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Republicans Are Still Terrified of Trump

Three years after Trump left the White House, GOP politicians still have their head in the sand.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If there’s one thing you can count on Republicans for, it’s to tepidly push back on Donald Trump’s most vile comments.

Trump drilled down harder than ever on fascist language during two weekend speeches. On Saturday, he said immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country.” The next day, he promised to use federal law enforcement funds to combat a “military invasion” at the southern border.

But when asked about his comments late Monday, Republican senators had only the mildest of rebukes. “I obviously don’t agree with that. I mean, we’re all children of immigrants,” Senator Shelley Moore Caputo told Politico, somehow managing to “All Lives Matter” immigration.

Senator Roger Wicker said he “certainly wouldn’t have said that,” and Senator Thom Tillis called Trump’s words “unhelpful.”

Senators John Kennedy and Todd Young declined to comment, although Young joked he was “looking forward to another year of answering these questions.”

“Drugs, criminals, gang members, and terrorists are pouring into our country at record levels. We’ve never seen anything like it. They’re taking over our cities,” Trump said over the weekend.

He then promised to “shift massive portions of federal law enforcement to immigration enforcement, including parts of the DEA, ATF, FBI, and DHS.”

No GOP senators have called for Trump to apologize. Their lukewarm stance should come as no surprise, though.

This is a familiar tune for Republican lawmakers. Throughout Trump’s presidency, Republicans regularly evaded questions about his inflammatory rhetoric. Lawmakers would say they hadn’t seen the former president’s posts on social media or during speeches. Sometimes they would say they disagreed with his stance; other times they would quietly adopt his position.

In fact, Republicans were perfectly happy to let Trump’s words slide so long as he continued to give them what they wanted in terms of policy and judicial appointments. This has continued since Trump left office, for instance last November, when Trump met with white supremacist Nick Fuentes and antisemite Kanye West.

No members of Republican leadership ever explicitly condemned the meeting. Some lawmakers even tried to claim that Trump didn’t know who he was meeting or that he had condemned Fuentes’s previous comments.

Rudy Giuliani Refuses to Learn His Lesson

America’s mayor just got hit with a new defamation lawsuit.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Rudy Giuliani being normal in 2020.

The Georgia election workers that Rudy Giuliani defamed sued the former Trump attorney again on Monday for continuing to make defamatory statements about them.

Giuliani was found liable in August for defaming Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, after he accused the pair of manipulating ballots in Georgia during the 2020 election. The two women have been subjected to months of harassment and death threats. A judge ordered Giuliani on Friday to pay Freeman and Moss nearly $150 million in damages last week.

Freeman and Moss filed a fresh defamation lawsuit against Giuliani Monday for refusing to take a hint.

“Defendant Giuliani continues to spread the very same lies for which he has already been held liable in the Freeman I action,” the lawsuit said, referring to the previous case.

In fact, on December 15, “just hours after the jury in Freeman I returned a $148 million verdict against him, Defendant Giuliani appeared from Washington, D.C. for a live interview on Newsmax, in which he repeatedly asserted, either directly or at minimum by implication, that he was in possession of video evidence demonstrating the truth of his allegations against Plaintiffs.”

Giuliani has already admitted that he made false statements about Freeman and Moss. In a July court filing, he acknowledged that his “statements carry meaning that is defamatory.” At the time, he insisted he only made that concession to move the lawsuit forward.

Except he moved it forward right to a ruling of liability. And on Friday, a jury decided he owed the mother and daughter $148 million: $16 million each in damages for defamation, $20 million each for emotional distress, and another $75 million in punitive damages.

Monday’s lawsuit is only seeking to bar Giuliani from making or repeating any more false claims about Freeman and Moss. The women have also requested he pay their legal fees for the new suit, but they are not asking for further financial damages.

That could be because Giuliani is so hard up for cash that he will likely struggle to make the payments from Friday’s ruling. Giuliani has begun representing himself in court to save some cash. The man once affectionately known as “America’s mayor” is scrambling to find the money for all his legal fees and even listed his Manhattan apartment for sale in July. In August, after he was indicted in Georgia, Giuliani asked his social media followers to donate to his defense fund.

He also flew to Mar-a-Lago to beg his boss Donald Trump to pay him for working as Trump’s personal attorney. That didn’t work, but Trump did agree to host a fundraiser dinner for Giuliani. Entry cost: $100,000 a plate.

What’s more, people keep suing him for money owed. Several of Giuliani’s former lawyers, including his longtime attorney Robert Costello, have sued Giuliani for failing to pay their legal fees.

Meanwhile, Giuliani’s ex-wife says he owes her more than $260,000 for her country club memberships, condominium fees, and health care as part of their divorce settlement. Giuliani narrowly avoided jail time over that lawsuit in December. And one of Giuliani’s former associates sued him in May, accusing him of promising to pay her a $1 million annual salary but instead sexually harassing and abusing her over two years.

Joe Biden Is Finally Mad About His Terrible Poll Numbers. What Took so Long?

The president is frustrated that so many polls show him losing to a man who is facing several criminal trials.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Joe Biden is finally fed up with his second-rate polling numbers.

The night before the president took off to celebrate Thanksgiving, he gathered his closest aides in the White House to talk about a game plan for his tanking numbers, according to several unnamed sources who spoke to The Washington Post.

For months, the president and his first lady had expressed frustration at the Democrat’s disappointing numbers, but the night before Thanksgiving proved to be a turning point in which Biden complained to his team that his numbers were unacceptably low. That night, he asked his team what they planned to do about it, according to the outlet.

At the time of the meeting, Biden was neck-and-neck in general election polls with GOP front-runner Donald Trump, with Trump predicted to win by a hair with 43 percent of the vote against Biden’s 42 percent, according to a Morning Consult poll.

But Biden’s numbers have only continued to plummet since then, likely influenced by the president’s foreign policy: Many Democrats reject his unwavering support of the Israeli invasion of Gaza while others are frustrated by his inability to wrangle Congress to send along more aid to the Ukrainian war front against Russia. At the same time, Biden is particularly irked that voters are not rewarding him for low unemployment figures and a humming economy that has defied predictions of a looming recession. As of December 14, Biden trailed eight points behind the oft-indicted former president, predicted to gain just 35 percent of the vote while Trump curried 43 percent, according to a HarrisX/Harris poll.

Top Democrats have warned for months that the Biden campaign had failed to scale up its national campaign quickly enough. Just one year out from Election Day 2024, the campaign has only recently announced leadership teams in battleground states like Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, and South Carolina, according to campaign officials.

“The Republican primary could end quickly, and the general election could begin in weeks, not months,” Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist, told the Post. “Given Trump’s noisiness and his ability to bully his way through the daily information wars, I think it’s really important that the Biden campaign move into general election mode as soon as possible. We’re not where we want to be. Some of our coalition is wandering, and we need to go get them back.”

Eric Adams Thinks New York City Is Great Because 9/11 Can Happen at Any Moment

The New York City mayor also praised the city’s entrepreneurs.

Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, after leaving his polling space in New York on Tuesday
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
New York City Mayor Eric Adams

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has an interesting opinion on what makes the Big Apple so great: It could be subject to a terrorist attack at any moment.

In a Monday interview, Adams was asked to sum up 2023 in one word.

“New York,” Adams replied, which is technically two words.

“This is a place where everyday you wake up, you could experience everything from a plane crashing into our Trade Center to a person who’s celebrating a new business that’s open. This is a very, very complicated city, and that’s why it’s the greatest city on the globe.”

The utter lack of imagination in Adams’s “one word” answer aside, this is an extremely bad take. A city isn’t great because one of the most traumatic experiences in recent American memory happened there. And you certainly aren’t going to curry favor with your constituents by warning them it could easily happen again.

Adams has been in office for about two years, and he recently recorded the lowest-ever approval rating for a New York mayor. A poll released in early December by Quinnipiac University found just 28 percent of respondents said they approved of Adams’s performance.

His popularity certainly isn’t helped by his penchant for very strange behavior. In August, Adams chose to mark the anniversary of Indian independence by comparing himself to Gandhi.

Adams has also repeatedly said he has carried a photo of a fallen police officer in his wallet for decades. Instead, Adams allegedly instructed his staff in 2022 to print out the photo and then age it with coffee stains.

Meanwhile, the mayor is facing a federal investigation into his campaign, as well as an accusation of sexual assault from 30 years ago.

Elon Musk May Finally Face Consequences for Wrecking Twitter

X is under scrutiny in Europe as part of an investigation into toxic content.

Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
Elon Musk in Rome on December 15

Elon Musk may be held accountable for X (formerly Twitter) devolving into a hellscape. The European Commission on Monday opened multiple investigations into the platform under the bloc’s new social media law.

The Digital Services Act went into effect in Europe in late August. The sweeping new rulebook aims to create safer online environments: Digital platforms are required to prevent and remove posts that contain illegal goods, services, or content. Targeted ads based on sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or political beliefs are prohibited, and ads targeting children are heavily restricted.

“We now have clear rules, ex-ante obligations, strong oversight, speedy enforcement and deterrent sanctions and we will make full use of our toolbox to protect our citizens and democracies,” EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told Politico.

The infringement proceedings into X are the commission’s first ever under the DSA. The four probes will look at whether the platform violated rules on combating illegal content and disinformation, as well as rules on transparency regarding advertising and data sharing. Investigators will also seek to determine if X misled its users when it changed its blue-check system. The check marks used to indicate that a user’s identity had been verified, but they now show that the user is paying a subscription fee in exchange for increased visibility.

The investigations do not immediately indicate wrongdoing. But if X is found culpable, the company could face fines of up to 6 percent of its global revenue.

The commission has also taken preliminary steps to investigate other major social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat. Investigators have requested information to see how the platforms combat illegal content and disinformation, and how they protect minors.

This isn’t the first time the European Commission has taken aim at X owner Musk. In November, the bloc froze ads on the platform, following a Media Matters report that found X has been placing ads for brands including Apple, Bravo, IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity next to posts that promote Hitler and Nazi beliefs.

Hate speech has flourished on X in the little more than a year since Musk bought the platform. The social media research group National Contagion Research Institute found that in the 12 hours after Musk bought X, use of the n-word increased almost 500 percent.

And Musk is often a major source of that hate speech and disinformation. In addition to aggressively antisemitic posts, Musk also regularly lets Nazis back on X, shares transphobic content, and spreads conspiracy theories.

George Santos Is Right About One Thing

He’s (probably) here to stay.


The American people will never be rid of George Santos—at least not according to him.

In a one-on-one interview with comedian Ziwe on Monday, the indicted former Long Island representative said that he would one day return to Congress after outliving the members who voted to expel him, claiming he’ll have plenty of time since he’s only 35 years old.

It’s not the first time that Santos has threatened his return to the House’s lower chamber.

“I’m not done with public service. I want to go back to Congress,” Santos told radio host Frank Morano on Wednesday, just two weeks after he stormed out of Congress claiming he was done with politics. “I’m not saying today. I’m not saying tomorrow.”

“I have a lot of things I need to take care of first,” he said on the program. “I think we all know, but I do have hopes of trying to regain the trust of the American people and going there, because I will continue to expose and root out the rot in our federal government.”

Whether or not Santos returns to Congress, it’s unlikely we’ll get him entirely out of our system. The Republican is reportedly making more than $80,000 per day for bespoke videos on the mid-tier celebrity messaging platform Cameo—significantly more than his $174,000 congressional salary during his nine-month term.

According to Santos, the only way we’ll stop seeing him is if comedians, producers, and interviewers “stop inviting [him] to your gigs.”

“But you can’t because you want the content,” he quipped.

In another dystopian twist in the interview, Santos rapped Nicki Minaj’s verse from Kanye West’s “Monster” after failing to identify Marsha P. Johnson, James Baldwin, and Harvey Milk.

The confrontational comedian also got down to brass tacks with Santos over the baby debacle, in which the politician emerged holding a mysterious baby mid-meltdown while feuding with a Palestinian activist just weeks before his expulsion.

The Real Reason Why Clarence Thomas Started Accepting Gifts From Billionaires

The Supreme Court justice was broke.


Clarence Thomas was in so much debt two decades ago that he tried to get Supreme Court justice salaries raised across the board. Within months, Republican billionaires began giving him extravagant gifts.

Thomas spoke at a conservative conference in January 2000, according to a new ProPublica report. In what we now know to be classic Thomas style, he did not report that trip on his financial disclosure forms.

On the way home, he sat next to Republican Representative Cliff Stearns. During the flight, Thomas complained bitterly that his salary—then $173,600—was insufficient. He even hinted that multiple justices could resign in the next year if they weren’t given a pay raise.

Thomas’s words sparked a rush of attempts on Capitol Hill to significantly raise the justices’ salaries or at least ensure their pay kept pace with inflation. Specifically, Republicans wanted to make sure that Thomas and his fellow staunch conservative Antonin Scalia did not leave the bench.

Thomas also petitioned then–Chief Justice William Rehnquist to lift a ban on justices giving paid speeches. Ultimately, the attempts to give justices more money all failed. But soon after, a group of Republican billionaire megadonors began lavishing Thomas and his family with a steady stream of gifts.

It is still unclear what exactly prompted the gift-giving, or if it was directly tied to Thomas’s money complaints. But certainly, many of those gifts have alleviated the justice’s financial concerns.

One of those generous souls is billionaire Harlan Crow, who has been friends with Thomas for more than two decades. In that time, Crow—a Nazi memorabilia collector—has repeatedly lavished Thomas with expensive gifts. These include island-hopping yacht vacations, private school tuition for Thomas’s nephew, and buying and renovating a Thomas family property, where Thomas’s mother still lives.

Crow has also regularly brought Thomas as his guest to the Bohemian Grove, which ProPublica has previously described as a “secretive all-men’s retreat in Northern California” that attracts major corporate and political players.

By 2003, Thomas’s wife, Ginni, had begun working at the Heritage Foundation and was making a salary in the low six figures. The Heritage Foundation is part of the Koch brothers’ network. By at least 2010, Clarence Thomas began secretly participating in Koch donor network events, which put him in touch with wealthy and influential conservatives.

Looking at Thomas’s finances, though, it would seem that keeping pace with inflation wasn’t the main issue. When he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1991, he still had student loans from law school. But during the early 1990s, he made at least two big purchases: a Corvette and a house in Virginia with five acres of land. Thomas and his wife bought the house for $522,000 in 1992. They were able to pay $8,000 out of pocket and had to borrow the rest, according to property records.

The couple borrowed huge sums of money throughout the next decade, including a consumer loan of $50,000 and a $100,000 line of credit on their house. In 1998, Thomas became his grandnephew’s legal guardian and began sending him to pricey private schools.

The month before Thomas complained about his salary to Stearns, he had borrowed $267,000 from a friend to buy a luxury R.V. That purchase partially paid off, though: In 2001, Thomas took his R.V. to get serviced outside Tampa. While there, he met Earl Dixon, the owner of a Florida pest control company, who ended up giving Thomas $5,000 for his grandnephew’s tuition.

By 2019, Thomas began singing a decidedly different tune. Justices’ pay was by then keeping up with inflation, but it hadn’t increased significantly. But in June, when asked about the court’s salaries, Thomas said, “Oh goodness, I think it’s plenty.”

“My wife and I are doing fine. We don’t live extravagantly, but we are fine.”

A few weeks later, Crow took the Thomases on a yacht vacation.

Donald Trump’s Rhetoric About Immigrants Has Somehow Gotten Even More Fascistic

The former president called the situation at the southern border a “military invasion” on Sunday, a day after saying that immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country.”

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Donald Trump at a rally in Reno on Sunday

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump continued to escalate immigration rhetoric on Sunday, promising to divert federal law enforcement funds to battle what he called a “military invasion” at the border.

“This is an invasion. This is like a military invasion,” Trump said. “Drugs, criminals, gang members, and terrorists are pouring into our country at record levels. We’ve never seen anything like it. They’re taking over our cities.”

To a crowd of cheers, Trump swore to “shift massive portions of federal law enforcement to immigration enforcement, including parts of the DEA, ATF, FBI, and DHS.”

“And I will make clear that we must use any and all resources needed to stop the invasion of our country, including moving thousands of troops currently stationed overseas in countries that don’t like us,” he added.

That wasn’t all the indicted former president had to say on the matter. In a speech a day earlier, Trump continued to channel the language of Adolf Hitler, warning that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” while lionizing some of his icons, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.

“Not just in South America, not just the three or four countries that we think about, but all over the world they are coming into our country, from Africa, from Asia, all over the world. They’re pouring into our country, nobody’s even looking at them,” he said.

It’s the latest bout of dehumanizing vitriol out of Trump’s mouth. On Veteran’s Day, Trump made some eyebrow-raising public remarks that took his often callous approach to politics to an ugly new level: “We pledge to you that we will root out the Communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections,” Trump said at the time. “They’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American dream.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article suggested that Trump’s comments about an “invasion” and his statement about immigrants “poisoning the blood of our country” occurred during the same speeches. Trump made these statements in two separate speeches over the weekend.

How a Supreme Court Leak Helped Conservative Justices Unite to Overturn Roe

A new report details how a leak of the Dobbs decision shut down disagreement among the court’s conservative justices—and destroyed the right to an abortion.

Samuel Alito
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Clinic actually solidified the court’s opinion amid a flurry of behind-the-scenes negotiations, a new report indicates.

An investigation by The New York Times illustrates that the premature opinion, distributed to Politico by an unknown source two months before the court revealed it had ruled to overturn abortion access at a national level, thwarted efforts by Chief Justice John Roberts and liberal Justice Steven Breyer to find a middle ground.

The majority of Supreme Court justices did not want the court to take up Dobbs, according to the Times, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who Trump explicitly appointed to the bench to clinch the abortion decision as a longtime goal of the religious right. A fragile minority of the court, four male justices, decided to move forward without her.

But the court waited months to announce that they had decided to weigh in on the seismic case, hoping to distance the whiplash decision from the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a longtime champion of abortion as a bastion for gender equality, the Times noted.

Roberts and Breyer actively worked to curtail the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, attempting to limit the outcome of Alito’s opinion and, by Breyer’s hand, even eroding it entirely in an effort to save most of Roe. But the leak ended that whole compromise effort, helping Alito.

The report also depicts an effort by Alito to force the other conservative justices to help him overturn Roe after Ginsburg passed—including by secretly sharing a draft opinion with conservative allies.

Once Alito circulated his draft opinion among the members of the bench in February 2022, opinions rolled in almost immediately. Within minutes, Justice Neil Gorsuch said he would sign on to the opinion with zero changes. The next morning, Justice Clarence Thomas said the same. Then came ​​Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, all, unusually, with no alterations in mind.

In Dobbs, the court tested the boundaries of how that case, and subsequently all future ones, would be decided. Apart from the shocking leak, the justices also allowed Mississippi to expand its focus in the case, switching its stance from a narrower attempt to curtail abortion access to an outright assault on Roe, the Times wrote.

On Wednesday, the court picked up its next high-stakes abortion access case: a challenge to the 2000 Food and Drug Administration approval of a drug called mifepristone that comprises one-half of what’s more commonly known as the “abortion pill.” Since abortion has become a losing issue for Republicans across the country since the high court’s decision to overturn Roe, several GOP officials have come out publicly slamming the court’s decision to weigh in, predicting a prohibitive outcome.

By and large, most Americans support abortion access. In a 2023 Gallup poll, just 13 percent of surveyed Americans said that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. Meanwhile, 34 percent said it should be legal under any circumstances, and an additional 13 percent said it should be legal in most circumstances.

Read more at The New York Times.

Broke Giuliani Must Pay Up $148 Million for Defaming Georgia Election

A jury has decided the former Trump lawyer must make serious amends after ruining the lives of two Georgia election workers.

Rudy Giuliani
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was ordered to pay nearly $150 million in damages on Friday to a pair of Georgia poll workers he defamed.

America’s mayor had already been found liable in August for defaming election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, after he accused the duo of manipulating ballots—claims that transformed into months of harassment, death threats, and protesters at their doorsteps.

The pair originally sought $24 million each in damages. Instead, the jury decided they deserve far more.

In total, the mother-daughter duo received $16 million each in damages for defamation, $20 million each for emotional distress, and another $75 million in punitive damages.

This week’s court appearances saw a flurry of drama after Giuliani continued to repeat election lies that he had previously admitted were untrue, resulting in a wrist slap by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, who noted that it could result in more defamation charges for the broke fixer. Giuliani also refused to take the stand in his own defense after spending weeks claiming that his testimony would make “definitively clear” that what he said about the pair of workers was true.

The judgment adds to a seismic fall from grace for the once beloved New York mayor, who is staring down a storm of legal and financial woes for shopping Trump’s 2020 election conspiracy theories, landing him several charges that have all but bankrupted him.

After this expensive trial, Giuliani will be one of 19 co-defendants in the Fulton County election interference case, in which he stands accused of orchestrating a “criminal enterprise” in Georgia that pressured state officials to reverse Trump’s election loss.

It’s not clear how Giuliani will pay off this new judgment or any others in the future—the former attorney is almost certainly penniless.

In September, the criminal defendant was sued by his own legal representation for failing to pay his bills, allegedly only dishing out $214,000 of nearly $1.6 million in legal expenses, after he claimed he was stiffed by his favorite client, Trump, to the tune of millions of dollars.

That resulted in an embarrassing show in which Giuliani had no other option than to beg Trump for help settling his seven-figure legal fees, to which the stingy developer refused but offered to throw a couple of fundraisers for him instead.

Now Giuliani faces a weighty nine-figure legal consequence. At this rate, there may be many more fundraisers down the line.

This story has been updated.