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New York Appeals Court Tells Trump to STFU

The court will again take up the near-impossible challenge of preventing the former president from saying things.

Donald Trump sits in court and stares off camera
Curtis Means/Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court in New York City.

A New York appeals court on Thursday reinstated the gag order in Donald Trump’s business fraud trial, ending a two-weeks-long flood of vitriol that hit shocking heights, even for the former president.

Trump wasted no time attacking Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the fraud trial, as well as Engoron’s law clerk, after an individual appellate judge put the gag order on hold as Trump’s legal team appealed the decision. A four-judge panel finally halted the verbal onslaught Thursday.

Engoron commented in court that the ruling also reinstates a separate gag order he had imposed on Trump’s lawyers. “I intend to enforce the gag orders rigorously and vigorously, and I want to make sure that counsel informs their clients of the fact that the stay was vacated,” he said.

Trump’s attorney Chris Kise said he was aware of the ruling and complained, “It’s a tragic day for the rule of law.”

The task of this particular litigation is to set damages; Engoron determined back in September that Trump had committed fraud. The New York attorney general accused Trump, his sons Don Jr. and Eric, the Trump Organization, and other company executives of fraudulently inflating the value of various real estate assets to get more favorable terms on bank loans.

Engoron ordered that all Trump’s New York business certificates be canceled, making it nearly impossible to do business in the state—a move that might effectively mean the demise of the Trump Organization.

Since the trial’s early days, Trump has aimed considerable amounts of ire at Engoron and his law clerk, Allison Greenfield. Trump’s lawyers even requested a mistrial, arguing Greenfield had been given an inappropriately prominent role in the trial, despite the fact that she is a trained lawyer. Law clerks also usually do most of the research for a trial and draft court orders, which the judge then signs.

Engoron saddled Trump and his lawyers with gag orders over the former president’s repeated attacks. He also fined Trump a total of $15,000 for violating that gag order twice.

After the individual appellate judge lifted the gag order on November 16, it took Trump just a few hours to start ranting about Engoron and Greenfield on social media. He wrote on TruthSocial that Greenfield is a “politically biased and out of control, Trump hating clerk” and a “disgrace” who is “sinking” Engoron and his court “to new levels of low.”

Trump only escalated from there. Just Wednesday, he claimed that several posts on X (formerly Twitter) about his prospects of serving jail time had been made by Engoron’s wife. The posts were first discovered by Laura Loomer, a far-right activist and Trump fan.

“Judge Engoron’s Trump Hating wife, together with his very disturbed and angry law clerk, have taken over control of the New York State Witch Hunt Trial aimed at me, my family, and the Republican Party,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

It is not clear who made the posts, but Dawn Engoron has previously said she does not have an X account.

Soon-to-Be Expelled George Santos Wants In on All the Expulsion Fun

The New York lawmaker, who might be spending his last few hours as a congressman, really seems bitter about the whole experience.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
He seems chill.

With possibly just 24 hours left in Congress, Representative George Santos has decided that now he wants in on the expulsion entertainment, as well.

Congress is expected to vote Friday on whether to expel the serial fabulist. Santos, who has been taking the whole thing incredibly badly, announced Thursday that he will respond by introducing a motion to expel his fellow New Yorker, Democratic Representative Jamaal Bowman, because why not?

Santos told reporters he will introduce a resolution later Thursday to expel Bowman for pulling a fire alarm in a House office building ahead of a key vote. The resolution will be privileged, meaning the chamber has to act on it within two legislative days.

“I think that’s consistency,” Santos said. “Let’s hold our own accountable, but let’s make sure we do it with the precedent of the House.”

Bowman called Santos’s expulsion attempt “meaningless.”

“No one in Congress, or anywhere in America, takes soon-to-be former Congressman George Santos seriously. This is just another meaningless stunt in his long history of cons, antics, and outright fraud,” he said in a statement.

Bowman has maintained he pulled the alarm by mistake when rushing to enter the House chamber during a key vote. He has, nevertheless, taken responsibility for his actions, pleading guilty to one misdemeanor charge and agreeing to pay a $1,000 fine, as well as writing a formal apology to the Capitol Police.

Santos, by comparison, fabricated the vast majority of his personal and professional background and has been federally indicted for financial fraud and identity theft. A House Ethics Committee report released two weeks ago revealed Santos used his campaign to solicit donations, only to use that money for personal expenses. Those expenses include designer goods, makeup, cosmetic procedures, and “smaller purchases at OnlyFans.”

Santos dismissed the report Thursday as “slanderous,” “unprecedented,” and “littered in hyperbole.”

The embattled freshman congressman has lately been freaking over his possible expulsion. On Friday, Santos hosted a three-hour-long X (formerly Twitter) space, during which he ranted about his colleagues and said Congress was filled with “felons galore.”

In a curious move for someone who’s taken such a hard line against hyperbole, he also referred to himself as the “Mary Magdalene” of Congress, explaining that his fellow lawmakers have decided they’re “all going to stone this m-----f----- because it’s just politically expedient.”

In the interest of keeping the theological record straight, here are a couple points: Mary Magdalene was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and not the most likely person that a Jew (as Santos says he is) might cite as a means of comparison. It should also be noted that Mary Magdalene was not stoned to death.

In addition to misusing campaign funds and lying about his employment history, Santos has falsely claimed that his grandparents were Holocaust survivors, that his mother died in the 9/11 attacks, and that four of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Santos lied about founding an animal rescue charity and playing a role in producing the disastrous Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. (He has also lately been photographed holding far too many babies for this author’s tastes—if the Ethics Committee says he “cannot be trusted” to govern, it seems highly unlikely that he can be trusted to care for your baby.)

Santos has been federally charged with 23 counts of various types of financial fraud. He pleaded not guilty to the initial 13 in May, and he has denied the additional 10 that were filed in October in a superseding indictment. Earlier this year, he also agreed to a deal with Brazilian authorities investigating him for financial fraud so he could avoid prosecution. These are just some more of the facts that we all might finally be excused from having to know in a few days’ time.

Elon Musk Reveals His Super-Stupid Plan for Twitter’s Endgame

During his latest public meltdown, the forever-embattled billionaire mapped out how his failures are everyone else’s fault.

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New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin interviews Elon Musk during the Times’ annual DealBook summit on November 29.

Elon Musk appears to be running out of people to blame for what has been a cataclysmic collapse of X (formerly known as Twitter) during his tenure as that platform’s overseer. But in a public appearance on Wednesday, he sketched out his dubious strategy for avoiding responsibility for the site’s demise: As you might expect, it involved turning the finger of blame toward everyone but himself and naming corporations as the culprit for destroying the site through an ongoing advertising boycott of the platform.

Musk blurted this all out during an expletive-laden tantrum, during which he told a bevy of the company’s biggest advertisers that he didn’t want their money to support the platform anymore—which, in his own words, has lost 90 percent of its value since he bought it out just over a year ago.

“If somebody is going to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail with money? Go fuck yourself,” he told Andrew Ross Sorkin during the New York Times DealBook conference.

“I hope that’s clear,” he added, before calling out Disney CEO Bob Iger by name.

When pressed by Sorkin about the economics of a decision to peel back X’s reliance on advertisers, Musk spelled out, “G-F-Y.”

Advertisers have long been in revolt against Musk’s designs for the site, which have consistently made the platform less appealing for brands to appear upon. But in recent days, advertisers have found new reason to flee the site, after an explosive Media Matters report published earlier this month revealed that X was routinely placing antisemitic and pro-Nazi content alongside advertisements from reputable companies. The aftermath included the mass hemorrhage of some of X’s biggest and most risk-averse advertisers, including Apple, IBM, Disney, Lionsgate, and Paramount.

But in the billionaire’s world, his own actions—which included undermining X’s content moderation abilities, using his personal account to spread Nazi conspiracies, and allowing 105 percent more antisemitic hate speech to spread on the platform—are never to blame. Between the lines of his obscenity-laced freakout, Musk all but admitted that the site was in a death spiral and that he was pivoting to a new plan to absolve himself of any blame for its downfall—one in which, according to his telling, was spurred by a conspiracy among the site’s major advertisers to starve X of revenue.

“What the advertising boycott is going to do is it’s going to kill the company,” Musk said, adding that “Earth”—by which he seemed to mean the population of the planet—will ultimately render a verdict on who killed one of the largest tech companies of all time. “And the whole world will know that those advertisers killed the company, and we’ll document it in great detail.”

It’s far from clear that “Earth” will respond to X’s demise with anything other than indifference. As TNR has noted elsewhere, Musk consistently overestimates the user base of his platform: “A study by Pew Research found that fewer than one-quarter of U.S. adults use Twitter at all. Of this sliver of the population, an even tinier cohort is responsible for the vast majority of tweets: “The top 25% of users by tweet volume produce 97% of all tweets, while the bottom 75% of users produce just 3%.” As it stands, the only people likely to take up Musk’s cause will be the small rump of Musk die-hards that he’s trapped on his dying platform.

Musk’s comments were made just steps away from a stone-faced X CEO Linda Yaccarino, who was brought on partly to woo advertisers and will now be tasked with the futile endeavor of finding more in the wake of Musk’s rant.

As is her wont, Yaccarino responded to this most recent controversy with another one of the saccharine and detached-from-reality posts that have made her, in the eyes of Defector’s David Roth, “the last funny Twitter bit left.” “X is enabling an information independence that’s uncomfortable for some people. We’re a platform that allows people to make their own decisions,” Yaccarino posted, hours after the event. “And here’s my perspective when it comes to advertising: X is standing at a unique and amazing intersection of Free Speech and Main Street—and the X community is powerful and is here to welcome you.”

Good luck with all that.

The Supreme Court Isn’t Done Messing With Your Reproductive Rights

The high court’s last-minute business includes a key ruling that could upend patients’ ability to access medication abortions.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images

Here in the waning days of its most recent session, the Supreme Court is turning its attention toward some key abortion cases left on its docket.

On December 8, the court is expected to make a decision on whether to hear a case challenging the availability of a common abortion pill, mifepristone—a decision that could have some of the most dire outcomes for abortion access since the court’s conservative supermajority overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

Mifepristone was first developed in the 1980s and, along with misoprostol, it comprises one of a two-pill prescription jointly referred to as “the abortion pill.” Together, they account for more than half of all the abortions in the United States, according to a 2022 report by the Guttmacher Institute.

In April, a Trump-appointed judge halted access to the drug. Four months later, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the plaintiffs, the right-wing Christian organization Alliance Defending Freedom, ruling that while the pill was safe for market, the Food and Drug Administration had overstepped its role by taking several steps that expanded access to the drug in 2016: allowing women to access it 10 weeks into pregnancy instead of seven, lowering the standard dosage, and allowing the prescription to be accessed via telemedicine. None of those changes have been felt, however, thanks to a Supreme Court stay on the case. But all that could change should the nation’s highest court decide to hear the appeals.

“If the portions of that order affirmed by the Fifth Circuit are now allowed to take effect, it would upend the regulatory regime for mifepristone, with damaging consequences for women seeking lawful abortions and a healthcare system that relies on the availability of the drug under the current conditions of use,” the Justice Department wrote in court filings.

Given the chance, the plaintiffs would like to see more than curtailed access to mifepristone. In court filings, the Christian legal group made it clear that they hope the court would instead examine the drug’s original 2000 approval.

“FDA’s actions concerning mifepristone—spanning from the 2000 Approval to its most recent removal of safeguards—have consistently elevated politics above law, science, and safety,” they wrote.

But other challenges to reproductive health care may come even sooner than that. One case, centered on Idaho’s emergency request to fully enforce its own state abortion law, could see a ruling as early as this week. Then, on Friday, the justices will consider whether to take up an appeal that would effectively allow challenges to state bans that currently prevent anti-abortion activists from harassing people approaching abortion clinics.

Mike Johnson Keeps Flaunting His Extreme Ideology

The House speaker is quickly becoming a feature player on the far-right circuit.

Al Drago/Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson will speak at a Christian nationalist event next week, making it very clear that the extreme wing of the Republican Party is now fully in control.

The National Association of Christian Lawmakers revealed last week that Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the organization’s annual gala, but the announcement didn’t get too much attention until Rolling Stone reported it on Wednesday.

The NACL is a Christian nationalist organization that says its goal is to codify a “biblical worldview” into law. On its website, the NACL says its mission is to “bring federal, state and local lawmakers together in support of clear biblical principles.” Because who needs the separation of church and state?

The organization is quite far to the right in terms of its worldview: anti-abortion and, as you might expect, anti-LGBTQ rights as well. The NACL has had a key role in the passage of several anti-abortion laws, including the horrific abortion vigilante law in Texas, which deputized ordinary citizens to serve as de facto bounty hunters, with cash rewards going to those willing to snitch out people aiding patients seeking abortions.

NACL founder Jason Rapert, a former Arkansas state lawmaker, has also personally worked to block abortion access. While in office, he wrote a law banning abortion at 12 weeks. He also wrote the abortion ban that was triggered into effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Rapert also flies the Christian nationalist “Appeal to Heaven” flag. He managed to have that flag flown over the Arkansas state Capitol in 2015. Johnson flies the same flag outside his office.

It’s hardly surprising that Johnson is being embraced at the NACL gala. He has a well-documented history of opposing abortion access, LGBTQ rights, and environmental policy on the grounds that they are non-Christian. His new chief of staff, who previously served as his director of operations, is just as extreme.

Johnson has historically been a mainstay at right-wing events, although his appearances flew under the radar in the years before he moved from the GOP backbench to the top spot in the caucus. In 2019, he gave the keynote speech at a conference for the Council for National Policy, an elite right-wing event. He failed to report the trip on his financial disclosure forms, and it’s still not clear who paid for him to get there or how much the trip cost.

The Louisiana Republican was also scheduled to give the keynote address for the Worldwide Freedom Initiative in early November. Johnson spokesman Raj Shah assured TNR that Johnson did not travel for any events that weekend, but he refused to explicitly confirm whether Johnson had spoken virtually or why the speaker was featured so prominently on WFI social media and event publicity if he did not speak.

Johnson’s willingness to appear at these events, especially now that he holds the most powerful position in the House, lays bare his ideological leanings and suggests that the issues he supports and plans to prioritize in legislation will stray further and further into the fringes.

If Democrats continue to work with Johnson, as they did to pass a temporary government spending bill, then he will continue being able to wield that kind of power over social issues—and possibly democracy.

“Stop laughing at his strange accountability software setup & his avowed biblical worldview,” Matthew Taylor, a religion scholar who specializes in Christian nationalism, tweeted late Tuesday. “Mike Johnson is associating with some very dangerous Christian leaders, who were central in instigating #January6th.”

The Billionaire Planning to Stick With Trump—Even If He Goes to Jail

The former president has at least one plutocrat pal willing to be his ride-or-die.

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Former Home Depot CEO Bernie Marcus

The unwavering loyalty Donald Trump has managed to foster among his followers hit a new bar on Tuesday, when one of Trump’s billionaire donors said he would continue to fund the GOP front-runner’s presidential campaign—even if the former president gets convicted.

Bernie Marcus, the 94-year-old retired co-founder of Home Depot, has thrown his hat behind Trump’s latest White House bid, making it a third time, after lining up behind Trump’s efforts in 2016 and 2020.

In an interview with Reuters, Marcus made it clear that his support for Trump would be unwavering, no matter the outcomes of his several criminal trials, telling the outlet “I think it’s all trumped up.” Pun intended? Who knows?

Yet Marcus, who became one of the real estate mogul’s biggest champions in 2016 by signing checks to the tune of $7 million, clarified that there are some limits to his generosity and that he had no intention of breaking records for financial support this time around.

“Of course, I’m going to support him to some extent, but I’m not one of his big givers, that’s for sure,” Marcus told Reuters, adding that Trump was “very happy” about his support.

Trump is hardly in the position to turn away a benefactor. He’s currently staring down 91 charges across four criminal cases. He has denied all wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty in all of his trials. A possible Trump conviction has raised legitimate questions about his eligibility for the White House, though none of that seems to matter to Trump’s most ardent followers—or, apparently, his donors—who foresee him snatching the GOP nomination not long after the Iowa Caucus kicks off on January 15.

“I never discussed his legal fees or his legal problems,” Marcus said.

Despite Trump’s volatile foreign policy stances, Marcus believed it was worth backing Trump for his stances on the Middle East. He also thought Trump was a “fixer” who could be beneficial to the U.S. economy, the outlet reported.

Other potential candidates in Marcus’s hand-out pool include former Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, though he didn’t believe either of them had a fair shot against Trump, who is currently polling more than 45 percentage points higher than either of them despite skipping every GOP debate, according to a national aggregate poll by FiveThirtyEight.

Mike Johnson Just Blew a Hole in the GOP’s Biden Impeachment Inquiry

An awkward exchange between the speaker and a Capitol Hill reporter highlighted the weakness of the case against the president.

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Speaker Mike Johnson at a news conference

Mike Johnson accidentally revealed just how weak the Republican impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden is, when he failed to actually defend one of the central accusations against the president on the merits.

Johnson held a Tuesday press conference with Representatives Jim Jordan and James Comer, who have spearheaded the investigation into Biden, to discuss the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Although Republicans have been levying various accusations against Biden for the past few months, making multiple allegations of political corruption, they have yet to produce any actual evidence demonstrating that their charges have merit.

One matter that Republicans have repeatedly harped on is their claim that Biden, while serving as vice president, said the U.S. would withhold aid money to Ukraine unless Kyiv fired Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Republicans allege that Shokin had been investigating Burisma, the Ukrainian oil company for which Biden’s son Hunter served as a board member. This claim has been repeatedly debunked by U.S. intelligence, the former Ukrainian president, and the owner of Burisma.

During Wednesday’s press conference, HuffPost reporter Arthur Delaney asked Johnson why the GOP continues to bring up Shokin’s firing. Delaney pointed out that during Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, “a lot of State Department officials …came in and said, ‘This wasn’t Joe Biden’s policy, this was our policy. He didn’t do this to benefit his son, he did this because we wanted him to do it.’”

U.S. foreign aid is often given on the condition that the receiving country takes an official action that Washington considers important. In Ukraine, it was eliminating corruption in the government.

“So did they all commit perjury, or are you going to bring them back for more interviews?” Delaney asked. “Why are Republicans just ignoring all that testimony?”

“No one’s ignoring testimony,” Johnson said brusquely, before pivoting to listing foreign payments that the Bidens received.

Johnson also told Delaney he was “not going to answer outside questions about this,” despite the testimony clearly being directly relevant to a central pillar of the current impeachment inquiry.

Shokin was fired in 2016 for corruption. Three years later, Trump and Rudy Giuliani started a conspiracy theory that the Biden family accepted a $10 million bribe to remove Shokin to stop a probe into Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma. This claim has been repeatedly debunked by the owner of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas, and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Mike Johnson Is Losing His Caucus to a Border Deal Breakdown

The House speaker’s honeymoon seems to be well and truly over, as Republican infighting returns to threaten another critical deal.

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House Speaker Mike Johnson

Speaker Mike Johnson is facing down his first major challenge as the leader of the lower chamber’s Republican caucus: In just a matter of weeks, he’ll need Congress to reach a consensus on two contentious issues—border funding and international aid. It’s a feat that hasn’t been achieved in decades, in a venue where compromise has proven to be the Waterloo of Republican speakers.

Despite Johnson throwing his weight into securing a deal, it’ll be a “steep road” for the newly minted speaker, as one lawmaker told The Hill. Negotiators in the Senate, who face challenges of their own to surmount as its members debate their part of the pending deal, aren’t confident that their success—should it come to fruition—will be replicated by Johnson in the lower chamber.

At stake is a $105 billion national security package proposed by the Biden administration, which includes more than $13 billion to address border issues, along with $14.3 billion in aid to Israel and more than $61 billion in assistance to Ukraine, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has suggested could be the difference between winning or losing the war.

The major obstacle is a familiar bugaboo: Republican infighting, fueled by a razor-thin conservative majority in the House. The fractious Republican caucus, whose famous inability to work together led to Johnson’s anointment in the first place, has already started to seep into the discussions on this latest deal, with some lawmakers outright refusing to negotiate.

The chaos within the caucus is being furthered by outside pressure. Conservative policy group Heritage Action urged lawmakers on Tuesday to strike down any plans etched by the upper chamber, insisting that H.R. 2, an asylum-limiting immigration bill proposed by Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, was the “only solution to securing the border.”

“Worse, the proposal coming out of these ‘negotiations’ will likely be used as leverage to advance President Biden’s request for $106 billion in fiscally irresponsible spending, including an additional $60 billion for Ukraine that fails to meet conservative standards and $13.6 billion for fake ‘border security’ that would accelerate Biden’s open border operations,” wrote Heritage Action’s president, Kevin Roberts, in a statement.

“House and Senate conservatives should reject this proposal and commit to supporting H.R. 2 to restore safety and security for the American people. Anything less is unacceptable,” he added.

Even as conservatives stall, Democrats have agita of their own regarding a deal in which many fear their party is poised to give away too much to the GOP in the terse negotiations.

“We have been willing to give a lot in these talks. We are way out of [our] traditional comfort zone for Democrats,” one of the negotiators, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, told reporters. “At some point, Republicans are going to have to say ‘yes.’”

Republicans Are Escalating Their Attacks on the Voters They Hate the Most

The GOP’s broad war against voting rights is increasingly being fought on America’s college campuses.

Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
People vote at Denver East High School on November 8, 2022, in Denver, Colorado.

In recent election cycles, young voters have consistently delivered major wins for Democrats. Republicans have decided that the best response is to try to disenfranchise young people.

This year alone, at least 15 Republican-controlled states have introduced or implemented legislation to change the rules around using student IDs at voting booths, according to the Voting Rights Lab. And Rolling Stone reported Tuesday that there is a wider push afoot among GOP lawmakers to eliminate some students’ ability to vote in their school’s state altogether.

“Young people are the reason why Biden won in 2020 and Democrats up and down the ballot won in 2022 and 2023,” Abhi Rahman, the national communications director for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, told Rolling Stone. “If Gen Z continues to vote, we’re on the cusp of the most progressive era in our country’s history. Republicans know this as well, and that’s why they’re doing everything they can to stop young people from voting.”

The GOP’s effort to suppress the vote of college students is well underway in the state of Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court just last week heard arguments to overturn the Badger State’s heavily gerrymandered district maps. That court leans left for the first time in 15 years, after the April election of Justice Janet Protasiewicz—who won in large part due to massive youth voter turnout.

Immediately after the election, former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared that “younger voters are the issue.” Months later, the state Republican convention considered a resolution to require out-of-state college students to vote absentee in their hometowns. The resolution ultimately failed to advance, but it’s just one part of a much larger effort from the Wisconsin GOP to curtail the youth vote by whatever means available.

In recent years, Wisconsin Republicans have tried to make it harder to register, taken steps to decrease the number of ballot drop boxes and voting booths and to shorten the early voting period, and tried to impose more onerous residency requirements, as well.

In New Hampshire, state Republicans introduced a bill in March that would bar any out-of-state college students from voting in local and state elections. The bill was ultimately killed.

A Texas Republican lawmaker also introduced a bill in March that would prohibit polling booths on college and university campuses (the bill has not advanced out of committee). And Virginia Republicans unsuccessfully tried to repeal a law that would let people age 16 and older register to vote if they will be 18 by the next major election.

Despite appearances, this is no piecemeal effort: Such measures are all part of a larger plan outlined by Republican strategist Cleta Mitchell. Speaking at an RNC donor retreat in April, shortly after Protasiewicz’s win, Mitchell called on the GOP to limit voting on college campuses, same-day voter registration, and automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters. Both young voters and mail-in votes tend to skew Democratic. Mitchell insisted the U.S. electoral systems must be changed in order “for any candidate other than a leftist to have a chance to WIN in 2024.”

Republicans can see the writing on the wall, but they’re taking away the wrong message—and there’s been little, if any, talk among national Republicans about winning young voters back. Increasingly, the GOP seems bent on simply eliminating younger voters from the electorate entirely. During the 2022 midterms, young voters turned out in record numbers and overwhelmingly voted Democratic. GOP luminaries responded with calls to raise the voting age.

Rather than implementing policies about things that young people actually care about—such as environmental protection, increased abortion access, and LGBTQ rights—Republicans are instead embracing stances that alienate huge swathes of the new generations of voters. And then they get angry when young people don’t support them, and the cycle of pushing younger voters out begins anew.

Rupert Murdoch Has Some New Legal Entanglements, Thanks to Fox News

The media mogul is the latest figure to get sucked into the widening gyre of the Smartmatic lawsuit.

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Rupert Murdoch is set to be deposed on Tuesday and Wednesday in relation to the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit between Smartmatic and Fox News. The questioning will take place in Los Angeles and has not appeared on the public docket for the case, according to Reuters.

Smartmatic filed its lawsuit in 2021 after the conservative broadcast giant baselessly touted Trumpian conspiracies that the voting machine company had participated in election fraud. Fox has subsequently spent the better part of the last two years trying and failing to throw the case out of court.

“They needed a villain,” the lawsuit said. “They needed someone to blame. They needed someone whom they could get others to hate. A story of good versus evil, the type that would incite an angry mob, only works if the storyteller provides the audience with someone who personifies evil.”

“Without any true villain, defendants invented one,” the lawsuit noted. “Defendants decided to make Smartmatic the villain in their story.”

The deposition will be the second time this year that Murdoch has had to sit for questioning related to Fox’s spindly election lies, after the corporation reached a historic $787 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems in April over similar allegations.

Along with Fox Corporation and Fox News, Smartmatic is seeking damages from five individuals: Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as Fox hosts Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, and former host Lou Dobbs. In order to win the defamation case, Smartmatic will need to prove that the defendants spread the lies with “actual malice,” meaning that they either knowingly spread misinformation or recklessly disregarded the truth.

Although Murdoch’s name is missing from the list of defendants, proving that he was personally involved in the decisions that shaped Fox’s coverage while serving as chairman of the company could help Smartmatic prove that Fox Corp is liable.

The 92-year-old retired from his perch as king of his media empire—which encompasses Fox, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and the Dow Jones Newswire, among others—in September, turning the management of the company over to his son, Lachlan Murdoch.