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Watch: Mike Johnson Fumbles When Asked Why GOP Is Defunding the Police

The House speaker couldn’t explain why his own party is cutting the budget for law enforcement.

Mike Johnson speaks at a mic
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

In a press conference Wednesday, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson was caught off-guard by a reporter’s question about police funds being cut in a proposed Republican budget.

“We’ve heard a lot this week about Democrats supporting ‘defund the police.’ The Republican Study Committee budget cuts the main federal grant program that local departments use to hire officers. How is that not proposing to defund the police?” the reporter asked during an event set up for “Police Week.”

Johnson replied that he hadn’t looked into it, but replied that “there’s lots of nuances.” Despite admitting he hadn’t examined the budget closely, he went on to claim that funding for law enforcement increased in other areas.

“That’s a central theme of what we believe. It’s part of our worldview, it’s part of our party platform, and it will always be consistent,”Johnson said, asserting that Democrats were guilty of pushing “defund the police” policies in the past, resulting in higher crime rates today.

It’s telling that Johnson wasn’t able to refute the reporter. The Republican Study Committee’s proposed budget does cut the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which has provided over $20 billion to more than 13,000 different police departments since its creation in the 1990s, something Democrats have not hesitated to point out.

It’s not the first time that the GOP has proposed cutting federal spending on law enforcement; it did the same thing in its debt limit budget bill last year. And ever since the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol seeking to overturn the 2020 election results, Republicans have attacked Capitol police as well as federal law enforcement for prosecuting those responsible for the riots that day. Republicans have even missed a deadline to install a plaque in Congress honoring those who defended the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 riots, which was supposed to be installed by March 2023.

Democrats still have a tough job ahead to convince voters that they are the better choices when it comes to crime and law enforcement, as, despite lower crime rates, polls show that most Americans rate crime as a very serious issue, and police unions have endorsed Trump.

Watch: Trump Just Made the Cringiest Campaign Ad Ever

The Republicans who showed up to support Trump at his hush-money trial joined in.

Cory Mills, Byron Donalds, and Vivek Ramaswamy stand next to each other
Alex Kent/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s latest fundraising venture is a little atypical for a presidential candidate.

Trump and five of his far-right allies set up shop Tuesday in a room at the New York City courthouse where the real estate mogul is being tried for 34 felony charges related to hush-money payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

It was another way for Trump—who owes nearly half a billion dollars in damages in his other legal battles and allegedly stiffed his former employees, including Rudy Giuliani and Michael Cohen, out of hundreds of thousands of dollars—to save some cash on a filming location. But realistically, the low-budget ad could have been shot practically anywhere, especially considering that the court granted two days off this week from a criminal trial that legally requires Trump’s attendance.

Instead, biotech investor Vivek Ramaswamy, RNC co-chair Lara Trump, and Eric Trump joined two Republican representatives, all matched and color-coordinated in their blue suits and red ties, attempting to portray Trump as a candidate unjustly locked in the courthouse.

“We’re here in court with President Trump standing with him, but we need you to stand with him too,” said Florida Representative Byron Donalds, incorrectly referring to the GOP nominee as president. “These Democrats are nuts, and they must be defeated.”

“Anything you can give would make a world of difference; we are here fighting the good fight,” said Lara Trump, before Trump slowly shuffled behind the entourage. “They cannot win. We need your help to make America great again.” 

The crowd joins a growing cohort of conservative leaders who have stopped to brown-nose Trump amid his criminal trials. On Tuesday, former North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, House Speaker Mike Johnson, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott each paid visits, the day after  Senators J.D. Vance and Tommy Tuberville stopped by.

A majority of Trump’s high-profile attendees have refused to provide direct answers in recent weeks when questioned about whether they’ll accept the November election results. Scott, for his part, refused six times to give his answer on the issue during an interview on Meet the Press. The show of loyalty is a significant rejection of the rule of law in favor of power in Trump’s potential administration—and it’s especially poignant in the face of his first criminal trial.

MAGA Candidate Draws Outrage After Bizarre “Weak and Gay” Video

Missouri Republican candidate Valentina Gomez posted a ridiculous video message to voters.

Valentina Gomez screenshot with the words "weak and gay"

In a ridiculous, low-budget video published to social media, a Missouri Republican candidate warned voters to not be “weak and gay.”

Valentina Gomez, who is running for secretary of state in Missouri, posted the video of her jogging down an empty suburban street in an ill-fitting ballistic vest.

“In America, you can be anything you want, so don’t be weak and gay,” she said. “Stay fucking hard.”

Gomez, who is 24, previously published a video depicting herself using a flamethrower to burn books, harkening back to book burnings common in Nazi Germany against literature deemed “un-German.”

Gomez’s videos appear to be an attempt to provoke attention for her campaign, where she is facing off against seven other candidates for secretary of state. Missouri has been increasingly hostile toward LGBTQ+ youth, banning some gender-affirming care for minors in 2023. That same year, 43 anti-trans bills were introduced to the state Senate, according to Trans Legislation Tracker, an independent tool kit. Only three of the bills introduced were passed, including a ban on trans youth participating in sports based on their gender identity.

Gomez’s “weak and gay” video has so far racked up over two million views, with many commenters making fun of Gomez for the video. While Gomez is running a patently Christofascist campaign, it’s unclear whether she would make exceptions for people to be either weak or gay—or how her fixation on hating queer people relates to the job duties of secretary of state.

Oops! Trump Spotted Outside the Courtroom Editing Stooges’ Speeches

Donald Trump has been caught using an obvious ploy to circumvent the gag order in his hush-money trial.

Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump has had some of his political cronies show up at his hush-money trial. And it turns out he has been editing what they would say on his behalf, a seemingly obvious violation of his gag order.

One of the journalists covering the trial says the former president was “editing” and “making notations” to the speeches his allies made outside of the courtroom Tuesday.

“In court yesterday, actually, I was sitting close enough that I could actually look over Trump’s shoulder and see what he was reading. At one point he was actually reading the quotes that these individuals were—and going through and making notations with a pen on the paper,” New York magazine contributing editor Andrew Rice said on MSNBC Tuesday.

“While Michael Cohen was testifying against him, he was actually going and going through and annotating and editing the quotes that these people were going to say,” Rice added.

This roundabout effort by pro-Trump surrogates to try and get around the gag order was also noticed by his former White House communications director Michael Dubke.

“They have the ability to say the things that Donald Trump has been wanting to say but has basically been struck down 10 times for saying,” Dubke said on CNN Tuesday. “So this is one way to get around the gag order.”

Trump seemed to be careful not to say he was directing anyone to speak on his behalf, dodging a reporter’s direct question about it Tuesday. However, it was plainly obvious to observers that something was going on when Speaker of the House Mike Johnson attempted to defend Trump by discrediting the legitimacy of the judicial branch and even attacking Judge Juan Merchan’s daughter.

Trump’s gag order prohibits him not only from attacking court staff, jurors, prosecutors, witnesses, or their families but also from directing others to do so on his behalf. Trump’s actions yesterday would seem to be a new violation. The former president has already been fined $10,000 for violating the order and has been warned that new ones would send him to prison.

Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime by using Cohen to pay off adult film actress Stormy Daniels to cover up an affair before the 2016 election. The Republican presidential nominee has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Nikki Haley Doing Shockingly Well for Someone Who’s Not Even Running

Haley had strong showings in the Nebraska, Maryland, and West Virginia primaries.

Nikki Haley smiles
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Donald Trump is still facing some lingering opposition in his Republican primaries around the nation, all stemming from holdouts for a candidate who threw in the towel months ago: Nikki Haley.

Three states saw diversions away from Trump’s name on the primary ticket Tuesday. In Maryland, Haley still managed to pull 20 percent—a fifth of the GOP vote in the Old Line State. She also garnered 18 percent of the vote in Nebraska, and 9.4 percent of the vote in West Virginia. And the numbers aren’t just a fluke; they’re a trend. Earlier this month, Haley nabbed 21 percent of the Republican vote in Indiana, as well as 16.6 percent in Pennsylvania’s GOP presidential primary.

Ultimately, the staunch holdouts are a warning sign for Trump’s campaign. Haley has yet to endorse Trump for president. On her exit from the race on March 6, Haley skirted endorsing the former reality TV star like his other contenders did. Instead, the former U.N. ambassador said it’s up to Trump to “earn” the support of all Republican and independent voters—a critical task that he has not yet seemed to accomplish.

Haley’s brand of politics has formed an intraparty buttress against a growing wave of Trumpism in the Republican Party. Now those holdouts are being courted by an unlikely source: the Democratic Party. When Haley pulled out of the race, President Joe Biden extended an olive branch to her stranded voters, pushing a message of unity with the moderate conservative demographic.

“Donald Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters. I want to be clear: There is a place for them in my campaign,” Biden said in a statement in March. “I know there is a lot we won’t agree on. But on the fundamental issues of preserving American democracy, on standing up for the rule of law, on treating each other with decency and dignity and respect, on preserving NATO and standing up to America’s adversaries, I hope and believe we can find common ground.”

Blabbering Donald Trump Agrees to Debate Biden on These Terms

It looks we’ll be getting a Biden-Trump debate this election after all.

Morry Gash/Pool/Getty Images

“Make my day, pal.”

Biden and Trump, both presumptive presidential nominees, are trading barbs like two creaky prizefighters offering to debate one another, giving a glimpse into the type of back and forth voters can expect ahead of the general election in November.

The latest banter battle comes on the heels of Biden formally notifying the Commission on Presidential Debates that he won’t participate in its scheduled debates slated for later in the fall. Biden instead challenged Trump to two debates, in June and September—and surprisingly, Trump seems to have accepted.

Side-stepping tradition, Biden’s campaign chose the dates to account for early voting and to compensate for what they claim is the commission’s inability to enforce traditional debate rules in 2020, according to reporting by CNN. This shift follows the Republican National Committee’s breakaway from committee-run debates two years ago.

In a video posted to his social media accounts, Biden pointed out Trump’s prior refusal to participate in all Republican presidential candidate debates and how it contrasts with his desire to debate Biden now, insinuating that Trump is simply afraid to debate.

On Truth Social, Trump quickly accepted the offer, and suggested they schedule more than just two debates and a “very large venue” for “excitement purposes.”

“Just tell me when, I’ll be there. ‘Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!’” Trump wrote.

“Let’s pick the day, Donald. I hear you’re free on Wednesdays,” said Biden, a nod to the ongoing hush-money trial against Trump, which breaks each Wednesday.

In his video challenge to Trump, Biden noted that he won their past debates in 2020, reflected by polling data. In response, Trump posted to Truth Social that “Crooked Joe Biden is the WORST debater I have ever faced,” which says very little considering he’s avoided every debate since 2020.

Shortly after issuing his public offer to debate Trump in June and September, Biden announced receiving an offer from CNN, an outlet Trump is notoriously hostile toward, to debate on June 27. “Over to you, Donald,” Biden said. “As you said: anywhere, any time, any place.”

Trump accepted soon after: “I’ll be there,” Trump told Fox News, adding that he’s “looking forward to being in beautiful Atlanta.”

CNN confirmed that Trump has accepted the debate invite. The debate will be held in its Atlanta studios with no audience present, a rarity in presidential debates.

Since this morning’s challenge and June debate offer, Trump and Biden have both accepted a second debate hosted by ABC News on September 10.

This story has been updated.

Republican Congressman Joins Lindsey Graham in Calls to Nuke Gaza

“Nuke Gaza” is quickly becoming the new normal for the GOP.

Greg Murphy speaking
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Representative Greg Murphy joined his fellow Republicans in suggesting that  Israel could use nuclear weapons in its already brutal war on Gaza.

Speaking to Chris Salcedo on Newsmax Tuesday afternoon, the North Carolina congressman compared the situation to Japan and the United States during World War II.

“If you look at what imperial Japan did to the United States, we came back and said basically you’re going to have to unconditionally surrender, and when they didn’t, we had to drop the two atomic bombs on them,” Murphy said. “This is where Israel has every single right in the world to press this conflict further.”

The congressman’s extreme rhetoric follows that of Senator Lindsey Graham, who on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday similarly suggested Israel could drop nuclear bombs on Gaza.

“When we were faced with destruction as a nation after Pearl Harbor, fighting the Germans and the Japanese, we decided to end the war by the bombing [of] Hiroshima [and] Nagasaki with nuclear weapons,” Graham said. “That was the right decision.”

He added, “Give Israel the bombs they need to end the war. They can’t afford to lose.”

Graham and Murphy aren’t the first in Congress to suggest nuking the besieged Palestinian territory, though, as Representative Tim Walberg, another Republican, suggested that “it should be like Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” at a town hall meeting in late March.

Nuking aside, much of Gaza has already been reduced to rubble by Israel’s bombing campaign, which has killed more than 35,000 people, including at least 14,500 children. One wonders what would be enough for Republicans (and some Democrats) to recognize a genocide and humanitarian catastrophe enabled by the policies they help to enact, and do the right thing themselves. Instead, they seem to be more upset at the college students who are trying to do something.

Trump’s Idiot Lawyers Blew a Major Chance to Question Michael Cohen

It’s unclear if they achieved anything while cross-examining the star hush-money trial witness.

Donald Trump sits between his lawyers Todd Blanche and Emil Bove
Craig Ruttle/Pool/Getty Images

The first day of cross-examination against arguably the most consequential witness in Donald Trump’s hush-money case resulted in … practically no results for the GOP presidential nominee’s legal defense.

Over the course of several hours on Tuesday, Trump’s attorneys badgered Cohen about his juvenile social media posts—including calling his old boss a “Cheeto-dusted cartoon villain”—and whether Cohen hoped that his sentence would be reduced in exchange for cooperation in the trial. But legal experts didn’t feel that the cross was very effective at positing a new or reformed narrative that would help their client or have any sway with the jury whatsoever.

MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin wrote that the cross-examination had “not accomplished much” beyond showing that Cohen is still a wealthy individual who has made money off books he’s written about Trump, that his opinion of Trump had changed after he was sentenced in December 2018, and that he’s thrown a bevy of insults at Trump.

Unfortunately for Trump’s defense, none of that was news.

“We’re likely just over 15 minutes from the end of … today, and I’m still unsure what the defense gained from the start of the cross, if anything,” wrote Lawfare managing editor Tyler McBrien. “No checks, no business records, no alternate theories of the case presented.”

Ultimately, the effort was a startling contrast to a prosecution team that started the morning by arriving with a cartful of documents, ready to burst into action.

The trial will resume on Thursday, though even that opportunity to continue developing a defense out of Cohen’s testimony will be cut short by a preapproved appointment for a juror, ending the trial slightly early at 4 p.m.

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

Newly Released January 6 Tapes Destroy MAGA Republicans’ Biggest Lie

The new January 6 footage blows up another popular right-wing conspiracy theory.

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
January 6, 2021, Washington, D.C.

House Republicans have inadvertently debunked one of their biggest lies about January 6—that the police opened the doors of the Capitol building so the rioters outside could enter.

Journalist Jamie Dupree on Tuesday posted footage from inside the main doors of the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, showing rioters not only breaching the doors but also pushing past police officers.

In November, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson announced that most of the security footage from that day would be released to the public. He may not have considered how much of it might debunk the stories he and other Republicans have been telling in an attempt to minimize the events of that day. Just last month, Johnson claimed that innocent Americans were just “walking through the building.”

Republican politicians have touted numerous conspiracy theories about January 6, from claiming that the secretary of the Army delayed calling the National Guard in order to get a job with the Biden administration, to saying that fake Trump supporters arrived in Washington, D.C., on “ghost buses.” Trump was also caught on tape saying he could have stopped the riots—when in reality, he wanted to join them. Many in the GOP still believe that the federal government instigated the whole thing.

This latest discovery still may not convince die-hard Trump supporters, who ignore the fact that many January 6 defendants say that they were there on Trump’s orders. At the very least, though, there is now video proof against one of the many January 6 conspiracy theories.

Trump Draws Fire for Using Obvious Mafia Tactic on Gag Order

Trump’s “I cheated on my wife with a porn star” club seems to be helping him violate his gag order.

Justin Lane/Pool/Getty Images

As the hush-money trial for former President Donald Trump resumed on Tuesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson held a press conference outside the courthouse and issued a slew of falsehoods in defense of Trump, denigrated the legitimacy of the judicial branch, and even attacked the adult daughter of the judge who is overseeing the case, Juan Merchan.

The move was quickly noticed by court reporters, who asked Trump if he was using Johnson and others to sidestep the gag order prohibiting him from making the types of statements levied by Johnson moments earlier. Trump responded expansively while saying nothing: “I do have a lot of surrogates, and they are speaking very beautifully.”

Trump further called for the gag order to be lifted, claiming that there has “never been anything like this in the history of our country,” though it is in fact typical to restrict an actively hostile defendant who is targeting people in order to disrupt the case against them. Trump has incited violence both against the electoral system and against the courts overseeing his corruption trials.

Many were quick to notice that, were Trump to say any of what Johnson said on Tuesday, he’d be found in violation of his gag order. Former Representative Liz Cheney criticized Johnson’s appearance, writing, “I’m surprised that @SpeakerJohnson wants to be in the ‘I cheated on my wife with a porn star’ club.”

Part of Trump’s gag order prohibits him from directing others to make statements on his behalf. Judge Merchan last warned Trump that if he violated the gag order again, he could face jail time.