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RFK Jr. Begged to Drop Out by the One Group Where He Was Successful

Environmentalists are uniting against the independent presidential candidate.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at a podium
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Before he was an anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spent nearly 30 years working as a senior attorney for an environmental activist group. Now those former colleagues are urging voters to steer clear of the presidential candidate. 

Nearly 50 of Kennedy’s colleagues from his time at the Natural Resources Defense Council  have come out against his candidacy, taking out full-page newspaper ads expected to run over the weekend in six swing states, The New York Times reported Friday.

“A vote for RFK Jr. is a vote to destroy that progress and put Trump back in the White House,” says the ad, which will run in Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

The ad comes as several other national environmental organizations wrote an open letter criticizing Kennedy for his political turn. 

“Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is not an environmentalist. He is a dangerous conspiracy theorist and science denier whose agenda would be a disaster for our communities and the planet,” the letter states.

Former colleagues and mentors were even more blunt when speaking to the Times. Gina McCarthy, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama, slammed Kennedy as an environmentalist “no more.”

“He’s against science, he’s against vaccines, he talks jibber jabber on climate. I don’t know what he stands for,” she said.

John Hamilton Adams, who co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council and hired Kennedy to represent the group, said in a statement, “I mentored Bobby as a young environmentalist. I do not recognize the person he has become. His actions are a betrayal to our environment.”

In response, Kennedy told the Times that the environmental movement “is making a mistake to settle for crumbs that have been given to us by the Biden administration.”

In another blow, Joe Biden was endorsed by 15 members of the Kennedy family at a rally in Philadelphia Thursday, following a White House visit in March.

“We can say today, with no less urgency, that our rights and freedoms are once again in peril,” Kerry Kennedy, one of Robert Kennedy Jr.’s sisters, said. “That is why we all need to come together in a campaign that should unite not only Democrats but all Americans, including Republicans and independents, who believe in what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.”

Kennedy’s candidacy seems to be serving Donald Trump and the Republican Party more than anything else. His donors skew heavily to the right, and pro-MAGA ideologues keep publicly praising him. While a fundraiser in Los Angeles for his campaign earlier this month was packed with environmentalists, fans of the Kennedy political dynasty, and wealthy New Age hippies, the pushback from his family and environmental colleagues could discourage those supporters.

Maybe RFK Jr. should have stuck to environmental law:

The Unexpected Way Trump’s Hush-Money Trial Is Hobbling His Campaign

Trump’s mandatory courtroom attendance has thrown a wrench into fundraising.

Donald Trump grimaces as he sits with his hands folded
Sarah Yenesel/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump is finding campaigning for the 2024 presidential election more difficult than his last time around, and his criminal trial in Manhattan is a big reason why.

Jury selection began this week, which means that Trump is required to be in the courtroom. He’d much rather be out on the campaign trail fundraising, and as The Daily Beast reported Friday, it’s starting to have financial consequences.

The former president, accused of a hush-money scheme involving porn star Stormy Daniels, has already missed a major House GOP fundraiser in Texas because of the trial schedule, and will likely be forced to cancel on similar events for the same reason. His legal fees have driven him to all kinds of shady grifting, and Joe Biden continues to outraise him.

Trump’s campaign has attempted to bridge the donation gap by scheduling fundraisers in nearby states. Trump will use his weekend outside the courtroom to attend a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the campaign has scheduled another in New Jersey on May 11.

Media attention hasn’t been a problem for Trump, even as he spends most of the day in a courtroom. He’s been posting on Truth Social so frequently that the judge has asked him to put away his phone, and a campaign stunt at a bodega made headlines. But for any candidate, especially one as cash-strapped and with as much prior name recognition as Trump, funding is the lifeblood of a campaign. With the trial now scheduled to run longer than the originally planned two months, his money problems won’t be going away anytime soon.

Trump Finally Sees Consequences for his Big Mouth in Hush-Money Trial

Judge Juan Merchan penalized the former president and his legal team.

Trump gestures as he speaks
Sarah Yenesel/Pool/Getty Images

In an unusual move, Judge Juan Merchan has refused to disclose the prosecution’s first three witnesses in advance to Donald Trump’s defense team in his hush money trial.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass revealed the move on Thursday, in response to a request from Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche. Steinglass pointed out how much Trump posts about possible witnesses and even jurors, which has already affected jury selection.

“I can’t fault them for that,” said Merchan, agreeing with Steinglass. Merchan is no stranger to Trump’s posting history, as Trump has attacked his daughter in previous weeks, resulting in a gag order. Trump’s defenders have also made the ludicrous claim that he has a constitutional right to attack witnesses and jurors.

Merchan’s decision is an unusual one, according to legal analyst ​and former prosecutor Renato Mariotti, who noted that it could be more effective than a fine.

Screenshot of a tweet

Trump is facing 34 felony charges after allegedly paying off adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to cover up an alleged affair. The witness list in the case is said to include several of his former employees from the Trump organization, as well as his longtime White House aide Hope Hicks.

The witnesses who might have the most damaging testimony include Daniels herself, as well as Trump’s former fixer and attorney Michael Cohen, who allegedly made the payments on Trump’s behest. Cohen and Daniels have both been on the receiving end of Trump’s angry Truth Social posts, especially since trial proceedings began.

Read about the effects of Trump's many posts:

Republicans Can’t Stop Pointing Fingers Over Congressional Chaos

With the party split ahead of a major vote, Republicans are trying to find someone to blame for it all.

Matt Gaetz walks down a hallway
Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Republicans are still going at it amid their continued failure to unite behind foreign aid packages. The newest target? Matt Gaetz.

Gaetz, who yesterday bickered with Wisconsin Representative Derrick Van Orden after the latter pushed to vacate Speaker Mike Johnson over his surprising Ukraine reversal, now faces more criticism from his own party, this time from New York Representative Mike Lawler.

Speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper Thursday evening, Lawler did not hold back when asked about GOP infighting over the aid bills.

“I look at this very simply,” Lawler said. “In October, the House was thrown into chaos by Matt Gaetz and seven useful idiots that teamed up with him within the Republican conference and 208 Democrats. And at this moment, when you see what happened in the aftermath of vacating the chair and Israel attacked in a terrorist attack a week later, to do that again would be detrimental to the country and global security.”

Lawler’s “useful idiots” comment is not even the first inter-Republican dig at a colleague’s intellect this week; Gaetz responded to Van Orden’s “tubby” comment by calling him “not a particularly intelligent individual.” It’s also not the first time Gaetz has been singled out as the GOP’s chief agent of chaos. Last week, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whom Gaetz helped oust, speculated about Gaetz’s motivations for the October motion to vacate.

Johnson has looked overmatched as speaker, unable to control a caucus held hostage by hard-liners like Gaetz, who has not yet called for Johnson’s ouster, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has. As a result, he hasn’t just failed to get aid packages through Congress; he’s allowing intraparty feuds between pro-aid members like Lawler and holdouts to fester.

The Judge in Trump’s Hush-Money Trial Is Already Sick of Him

Judge Juan Merchan had some thoughts about Trump’s social media presence.

Donald Trump walks out of the Manhattan courthouse
Jabin Botsford/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump is not known for restraint when it comes to social media, particularly regarding people he doesn’t like. And when one of his lawyers tried to deny it during his hush-money trial Thursday, the judge called him out.

Prosecutors warned Judge Juan Merchan that the former president would likely attack the prosecution’s witnesses against him during the trial, noting he appears to have violated his gag order seven times since the start of the week. Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche tried to promise his client would stop posting like that on social media, but Merchan saw right through it.

“That he will not tweet about any witness? I don’t think that you can make that representation,” Merchan said.

Merchan has a lot of evidence to back up that stance: Trump repeatedly attacks his critics on social media, dating back to his days on Twitter (now X). His posts on Truth Social have resulted in multiple gag orders against him, and he’s already attacked the prosecution, Merchan, and Merchan’s daughter in this case. He even posted Wednesday night about a liberal jury conspiracy he heard on Fox News.

The witnesses against him will likely include his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, as well as adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who allegedly received the hush money payment. Trump and Cohen have a long history of animosity, and we all know Trump doesn’t ever hold a grudge for a long time.

Trump already has been told off by Merchan for talking out loud in court, and has to attend a contempt hearing next week for alleged gag order violations. And, regardless of what his former attorneys say, witness intimidation and criticizing Merchan’s daughter are not protected in the Constitution.

Judge Juan Merchan has reason to be concerned:

Trump Savagely Dragged by Another Hush-Money Trial Juror

The potential juror made a hilarious but inaccurate comparison to Trump.

Donald Trump looks up while sitting with his hands folded
Timothy A. Clary/Pool/Getty Images

During jury selection at Donald Trump’s hush-money trial on Thursday, a potential juror was excused for making an apt comparison: The former president reminded him of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The man, who is originally from Italy, said it would be “hard to be fair and impartial” because of the similarities.

Berlusconi and Trump do have some things in common: Both were business professionals who went on to be elected to political office, and both faced (and continue to face) criticism for unethical business practices, both in and out of office.

The major difference, though, is that Berlusconi seems to have been far more successful politically, as well as financially. He served as prime minister in four different governments for nine years, and he was the third-wealthiest person in Italy with a net worth of $6.8 billion when he died in 2023. His holdings included real estate (like Trump), the largest media company in Italy, and the soccer club AC Milan.

Like Trump, Berlusconi was also in legal trouble due to his business activities, with a long list of charges including fraud, false accounting, soliciting prostitution, bribery, and defamation. Unsurprisingly, he called these charges “judicial persecution” and said the goal was “subverting the votes of the Italian people.”

Trump, however, has never been upfront about his net worth, remarking in the past that it changes based on his daily mood. Lately, though, it seems to be dropping.

So far, Trump has only been elected to office once, and he didn’t even win the popular vote. And while Trump’s legal cases have only just begun, he can’t pretend to have the wealth and influence that Berlusconi used to skirt any serious legal consequences, regardless of the Republican Party’s influence over the Supreme Court.

Trump keeps taking hits during jury selection:

Republicans Are Tearing Each Other to Shreds Over Foreign Aid Package

The party seems unable to unite behind the series of bills.

Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto/Getty Images

House Republicans traded personal barbs on Thursday as disagreements over foreign aid packages to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan threaten to throw the caucus into further chaos.

During a morning huddle around Speaker Mike Johnson, who has struggled to rally his party around the aid bills, Wisconsin Representative Derrick Van Orden got in Florida Representative Matt Gaetz’s face and called him “tubby.” Van Orden later confirmed the insult.

“He felt like he should call me a squish, and I wanted to remind anybody who has not been in combat and held his friend’s hand as they died being shot by the enemy really doesn’t have any business calling someone else a squish. And so, in fact, I did call him tubby and I stand by that,” he said.

Later, on the steps of the Capitol, Gaetz fired back at his Republican colleague who, along with Marjorie Taylor Greene, has called for a motion to remove Johnson from the speakership.

“The only thing I gleaned from [the exchange] is that Mr. Van Orden is not a particularly intelligent individual,” Gaetz said.

Gaetz led the charge in October to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whom Johnson replaced. While Gaetz opposes the foreign aid packages, he has not called for Johnson’s ouster.

Johnson, physically and figuratively “surrounded by folks who have taken issue with his foreign aid plan,” reportedly “put his head in his hands and shook his head” on the House floor. The image sums up his brief time as speaker of the House. As for Gaetz, this is what he asked for.

Other Republican responses to the foreign aid package:

You’ll Never Guess Who Doesn’t Want to Repeal a Zombie Abortion Ban

Democrats are getting pressure from abortion rights groups to keep the Comstock Act in place.

People hold pro-abortion protest signs
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Just months away from a presidential election that could decide the future of reproductive rights, congressional Democrats and abortion rights groups are not on the same page.

Many Democrats are warning that the right wing plans to revive the Comstock Act, a “zombie” law from 1873 banning the shipment of “every article or thing designed, adapted or intended for producing abortion.” The act could be used as a de facto national abortion ban in the post-Dobbs environment, a move that conservative Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have backed.

Several Democrats are pushing to repeal the law before the election, claiming that leaving it on the books would hand Donald Trump a loaded weapon with which to outlaw abortion nationwide without having an explicit ban on the procedure. But, NOTUS reported Thursday, they’ve received pushback from mainstream abortion rights groups. The organizations warn that passing legislation to repeal the law could cause complications with active litigation they are pursuing to challenge abortion restrictions.

“There’s a lot of litigation playing out that’s specific to this that many of the reproductive rights groups are in the middle of. They’re actually wanting to, they’re not wanting to see [the Comstock Act] change in the middle of that litigation. So that was at the request of Planned Parenthood and other reproductive freedom groups that have been fighting this for a long time,” Democratic Representative Pat Ryan said.

Critics of inaction on Comstock have called this strategy “akin [to] leaving [a potential Trump administration] a nuclear bomb.” Under a government willing to wield it, the Comstock Act could be used to ban birth control, condoms, and even sex toys.

“In this era of abortion winning elections, if Democrats don’t force votes in both chambers—yes, even the House—and campaign on this very out-in-the-open Republican plan to further subjugate women and pregnant people, it will confirm the party’s antipathy to delivering anything of substance on abortion,” Susan Rinkunas wrote for The New Republic in March. “But if Democrats do sound the alarm on Comstock, they might save us all from a Victorian prison—and they could even win in November.”

Trump recently declined to publicly endorse a national abortion ban, instead saying restricting access to the procedure should be left to the states. But in doing so, Trump tacitly condoned every single Republican-backed law on abortion. And the Republican record speaks for itself.

Read more about abortion rights:

Columbia University Horrifyingly Turns on Its Own Students Over Gaza

The university sent New York police officers after its own students.

People hold protest signs and a Palestinian flag on Columbia University's campus
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Columbia University students protest in support of Palestine in November 2023

Columbia University brutally cracked down Thursday on ongoing student protests against Israel’s ruthless war on Gaza, sending in city police officers to arrest some demonstrators.

Students at both Columbia and Barnard College have been protesting for months, demanding the university divest from companies doing business with Israel. As part of the protest, students set up an encampment in the middle of campus on Wednesday.

In response, police on Thursday deployed a drone and brought five corrections buses, according to Talia Jane, a freelance journalist at the scene.

Videos of the encampment showed police entering campus on Thursday and beginning to arrest students. Meanwhile, university officials have reportedly barred people visibly carrying food from entering school grounds, in an attempt to prevent protesters from getting supplies.

Another video shows students flooding the streets outside of Columbia’s campus, preventing the corrections buses from leaving with the arrested protesters.

Three students have reportedly been suspended for participating in the protest, and their college IDs were reportedly deactivated. One of the three is student organizer Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Democratic Representative Illhan Omar.

The university’s dramatically heightened response comes a day after university President Minouche Shafik testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on antisemitism on college campuses. Shafik insisted that “antisemitism has no place on our campus, and I am personally committed to doing everything I can to confront it directly.”

The hearing, however, seemed to be more focused on the opinions of college faculty members, with Republicans Elise Stefanik and Tim Walberg specifically asking about disciplinary measures against two professors who made comments that were perceived as antisemitic.

Omar, on the other hand, asked Shafik about protests specifically, pointing out several attacks against antiwar as well as Palestinian solidarity protests, including an alleged chemical attack against pro-Palestinian protesters in January that is still under police investigation, according to Shafik.

Columbia has also been sued by five Jewish students and two student organizations after the university suspended the student groups Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine in November.

Thursday’s police involvement at Columbia is further evidence that the response to campus protests over Gaza across the country has mostly been one of censorship and hysteria designed to suppress pro-Palestinian activism, as Osita Nwanevu wrote for The New Republic in December. The crowds at protests both on and off college campuses are diverse, with Jews, Muslims, Black, and brown demonstrators. Critics, particularly Republican lawmakers, often hide behind allegations of antisemitism as a way to launch attacks on academic freedom.

Read more about the war in Gaza:

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Wild Strategy to Delay Foreign Aid Package

The Georgia representative keeps trying to add bizarre amendments to the House foreign aid bills.

Marjorie Taylor Greene gestures as she speaks into a microphone
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Funding for Ukraine and Israel has been hotly contested in Congress. For Marjorie Taylor Greene, it’s just fodder for trolling.

As two separate supplemental aid packages make their way through the House, Greene has proposed a series of outlandish amendments to both bills. For a measure on Ukrainian military aid, Greene submitted amendments requiring members who vote for the aid to “conscript in the Ukrainian army,” and directing President Joe Biden to withdraw from NATO.

And for Israel, Greene, far from requiring aid to be conditioned on Israeli compliance with international law, played one of her old hits: She proposed that funding in the bill be allocated to “the development of space laser technology on the southwest border,” a callback to her previous antisemitic remarks about “Jewish space lasers,” with a bit of gratuitous eliminationist rhetoric about migrants.

There are plenty of good reasons to oppose military aid to Israel, and opposition to arming Ukraine has become a signature position of the hard right. But Greene appears to have no interest in engaging with the subjects on their merits at all. Instead, the amendments are part of Greene’s campaign against House Speaker Mike Johnson, whom she has threatened to oust for bringing aid bills to the House floor.

Johnson has struggled to get his caucus behind the aid packages; it’s the reason why he divided up the countries into separate bills. Greene is one of the faces of Republican resistance to Johnson’s leadership, but hard-line GOP dissatisfaction with Johnson dates back to his first days as speaker.

Greene’s opposition to aid for Israel puts her in the minority of her party, while Ukrainian aid has divided the Republican Party, prompting senior members to declare that their colleagues are repeating Russian propaganda. Greene has come under fire recently for praising Vladimir Putin and suggesting that Ukraine is waging a “war on Christianity.” But her latest stunt, emblematic of a distinctive style of conservative politics, suggests that her positions aren’t particularly principled. She’s just happy to get off a few jokes.