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The Right Has Some Zany New Accusations Against Jack Smith

The special prosecutor is the subject of fresh and unfounded allegations from some veteran right-wing conspiracymongers.

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Special counsel Jack Smith

Republicans have begun to push a wild new conspiracy about Jack Smith, trying to discredit the special counsel who has been investigating Donald Trump for the past year.

The latest bizarre claim that’s been percolating on the right contends that Smith participated in a multimillion-dollar extortion scheme in the late 2010s when he worked as the chief prosecutor for the special court in The Hague investigating war crimes committed during the Kosovo War.

Despite a lack of evidence to support this accusation, it has already begun to make its way into the Republican mainstream. Trump’s former national security advisor (and pardon recipient) Michael Flynn has tweeted multiple times about the conspiracy in an attempt to lend it a veneer of credibility.

This latest bit of rumormongering began to circulate in early December when a former DEA employee named John Moynihan filed what he called a “whistleblower complaint” against Smith. (Since Moynihan no longer works for the DEA, he’s not technically a department whistleblower anymore.)

Moynihan alleges that a blackmail ring set up in the special Kosovo court “extorted millions of dollars from wealthy individuals targeted for investigation and/or prosecution by the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office,” also referred to as the SPO. Smith worked as the SPO’s chief prosecutor from 2018 until 2022. Moynihan says he has witness testimony proving Smith was an “active participant” in the ring.

Moynihan’s primary witnesses are Kosovar businessman Halit Sahitaj and Kosovo-born journalist Milaim Zeka. Sahitaj was arrested in Spain in August for extortion and money laundering, while Zeka has been accused over the past decade of witness intimidation, money laundering, threatening a prosecutor, and wiretapping.

Both men say they were approached by a man claiming to be a U.S. intelligence official as part of the investigation into Kosovo war crimes. The man then pushed them to send money to a secret bank account, supposedly at Smith’s behest. Neither Sahitaj nor Zeka were able to confirm if the man was indeed an intelligence official, and they never had any face-to-face interaction with Smith.

But the cast of characters involved in backing Moynihan’s allegations don’t do much to lend them credibility. One of the first websites to report Moynihan’s complaint was Deep Capture, which was founded by former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne. Byrne is an ardent 2020 election denier and Trump supporter who participated in a December 2020 White House meeting, during which Trump mulled how to overturn the election.

When news of Moynihan’s complaint began to break, Byrne tweeted, “I DID THAT!”

Moynihan’s lawyer is also representing John Paul Mac Isaac, the owner of a Delaware computer shop who turned Hunter Biden’s laptop over to Rudy Giuliani. And Moynihan himself is no stranger to making wild claims of his own.

In 2018, he and an associate insisted they had 6,000 pages worth of evidence that the Clinton Foundation had engaged in financial crimes. The pair testified before the House Oversight Committee that the foundation was operating as an agent of a foreign government—but they refused to turn over a single page of proof to the committee.

Committee member Jody Hice, a Republican, accused Moynihan at the time of “using us for your own benefit.” Hice added it seemed like there was “a little game going on here.” It seems like Moynihan may be at it again.

Donald Trump to Voters: Look at This Disturbing Word Cloud

The former president hyped, without comment, a newspaper article which found that most voters view his possible second term as a “dictatorship.”

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Donald Trump seemingly wants voters to know that he has a plan for his potential second term. It’s not a good plan, and it’s entirely self-serving, but it’s a plan nonetheless.

On Tuesday, Trump shared a word cloud on his Truth Social account, offering little explanation about its origin and meaning. The graphic, a throwback to early-2010s internet obsessions, featured words such as “revenge,” “dictatorship,” and “corruption” floating prominently in the center of the blob.

Truth Social

This word cloud originally came from a Daily Mail story published Tuesday, in which voters were asked to offer descriptions of what they felt the potential second terms of both Trump and President Joe Biden—who are expected to face off again in 2024 as their party’s nominees for president—might look like. The Mail then generated word clouds to show what one-word descriptors featured most prominently in their readers’ responses.

The word most used to describe Trump’s return to the White House was “revenge.” The word used most to describe what to expect from a second Biden term was “nothing.”

Trump’s posting of the word cloud seems to imply at least some acknowledgment that these respondents have correctly surmised his intentions. There’s little doubt that he’s gone to some length to steer voters to this specific understanding of what his return to office will be like: The former president has made it clear that if he is reelected, his second term will primarily be about getting revenge on people he feels have wronged him.

Trump has explicitly stated that his 2024 campaign is about “retribution.” And he has left little to the imagination as far as his plans to govern with an iron fist, having lately made a fetish of openly modeling his rhetoric on that of Adolf Hitler.

On Tuesday, pollster and election soothsayer Kristin Soltis Anderson suggested that Trump’s 2024 success will largely depend on his ability to cast himself as the more sane and stable alternative for “an electorate that seems to be craving stability” as opposed to chaos. Trump’s constant touting of his own plans for illiberal retribution suggests that this will be a tall order.

Matt Gaetz Isn’t Finished With Kevin McCarthy

The depths of the Florida lawmaker’s animosity for the former speaker are such that he’s imperiling the GOP’s 2024 campaign.

Matt Gaetz walks through the Longworth House Office Building.
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Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz

According to Politico, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz is setting up his party for a messy 2024 primary season by throwing his support behind a slew of candidates who are not backed by the Republican establishment. All of his preferred candidates have one notable thing in common, however: They’re running against people who’ve been endorsed by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Gaetz and McCarthy have been at odds since the latter won the speaker’s gavel in 2022. Since then, Gaetz seems to have made it his sole mission to make McCarthy’s life as unpleasant as possible. Things came to a head in October when Gaetz successfully ousted McCarthy as speaker, plunging the House and Republican Party into chaos.

So far, Gaetz has endorsed three candidates: J.R. Majewski in Ohio, Elizabeth Helgelien in Nevada, and Darren Bailey in Illinois. He denied to Politico that he only endorsed those three candidates because they are running against McCarthy’s preferred people—but he couldn’t resist a dig at his colleague, either.

“He’s old news. Mike Johnson’s speaker now,” Gaetz said in a piece published Tuesday.

But it’s unclear what Gaetz’s endgame is other than being a thorn in McCarthy’s side until the very end. McCarthy is retiring from politics on December 31, after his humiliating ouster and a lackluster time as speaker. There’s no guarantee of how much national influence his support holds, but his endorsements have mainly fallen along establishment Republican lines.

But by endorsing different candidates, Gaetz could force the GOP into a messy season of hard-fought primaries, instead of allowing the party to present a united front. What’s more, Gaetz’s faves are all candidates who don’t have strong chances of winning in the general election. Both Majewski and Bailey, in fact, have already notched electoral losses to Democratic opponents.

Bailey ran for Illinois governor in 2022. He was defeated by Democrat J.B. Pritzker, who had an easy time tagging the Republican as too extreme. Majewski ran for Ohio representative in 2022 but ended up getting hit on two fronts. The victor, Democrat Marc Kaptur, ran a successful series of ads that branded him as an “extremist” for being on the Capitol grounds during the January 6 attack.

What’s more, an Associated Press investigation revealed Majewski had massively misrepresented his military career. Majewski, an Air Force veteran, claimed he had been deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11, where he endured grueling conditions. Instead, he spent six months loading planes at an air base in Qatar, a United States ally that is far away from the main conflict.

Gaetz’s proclivity for throwing a massive spanner into the Republican Party’s works is unlikely to do him any favors in his own career. He’s already incredibly unpopular in his district, and GOP lawmakers are frustrated with him for engineering McCarthy’s ouster. They accused him at the time of wanting attention and weren’t shy when asked about what they thought of him.

“Matt Gaetz is frankly a vile person,” Representative Mike Lawler said in October. “He’s not somebody who’s willing to work as a team. He stands up there, he grandstands, he lies directly to folks.”

Gaetz will nevertheless have a chance to prove that he has some election-year coattails—in spite of a career largely spent trolling his own colleagues.

Donald Trump’s Galactically Unhinged Christmas Wishes

The commander-in-chaos is back with Yuletide rants about his many grievances and enemies.

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He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. He’s posting it on Truth Social. No, not Santa Claus. Donald Trump gave us an angry, multiday rant about all his perceived enemies and slights on social media for Christmas.

Trump’s screed, which spanned Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, highlighted the former president’s growing anger over the ways he feels he has been wronged—as well as how dangerous a second Trump presidency would be. He took aim at President Joe Biden and special counsel Jack Smith and spewed multiple falsehoods about the 2020 election for good measure.


A few hours later, he branded Biden, Smith, and the Democratic Party in general as “thugs” who are “looking to destroy our once great USA.”


Some of Trump’s other posts accused the House January 6 investigative committee of unethical practices. He also accused Biden of weaponizing the Department of Justice (a favorite Republican talking point, rich with irony given the GOP’s plans to reengineer the federal workforce as an engine of retribution against their political opponents), of spying on Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign, and of rigging the 2020 presidential election. No evidence has been found to support any of these claims.

Trump’s unfiltered social media spew is emblematic of his current presidential campaign, which is less about policy proposals or a vision of the future and more focused on his plans to get revenge on those who he feels have wronged him. Trump has already explicitly stated that his 2024 campaign is about “retribution.”

As The New Republic has reported recently, the other worrying feature of Trump’s holiday season rhetoric has been his newfound love of paraphrasing Adolf Hitler. Trump has lately seemed determined to make parallels to the world’s best-known avatar of monomaniacally retributive politics a central part of his campaign persona.

The Stupid Reason Lindsey Graham Is Worried About Trump’s Colorado Disqualification

The South Carolina senator frets that Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling may have a “chilling” effect on future despots.

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South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham has taken a dim view of a recent ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court, which determined former President Donald Trump was ineligible to run on that state’s presidential ballot based on a straightforward reading of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which precludes anyone who violated their constitutional oaths to hold future office. The court deemed that this applied to Trump based on the role he played on fomenting the January 6 attack on the Capitol. It will be up to the U.S. Supreme Court to either overturn this decision or let it stand.  

In its unsigned decision, the court stated, “We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.” Graham’s contribution to that public reaction is to assail the Colorado court decision for creating a “chilling” effect—presumably on future would-be despots since it’s not clear who, outside of those determined to have gravely violated the public trust, would be bound by the precedent set by the Colorado decision.

The senator offered his legal opinion on a recent edition of ABC’s This Week. Donald Trump will eventually be on the ballot in Colorado,” Graham said. “I think he will win the primary, he’s got a lot of good choices in the Republican Party, but this ruling in Colorado is chilling to me and it would set up a politicization of the presidential races. It would be bad for the country.” 

As The New Republic’s Matt Ford wrote last week, most of the critics of the ruling have “skipped past whether the decision was legally sound and went straight to whether it was a good idea politically,” offering little more than flimsy reasoning along the way. (Graham’s most interesting contribution to this body of work is to fret about “presidential races” getting “politicized.”) To Ford’s mind, a plain reading of the Constitution’s text makes it hard to dismiss the Colorado ruling as some kind of political stunt:

Though written in a bygone style of English, the meaning is fairly straightforward when you break it into its constituent parts. Generally speaking, if someone has held a federal or state office and sworn an oath to support the Constitution and then subsequently taken part in an insurrection or rebellion, they are permanently ineligible from holding future federal or state office. The only remedy is an act of Congress; lawmakers passed one in 1872 to un-disqualify ex-Confederates in an attempt at national reconciliation.

If Graham is sincerely worried about the “chilling” effect that the ruling may have on future political candidates, he should take heart. “Section 3 has only come up in a few fleeting instances since the Civil War,” writes Ford. Indeed, in the rich history of American presidents and presidential candidates, only one figure—Donald Trump—seems to have run afoul of the Constitution in this manner. Moreover, the Republican Party seems to have several people running for president right this very minute who qualify for Colorado’s ballot and who needn’t worry about this court ruling. It would seem, in a final analysis, that the “one neat trick” to avoid the predicament in which Donald Trump has found himself is to simply not foment an insurrection.

Someone Called the Cops to a Massachusetts School … Over a Book

Police received a complaint over the book, so an officer went to hunt it down.

A child stands in front of a bookcase in the library
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Free speech advocates are slamming a police officer going to a Massachusetts middle school to search for a single book.

On December 8, an anonymous caller contacted the police department in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to complain that an obscene book was available to eighth grade students at the W.E.B. Du Bois Regional Middle School. An officer was sent to investigate.

The book in question is Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. The memoir does contain sexually explicit illustrations and language, but more importantly, it discusses the writer’s confusion about and understanding of gender.

The police alerted the school district superintendent and the Du Bois principal, but no one told the teacher accused of having the book. The principal escorted the police officer to the English teacher’s classroom after school let out, catching the teacher by surprise. The book was nowhere to be found.

The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the fact that a police officer was sent to look for a book. The organization said it could not remember this happening before.

“That’s partly what is so concerning,” Ruth A. Bourquin, the senior and managing attorney for the ACLU of Massachusetts, told The Berkshire Eagle. “Police going into schools and searching for books is the sort of thing you hear about in communist China and Russia. What are we doing?”

Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, was worried that this won’t be the last time the police are asked to get involved in school literature. “While it might be rare now, it doesn’t mean that it will be rare in the future,” he said.

More than 100 students and teachers in the state organized a walkout last Friday to protest the police involvement in the incident. Some students said they suspected the larger issue was the LGBTQ themes in the book, not the sexual images.

Gender Queer is generally recommended for ages 14 and up, but it really depends on the maturity level of each individual reader. The teacher who had it in her classroom has remained anonymous, but she did initially write about the investigation on social media.

She noted that she has many years of experience as an English teacher. “How on earth is a cop more qualified to decide what books are OK to be in an educational setting for teens?” she wrote.

The Du Bois school librarian, Jennifer Guerin, pointed out that the point of having such a book around is “not about forcing a book into students’ hands” but making sure that such a resource is accessible.

“It’s about the freedom to read,” she said. “It’s about providing voluntary access to a well-written, highly acclaimed resource in a safe place for a teenager who might want or need it.”

Broke Giuliani Files for Bankruptcy, Lists Every Person He Owes Money To

Rudy Giuliani has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, days after being hit with a $148 million judgment in a defamation lawsuit.

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Rudy Giuliani filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, faced with insurmountable debt after he was found liable for defaming two Georgia state election workers.

The bankruptcy filing shows that Giuliani owes as much as $500 million in debt but has only up to $10 million in assets. The documents also include a list of people that Giuliani owes money.

The man once affectionately known as “America’s mayor” owes money to multiple law firms for unpaid legal fees. Several of Giuliani’s former lawyers, including his longtime attorney Robert Costello, have sued Giuliani for failing to pay their legal fees.

Giuliani also owes money to an accounting firm after he failed to pay them for helping in his most recent divorce. 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, but she is not mentioned in the bankruptcy filing.

Electronic voting machine companies Smartmatic and Dominion are listed, though. Giuliani helped spread lies in the wake of the 2020 elections that the companies’ voting machines were used to rig the election results.

What’s more, Giuliani owes money to Dominion employee Eric Coomer. A right-wing conspiracy claims that Coomer participated in an “antifa conference call” ahead of the 2020 election, during which he said he “made f-----g sure” that Donald Trump wouldn’t win.

Giuliani owes money to Daniel Gill, a man who was charged with assault after he approached Giuliani last year in a Staten Island grocery store, slapped him on the back, and said, “What’s up scumbag?” The charges against Gill were ultimately dropped, and he then sued Giuliani for pressing baseless charges against him.

Another of Giuliani’s listed creditors is Noelle Dunphy, one of his former associates. Dunphy sued Giuliani in May, accusing him of promising to pay her a $1 million annual salary but instead sexually harassing and abusing her over two years.

Giuliani owes money to Hunter Biden, too. Although the filing only says it is for a “lawsuit” and does not provide further details, Biden sued Giuliani in September for allegedly trying to hack his laptop.

And of course, Giuliani owes money to Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, the two election workers. Giuliani was found liable in August for defaming the women, after he accused the pair of manipulating ballots in Georgia during the 2020 election. The women have been subjected to months of harassment and death threats.

A judge ordered Giuliani on Friday to pay Freeman and Moss $148 million in damages. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and prompted Giuliani to file for bankruptcy. But he has been struggling for cash for a while now.

Giuliani listed his Manhattan apartment for sale in July and began representing himself in court to save on legal fees. 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 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.

California Lieutenant Governor Calls for Trump to Be Kicked Off Ballot

A top official in California is calling for Donald Trump’s removal from the ballot, citing the Colorado Supreme Court’s recent decision.

Donald Trump
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A Colorado court’s decision to remove Donald Trump from the 2024 Republican primary ballot may have unfurling implications across the nation.

On Thursday, California’s Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis called on the secretary of state to “explore every legal option to remove former President Donald Trump from California’s 2024 presidential primary ballot,” leveraging the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision as a precedent.

“This decision is about honoring the rule of law in our country and protecting the fundamental pillars of our democracy,” Kounalakis wrote in the letter. “California must stand on the right side of history. California is obligated to determine if Trump is ineligible for the California ballot.”

“There will be the inevitable political punditry about a decision to remove Trump from the ballot, but it is not a matter of political gamesmanship. This is a dire matter that puts at stake the sanctity of our constitution and our democracy,” she concluded.

Kounalakis’s call will likely incense some of the state’s voters, more than 34 percent of whom supported Trump in the last presidential election. Still, California could soon become a part of a growing movement of states that have formally tried to kick Trump’s name out of their voting booths, including Arizona, Rhode Island, Michigan, Maine, and Minnesota. The GOP front-runner’s hold at the top of the primary ballot is also facing legal challenges in more than a dozen states, including Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Vermont, and Virginia.

The Colorado court’s 3–4 ruling dually determined that Trump participated in insurrection on January 6, 2021, and that his bid for the Oval Office violates the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, which bans insurrectionists from holding public office.

And while Colorado’s decision is the first of its kind, its challenge is also likely to be appealed up to the overwhelmingly conservative U.S. Supreme Court, stacked with three Trump-appointed judges. That will pin the nation’s highest court as an even more integral component of the 2024 presidential election than it had already primed itself for following the decision to hear several high-profile reproductive rights cases.

Republicans, meanwhile, have balked at the nation’s turn on their favorite, ironically slamming state’s decisions to decide for themselves what they consider to be constitutional despite their traditional, states-rights party philosophy.

More on Colorado’s decision:

Marjorie Taylor Greene Calls for National Divorce, Then Accuses Biden of Treason

The Republican lawmaker isn’t interested in just impeaching Biden anymore.

Marjorie Taylor Greene
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Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene accused President Joe Biden of treason, just hours after appearing to commit sedition herself.

Greene first raised the allegation during a Tuesday podcast interview, when she said Republicans should expand their Biden impeachment efforts to include undocumented immigration.

I’m starting to think impeachment is not enough. I think these people should be held accountable for treason over what is happening at our southern border,” Greene said.

Treason is defined as “the betrayal of one’s own country by attempting to overthrow the government through waging war against the state or materially aiding its enemies.” Allowing migrants over the border doesn’t really seem to qualify.

Nonetheless, Greene doubled down on her treason accusation Wednesday, writing on X (formerly Twitter), “Joe Biden is guilty of treason and the Democrat Party has opened a door they should have NEVER opened.”

“They should be forced to live by their own rules,” she wrote.

Except the leg she’s standing on was weakened somewhat by the fact that, just six hours earlier, Greene had called for a “national divorce” on X.

This isn’t the first time Greene has called for a national divorce. She first spewed the far-right rhetoric in February, saying the United States needs to “separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government.”

Just a few days later, she went even further. During an interview on Fox News, Greene claimed America was heading toward a civil war.

Guess Who Hasn’t Said a Single Word on Colorado’s Trump Ballot Decision?

Top Senate Republicans don’t seem all that outraged by Colorado’s decision to kick Donald Trump off the 2024 ballot.

Mitch McConnell stands behind Donald Trump, who speaks at a lecturn
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A pair of Republican leaders have stayed noticeably mum on the Colorado Supreme Court’s Tuesday decision to keep Donald Trump off the 2024 election ballot.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator John Thune—the number two Republican in the upper chamber—haven’t made a peep about the state judiciary’s historic decision that would effectively prevent the GOP front-runner from winning a single Colorado vote, on the basis that Trump violated the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment when he spawned an insurrection on January 6, 2021.

The pair’s silence suggests that the Republican anti-Trumpers foresee a better Republican Party without the wannabe despot, who is currently leading the GOP primaries by more than 50 points above his runner-up, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, according to aggregated polling data by FiveThirtyEight.

When the Senate voted to acquit Trump of his impeachment charges, McConnell only agreed to do so on a technicality, arguing that Trump had already left office by the time they were arguing its merits in the Senate in February 2021.

“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” McConnell said at the time.

Thune, meanwhile, has argued that when Trump wins, Republicans lose.

But others have taken note of the pair’s recent silence—including Trump’s family.

“Mitch McConnell, John Thune and John Cornyn remain silent. Of the 4 most senior members of Senate Republican leadership, Barrasso is the only one with the courage to weigh in against what the radical left is trying to do to my father,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote on X, referring to the Senate GOP conference chairman.

The Colorado court’s decision is the first in U.S. history to keep a candidate, let alone a presidential one, off the ballot. Its ruling has now put immense pressure on the federal Supreme Court, which, after taking on several high-profile abortion cases, has already primed itself to play a pivotal role in the 2024 election cycle.

Despite that, the Colorado ruling could also prove majorly influential to courts and election officials considering similar measures in other states, potentially narrowing the ability for Trump to win a majority in the first place.