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Horrific Alabama Embryo Ruling Is Still Having Tragic Effects on IVF

A health clinic is having to permanently end IVF services.

Eggs are collected from culture dishes
Jens Kalaene/picture alliance/Getty Images

The Alabama state Supreme Court ruling in February that declared frozen embryos are children, effectively ending in vitro fertilization procedures in the state, is still wreaking havoc, despite recent state legislation that was supposed to protect the practice. 

Infirmary Health, a health care system in the city of Mobile, will stop IVF procedures at the end of 2024 due to litigation connected to the ruling, the Alabama Reflector reported Wednesday. The clinic, which was one of the health care groups sued in the initial case, faced even more lawsuits after the court ruling. 

“In order to assist families in Alabama and along the Gulf Coast who have initiated the process of IVF therapy in the hopes of starting a family, Mobile Infirmary has temporarily resumed IVF treatments at the hospital,” Infirmary Health said in a statement. “However, in light of litigation concerns surrounding IVF therapy, Mobile Infirmary will no longer be able to offer this service to families after December 31, 2024.”  

In March, Alabama’s legislature passed a law that extended criminal and civil immunity to IVF clinics for their work. But the legislation does not address when life begins, a sticking point that Infirmary Health noted at the time. Since not all embryos survive the IVF process, that could still leave room for lawsuits against the health care providers.

The Alabama court ruling has had a massive ripple effect. Donald Trump criticized the court ruling, Representative Nancy Mace put forward an inconsequential, nonbinding bill claiming to support the procedure, and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson has been put on the spot regarding why Republicans haven’t decisively acted to support IVF.

Just last week, a Democrat, Marilyn Lands, won a special election for the Alabama state House in a deep-red seat. Lands ran on protecting access to abortion and IVF.

The ruling and ensuing events are a warning to other states regarding both health care and political upheaval. Democrats are attempting to capitalize on the pro-IVF momentum, ensuring that the treatment will remain an issue in November.

Trump’s Civil Fraud Bond Backer Is Even Shadier Than We Thought

Don Hankey’s financial company has a history of unlawful lending practices.

Donald Trump speaks
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The company underwriting Donald Trump’s $175 million bond is owned by a man whose seedy business practices were flagged by Trump’s own administration.

Billionaire Don Hankey, also known as the “king of subprime car loans,” was sued by the Justice Department just nine months into Trump’s presidency, after it was discovered that another one of Hankey’s companies, Westlake Services, had illegally repossessed 70 cars belonging to service members, violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, The Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

Westlake settled with the Trump administration in just 10 days, according to a settlement agreement, with the company agreeing to pay $700,000 in damages to affected members and getting fined more than $60,000 by the federal government.

“Westlake and Wilshire specifically target servicemembers, including junior enlisted servicemembers, as customers for their subprime and near-subprime loan products,” prosecutors wrote.

But it wasn’t the first time Hankey’s companies had been penalized by the feds. Two years before the alleged misconduct, Westlake and one of its subsidiaries, Wilshire, were hit by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for “illegal debt collection tactics,” according to the Beast. That resulted in an even larger penalty, including more than $44 million in restitution payouts.

That’s all a part of the game to Hankey, who carved out his $7.4 billion fortune through those kinds of predatory practices, targeting low-income customers with high-interest auto loans.

Hankey’s Knight Specialty Insurance Company is the group that underwrote Trump’s bond for his civil fraud trial, but it’s not Hankey’s only investment in Trump’s financial situation. Hankey is also believed to be the largest shareholder in Axos Financial, according to MSNBC’s Lisa Rubin, a financial institution that in 2022 refinanced more than $50 million of Trump’s loans on Trump Tower and Trump National Doral Miami, according to documents filed with the Office of Government Ethics.

Hankey told Forbes that Knight initiated the deal with the criminally charged GOP presidential nominee, and explained that Trump had used both cash and investment-grade bonds to secure the money with his insurance company. Hankey added that he had never met Trump but had been a supporter of his previous campaigns.

“This is what we do at Knight insurance,” Hankey told Forbes on Monday. “I’d never met Donald Trump. I’d never talked to him on the phone. I heard that he needed a loan or a bond, and this is what we do. So, we reached out, and he responded.”

Remember Trump’s Merger Windfall? It’s Because of Insider Trading.

Two investors in the merger have pleaded guilty to insider trading.

The Truth Social App Store page is seen on a phone
Anna Barclay/Getty Images

Two investors in the shell company that merged with Trump Media & Technology Group, or TMTG, the parent company of Donald Trump’s personal social media platform Truth Social, pleaded guilty Wednesday to insider trading, the latest in the organization’s laundry list of recent issues.

Florida venture capitalist Michael Shvartsman and his brother Gerald pleaded guilty in New York to one count of securities fraud, and could face up to 20 years in prison, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.

In October 2021, the pair made more than $22 million in illegal profits by using insider knowledge and trading in securities of the Digital World Acquisition Corporation, or DWAC, ahead of its merger with Trump’s company. The Shvartsmans were later arrested and charged in June last year.

“Michael and Gerald Shvartsman admitted in court that they received confidential, inside information about an upcoming merger between DWAC and Trump Media and used that information to make profitable, but illegal, open-market trades,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a statement.

The Shvartsmans plea comes after a rocky couple of weeks for TMTG. After the company’s initial public offering last week, its stock price surged to $57 a share, valuing the company at $8 billion. But in the past few days, everything has come crashing back to earth.

The company’s SEC filings, released Monday, showed massive losses of $58 million, sending its stock price plummeting, with auditors expecting the company to lose even more money in the future.

Trump’s social media venture could make him a lot of money, which he desperately needs to pay his many legal bills. But he’s not legally allowed to sell off any of his 72 million shares in the company for six months without permission from his company’s board of directors, as it would lead to a steep drop in the stock price. He still might manage to do so anyway, considering that the board, made up of former administration staffers, political allies, and his son Donald Jr., would likely rubber-stamp such a request.

John Bolton Has a Hilarious Way to Stop Trump From Pulling Out of NATO

Trump’s former U.N. ambassador has some ideas.

John Bolton speaks
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Former national security adviser John Bolton has an unconventional suggestion for saving the U.S. alliance with NATO through a potential second term under Donald Trump: Just keep the former reality TV host distracted.

“So as Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, you believe that all Americans and everyone should take it very seriously when he says he wants to withdraw from NATO, and a second Donald Trump term, you believe, would mean an almost immediate withdrawal from NATO,” prompted MeidasTouch’s Ben Meiselas on Wednesday.

“Well I think he would do it very early in the term,” Bolton replied. “The remedy I would propose to anybody who doesn’t want us to withdraw from NATO is find a way to distract his attention.

“Since he has a short attention span, that can work, at least for a while, until it pops back into his head,” he said. “This is, I think unfortunately, a very good example of what a second Trump term would be like. A lot of things he talked about in the first term, maybe made some tentative steps toward but didn’t actually carry through on, we’ll see again in a second term.”

According to Bolton, a policy hawk who also served in Ronald Reagan’s administration, the consequences of America’s exit from the Cold War alliance could be dire, effectively resulting in the end of NATO, leaving behind a fractured and significantly weakened European alliance, while devastating America’s international credibility as an ally.

Trump has long criticized America’s relationship with the international military alliance, baselessly insisting that other NATO members have failed to pay their dues, and argued that the U.S. has been shortchanged by other members, even though that’s not how the alliance operates.

The Cold War organization has “no ledger that maintains accounts of what countries pay and owe,” according to former Obama staffer Aaron O’Connell, who explained to NPR in 2018 that “NATO is not like a club with annual membership fees.”

In February, Bolton claimed that Trump had completely fabricated a story in which he allegedly told a European leader that he’d allow Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO allies if they didn’t “pay their “bills.”

“But … the fact that it’s an imaginary conversation that makes Trump look very good—as all of Trump’s imagined conversations do—doesn’t mean that he doesn’t believe what he’s saying,” Bolton said at the time.

“Unacceptable”: White House Cancels Event as Biden Struggles on Gaza

The White House had to cancel its annual iftar event after many people declined invitations.

Joe Biden stands at a podium
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The White House has canceled its yearly iftar banquet, a tradition where the president hosts Muslims in government, community leaders from across the country, and members of the diplomatic corps to break their daily Ramadan fast with an evening meal. And President Biden’s Gaza war policy appears to be why.

The White House decided Tuesday to cancel the meal, Al Jazeera English reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter. The move came after many Muslim community members declined invitations and warned leaders not to attend in protest of Biden’s support for Israel’s war on Gaza.

“The American Muslim community said very early on that it would be completely unacceptable for us to break bread with the very same White House that is enabling the Israeli government to starve and slaughter the Palestinian people in Gaza,” Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Al Jazeera.

On Monday, CNN reported that the White House would be hosting a scaled-back iftar dinner the next day, but hours later, the White House announced that there would only be a smaller meal for Muslim government staffers, with a separate meeting for Muslim community leaders.

Even that meeting with the president didn’t go as planned, when a Palestinian American doctor walked out in protest.

“I said it was disappointing I’m the only Palestinian here, and out of respect for my community, I’m going to leave,” Dr. Thaer Ahmad, an emergency physician from Chicago who traveled to Gaza earlier this year, told CNN. That meeting also included national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as other administration officials.

The cancellation comes on the heels of better than expected results for a protest vote in Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary elections Tuesday. Voters who selected an “uninstructed” option on their ballot instead of voting for Biden or Representative Dean Phillips (who has suspended his campaign) currently make up 8 percent of the results, or just over 48,000 votes, exceeding organizers’ goal of at least 20,000 votes, which was Biden’s margin of victory over Donald Trump in 2020.

Wisconsin’s results follow similar efforts in states across the country, which began with Michigan’s “uncommitted” movement, spearheaded by the state’s Arab and Muslim American communities. The results on Super Tuesday in March shattered expectations in the swing state, also exceeding Biden’s 2020 margin of victory.

Biden’s support from the Muslim community has sharply declined since the start of the Israeli offensive against Palestinians in Gaza in October. Since then, his disaffected Muslim supporters have demanded he call for a cease-fire in the war before they agree to support his 2024 campaign.

But recent news of Israel’s bombing of an aid convoy in the territory, as well as fresh U.S. shipments of fighter jets and bombs to Israel are not likely to help matters. As Michael Tomasky wrote for The New Republic in February, the president needs to change his Israel policy, and fast.

Manhattan D.A. Slams Trump for Idiotic Hush Money Trial Delay Tactic

Donald Trump is desperately trying to delay his first criminal trial.

Alvin Bragg
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has two words for Donald Trump’s latest attempt to throw out his New York hush-money trial: no way.

In March, the former reality TV host and his legal team filed a formal request to adjourn his hush-money trial on the basis of too much “pretrial publicity,” arguing that the nature of his charges were too widely known in New York, making it impossible for him to get a fair trial.

But in a Wednesday legal filing, Bragg argued that Trump’s language, which admits the pretrial publicity will never end, reflects his true intentions: to keep the trial at bay indefinitely.

“Defendant appears to acknowledge that there is no end in sight to public coverage of this criminal proceeding, laying bare his strategy of obtaining an open-ended delay of the trial,” Bragg wrote in a 38-page memo. “The answer to defendant’s complaint about pretrial publicity is thus to hold this trial sooner rather than later.”

Bragg also argued that Trump’s insistence on the jury’s inherent bias was undercut by several legal precedents.

“Defendant’s request for an adjournment is based on the fundamentally flawed premise that any amount of pretrial publicity irreparably taints the jury pool,” Bragg continued. “That argument flouts bedrock law that expressly holds otherwise. Pretrial publicity, even when pervasive and adverse, ‘does not inevitably lead to an unfair trial.’”

If anything, Trump could get a fair trial despite all the publicity—as shown in a study commissioned by Trump’s own lawyers, which found that 67 percent of Manhattan’s denizens said they could “definitely” or “probably” set aside their opinion of Trump to give him a fair shake.

And, besides all that, it’s not just the press drawing attention to the first criminal trial of a former president, but Trump himself too. He has incessantly complained about the proceedings at his rallies and on his social media platform, Truth Social. Bragg argued it would be “perverse to reward” Trump with an “adjournment based on media attention he is actively seeking,” pointing to motions filed by Trump’s legal team attempting to protect his right to keep posting online about it.

“Moreover, defendant has made clear that he intends to continue stoking such publicity. In opposition to the People’s motion for an order restricting defendant’s extrajudicial statements, defendant insisted on preserving his ‘uncensored voice on all issues that relate to this case’ and his entitlement to make ‘unfettered’ comments about this case,” Bragg wrote.

James Comer Still Doesn’t Know When to Quit on Impeaching Joe Biden

Comer is starting to sound delusional about the likelihood of impeaching Joe Biden.

James Comer sits in front of a microphone
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James Comer just can’t let his Biden impeachment dream die.

The House Oversight Committee chair tried to make the case that “impeachment’s still on the table” Wednesday morning, during an interview on Fox Business. Comer insisted to host Maria Baritromo that the committee’s probe into President Joe Biden and his son Hunter “is a very serious investigation.”

“Impeachment’s still on the table. There’s still an overwhelming majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives that agree with me that Joe Biden has committed impeachable offenses,” Comer said.

This flies in the face of actual facts: All of the committee’s efforts have fallen flat, with House Republicans failing to produce any concrete evidence. Witness after witness has either said that they don’t have proof or been proven to be making things up.

One such witness, Alexander Smirnov, was indicted for lying to the FBI, which Comer claimed was a “deep state conspiracy.” As if this wasn’t damaging enough, Smirnov reportedly later admitted that he has ties to Russian intelligence.

What’s more, many Republicans have begun to back away from the impeachment effort, with some pointing to the fact that they likely do not have the votes to pass articles of impeachment.

Comer has been the main Republican spearheading the investigation into the Bidens. But even he doesn’t seem to be taking the investigation seriously. The Kentucky Republican didn’t even stay for Hunter Biden’s full deposition before the committee in February, and just last week, he seemed to admit defeat on impeachment efforts, saying that the Biden investigation’s new goal was criminal referrals.

But Comer now claims that these referrals would be a step toward impeachment. Such referrals are nonbinding, and the Justice Department is unlikely to choose to pursue them. But no worries: Comer has a plan for the long term. He told Bartiromo that “hopefully in a year, we will have a Department of Justice that can hold [the Bidens] accountable,” alluding to a victory by Donald Trump in November.

Since it seems unlikely that Republicans will impeach Biden while he is still in office, it appears that all the evidence they have presented only adds up to an effort to weaken the president’s image before November’s presidential election.

Murder Victim’s Family Drags Trump for Lying About Speaking to Them

The family of Ruby Garcia is speaking out against Donald Trump.

Donald Trump speaks at a podium with a sign on it that says "Stop Biden's Border Bloodbath"
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s virulent anti-immigration campaign series offered an unexpected shout-out to a group of people who didn’t want it: the family of murder victim Ruby Garcia.

“She lit up that room, and I’ve heard that from so many people,” Trump claimed Tuesday at a news conference in Garcia’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. “I spoke to some of her family.”

But Garcia’s family said that the GOP presidential nominee had never reached out to them. Instead, they were at home, watching as Trump turned their family’s loss into a political stunt.

“He did not speak with any of us, so it was kind of shocking seeing that he had said that he had spoke with us, and misinforming people on live TV,” Garcia’s sister, Mavi Garcia, told NBC affiliate Target 8, noting that not only had Trump not reached out to the family, but neither had anyone from his campaign.

“It was shocking. I kind of stopped watching it. I’d only seen up to that, after I heard a couple of misinformations he said, I just stopped watching it,” she said.

Garcia, 25, was shot and killed on March 22 by Brandon Ortiz-Vite, an undocumented immigrant who confessed to murdering her and dumping her body along a highway in the city. Ortiz-Vite had previously been deported out of the United States by court order in 2020, and it was unclear when he had reentered.

The Trump campaign quickly took notice of the murder, leveraging it as an example of a rising wave in “migrant crime” and claiming that Ortiz-Vite had been “let back in by Joe Biden.” But that’s not the story that Garcia’s family wants Ruby’s name wrapped up in.

“It’s always been about illegal immigrants,” Mavi Garcia told Target 8. “Nobody really speaks about when Americans do heinous crimes, and it’s kind of shocking why he would just bring up illegals. What about Americans who do heinous crimes like that?”

“The focus should be on my sister right now, who she was in life. I want people to remember who she was in life,” she added, describing Ruby Garcia as a very happy and generous person.

Tuesday’s speech wasn’t even the first time in the last month that Trump lied about his interactions with a grieving family for his own political gain. In March, Trump’s campaign issued a statement claiming that he had been invited to attend the funeral of NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller by his family—but that wasn’t really the case. In reality, the invitation had been extended by Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman.

Fox News Goes After Judge in Trump’s Hush-Money Trial for Him

Donald Trump may be limited by a gag order, but Fox News isn’t.

Jesse Watters talks while gesturing with one hand
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Donald Trump has attacked the judge in his hush-money trial so much that it earned him a massive gag order. Now Fox News is defending Trump by justifying the attacks.

“The judge is threatening to put Trump in jail by pointing out that his liberal family is getting rich off this trial,” Fox host Jesse Watters said Tuesday night. “He just wants a new judge—one whose family isn’t funded by Democrats.”

Trump’s attacks go far beyond simply requesting a new judge. The Republican presidential nominee has repeatedly attacked Judge Juan Merchan, his daughter, and his court staff and their families.

Trump has even mentioned Merchan’s daughter by name and posted her picture to his Truth Social account. Except, these attacks are based on a falsehood: Trump targeted the judge’s daughter for allegedly sharing a doctored photo of Trump behind bars on social media, which was quickly debunked after a representative for the New York state court system pointed out that the account wasn’t hers.

Jury selection in Trump’s trial is scheduled to begin on April 15. He faces 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels in order to cover up an extramarital affair.

It’s only the latest attempt by Fox News to defend the former president’s actions. On Tuesday, Fox News presenter and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed that Trump’s $454 million bond was unfair, as the former president committed a “victimless crime.” And the attacks on Merchan’s daughter have come from the president’s other allies, including his son Donald Jr., going back to last year.

Fox contributors have seen their loyalty rewarded. On Tuesday night, Trump promoted Watters’s new book, Get It Together: Troubling Tales From the Liberal Fringe, in a Truth Social post.

Cognitive Decline? Trump Is Threatening to Deport U.S. Citizens Now

The former president made the comments at a rally in Wisconsin.

Donald Trump speaks into a microphone
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Donald Trump hosted back-to-back rallies in two states on Tuesday, using his time to attack President Joe Biden’s immigration policies and make some extreme promises in regard to his own agenda for the U.S.-Mexico border. That included claiming he’d deport U.S. citizens if undocumented migrants were found “invading” their homes.

“If your constitutional rights have been violated, we will defend you. If you have illegal aliens invading your home, we will deport you,” Trump said during an event in Wisconsin, his second stop of the night.

The claim, which is alarmingly similar to the policies of another far-right leader who punished civilians for hiding Jews in their homes, could be a direct attack on a controversial program announced last month by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration. Whitmer’s new policy offers $500 subsidies for households that volunteered to shelter refugees.

Or, if the phrasing was just another verbal gaffe, it would add to a mountain of evidence that Trump is losing his grip. Over the last several months, Trump has claimed that there were “millions of people” arriving from “places unknown” speaking no language and that he would stop banks from “debanking” Americans; he has mixed up former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and described his plan for America’s missile defense system by going, “Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.… Boom. OK. Missile launch. Woosh. Boom.”

But, after much leg work, Trump’s campaign has also successfully transformed immigration into a key issue in the upcoming election, with more than a quarter of Americans—28 percent—listing it as their top concern, according to a March Gallup poll. Behind the scenes, the former president has strong-armed Republican lawmakers into refusing bipartisan border deals to avoid giving Biden a win on the issue.

Trump has also 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, by now, it seems to have helped him—or at least taken a toll on his opponent. Polls suggest that immigration, in light of rising border crossings, is Biden’s worst policy issue, with seven out of 10 Americans disapproving of his approach, according to The Washington Post.