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New House Speaker Once Blamed Abortions for Social Security, Medicare Cuts

Mike Johnson tried to justify Republican cuts to the social safety net in the most inane way.

House Speaker Mike Johnson
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The new House speaker, Mike Johnson, has touted some extremely controversial opinions as a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus—but few as unsavory as his apparent hatred for a woman’s right to choose, sizing a woman’s worth up as her ability to create more workers for American businesses.

In a clip that surfaced Tuesday, Johnson put the onus of Republican cuts to essential programs on unborn children, claiming that if American women were producing more bodies to churn the economy then Republicans wouldn’t have to cut essential social programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Roe v. Wade gave constitutional cover to the elective killing of unborn children in America,” Johnson said, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

“You think about the implications of that on the economy; we’re all struggling here to cover the bases of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and all the rest. If we had all those able-bodied workers in the economy, we wouldn’t be going upside down and toppling over like this,” he added.

Johnson has also co-sponsored at least three bills hoping to ban abortion at a nationwide level, including the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children From Late-Term Abortions Act, and the Heartbeat Protection Act of 2021, all of which carry criminal penalties of up to five years in prison for physicians who perform abortions.

Well, We Have a Speaker. He’s an Election Denier and an Extreme Christian Fundamentalist.

Meet Mike Johnson, Republicans’ new House speaker.

Representative Mike Johnson
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Republicans have at long last elected a House speaker: Representative Mike Johnson, a fundamentalist Christian who was also once called a key “architect” in Congress’s efforts to overthrow the 2020 election.

Johnson finally secured the speaker’s gavel after Republican infighting left the House without a speaker for 22 days. He secured 220 votes.

Johnson is a four-term congressman representing Louisiana. His win also represents the rise of the MAGA front in the Republican Party. Earlier Wednesday morning, Donald Trump endorsed Johnson as House speaker—after quickly killing Tom Emmer’s nomination the day before.

After the 2020 presidential election, Johnson led the amicus brief signed by more than 100 Republicans that sought to overturn election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. And he publicly bragged that he did it because Donald Trump called him up.

On January 6, 2021, as hordes of rioters stormed the Capitol, 139 Republican representatives—two-thirds of the entire party—voted to dispute the Electoral College results. The New York Times described Johnson as key to this effort, calling him the “most important architect of the Electoral College objections.”

Johnson convinced his colleagues, based on his expertise in law, that the way to object the results was on the grounds of “constitutional infirmity.”

Many states changed election rules during the pandemic, allowing mail-in ballots and early voting systems without approval of state legislatures, which Johnson argued was unconstitutional and could be used to reject the results from those states.

Johnson previously worked as senior attorney and spokesperson for Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, a Southern Poverty Law Center–designated hate group that pushes its far-right agenda through the courts. Johnson is also an evangelical Christian who has said, “My faith informs everything I do.”

That may include his history of using extreme, homophobic language. CNN uncovered some of his previous rhetoric, which includes calling homosexuality “inherently unnatural” and a “dangerous lifestyle” that would lead to legalized pedophilia and could destroy “the entire democratic system.”

“Experts project that homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic,” he wrote in another 2004 column.

While working with the ADF, Johnson wrote an amicus brief opposing the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned state laws criminalizing gay sex.

He has also opposed LGBTQ rights at every other turn. He voted against bipartisan legislation to codify same-sex marriage, which President Biden signed into law earlier this year. In 2022, he introduced what advocates called a federal “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The legislation would have banned classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation through the third grade. Johnson called the bill “common sense.”

He has voted for a national abortion ban and co-sponsored at least three bills that would restrict abortion on a nationwide level. The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America has given him an A+ rating.

In his spare time, Johnson hosts a religious podcast with his wife called “Truth Be Told.”

Ahead of the House floor on Wednesday, Democratic Representative Pete Aguilar warned the chamber about the Times’ quote calling Johnson an architect of the Electoral College objections.

Republican Representative Anna Paulina Luna publicly cheered, “Damn right!”

This article has been updated.

Guess Which Group Ron DeSantis Just Banned from Florida Campuses

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is launching an attack on students who care about Palestine.

Ron DeSantis
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The head of Florida’s public university system has called for the statewide shutdown of Students for Justice in Palestine on all campuses.

In a letter released on Tuesday, Chancellor Ray Rodrigues argued that all chapters of the pro-Palestine group must be “deactivated.” The letter also stated that the new directive was issued “in consultation with” Governor Ron DeSantis.

The letter pointed to a tool kit released by the national student-led organization, “which refers to [Hamas’s October 7 attack] as ‘the resistance’ and unequivocally states: ‘Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement.’”

This tool kit, Rodrigues wrote, shows that SJP is linked to “a terrorist led attack.” The letter also noted that under Florida law, it is a felony to “knowingly provide material support … to a designated foreign terrorist organization.”

The SJP has two active chapters in the state: at Florida State University and the University of North Florida.

Numerous instances of harassment and assault have occurred on college campuses following Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7 and Israel’s ongoing bombardment and siege on the Gaza Strip.

DeSantis has not helped cool down any of these tensions. On October 15, DeSantis claimed Palestinians “are all antisemitic,” while arguing that the United States should not take in Palestinian refugees. 

“You have Israelis being held hostage, as well as Americans being held hostage, but I don’t think they are under an obligation to be providing water and these utilities while those hostages are being held. Hamas should return those hostages before any discussions are had,” DeSantis told CBS’s Face the Nation.

DeSantis’s latest move is already under attack by free speech advocates. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression has called Rodrigues’s demands “dangerous” and “a threat to free speech.”

There’s no indication from the chancellor’s letter that any action from Florida’s Students for Justice in Palestine groups went beyond expression fully protected by the First Amendment,” FIRE wrote in a statement.

House Republicans Lose Their Mind After Reporter’s Question About 2020

A reporter tried to ask the newest House speaker candidate a tough question. Chaos ensued.

Representative Mike Johnson
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Republicans lost their mind as they tried to defend their new House speaker hopeful on Tuesday, even from legitimate questions poking at his efforts to help overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Republican Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson has been described as the “most important architect” of the Electoral College objections to Biden’s presidency on January 6, 2021. He also  led the amicus brief signed by more than 100 Republicans that sought to overturn election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

But moments after Johnson won the GOP’s nomination, his caucus wasn’t keen to entertain questions about any of that.

When ABC News reporter Rachel Scott attempted to ask a question related to Johnson’s deep involvement in Trump’s coup, the Louisiana congressman began shaking his head, ushering a cacophony of “Boos” from the horde of Republicans flocking him, which included Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Representative Lauren Boebert.

Some congressmen took the jeering a step further.

“Shut up,” shouted Representative Virginia Foxx.

“This audio is so telling, and defining,” tweeted former Florida Representaitve David Jolly in reaction to the scene. “There’s a euphoria to tonight for Johnson and Republicans, but he’ll regret this. It’s not even manufactured grace, it’s dismissive of reality—on a most critical matter with significant implications for 2024.”

Republicans’ New Speaker Pick Led Effort to Overturn 2020 Election

Representative Mike Johnson, who may be the next House speaker, played a key role in the attempt to overthrow the 2020 election results.

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House Republicans excited they finally (maybe) found their next speaker: Representative Mike Johnson

It’s Day 22, and the House still doesn’t have a speaker, though the GOP selected another designee out of an apparent carousel of contenders late Tuesday.

Republican Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson, a four-term congressman representing Louisiana, is the latest of the batch to try to unify the divided caucus. Johnson’s beliefs are a sweet spot for many GOP members: He’s anti-LGBT and rallied against Roe v. Wade. And when it comes to the 2020 election, he’s just a less dumb version of Jim Jordan, who played a close role in January 6 but failed to secure the speaker’s gavel earlier this month.

In the days following the 2020 presidential election, Johnson played a more subtle but still key part: He led the amicus brief signed by more than 100 Republicans that sought to overturn election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Then, on January 6, 2021, 139 Republican representatives voted to dispute the Electoral College results, in large part thanks to a loophole nitpicked by Johnson, who The New York Times described as the “most important architect of the Electoral College objections.”

According to the Times, it was Johnson’s lawyerly nuance that made him dangerous.

Offering possible objections based on what he described as “constitutional infirmity,” Johnson claimed there were grounds to reject the election results from states that permitted pandemic-induced state modifications to mail-in ballots and early voting systems that bypassed the approval of state legislatures.

Ultimately, it was Johnson’s work that allowed Republicans to seize on the events of January 6 for political profit, helping them transform their brand from dangers to democracy to defenders of electoral integrity, and garner grassroots support and donations from corporate backers who had once denounced them.

According to a leaflet from Johnson’s office obtained by Punchbowl News, Johnson’s core principles include: individual freedom, limited government, the rule of law, peace through strength, fiscal responsibility, free markets, and human dignity—though none of those seemed to conflict with his belief in overturning the 2020 presidential election results.

Only a few GOP members have indicated so far that they will not support him in a floor vote. His endorsers include Majority Leader Steve Scalise, fellow contender Representative Kevin Hern, and perhaps most critical, Donald Trump.

The Michael Scott look-alike is the second person to snag the speaker nomination in just one day, after Majority Whip Tom Emmer resigned mere hours after his own nomination.

Another One: Mark Meadows Flips, Exposes Trump’s Election Lies

Donald Trump’s former chief of staff has turned against him.

Amanda Voisard/for The Washington Post/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s “special friend” and last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has completely flipped against his former boss, testifying before a grand jury that Trump was fundamentally “dishonest” about his 2020 presidential election fraud claims.

Meadows allegedly met with special counsel Jack Smith’s team three times this year, reported ABC News Tuesday. The former Trump ally agreed to have one of those meetings occur before a federal grand jury in exchange for immunity.

According to unnamed sources that spoke with the outlet, Meadows told federal investigators that Trump knew he was lying when he claimed he won mere hours after the polls closed on election night and that his losses in key states were all “a major fraud.”

“Obviously we didn’t win,” one source recalled Meadows saying.

Meadows also claimed that he had insisted to Trump that his voting fraud allegations were completely unfounded, the outlet reported.

To this day, Meadows said he has yet to see any evidence of fraud. The former Trump aide, who openly mocked the election claims in the weeks following the vote, ultimately agreed with government assessments that the 2020 election was one of the most secure in the nation’s history.

Michael Cohen Stares Down Trump and Drops Fraud Trial Bombshell

Donald Trump’s former fixer has testified against him in the New York fraud trial.

Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Steps away from his former boss for the first time in five years, Michael Cohen on Tuesday dropped a giant bombshell during Donald Trump’s New York fraud trial.

While Trump scoffed and shuffled, Cohen described at length how Trump made up numbers and then told Cohen to artificially inflate the real estate mogul’s net worth, sometimes by as much as billions of dollars, in order to broker better deals with banks and insurance companies.

“I was asked by Trump to increase total assets based upon a number he arbitrarily elected, and my responsibility was to reverse engineer and increase those assets to achieve the number Trump had tasked us to,” Cohen told the court on Tuesday.

Cohen said that, at times, Trump would summon him and Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg to claim he was “not worth four and a half billion dollars” but rather “worth more of six,” according to the Associated Press.

The former Trump crony also said that Trump’s eldest children, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, would share information about their projects to inflate the former president’s financial statements, reported Axios.

Outside of court, Trump shirked Cohen’s testimony, claiming that Cohen was a “proven liar.”

“I’m not worried at all about his testimony,” Trump said. “He’s not a credible witness.”

Judge Arthur Engoron issued a summary judgment in September that found New York Attorney General Letitia James had already proved Trump misvalued his properties and committed business fraud, soon after canceling the business certificates of Trump’s companies. What remains to be seen in the trial is whether Trump violated other laws and, ultimately, what kind of financial penalty he might have to pay.

Cohen held several significant roles in Trump’s sphere, including as personal counsel to Trump, vice president of the Trump Organization, co-president of Trump Entertainment, and board member of the Eric Trump Foundation, and he served as deputy finance chairman to the Republican National Committee between 2017 and 2018. He also once pledged he would “take a bullet” for Trump.

Day 21: Republicans Lose Their House Speaker Pick in Record Time

Goodbye, Tom Emmer, we hardly knew ye.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
House Majority Leader Tom Emmer and Representative Elise Stefanik

On Tuesday, the Republican caucus rallied and picked Majority Whip Tom Emmer as its next House speaker.

Also on Tuesday—just four hours later—Emmer dropped out of the race.

Emmer won the nomination Tuesday morning with 117 votes, while 26 Republicans voted against him. In the next few hours, Donald Trump came out against Emmer as speaker, even going so far as to text his brutal Truth Social post to the Republican caucus.

Several Republican lawmakers began to voice concern that Emmer would never win the nomination on the House floor. Representative Matt Gaetz, who voted for Emmer just hours earlier and started this mess by leading the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, said, “It’s really important that the speaker of the House have a good relationship with the leader of our party. That’s Donald Trump.”

It’s clear that Emmer heard the criticism loud and clear. In a House Republican caucus meeting on Tuesday afternoon, he reportedly left the meeting without a word. News then broke that he dropped out.

It has been 21 days without a House speaker.

Astros Fans Are Pissed at “Cursed” Ted Cruz for Attending the Game

The “Cruz curse” is back—and Houston Astros fans are not happy.

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Senator Ted Cruz offended fellow Houston Astros fans Monday night—simply by showing up.

Ahead of Monday’s playoff game against the Texas Rangers, an outpouring of Astros fans begged the Texas congressman not to make an appearance in the stands, reported Rolling Stone.

“I appreciate that Ted Cruz, as a dad, loves taking his kids to the @astros games,” tweeted one fan. “But for the love of all things Houston, let Heidi take them! Send them with friends! It’s game 7 man. We can’t risk this. The whole city is asking you.”

Still, Cruz appeared, and they bombed, losing to the Rangers 11–4. Attendees were seen piling toward the exits by the sixth inning when the Astros were already down 10–2.

Cruz has spent a lot of time inadvertently pissing off Houston fans lately. So far in the MLB postseason, the Astros have lost all five home playoff games attended by the jinxed senator, reviving what locals dub the “Cruz Curse.”

“No matter which team you support in the all-Texas ALCS, you definitely don’t want @tedcruz near your team,” tweeted Texas state Senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat running to defeat Cruz and nab his Senate seat, a week before Cruz attended two losing Astros games.

“For 7 years, Catherine & I have attended nearly EVERY Astros home playoff game,” Cruz tweeted in response to the controversy, calling Rolling Stone “lying hacks.”

“If they’re going to blame me for our recent home losses, pls also credit us for TWO World Series Championships & SEVEN consecutive ALCS’s—we were there cheering Stros on,” Cruz added.

Monday’s blowout loss wasn’t the first major loss attributed to Cruz’s curse. In 2018, losing fans pointed fingers at the senator’s courtside appearance during the Houston Rockets’s Game 7 loss to the Golden State Warriors, when the Rockets missed a record 27 straight attempts from three-point range.

Others have criticized Cruz for compromising their teams when he doesn’t seem to love sports in the first place. Fans seemingly haven’t forgotten Cruz’s blunder during the 2016 Republican primaries, when he referred to a basketball hoop as a “basketball ring.”

Republicans Pick Yet Another Election Denier as Next House Speaker

Republicans keep nominating one election denier after the next.

Representative Tom Emmer
Win McNamee/Getty Images

After weeks of failed attempts, Republicans have their latest nominee for speaker of the House: Majority Whip Tom Emmer.

Emmer won the majority vote in a series of quick-fire elimination rounds held Tuesday, ultimately garnering 117 votes.

Nine candidates initially raised their hands and crafted platforms for their speakership ahead of Tuesday’s proceedings—nearly all of them election deniers. Emmer, unlike the majority, voted to certify the 2020 presidential election results and railed against objections to Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s election results, but it’s critical to note that he still worked to spread election falsehoods.

In the days preceding the January 6 Capitol riot, the Minnesota congressman was one of more than 100 Republicans who signed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to throw out Biden’s winning numbers in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Somehow, Emmer’s stance stands out against the opinions of his predecessors, Representatives Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise, who both voted to overturn the results.

Emmer’s insider perspective and congressional experience were enough to earn key endorsements early on in his candidacy, including those of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Representative Ken Buck, who led a holdout vote against Jordan’s failed candidacy last week.

It still remains to be seen if Emmer can hold onto his popularity until the House reconvenes for a floor vote, considering the splintering party’s razor-thin majority.