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Dem Congressman Exposes GOP’s Favorite “FBI Weaponization” Talking Point

"It is not the fault of the FBI that Donald Trump surrounded himself with criminals,” Ted Lieu said.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

California Representative Ted Lieu thoroughly debunked the Republican talking point that the FBI has been weaponized against them by pointing out the obvious: The Trump administration was already packed with “criminals.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. He faced repeated questions from Republicans about whether the FBI targets the GOP, specifically former President Donald Trump. Wray, of course, denied their accusations.

But Lieu offered the most striking defense of the bureau when he listed how many members of Trump’s inner circle had been convicted. Lieu asked Wray about Roger Stone, Elliott Broidy, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos, all of whom were found guilty of various crimes in federal court.

Lieu pointed out that all of the advisers were prosecuted by Trump appointees: Bill Barr, Matthew Whitaker, and Jeff Sessions. Wray, who was already leading the FBI at the time, is also a Trump appointee.

“What these facts show is we don’t have a two-tiered system of justice,” said Lieu, referring to a favorite Republican talking point regarding Trump’s federal indictment. “We have one Department of Justice that goes after criminals regardless of party ideology.”

“It is not the fault of the FBI that Donald Trump surrounded himself with criminals.”

Lawyer Who Helped Overturn Affirmative Action Venmoed Clarence Thomas Aide

The Supreme Court justice aide received payments for a “Christmas Party” from several top lawyers with cases before the court, according to a new report.

Clarence Thomas
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It’s a big club and still, you most certainly are not in it.

An array of high-rolling lawyers with cases before the Supreme Court paid money to one of Justice Clarence Thomas’s top aides through Venmo. The Guardian reports that these lawyers have done everything from successfully arguing against affirmative action, to leading the charge to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to, well, protect the environment.

These top lawyers appeared to be paying for exclusive access to a Christmas party hosted by the justice, according to the payment descriptions on Venmo. The former aide, Rajan Vasisht, received seven payments in November and December of 2019, The Guardian reports; each Venmo payment was listed with descriptors like “CT Christmas Party,” or “Thomas Christmas party.”

The payments could have well been for anything; none of the implicated parties responded to The Guardian’s questions or request for comments.

One of the lawyers paying the Thomas aide was Patrick Strawbridge, a partner at Consovoy McCarthy, who successfully helped overturn affirmative action. Another was Kate Todd, former White House deputy counsel under twice-impeached, twice-indicted, and liable for sexual abuse former President Donald Trump. Yet another party-going lawyer was Elbert Lin, West Virginia’s former solicitor general, who was very influential in a Supreme Court case that limited the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. And that’s just a taste of who attended.

So while scores of communities in Vermont and New York succumb to catastrophic flooding, while Texans and Floridians pant and collapse in the sweltering heat, you can trust that the lawyers responsible for such conditions will still be happily toasting champagne glasses and noshing on their hors d’oeuvres.

The latest chapter of Our Corrupt Supreme Court comes in an already bursting-at-the-seams book of malfeasance.

Beyond the Venmo payments, Thomas has received secret and lavish gifts for decades from the Nazi memorabilia–collecting billionaire and GOP donor Harlan Crow, including luxurious island-hopping excursions on superyachts, tuition payments for his grandnephew’s private schooling, and even a secret deal in which Crow bought Thomas family property and proceeded to upgrade it while Thomas’s mother still lived in it.

Justice Neil Gorsuch successfully sold a 40-acre property he had been trying to sell for two years to an undisclosed buyer; the buyer of the nearly $2 million Colorado ranch was the CEO of a law firm that has since had 22 cases with business before the court.

Justice John Roberts’s wife has allegedly been paid more than $10 million by an array of high-class law firms—at least one of which has argued before her husband in the Supreme Court.

And that all—normalized corruption, to more outward displays of it—doesn’t even include other issues, like Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh being alleged sexual abusers.

Did Republicans Just Open the Door for Biden to Win Iowa?

An extreme abortion ban, passed in the dead of night, could tip things in Biden’s favor.


Iowa Republicans passed a bill banning abortion after six weeks, an extreme move that could tip the state for Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election.

State lawmakers passed the bill in the dead of night Tuesday, pushing it through the Senate with a vote of 32–17 after a day of massive protests in the state Capitol. The measure now heads to the desk of Governor Kim Reynolds, who will likely sign it, despite the widespread opposition.

Iowa currently allows abortion up to 20 weeks, and the majority of state residents—61 percent—support access to the procedure. A six-week abortion ban would target people before they even know they are pregnant, and make Iowa one of the most extreme anti-abortion states in the country.

Republican Governor Kim Reynolds had signed a six-week abortion ban in 2018, but that measure was struck down the following year in the courts. After Roe v. Wade was overturned, Reynolds asked the courts to reinstate the 2018 ban, but the state Supreme Court was deadlocked on the issue, leaving the 20-week law in place.

So last week, Reynolds summoned the state legislature back for a special session with “the sole and single purpose” of passing a six-week ban. The bill includes an exception for rape only if the rape is “reported within forty-five days of the incident to a law enforcement agency or to a public or private health agency.”

Huge crowds packed the state Capitol building on Tuesday to protest against the bill. Many suspect that Reynolds is vying for a vice presidential nod—and one constituent called her out while testifying against the measure for using the abortion ban to “score political points.”

But as Iowa Republicans celebrate taking away bodily autonomy from their constituents, they may have rung their own death knell. Biden won 44.9 percent of Iowa votes in 2020, compared to Donald Trump’s 53.1 percent. But the new abortion bill could tip the scale in the other direction.

The GOP may not want to admit it, but abortion wins elections. An overwhelming majority of Americans—62 percent, to be exact—still think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center. What’s more, people consistently vote in favor of increasing abortion rights protections. Come 2024, Republicans may learn that the hard way.

Trump Just Lost a Huge Fight in the E. Jean Carroll Case: Immunity

The Justice Department is refusing to back Donald Trump on this one.

E. Jean Carroll
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
E. Jean Carroll

Donald Trump just lost another big fight in his ongoing legal troubles.

The Justice Department said Tuesday that it no longer considers Trump immune in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against him.

Trump was unanimously found liable in May for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s, and for defaming her while denying the assault. He was ordered to pay her about $5 million in damages. But Carroll also has a second, pending defamation case against Trump, which dates back to 2019 and includes comments he made about her while in office. The Justice Department had previously said Trump was acting in his role as president when he made the comments, meaning he was immune from legal action.

But now, “the Department of Justice is declining to certify … that defendant Donald J. Trump was acting within the scope of his office and employment as President of the United States when he made the statements that form the basis of the defamation claims in plaintiff’s Amended Complaint in this action,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton said Tuesday.

This means that if Trump is found guilty of defamation, he will be responsible for any potential damages awarded to Carroll. She is seeking $10 million in damages in her second defamation case against him.

Boyton cited a recent legal challenge over whether the initial certification of immunity was valid. The case moved between New York and Washington, D.C., and produced no clear result. In a letter to presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan and Trump’s legal team, Boynton explained that the Department “lacks adequate evidence to conclude” that Trump was motivated by a “purpose to serve the United States Government” when he denied assaulting Carroll and made the allegedly defamatory statements about her.

Carroll’s lawyer Robbie Kaplan (no relation to the judge) hailed the Justice Department’s decision. “We have always believed that Donald Trump made his defamatory statements about our client in June 2019 out of personal animus, ill will, and spite, and not as President of the United States,” she said in a statement. “Now that one of the last obstacles has been removed, we look forward to trial in E. Jean Carroll’s original case in January 2024.”

Carroll accused Trump in her 2019 memoir of raping her in the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. She initially sued him twice for defamation: first in 2019, when he said she made up the rape allegation to promote her book, and again in November for posts he made about her on social media. Carroll is not the only woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault, but her case was the first to make it to a courtroom.

Trump continues to vehemently deny all of the allegations and launched fresh vitriol at Carroll during a disastrous CNN town hall in May. She amended her second lawsuit to include those comments.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly tried to thwart Carroll’s various lawsuits, asking multiple times that the 2019 defamation suit be thrown out, and even begging for a new trial altogether.

Meanwhile, he is facing two criminal indictments, and a third that may be coming later this summer.

Safe to say this situation has just gone from bad to worse.

“Shame!”: Iowa Protesters Try to Stop Republicans’ Extreme Abortion Ban

The Iowa legislature is holding a special session with the singular aim of passing the abortion ban.

Abortion rights advocates protest indoors. One person in the foreground holds a sign reading "Abortion is health care." Another in the background reads "Bans off our bodies."
LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images
An abortion rights protest in Columbia, South Carolina, as lawmakers there debated a six-week abortion ban in May.

Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday at the Iowa state Capitol to protest a bill that would ban abortion after six weeks, targeting people before they even know they are pregnant.

Iowa currently allows abortion up to 20 weeks, and the majority of state residents—61 percent—support access to the procedure. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds had signed a six-week abortion ban in 2018, but that measure was struck down the following year in the courts. After Roe v. Wade was overturned, Reynolds asked the courts to reinstate the 2018 ban, but the state Supreme Court was deadlocked on the issue, leaving the 20-week law in place.

So last week, Reynolds summoned the state legislature back for a special session with “the sole and single purpose” of passing legislation that would ban abortion once a “fetal heartbeat” can be detected. Medical professionals warn that the term “fetal heartbeat” is misleading because six-week-old fetuses only have electrical pulses. There isn’t actually a heart yet, just clusters of cells.

Many suspect that Reynolds is vying for a vice presidential nod—and a constituent called her out on Tuesday for using the abortion ban to “score political points.”

Massive crowds packed the Capitol in Des Moines as lawmakers debated the legislation.

The chants of “Shame!” and “Hey hey! Ho ho! Abortion bans have got to go!” were so loud they could be heard inside the chamber.

Lawmakers are expected to continue debating into the night, and could even vote on the measure at that time. The bill Reynolds is pushing includes an exception for rape, but only if the rape is “reported within forty-five days of the incident to a law enforcement agency or to a public or private health agency.”

Despite widespread public opposition, Republican lawmakers have repeatedly used special exceptions to force through abortion bans. In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster also called lawmakers back for a special session to pass an abortion ban, and then signed the measure into law with no warning to doctors. A judge blocked the measure in May while lawsuits against it play out.

Supreme Court’s Anti-LGBTQ Ruling Has Already Incited Discrimination

A Michigan hair salon says it will refuse to serve customers over their use of pronouns.

Someone waves a Pride flag in front of the Supreme Court
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

An owner of a Michigan hair salon says the business will begin discriminating against LGBTQ people—just days after the Supreme Court legalizing discrimination against the community.

Christine Geiger, the owner of Studio 8 Hair Lab in Traverse City, said she is exercising her right to free speech by discriminating against specific customers.

“If a human identifies as anything other than a man/woman, please seek services at a local pet groomer,” Geiger wrote in a Facebook post. “You are not welcome at this salon. Period.”

While the salon’s Facebook page has been deleted and its Instagram profile has been set to private, that should not be mistaken as any remorse. The business’s Instagram biography reads: “A private CONSERVATIVE business that does not cater to woke ideologies.”

In a comment in a community Facebook group, Geiger elaborated. “I have no issue with LGB. It’s the TQ+ that I’m not going to support,” she began. “For those that don’t know what the + is for, it’s for MAP (Minor Attracted Person aka: pedophile),” she continued, lying. Scores of other community members responded, noting that she was downright wrong.

And while Geiger has said she is “not a slave to any narrative” but simply looking to make a stance on the issue, she has not responded to any of the individuals calling out her ethical reasoning or factual premises. Nor is she apparently bold enough to keep her social media pages public, despite claiming to be “more than willing to take the first rounds of strike backs” to galvanize others to “bark back” (an interesting choice of words while calling LGBTQ people animals who should go to pet groomers).

Notably, Geiger’s position spoke directly to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the First Amendment trumps civil rights, and discrimination is okay if your values say the other person is “illegitimate.”

“I am admitting that since I am not willing to play the pronoun game or cater to requests outside of what I perceive as normal this probably isn’t the best option for that type of client,” Geiger wrote.

The announcement also followed easily re-elected Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signing legislation in March that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

While Geiger purports to have concern over the safety of children and stability of society, she herself has in the past actually and repeatedly flouted those concerns. In 2009, for instance, the hair salon owner was charged with third-offense drunken driving and second-offense operating a vehicle with a suspended license; records had shown her driving drunk twice the previous year. In 2021, 13,384 people died in drunk driving-related incidents. No one has died as a result of an LGBTQ person getting a haircut.

Actually, White Nationalists Are Racists, Tuberville Now Says

The acknowledgement comes after the Alabama senator insisted that white nationalism was a matter of "opinion."

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.

After significant media scrutiny, Senator Tommy Tuberville has acknowledged the connection between white nationalism and racism.

“White nationalists are racists,” Tuberville told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon. Although this may appear to be a simple admission, as white nationalists by definition believe that white people are inherently superior, Tuberville had struggled to reach this conclusion.

The Republican from Alabama told CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins on Monday that white nationalism “is just a name that’s been given,” appearing to conflate white supremacist beliefs with simply being white. When Collins informed Tuberville that “a white nationalist is a racist,” Tuberville replied: “Well, that’s your opinion.”

On Tuesday morning, Tuberville said “I’m totally against racism,” but indicated that he did not see the connection between white nationalism and racism.

“If Democrats want to say that white nationalists are racist, I’m totally against that too,” Tuberville told ABC News’ Rachel Scott. When Scott pressed him on whether he believed white nationalists are racist, Tuberville responded: “Yes, if that’s what a racist is, yes.”

On Tuesday, Democrats slammed Tuberville for his comments, with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calling on the Alabama Republican to apologize. “No, he needs to apologize,” Tuberville responded.

Senator Raphael Warnock also called on Tuberville to apologize and “change course.” He told reporters: “White nationalism is racism, by definition. It’s not a matter of opinion. And for the senator to play games with this is dangerous.”

Meanwhile, other Republican senators reiterated that they think racism and white nationalism are bad.

White supremacy and racism have absolutely no place in our country, period,” Senator Katie Britt, Tuberville’s colleague from Alabama, told reporters. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that “white supremacy is simply unacceptable in our military and in our entire country.”

This was not Tuberville’s first time obscuring the connection between white nationalism and racism. In May, he said that he believed white nationalists should not be prevented from serving in the military.

“I call them Americans,” Tuberville said then, arguing that military readiness in the U.S. was lacking because “Democrats are attacking our military, saying we need to get out the white extremists, the white nationalists, people that don’t believe in our agenda.”

Tommy Tuberville Refuses to Admit White Nationalists Are Racist

The Republican senator now says the definition of white nationalism is a matter of “opinion.”

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Senator Tommy Tuberville

Senator Tommy Tuberville can’t—or won’t—wrap his mind around the fact that white nationalism is inherently racist.

The Alabama Republican has insisted multiple times in recent months, including twice in the past 24 hours, that while racism is bad, white nationalists are not racist. The Southern Poverty Law Center defines white nationalists as groups that “espouse white supremacist or white separatist ideologies, often focusing on the alleged inferiority of nonwhite persons. Their primary goal is to create a white ethnostate.” So it’s pretty clearly an ideology based on racism.

White nationalist “is just a name that’s been given,” Tuberville told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins Monday night, seemingly intentionally conflating being white and being a white nationalist. “So if you’re going to do away with most white people in this country out of the military, we’ve got huge problems.”

People have different beliefs, and “if racism is one of those beliefs, I am totally against it,” Tuberville said.

When Collins told him that that was what white nationalism entailed, Tuberville said, “Well, that’s your opinion.”

When ABC reporter Rachel Scott pressed him on the matter Tuesday morning, Tuberville doubled down, insisting the racism element was simply one definition of white nationalism, but not the definition.

Even more frightening than Tuberville’s seemingly deliberate obtuseness, though, is why he is defending white nationalists: He believes they should be allowed to serve in the military. In May, the senator said white nationalists should be allowed in the U.S. military because blocking any ideological group from serving would weaken the institution. Tuberville also referred to the military as a “strong, hard-nosed, killing machine,” which could possibly explain why he thinks extremists belong in the armed forces.

But if we’re talking about a weakened military, Tuberville should look in the mirror. Marine Corps Commandant David Berger stepped down Monday, leaving the corps leaderless for the first time in more than a century. His replacement has been nominated but not yet confirmed because Tuberville has blocked hundreds of military promotions since March in objection to the Defense Department’s abortion policy. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has warned Tuberville’s blockade “harms America’s national security” and poses a “clear risk” to the military’s readiness.

QAnon Shaman Wants to Take On Neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes at GOP Event

Who is the real ALPHA MALE?

(Fuentes) Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto/Getty Images; (Chansley) Win McNamee/Getty Images

The QAnon Shaman is not happy about sharing the spotlight with Nick Fuentes.

College Republicans United, a group whose hallmark values include “opposition to immigration and multiculturalism,” and spreading “Christian Nationalism across the country,” is hosting its national convention later this month. And the antisemitic and white nationalist Fuentes is set to headline the event alongside Jake Chansley, who earned more of his notoriety as the QAnon Shaman after rioting at the Capitol on January 6.

Chansley apparently “was not aware” that he’d be “sharing the stage with someone who wants a 16-year-old wife”—and he’s now apparently taking the supposed surprise as a challenge to “expose” Fuentes as a “false prophet.”

Hours after expressing his incredulity, Chansley confirmed he will attend the conference to “show these college republicans what a REAL alpha male looks & sounds like”:

Fuentes has indeed expressed his desire for a 16-year-old child bride—when he turns 30 years old. But even beyond that, Fuentes has racked up quite a record. He was previously banned from social media outlets for violent rhetoric about people of color, women, Jewish people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, Covid-19, and much more. He has also proudly said he’s “just like Hitler” (whom he has also called “a pedophile … also really fucking cool”), and that “Catholic monarchy, and just war, and crusades, and inquisitions” are much better than democracy.

Chansley meanwhile has long been active in trying to spread the QAnon conspiracy theory. After the 2020 election, he focused his efforts on challenging the election results, specifically in Arizona, culminating in his participation in the January 6 attack on the Capitol (and in a photo of him with his fist raised as he stood on the dais on the Senate floor).

Meanwhile, the original venue for the conference, the Hassayampa Inn, has announced that the “event will no longer be held” there anymore. Now, the College Republicans United website ambiguously says the conference will be held in downtown Prescott, Arizona. “This year’s convention promises to be bigger, better, and more impactful than ever before,” the organization assures, noting that the actual location will be “made public July 28th.”

The event will include other members of the far right—including neo-Nazi streamer “Baked Alaska” and a former Arizona Representative expelled from the state House. It was originally set to include other since-delisted speakers, like former Arizona Representative David Stringer, who resigned after refusing to cooperate with an ethics investigation into previous charges against him for paying two boys under the age of 15—one who was developmentally disabled—$10 each to have sex with him.

Out of all that, though, Chansley’s discomfort with the event is focused primarily on Fuentes. May the Alpha Male games begin!

This article has been updated.

U.S. Attorney Smacks Down GOP “Whistleblower” Claims on Hunter Biden

Prosecutor David Weiss, a Trump appointee, is pushing back on Republicans.

Hunter Biden
Kris Connor/WireImage
Hunter Biden

The federal prosecutor investigating Hunter Biden’s taxes hit back at Republican claims that the Justice Department had blocked the probe.

The president’s much-embattled son agreed to a plea deal in June that will see him plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of tax evasion and participate in a pretrial program for a gun offense. Hunter will avoid jail time under the deal, which was negotiated with Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss and has infuriated Republicans.

Shortly before the deal was struck, an IRS agent accused Weiss—a Trump appointee—and Justice Department officials of dragging their feet on investigating Hunter Biden. In particular, the agent, Gary Shapley, alleged Weiss said in October that Weiss did not have final say on whether charges would be filed.

Shapley also claims Weiss said he had been blocked from pursuing charges in D.C.—where Hunter supposedly committed his most serious crimes—and that the Justice Department would not grant him special counsel status, which would have let him bring charges outside his jurisdiction. Republicans have jumped on Shapley’s claims as proof that the Hunter Biden investigation did not go far enough.

Weiss hit back at those claims Monday evening in a letter to Senator Lindsey Graham. “To clarify an apparent misperception and to avoid future confusion, I wish to make one point clear: in this case, I have not requested Special Counsel designation,” Weiss wrote.

He explained that he would have been granted that status “if it proved necessary,” although he did not say who ultimately decided that it did not. Weiss also said he had “never been denied the authority to bring charges in any jurisdiction.”

Weiss had previously smacked down Shapley’s claims in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan. Republicans have seized on Shapley’s accusations as part of their sprawling and evidence-less investigations into the Biden family’s alleged corruption.