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Republican Senators Threaten ICC on Israel: “You Have Been Warned”

A group of Republican senators have threatened the International Criminal Court chief and his family.

Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto/Getty Images

A group of Republican senators have threatened the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, and his family against issuing arrest warrants for any Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a letter to ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan on April 24, 12 Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, and Tim Scott, warned that if an arrest warrant was issued for any Israeli leaders, “We will interpret this not only as a threat to Israel’s sovereignty but to the sovereignty of the United States,” according to a report from Zeteo.

“Target Israel and we will target you,” the letter from April 24 added, noting that the senators would sanction the court’s employees and associates, “and bar you and your families from the United States.”

“You have been warned,” the letter concluded.

Other signatories include Katie Britt, Rick Scott, and Pete Ricketts.

In response, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said that it is “absolutely wrong to interfere in a judicial matter by threatening judicial officers, their family members and their employees with retribution. This thuggery is something befitting the mafia, not U.S. senators.”

On Friday, the office of the chief prosecutor posted a statement on X (formerly Twitter) denouncing threats against it as well as attempts to intimidate and impede its officials.

The GOP senators cited the American Service-Members’ Protection Act, a bill that has been referred to by some as the “Hague Invasion Act” because it could be used to justify a military operation against the ICC in The Hague if it prosecutes American officials or soldiers. In recent years, and especially after the court in 2023 issued an arrest warrant against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials for war crimes issued in the invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration pledged to help the ICC in its efforts.  

Israel and the United States are not members of the ICC, but the Palestinian territories were admitted with the status of a member state in 2015. A week before Khan, a British attorney, was appointed to the court in 2021, the court ruled unanimously that it had jurisdiction over “Gaza and the West Bank.”

It’s telling that allegations of war crimes by Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu don’t seem to faze leading Republicans in the Senate, even as at least 34,735 people have been killed, including over 14,500 children. Instead, they are attacking anyone who seeks to hold the Israeli government accountable, whether college students or the International Criminal Court, rather than doing so themselves.

Former Republican Official Finds a Spine, Endorses Joe Biden

Former Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan didn’t mince words when it came to Donald Trump.

Geoff Duncan looks down as he walks
Ben Hendren/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Georgia’s former Republican Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan announced Monday that he is endorsing Joe Biden in the 2024 election, a stunning defection that puts him at odds with other leaders in his party.

Countless Republicans who have been personally slighted by Donald Trump, from William Barr to Ted Cruz, have nonetheless pledged their support to him in the upcoming election. But Duncan has drawn a line in the sand. The former Georgia official faced pressure from the Trump campaign to stop the certification of 2020 election results in the crucial swing state.

“The healing of the Republican Party cannot begin with Trump as president (and that’s aside from the untold damage that potentially awaits our country),” Duncan wrote in an op-ed for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This November, I am voting for a decent person I disagree with on policy over a criminal defendant without a moral compass.”

Despite conservatives’ insistence to the contrary, Trump’s legal troubles are convincing some Republican voters to jump ship ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Duncan, for his part, cited Trump’s criminal case directly: “The alternative is another term of Trump, a man who has disqualified himself through his conduct and his character. The headlines are ablaze with his hush-money trial over allegations of improper record-keeping for payments to conceal an affair with an adult-film star,” he wrote.

Duncan, who also refers to Trump’s chilling Time magazine interview as a reason for his defection, was once considered as a potential challenger to Trump in 2024. In March, Duncan considered and then turned down overtures from No Labels to mount a third-party campaign.

Now Duncan is throwing his support behind Biden, in the hope that it may convince other lifelong conservatives to break with the man who threatened Duncan’s colleague, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to “find 11,780 votes.”

Duncan is the second high-profile Republican to express support for Biden in recent days. Last week, Trump’s former White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews announced she will vote for Biden because Trump “will not uphold the Constitution.”

These Handwritten Notes on Michael Cohen Payments Could Doom Trump

Donald Trump’s hush-money trial just got a crucial new piece of evidence.

Michael Cohen walks
Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg/Getty Images

At Donald Trump’s hush-money trial Monday, a former Trump Organization executive appears to have, through some handwritten notes, exposed serious tax fraud from the former president.

Jeffrey McConney, the former corporate controller at the Trump Organization, testified in court about a reimbursement payment of $360,000 in 2016 to former Trump attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen. That payment was “grossed up” from a $180,000 expense, to offset income taxes. The details were handwritten on Trump stationary by McConney, who was taking notes while speaking to Allen Weisselberg, the company’s chief financial officer, who told him that Cohen was owed money.

The written notes outlined a $180,000 reimbursement to Cohen, which consisted of a $130,000 wire transfer (the same amount paid to Stormy Daniels) and $50,000 for tech services, plus an additional bonus of $60,000. This total amount of $240,000 was then grossed up 50 percent to $360,000 to offset income taxes, a fact that Trump lawyer Emil Bove unsuccessfully moved to strike from the record.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo noted that reimbursement payments usually don’t exceed the amount of expenses, but that Cohen received double the amount of a $180,000 expense. Colangelo asked McConney if he could recall any other instance where an expense reimbursement was doubled for tax purposes. McConney replied no. In other words, a major exception seems to have been made to reimburse Cohen for the hush-money payments.

The prosecution hopes that to the jury, all of this is a convincing paper trail of Trump’s payments to Cohen, and thus to Daniels, in order to cover up Trump’s affair with the adult film actress prior to the 2016 elections.

Trump is facing 34 felony charges for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime, and has pleaded not guilty. Daniels and Cohen have yet to testify, and when Cohen takes the stand, prosecutors will not only seek his confirmation of the payments, but also that they lead directly to Daniels.

Trump Tries Desperate Excuse to Avoid Testifying in Hush-Money Trial

The former president claims the gag order is keeping him from the stand.

Donald Trump gestures as he speaks
Peter Foley/Pool/Getty Images

As his hush-money trial proceeds, Donald Trump has been left searching for new angles with which to claim victimhood. His newest: Gag orders are unconstitutional.

Outside the New York City courthouse where his trial is taking place, Trump answered questions from the press pool on Monday. When reporters asked if he thought Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer now set to testify against him, was a liar, and if Trump was going to testify, the former president launched into a tirade against basic courtroom procedures.

“As you know, they’ve taken away my constitutional rights, so I’m not allowed to answer that question. This has never happened in this country before—it’s a ridiculous thing,” he responded.

Trump is referring to the gag order imposed on him by Judge Juan Merchan, which prohibits him from publicly commenting on witnesses and jurors, and was expanded after he attacked Merchan’s daughter. Trump currently owes $10,000 for his gag order violations in this trial alone—not to mention the $15,000 he owes for violating the gag order in his civil fraud trial—and could face jail time if he keeps breaking the order.

The former president is correct that the order prevents him from opining on Cohen publicly. But publicly impugning witnesses’ credibility during a trial is not a constitutional right, and Trump is hardly the first defendant to have had a gag order issued against them.

Trump has frequently claimed that the legal proceedings against him, from his impeachments to his postpresidency trials, constitute a “witch hunt.” But claiming that a prohibition on his ability to post on Truth Social or answer press poolers’ questions about key witnesses is an unprecedented violation of his rights strains credulity, to say the least.

Mitt Romney Reveals Twisted Reason Why Congress Moved to Ban TikTok

It’s not about national security, after all.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Utah Senator Mitt Romney revealed the motivation for the bipartisan consensus to ban TikTok, and it has little to do with protecting users’ data.

Speaking at the McCain Institute on Friday alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Romney lamented Israel’s inability to control the flow of information out of and about Gaza, despite its best efforts to restrict press access.

“I mean, typically the Israelis are good at P.R. What’s happened here? How have they—how have they, and we, been so ineffective at communicating the realities there and our point of view?” Romney asked Blinken, seemingly in disbelief that images of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza have prompted outrage in the United States.

Then Romney explained that the TikTok ban overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Congress because of the widespread Palestinian advocacy on the app.

“Some wonder why there was such overwhelming support for us to shut down potentially TikTok or other entities of that nature. If you look at the postings on TikTok and the number of mentions of Palestinians relative to other social media sites, it’s overwhelmingly so among TikTok broadcasts. So I’d note that’s of real interest, and the President will get the chance to make action in that regard,” Romney said.

The admission is not exactly surprising. Republican Representative Mike Gallagher argued in November that the app was “digital fentanyl” turning young Americans into “Hamas supporters.” Still, Romney’s openness, after supporters of the ban bleated about data security and privacy concerns for months, is shocking.

Romney’s comments betray a general bipartisan disinterest in engaging Israel’s conduct in Gaza on its own terms, preferring instead to complain about protesters, interrogate university presidents, and, apparently, muse about social media’s role in boosting pro-Palestinian activism. As Israel moves closer to a catastrophic invasion of Rafah, having already banned Al Jazeera in the country, Romney and Blinken would be wise to consider whether TikTok is the real problem.

Read more about youth support for Palestine:

Tim Scott’s Election Results Answer Shows Exactly Where GOP Is Headed

Every contender for Donald Trump’s vice president is saying the same thing: Democracy doesn’t matter.

Tim Scott waves as he stands next to Donald Trump
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Senator Tim Scott over the weekend exposed exactly where the Republican Party is headed, when he refused to answer a question on whether he would accept the 2024 election results.

MSNBC’s Kristen Welker on Sunday asked the South Carolina Republican point-blank if he would accept the 2024 election results, “no matter who wins.”

Scott replied, “At the end of the day, the forty-seventh president of the United States will be President Donald Trump.” When pressed further, he said, “That is my statement.”

Scott is a top contender for Trump’s 2024 running mate. And Trump of course has long refused to say whether he’d accept election results where he lost, even in 2016, when he often complained of a “rigged election” on the campaign trail. Just weeks before November’s election, he claimed he’d accept the results only “if I win.”

In 2020, Americans saw what Trump meant with those words. He refused to concede his loss to Joe Biden, fighting the results with fake elector schemes from his lawyers and even arguably inciting an insurrection at the Capitol building on the day the country’s election results were certified. His refusal to acknowledge his loss would become the Big Lie: that the 2020 election win was stolen from him, the legitimate winner. As Tim Scott’s words demonstrate, many of his faithful supporters still believe it in earnest.

Scott’s answer sounds much like those of other contenders for Trump’s V.P. In the past, J.D. Vance and Elise Stefanik, for example, both admitted they would not have certified the 2020 election results if they were in Vice President Mike Pence’s shoes on January 6.

Scott went on in the interview to assert that the Democratic Party is supporting “abortion up until the day of birth,” only to get pushback from Welker, who noted that no Democrats have said that.

It’s not the first time that Scott has tried and failed to give an answer on abortion, as was the case in April 2023, when he could only manage a word salad in two different attempts. While this time he attempted to attack Democrats for their supposed stances, he still didn’t articulate a policy of his own. If Scott, Trump, and the rest of the GOP plan to win in November, it would be smart to actually give concrete answers, whether it’s on abortion or a peaceful transition of power.

Kristi Noem Gives Worst Answer Possible When Asked About Kim Jong Un

Noem hedged hard when asked if she had actually met the North Korean leader.

Kristi Noem stands in front of a microphone
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Kristi Noem just dug her grave deeper over the revelation that she lied in her upcoming book about meeting North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un while she served in Congress.

Politicians’ books are typically barely read and quickly forgotten, bought back in bulk by campaigns to artificially boost sales numbers and garner good press. Noem’s is a rare exception: Her upcoming book has tanked her stock as a vice presidential contender after she revealed in it that she shot and killed her family dog, Cricket.

Now another embarrassment has surfaced during her press tour: She claimed to have met Kim when she served on the House Armed Services Committee … but there are no congressional records backing up her statement.

Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan confronted the South Dakota governor Sunday with an outlandish passage from the book about a meeting with Kim, asking straightforwardly, “Did you meet Kim Jong Un?”

“As soon as this was brought to my attention, I certainly made some changes and looked at this passage, and I’ve met with many, many world leaders,” Noem replied. When Brennan pressed for a clarification, Noem was evasive, refusing to admit that she had not, in fact, met with Kim. She talked in circles for the better part of a minute, before finally conceding that “this anecdote shouldn’t have been in the book.”

This latest debacle may prove to be a nail in the coffin of Noem’s vice presidential bid. Once Noem was seen as a favorite to join Donald Trump on the Republican 2024 ticket for her loyalty to the former president and perceived ability to shore up cratering support among women voters, but her book, apparently an animal-cruelty confessional, has all but ended her prospects.

Brennan returned to the book to ask Noem about another passage where Noem appears to call for dog murder, this time of President Biden’s dog, Commander. “Commander, say hello to Cricket,” she wrote.

“Are you doing this to try to look tough?” Brennan asked. Noem proceeded to rattle off the Biden dog’s bite statistics and called for Biden to be “held accountable.”

No dogs are safe from Noem, evidently.

Judge Warns Trump: Keep This Up and You’ll Be in Jail

The judge in Donald Trump’s hush-money trial is not playing around.

Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s repeated violations of the gag order in his hush-money trial have reached their limit, Judge Juan Merchan said Monday, warning the former president that jail time would come next.

A contempt of court hearing was held for Trump Monday morning, where Merchan noted that $1,000 fines were not deterring the former president.

“Because this is now the tenth time that this Court has found Defendant in criminal contempt, spanning three separate motions, it is apparent that monetary fines have not, and will not, suffice to deter Defendant from violating this Court’s lawful orders,” Judge Merchan wrote in his ruling, adding that any following violations would result in jail time.

Last week, Trump’s attorney Susan Necheles tried to convince Merchan to approve articles before Trump would post them on his Truth Social account so he wouldn’t violate the gag order, but was rebuffed by Merchan.

“I think the best advice you can give your client is, ‘When in doubt, steer clear,’” Merchan said. 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.

Republican Rep. Cheers Students’ Racist Response to Gaza Protester

Representative Mike Collins doubled down on the students’ racism.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

A Republican representative on Friday appeared to applaud racist taunting against a pro-Palestine protest at the University of Mississippi.

A group of students organized a protest against Israel’s war in Gaza at Ole Miss, as the university is commonly called, on Thursday. The group was calling for the school to divest from companies aligned with Israel, and the university had approved the protest. Protesters, though, were met—and reportedly outnumbered—by counterprotesters who jeered and laughed at them, even making racist monkey noises and gestures at a Black female protester.

Another video from a different angle shows the counterprotesters yelling “Lizzo! Lizzo!” as well as expletives and weight-based slurs at the woman.

But to Representative Mike Collins, a Republican from Georgia, this was all positive.

“Ole Miss taking care of business,” the congressman tweeted, sharing video taken from Richard Hanania, who has been criticized for espousing racist views.

Screenshot of a tweet

Collins wasn’t the first Republican to seemingly praise the counterprotesters, though. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves tweeted video the day before, saying the audio “warms my heart.”

Screenshot of a tweet

While this protest ended peacefully as student protesters were evacuated away from danger, other demonstrations across the country, such as at UCLA and Columbia University, were met with violence from counterprotesters and law enforcement. In those cases, politicians also missed the point of the demonstrations, directing their criticism against those protesting a war entering its seventh month that has killed at least 34,622 people, including more than 14,500 children.

Key Hush-Money Witness Just Exposed Trump’s Biggest Lie Yet

Hope Hicks revealed Trump knew about the hush-money payments all along.

Donald Trump sits at a table
Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

Hope Hicks dished out another doozy against her former boss Donald Trump Friday afternoon.

While testifying on the stand, Hicks—a former Trump Organization employee turned Trump 2016 campaign press secretary turned White House aide—revealed that Trump had been in communication with his former fixer Michael Cohen about hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. The thing is, Cohen had told The New York Times in February 2018 that he had sent the $130,000 payment by his own volition, and out of his own pocket.

Cohen claimed at the time that Trump had no knowledge of the payments. But Hicks recalled Trump saying that Cohen had “felt like it was his job to protect him” and “that’s what he was doing and he did it out of the kindness of his own heart and he never told anybody about it.”

But, when pressed by the prosecution, Hicks confessed that such a charitable act did seem “out of character” for the bombastic attorney.

“I didn’t know Michael to be an especially charitable person or selfless person,” Hicks said.

Still, even after claiming he had no knowledge of the hush-money payments, Trump understood it was prudent to bury the whole thing before the election.

“Mr. Trump’s opinion was that it was better to be dealing with it now and it would’ve been bad to have that story come out before the election,” she said.

This piece of testimony could prove crucial, according to MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin. Even though Hicks did not call Trump a liar outright, she did reveal that his current claims about the hush-money deal are dubious at best.

Earlier in the day, Hicks described Trump as a boss who was “very involved” and that the communications arm of Trump’s 2016 presidential bid was always “following his lead.”

Hicks continued to say that she had met David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer and former CEO of its parent company, American Media Inc., several times, and knew of Pecker as a “friend of Mr. Trump.” She noted that she had been present for Trump’s phone calls with Pecker, including ones about some of the Enquirer’s hit pieces on Trump’s GOP opponents in the 2016 race.

Notably, Hicks specified that although she is testifying in the trial under subpoena, she is paying for her own legal representation and hasn’t spoken to Trump in nearly two years.