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Ted Cruz Is in Panic Mode Over His Terrible Fundraising

The Texas senator has some serious competition on the campaign trail.

Ted Cruz talks at a podium and gestures with his hand
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The jig is almost up for Senator Ted Cruz—and he knows it.

On Wednesday, the Texas Republican leveraged an interview with Fox News to beg for campaign donations after his opponent, NFL player and current Representative ​​Colin Allred, took Texas’s Democratic Senate primary in a landslide.

“The Democrats are coming after me, they are gonna spend more than $100 million this year, George Soros is already spending millions of dollars in the state of Texas,” Cruz said, leaning on the popular Republican and antisemitic talking point, billionaire George Soros.

“My opponent, a liberal Democrat named Colin Allred, is out-raising Beto O’Rourke, my last opponent, 3-to-1. They are flooding millions of dollars into Texas—and the reason is simple. You remember my last reelection, it was a three-point race. I won by 2.6 percent.”

That’s a pretty slim margin for someone who has had a strong hold on Texas politics for the last decade—even if he has been called “Lucifer in the flesh” by members of his own party and crowned the most “unpopular member of the U.S. Senate” by local papers.

Allred was originally predicted to be a long-shot candidate behind Cruz. After all, it’s been 33 years since a Democrat held a statewide position in the traditionally deep-red state. But Allred has quickly picked up steam in the race, trailing behind the incumbent by just 6 percent, according to a Marist College poll conducted in March. It would seem that 10 years in the Texas sun have led to some shortcomings in the Lone Star State, where Cruz has repeatedly showcased himself to be as spineless as he is self-interested.

Recall that, in the face of a devastating winter storm that wrecked Texas’s infrastructure, Cruz decided to skip town, opting to vacation in Cancun rather than help the state recover, leaving behind Texans and his dog. And Cruz rolled over and endorsed Donald Trump for president even after the latter insulted his wife ahead of the 2016 election.

Then, in January, Cruz endorsed Trump again, despite enduring months of ruthless mockery from the Trump campaign over his alleged need to wear heels to reach the podium. (On a side note, Cruz also made fun of then–Vice President Joe Biden on the eve of his son Beau’s funeral in 2015.)

Cruz’s rhetoric has also veered the state toward political extremes that don’t necessarily align with what the majority of Texans want: He backed Trump’s claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, supported a draconian abortion ban, and has done practically nothing to support IVF access within the state.

He has also vehemently opposed gun control measures in the state even after lone shooters killed 21 people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, 23 people in an El Paso Walmart, and 27 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, in separate shootings. The Sutherland Springs attack is the state’s deadliest mass shooting ever.

Cruz’s bid to keep his seat also flies in the face of legislation he introduced last year, proposing two-term limits in an effort to rid Congress of “permanently entrenched politicians.” Of course, Cruz admitted later he didn’t necessarily think the restrictions would apply to him.

Allred, meanwhile, has a completely different approach.

“My temperament is very different. I try to stay even-keel. I work in a bipartisan way. I don’t yell at people. I want to represent Texas in a way that’s sort of what I think a senator’s job should be, which is to introduce legislation that helps Texans—not to be a kind of media personality,” the 40-year-old told The New Republic in September.

That might be just what Texas is looking for.

Donald Trump Freaks Out as Truth Social Value Tanks

The former president wants you to know that his social media platform is doing just fine, OK?

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

Donald Trump’s social media company has seen its value plummet after a series of bad news this week, and the former president is throwing a tantrum about it online.

In two long-winded posts on Truth Social, part of the venture, Trump ranted about how great he thinks the platform is, attacking Democrats and other social media platforms that have banned him.

“I THINK TRUTH IS AMAZING! First of all, it is very solid, having over $200,000,000 in CASH and ZERO DEBT,” Trump posted Thursday morning. “More importantly, it is the primary way I get the word out and, for better or worse, people want to hear what I have to say, perhaps, according to experts, more than anyone else in the World.”

He went on to brag about his TV ratings, about how other social media platforms want him back, and how the “FAKE NEWS” shouldn’t be believed because, “They are all on TRUTH because the have to be [sic].”

The rant comes after two of Trump Media and Technology Group’s top investors pleaded guilty to insider trading on Wednesday, after they traded securities using private knowledge of a shell company that later merged with Trump’s company ahead of its initial public offering. That revelation came just days after Trump Media’s SEC filings were released, showing staggering losses of $58 million, with only $4.1 million in revenue, sending investors bailing.

As of this writing, TMTG’s stock is trading at $46.49, below its peak of $79.38 per share on March 26, the day of its IPO. Trump has to wait six months before he can cash in and start selling some of his 72 million shares, or get approval from the company’s board. He may decide to do that sooner as his legal bills pile up.

Petty King George Santos Is Out for Revenge With House Campaign

The serial fabulist is running for election in his nemesis’s district.

George Santos waves
Cheney Orr/Bloomberg/Getty Images

There’s at least one ghost that won’t stop haunting Congress, and his name is George Santos.

Despite being ousted by the legislative body from his position representing New York’s 3rd congressional district back in November, the notorious con man is back, ready to sow chaos—as he promised—for the lawmakers who gave him the boot. Currently on the docket: fellow Long Island Republican Representative Nick LaLota.

Despite there being 26 other New York lawmakers to run against—including some from counties with overwhelming Republican majorities that would give him a better shot at returning to the lower chamber—Santos has decided to resurrect his political career by running against LaLota, whom he might hate more than anyone else.

“He’s not well liked. He’s an arrogant person. He’s not a nice guy. He’s cocky,” Santos said of LaLota the day before his expulsion. “He’s a traditional meathead, somebody who’s not nice to you for no reason.”

LaLota represents New York’s 1st congressional district, encompassing the eastern portion of Suffolk County, and on the opposite side of the peninsula from where Santos won his election. He was also one of the first members of Congress from either political party to call for Santos to resign after the latter’s lies were exposed. But in an interview with The Daily Beast, Santos rejected the idea that he was running against LaLota simply because he didn’t like him. His explanation was, actually, a bit weirder.

“We’re dying to have a chicken coop and stuff like that, and in Suffolk County it’s much easier to get that,” Santos told the publication, comparing the suburban sprawl to his residence in Queens. “In Nassau County, it’s full of restrictions on where and how much, and can you get chickens and can you get roosters because of neighbors and noise and that stuff.”

LaLota isn’t the only New York Republican to endure threats by the indicted former congressman. Santos kicked off his revenge tour back in December with a dig against Representative Nicole Malliotakis, accusing her of using info from classified briefings to turn some cash on the stock market.

“She receives classified briefings as a member of the Ways and Means Committee,” Santos said at the time. “Can somebody explain to me that she miraculously becomes a member of the committee and then she’s doing trades on NYCB with the Signature Bank collapse just a day before having an 80 percent stock hike?”

But it may not be up to voters to decide if Santos returns to office. The reputed hustler—who was caught fabricating his entire résumé and lying about his relation to Holocaust survivors, being “Jew-ish,” his connection to the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, and the kidnapping of his niece, among other things—is currently facing 23 counts related to illegally receiving unemployment benefits, aggravated identity theft, and credit card fraud. His next court proceeding is scheduled for August 13, with a trial expected in September.

Democratic Senator Breaks with Biden, Calls to Condition Israel Aid

Senator Chris Coons has broken away from the president.

Chris Coons looks to the side
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In a somewhat surprising shift, one of President Joe Biden’s closest allies in the Senate, Chris Coons, has come out in favor of conditions on U.S. weapons aid to Israel.

Coons made the declaration on CNN, just days after Israel bombed a marked World Central Kitchen aid convoy on Monday night and killed seven aid workers, among them Australian, British, and American citizens. The organization, founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, had coordinated the convoy’s movements with the Israeli military, and its cars were clearly marked.

If Israel conducts an invasion of Rafah “at scale, if they were to drop thousand-pound bombs, and send in a battalion to go after Hamas and make no provisions for civilians or for humanitarian aid, then I would vote to condition aid to Israel,” Coons told anchor Sarah Sidner. 

“I’ve never said that before, I’ve never been here before,” Coons said, stressing his strong support for Israel and pointing out that Congress included an additional $3.3 billion of support for the country in its last appropriations bill.  

Despite Coons’s words, he did make similar comments on CNN in February, when he told Wolf Blitzer that he’d support restricting military aid if Israel conducted a full-scale campaign in Rafah without consideration to civilians or aid. 

Coons’s words follow statements by a number of Democrats suggesting that conditions be placed on aid to Israel. Senator Bernie Sanders said so back in November and, in March, was joined by six other senators in a letter to Biden urging a suspension of military aid to Israel if humanitarian aid was blocked. Last month, Politico reported that even Biden himself was considering such a measure

It’s clear that Israel’s war in Gaza and America’s continued support for the country is a political minefield for Biden. It has sharply eroded his popularity, particularly among Muslims and Arab Americans, in key swing states. A policy shift may be the only solution. 

What Donald Trump’s Favorite Songs Really Say About Him

The former president has some interesting taste in music.

Donald Trump dances at a podium
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump has remade his name and image several times over, morphing from real estate mogul to New York socialite to reality-TV host to the far-right demagogue of a vitriolic national movement. But few people know Trump for his musical inclination. In his down time at Mar-a-Lago, Trump is the one man with the aux cord—and he’s got some interesting hits on rotation.

According to an Axios analysis of Trump’s musical routine at the Florida club, Trump prefers to stick to the same set list. That includes “Hello,” by Lionel Ritchie; “Suspicious Minds,” by Elvis; “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” by James Brown and Luciano Pavarotti; “November Rain,” by Guns N’ Roses; and, ironically, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” by the Rolling Stones.

He also, surprisingly, throws in numbers from two huge and wildly dramatic Broadway musicals: Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar.

But unfortunately for Trump, not all of his favorite artists love him back. Another standby for the GOP presidential pick is Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”—a single he loved so much that he tried to squeeze it into one of his campaign rallies, only to be roundly slapped down by the Irish singer’s estate for thinking of her at all.

“It is no exaggeration to say that Sinéad would have been disgusted, hurt and insulted to have her work misrepresented in this way by someone who she herself referred to as a ‘biblical devil,’” O’Connor’s estate wrote in a missive, ordering him to stop using her art.

You’ll Never Guess What RFK Jr. Says Really Causes Mass Shootings

The independent presidential candidate has an interesting opinion on what causes mass shootings.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. sits at a desk with his hands folded
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has a reputation for promoting pseudoscience. But in a recently surfaced interview, Kennedy makes one of his wildest claims yet: that the rise in mass shootings over the past 20 years is due to antidepressants and video games.

During a January interview with Turkish state-owned TRT World, Kennedy claimed that in the past 20 years in the United States, “there’s been no per capita increase in the number of guns we have in this country.

He argued that other causes needed to be studied, such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), commonly used as antidepressants, and video games. Kennedy also claimed that the National Institutes of Health hasn’t been allowed to study the cause of gun violence in America since 1996.

Kennedy’s information on the number of guns in America isn’t true. In the past 20 years, gun manufacturing and imports have sharply increased, matching the rise in gun deaths. As far as the NIH being allowed to study the cause of gun violence, it appears that Kennedy’s information is out of date.

In 1996, Congress did pass the Dickey Amendment, which prohibited using any federal funding to “advocate or promote gun control.” The law effectively banned research on gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in 2011, Congress amended the law to also include the NIH. But in 2019, Congress approved $25 million in funding specifically for the NIH and the CDC to research gun violence, and clarified that the Dickey Amendment didn’t specifically ban gun research.

Results from newer, federally funded studies are starting to come back. Last year, Stanford researchers looked at medical studies for connections between video games and gun violence and found “that video games do not cause violence, can substantially lower stigma and barriers to access, and hold the potential to inject wellness into our everyday lives.”

Kennedy’s views on vaccines and medicine are alarming beyond his stances on guns. He’s claimed that polluted water is making children transgender, that China and the U.S. are developing ethnic bioweapons designed to target certain races, and that WiFi causes cancer, and he has compared mask mandates to Nazi experiments. His running mate, Nicole Shanahan, has similarly disturbing views.

Karl Rove Shockingly Torches Donald Trump’s January 6 Comments

The George W. Bush adviser slammed Trump’s promise to pardon January 6 rioters.

Karl Rove sits at a desk with his phone in his hand
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

A stalwart of the Republican Party went scorched earth on Donald Trump’s promise to pardon January 6 rioters, suggesting to his fellow conservatives that Trump’s staunch defense of the “sons a bitches” should disqualify him from the presidency.

In an interview on MSNBC’s The Beat on Wednesday, Karl Rove, a senior adviser to President George W. Bush, tore into Trump’s decision to fight for people charged and convicted for committing acts of violence at the U.S. Capitol. Trump warmly refers to people who attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results as “hostages.”

“And what those people did when they violently attacked the Capitol, in order to stop a constitutionally mandated meeting of the Congress to accept the results of the Electoral College, is a stain on our history,” Rove said. “And every one of those sons a bitches who did that, we oughta find them, try them, and send them to jail.”

“And one of the critical mistakes made in this campaign is that Donald Trump has now said, ‘I’m going to pardon those people because they’re hostages.’ No, they’re not. They’re thugs. There were people—some of them had automatic weapons at a hotel in Virginia hoping to be able to be called up,” Rove continued, describing the ensuing chaos as the rioters ransacked Congress, hunted Nancy Pelosi, and chanted “kill them all.”

“And so, why Trump has done this is beyond me. If he had said, ‘You know what? I trust our jury system, I trust law enforcement, anybody who assaulted the Capitol oughta be’—I mean, he said it once or twice, but now he’s appearing in a video with people who assaulted police officers with an intent to take the Capitol by force.”

But Rove says there’s a lesson in all this for Democrats too. The Republican Party’s failure to hold their demagogue leader accountable for January 6 should not stop the liberal party from making it a centerpiece of their campaigns against him.

“If they were smart, they’d take the January 6 and go hard at it,” Rove told MSNBC’s Ari Melber. “And they would say, ‘He wants to pardon these people who attacked our Capitol.’ I worked in that building as a young man. To me, the Congress of the United States is one of the great examples of the strength of our democracy and a jewel of the Constitution.”

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
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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.