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Of Course They Are: The Right Is Blaming Hawaii Wildfire on Wokeness

Far-right figures are somehow blaming DEI for the disaster in Maui.

Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

As Hawaii reels from devastating wildfires and considers how to rebuild, far-right figures are… blaming wokeness for the whole thing.

The conspiracy theory essentially goes like this: An Obama-backed Hawaii official delayed the diversion of water to firefighters during the wildfires in Maui, because that official is a native Hawaiian who respects how water is used.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy helped fan the flames of the right-wing conspiracy theory on Thursday, arguing that “DEI,” or diversity, equity, and inclusion, is to blame for the whole thing.

“[W]e’re learning that the official who delayed the approval is an Obama Foundation ‘Asia Pacific Leader’ & a climate activist,” Ramaswamy tweeted. He’s a “climate activist who believes water should be ‘revered’ first and foremost. The DEI agenda is literally costing people their lives.”  

The theory targets M. Kaleo Manuel, the deputy director of the Hawaii Commission for Water Resource Management (CWRM), following reports that requests for more water were delayed by officials.

On August 10, West Maui Land Co. Inc. sent a letter addressed to Manuel alerting him of a communication issue that occurred the day before.

According to the letter, West Maui Land Co. had reached out to CWRM to alert officials that the reservoirs firefighters were using to combat the wildfires were near-empty, and to request access to nearby streams. While much of the initial fire was already contained by then, West Maui Land was seeking additional resources for fire control. In response, CWRM asked if the Maui fire department was requesting commission, and directed West Maui Land Co. to inquire with a downstream user to ensure that their use of the stream would not be impacted by the diversion.

Permission was eventually granted, but only five hours after the initial request, and by that time “a flare up had shut down the Lahaina Bypass.”

“We watched the devastation unfold around us without the ability to help,” the letter said.

Here is the part that has right-wingers up in arms: Manuel had previously made comments about how native Hawaiians consider water one of the “earthly manifestations of God.” In a 2022 panel on sustainability, Manuel said that people have become used to “looking at water as something which we use, and not necessarily something we revere as that thing that gives us life.”

That comment has become the basis for right-wingers’ attack.

Elon Musk, happy to fan the flames of conspiracy, responded to a tweet which contained a clip of Manuel at the 2022 panel, saying that Manuel “refused” to release water. “Doesn’t that make him in large part responsible for their deaths?” Musk tweeted.

The clip first began circulating on X, formerly known as Twitter, after Jeremy Kauffman, a libertarian activist, shared it with the caption: “Meet M. Kaleo Manuel, the official who refused to release water in Maui, contributing to up to 106 deaths.” Kauffman also made sure to note that Manuel was a “Hawaiian studies major” in college.

Charlie Kirk, president of Turning Point USA, also reshared the video from Kauffman on X. “I’m sure all the victims of the Maui fire are grateful their leaders were focused on worshipping water rather than using it to save their lives,” Kirk wrote.

Conservative media outlets, like The Washington Examiner and The Free Beacon, have elevated the smear campaign further.    

Again, Manuel’s comments are from nearly 10 months ago, and they’re not even that wild on their face: It does make sense to think about how we use water, as our planet deals with a spiraling climate crisis. But the right really loves its own conspiracy theories.

Trump Plans to Upstage Republican Debate With Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson has privately told people he hates Trump “passionately.” Now, Trump wants to sit down with him for an interview.

Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Donald Trump has officially decided he will not attend the Republican presidential debate. Instead, he’ll do an interview with Tucker Carlson, who has privately said he hates Trump “passionately.”

Trump made the decision within the last 24 hours, The New York Times reported Friday, citing anonymous sources briefed on his plan. A date has not been set for the interview yet, but if he goes through with it, then all of the buzz and attention is expected to be on him instead of his opponents.

The former president has been toying for months with passing on the debate. His decision-making process involved talking to aides and asking crowds at rallies whether he should participate or not. Trump’s logic is that he is the frontrunner, so there’s no need for him to debate. (Trump should, of course, have to participate in the debate and explain his policy ideas to voters.) He also said he won’t sign the Republican loyalty pledge required to participate.

Why would I Debate? I’M YOUR MAN,” he wrote on Truth Social Thursday night.

Agreeing to an interview with Carlson is an extra poke in the eye for Fox News, which is broadcasting the debate. Trump has called Fox a “hostile network” and criticized his former favorite network for not covering his campaign events.

Carlson was the network’s star anchor, but he was unceremoniously fired earlier this year. He has since begun streaming a terrible show on Twitter, while Fox’s viewer numbers tanked. They have since bounced back somewhat, but nowhere close to the ratings that Carlson drew.

Fox never revealed why it fired Carlson, but it was likely due to private messages Carlson sent that were revealed during the network’s lawsuit with Dominion Voting.

Just two days before the January 6 attack, Carlson texted someone about Trump’s time in office. “We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest,” he said. “But come on. There really isn’t an upside to Trump.”

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait,” Carlson texted, adding, “I hate him passionately.”

Judge Smacks Down Trump’s Fourth Attempt to Delay E. Jean Carroll Case

Is E. Jean Carroll tired of winning yet?

E. Jean Carroll
Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

A judge on Friday rejected Donald Trump’s fourth attempt to delay E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against him, slamming the former president’s arguments as “frivolous” and “without merit.”

Trump was unanimously found liable in May for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault. He was ordered to pay her about $5 million in damages. She has a second defamation lawsuit against him that is set to go to trial in January.

Trump has repeatedly tried to halt the second defamation suit. In December, he first began to argue that he has total presidential immunity against any lawsuits. The presiding judge rejected Trump’s three previous attempts to make this argument, and Friday was no different.

“Mr. Trump’s motion for a stay pending appeal…is denied. This Court certifies that the appeal itself is frivolous,” Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in the ruling.

Kaplan pointed out that Trump simply recycled arguments, sometimes verbatim, from his three previous unsuccessful appeals. Trump insists that the lawsuit should be delayed because he is likely to successfully appeal for presidential immunity and that he would be subjected to “irreparable harm” without a stay.

“Mr. Trump has not provided a single reason for the Court to find that there is any likelihood that he will succeed on appeal,” Kaplan said.

The judge also noted that Trump’s argument of irreparable harm is “entirely…without merit in the unusual circumstances of this case.” Trump waited three years before bringing up his presidential immunity defense, and then another seven months before he actually moved to use that defense. His actions prove that Trump is just fine continuing to litigate the case, Kaplan said, and he only began to argue about immunity when it became clear he would have to stand trial.

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 first 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 the disastrous CNN town hall. She amended her second lawsuit, which is still pending, to include those comments.

Trump’s case for presidential immunity also recently lost a major argument in his favor: The Justice Department no longer considers him immune.

Trump’s Lawyer Was at the Capitol on January 6—With Alex Jones

Kenneth Chesebro was an architect of the fake electors plot, and he was caught on camera outside the Capitol.

Brent Stirton/Getty Images
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The lawyer who came up with the idea of using fake electors to overthrow the 2020 election was at the Capitol on January 6, a revelation that experts say could add fuel to the federal indictment against Donald Trump.

Kenneth Chesebro, the original architect of the fake elector scheme, attended the rally on January 6 that eventually turned into the insurrection, CNN reported Friday. It is unclear if he entered the Capitol, but video footage shows Chesebro following conspiracy theorist and “Infowars” host Alex Jones into sections of the restricted area around the building.

Chesebro has been identified as one of the co-conspirators listed in special counsel Jack Smith’s federal indictment against Trump for trying to overthrow the 2020 election. He is also named as a co-defendant in the fourth indictment against Trump, on efforts to overturn Georgia’s election results.

Chesebro is the only unindicted co-conspirator in the federal case and the only member of Trump’s legal team now known to have been at the Capitol on January 6.

“Even if Chesebro is simply a diehard Infowars fan, I think that would further illustrate how thin the line was between the serious, credentialed people who sought to undermine election results and the extremist figures who sought to unleash havoc was in that period, to the extent it meaningfully existed at all,” Jared Holt, an expert at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which investigates extremism, hate and disinformation, told CNN.

Chesebro first gained national attention when it was revealed he had come up with the plan to use fake electors to swing the election for Trump. As it turns out, he never actually thought that plan would succeed. Chesebro acknowledged in an internal memo that he was suggesting a “bold, controversial strategy” that the Supreme Court would “likely” ultimately reject.

The point of Chesebro’s plan was not to actually pass legal and judicial scrutiny. Instead, Chesebro’s goals were to increase the spotlight on the baseless claims of voter fraud and to give Trump’s campaign more time to win its multiple lawsuits challenging the vote results. (Judges threw out every single one of those lawsuits because they had no basis.)

The new discovery that Chesebro was at the Capitol on January 6 could add another weapon to Smith’s arsenal. Ryan Goodman, a former Defense Department special counsel, suggested that prosecutors could threaten to charge Chesebro for unlawfully entering the Capitol grounds in an attempt to get him to flip on Trump.

Vivek Ramaswamy Wants to Give Putin Whatever He Wants in Ukraine

“Our goal should not be for Putin to lose,” the Republican candidate boldly claimed.

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Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has a reckless plan for achieving U.S. global dominance: giving away other countries’ territory.

Ramaswamy is already under fire for his objectively terrible plan to let China invade Taiwan after 2028 if he were elected. Now, the presidential hopeful thinks that Russia should be allowed to keep the parts of Ukraine it currently occupies.

“Our goal should not be for Putin to lose. Our goal should be for America to win,” Ramaswamy told CNN Thursday night.

Ramaswamy said that U.S. involvement in Ukraine is strengthening the RussiaChina military alliance—and the only way to break that alliance and bring Russia around to the American side is to give Vladimir Putin what he wants.

“I would freeze the current lines of control, and that would leave parts of the Donbas region with Russia,” Ramaswamy explained. “I would also further make a commitment that NATO will not admit Ukraine to NATO. But there are even greater wins that I will get for the United States.”

Ramaswamy seems to be under multiple false impressions with this diplomatic plan, the first being that the United States has the authority to simply give away parts of another sovereign nation. He also appears to believe that if he visits Moscow, he can single-handedly buddy up to Putin enough to convince the Russian leader to drop a highly advantageous military alliance.

And as anchor Jim Acosta rightly pointed out, Putin is unlikely to stop with Ukraine. He wasn’t satisfied with annexing Crimea in 2014 and now wants all of Ukraine. If he is allowed to keep parts of Ukraine, it’s possible that he’ll try to invade somewhere else such as Poland, a NATO member—which would require military intervention from the rest of the members.

This plan is just as bad as Ramaswamy’s strategy for Taiwan. Earlier this week, Ramaswamy proposed letting China take over Taiwan after 2028, which he believes is when the U.S. would build up its own supply of semiconductors. Taiwan produces about 60 percent of the global supply of semiconductors, which are microchips crucial to making all electronic devices.

Ramaswamy said he intends to dramatically up the firepower around Taiwan during his first term, to make clear to Beijing that they should “not mess” with the island until the U.S. has semiconductor independence. After that, China can do whatever it wants. It did not seem to occur to him that China would likely interpret these moves as acts of aggression and respond in kind. Nor does he seem to realize that it’s highly unlikely China would listen to his proposed arrangement.

But despite his only campaign points being battling “wokeness,” taking away rights, and, apparently, allowing authoritarian governments to do whatever they want, Ramaswamy is somehow rising in the polls.

Georgia Republicans Want to Impeach Fani Willis. They’re Going to Fail.

Republicans are so mad about Trump’s indictment they’re going after Fani Willis.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis

A Republican Georgia state senator is so mad that Donald Trump was indicted that he is moving to impeach the investigating district attorney—even though his plan has no chance of working.

Trump was indicted for a historic fourth time late Monday, and charged with racketeering for trying to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. District Attorney Fani Willis spent more than two years investigating the former president and building her case against him and 18 co-defendants.

As a Georgia State Senator, I am officially calling for an emergency session to review the actions of Fani Willis,” Senator Colton Moore tweeted Thursday. “America is under attack. I’m not going to sit back and watch as radical left prosecutors politically TARGET political opponents.”

Moore called to strip funding from Willis’s office and impeach her. He shared a letter to Governor Brian Kemp, stating that the “undersigned” members of Congress, “comprising ⅗ of each respective house pursuant to Article IV, Section Il, Paragraph VI(b)” urged him to call a special session.

Here’s where Moore’s plan falls apart. In order to call a special session, either the governor or three-fifths of both the state House and Senate have to call one. This is clearly laid out in Article V of the Georgia state constitution. (Moore cites Article IV, which deals with the venue for a civil lawsuit.)

Moore also is the only member of the state legislature who has signed the letter. While Republicans have the majority in the state assembly, they only make up three-fifths of the Senate. House Democrats are unlikely to agree to Moore’s proposal.

Kemp is also unlikely to call a special session. He has been one of the most vocal Republicans to rejecte Trump’s claims that the Georgia election was fraudulent.

And even if a special session were somehow convened, the budget for Willis’s office is set by the Fulton County Commission, not the state assembly. So Moore’s plan holds absolutely no water. Instead, he and other Republicans are simply having a tantrum over Trump being held accountable.

Desperate Rudy Giuliani Visited Mar-a-Lago to Beg Trump for Help With Legal Fees

Things are not looking very good for Trump’s former lawyer.

Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

A desperate Rudy Giuliani traveled all the way to Mar-a-Lago to beg Donald Trump to pay his legal bills—but the former president didn’t seem all that interested in donating, according to a new CNN report

Giuliani and his lawyer Robert Costello visited the former president in April, in the hopes that an in-person appeal to Trump would better persuade him to help pay for Giuliani’s steadily growing legal bills.

Giuliani and Costello met with Trump twice while visiting Mar-a-Lago, and while Trump verbally agreed to pay some of Giuliani’s bills, he was unspecific about how much he’d be offering and didn’t give a timeline for his financial support.

“It’s not a smart idea” for Trump to deny Giuliani’s request for funds, a source told CNN.

Trump, of course, is notorious for not paying his legal team, but he may want to stay in Giuliani’s good graces in the wake of the newest indictment out of Fulton County, Georgia. 

On Monday, Giuliani was indicted along with Trump and 17 other co-defendants for helping to overturn the 2020 election. Giuliani faces 13 charges, including racketeering. It is likely that Giuliani will be under immense pressure to cooperate with federal and state prosecutors.

Trump did make some small promises to Giuliani, sources say. He agreed to stop by two fundraisers for Giuliani, and to cover an outstanding fee from Trustpoint, a data vendor hosting Giuliani’s records. A few months after their meeting, Trump’s Save America PAC paid $340,000 to Trustpoint.

Giuliani has been in dire straits for months and is facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills.

At a hearing on Wednesday in the ongoing defamation lawsuit against the former mayor brought by Smartmatic, the voting technology company, another attorney for Giuliani told the judge that Giuliani does not have the money to pay additional legal costs to produce records for that case.

“There are a lot of bills that he’s not paying,” Giuliani’s attorney Adam Katz said at the hearing. “I think this is very humbling for Mr. Giuliani.” 

With the new indictment, Smartmatic’s defamation suit, his former associate’s sexual abuse lawsuit against him, and yet another lawsuit over an anti-Biden documentary scam, this is looking like it will be a very expensive year for the former mayor. If only his partner in crime were willing to foot the bill.

New Explosive Roger Stone Video Dooms Donald Trump’s Main Legal Defense

The video was filmed before the election results had even been announced.

Roger Stone
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New explosive footage of Roger Stone strategizing to overturn the 2020 presidential election—before the vote was even called for Joe Biden—dooms Donald Trump’s main legal defense.

The video, aired on MSNBC Wednesday night and shot by filmmaker Christoffer Guldbrandsen, depicts the right-wing lobbyist dictating a fake elector plot in key battleground states. The video was taken on November 5, 2020, two days before the election was called, thus disproving Trump’s main defense that he and his allies genuinely believed they had won the race.

“Any legislative body may decide on the basis of overwhelming evidence of fraud to send electors to the electoral college who accurately reflect the president’s legitimate victory in their state which was illegally denied him through fraud,” Stone said, as an associate transcribed his words. “We must be prepared to lobby our Republican legislatures … by personal contact and by demonstrating the overwhelming will of the people in their state—in each state—that this may need to happen.”

Trump was indicted for the fourth time and charged with 13 counts in Georgia on Monday.

Stone is not named as a co-defendant in the indictment. He could, however, potentially be one of the 30 unnamed, co-conspirators.

The clip was part of Guldbrandsen’s documentary, A Storm Foretold, released in March of this year. Guldbrandsen told The Daily Beast that Stone was “upset” when the documentary aired.

In another clip from the documentary taken on November 1, 2020, Stone said Trump needed to claim victory early on election night.

“I really do suspect it’ll still be up in the air. When that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law,” he said.

Florida Republicans’ New Plan Is to Fine Abortion Clinics Into Bankruptcy

A major abortion clinic in Florida is facing a $200,000 fine, as Republicans continue their attacks on reproductive rights.

John Parra/Getty Images for MoveOn
An abortion rights activist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Florida health regulators have fined an Orlando abortion clinic nearly $200,000, a move that is purportedly for violating a state abortion law and would likely bankrupt the health center into closing.

Abortion is currently legal up to 15 weeks in Florida, but patients are required to wait 24 hours between the initial visit with their doctor and getting an abortion. The state legislature passed a law mandating the waiting period in 2015, but it did not go into effect until 2022.

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration said that the Orlando Women’s Center has violated the waiting period 193 times since the law took effect, and on Monday ordered the abortion clinic to pay a $1,000 fine for each violation.

The total $193,000 total is nearly triple the fine that a judge recommended in the spring. Administrative law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper issued an order that said the clinic should only pay $350 per violation.

The clinic said in court filings that it repeatedly asked the AHCA, which is led by a Ron DeSantis appointee, when the waiting-period law went into effect, but they never heard back. The AHCA has made multiple efforts to fine abortion clinics for not complying with this particular law.

Democratic state Representative Anna Eskamani, who represents Orlando, slammed the fine. “This is a local abortion provider that is being charged excessive fees by AHCA all designed to shut them down,” she said Thursday on Twitter. She also shared a fundraiser for the Orlando Women’s Center organized by a group of abortion clinic escorts, who help guide patients past protesters.

Florida’s 15-week abortion ban will go before the state Supreme Court in September. If the court upholds the law, then an even more restrictive measure banning abortion at six weeks—before people know they are pregnant—will go into effect.

DeSantis signed the hugely unpopular six-week ban in April. If it is implemented, it will decimate abortion access for much of the southern United States.

Meanwhile, the pro-abortion group Floridians Protecting Freedom is working to get an abortion rights referendum on the state’s 2024 ballot. The group says they have collected nearly three quarters of the 900,000 verified signatures from registered voters required for the ballot initiative.

If they succeed, then abortion protections would likely be enshrined in the state constitution, overriding any laws the legislature has passed. A February study by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 64 percent of Floridians believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Trump’s Lawyers Beg Him to Cancel Press Conference on “Rigged” 2020 Election

Trump promised to show proof of voter fraud in the 2020 election—and his lawyers are very worried.

Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s legal team is begging him to abort his stupid plan to publicly refute the newest indictment against him by proving voter fraud in the 2020 Georgia election.

After his fourth indictment late on Monday, the former president promised to hold a press conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, and finally show irrefutable proof that the Georgia election was rigged.

In a post on Truth Social, Trump claimed to have a “Large, Complex, Detailed but Irrefutable REPORT on the Presidential Election Fraud which took place in Georgia.” But now, his own team is trying to prevent him from delivering it.

Trump’s legal advisers have told him that holding a press conference to refute the charges against him will only serve to embroil him in a more messy legal situation, sources told ABC News. Some of his attorneys have even advised him to cancel the event altogether.

For once, listening to his lawyers may be wise, especially considering that next week is going to be very busy for Trump, what with the whole turning-himself-in thing. Not to mention, the first Republican presidential debate is set for August 23, just two days before the deadline for Trump and his 18 co-defendants to turn themselves in.

Trump has said he’s still thinking about whether or not to attend, but now he may be planning to use his arrest to upstage his opponents on the day.