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CPAC Kicks Off With New Round of Legal Troubles in Matt Schlapp Scandal

Things are not looking good for the CPAC chairman accused of sexual assault.

Matt Schlapp stands in front of a huge CPAC logo
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)

An official at the Conservative Political Action Conference allegedly oversaw the mass shredding of documents just days after the organization’s chief Matt Schlapp was accused of sexual assault.

Schlapp is the head of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the annual CPAC. He, his wife, and CPAC are being sued by Republican strategist Carlton Huffman, who accused Schlapp in January 2023 of groping him while Huffman was working as a staffer on Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign.

Just five days after Huffman came forward, the ACU’s manager of strategic initiatives Lynne Rasmussen personally oversaw a group of interns shredding documents in or near her office, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday. The Beast cited a subpoena to Rasmussen released earlier that day by the Alexandria City Courthouse, as well as three anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

Communications from someone inside the CPAC office which were dated January 11, 2023, alleged that Rasmussen and CPAC general counsel David Safavian oversaw the shredding. The messages also speculated whether Schlapp was involved, as well. At the time, Huffman had not taken concrete legal action against Schlapp. In fact, Huffman didn’t file his lawsuit until five days later.

Huffman alleges that Schlapp made “sustained and unwanted and unsolicited” sexual contact with him while he was driving the ACU chief back from an Atlanta bar in October 2022. Huffman says Schlapp bought him drinks at two different bars and then proceeded to grope his crotch on the drive back to Schlapp’s hotel. When they arrived at the hotel, Schlapp allegedly invited Huffman to his room.

Huffman recorded several tearful videos of himself describing what happened. “Matt Schlapp of the CPAC grabbed my junk and pummeled it at length,” he says in one video.

“From the bar to the Hilton Garden Inn, he has his hands on me. And I feel so fucking dirty. I feel so fucking dirty.”

The Schlapps have denied Huffman’s accusations, but in March last year, Schlapp reportedly offered Huffman a sum in the low six figures to settle the suit. Huffman countered with a significantly higher amount, which Schlapp turned down.

Former ACU employees, including its former vice president Charlie Gerow, have accused the organization of rushing to shield Schlapp—including well before Huffman officially accused Schlapp of assault. Huffman made his first post alluding to inappropriate drunken behavior in December 2021, tagging Schlapp. According to the Beast, that set off a wave of precautions in the CPAC offices.

Three people familiar with the situation, speaking anonymously, told the Beast that CPAC officials conducted an in-depth, informal inventory of the organization’s records and imposed new non-disclosure agreements on all office employees. Non-compliant staffers had their pay docked.

Despite the bombshell revelation from the subpoena on Wednesday, Schlapp seemed unfazed the next day at the opening of CPAC.

If you call yourself a journalist but you spend all your time trying to destroy Americans…we don’t want you here,” he told the crowd.

DeSantis Suddenly Finds Backbone in Responding to Trump VP Shortlist

A shocking development!

Ron DeSantis wears a blue jacket that says "Ron DeSantis Governor of Florida."
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he has zero interest in joining Donald Trump’s presidential ticket, nixing the possibility of bonding with the man who dubbed him “Ron DeSanctimonious” and sparked rumors that he needed heels to reach the debate podium.

“People were mentioning me [as a potential vice president]. I am not doing that,” DeSantis said on a private video call with more than 200 supporters, obtained by the New York Post. Instead, DeSantis says he’s not ruling out another bid for the White House after his gubernatorial term runs out in 2027.

At a Fox News town hall on Tuesday, the GOP front-runner was presented with several names he could tap as potential vice presidents, including one time Democratic presidential primary candidate Tulsi Gabbard, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, Florida Representative Byron Donalds, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, and of course, DeSantis.

“Are they all on your shortlist?” asked Fox’s Laura Ingraham, to which Trump responded that “they are.”

“They’re all solid,” Trump added, noting that the “first quality” he looks for in a running mate is the ability to serve as a good president. “And I always say I want people with common sense because there’s so many things happening in this country that don’t make sense.”

Despite having never gotten far enough in the general election to legitimately consider a running mate, DeSantis had some of his own advice to pass on to Trump for picking someone to run what John Adams coined as the nation’s “most insignificant office.”

“My criteria was, basically, I need someone who can do the job if it came to that, and I would have been the third-youngest president elected so chances are, actually I would probably be in pretty good shape, but you never know what else can happen, it’s happened before,” the 45-year-old said, adding that he would have been “partial to governors.”

DeSantis also warned Trump against leveraging “identity politics” in his choice for No. 2.

“I think that’s a mistake. I think you should just focus on who you think the best person for the job would be,” DeSantis said.

Trump’s campaign wasted no time in slapping back the unsolicited advice, with a spokesperson noting that DeSantis had “failed miserably in his presidential campaign” and has no “voice in selecting the next vice president.”

Other members of Team Trump had less kind words for the former GOP favorite.

“Chicken fingers and pudding cups is what you will be remembered for you sad little man,” posted Trump 2024 adviser Chris LaCivita.

It Sure Looks Like Trump Can’t Pay the Bond in His Fraud Trial

Donald Trump has made a desperate, last minute gamble to delay paying the massive fraud judgment.

Donald Trump sits in a courtroom and turns to look behind him
Steven Hirsch-Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s lawyers have asked to postpone enforcement of his multimillion-dollar civil fraud fine, even as delay tactics cost the former president $87,500 a day.

Trump was fined $354 million on Friday for real estate-related financial fraud in New York state and temporarily banned from doing business in the state. Presiding Judge Arthur Engoron gave Trump 30 days to pay the fine. But Engoron also ordered Trump to pay pre-judgment interest dating back to March 2019, when New York Attorney General Letitia James first began investigating the Trump Organization.

James’s office calculated last week that, including interest, Trump owes more than $450 million. Trump can appeal the decision, but under New York state law, Trump will only receive a stay of enforcement if he puts up money, assets, or a bond covering the full amount he owes.

In a desperate bid to give him more time to make that happen, Trump’s lawyers filed a request Wednesday night to delay enforcement of the fine. * In a letter to Engoron, lawyer Clifford Robert slammed what he described as James’s “unseemly rush to memorialize a ‘judgment.’”

“Defendants request the Court stay enforcement of that Judgment for thirty (30) days,” Robert wrote.

The request for delay is likely so Trump can try either to raise enough capital to pay the fine, or to find a company willing to help him post a bond. Trump reportedly holds only about $600 million in liquid assets, not nearly enough to pay the millions he owes in this and other legal penalties.

Trump owes writer E. Jean Carroll $88.3 million for sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s and then defaming her twice when denying it. He also owes thousands of dollars in fines that he racked up during his recent trials for attacking courtroom staff, and $400,000 to The New York Times.

Unfortunately for Trump, the longer he delays paying the civil fraud fine, the higher it gets. With the statutory annual interest rate set at nine percent, that shakes out to an increase of $87,502 per day. According to a penalty calculator created by Associated Press journalist Mike Sislak, as of Thursday, Trump owes the state of New York a grand total of $454,069,281.

* This article has been updated to clarify Trump’s options for delaying payment of his court-ordered fine.

House Republican Levels Massive Allegation Against Comer and Jordan

Representative Ken Buck is exposing the Republicans leading the Biden impeachment crusade, after all the revelations about that ex-FBI informant.

Representative Ken Buck speaks with a mic in front of him

Republican Representative Ken Buck went on the attack against his colleagues on Wednesday night, revealing to CNN that House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and House Oversight Chair James Comer had both been warned ahead of time that the story sold by their primary witness, Alexander Smirnov, was full of holes.

“Obviously, this witness—and we were warned at the time that we received the document outlining this witness’s testimony—we were warned that the credibility of this statement was not known,” Buck told Kaitlin Collins on CNN’s The Source.

“And yet people, my colleagues went out and talked to the public about how this was credible and how it was damning and how it proved President Biden’s—at the time Vice President Biden’s—complicity in receiving bribes,” Buck continued. “It appears to absolutely be false and to really undercut the nature of the charges. We’ve always been looking for a link between what Hunter Biden received in terms of money and Joe Biden’s activities or Joe Biden receiving money. This clearly is not a credible link at this point.”

In response to a point-blank question as to whether Comer and Jordan pushed the Burisma narrative knowing full well that Smirnov’s claims were not corroborated, Buck said “that’s what it appears.”

“I certainly didn’t have any evidence outside the statement itself that it was credible,” he added. “And as a prosecutor for 25 years, Kaitlan, I never went to the public until I could prove the reliability of a statement. And even then, the only one public statement a prosecutor makes is the charging document. Let’s see what the evidence is in this impeachment, if there is more evidence before going forward.”

The GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden has crashed and burned in a spectacular way since its main witness, an informant who claimed Biden had pocketed millions of dollars from a Ukrainian oligarch, was indicted by the Department of Justice for lying to the FBI. Since then, Smirnov has reportedly admitted to law enforcement that top Russian intelligence officials were involved in the smear campaign against the sitting president.

Regardless, Republicans are still scrambling to revive the probe. On Wednesday, Jordan insisted to reporters that Smirnov’s indictment “doesn’t change the fundamental facts”—although, of course, those “facts” have now turned out to be Russia-baked lies.

Andy Biggs Absolutely Fumbles When Asked What Biden Evidence GOP Has Now

The House Oversight Republican had no idea what to say when asked about the charges against ex–FBI informant Alexander Smirnov.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden is crashing and burning without its star witness, Alexander Smirnov, but Republicans were still primed and ready to answer pressing questions from reporters—actually, wait, no they weren’t.

Representative Andy Biggs somehow made an even more embarrassing attempt at defending the now transparently baseless impeachment effort than Representative Jim Jordan did on Wednesday, flatly insisting that the party had plenty to go on without Smirnov.

“What evidence do you have of a bribery scheme now?” a reporter asked the House Oversight Committee member.

“We got lots of evidence, yes,” Biggs replied as he hurried past a crush of reporters, refusing to elaborate.

Republicans had spent months building up the hype around Smirnov as a witness, isolating his allegation that Biden had pocketed millions of dollars from a Ukrainian oligarch as the centerpiece of their probe.

But on Tuesday, the Justice Department revealed that Smirnov admitted to prosecutors that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved” in developing the Hunter Biden narrative. In a court filing, Smirnov told investigators he was in contact with “four different [top] Russian officials,” two of whom were the “heads of the entities they represent.”

“It targeted the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties in the United States. The effects of Smirnov’s false statements and fabricated information continue to be felt to this day,” prosecutors wrote, noting that Smirnov’s contacts were “not benign.”

Those revelations came after Smirnov was charged with lying to the FBI about his Biden allegations.

Republican waffling on whether to continue the probe offers just another whiff of Russian meddling in a presidential election—and legal experts have picked up on the scent, predicting that the effort to save Smirnov’s testimony could spell certain disaster for the Republican lawmakers leading the effort.

That Alabama Court Embryo Ruling Is Already Having Tragic Effects

Critics warned that the ruling would hurt anyone seeking IVF in the state—and they were right.

A hand points to an ovocyte on the computer screen.
An embryologist shows an ovocyte after it is inseminated.

It has been less than a week since the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created through in vitro fertilization can be classified as children, but the decision is already wrecking access to fertility treatments.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s medical school announced Wednesday that it is pausing IVF treatments in order to avoid potential lawsuits under the court ruling. Patients can complete the process up through egg retrieval, but fertilization and embryo development have been paused.

“We are saddened that this will impact our patients’ attempt to have a baby through IVF, but we must evaluate the potential that our patients and our physicians could be prosecuted criminally or face punitive damages for following the standard of care for IVF treatments,” UAB spokeswoman Hannah Echols said in a statement.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled 7–2 on Friday that embryos created through IVF are protected under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. The case stems from a lawsuit brought by several parents against a fertility clinic. The plaintiffs argued their “embryonic children” had been the victims of wrongful death when an intruder broke into the clinic and dropped trays holding some of the embryos, destroying them.

The court ruled the clinic had been negligent and chillingly cited the Bible in its majority opinion. “We believe that each human being, from the moment of conception, is made in the image of God, created by Him to reflect His likeness. It is as if the People of Alabama took what was spoken of the prophet Jeremiah and applied it to every unborn person in this state: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, Before you were born I sanctified you.’ Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV 1982),” the opinion read.

The president and CEO of Resolve: The National Infertility Association, Barbara Collura, said she was “heartbroken” by the UAB decision. “Would-be parents have invested their hearts, time and resources” in lengthy and potentially emotionally draining IVF treatment, she said in a statement. “Now, less than a week after the Alabama Supreme Court’s devastating ruling, Alabamans in the midst of seeking treatment have had their lives, their hopes and dreams crushed.”

“This cruel ruling, and the subsequent decision by UAB’s health system, are horrifying signals of what’s to come across the country.”

In addition to already wreaking havoc on the third-party fertility industry, the ruling could have devastating effects on reproductive health statewide. As reporter Jessica Valenti pointed out Wednesday, the ruling further enforces the concept of fetal personhood.

Anti-abortion activists argue that humanity begins at conception and thus fetuses should be afforded legal rights. But health experts warn this line of thinking could be used to criminalize doctors who provide lifesaving care, such as by terminating a pregnancy that is fatal to the patient. By further enshrining fetal personhood, the Alabama ruling could put health care workers or even people who miscarry at risk of legal repercussions.

Trump Is Planning an Even More Inhumane Anti-Immigrant Second Term

A new report says Donald Trump is preparing to do everything he couldn’t in his second term, like mass deportation camps.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For all the horrific immigration policies Donald Trump instituted during his first term—expanding detention centers, separating families at the border, and ending “catch and release”—the GOP front-runner and his allies are sketching out even more disturbing plans should he regain the White House.

Trump has promised to bring back President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback,” which used military tactics to conduct massive roundups of some 1.3 million immigrants, legal or otherwise, across the country, packing them into trucks and shipping them to locations without food or water, resulting in tragic and unnecessary deaths.

“Americans can expect that immediately upon President Trump’s return to the Oval Office, he will restore all of his prior policies, implement brand new crackdowns that will send shock waves to all the world’s criminal smugglers, and marshal every federal and state power necessary to institute the largest deportation operation in American history,” said Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt in a statement to The Washington Post, adding that undocumented immigrants “should not get comfortable because very soon they will be going home.”

To support such an operation, Trump adviser Stephen Miller and other allies have proposed building mass deportation camps.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Miller, who is largely expected to reenter the West Wing as the leading expert on “America First” immigration policy should Trump win in November, has also described the forthcoming reality of “large-scale raids” and “throughput facilities.”

“I don’t care what the hell happens in this world,” Miller said earlier this month on a podcast with Charlie Kirk. “If President Trump gets reelected, the border’s going to be sealed, the military will be deployed, the National Guard will be activated, and the illegals are going home.”

Behind the scenes, Trump has worked overtime to make immigration a focal point of the upcoming general election. He has strong-armed Republican lawmakers into refusing bipartisan border deals to avoid giving President Joe Biden a win on the issue. He has stoked the flames of a standoff between Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the federal government over lengths of concertina wire erected by the state that have prevented federal border agents from doing their job along the Rio Grande section of the U.S.-Mexico border. And so far, his angling has been successful—as of a January poll conducted by Harvard CAPS-Harris, immigration now ranks as the top issue for U.S. voters, with 35 percent of respondents listing it as the primary concern.

“Trump is following the 20th century dictator’s playbook of dehumanizing vulnerable groups in order to isolate them and justify cruelty by the state,” Genevieve Nadeau, a former Department of Homeland Security lawyer, said in a report by the nonpartisan organization Protect Democracy. “He’s backing up his rhetoric by threatening to invoke extreme and novel legal tools to effectuate an agenda of inhumanity on a scale we haven’t seen for generations. We should expect him to follow through on his pledges.”

And the violent measures fly in the face of what Republicans and Democratic leaders alike argue would most benefit their communities: allowing the immigrants to legally work.

“Every migrant I speak to tells me they don’t want any charity; they just want to work,” Denver Mayor Mike Johnston wrote in an MSNBC op-ed earlier this month. “When I speak to conservative business leaders, they say the same thing: Newcomers should work; I have open jobs; let me hire them.”

James Biden Gave Republicans Exactly What They Asked for in Testimony

James Biden testified behind closed doors as House Republicans continue their Biden impeachment crusade.

House Oversight Chair James Comer leaves a room. The door behind him says "2155 Members and Committee Staff Only."
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
House Oversight Chair James Comer

House Republicans have hit yet another dead end in their Biden impeachment crusade, after perhaps their biggest witness yet debunked all their claims in closed-door testimony.

Joe Biden’s brother testified Wednesday before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, whose Republican chairmen have led the charge against his brother. Biden slammed Republicans for accusing the president and his family of influence peddling, accusing the GOP of “flat-out lying” during their impeachment inquiry.

The GOP has insisted for about a year that the president was involved in his family’s business ventures and accused his relatives, particularly his brother and his son Hunter, of wielding their proximity to him to leverage their work. But in his opening statement, which was obtained by The New Republic, Jim Biden firmly debunked every allegation.

“I have had a 50-year career in a variety of business ventures. Joe Biden has never had any involvement or any direct or indirect financial interest in those activities. None,” Biden said. “I never asked my brother to take any official action on behalf of me, my business associates, or anyone else.”

“In every business venture in which I have been involved, I have relied on my own talent, judgment, skill, and personal relationships—and never my status as Joe Biden’s brother. Those who have said or thought otherwise were either mistaken, ill informed, or flat-out lying.”

Biden summarized his various business ventures over the past couple decades, which included a few partnerships with his nephew Hunter. But Joe Biden “played no role, was not involved with, and received no benefits,” his brother said.

Republicans have also seized on two checks that James Biden gave his older brother, one for $200,000 labeled “loan repayment,” and another for $40,000. GOP lawmakers insist these were actually Joe Biden’s share of profit from his brother’s businesses. Jim Biden, however, said they were nothing more than repayment for money his brother loaned him when he fell on hard times.

“With my appearance here today, the Committees will have the information to conclude that the negative and destructive assumptions about me and my relationship with my brother Joe are wrong,” Biden said. “There is no basis for this inquiry to continue.”

Republicans have repeatedly insisted that Joe Biden is guilty of corruption, but they have yet to produce a single shred of evidence tying the president to criminal behavior. What’s more, the informant who provided the main accusations behind the investigation was charged just last week with providing false information to the government.

Alexander Smirnov, a longtime FBI informant with ties to Ukraine, had claimed to have proof of Biden and his son Hunter accepting $5 million bribes each from a Ukrainian oligarch. In addition to being charged with making false statements, the Justice Department revealed Tuesday that Smirnov had likely been spreading Russian disinformation when he made the Biden allegations.

“Kill ’Em All,” Republican Congressman Says of Palestinians in Gaza

Republican Representative Andy Ogles really does not care if even more kids are killed in Gaza.

Representative Andy Ogles yells and points a finger
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Representative Andy Ogles is making headlines over flippant remarks he made regarding the harrowing conflict in Palestine, saying in a recently released clip that America should help “kill ’em all.”

On Thursday, the far-right Tennessean got into a fiery spat with an activist, who pressed Ogles on his position regarding Israel’s atrocities in Gaza and America’s never-ending distribution of munitions to the cause.

“Do you know there’s a genocide happening right now in Palestine?” the activist asked. “Over 300 health care workers have been killed. Have you called for a cease-fire?

“Let’s be clear. Hamas raped and murdered babies,” Ogles started. “I’ve seen the footage, and you haven’t.”

“I’ve seen the footage of shredded children’s bodies,” the activist responded. “That’s my taxpayer dollars that are going to bomb those kids.”

But Ogles had no mercy for the plighted people, ruthlessly advocating for the complete extermination of Palestine.

“You know what? So, I think we should kill ’em all, if that makes you feel better,” Ogles, a self-described Christian, spat back. “Everybody in Hamas.”

“Do you have a heart? Do you have a family?” the activist responded, flabbergasted.

“Hamas and the Palestinians have been attacking Israel for 20 years. And It’s time to pay the piper,” the lawmaker continued.

Other prompts jumped out at the Republican after a small flock had gathered around him, with activists decrying Israel as an “occupier” that has spent decades attacking Palestine.

“Your naïveté doesn’t make it true,” Ogles said, adding, “Death to Hamas” before descending further into the Capitol.

The blatant cruelty is maybe not as shocking given that Ogles seemingly doesn’t care about dead children in his home state either, allegedly pocketing tens of thousands of dollars donated to build a child graveyard in Tennessee.

On Tuesday, the White House vetoed a resolution at the United Nations Security Council for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza proposed by Algeria, claiming it would  “jeopardize” talks to end the war. 

“Examine your conscience; how will history judge you?” said Amar Bendjama, Algeria’s U.N. diplomat.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday that Israel is bringing more than two million Palestinians to the brink of death—especially for those living in the northern section of the enclave.

“Israel’s prevention of aid trucks from entering and its occasional targeting of the few allowed in is already resulting in the death of children, elderly, and patients due to hunger,” the ministry said in a statement to Al Jazeera.

“The sight of thousands of children holding empty pots and standing in long lines waiting for any meal or food rations dominates life in northern Gaza.”

New York Attorney General Threatens to Take Action if Trump Doesn’t Pay Up

New York Attorney General Letitia James is vowing to make Donald Trump pay that massive fraud judgment, one way or another.

Letitia James speaks at a mic. A U.S. flag is in the background.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

New York real estate mogul Donald Trump could soon be without any New York real estate, as the state attorney general has warned that she is prepared to seize his buildings if he doesn’t pay his $354 million penalty for financial fraud.

A judge fined Trump the whopping amount on Friday for committing real estate–related financial fraud in New York state. Trump can appeal the ruling, but he would first have to pay the entire amount plus interest, which could add as much as an additional $100 million.

The penalty could prove too much for Trump’s personal coffers to bear. But New York Attorney General Letitia James, who initially sued Trump for fraud, has a plan.

“If he does not have funds to pay off the judgment, then we will seek judgment enforcement mechanisms in court, and we will ask the judge to seize his assets,” James told ABC on Tuesday.

“We are prepared to make sure that the judgment is paid to New Yorkers, and yes, I look at 40 Wall Street each and every day,” she said, referring to one of Trump’s iconic Wall Street skyscrapers.

James 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. Presiding Judge Arthur Engoron determined in September that Trump committed fraud and last week delivered the final judgment.

In addition to Trump’s massive penalty, his two adult sons have been fined $4 million each. Trump has been banned from serving as an officer in any New York company for three years, while his sons have been banned for a period of two years.

James had originally sued for $250 million, but the penalty went up significantly after Trump repeatedly bragged about his alleged net worth during his deposition.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” Engoron wrote in his ruling. “They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again.”

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