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Ted Cruz’s Cringe Podcast Is About to Get Him in Serious Trouble

The Texas senator may have violated campaign finance law with his podcast.

Ted Cruz looks down as he speaks into microphones
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Ted Cruz’s podcast may be crossing some major lines.

The Campaign Legal Center, or CLC, a nonprofit organization, filed a complaint against the Texas senator on Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission. The watchdog group argues that the Verdict With Ted Cruz podcast can’t send its profits to a super PAC that supports Cruz’s campaign.

Cruz’s podcast, produced with iHeartMedia, generates hundreds of thousands of dollars, and may be a lucrative loophole in campaign finance law since he’s making the money himself. But, as The Daily Beast found, it raises a number of legal and ethical issues.

For one, campaign finance records show that at least seven lobbyists registered to represent iHeartMedia’s interests have donated tens of thousands of dollars to Cruz’s campaign since the podcast launched in 2022, The Daily Beast reports. Cruz and iHeartMedia claim that he doesn’t get paid for the podcast, volunteering his time instead, so the money is reported as “digital revenue” from ads on the podcast.

The CLC also filed a complaint over the podcast in 2022, claiming that Cruz accepting podcast production services from iHeartMedia violated a federal law that bars senators from receiving gifts from registered lobbyists. But Cruz has escaped any legal action or penalties since then.

Campaign finance law prohibits coordination between candidates—who are limited by how much money they can raise—and super PACs, which don’t have any limits on how much they can raise and spend from individuals and corporations. A candidate can’t raise any corporate money, let alone hundreds of thousands of dollars of it, to go into a super PAC.

And there’s no secret why Cruz is looking for every dollar he can get: He has a tough competitor for his Senate seat in Colin Allred, a Democratic representative and former NFL player and civil rights lawyer. After Allred won the Democratic Senate primary, Cruz was spooked so much that he begged for campaign donations in a Fox News interview.

Cruz already had a reputation for challenging campaign finance law, even without his ethically questionable podcast. It looks like he’ll keep trying to raise money however he can, and worry about the ethics later.

More on conservative podcasts:

Comer Could Face Ethics Probe for Trying to Monetize Impeachment Probe

The Kentucky Republican is reportedly in talks to write a book about the impeachment investigation.

James Comer sits at the dais with his hand in front of his mouth
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer’s latest potential book deal about the impeachment effort into President Joe Biden might actually put him in the crosshairs of an ethics investigation.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the Office of Congressional Ethics, the watchdog group Congressional Integrity Project requested a probe into Comer’s deal, citing House Rule 25 as the basis for their request. The group noted that “members may not ‘receive copyright royalties under a contract … unless that contract is first approved by the Standards Committee.’”

“As Representative Comer continues to hold hearings and attempts to build the case to impeach President Biden, the American people deserve to know the extent to which he is benefiting financially. It is clear already that he has a political motive to impeach the President and it should be revealed if he has a financial motive as well,” the letter stated.

Comer has already admitted that the impeachment was a dud. Last month, the Oversight chair confessed that criminal referrals were the most accountability that his meritless, wayward impeachment probe was going to achieve. That is, of course, a far cry from the investigation’s original goal, which was to remove Biden from office.

But the floundering impeachment effort—which was predominantly founded on a web of lies reportedly manufactured by top Russian intelligence officials—won’t rain on Comer’s parade. Instead, the Kentucky Republican appears to be attempting to turn the saga into a book deal. Last month, a placeholder image appeared on HarperCollins’s website featuring a book by Comer titled All the President’s Money, with an expected publication date of September 10. Comer has since disavowed the posting but didn’t reject that a deal is on the table.

“The link was put up in error by Harper Collins,” Comer spokesman Austin Hacker told Axios. “It was not authorized by Congressman Comer and he immediately requested it be taken down.”

“Although he has been in discussions with Harper Collins about a potential book, he has not entered into a publishing agreement with any publisher including Harper Collins,” Hacker added.

But the Congressional Integrity Project isn’t convinced that it’s a clean deal.

“From the beginning, this impeachment investigation was nothing but a political stunt and a desperate call for attention from James Comer—and this potential book deal further proves it,”  said the organization’s executive director, Kyle Herrig, in a statement.

“Comer and his fellow MAGA House Republicans have spent the last 15 months investigating the President and have not discovered a single shred of evidence of wrongdoing. The American people deserve to know where Comer’s true priorities lie—with doing Donald Trump’s bidding and making a quick buck with a book or with the important issues like health care and the cost of living that are affecting Americans across the country.”

Jesse Watters Appears to Suffer Amnesia on End of Donald Trump’s Term

Who wants to remind him?

Jesse Watters sits at a desk, talking and gesturing with his hands
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

If Donald Trump wins the 2024 election, will he leave office gracefully at the end of his second term? Fox News host Jesse Watters seems to think so, despite Trump’s track record.

“Everybody knows Trump’s going to leave office just like he did the last time,” Watters said on the network Monday night, comparing the attitudes of Democrats who worry about Trump’s autocratic tendencies to people who get scared about the sun disappearing permanently after an eclipse.

Does Watters remember what happened after the 2020 election? If Trump will leave office “just like he did the last time,” does that mean he’ll refuse to concede his time is up, threaten violence, and then foment an insurrection? Does Watters realize that from now on, transitions of power in the United States carry a fear of violence, something that was once unthinkable?

And that’s not even getting into the election denialism that has now become pervasive in the Republican Party, which began with the “Stop the Steal” movement. All of this has led to the very credible fear of bad things happening after the election this November and in future years, no matter how the results go.

We got a hint of what would happen in 2020 when, in 2016, Trump said he would accept the election results “if I win.” And now, Watters and the rest of Fox News are trying to have the public forget about who Trump is and how he handles elections, perhaps because they plan to help him as November draws closer. And of course, if reality clashes with Watters and Fox News, they will blame the left, just like last time.

Ken Buck Shreds Marjorie Taylor Greene for Being Deeply Unserious

Buck accused Marjorie Taylor Greene of pushing Russian disinformation.

Ken Buck is seen in profile smiling and walking
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Ken Buck took a red pen to a flattering characterization of his former colleague Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, refusing to yield that the Georgia Republican was anything but a headache in Congress.

In an interview Monday night on CNN’s OutFront, the former Colorado representative strongly disagreed with a warm review of Greene by ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who likened the MAGA lawmaker to a policy hawk.

“Well, I think Kevin is much more experienced talking to Marjorie about policy than I do, first of all,” Buck told host Erin Burnett.

“Secondly, my experience with Marjorie is, people have talked to her about not filing articles of impeachment on President Biden before he was sworn into office, on not filing articles of impeachment that were groundless made on other individuals in the Biden administration,” he continued. “And she was never moved by that. She was always focused on her social media account.”

But, from where Buck stands, Greene doesn’t just suffer from a distracting social media addiction—she’s also blindly following the will of the Kremlin.

“Moscow Marjorie is focused now on this Ukraine issue and getting her talking points from the Kremlin and making sure that she is popular and she is getting a lot of coverage,” he said, echoing two other Republican lawmakers who have warned that many in the GOP are pushing Russian propaganda.

Buck left his post in the House last month amid another bout of seemingly endless Republican-fueled chaos, torching the lower chamber as “dysfunctional” and one of the worst legislative bodies in the “nine years and three months that I’ve been in Congress.”

“Instead of having decorum, instead of operating in a professional manner, this place has just devolved into this bickering and nonsense and not really doing the job for the American people,” Buck said shortly after handing in his less-than-two-weeks notice to House leadership.

Meanwhile, Greene has filed a motion to vacate House Speaker Mike Johnson after he worked with Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to pass a $1.2 trillion omnibus bill, finalizing one of the legislature’s primary responsibilities: funding the government.

With all the recent departures, House Republicans need almost complete unity to pass legislation on their policy agenda. At the moment, the caucus can spare just one seat on any vote—one of the slimmest majorities in U.S. history.

“Genocide”: Elizabeth Warren Sounds Alarm About the War in Gaza

The Massachusetts senator warned the International Court of Justice will likely find Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

Elizabeth Warren speaks
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Senator Elizabeth Warren is warning that Israel’s devastating military campaign in Gaza, which has killed more than 33,000 people, could legally be considered a genocide.

Warren made the comments during an event last week at a Boston-area mosque. Video of her speech began circulating on social media on Monday. The death toll in Gaza, which includes at least 13,000 children, is considered a low estimate due to the difficulty in counting the dead.

“If you want to do it as an application of law, I believe that they’ll find that it is genocide, and they have ample evidence to do so,” Warren said, speaking at the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland, Massachusetts. She was responding to an audience question about the International Court of Justice ruling that it was “plausible” Israel has committed acts of genocide in Gaza.

Warren noted that, for her, “it is far more important to say what Israel is doing is wrong. And it is wrong.”

“It is wrong to starve children within a civilian population in order to try to bend to your will. It is wrong to drop 2,000-pound bombs, in densely populated civilian areas,” she said.

Warren faced criticism for her stance on the war when she backed Israel after Hamas’s October 7 attacks. As Israel’s war ramped up, along with international criticism of its actions, protesters have shown up outside of Warren’s offices, as well as her home. One Palestinian American even confronted Warren at a restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in November. Warren also voted to send more military aid to Israel in February, part of a bill that defunded the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Warren’s new stance is the latest example of Democrats criticizing Israel’s actions. On March 22, Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez warned that the United States was complicit in the humanitarian crisis in the territory, and on March 15, Senator Chuck Schumer gave a speech criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conduct in Gaza.

Warren was also among eight Democratic senators who called on President Joe Biden in an open letter in March to suspend military aid to Israel while it blocked U.S. humanitarian aid to Gaza.

More recently, the White House had to cancel its annual iftar banquet with American Muslim leaders last week after invitations were rejected in protest of America’s Israel military campaign. On Monday, the Foreign Press Association issued a statement urging international journalists to be allowed unfettered access into Gaza, which Israel’s government continues to block.

Trump Hush-Money Case Got Two New Witnesses—and It’s Not Looking Good

Trump’s former assistant and former director of Oval Office operations are expected to testify.

Madeleine Westerhout looks at Donald Trump
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Madeleine Westerhout

Former associates of Donald Trump, look out—the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is lining up witnesses as his hush-money trial is set to begin.

Rhona Graff, Trump’s former assistant, and Madeleine Westerhout, his former director of Oval Office operations, are expected to testify in the trial, ABC News reported Monday, citing anonymous sources. They will join Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director and onetime aide to Trump, who has already testified before a grand jury investigating Trump’s interference in the 2020 election.

In addition, Deborah Tarasoff, a former employee in the Trump Organization’s accounting department, as well Jeffrey McConney, the organization’s onetime controller, will likely be called to testify. They all join the most well-known name on this list: Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney.

The list extends beyond Trump’s ex-employees. David Pecker, a former executive with American Media Inc., will likely testify, as well as National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard. American Media Inc. used to own the tabloid newspaper, and prosecutors say both Howard and Pecker were involved in “catch and kill” methods to keep negative stories about Trump from spreading during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The trial has already gotten off to a rough start from Trump’s perspective. He’s facing an expanded gag order after he repeatedly attacked the daughter of presiding Judge Juan Merchan on Truth Social. Trump has tried to delay the trial numerous times, including by making the claim that there’s too much “pretrial publicity” and by suing Merchan.

The former president faces 34 felony charges for falsifying business records regarding a payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election to hide a 2006 affair they had. It’s his first criminal trial, and jury selection is set to begin on April 15.

Mark the Date! Garland’s DOJ Actually Takes a Stand on Something?

The Department of Justice accused Representatives Jim Jordan and James Comer of causing politicized conflict.

James Comer and Jim Jordan talk while seated at the dais
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Despite threats by Representatives James Comer and Jim Jordan to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress, the Department of Justice said Monday it will not turn over the audio of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur regarding his storage of classified documents, bringing bad-faith Republican impeachment efforts (or whatever was left of them) to a screeching halt.

In a letter to Jordan and Comer obtained by The New Republic, Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte effectively thwarted Republicans’ meritless effort to impeach Biden. “Neither branch [of Congress] has any constitutionally-based authority to seek conflict for conflict’s sake,” Uriarte wrote, identifying the politically motivated nature of the disastrous impeachment inquiry, which yielded more indictments of the GOP’s own star witnesses than actual evidence of the president’s wrongdoing.

“The Department is concerned that the Committees’ particular focus on continuing to demand information that is cumulative of information we already gave you—what the President and Mr. Hur’s team said in the interview—indicates that the Committees’ interests may not be in receiving information in service of legitimate oversight or investigatory functions, but to serve political purposes that should have no role in the treatment of law enforcement files,” continued Uriarte.

In a February 12 letter to Attorney General Garland, Comer and Jordan requested the audio of Biden’s interview with Hur, which made news when Hur, who did not recommend charges for the president, editorialized in his report, including “gratuitous” details about Biden’s poor memory and inability to recall details about his life. Critics have called the report a “partisan hit job.”

It’s become clear that, in demanding the audio, Comer and Jordan were scrambling at potential ammunition against Biden, who has faced questions about his age since his 2020 victory, to use in the lead-up to the 2024 election. Comer himself has already begun to back away from impeachment in the absence of evidence. Having all but admitted defeat, audio of Biden’s interview might have represented the last chance to squeeze some value out of a smear campaign that never even had enough Republican support to bring to a vote. For once, however, Garland’s Department of Justice did not cave.

Trump’s Idiot Lawyers Plan to Sue Judge in His First Criminal Trial

The former president may be suing the judge in his case.

Donald Trump speaks and gestures with his hands
Brendan McDermid/Pool/Getty Images

It is the eleventh hour for Donald Trump in his bid not to stand trial in his criminal hush-money case. So he’s planning a new, frantic measure: suing the judge.

Trump’s legal team is expected to file a lawsuit against Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who has reprimanded the former president’s lawyers for their conduct in court. The team’s latest genius move is to file an Article 78 action against Merchan, effectively asking an appeals court to throw out the gag order issued by Merchan against Trump and, crucially, to push a potential trial back until after the 2024 presidential election.

Trump, with the backing of Fox News, has previously attacked Merchan and his daughter. Now he’s attempting to have Merchan removed. The action, described by The New York Times as “unorthodox,” is reportedly unlikely to succeed. The lawsuit is not yet public, but sources familiar with the matter confirmed to the Times that the legal team will likely file on Monday.

The hush-money case is Trump’s first criminal trial on the calendar—expected to begin later this month. The news of the lawsuit comes not long after it was revealed that the surety company backing Trump’s $175 million bond in his civil fraud case does not have the funds to do so, and may not have legally promised to pay the penalty if his appeal is unsuccessful.

RFK Jr. Adviser Makes Shocking Admission about Campaign’s True Goal

The goal isn’t actually to become president.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. looks forward
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been described as a spoiler candidate for president by supporters of Joe Biden, and even by Kennedy himself. But the Kennedy campaign’s New York director is taking it a step further.

In a meeting with Republicans in the Empire State, Rita Palma said that “our mutual enemy is Biden.”

“The only way that Trump can even, remote possibility of taking New York is if Bobby is on the ballot. If it’s Trump versus Biden, Biden wins. Biden wins six days, seven days a week. With Bobby in the mix, anything can happen,” Palma said on video of the meeting, dated Friday and viewed by CNN.

The video, which was posted to YouTube before being taken down, showed Palma arguing for Kennedy’s candidacy as a way to block Biden from being reelected.

“The only way for him, for Bobby, to shake it up and to get rid of Biden is if he’s on the ballot in every state, including New York,” she said.

Palma even told people to go to Pennsylvania, a swing state, to knock on doors for Trump, saying that she had done so in 2016 and 2020.

She described the scenario of neither Biden nor Trump getting the required 270 electoral votes to win the 2024 election. If that were to happen, the House of Representatives would decide who will be the next president of the United States. Palma argued that Kennedy winning blue states like New York could make that happen.

“Who are they going to pick? If it’s a Republican Congress, they’ll pick Trump. So we’re rid of Biden either way,” she said.

It can be argued Kennedy’s supporter base draws from both the left and right, as many environmentalists, anti-vaxxers, and new age enthusiasts attend his fundraisers. But it remains to be seen if Democrats have anything to worry about at the polls, even as Kennedy continues to produce outrageous sound bites and make dangerous statements.

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: