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GOP Rep. Issues Dire Warning About His Party’s Claims on Russia

The head of the House Intelligence Committee had a dire warning about his own party.

Mike Turner sits at the dais
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A rift is emerging in the Republican Party between the pro-Russia right and a group of senior GOP Congress members warning against those pushing Kremlin messaging on the Russia-Ukraine war.

Ohio Representative Mike Turner, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is one of those Congress members. Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Turner railed against members of his own party who oppose funding Ukraine for repeating the Russian line that the invasion of Ukraine is a dispute over NATO expansion.

“We see, directly coming from Russia, attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor,” Turner said.

Turner is not the only Republican to criticize Republicans’ parroting of Kremlin propaganda. Last week, Texas Representative and chair of the House Foreign Services Committee Michael McCaul warned that “Russian propaganda has made its way into the United States, unfortunately, and it’s infected a good chunk of my party’s base.”

To whom are McCaul and Turner referring? A faction of Republicans opposed to the passage of any aid for Ukraine, most likely. Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene on Monday described the conflict as a “war on Christianity,” applauding Russia for “protecting” Christianity from supposed Ukrainian attacks. She has also promised to hold aid hostage by threatening to hold a vote to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson from the speakership if a bill sending aid to Ukraine is put on the table.

Senators Ron Johnson and Tommy Tuberville have repeated the “NATO expansion” canard to which Turner made reference, and expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin before voting against a military aid package. Disgraced former Fox News host Tucker Carlson visited Russia for a fawning interview with Putin.

But if Turner and McCaul are looking for the source of this authoritarian apologia, they ought to look at their leader, Donald Trump. The former president, who was impeached for holding promised aid over the head of Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelenskiy in exchange for damaging information on then-candidate Joe Biden, has certainly trafficked in the kind of pro-Russian messaging Turner criticized. Trump has also promised to end all aid to Ukraine if he is elected president in 2024.

The rot infecting the GOP, as described by Turner and McCaul, is coming from the top of the party. But will their colleagues give them a hearing? Don’t count on it.

More on the GOP's relationship to Russia:

Press Asks What Israel Doesn’t “Want International Journalists to See”

The Foreign Press Association demanded Israel allow journalists into the war-torn region.

A Palestinian man stands amid rubble in Khan Younis
Yasser Qudaih/Anadolu/Getty Images
A Palestinian man stands amid rubble in Khan Younis.

The Foreign Press Association slammed Israel on Monday for preventing international journalists from accessing Gaza, suggesting that Tel Aviv was trying to prevent the rest of the world from seeing the extent of the destruction.

Israel’s brutal war in Gaza has killed at least 33,175 people in the last six months, including 13,000 children. Images and reports from the territory show vast areas filled with rubble, horrific images of corpses, and bombing survivors nursing grief over their loved ones as well as their own serious injuries.

And that’s with Israel barring any journalists from entering Gaza independently.

“The barring of independent press access to a war zone for this long is unprecedented for Israel,” the Foreign Press Association said in a statement. “It raises questions about what Israel does not want international journalists to see.”

The group is calling for Israel to grant international media “expanded and unfettered access to Gaza.”

Screenshot of a tweet

The gruesome reports the world has seen have come from Gazan journalists on the ground, who have to balance their own safety—as well as that of their families—with the duty of documenting the attacks, atrocities, and daily life as the war continues into its sixth month. A small amount of media has been allowed into the territory under military escort, but it is subject to Israeli military censorship. Gazan journalists, such as Motaz Azaiza, Plestia Alaqad, Bisan Owda, Hind Khodary, and others have had to rely on viral social media posts to get their uncensored reports out.

It stands to reason, then, that foreign journalists would expose even more horrific effects of Israel’s military attacks, as U.S. officials have reportedly said anonymously. Last week, British radio host James O’Brien drew the same conclusion on Leading Britain’s Conversation.

At least 95 journalists and media workers are among the dead as a result of the war to date, according to preliminary investigations from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Not all of the dead are from Gaza, either: Among the confirmed media casualties are 90 Palestinians, two Israelis, and three Lebanese.

In addition, 16 journalists were reported injured, four were reported missing, and 25 were reportedly arrested, according to the CPJ. And that doesn’t include threats and censorship against journalists in the region. For example, Israel’s Knesset passed a law last week giving the country’s senior ministers the ability to shut down any news outlet deemed a security risk, a move that was widely seen as targeting one of the few international outlets with correspondents inside Gaza, Al Jazeera.

The Shady Company Backing Trump’s Bond Somehow Just Got Even Shadier

Knight Specialty Insurance isn’t even licensed in New York, among other issues.

Donald Trump frowns
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

It’s conventional wisdom that the right wing is dominated, defined, even, by “grifters all the way down.” No big surprise, then, that the insurance company footing the bill for Donald Trump’s fraud case bond is itself unscrupulous.

An investigation by The Daily Beast revealed that Knight Specialty Insurance, the company backing Trump’s $175 million civil fraud penalty payment, is not licensed as a solvent surety firm by the New York Department of Financial Services, and has not been vetted by the state’s Excess Line Association, a board of insurers that provides voluntary audits of other insurer’s finances. The reason for that: The California-based Knight does not appear to have enough money in its coffers to post Trump’s bonds.

According to the Beast, Trump’s bond accounts for a third of the company’s assets and more than its total surplus funds. Maria T. Vullo, a former New York financial regulator, has called the move to post Trump’s bond “incomprehensible for a carrier to underwrite.”

The company, for its part, seems aware of its predicament: The Beast reports that Knight has not legally promised to pay Trump’s penalty if the former president’s appeal is unsuccessful. Instead, the document Knight produced indicates, Trump would still be responsible for paying.

Knight Specialty Insurance is owned by the “king of the subprime car loan,” right-wing billionaire Don Hankey. Hankey appeared to come to Trump’s rescue after the former president loudly struggled to post in his real estate fraud case.

But now, what appeared to be a stroke of luck for Trump may actually be a case of two grifters looking to get one over on one another. If Hankey’s company in fact has not legally agreed to pay the penalty, Trump may ultimately be forced to forfeit assets if he cannot cover the disgorgement himself. New York Attorney General Letitia James has promised to seize Trump properties if he cannot pay.

In dealing with a shady businessman like Hankey, Trump, whose Department of Justice sued Hankey for illegally repossessing the cars of military veterans, might have heeded the words of one of his favorite poems: “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

More on Knight Specialty Insurance:

Trump Admits He Only Wants White People to Come to the U.S.

The former president wondered why the U.S. doesn’t get more migrants from Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland.

Donald Trump wears a Make America Great Again hat
Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Trump is bringing back his “greatest” hits on immigration in his current presidential campaign.

Remember in 2018, when he referred to immigrants from places such as Haiti as “people from shithole countries” and wondered why more immigrants weren’t coming from places like Norway? Well, at a private fundraiser over the weekend, Trump made a callback to those remarks, once again lamenting where immigrants to America come from.

At a multimillion-dollar event in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump complained that immigrants weren’t coming from “nice” countries “like Denmark,” according to The New York Times, which got an account of the event from one attendee. He even suggested that the wealthy guests at the event, hosted at a mansion owned by billionaire John Paulson, weren’t safe from nearby undocumented immigrants.

“These are people coming in from prisons and jails. They’re coming in from just unbelievable places and countries, countries that are a disaster,” Trump said, the Times reported.

“I said [in 2018], you know, ‘Why can’t we allow people to come in from nice countries, I’m trying to be nice,’” he continued, to reported chuckles from the crowd. “Nice countries, you know like Denmark, Switzerland? Do we have any people coming in from Denmark? How about Switzerland? How about Norway?”

The setting of the event was also interesting: Guests were seated outdoors at white-clothed tables under a white tent, looking out over the body of water that separates wealthy Palm Beach (98.3 percent white, according to census estimates) from the more diverse city of West Palm Beach, where nearly a third of the population is Black and almost a quarter is Hispanic.

“In fact, I don’t think they’re on this island, but I know they’re on that island right there. That’s West Palm,” Trump at one point said during his speech, gesturing across the water. “Congratulations over there. But they’ll be here. Eventually, they’ll be here.”

Trump also mentioned immigrants from the Middle East, noting that immigrants were arriving from Yemen, “where they’re blowing each other up all over the place.”

All of Trump’s rhetoric and policies have been based on racism from the time he began seriously campaigning for president in 2015. Who could forget his first campaign speech, after he descended his golden escalator? He claimed that Mexico was “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Trump either fails to realize or refuses to admit that immigrants move to different countries for better lives, For example, his preferred origin for immigrants, Denmark, ranks sixth in the world in the United Nations’ Human Development Index, which is based on factors such as life expectancy, literacy rate, access to electricity, GDP per capita, income inequality, and others. In contrast, the U.S. is ranked twentieth.

You’ll Never Guess Who Trump Pissed Off With His Abortion Announcement

Trump said he will let states decide abortion rights if he is reelected.

Daniel Steinle/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump on Monday publicly announced his long-awaited decision on a potential national abortion policy, satisfying no one and leaving both parties up in arms.

In a video posted to Truth Social, Trump boasted about the Supreme Court ending Roe v. Wade during his term, smeared Democrats as “the radical ones on this issue,” erroneously accused the left of supporting “execution after birth,” and finally staked out a position on an issue he’s said little about publicly. The big reveal: The legality of abortion should be left for the states to decide, with supposed exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the patient’s life. This is, of course, more an acknowledgment of the law as it currently exists post-Roe than a position on a potential federal abortion ban. 

Understandably, the announcement enraged abortion rights activists, who argue that Trump’s endorsement of states’ right to outlaw abortion effectively hands red state governments a blank check to pass the most extreme anti-abortion laws in the country, like those already on the books in Texas, Florida, and Idaho. Advocates have rightly argued that the so-called exceptions for rape, incest, or the patient’s health trumpeted by the Republican presidential nominee are effectively toothless window dressing, since the bans have a chilling effect on doctors who fear legal backlash for performing any abortions. As abortion rights activists also pointed out, the video left unsaid whether Trump would sign a national ban if congressional Republicans successfully brought a bill  to his desk.

But the right is also up in arms. The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, or SBA, claimed to be “deeply disappointed” in Trump’s position in a press release. In leaving abortion to the states, President Marjorie Dannenfelser argues, Republicans “[cede] the national debate to Democrats.” Republicans who support anything less than a national ban are in bed with the “abortion industry” and want to popularize exceedingly rare late-term abortions, Dannenfelser said, echoing Trump’s false claim.

Trump had been conspicuously quiet on the abortion debate prior to Monday’s announcement, although he privately floated national 16- and 15-week bans. But even as he demurred from publicly supporting the kind of national prohibition favored by groups such as SBA (and faced criticism from other Republicans for refusing to endorse a federal ban), he has consistently taken credit for the state bans passed in the aftermath of Dobbs v. Jackson

Now, however, with his official position no longer a secret, and with the brutal implications of Dobbs made evident across the country, Trump can no longer play coy on the issue. And outraged though extremist anti-abortion groups may be with Trump at the moment, it’s clear that the right’s assault on abortion rights is just beginning

More on Republicans and abortion:

Marjorie Taylor Greene Has Most Bonkers Response to Upcoming Eclipse

The congresswoman is pushing a strange conspiracy theory about the natural event.

Marjorie Taylor Greene talks
Annabelle Gordon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Between the 4.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked a swath of the Northeast on Friday and the total solar eclipse expected just a few days later, conspiracy theorists are abounding with fodder. But some of the people leading the mass speculation are a little too close to national politics for comfort.

Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene—who famously claimed that Jewish space lasers were the cause of the California wildfires–got dangerously religious on Friday, posting on social media that the two geological events should be heeded as an omen from God.

“God is sending America strong signs to tell us to repent,” Greene wrote on X. “Earthquakes and eclipses and many more things to come. I pray that our country listens.”

That claim was quickly amended by the platform’s community notes function, which clarified that “Monday’s eclipse was predicted hundreds of years ago, it will not have been caused by contemporary actions,” and that “earthquakes occur naturally and happen (on average) more than 30 times a day across the world, although many are too subtle to feel.” But flagging the truth didn’t stop Greene’s theory from gaining traction online and circulating through the far-right ecosystem.

Greene did not comment on what it might mean that the earthquake’s epicenter was just a few miles from Donald Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

But Greene isn’t the only major figure of the American right on board with this. Earlier in the week, InfoWars owner Alex Jones argued that Monday’s solar spectacle will be a government “dress rehearsal” for enacting martial law, which he predicts will occur if Donald Trump wins the election in November.

“All this is, is a dress rehearsal,” Jones said on his podcast. “No government in modern times... have ever acted like this for a solar eclipse.”

Eclipses and other seismic phenomena have conjured religious and conspiratorial speculation going back to ancient times, so, in truth, the theories—and the people attempting to profit or materially gain off them—are nothing new.

“There are so many of them,” cult mediation specialist, Patrick Ryan, explained to Salon. “There are the purveyors like Alex Jones, who make money off these, then religious folks, who put together a story that can somehow make sense of the world, and it’s not new.”

Still, it might be time to remind ourselves of the necessity of the U.S. Constitution’s establishment clause: the separation of church and state.

Dems Have Hilarious Response to GOP Plan to Name Airport After Trump

Three Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill to name a federal prison after Donald Trump.

Donald Trump looks to the side as he stands under an umbrella
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

A group of House Democrats came up with the perfect response on Friday to a Republican-backed measure to rename the Washington, D.C.-area Dulles International Airport after Donald Trump.

Whether it was an act of sycophancy or just plain trolling, House Republicans introduced a bill last week to rename the airport to Donald J. Trump International Airport. House Democrats weren’t happy with the measure, the airport’s inducement of misery notwithstanding.

Among them was Representative Gerry Connolly, who said, “Donald Trump is facing 91 felony charges. If Republicans want to name something after him, I’d suggest they find a federal prison.”

On Friday, Connolly, whose Virginia district neighbors Dulles, decided to put his words into action, co-sponsoring a bill with Representatives Jared Moskowitz and John Garamendi to rename Miami Federal Correctional Institution in Florida to Donald J. Trump Federal Correctional Institution.

“When our Republican colleagues introduced their bill to rename Dulles after Donald Trump, I said the more fitting option would be to rename a federal prison,” Connolly said in a statement. “It is only right that the closest federal prison to Mar-a-Lago should bear his name. I hope our Republican friends will join us in bestowing upon Donald J. Trump the only honor he truly deserves.”

The name change would be fitting, considering Trump’s numerous criminal charges. He is on trial in New York for hush money payments, in Florida for mishandling classified documents, and in Fulton County, Georgia, as well as Washington, D.C., for attempting to interfere with the 2020 presidential election. In February, he was ordered to pay the state of New York more than $350 million for bank fraud.

“Everyone knows President Trump loves to write his name in gold letters on all his buildings,” Moskowitz said. “But he’s never had his name on a federal building before, and as a public servant, I just want to help the former president. Help us make that dream a reality.”

Trump’s Florida and Washington, D.C. cases happen to be in federal court, making a federal prison all the more appropriate to bear his name. At the state level, Trump only has a run down, poor excuse for a state park in New York named after him.

On why naming an airport after Trump might be appropriate:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Makes Most Dangerous Comment on January 6 Yet

The independent presidential candidate claimed the attack was not a “true insurrection.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy said Friday that a fundraising email issued earlier in the week that described January 6 rioters as “activists” was an error—but he still believes the events didn’t amount to a “true insurrection.”

“It is quite clear that many of the January 6 protestors broke the law in what may have started as a protest but turned into a riot. Because it happened with the encouragement of President Trump, and in the context of his delusion that the election was stolen from him, many people see it not as a riot but as an insurrection,” Kennedy wrote in a statement. “I have not examined the evidence in detail, but reasonable people, including Trump opponents, tell me there is little evidence of a true insurrection. They observe that the protestors carried no weapons, had no plans or ability to seize the reins of government, and that Trump himself had urged them to protest ‘peacefully.’”

But that’s not true, even from a cursory review of footage from the day. The rioters who ransacked their way through the halls of Congress did indeed wield weapons, including baseball bats, hockey sticks, fence rebar, flagpoles, pepper spray, and bear spray, U.S. Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell told CNN in 2021. The rioters also used more deadly force, by way of firearms, knives, stolen police shields, stun guns, fire extinguishers, and even hand-to-hand combat, which sent more than a dozen Capitol Police officers to the hospital.

And despite Kennedy’s insistence that Trump “urged” peace, the former president also ignored pleas from his children and aides to call off the mob, even as thousands of his supporters chanted “Kill them all” while hunting down former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence.

But those details are, apparently, inconsequential to Kennedy, who suggested that prosecuting those who broke the law was tantamount to “harsh treatment” that he would be willing to investigate by way of special counsel if elected president.

“Both establishment parties are using J6 to pour fuel on the fire of America’s divisions,” Kennedy wrote. “Each side claims that a victory by their opponents means the end of democracy. Then, anything is justified to stop them. We run the risk of destroying democracy in order to save it.”

But conservative strategists say this kind of rhetoric is exactly where Democrats should double down. On Thursday, a former senior adviser to President George W. Bush attacked Trump’s own language on the issue, suggesting that the GOP presidential nominee’s staunch defense of the “sons a bitches” should disqualify him from the presidency.

“If [Democrats] were smart, they’d take the January 6 and go hard at it,” Karl Rove told MSNBC. “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.”

Watch Fox News Panic On Air Over the Great Jobs Report

The hosts rushed to spin the news as negative for Joe Biden.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

The Department of Labor released its first-quarter report for jobs in the United States on Friday, and the results were much higher than expected, with nearly 303,000 jobs created. Good news for the country, right? Well, not according to the Fox Business Channel.

In a panel discussion about the report, host Maria Bartiromo wondered aloud if the numbers were too good for cutting interest rates.

And then other members of the panel, such as economist Joseph A. LaVorgna and Steve Moore, a former Trump economic adviser, tried to downplay the numbers by mentioning the growth in government jobs, as well as government spending.

To top it all off, the panel even found a way to credit Donald Trump in a roundabout way, wondering “if maybe the market is pricing in a little bit, and employers too, the idea that maybe we’re going to get a new president in November,” Moore said.

For much of Joe Biden’s presidency, his administration has been fighting an uphill battle trying to win over voters on the status of the economy, which conservative outlets like the Fox Business Channel certainly haven’t helped. These latest jobs numbers are further proof that Biden has been better for the economy than Trump, no matter how many conservative media talking heads try to pretend otherwise.

What?! New York Earthquake Epicenter Is at a Trump Golf Course

Of course Trump is somehow related to the earthquake that jolted the Northeastern U.S.

The sign for the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey
Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

At around 10:23 a.m. Friday morning, a magnitude-4.8 earthquake rattled the Northeastern United States from Maine to Virginia, including wide swaths of New Jersey and New York City.

But perhaps more surprising than the earthquake was the precise location of the epicenter: Tewskbury, New Jersey, less than six miles from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

And soon, the internet was all shaken up. Some commenters pointed out that Donald Trump’s late first wife, Ivana, was buried at the club in July 2022.

It gets weirder: One poster even discovered that Chubb Insurance, which backed Trump’s bond in his defamation case, has an executive office in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, also within a six-mile radius of the epicenter and the golf club. Alina Habba, one of Trump’s attorneys, also has offices nearby.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene saw religious and political significance behind the earthquake.

There’s no word on what she thinks of Trump being so closely tied to the epicenter.