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Watch Matt Gaetz Get Trolled With “Underage Sex Award” at Republican Event

The Florida representative was caught off guard when he appeared onstage.

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Florida Representative Matt Gaetz was recently surprised with an award at an Ohio GOP event, congratulating him for his dedication to using Venmo to allegedly pay underage girls for sex.

On a livestream of the Strongsville Republican Party’s Christmas gathering, which took place Thursday, a man who introduced himself as “Mike with the Strongsville GOP” went on stage and invited Gaetz to join him. He then presented the 2023 Strongsville GOP award and offered the odd congratulations to Gaetz.

“Congratulations for your dedication to using Venmo to allegedly pay underage girls to have sex with you,” the presenter said, catching Gaetz off guard.

“Oh come on man, you’re so full of it,” Gaetz replied, as he continued to awkwardly hold the award in his hand. Police immediately escorted the presenter away.

The Department of Justice decided in February that it would not charge Gaetz after its sex-trafficking investigation. But since then, the House Ethics Committee has reopened its own investigation into Gaetz—looking at the Florida congressman’s alleged sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, and other misconduct.

The Daily Beast reported in 2021 that the congressman had paid a 17-year-old girl as well as accused sex trafficker Joel Greenberg through Venmo. Greenberg, an associate of Gaetz’s and at the center of the DOJ investigation, pleaded guilty the next month on charges ranging from falsifying identification to the sex trafficking of a child. He was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison.

Growing Number of Republicans Say They’d Back Trump—Even With a Felony

A new poll reveals the true extent of Donald Trump’s hold over the Republican Party.

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Two-thirds of Republicans apparently have no problem with reelecting someone who attempted to overthrow the government.

Just 31 percent of Republicans would not vote for Donald Trump if he was convicted before Election Day 2024, according to a new Reuters/IPSOS poll.

That’s a drastically lower number than recorded in August, when nearly half of polled Republicans said that the vote for Trump was a no-go if the GOP front-runner was “convicted of a felony crime by a jury.” In that same poll, just 35 percent of Republicans said they would continue to support him even if he was found guilty of a crime, while the remaining 20 percent said they were undecided.

While lacking nearly a third of the Republican vote could be enough to sink Trump, the shrinking figure paints a foreboding picture ahead of next November.

Trump currently faces 91 charges across four criminal cases: the federal election interference case, the Georgia election interference case, the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, and the Stormy Daniels case in which Trump is accused of using his fixer Michael Cohen to falsify business documents to quietly pay off the porn actress ahead of the 2016 election.

And while Republicans’ preference for Trump seems to fly in the face of his criminal trials, there’s a reason for their madness—fewer than a quarter actually believe the accusations.

And yet the presidential race is currently neck and neck. In a general election Morning Consult poll published Sunday, Trump pulled 43 percent of the vote while Biden lagged slightly behind at 41 percent.

Some of that dwindling support behind the incumbent is due to Biden’s recent policy decisions at home and abroad. On Friday, the Biden administration signaled to Republicans that it was open to a swath of Democrat-opposed border policies, including some that were previously tried by Donald Trump, for instance adding 12,000 beds to detention centers in an apparent attempt to compromise on a Republican proposal to detain asylum-seekers instead of releasing them with a court date.

Biden has also upset young voters and people of color—who clinched his 2020 win—with his unwavering support of Israel amid the escalating conflict between the Middle Eastern country and Gaza, where at least 18,412 Palestinians have been killed and 1.7 million people (or 81 percent of the total population) have been displaced since the war began on October 7, according to data from the Gaza Health Ministry and the United Nations.

GOP Senator Flabbergasted When Asked to Back Up Evidence-Free Claim

The Republican senator appeared speechless when asked to back up his wild claim about Democrats.

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Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin was left flabbergasted when asked to back up his wild claim that Democrats used fake electors in the 2020 election.

Johnson shared the unsubstantiated claim in an interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Monday evening. Collins asked the Republican senator if Bob Spindell, who acted as a fake elector in favor of Donald Trump during the 2020 election, should be suspended from his role on the Wisconsin Election Commission.

Spindell was one of 10 Wisconsin Republicans who posed as fake electors in the 2020 election and agreed last week to settle a civil lawsuit acknowledging that President Joe Biden won that election—three years later. Spindell and the nine other fake electors agreed not to serve in next year’s election or any other election that Trump runs in—but Spindell has still not been removed from the state’s Election Commission.

Johnson, for his part, still thinks Spindell and his allies did nothing wrong.

“These folks did nothing different than what many Democrats have done in many states,” Johnson said on CNN. “It has happened repeatedly.”

The senator told Collins to “just check the books” for instances of fake Democrat electors but deflected when Collins asked, “Which books?”

Johnson is right that fake elector schemes have been found across the country—but they were all backing Trump. In addition to Wisconsin, Nevada, Michigan, and Georgia have all charged fake electors in their states. There is yet another investigation into a similar scheme in Arizona. Meanwhile, Trump faces separate charges in Georgia for the whole plot.

Jack Smith Is Going to Expose Trump—With His Own Cell Phone Data

Special counsel Jack Smith is prepared to use Trump’s cell phone data at his January 6 trial.

Jack Smith
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The prosecution in Donald Trump’s federal election subversion trial has an apparent bombshell on the horizon.

Special counsel Jack Smith filed legal documents on Monday indicating that he will call three (currently unnamed) witnesses to speak to a trove of data extracted from Trump’s cell phone in use during his years at the White House.

The first two witnesses will translate geographic location data logged on the device by Google into a visual representation of the “movements of individuals toward the Capitol area during and after the defendant’s speech at the Ellipse,” according to the document.

The third witness will use the data to explain how Trump used Twitter on January 6, revealing images and websites visited, determining the “usage of these phones throughout the post-election period,” and identifying the “periods of time during which the defendant’s phone was unlocked and the Twitter application was open on January 6.”

The data on Trump’s phone could provide a tick-tock of Trump’s behavior on January 6 and the days immediately preceding and following it, as well as supply additional information about who had access to his accounts and devices.

It could also explain whether Trump personally approved the January 6 tweet assailing Vice President Mike Pence for not having the “courage” to overturn the election results, issued a mere two minutes before Pence was whisked out of the Capitol by a security detail as storming rioters chanted, “Hang Pence.”

Monday’s filing is the latest indication of what Smith intends to do with a trove of data collected via search warrant back in January.

The trial, in which Trump faces four federal charges related to his attempt to thwart the presidential transfer of power, is set to begin in March—though the former president’s team is still fighting to delay it.

Jake Sullivan Has a Dire Warning on What Happens if Ukraine Doesn’t Get Needed Aid

In a sit-down at the National Press Club, the national security adviser also addressed Gaza, asserting that Israel was succeeding in targeting Hamas leaders.

Jake Sullivan
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National security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday expressed concern about the dire threats facing America and the world if Congress doesn’t pass needed Ukraine funding this week—going so far as to warn that a broader war may break out that could involve U.S. troops.

During an event co-hosted by The DSR Network and The New Republic at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Sullivan repeatedly expressed concern about what is happening in Ukraine and what message America would be sending if it abandons the country amid the Russian invasion.

“I do not think it’s hyperbole to say that basically the security of Europe is at stake, and therefore the risk of American men and women having to go deal with another massive war in Europe, as we have before, if we don’t work with Ukraine to stop Russia in Ukraine. That’s at stake,” Sullivan said.

“Look, the arithmetic here is simple,” he continued. “We have now, as of the end of December, used up all of the funding that Congress has given us to supply weapons to Ukraine, and then to replenish our stocks with the weapons that we’ve handed over. And so if Congress does not come through, we will begin to enter a period in which we are unable to give Ukraine the air defense interceptors it needs to keep Russian missiles from crashing into Ukrainian cities. We will not be able to provide the ammunition necessary for them to continue advancing and hold the line against the Russian attacks, which have been intensive in the east over the course of the past few weeks. And as weeks go by, that will have a material effect on Ukraine’s battlefield position.”

Sullivan asserted that most members of Congress—across party lines—do want to see additional funding for Ukraine. Republicans, however, are stuck on pairing that aid with changes to border and immigration policy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will visit Congress on Tuesday to make a last-ditch plea for an aid package before the holidays. That’s unfortunately looking increasingly unlikely, as there are only three days left in Congress this session.

Beyond stark warnings about the future of European security, Sullivan also spoke about American values when it comes to Ukraine. “I believe the American people still want to see the United States standing for the basic proposition that a free people deserves to be free, and we should help them be able to achieve that,” he said. “And if we don’t, I really think it undermines the very idea of who we are as a country. And there isn’t really a greater stake than that.”

He did not, however, raise these same values when discussing Israel’s actions in Gaza—which to this point have killed nearly 18,000 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of them civilians. When asked whether Israel is taking out Hamas targets such that the war might end sometime soon, he lauded Israel’s progress in fighting Hamas and defended its ground operation to the south of the Gaza Strip as being effective in targeting Hamas leadership.

“In Gaza City, they have managed to identify and begin to neutralize a truly expansive network of tunnels that form the backbone of the military capacity of Hamas in the north, and they’re working through ways in which they are going to render those tunnels ineffective going forward,” Sullivan said. “They have been able to take out senior brigade commanders, battalion commanders, company commanders, and a significant number of fighters and now in the south in Khan Yunis, that’s really the beating heart of the Hamas leadership that is located and has been located in that area. And so they’re equally in a ground operation trying to get after the infrastructure that has supported the command and control for Hamas writ large overall, and are looking to neutralize that as well.”

“Ultimately, they’re going to continue to work at getting the most high value targets, the authors of the horrible massacre on October 7, including [Yahya] Sinwar, [Mohammed] Deif, and [Marwan] Issa, the top three Hamas leaders in Gaza. And they have not yet obviously gotten to them.”

Sullivan made no mention of the rising death toll of Palestinians. When asked by The New Republic’s Michael Tomasky if he could foresee the United States attaching conditions to military assistance to Israel if the war continues to drag on, Sullivan demurred. “We will be talking to them and have been,” he said. “President Biden, most recently, with Prime Minister Netanyahu, about what their vision is for how long this goes on. But I think for now, those conversations are best left behind closed doors. And so I won’t yet entertain the hypothetical in your question.”

On another matter, audience member Jon Wolfsthal, who was the senior director for arms control issues in the Obama administration, asked whether the administration was reviewing the fact that a president can bypass military leaders to order the launch of nuclear weapons. Wolfsthal didn’t mention Donald Trump but did invoke the idea that a “future president” could act unilaterally and asked if reviewing this was on the administration’s agenda.

“It is not right now on our agenda but now that you posed the question, it will be,” Sullivan replied. “I will go back tonight and say, ‘Hey, what’s the deal with the question?’ I’m not unfamiliar with the issue generally, but it hasn’t sat at the core of the debates we’ve been having over the Nuclear Posture Review, or the employment guidance, or other critical documents. It’s a completely worthy question and one we should be taking a look at. This is one of those cases where you’re actually posing a question that’s going to generate a task.”

Texas Woman Forced to Flee State for Abortion After Dystopian Legal Battle

“She’s been in and out of the emergency room and she couldn’t wait any longer.”

Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

A Texas woman who was pleading the courts for an emergency abortion—and who was personally and repeatedly targeted by Attorney General Ken Paxton—has been forced out of state in order to receive critical care.

Kate Cox has been at the center of a contentious post-Roe ruling, riding out a legal challenge to the state’s near-total abortion ban after learning that her fetus has a fatal genetic condition that could jeopardize her health and future fertility if carried to term. The lawsuit is the first of its kind since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.

On Thursday, Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble ruled that Cox should receive a temporary restraining order, allowing the 31-year-old mother of two to pursue an abortion under the ban’s medical emergencies clause. But hours after the ruling, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the state’s Supreme Court to intervene and issued a statement promising to prosecute doctors performing the procedure with felony charges, even if a court permitted the procedure. On Friday night, the state’s Supreme Court blocked the lower court’s order and once again put Cox’s health in jeopardy.

“This past week of legal limbo has been hellish for Kate,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Her health is on the line. She’s been in and out of emergency rooms, and she couldn’t wait any longer.”

“This is why judges and politicians should not be making health care decisions for pregnant people—they are not doctors. This is the result of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade: Women are forced to beg for urgent health care in court,” Northup said. “While Kate had the ability to leave the state, most people do not, and a situation like this could be a death sentence.”

The burgeoning restrictions on the lifesaving operation have fueled a medical brain drain in several states pursuing abortion bans, with large swaths of medical professionals exiting en masse while states struggle to define the parameters and consequences of the bans. The vast majority of Americans do not support such restrictions, with 73 percent of respondents saying they support first-trimester abortions, according to a 2023 AP-NORC poll.

Voters have made their positions on the issue abundantly clear. Since Roe was reversed by the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority in June 2022, abortion has become a nonstop losing streak for Republicans, turning what was once anticipated to be a red wave in November into a trickle. That has led to a quiet stripping of pro-life policies from conservative platforms across the country, with the party attempting to ditch the “pro-life” branding altogether in an effort to skirt more electoral losses.

Jack Smith Rolls the Dice With Surprise Request for the Supreme Court

Special Counsel Jack Smith is asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on Donald Trump’s main legal defense.

Jack Smith
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Special Counsel Jack Smith made a bold move on Monday when he petitioned the Supreme Court and asked the justices to decide, once and for all, whether Donald Trump has presidential immunity from prosecution for his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Smith’s 14-page petition explains that this issue is “of imperative public importance and must be resolved so that the trial can move forward “as promptly as possible.”

“This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy: whether a former President is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office,” Smith wrote in the court filing.

Smith made the move in hopes of bypassing a lengthy appeals process, as Trump tried his best to throw out the trial.

Earlier this month, Trump’s team appealed a lower court ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, in which she denied Trump’s motion to dismiss his indictment on grounds of presidential immunity.

The appeal functionally suspends Trump’s trial, which Smith hopes to begin on March 4, 2024—one day before Super Tuesday. A definitive answer from the Supreme Court could allow Smith’s team to circumvent the appeal and for the trial to begin as scheduled without delay.

“The United States recognizes that this is an extraordinary request. This is an extraordinary case,” Smith wrote, and while it is extraordinary, there is some precedent for it. In his petition, Smith cited the 1974 case U.S. v. Nixon, in which the Supreme Court ordered President Richard Nixon to surrender tape recordings sought during the Watergate investigation.

We’ll see if Smith’s move pays off.

George Santos Begins Revenge Tour With Scorching Attack on Fellow Republican

The recently expelled congressman isn’t sparing anyone.

George Santos
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Disgraced politician George Santos issued his first round of promised hellfire against Representative Nicole Malliotakis on Sunday, chiding the fellow New York Republican for using info from classified briefings to turn some cash on the stock market.

“She receives classified briefings as a member of the Ways and Means Committee,” Santos said on CBS News’s The Point With Marcia Kramer. “Can somebody explain to me that she miraculously becomes a member of the committee and then she’s doing trades on NYCB with the Signature Bank collapse just a day before having an 80 percent stock hike? That’s not a lucky trade, Marsha, that’s a very well-informed trade.”

If Santos is to be believed, then more dirty laundry is on its way via ethics complaints against other tristate politicians in both parties who voted him out of the House, including Representatives Mike Lawler, Nick LaLota, and Rob Menendez. Santos pledged those complaints were forthcoming last week before he got busy promising interviews to Ziwe and selling clips of himself on Cameo.

Speaking of, the fabulist congressman also claimed on CBS that the idea to start working on Cameo came from inside the House after a former member of Kevin McCarthy’s team suggested he get on the bespoke video service.

“He reached out and says, ‘George, you have such a large personality, people love you,’” Santos recalled McCarthy’s former staff member saying. “’You should just open a Cameo.’ I’m like, what’s a Cameo? So I looked into it.”

The reputed liar—who was caught lying about his entire résumé, his relation to Holocaust survivors, being “Jew-ish,” his connection to the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, and the kidnapping of his niece, among other things—is currently facing 23 counts related to illegally receiving unemployment benefits, aggravated identity theft, and credit card fraud. He is also completely unashamed of his political career.

“I feel like everything I stood for—I’m so proud of the legacy I leave behind, even with the short 11-month term that I served,” he said. “I feel like every vote I took I can stand by and I can defend, and I’m proud of that. But regrets, plenty. Like, there’s always regrets, right.”

Tucker Carlson Launches New Streaming Service—With the Most Fitting Logo Ever

The former Fox News host has a new venture, and he’s speaking directly to his base.

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Tucker Carlson is launching a new streaming service after failing to find a new network to anchor—and it’s got a fitting new logo.

The so-called Tucker Carlson Network went live on Monday, charging a fee of $9 per month for all your Tucker Carlson needs, including multiple shows, a podcast, and select interviews from the ousted Fox host.

All of that comes dressed in a neat little package that looks so much like a red pill that even fellow conservatives can’t help but point it out.

The red pill’s significance in pop culture originated from The Matrix—a trans allegory written by two trans women before they were out of the closet—where the choice between the red or blue pill meant the difference between staying complacent and living within the status quo versus embracing a life-changing, reality-altering truth.

Since the film, the symbol has taken a chauvinistic dive, being co-opted by incels and self-proclaimed misogynists in the mid-2010s to express vitriol toward women during a period of radically shifting gender politics, aggressing emerging conversations on rape culture and toxic masculinity. It was just a quick walk for the symbol to then become an image of far-right resistance, standing counter to seemingly progressive social movements like feminism in favor of “men’s rights.”

This isn’t Carlson’s first solo step into the media pool since he was ousted from Fox. In the spring, Carlson launched a show on X, formerly known as Twitter, where all of his videos were available without a subscription—that included the one-on-one August interview with Donald Trump, who skipped the first GOP debate in favor of talking with Carlson.

Carlson and his team allegedly explored launching this new network through the social media platform, though people familiar with the matter said the platform wasn’t able to move quickly on building out the technology needed to support the subscription service, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Elon Musk Invites Alex Jones to Explain That “Whole Sandy Hook Thing”

The InfoWars host is back on Twitter—and still justifying his conspiracy theories on the Sandy Hook shooting.

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Alex Jones says he was just playing “devil’s advocate” when he spent all those years claiming the Sandy Hook shooting was a false flag operation.

Elon Musk spoke with the far-right conspiracy theorist during a livestream on X, formerly Twitter, on Sunday. When Musk asked Jones about “the whole Sandy Hook thing,” Jones tried to shirk responsibility.

The livestream, co-hosted by Musk and influencer Mario Nawfal, occurred shortly after Musk restored the X account of the disgraced InfoWars host. On Saturday, Musk had posted an X poll asking users whether he should “reinstate” Jones on the platform. About 70 percent of users voted “Yes.” Jones and his InfoWars account were initially banned from Twitter in 2018 for “abusive behavior.”

As part of replatforming the conspiracy theorist, Musk gave Jones the space to explain away his misinformation campaign, in which he tried to convince the public that the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which killed 20 children and six teachers and staff, was staged. Sandy Hook families secured a $1.5 billion judgment against the InfoWars host after winning a lawsuit over his conspiracy theories.

“Obviously, it would be heartless and cruel to deny a school shooting of children or attack the parents or anyone who was involved,” Musk said, before giving Jones the opportunity to lie about having done that very thing.

“Thank you for allowing me back into the public square so that I can actually tell the world what really happened,” Jones said.

Jones proceeded to make several excuses for his actions, explaining that he’d never gone to college and was not professionally trained. “I had a very small operation and did not even understand how powerful I was,” Jones said.

When the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary happened, “the internet exploded,” Jones said. “It was the top story off and on for years, with all these professors and former school safety people and all of them saying they believed it was a drill, and I simply covered them covering that.”

Jones added that he has already apologized many times and is sorry if he hurt anyone’s feelings.

“I apologize on every show. And I’ll say it again, I apologize that I just gave my commentary because I’m really just a guy … talk radio host. So I do that on the internet. I just take calls, and interview guests, and that I play devil’s advocate,” Jones explained. “And if that hurt people’s feelings, I apologize. But I did not send people to your houses. I did not pee on graves. I don’t know any of the stuff that went on.”

Jones’s return to X is just another of the many ways that Musk has allowed the platform to embrace and empower alt-right voices, making it increasingly less usable for any sane person.