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Trump’s Precarious Truth Social Gambit Just Took a Turn for the Worse

Federal regulators have shut the media company’s auditor down for alleged fraud.

Donald Trump's Truth Social account is seen on a phone screen
Anna Barclay/Getty Images

The auditing firm for Donald Trump’s social media company Truth Social doesn’t look so clean.

On Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged auditor BF Borgers CPA for “massive fraud” that affected more than 1,500 SEC filings. The firm is accused of “deliberate and systemic failures to comply” with federal standards between January 2021 and June 2023, according to an announcement by the SEC.

The accounting group and its owner, Benjamin Borgers, have agreed to pay $14 million in civil penalties and are permanently suspended from practicing as accountants.

“Ben Borgers and his audit firm, BF Borgers, were responsible for one of the largest wholesale failures by gatekeepers in our financial markets,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, in a statement. “As a result of their fraudulent conduct, they not only put investors and markets at risk by causing public companies to incorporate noncompliant audits and reviews into more than 1,500 filings with the Commission, but also undermined trust and confidence in our markets.”

“Because investors rely on the audited financial statements of public companies when making their investment decisions, the accountants and accounting firms that audit those statements play a critical role in our financial markets,” Grewal continued. “Borgers and his firm completely abandoned that role, but thanks to the painstaking work of the SEC staff, Borgers and his sham audit mill have been permanently shut down.”

The SEC order also accuses Borgers of failing to supervise the teams performing the audits and reviews, improperly preparing and maintaining documentation of the audits, and failing to get engagement quality reviews, which the agency notes are a necessary part of issuing an audit report.

The share price of Trump Media & Technology Group, the corporation that owns Truth Social, was down 9 percent after trading began.

The news is the latest blow to the GOP presidential nominee’s floundering social media venture, which went public in late March. Truth Social’s original valuation of $8 billion was expected to buoy Trump’s wallet through more than half a billion dollars in court judgments and legal fees, but the company’s value quickly plummeted after reports emerged that the stock was concocted as a pump-and-dump scheme. Just a few days after hitting the trading floor, Truth Social stock took another hit when two of its major investors were charged with insider trading.

This story has been updated.

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Kristi Noem’s Book Woes Continue: Now She’s Caught in a Huge Lie

The South Dakota governor falsely claimed she met Kim Jong Un.

Kristi Noem speaks into a microphone
Scott Olson/Getty Images

After creating a stir by revealing that she killed her pet dog, Kristi Noem has now been caught in a lie claiming to meet world leaders, in new details released from her upcoming book.

In No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong With Politics and How We Move America Forward, the South Dakota governor claims she met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during her tenure on the House Armed Services Committee, which lasted from 2013 to 2015, while she served in Congress. She also says she canceled a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron last year.

But, The Dakota Scout reported Thursday, neither of these supposed instances have records or outside sources to back them. Macron’s office told the Scout that there was never a meeting scheduled with Noem, and there are no congressional travel documents that indicate Noem met Kim. In fact, a meeting with the North Korean dictator was news to congressional staffers. 

“It’s bullshit,” said a House Armed Services Committee staff member who worked there during the period in which Noem says she met Kim. According to the Scout, that staff member was one of a dozen who had no knowledge of such a meeting or said Noem never mentioned it. Her book uses that meeting to inflate her leadership skills. 

“Through my tenure on the House Armed Services Committee,” she wrote, “I had the chance to travel to many countries to meet with world leaders. I remember when I met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. I’m sure he underestimated me, having no clue about my experience staring down little tyrants (I’d been a children’s pastor, after all). Dealing with foreign leaders takes resolve, preparation and determination. My experiences on those many foreign trips made me a better member of Congress and a stronger governor. It allowed me to hone my deal-making skills, which play a crucial role in leadership.”

Noem’s claim to have canceled a meeting with Macron coincided with a trip she made to France, according to her book. 

“While in Paris, I was slated to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron,” Noem wrote. “However, the day before we were to meet he made what I considered a very pro-Hamas and anti-Israel comment to the press. So, I decided to cancel. There is no place for pro-Hamas rhetoric.”

While the Scout confirmed with the French president’s office that a direct invitation was not made to Noem, she could have been scheduled to speak at a political event where Macron was also scheduled. On November 10, Noem spoke at an event on the same day that Macron called for a cease-fire in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza

Noem’s book is scheduled to be released on May 7. The revelation last month that she killed her pet puppy after it killed livestock led to widespread criticism, even from within the Republican Party. Noem has only doubled down, drawing even more ire. 

The move is said to have hurt her chances of becoming Donald Trump’s running mate, which no doubt stings, given how unpopular Noem already is at home. Several Native tribes in her state have banned her from their land for racist comments.  

Trump’s Idiot Lawyers Try Absolutely Bizarre Legal Move on Gag Order

This was a long shot, even for Donald Trump’s lawyers.

Charly Triballeau/Pool/Getty Images

One of Donald Trump’s attorneys tried to get the judge in his hush-money trial to greenlight every one of his online posts ahead of time to ensure they wouldn’t violate his gag order. Unsurprisingly, she was immediately rebuffed.

After the Manhattan district court’s lunch break Thursday, Susan Necheles presented a stack of news article printouts to Judge Juan Merchan, asking that the former president be allowed to post the articles to his Truth Social account.

“We think that they are perfectly fine,” Trump’s lawyer told Merchan. One of the prosecutors seemed puzzled, telling the judge, “It seems odd that they’re asking the court for an advanced ruling” on what would violate the order. Merchan seemed to echo that point of view.

“I’m not going to give advanced rulings,” Merchan said to Necheles, adding that “there is no ambiguity” in the gag order. “I think the best advice you can give your client is, ‘When in doubt, steer clear.’”

Necheles’s long-shot attempt was likely a response to Merchan’s chastisement of Trump lawyer Todd Blanche last week, who tried to claim that Trump’s online posts of news articles didn’t violate the gag order because he technically wasn’t the one who said it. Blanche was unable to provide case law to back up his claim, leading Merchan to warn, “Mr. Blanche, you are losing all credibility with the court.”

Trump is said to be angry with Blanche behind the scenes, perhaps in part for that reason. Trump is also reportedly claiming that the white-collar defense lawyer and former prosecutor does not follow his instructions and isn’t aggressive enough. That may be why it was Necheles who took the unusual step of trying to get advance approval from the judge to avoid yet another gag order violation. Trump already has to pay a $1,000 fine for every infraction, and could face jail time if he is undeterred.

Trump is facing 34 felony charges for allegedly paying off adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to try and cover up an affair with her, and the trial is not going well for him. The case’s latest witness, Daniels’s former lawyer Keith Davidson, is revealing damaging information in his testimony each day, even as stronger witnesses, such as Daniels herself and Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen, have yet to testify.

Michael Cohen’s Secret Tapes Spell Trump’s Doom in Hush-Money Trial

The recordings reveal just how much Trump knew about the payments.

Donald Trump looks down as he walks
Charly Triballeau/Pool/Getty Images

Courtroom revelations from Michael Cohen’s secretly recorded conversations with Donald Trump appear to have just blown his former boss’s legal defense out of the water.

“I need to open up a company for the transfer about our friend David,” Cohen said in part of the tape, according to reporters who attended Trump’s hush-money trial on Thursday. Cohen was referring to Trump in the third person by his documented pseudonym in the agreement, David Dennison.

That shell company would become Essential Consultants LLC, which Cohen used to pass along the $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, whom Trump allegedly began an affair with in 2008.

In another section of the tape, Cohen informs Trump that he had “spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up,” referring to the former Trump Organization CFO. Trump responded that he’d like to be kept in the loop.

“Let me know what’s happening, OK?” Trump was heard saying.

In a separate recording, Cohen told Keith Davidson, who was Daniels’s attorney at the time, that Trump would continually say, “I hate the fact that we did it.” Davidson said he interpreted “it” to mean the deal with Daniels.

The recordings reveal precisely what the former reality TV star’s attorneys have attempted to disprove: that he was involved with the hush-money payments, and that the payments didn’t come from Cohen’s pockets, but rather from Trump’s.

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.

Elon Musk Vows to Reinstate Kanye West’s Hitler-Loving Muse

Elon Musk has decided now is the time to ramp up antisemitism on X.

STR/NurPhoto/Getty Images

In a move that will surprise few people, Elon Musk announced Thursday that far-right commentator Nick Fuentes, known for racist, neo-Nazi, and antisemitic views, will soon be allowed back on X.

“Very well, he will be reinstated, provided he does not violate the law, and let him be crushed by the comments and Community Notes,” Musk said in a reply to a question from one of Fuentes’s fans. “It is better to have anti whatever out in the open to be rebutted than grow simmering in the darkness.”

Fuentes has been banned from X since July 2021. He and his supporters call themselves the “groyper army,” and push racist and white nationalist beliefs while also claiming to uphold Christian values. Groypers gained notoriety for disrupting conservative events and spouting racist statements to troll right-wing accounts on social media. Their activities have even influenced Kanye West, who joined Fuentes for a dinner at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in 2022. Despite accounts stating that Trump was impressed with Fuentes, he later blamed West for bringing Fuentes to the meeting.

Fuentes has denied the Holocaust and also expressed prejudice against Muslims, LGBTQ people, and even women. He attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, and was present outside the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., during the insurrection on January 6, 2021. He is still banned from other platforms, including Reddit and YouTube, but has a verified account on Trump’s Truth Social.

Musk apparently believes that these viewpoints and activities should not warrant a social media ban, but should be publicly challenged. When he first took over Twitter in 2022, Musk unbanned many accounts that spouted similar beliefs to Fuentes’s, and he has continued to reinstate such accounts, claiming free speech grounds. But Musk has also engaged in random suspensions of left-wing accounts and those critical of him, as well as the wife of deceased Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and the grandson of South African leader Nelson Mandela. At the same time, advertisers continue to flee the site as it is overtaken by newer platforms like Meta’s Threads.

Utah Republicans Find Creepy New Strategy to Bully Trans People

State lawmakers want to monitor which public bathrooms people use.

The transgender pride flag
Noam Galai/Getty Images

The Utah state government has unveiled a new official tip line for snitching on bathroom-goers, inviting the public to make note of whenever they witness a person they believe to be transgender using the “wrong” bathroom.

The form, which was unveiled Wednesday, is the result of the state’s “Sex-Based Designations for Privacy, Anti-Bullying, and Women’s Opportunities” bill. The measure enacted a section of the Utah Code that would effectively allow the state auditor’s office to initiate investigations into alleged gender-related bathroom misconduct on government property. For Utah, the first step of those investigations apparently looks like inviting practically anybody to submit a form where they can snitch on “employees or officials” involved in the supposed violation.

“The alleged violation must have occurred at a publicly owned or controlled facility, program, or event. When possible, citizens should make a good faith effort to address and resolve concerns with the government entity before submitting a complaint to the State Auditor,” explains a section at the top of the form.

But in unfortunate news for the Republican-led state governments that create them, previous snitch form efforts have been shockingly ineffective. A similar effort by the Missouri attorney general’s office in March 2023 for “Transgender Center Concerns” ushered in a scourge of digital spam by pro-trans rights activists, forcing the state to shut down the initiative after just a month, as its inboxes were flooded with fanfiction and copies of the Bee Movie script.

Meanwhile, the public surveillance initiative seems to promote the very behavior—voyeurism in public restrooms—that conservatives accuse the transgender community of engaging in, and which prompted the very laws that the forms are meant to enforce. And, even if the form was utilized in exactly the way that Republicans intended, it would only enforce very rigid expectations of gender expression: if you happen to be a woman with masculine features or a man with feminine features, you could very well be clocked and logged by the state. As a result, the form would prove harmful to cisgender and transgender people alike.

Michael Flynn, in Deep Legal Doo-Doo Yet Again, Loses It

Things are not looking good for the former Trump adviser.

Dustin Franz/Getty Images

During an interview on Real America’s Voice Thursday, former national security adviser Michael Flynn claimed that he received eight subpoenas the night before, complaining that there was a massive effort to keep Donald Trump out of office and himself out of government.

“Steve, a little breaking news here on your show, I received eight, count ’em, eight subpoenas last night,” Flynn said in an interview with fellow Trump adviser Steve Bannon, claiming that the effort was part of a Marxist plot against Trump and himself.

“So these people are going to do everything they can, these Marxists, this Communist takeover of the United States of America,” he continued. “And we are in the throes of a Marxist takeover of the United States of America.”

Flynn resigned in disgrace from the Trump administration less than two months after Trump was sworn into office in 2017, after leaks emerged showing that he lied to colleagues about conversations with Russian officials. He later took a deal to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, but then withdrew from the deal and lobbied to have his charges dropped.

Ultimately, Trump pardoned him in the last few months of his presidency, and Flynn went on to advise Trump to respond to his election loss by suspending the Constitution, declaring martial law, and holding a new election, even arguing with fellow Trump advisers in the White House to support it.

But why would Flynn be facing subpoenas now, assuming he isn’t exaggerating or lying? His activities since 2021 include pledging an oath to the QAnon conspiracy theory, preaching about Christian nationalism in tours around the country, and, as he mentioned in the interview with Bannon, touting the new movie Flynn, which portrays him as a victim of the so-called “deep state.” Perhaps he’s been up to something as nefarious as what he accuses Trump’s critics of doing.

Key Hush-Money Witness Blows a Huge Hole in Trump’s Major Defense

Keith Davidson said he always knew Donald Trump was behind the hush-money payments.

Donald Trump looks forward
Mark Peterson/Pool/Getty Images

Former Stormy Daniels attorney Keith Davidson retook the stand in Donald Trump’s hush-money trial Thursday, offering up fresh revelations about the original source of the payments.

Reading aloud a statement he drafted to former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo on February 13, 2018, Davidson revealed just how carefully he had chosen his language in order to take some pressure off Michael Cohen and to cloud the fact that he knew the money was coming at Trump’s behest.

“I read today that Michael Cohen reports that the source of the $130,000 paid to Ms. Clifford was from his own personal funds,” Davidson read in part to the court. “That assertion is in complete harmony with what he informed me of at the time of the transaction.”

But that statement was only literally true, according to Davidson, who claimed he knew the money would be coming from Cohen but that Trump was the ultimate source of the funds.

Four days after the letter was drafted, Cohen and Trump would meet in person to solidify the $130,000 repayment scheme.

The whole narrative is counter to what Trump’s attorneys have attempted to argue, which is that the funds strictly came from Cohen and that Davidson hadn’t directly interacted with the former reality TV star.

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.

Trump Explains Exactly What He’d Do if He Loses the Next Election

Donald Trump is revealing the truth about who he is.

Jeenah Moon/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump still can’t give a straight answer on whether he’d accept the results if he loses the election.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Wednesday, the former president said he’d only accept a loss in November’s presidential election “if everything’s honest.”

“If everything’s honest, I’d gladly accept the results,” Trump said. “If it’s not, you have to fight for the right of the country. But if everything’s honest, which we anticipate it will be—a lot of changes have been made over the last few years—but if everything’s honest, I will absolutely accept the results.”

That’s a big caveat, leaving him plenty of wiggle room to claim “dishonesty!” if Joe Biden gets more votes. Trump has never said that he’d accept election results where he didn’t win. In 2016, he complained of a “rigged election” in August, which he would repeat often on the campaign trail, and then just weeks before November’s election, he again claimed he’d accept the results “if I win.”

In 2020, Trump didn’t concede in his loss to Biden and fought the results every step of the way, from his lawyers attempting fake elector schemes to arguably inciting an insurrection at the Capitol building on the day the country’s election results were certified. Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his election loss spawned what is known as the Big Lie: that he was the legitimate winner in 2020 and the election was stolen from him. Many of his faithful supporters still believe it in earnest.

Trump’s historical and recent comments do not bode well for November. He has hinted at another insurrection attempt if he loses, and he still hasn’t faced consequences for his last attempt, thanks to the Supreme Court. The far right has signaled its willingness to react with violence, including even some politicians. Whether Trump wins or loses, the scenarios don’t look good.

Trump May Not Be Only One Who Needs a Gag Order in Hush-Money Trial

Michael Cohen’s comments could land him in hot water soon.

Michael Cohen walks
Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s big mouth in his New York hush-money trial has so far cost him $9,000 and earned him a formal warning about the possibility of jail time if he continues to violate the partial gag order. But he may not be the only main character in the criminal case who needs a court order to shut his gob.

According to former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, Trump’s former fixer turned star witness Michael Cohen may need the same kind of restrictions in order to keep his gossip and jabs at Trump off the internet.

“Witnesses need to keep their mouths shut until they are in the courtroom,” Vance said on The Insider Podcast Tuesday, adding that Cohen’s comments online could very well become “fodder” for Trump’s attorneys.

And there seems to be plenty of material for Trump attorney Todd Blanche to choose from. On Thursday, Blanche began rolling through some of the evidence, airing a mess of inflammatory social media posts made by Cohen about his former boss throughout the month of April. That included posts that referred to Trump by Cohen’s nickname for him—“Von ShitzInPantz”—and a retweet of another that lambasted him as a “racist jackass who referred to African nations as ‘shithole countries,’” in light of Trump’s attempt to liken himself to Nelson Mandela.

Trump is accused of using Cohen to sweep an affair with porn actress Stormy 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.