, another of Elon Musk’s Twitter ideas going exactly according to plan.

Pretty much everyone on Twitter has kept their blue check marks, despite Musk previously announcing a plan to phase out legacy verified accounts and require people to pay for verification beginning April 1.

Since taking over Twitter in October, Musk has launched a massive cost-cutting scheme, which includes laying off almost 75 percent of all staff, auctioning off everything in the company’s San Francisco headquarters, and just not paying rent.

He also unveiled Twitter Blue, a subscription plan in which users can pay for a verification check mark, as well as increased visibility on the platform. The plan costs $8 for individual users and $1,000 for U.S.-based businesses and organizations, plus $50 for each subaccount.

But as of Monday, everyone still had their check marks. The only difference was that, before, you could click on an account’s check mark to see if they were a legacy verified account or a Twitter Blue subscriber. Now, no distinction is made.


Well, almost everyone: The New York Times no longer has a check mark. Twitter removed the Times blue check mark on Sunday, after a user pointed out that the paper has expressed no interest in paying to be a verified account. In a now-deleted tweet, Musk also said Sunday that Twitter would give verified accounts “a few weeks grace, unless they tell they won’t pay now, in which we will remove it.”

Considering that no one—from the White House to journalists and professional athletes—was going to pay for Twitter Blue, it’s no surprise that Musk had to pivot. But lumping paying users and legitimately notable accounts together is dangerous.

The point of verification is to prove that a person or organization of public interest is who they claim to be. Misinformation has already risen significantly since Musk took over and gutted Twitter’s content moderation policies. Now, it will be even more difficult to tell if the information an account shares can be trusted.

Sorry Elon, No One Cares About Losing Their Blue Check Mark on Twitter

The White House, news organizations, and celebrities are all saying they have no interest in paying for verification.

Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty Images

On the eve of Elon Musk’s plan to phase out existing verified accounts and install a new order—in which anyone can pay a monthly fee in order to get a blue check mark next to their name, as well as a series of other privileges—it seems most users are simply … not interested.

Everyone, from professional athletes to elected officials to journalists, is opting out of Twitter’s attempt to fill the financial hole left gaping wide after Musk took over the social media website.

The cost for Musk’s Twitter Blue scheme is $8 (or $11 through Apple’s iOS) per month for individuals, while businesses and organizations in the United States would be charged $1,000 per month, plus a $50 fee for each affiliated subaccount (employees, other organizational divisions, etc.).

Musk’s Twitter has tried to mitigate the slow-motion car crash. An internal document revealed Twitter is considering waiving fees for the top 500 advertisers and 10,000 most-followed organizations that were previously verified. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t matter.

CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported that The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, Politico, Vox Media, The Washington Post, and CNN will all not pay for Twitter Blue services for their journalists. Most confirmed their organizations will not pay for the institutional account either.

And on Friday, Axios reported that the White House also will not pay for Twitter Blue for its staffers or for the official White House account. “It is our understanding that Twitter Blue does not provide person-level verification as a service. Thus, a blue checkmark will now simply serve as a verification that the account is a paid user,” White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty wrote to staffers in an email.

Even star athletes like Lebron James and Patrick Mahomes have said they will not be paying for Musk’s last-ditch Hail Mary.

It’s all fun and games watching yet another Musk endeavor fall flat, but of course the stakes are indeed very high. One example of many came just this week, as a verified account tweeted a screenshot falsely depicting a news outlet sharing a fake quote from the father of a victim in the Nashville school shooting calling for “the end of the trans evil.” And that is just a drop in the bucket of all the moderation problems Twitter has already been dealing with; Musk’s overhaul of verification will escalate an ongoing disaster.