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House Republicans Suffer Major Loss as They Hurtle Toward More Chaos

A special election in New York has narrowed the party’s already thin House majority.

Tim Kennedy speaks
Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

The Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives has cruised to victory in a New York special election, dealing a further blow to Republicans’ slim majority in the chamber. 

State Senator Tim Kennedy defeated Republican Gary Dickson on Tuesday night in the solidly blue 26th district, which comprises the city of Buffalo and the surrounding suburbs. The special election was announced shortly after Representative Brian Higgins, a Democrat, resigned in February to take over a performing arts center in the district. President Joe Biden won the same district by 23 points in the 2020 elections. 

Now the makeup of the House is 217 Republicans to 213 Democrats, with five vacant seats. With their narrow majority and constant infighting, Republicans have rarely passed any significant legislation, with the exception of aid to Ukraine and Israel over the opposition of far-right representatives such as Marjorie Taylor Greene. This loss will only hurt future efforts.  

Greene has said she will push to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, but she has only rallied two other Republicans to her cause. Johnson himself only assumed the speakership in October thanks to a successful effort to push out the previous speaker, Kevin McCarthy, when he passed a legislative budget over the objections of his caucus’s far-right members. 

Johnson has more support from his party but less of a majority to work with than McCarthy, so a vote to remove him would depend a lot on the support of Democrats. Although they didn’t save the previous speaker, House Democrats have indicated they intend to back Johnson, in an effort to stave off pure mayhem. 

UAW President Expertly Skewers Response to University Protests

Shawn Fain made his stance on the war in Gaza clear.

Shawn Fain looks up
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The president of the United Auto Workers union, Shawn Fain, on Wednesday condemned the brutal and excessive response to university student protest encampments across the country over the war in Gaza.

In a thread of posts to X (formerly Twitter), Fain criticized law enforcement actions against protesters and expressed support on behalf of the UAW for demonstrators.

“The UAW will never support the mass arrest or intimidation of those exercising their right to protest, strike, or speak out against injustice,” Fain said. “Our union has been calling for a ceasefire for six months. This war is wrong, and this response against students and academic workers, many of them UAW members, is wrong.”

“If you can’t take the outcry, stop supporting this war,” he added, in a stinging rebuke to politicians.

The UAW also represents student workers under its local 4811, which encompasses 48,000 academic student employees, graduate student researchers, academic researchers, and postdocs in the University of California system. The Gaza solidarity encampment on the University of California, Los Angeles campus was attacked by counterprotesters while police stood by.

Fain has not shied away from taking bold action since his election to head the UAW in March 2023. He led the union through a strike against the three largest American car companies last year and successfully negotiated a good deal for autoworkers, even ensuring electric vehicle battery workers would have union protection. He was not afraid to criticize Donald Trump and endorse Joe Biden in January, a key boost for Biden that earned Fain the ire of the belligerent former president. Most recently, the union won an unprecedented victory in Tennessee, successfully unionizing a Volkswagen plant.

Fain’s successful record means that the UAW’s support for a cease-fire in Gaza and those protesting for it cannot be discounted. The UAW under his leadership wields a lot of influence and has shown that its members know how to use it. Other politicians seeking the support of working people and younger voters, like those that the UAW represents, in the coming election would do well to follow their example.

NYPD Pushes Ridiculous Conspiracy About Columbia University Protests

New York police officers’ wild claims about student protesters that could put them at risk

Police march on Columbia University's campus
Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images
Police in riot gear march onto Columbia University’s campus the night of April 30.

After arresting 119 people participating in a Gaza solidarity protest at Columbia University on Tuesday, the New York City Police Department is suddenly aggressively pushing the narrative that participants weren’t actually students—but their evidence doesn’t hold up to even basic scrutiny.

Speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Wednesday, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Tarik Sheppard showcased “heavy industrial chains” and bike locks that he claimed officers encountered “on every door” of the university administrative building Hamilton Hall, where students locked themselves in after the university announced it had reached an “impasse” with protest negotiators. Sheppard, however, claimed that the materials must have arrived from someone off campus, purporting that “this is not what students bring to school.”

And yet, the materials were common city bicycle locks, advertised and sold by campus security.

In the frenzy to beat an already saturated news environment to the punch, mainstream media outlets jumped on the misinformation bandwagon, doing their part to spread details before bothering to verify them. CNN reiterated the “outside agitator” line well into Tuesday night, even after award-winning Columbia-based news sources such as the WKCR radio station fact-checked them with on-the-ground reporting.

In another neglectful instance, CBS New York’s Ali Bauman claimed that New York City Hall sources had told her that the “wife of a known terrorist is with protestors” at the university. She later deleted the post, but not before it reached nearly 250,000 people.

Meanwhile, the international criminal court at The Hague is weighing whether or not to charge Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with war crimes as the country’s war on Gaza claims so many lives that local authorities say they can no longer keep count. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 77,000 Palestinians have been injured in the conflict, according to data from the Gaza Health Ministry. Most of the victims have been women and children.

Israel has advanced its attacks on the beleaguered nation by blocking humanitarian aid from reaching those who need it. Israel has also utilized mass starvation, as well as blocking or destroying access to critical resources such as water, food, fuel, electricity, and medical aid.

Actual Violence Broke Out at University Protests. Police Just Stood By

Law enforcement was nowhere to be seen when protesters on the UCLA campus were attacked.

Tents are set up on the UCLA campus
Grace Hie Yoon/Anadolu/Getty Images
An encampment set up in solidarity with Gaza on the UCLA campus on April 27

Peaceful protest encampments at colleges and universities across the country protesting the institutions’ relationships with the Israeli government and weapons manufacturers have come under brutal attack, with police playing a heavy part. 

At UCLA, counterprotesters attacked the student-led encampment Tuesday night by tearing down barricades and plywood surrounding it. They shouted, “Second Nakba!” referring to the mass displacement and attacks on Palestinians when Israel was founded in 1948, as well as insults and slurs. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the counterprotesters wore black clothing and black masks, and threw pieces of wood and even fireworks at the encampment. Local TV station Fox 11’s account had a similar description, adding that counterprotesters initially used pepper spray, until some members of the encampment began spraying it back. 

Where were police and security when this was happening? According to The Guardian, their response was lacking. Police in riot gear initially formed a line near the camp but didn’t immediately move to separate protesters and counterprotesters. The campus newspaper, The Daily Bruin, said that four of its reporters were followed and also assaulted. 

At Columbia University in New York, police were directly involved, moving to clear out an academic building that protesters had taken over. NYPD officers showed up on campus with an armored vehicle, using a ladder to enter the building, and made more than 300 arrests.

As the arrested students were led away with their hands in zip ties, supporters cheered for them and chanted, “Let them go.” 

Police cracked down on protests across the city, including violently breaking up protests at City University of New York, a move that a Guardian reporter called “excessive.”

Screenshot of a tweet

The scenes from other universities across the country were just as shocking. Police moved to break up an encampment at Tulane University in New Orleans with guns drawn, arresting 14 people.  

At the University of Arizona at Tucson, police used nonlethal chemicals to disperse protesters. 

The excessive use of force on nonviolent protesters could all have been avoided. At Northwestern University in Illinois, university officials negotiated a deal with students to increase transparency on investments and fund Palestinian professors and students. At Wesleyan University in Connecticut, President Michael Roth issued a measured statement that refrained from attacking a student protest encampment

“The protest has been non-violent and has not disrupted normal campus operations. As long as it continues in this way, the University will not attempt to clear the encampment,” Roth said.

Overall, the national media could do a far better job of articulating what students are pushing for: an end to America’s unconditional support for a brutal ally’s war, and for their universities to end their complicity with that ally. Congress should recognize the brutal assault on academic freedom and free speech, instead of condemning the protesters

Most of all, American leaders should end their support for a genocide by ending arms sales to Israel. But none of that is happening right now, and until it does, protests will continue in one form or another no matter how violently the police respond. 

Florida Republicans Just Wrecked Abortion Access for the Whole South

The Sunshine State has implemented a six-week abortion ban.

People hold protest signs
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
People protest against Florida's six-week abortion ban in Orlando on April 13.

Florida’s new abortion ban went into effect on Wednesday, terminating access to the medical procedure past six weeks of pregnancy—and wiping out access for much of the southeastern United States.

The new law will prohibit abortion well before a lot of people even realize they’re pregnant, and just one week before drugstore pregnancy tests can detect pregnancy hormones in their earliest, and least reliable, window. The restriction will force patients in need of the procedure to seek treatment in North Carolina, where abortion is banned after 12 weeks, or even further.

Governor Ron DeSantis pushed the law through in April 2023 while campaigning for president, despite dissent from within the state. The move was viewed as something that could prove popular with some voters in swing states such as Iowa, but DeSantis’s presidential bid fell apart when he announced in January that he would be withdrawing from the race—and left Florida holding the bag.

“This is the biggest change to the abortion access landscape since Roe was overturned,” Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro, executive director of Florida Access Network, told The New Republic’s Melissa Gira Grant. “This is being done to further decimate the abortion access landscape in a way that you can’t come back from.”

Prior to the ban, Florida allowed abortion up to 15 weeks, making the state a haven for people seeking the medical procedure in the South. The six-week ban passed alongside similarly restrictive bans in neighboring states, meaning that now, abortion access throughout the entire region has been crippled.

Backlash to Florida’s new law has been extreme, with more than a million Floridians signing a petition to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution and putting abortion rights on the ballot in November. That initiative, known as Amendment Four, would protect abortion until “fetal viability” at approximately 24 weeks. Still, a possible win in the second half of the year will come “on the backs” of people who will have to suffer now, giving birth “when they didn’t want to,” executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund Megan Jeyifo told NPR.

Trump’s New Comments on Gaza Protests Make No Sense Whatsoever

The Republican presidential nominee offered up a word salad when asked about the university protests.

Donald Trump walks
Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

As state violence ramped up against student-led Gaza solidarity protests across the country late Tuesday, Donald Trump couldn’t seem to put his thoughts together.

In a jumbled word salad, Trump hopped from buzzword to buzzword on the issue, and the result is a big nothingburger.

“You look at the antisemitism, the hatred of Israel by so many people,” Trump told Fox News. “You go back 10 years, Israel was protected by Congress. And now, Congress is just doing numbers that are unbelievable with I think a very, very small group of people within Congress, and it’s gotta stop.”

The New York Police Department violently uprooted student protests at Columbia University and City College of New York at the behest of Mayor Eric Adams late Tuesday night, making 282 arrests and indiscriminately attacking activists, students, and members of the press. The upheaval, during which police also threatened to arrest the dean of one of the country’s top journalism schools for shielding the media’s First Amendment right to cover the event, shocked international human rights and press freedom advocates, and even other local lawmakers, who appeared more able in the moment of conflict to voice their opinions than the GOP presidential candidate.

“If any kid is hurt tonight, responsibility will fall on the mayor and [university] presidents,” wrote New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Other leaders and schools have found a safe, de-escalatory path. This is the opposite of leadership and endangers public safety. A nightmare in the making.”

Protest-related arrests were also made at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Tulane University. Meanwhile, authorities at the University of California Los Angeles allowed a mob of pro-Israel supporters to beat and attack the student encampment with weapons that appeared to include fireworks, pepper spray, and tear gas.

The international criminal court at The Hague is weighing whether or not to charge Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with war crimes as the country’s war on Gaza claims so many lives that local authorities say they can no longer keep count. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 77,000 Palestinians have been injured in the conflict, according to data from the Gaza Health Ministry. Most of the victims have been women and children.

Israel has advanced its attacks on the beleaguered nation by blocking humanitarian aid from reaching those who need it. Israel has also utilized mass starvation, as well as blocking or destroying access to critical resources such as water, food, fuel, electricity, and medical aid.

Mitt Romney Brutally Takes Down Kristi Noem Over Puppy Murder

Republicans have finally found something to unify them: trashing Kristi Noem.

Kristi Noem speaks into a microphone
Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg/Getty Images

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is now in the doghouse with her fellow Republicans.

More than a week ago, an advance copy of her new book revealed that she shot and killed her pet puppy allegedly because it wasn’t well behaved. After receiving backlash, Noem proceeded to double down, and now her Republican colleagues aren’t holding back.

“I didn’t eat my dog. I didn’t shoot my dog. I loved my dog, and my dog loved me,” Utah Senator Mitt Romney told HuffPost Tuesday evening. During his 2012 run for president, Romney was criticized for a story where he tied his family’s dog to the roof of his car during a road trip with his family.

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis said Noem was “obviously not an experienced dog trainer because I’ve seen ill-behaved dogs are usually a reflection of their owner.” Tillis, who loves dogs so much that he hosts a “bipawtisan” dog parade for Halloween every year in Washington, noted that most dog owners would “go find someone that would actually take the dog and train it, rehabilitate it.”

In the House of Representatives, several Republicans said Noem’s story hurt their opinion of the governor and that they wouldn’t want her as Donald Trump’s running mate. When asked if the dog story would hurt Noem’s chances, Representative Nicole Malliotakis said to Politico, “It does for me.”

“The worst part of it is that it wasn’t a hit job. She volunteered the information. So, when somebody tells you who they are, believe them,” added Malliotakis, who is known to carry her puppy Luna around the Capitol.

One representative, speaking anonymously, said they didn’t think Noem “was ever a serious [running mate] contender,” making Noem’s revelation—a clear bid to boost her chances as Trump’s potential vice presidential pick—all the more embarrassing. The lawmaker added that the dog story would rule Noem out anyway because it’s “too much of a distraction.”

The Trump campaign apparently agrees, as one campaign official told Semafor that “Governor Noem just keeps proving over and over that she’s a lightweight.”

“We can’t afford a Kamala problem,” the official added, referring to Vice President Kamala Harris.

Noem admitted to deliberately killing her 14-month-old pet dog Cricket in her upcoming book, No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong With Politics and How We Move America Forward. She called the dog “untrainable,” “dangerous to anyone she came in contact with,” and “less than worthless … as a hunting dog.”

“It’s a story that doesn’t go away,” said Representative Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota to Politico. “And it’s not a good story.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Finally Making Good on Her Johnson Threats

The Georgia Republican is preparing to unleash chaos on the House of Representatives.

Marjorie Taylor Greene walks
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Two months after announcing it, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene claims she’s finally going to file a motion to vacate House Speaker Mike Jonhson sometime next week.

“Next week, I am gonna be calling this motion to vacate,” Greene said at a press conference Wednesday morning, calling Johnson a “uniparty” lawmaker for getting the Democrats to back him and claiming that the “American people need to see a recorded vote.”

Greene filed a motion to vacate in March after Johnson worked with Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to pass a $1.2 trillion omnibus bill, torching him for accomplishing one of the legislature’s primary annual responsibilities: funding the government.

In the months since she announced her intentions to undermine the Republican House leader, Greene has had just a small handful of GOP defectors join her. But when pressed about who her tiny cohort would prefer to have run the House, Greene simply said “we have people,” and then said she wouldn’t be “naming names.”

Johnson dismissed Greene’s motion as “wrong for the Republican Conference, wrong for the institution, and wrong for the country.”

When the vote does come to a head, Johnson’s seat appears to be, effectively, safe. Both Republicans and Democratic leadership have come out in support of the speaker, who in the seven months since he took the gavel has been forced to foster bipartisanship on controversial legislation ranging from foreign aid packages to domestic surveillance programs.

And despite what Greene has described as a “slimy back room deal,” Johnson insisted Tuesday that he hadn’t sought help from any Democrats to save his skin. Instead, Democrats seem to have decided on their own to support Johnson.

“At this moment, upon completion of our national security work, the time has come to turn the page on this chapter of Pro-Putin Republican obstruction,” wrote the Democratic leaders of the House in a joint statement issued Tuesday. “We will vote to table Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Motion to Vacate the Chair. If she invokes the motion, it will not succeed.”

Greene’s strategy, meanwhile, hasn’t panned out half as well for her. The Georgian’s repeated threats to oust Johnson with such meager support has backed her into a corner. If she calls the vote off now, she’ll look weak. But the apparent bit of political theater isn’t earning her any allies: even the ultimate chaos-inducing candidate, Donald Trump, supports Johnson’s tenure.

In a Tuesday interview on NewsNation’s The Hill, Johnson threw his own shade at Greene.

“Bless her heart,” the Louisiana lawmaker said when asked if he considers her a serious lawmaker. “I don’t think she is proving to be. No. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about her.”

This story has been updated.

Elise Stefanik Is a Trump Stooge—and This Ethics Complaint Proves It

The Republican representative has filed an ethics complaint against Jack Smith for the absolute dumbest reason.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Representative Elise Stefanik is mad at special counsel Jack Smith for doing his job and prosecuting Donald Trump.

In an ironic move betraying a complete lack of self-recognition, Stefanik on Tuesday filed an ethics complaint against Smith for “illegal election interference.”

“At every turn, he has sought to accelerate his illegal prosecution of President Trump for the clear (if unstated) purpose of trying him before the November election,” the complaint says about Smith.

Attacking Smith for interfering with the 2024 election is outrageous, especially since Smith is investigating and prosecuting Trump for interfering with the 2020 election. And Trump’s entire legal strategy seems to be to delay proceedings so they don’t affect his reelection campaign this time around.

But perhaps it’s no surprise that Stefanik has stooped this low to help Trump, and to pitch herself as his vice president. In the past, she has said she wouldn’t have certified the election if she were in Mike Pence’s position on January 6, 2021. She has gotten angry at a reporter who reminded her that a jury found Trump liable of sexual abuse. She has called the January 6 rioters “hostages’’ and angrily claimed that New York state law requiring Trump to be physically present for his money trial, is, you guessed it, “total election interference.”

She’s even tried to claim that the country was better off four years ago during Trump’s presidency, completely forgetting that Trump was badly mishandling the Covid-19 pandemic during that time. To sum up her latest bonkers move, Stefanik simply wants attention, probably from Trump himself.

This Is the Money Quote in Trump’s Hush-Money Trial

A key witness revealed just how involved Donald Trump was in the deal.

Donald Trump holds up his fist
Justin Lane/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s alleged hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels to mute a crescendoing story about their 2008 affair may have begun with David Pecker’s American Media Inc., but it certainly didn’t end there.

While on the stand Tuesday, Daniels’s former attorney Keith Davidson claimed that “after AMI washed their hands of the deal, AMI handed it off” to Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen. “In essence, Michael Cohen stepped into AMI’s shoes,” Davidson said.

After a rocky payoff to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, the tabloid company seemingly wanted nothing to do with a new scheme to cover up another one of Trump’s affairs—but it wasn’t so simple as Davidson handing the money over to her on his own. According to Davidson, he was always under the impression that the funds were coming directly from “Donald Trump or some corporate affiliation” of the Trump Organization.

But after Cohen failed to make several deadlines for the hush-money payments (and blamed the nonpayments on everything from Yom Kippur to the Secret Service), Davidson notified Cohen that the porn actress would be canceling the agreement.

“I thought he was trying to kick the can down the road until after the election,” Davidson told the court when asked to explain what he thought the reasoning was for the nonpayments.

“I think you can tell by these emails I was sending him, there was a great level of frustration by me and my client,” Davidson testified. “I let him know that the level of dissatisfaction was quite high. He stated, ‘Goddamn it. I’ll just do it myself.’”

Davidson explained he interpreted that as Cohen saying he would just pay up without seeking express permission to do so. A wire transfer form for the payment, displayed earlier Tuesday, showed that Cohen described the payment to Davidson as a “retainer” for legal services.

Trump is accused of using Cohen to sweep an affair with Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The Republican presidential nominee faces 34 felony charges in this case for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime. Trump has pleaded not guilty on all counts.