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Judge Cannon Immediately Kills One of Trump’s Desperate Legal Ploys

Judge Aileen Cannon has struck down one of Donald Trump’s arguments in the classified documents case. TBD on the other.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

After a full day hearing arguments related to two motions by Donald Trump’s legal teams to dismiss his classified documents case, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has denied one motion without prejudice.

That ruling was in relation to Team Trump’s claim that it wasn’t clear at the time Trump took the sensitive material if the act was illegal or not, claiming there was “unconstitutional vagueness.”

The argument had little sway with the Trump-appointed judge.

“Although the Motion raises various arguments warranting serious consideration, the Court ultimately determines, following lengthy oral argument, that resolution of the overall question presented depends too greatly on contested instructional questions about still-fluctuating definitions of statutory terms/phrases as charged,” Cannon wrote in a two-page order, further noting that the issue of constitutional vagueness would be better brought up with “jury-instruction briefing and/or other appropriate motions.”

Her ruling, however, leaves wiggle room for Trump’s attorneys to potentially reargue the position down the line.

Even though the motion is off the table for now, Trump still has several other attempts to dismiss the trial in the works. The rest of Thursday was spent arguing another such motion on the basis that the classified documents could be considered “personal materials” rather than presidential under the Presidential Records Act—a defense that special counsel Jack Smith’s office roundly rejected. 

Smith’s office also claimed that Trump’s “personal records” argument was suggestive that the GOP presidential nominee believes he’s beyond reproach and above the law. Cannon herself expressed skepticism at leveraging the statute to dismiss the case outright, though ultimately she determined that the issue would be better left for a jury to decide.

“It’s difficult to see how this gets you to the dismissal of an indictment,” the judge told Trump’s attorney Thursday afternoon.

But the trial, which was originally set to begin on May 20, still does not have a renewed court date.

Legal analysts have worried that a strategy of continual delays could be the Trump-appointed judge’s way of surreptitiously dismissing the trial altogether.

“She has yet to issue a scheduling order setting a trial date,” MSNBC legal correspondent Lisa Rubin said on Morning Joe on Thursday. “I’m not a betting person, probably would make a miserable one, but the fact she set oral arguments on two motions to dismiss makes me think maybe she thinks she can get rid of this case without setting a trial date. That is frightening, given the gravity of the charges here and the evidence that supports those charges.”

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Matt Gaetz Will Have to Testify Whether He Is a Massive Creep

Republican Representative Matt Gaetz just got served a subpoena.

Matt Gaetz outside the Capitol. Women reporters surround him.
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Matt Gaetz has been subpoenaed to sit for a deposition in a civil defamation lawsuit, by lawyers representing a woman whom the Florida representative is accused of having sex with when she was just 17.

Lawyers for the woman, who is identified in the lawsuit by the initials “A.B.,” served Gaetz the subpoena on Thursday, ABC News reported, citing anonymous sources. The Republican congressman is slated to sit for deposition on April 5, and he will likely be asked questions about his alleged sexual activity, including whether he paid a minor for sex.

The subpoena is part of a larger defamation and racketeering suit brought last year by Gaetz’s friend, former Florida state Representative Chris Dorworth, against A.B. and Joel Greenberg, another former Gaetz associate. Dorworth accused Greenberg and A.B. of conspiring to falsely accuse Dorworth of “child sex trafficking, sex with a minor, prostitution, obstruction of justice, and an illegal ghost candidate scheme,” the lawsuit said.

Gaetz is not a party in the lawsuit, but the filing mentions him and the allegations against him several times. A.B.’s lawyers have subpoenaed him to establish that the woman was not Greenberg’s “partner in crime,” as Dorworth alleges.

Greenberg was convicted of sex trafficking following a Justice Department investigation, and in 2022, he was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison. But he cooperated with the department when it launched an offshoot investigation into Gaetz in March 2021. Greenberg alleged that Gaetz had paid him via Venmo for sex with a 17-year-old girl, which the congressman has denied.

The federal investigation ended in February 2023 with no charges, in part because the Justice Department had credibility issues with Greenberg and another key witness. But the House Ethics Committee opened a probe into Gaetz in July for alleged misconduct including sexual misconduct and illicit drug use.

And Gaetz’s testimony could also prove particularly damning in the House Ethics investigation, which already does not seem to be going all that well for him. In February, a potential witness came forward alleging that she had had sex with the lawmaker at a drug-fueled party in 2021, when she was older than 21 years of age. The woman said she was paid to attend the event and has texts to prove her claims.

Trump Pushes Totally Asinine Delay Tactic in Classified Documents Case

Donald Trump appeared in court yet again—where his legal team made some seriously unbelievable arguments.

Donald Trump yelling
Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump and his attorneys took another stab at attempting to wholly dismiss one of his criminal trials on Thursday—except this time the judge heard them out.

Trump stayed surprisingly mum as his attorneys argued two motions before Judge Aileen Cannon at a Florida courthouse. In one, they claimed that it wasn’t clear at the time Trump took the sensitive material if the act was illegal or not. In the other, they argued that the classified documents could be considered “personal materials” rather than presidential under the Presidential Records Act.

The latter defense was roundly rejected by special counsel Jack Smith’s office, which pointed to a transcript of Trump’s own words in which the former president acknowledged the records definitely were not personal.

Cannon, meanwhile, described the argument as “forceful.”

“Your arguments might have some force, again, as it comes to a trial defense,” Cannon said, though she noted that the end result would effectively gut the statute and allow future presidents to designate obviously presidential documents as personal.

Altogether, Cannon appeared skeptical of the defense and its ability to dismiss the case outright, ultimately deciding that the issue would be better left for a jury to decide.

“It’s difficult to see how this gets you to the dismissal of an indictment,” the judge told Trump’s attorney Thursday afternoon.

It’s possible that Trump’s legal team knew these arguments wouldn’t work, but his legal strategy in every case against him has been to delay trial proceedings.

The day ended without an official decision on the matter. Cannon said she would consider the motions “under advisement” and would issue a ruling “promptly.” Some experts worry Cannon is dragging out the trial start date as much as possible.

In Remarkable Twist, Trump’s First Criminal Trial Could Be Delayed

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has signaled it is open to a delay in Trump’s hush-money case.

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Prosecutors in Donald Trump’s New York hush-money case signaled that they would be open to a 30-day adjournment, hinting at a possible postponement just 11 days before his first criminal trial was set to begin.

On Thursday, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office cited an enormous caseload for its reasoning, including more than 100,000 pages’ worth of documents issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office, 31,000 of which were released the day before, with another truckload expected sometime next week.

“Based on our initial review of yesterday’s production, those records appear to contain materials related to the subject matter of this case, including materials that the People requested from the USAO more than a year ago and that the USAO previously declined to provide,” wrote Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a three-page notice.

“Nonetheless, and although the People are prepared to proceed to trial on March 25, we do not oppose an adjournment in an abundance of caution and to ensure that defendant has sufficient time to review the new materials,” he concluded.

Trump’s team, meanwhile, had originally asked for a 90-day delay upon the reception of the initial 73,000 pages on March 4. Ultimately the decision will be up to Judge Juan Manuel Merchan, who has ignored the former president’s previous delay tactics, citing the lack of concrete trial dates for any of Trump’s other criminal cases.

It is currently unclear when Merchan might rule.

Trump is accused of using his former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. He’s facing 34 felony charges in this case for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime. Trump has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Cohen, who is anticipated to be a star witness in this trial, has no doubts that the former president will be found guilty in this case.

“I can tell you from everything I know about it, he’s going to be found guilty,” Cohen, the former Trump lawyer, said during The New Republic’s Stop Trump Summit in October.

Bob Menendez, Out of Options, Considers the Kyrsten Sinema Route

The senator might run for reelection as an independent, imperiling a Democratic seat.

Bob Menendez
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Senator Bob Menendez

Senator Bob Menendez, whose corruption charges seem to increase each week, may choose to run for reelection as an independent in an effort to fundraise for his legal bills.

Menendez and his wife face 18 federal counts of accepting bribes in exchange for using his position to benefit the Qatari and Egyptian governments. The New Jersey Democrat has so far refused to resign from the Senate, although he did step down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Despite previously indicating he would not run for reelection, Menendez is now considering running as an independent, NBC News reported Thursday, citing anonymous sources.

One of the main reasons to run again is that Menendez is reportedly racking up hefty legal bills. The senator has already been hit with two superseding indictments, increasing the number of charges he and his wife face. If he is a candidate, he would be able to fundraise and use that money to pay for his legal fees. (Sound familiar?)

It would be hard for Menendez to get on the Democratic ballot, as he would need to gather 1,000 supporting signatures by March 25. But if he runs as an independent, he would have until June 4 to gather just 800 signatures. He is already making calls to allies to promote his candidacy, according to NBC.

Menendez denied that he intends to run as an independent. “I don’t have to declare what I’m doing, everybody will know,” he told NBC. “When I decide to declare whatever my path is, I will do it then. I don’t have to do it on television for you.”

If Menendez does rebrand as an independent, it would be remarkably reminiscent of a move pulled by his Senate colleague Kyrsten Sinema. Sinema announced in December 2022 that she was switching her party affiliation to independent. Her decision threatened to set up a three-way race in Arizona and risked splitting Democratic and centrist votes between her and Democratic challenger, Ruben Gallego, ultimately handing the state to a Republican. Sinema decided in early March not to run for reelection.

Similarly, Menendez’s decision could cost Democrats his seat. The race to replace him is getting crowded, with Representative Andy Kim and New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy vying for the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side is a local mayor with ties to Donald Trump and a penchant for plagiarism.

Kim said it was “really alarming” that Menendez might be considering an independent run, calling it “just another clear example of putting his own personal benefit ahead of what’s right for this country.”

“There is no way that he can win this seat,” Kim, who is currently leading in the Democratic polls, told NBC. “But what he could do is jeopardize this seat and give Republicans a chance.”

More on 2024 election hell:

Surprise, Surprise: AIPAC Flips Out Over Schumer’s Netanyahu Comment

Who could have guessed this one?

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The American Israel Public Affairs Committee stood firmly behind Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Thursday, following a scathing critique of the Israeli prime minister by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Israel is an independent democracy that decides for itself when elections are held and chooses its own leaders,” AIPAC posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “America must continue to stand with our ally Israel and ensure it has the time and resources it needs to win this war. Hamas bears sole responsibility for this conflict. The hope for a brighter future for the Middle East begins with Israel’s decisive defeat of Hamas.”

Those comments bore a remarkable similarity to a statement issued by Michael Herzog, Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

“Israel is a sovereign democracy,” wrote Herzog. “It is unhelpful, all the more so as Israel is at war against the genocidal terror organization Hamas, to comment on the domestic political scene of a democratic ally. It is counterproductive to our common goals.”

In a heated speech on Thursday morning, Schumer argued for a new election in Israel and the end of Netanyahu’s reign. Schumer said the prime minister had “lost his way” and criticized him for fraternizing with far-right extremists.

“Nobody expects Prime Minister Netanyahu to do the things that must be done to break the cycle of violence, preserve Israel’s credibility on the world stage, and work towards a two-state solution,” Schumer said.

Schumer’s words appear to resonate more with the Israeli people than with their lobbyists and ambassadors. Only 15 percent of the population wants Netanyahu to stay on as prime minister once the war concludes, according to a poll published in January by the Israel Democracy Institute.

For decades, the U.S. has proved to be Israel’s biggest ally, supplying more than $130 billion in military aid in the 76 years since the nation was founded and helping to create one of the world’s most comprehensive missile defense programs, better known as the Iron Dome. Since October 7, experts believe the majority of the bombs that have dropped on Gaza and aided in the deaths of more than 31,000 Palestinians are of U.S. origin.

Even Mike Johnson Doesn’t Want to Talk About Biden Impeachment Anymore

The House speaker seems completely done with his own party’s Biden impeachment crusade.

Mike Johnson, seated, looks down. U.S. flags are behind him.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson appears to be growing cold on the idea of impeaching Joe Biden, as Republicans reportedly scramble for the exits regarding the impeachment investigation.

Despite insisting for more than a year that the president and his family are guilty of corruption, House Republicans have quietly begun looking for an off-ramp. Their investigation has produced no evidence of Biden’s involvement in crimes, and with their rapidly shrinking majority, articles of impeachment would be unlikely to pass anyway.

When asked Wednesday whether he would hold a vote on articles of impeachment, Johnson demurred and instead said there was more investigating to be done.

The impeachment inquiry and the investigation that accompanies that will continue,” he told reporters. “There is still bits of information that have been requested that have not yet been turned over, and our committees will continue to do that work. And they will process all of that and make those decisions as they come forward.”

Later, Johnson said that once the investigators receive that information, “we’ll carefully evaluate that and make a decision as a body, as a leadership team, about where we proceed from there.”

Johnson’s refusal to give a clear answer is a significant shift, considering he has previously steadfastly supported House Republicans’ impeachment efforts. But lately, the impeachment inquiry has foundered.

The lengthy investigation has failed to turn up any proof of the president’s wrongdoing. In fact, the biggest criminal act revealed during the course of the probe was committed by the GOP’s own star witness, Alexander Smirnov. The Department of Justice has accused him of making up the allegations against the Biden family that jump-started the whole impeachment effort.

Republicans have begun to express doubt that articles of impeachment will ever make it to the floor, and even House Oversight Chair James Comer, who spearheaded the charge against the Biden family, has changed his tune. Last week, Comer told Fox News he would be satisfied with simply making nonbinding criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.

And even if Johnson did bring articles of impeachment to the floor, the likelihood that they would pass seems to shrink with every passing day. Colorado Representative Ken Buck announced Tuesday that he would leave Congress in a matter of days. Buck cited the impeachment inquiry as one of the main reasons he was leaving the House, calling it “dysfunctional” and saying the past year has been the worst of his nearly decade-long term in Washington.

“We’ve taken impeachment and we’ve made it a social media issue as opposed to a constitutional concept,” Buck told reporters Tuesday. “This place just keeps going downhill, and I don’t need to spend my time here.”

Buck also hinted that more resignations will be coming, making it that much more difficult for Republicans to pass anything, let alone articles of impeachment.

More on the end of the GOP’s impeachment crusade:

Ulterior Motive Much? Shady Trumper Has Plans to Buy TikTok

Donald Trump’s former treasury secretary says he’s preparing to buy TikTok.

Christopher Pike/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin revealed Thursday that he is building an investor group to buy TikTok, which could put a major resource for young people in the hands of one of Donald Trump’s allies.

Mnuchin’s announcement comes a day after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would force TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell the platform within six months or risk it being banned from U.S. app stores. The bill flew through the House with massive bipartisan support, and President Joe Biden—who is currently campaigning on TikTok—has promised to sign the measure if it reaches his desk.

“I think the legislation should pass, and I think it should be sold,” Mnuchin, who served as treasury secretary for Trump’s entire term, told CNBC Thursday morning. “It’s a great business, and I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok.”

Mnuchin leads the private equity firm Liberty Strategic Capital. He did not indicate which other investors he might recruit or how much he planned to offer for TikTok. During his time in the Trump administration, Mnuchin came under fire when it was revealed that some large corporations applied for and received pandemic-era loans intended to help small businesses. Prior to the White House, Mnuchin ran the bank OneWest, where he was accused of profiting off the Great Recession housing crisis by foreclosing on homes and forcing the owners out.

If the TikTok bill passes, it will likely face lengthy battles before it can be implemented. Critics, including the ACLU, have slammed the measure as a free speech violation masked as national security concern.

“Make no mistake: The House’s TikTok bill is a ban, and it’s blatant censorship,” ACLU senior policy counsel Jenna Leventoff said in a statement after the House vote. “Today, the House of Representatives voted to violate the First Amendment rights of more than half of the country. The Senate must reject this unconstitutional and reckless bill.”

ByteDance, meanwhile, appears to have no intention of selling TikTok. The platform’s CEO Shou Zi Chew has indicated that selling isn’t an option.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin accused the United States of violating “the principles of fair competition and international economic and trade rules.”

“If so-called reasons of national security can be used to arbitrarily suppress excellent companies from other countries, then there is no fairness and justice at all,” Wang said Thursday. “When someone sees a good thing another person has and tries to take it for themselves, this is entirely the logic of a bandit.”

Mnuchin is not involved in Trump’s reelection campaign, and he was reportedly privately furious with the former president over the January 6 attack. Just not furious enough to actually do anything, apparently: While Mnuchin condemned the violence, he was careful to avoid publicly criticizing Trump.

If Mnuchin succeeds in buying TikTok, this would mean that a Trump-sympathetic Republican would sit at the helm of a major information resource. As Representative Mike Gallagher, the House bill’s Republican co-sponsor, noted Wednesday, TikTok is “becoming the dominant news platform for Americans under 30.” If Mnuchin controls the app, he could attempt to influence what information can be shared on the platform.

Chuck Schumer Says Benjamin Netanyahu’s Time Is Up

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has got to go.

Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for new elections in Israel on Thursday, noting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “lost his way.”

In a scathing speech on the Senate floor, Schumer argued that Netanyahu had allowed his “political survival to take precedence over the best interests” of the country and criticized him for aligning with far-right extremists. He also named four obstacles on the road to a two-state solution: Hamas, Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right-wingers in the Israeli government, and Netanyahu.

“Nobody expects Prime Minister Netanyahu to do the things that must be done to break the cycle of violence, preserve Israel’s credibility on the world stage, and work towards a two-state solution,” Schumer said.

“At this critical juncture, I believe a new election is the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel, at a time when so many Israelis have lost their confidence in the vision and direction of their government,” he said.

“The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7. The world has changed, radically, since then, and the Israeli people are being stifled right now by a governing vision that is stuck in the past.”

Schumer has spent months in relative silence while more than 31,000 Palestinians were killed, largely avoiding publicly remarking on Israel’s war on Gaza. His comments come at a time of high pressure for Democrats, who fear they could alienate young voters on the issue if they don’t take radical action.

Trump Makes Idiotic Confession Just Before Key Classified Docs Hearing

Genius Donald Trump said the stupidest thing possible, mere hours before a key hearing in his classified documents case.

Donald Trump yells at a mic
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

While Donald Trump’s legal team prepared to make arguments attempting to dismiss his classified documents criminal case, Trump was working on a new angle of his own.

In a prerecorded interview that aired Wednesday, Trump effortlessly unraveled the work of his defense team, telling Newsmax’s Greg Kelly point blank that he actually did take the classified documents, describing the process of shamelessly packing them away while leaving office.

“I took ’em very legally,” Trump said. “And I wasn’t hiding them.”

“We had boxes on the front of the—and a lot of those boxes had clothing and a lot of—we were moving out, OK? Unfortunately, we were moving out of the White House. And because we’re moving out of the White House our country is going to hell.”

“But um, we weren’t hiding anything. He was,” he added, referring to President Joe Biden having kept a box with a handful of classified documents in his garage. By comparison, the FBI seized 11,000 records at Mar-a-Lago.

The admission is just another self-induced nick in a narrowing defense for someone who clearly knew that he took privileged documents and illegally kept them.

In a July 2021 recording, Trump confessed the obvious: that he actually couldn’t have declassified the “secret” documents as he said he did because he wasn’t president.

“As president, I could have declassified, but now I can’t,” he said at the time.

“Except it is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information,” Trump added at another point in the recording.

And in a June interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier, Trump claimed he was too “busy” to give the boxes back to the federal government.

“Because I had boxes. I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out. I don’t want to hand that over to [the archives] yet,” Trump said. “And I was very busy, as you have sort of seen. I have been very, very busy.”

On Monday, one of Trump’s former Mar-a-Lago employees, Brian Butler, anonymously referred to in court documents as “Trump Employee 5,” confessed that he had been part of an orchestrated move to transport the documents out of Mar-a-Lago and to Bedminster, New Jersey, ahead of a meeting between Trump and the Justice Department in June 2022—two months before the FBI raid at the Florida estate.

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