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Texas Senate Votes to Defund Public Libraries That Host Drag Storytimes

Two bills passed by the Senate would further restrict drag performances in the state.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Drag Queen Ona Louise reads a book during a story time reading at the Cheer Up Charlies dive bar on March 11 in Austin, Texas.

The Texas Senate passed a double-whammy of bills attacking drag performances and the businesses that host them, the latest attempt by Republicans to criminalize drag.

Senate Bill 12, which passed Tuesday by a vote of 21-10, would criminalize drag performances that occur or could occur in front of a minor if they appeal to “prurient interest” or of a sexual nature. Performers could be charged with a misdemeanor, while any business that hosts the show would face a $10,000 fine. Two Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bill, although one later switched his vote.

Senate Bill 1601 passed by a vote of 20-9, with the same two Democrats joining Republicans. The measure would defund public libraries that host drag storytimes (events where drag performers read to children). The bill does not mention “prurient interest” and so would apply to any event where “the person being dressed as the opposite gender is a primary component of the entertainment.” This means that a female librarian dressed as the wizard Gandalf, for example, could be banned.

Democrats slammed the bill for being overly broad, which could result in unintended consequences. Senator Roland Gutierrez pointed out that pop star Miley Cyrus has dressed “as a man” and danced sexually during her performance. Under the bill, her shows could be banned.

Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, where 19 children and two adults were killed in a school shooting last summer, pointed out that Republicans could protect children by passing stricter gun laws instead of drag bans.

His remark prompted cheers from people watching in the gallery, but the Republican Senate president warned Gutierrez that if he didn’t stick to the topic of the drag bills, he wouldn’t be recognized to speak again.

The bills now move to the House of Representatives. They are just the latest measures throughout the country attacking drag performers, who have increasingly become a target for right-wing bile, with attacks ranging from drag storytimes at public libraries to police investigations.

Tennessee was the first state to pass a law banning drag performances in public, although the measure was blocked by a federal judge at the eleventh hour. Florida’s Senate committees have approved a bill that would ban drag performances in public, including at Pride celebrations, and punish businesses that host such shows. And Montana’s Senate Judiciary Committee heard a bill Tuesday that would ban drag in public and label any business that hosts a drag show as a “sexually oriented business.”

Wisconsin Republicans Are Already Talking About Impeaching the Newly Elected Liberal Judge

Republicans have the majority needed to impeach Janet Protasiewicz, who has vowed to protect abortion rights.

Jeff Schear/Getty Images for WisDems

Wisconsin Republicans are already considering impeaching newly elected Democratic state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz, who won in a landslide victory.

Protasiewicz won Tuesday night with 55.5 percent of the vote, according to The New York Times, flipping the state’s high court to the left for the first time in 15 years. The election was the most expensive state judicial race in U.S. history, and the outcome will determine the future of abortion rights and electoral districts in Wisconsin.

Her win comes ahead of a challenge to Wisconsin’s abortion law. Abortion is currently banned in the state by a law from 1849, which was triggered after Roe v. Wade was overturned. A lawsuit challenging the legislation is due to be heard in court next month, and the case is expected to reach the state Supreme Court. Protasiewicz’s win means abortion rights are now likely to triumph.

And Republicans just aren’t having it.

Dan Knodl was elected to the state Senate on Tuesday, eking out a win with just 50.9 percent of the vote. His victory gives Republicans a supermajority in the chamber—and the power to impeach public officials.

Knodl has already floated the idea of impeaching Protasiewicz. Last week, he said he would “certainly consider” launching impeachment proceedings against her.

“I feel the Milwaukee County justice system is failing,” he told the local political talk show UpFront, adding that he thought Protasiewicz “has failed” in her then role as circuit court judge.

Knodl is no stranger to refusing to accept democratic outcomes: He was one of 15 Wisconsin legislators who urged then–Vice President Mike Pence not to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

His idea to impeach Protasiewicz gained support from Republican state Senator Duey Stroebel, who called the plan unlikely but “certainly not impossible.”

“If she truly acts in terms of ignoring our laws and applying her own personal beliefs, then maybe that’s something people will talk about,” he said last week, referring to her stances on abortion and gerrymandering. “If the rulings are contrary to what our state laws and Constitution say, I think there could be an issue.”

Protasiewicz’s opponent, Dan Kelly—who gave a historically terrible concession speech—has also made his personal stances on issues such as abortion clear, arguing that pro–abortion rights groups want to “preserve sexual libertinism” and comparing the procedure to murder. Presumably, Republicans wanted him to win because of those views.

Brandon Johnson Wins Chicago Mayoral Election, Against All Odds

The former public school teacher and labor organizer won voters over with his new vision for Chicago.

Jacek Boczarski/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Brandon Johnson has defeated Paul Vallas and won the race for Chicago’s mayoral election, projects the Associated Press.

Johnson leads Vallas 51.4–48.6 percent, with 91 percent reporting.

Johnson’s victory marks the success of a campaign with its back against the wall from the start. In December, over 70 percent of Chicago voters had no opinion of Johnson; meanwhile, the top four vote-getters were Congressman Chuy Garcia, incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Vallas, and perennial candidate Willie Wilson.

But the Cook County Commissioner, labor organizer, and former social studies teacher steadily climbed the ranks. In February, Johnson edged out Lightfoot and Garcia, who both were seen as front-runners, to move on to a runoff against Vallas. After his victory, Johnson went on to gain endorsements from the likes of Jim Clyburn, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. And now he has defeated Vallas.

The mayor-elect comes into office with an extensive background in the public education system and in labor organizing. In 2011, Johnson joined organizing efforts with the Chicago Teachers Union, contributing to the 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike that earned teachers a 17.6 percent pay rise over four years. The strike also reframed education reform efforts to speak more directly to student concerns: class sizes; funding for music, art, and physical education; paid teacher preparation time; and less standardized test emphasis.

While much of the race has been steeped in narratives and questions surrounding crime, Johnson has largely remained committed to a platform that aims to reimagine public safety.

“I’m grateful that there is so much hope that we can provide the city,” Johnson told TNR in January. “And to transform this city into a place where it’s safe for everyone … it’s very humbling to be in a moment where this could be a historical moment that people will look to for guidance as other cities look to do the same thing.”

Republicans Are Now Going After the Manhattan Judge’s Daughter in Attempt to Discredit the Indictment

This could incite political violence against the judge and his family.

Donald Trump Jr. sits at a table and points his finger angrily
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

As twice-impeached Donald Trump became the first former president to ever be criminally indicted and arrested, his sons and Marjorie Taylor Greene were busy circulating stories from right-wing outlets drawing attention to the daughter of the New York judge presiding over Trump’s hush-money payment case.

This is sure to become a future line of attack for Republicans seeking to dismiss the entire case against Trump.

In seeking to discredit Judge Juan Merchan, the far-right Republicans argue there is conspiracy given that Merchan’s daughter previously worked for Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign.

They and others on the right argue that they’re simply sharing articles relevant to the trial. But given the heightened anger by some on the right as Trump confronts legal consequences, and given the precedent of conservative figures whipping up political violence, the fear is incitement against not only Merchan but his daughter as well—who has no involvement in the case at hand.

A Trump Tower Doorman Who Said Trump Had a Child Out of Wedlock Was Paid $30,000 in Hush Money

Well, this was unexpected.

Timothy A. Clary/Pool/Getty Images

Did Trump have a child out of wedlock?

Twice-impeached former President Donald Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records on Tuesday. Trump became the first former president ever to be indicted, for his role in disbursing hush-money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels. And what else was among those payments? A $30,000 payment to a former Trump Tower doorman for their silence about a potential Trump child out of wedlock.

“In one instance, American Media Inc. (‘AMI’), paid $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman, who claimed to have a story about a child TRUMP had out of wedlock,” the Manhattan district attorney’s office announced Tuesday, referring to the company that owned The National Enquirer at the time.

While the case’s focus has largely been on Trump directing his former lawyer Michael Cohen to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels, another $30,000 appears to have been spent elsewhere.

“During the election, TRUMP and others employed a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects,” the district attorney’s office noted. “TRUMP then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws.”

Though the district attorney’s office did not specify, it seems the doorman might be Dino Sajudin, according to a 2018 report from The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow. Sajudin allegedly told a National Enquirer reporter that Trump had possibly fathered a child out of wedlock with a former housekeeper. Sajudin apparently passed a lie detector test on the idea, prompting AMI to pay him for the exclusive rights to the story, all in order to kill it.

While the payment has been previously confirmed by other outlets and now affirmed in the district attorney’s statement of facts, there has not been confirmation on the affair, or whether a child came out of it, by any of the alleged involved parties. AMI also later concluded that the story was false, as the Manhattan district attorney’s office noted.

The housekeeper in question has denied the affair’s existence. “This is all fake,” she previously told the Associated Press.

So it’s not certain whether this child exists or with whom Trump may have allegedly had the affair, or even who the doorman was. But the new revelation adds yet another dimension to the financial entanglements Trump wound himself into in order to buy people’s silence.

This post has been updated.

Here Are the Exact Charges Against Donald Trump

The former president is facing 34 counts.

Former President Donald Trump facing criminal charges at the Manhattan Criminal Court on April 4.

Donald Trump was charged Tuesday with 34 counts of business fraud. He pleaded not guilty to all of them.

Trump became the first former president ever to be criminally charged last week when a Manhattan grand jury indicted him for his role in hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. He has rejected all allegations, even posting a denial on Truth Social as he was being driven to a Manhattan court for arraignment.

The charges were unsealed after his arraignment Tuesday afternoon. Trump is accused of knowingly participating in a $130,000 payment made by his then–personal attorney Michael Cohen to Daniels just days before the 2016 election to stop her from going public about a decade-old extramarital affair.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s Statement of Facts refers to another 2016 hush-money payment of $150,000 to a second woman, who is assumed to be former Playboy model Karen McDougal, again to keep her quiet about an affair from 2006.

And perhaps most shocking and unexpected, it also refers to a $30,000 payment from American Media Inc., or AMI, then parent company of the National Enquirer, to a former Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about Trump having a child out of wedlock.

Neither the indictment nor the Statement of Facts mentions Daniels or McDougal by name.

This is just the start of Trump’s legal woes. He is also under investigation for trying to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, for his role in the January 6 insurrection, and for his alleged mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

He could go on trial as soon as late April for allegedly defaming writer E. Jean Carroll, who has also accused Trump of raping her.

Read through the 16-page indictment here.

This post has been updated.

Here’s the Moment Trump Was Officially Arrested

The former president surrendered to arrest for criminal charges.

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Almost eight years after he announced his bid for presidency, and seven years after “Lock Her Up” became a calling chorus for his supporters, twice-impeached former President Donald Trump has been arrested.

On Tuesday, Trump surrendered to authorities as he faces over 30 criminal charges for his role in paying hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels to silence her from speaking out about an alleged affair the pair shared.

Here’s the moment Trump surrendered.

Watch Marjorie Taylor Greene Compare Donald Trump to Nelson Mandela and Jesus

Sure, a hush-money payment to cover up an alleged extramarital affair is exactly what Jesus would do.

Marjorie Taylor Greene wags her finger amid a crowd of people, including reporters
Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene believes that with his criminal indictment, Donald Trump has entered the upper echelons of martyrdom.

Trump is the first former president ever to be criminally charged. He is set to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in a Manhattan court for his role in hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Republicans have rushed to his defense, with Greene traveling to New York to hold a rally in his support outside the courthouse.

In an interview on the conservative Right Side Broadcasting Network, Greene likened Trump to other famous people who have been arrested, such as Nelson Mandela and Jesus.

Mandela was arrested for his opposition to racial segregation in South Africa. Jesus was arrested for performing miracles and founding a new religion. Trump was indicted for allegedly paying to cover up an extramarital affair. The charges against him have yet to be unsealed, but they reportedly include a felony charge of falsifying business records and violating campaign finance law.

Same, same.

There Are More News Crews Than Trump Supporters at the Protest in New York

Trump fans are not showing up for the former president ahead of his indictment.

Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg/Getty Images
A Trump supporter and a protester clash outside the criminal court in New York on April 4.

On Tuesday, as Donald Trump is set to be formally arraigned, tens of people came out in support of the twice-impeached and now criminally indicted former president.

As with an earlier pro-Trump protest in late March, there appeared to be a very large group of media reporters for every one Trump supporter.

The protest also hosted other Republicans especially unfit for office, like Representatives George Santos and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Greene, alas, was drowned out by the few protesters there and unable to carry out whatever performance she had planned.

Indeed, whatever words she did have to say were likely heard more by the cameras than by any protesters.

On one hand, the Trump indictment has already brought out the worst instincts in the political media. TV networks have incessantly blared every minor development in Trump’s movements, from Florida to New York.

But it’s not just Fox News; other networks are guilty too. And with CBS’s latest appallingly deferential interview with Greene, there’s reason to worry that the establishment media has no intention of heeding lessons from 2016.

Surely, the media ought to be present for Trump’s arraignment and suspected protests. But the sheer disproportionality doesn’t portend well. If tens of radicals protesting the indictment of a former president for using a shell company to pay hush money to a porn actress garner this much attention, events like a Florida lawmaker being arrested for advocating for abortion rights or three Tennessee lawmakers facing expulsion and even assault after standing with children protesting gun violence warrant so much more.

But given the hardened conventions of mainstream television media, we already know what will get more attention.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Calls for Anti-Trump Protesters to Be Arrested for “Making Loud Noises”

The Georgia congresswoman comes up with something new every day, apparently.

Marjorie Taylor Greene stands with a grim face. Others stand around her, a couple in hard hats.
Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene wants everyone protesting against Donald Trump on Tuesday to be arrested for being too loud.

Trump is the first former president ever to be criminally charged. He is set to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in a Manhattan court for his role in hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Republicans have rushed to his defense, with Greene traveling to New York to hold a rally in his support outside the courthouse.

I’m here in NY to protest with my voice against the weaponization of the justice system on innocent President Trump, but the counter protestors are coming to commit assault that can cause audible damage to everyone’s ears including NYPD,” she tweeted Tuesday morning, without any evidence of the supposed audible assault.

“If counter protestors are violating freedom of speech and committing assault, they should be arrested.”

She singled out New York Mayor Eric Adams at the protest, saying, “You send your henchmen down here to commit assault against people by making loud noises.” In a video of her claim, most of the noise is from her speaking and one person blowing repeatedly on a whistle. (As it turns out, that person was a Trump supporter who didn’t even realize Greene was there or that he was drowning her out.)

Greene is a big fan of freedom of speech, but apparently not when you’re exercising that right to oppose her.

Adams had warned Greene and her supporters to “be on your best behavior.”

New York City is our home, not a playground for your misplaced anger,” he told a press conference Monday night.

Greene hit back at Adams for “trying to intimidate, threaten, and stop me from using my 1st amendment rights to peacefully protest,” a claim that further highlights the hypocrisy of her call for counterprotesters’ arrest.

At the time of writing, both the pro- and anti-Trump crowds were fairly small, so still not clear what audible “assault” Greene meant.