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Trump’s New Nickname for January 6 Insurrectionists Speaks Volumes

Donald Trump used his Las Vegas rally to downplay January 6—and to spread another conspiracy theory.

Donald Trump smiles and waves
James Devaney/GC Images

In a move that increases the temperature of his rhetoric considerably, Donald Trump called rioters under prosecution for participating in the violent January 6 Capitol insurrection on his behalf “warriors.” The comment came during a sweltering hot campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday.

“Those J6 warriors—they were warriors. But they were really, more than anything else, they’re victims of what happened,” Trump said while decrying prosecution of the rioters. “All they were doing was protesting a rigged election,” he added, reaffirming the Big Lie he pushed in the lead-up to the certification of Biden’s presidency in 2021.

Trump also alleged that the whole insurrection was a setup by law enforcement, who directed the rioters to storm the Capitol.

Trump has previously described Capitol rioters facing prosecution and riding out federal jail time as “hostages” and “unbelievable patriots,” seemingly endorsing vandalism and violent assaults on cops from his base of conspiracy theorists and far-right extremists.

His comments Sunday represent an escalation in Trump’s rhetoric in defense of the rioters and comes amid his efforts to stir his base into similar violence following his felony conviction. Last Monday, Trump speculated there would be a “breaking point” for the American public if he faced jail time, with his followers eagerly calling for extreme violence in response to his conviction.

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Dissent Is Growing: Boycott Netanyahu Calls Pick Up in Congress

A growing number of Democrats are pledging to boytcott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in Congress.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking

A growing number of Democrats are vowing to boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress next month, due to Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza.

In March, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a speech criticizing Netanyahu’s conduct of the war and calling for new elections in Israel. Only a short time later, though, Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries joined Republican Speaker Mike Johnson’s invitation to Netanyahu to address Congress.

The decision has led to a serious blowback from the rest of the party, even from Democrats who haven’t been vocal critics of Israel’s war, which has killed over 37,000 people, including at least 15,000 children. On Friday, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN that it was “wrong” to invite Netanyahu and that she would “absolutely not” have invited him if she were still leading the chamber.

Other Democrats echoed Pelosi.

“I won’t attend and turn my back towards him,” Representative Hank Johnson said. “So I’m just gonna stay away.”

“I’m not planning on attending, and/or I’ll be participating in whatever events there are to express that we want this war to end and we want both him and Hamas to agree to a cease-fire,” said Representative Greg Casar.

Opposition is even coming from Jewish members of Congress, such as Representative Jan Schakowsky.

“The role that the prime minister is playing is very negative, and I don’t want to be there,” Schakowsky said. 

It’s not the first time Democrats have taken issue with Netanyahu speaking before Congress. In 2015, Netanyahu spoke before Congress in an attempt to sink then-President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, drawing the ire of many Democrats. At least 50 House members and eight senators chose to boycott that speech.

“He imported a little bit of controversy the last time he was here,” Representative Stephen F. Lynch said. “I thought it was disrespectful to the president, so I’m inclined not to attend.”

Increased opposition to Netanyahu’s appearance is also coming from progressives, many of whom have already called for a cease-fire.

“I’ve spoken to several members in the House and the Senate, actually, who had gone to the last speech, the last time he was here, even though they had a lot of misgivings about it, and have been clear that they’re not planning to go this time,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal, head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who won’t be attending.

As the war draws on with more and more Palestinian civilians being killed, House and Senate leadership need to realize that inviting a prime minister accused of war crimes is not the answer, but ending weapons shipments to Israel to force an immediate cease-fire is. 

TNR Takes the Anti-Censorship Fight to the Belly of the Beast

Last Saturday’s event in Ron DeSantis’s Florida with Lauren Groff and Jodi Picoult struck a blow for free expression.

Jodi Picoult reads one of her own novels
Darren McCollester/WireImage for BCH/Getty Images

Panelists at The New Republic’s Right to Read celebration in Miami Saturday evening seemed united in their diagnosis of the state of intellectual freedom in the United States: Censorship of books in schools across the country is exceedingly unpopular but nonetheless represents a grave threat to free expression.

“There are so many more of us,” said New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult. “We just have to be a little bit louder.”

The celebration, held in the cradle of the latest wave of American censorship, lifted up the voices of activists, writers, and educators, whom AFT secretary treasurer Fedrick Ingram called “first responders” and the “vanguard” of the fight against book bans.

“Public school teachers and librarians saved my life,” said 1619 Project author Nikole Hannah-Jones.

If teachers are the vanguard of the movement challenging these prohibitions, writers like Picoult and celebrated Florida-based novelist Lauren Groff, along with panelists Jacqueline Woodson, George M. Johnson, and Ellen Hopkins, represent a powerful rear guard against the sanitization of historical education in schools. As TNR’s Alex Shephard pointed out while interviewing Picoult, book bans are about nothing less than the question of American identity itself.

The author Ashley Hope Perez reminded the audience that the real problem isn’t discussing our country’s ugly past but rather that past itself. “The thing that we should be upset about is not people talking about painful histories and ugly aspects of our past; it should be that we allowed those things to happen, that those were the experiences of generations of young people,” Perez said.

And Picoult, against the conservative canard that interrogating the country’s darkest moments “divides” us, highlighted books’ unifying capability. “Books have always bridged gaps between people,” she insisted. “Book bans are meant to create them.”

The threat of what PEN American Florida director Katie Blankenship called “educational gag orders,” designed to clamp down on books discussing race, gender, and sexuality in classrooms, extends beyond the classroom.

Groff, explaining her decision to open a bookstore selling banned books in Florida, was more emphatic: “In the places where people burn books, they will one day burn people.” Indeed, the bans are of a piece with a broad right-wing agenda that seeks to restrict civil liberties across the board.

Ingram identified book bans as part of a wider war on public schooling and low-income families. Groff connected them to the rollback of reproductive rights in red states since the Dobbs decision. “People in Florida do not have control over our own autonomy in Florida right now,” she said. “This is happening under the cloak of a lot of the book banning stuff.”

Book bans, like abortion bans and the gutting of the social service net, are unpopular, the repressive last gasps of a minority that has given up on persuasion. According to Picoult, 11 people are responsible for more than half of the country’s book bans. (In Martin County, Florida, a single disgruntled parent was behind the banning of 92 books, 20 of which were written by Picoult.)

But a nascent parental rights movement that enjoys the backing of red-state governors threatens the freedoms of millions of Americans unequipped to engage it. Ingram captured it, and the strategy to oppose book bans, succinctly: “It’s about power.”

John Fetterman Brags That Brain Damage Made Him Abandon Progressives

The Pennyslvania senator sat down with Bill Maher of all people to chat about leaving progressives behind.

John Fetterman wearing a hoodie smiles and waves at reporters as he arrives at the Capitol
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

During an appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher, Senator John Fetterman credited his near-fatal stroke with making him a conservative darling, describing it as “freeing.”

“There’s a line from the first Batman, Joker, he’s like, ‘I’ve already been dead once already. It’s very liberating,’” Fetterman told Maher on Friday. “That’s not reckless, that’s just freeing. It’s just freeing in a way. And I just think after beating all of that, I just really want to be able to say the things that I have to really believe in and not be afraid of if there’s any kind of blowback.”

Following the October 7 Hamas attack, Fetterman broke from the progressives who got him elected to saber-rattle for Israel’s brutal attacks on Gaza. His stance has largely been antagonistic, trolling protesters rallying for a cease-fire by waving an Israel flag over them, laughing at military veterans getting arrested protesting for a cease-fire, and castigating the United States for abstaining from a cease-fire resolution instead of voting against it. He has described student encampment protests as “pup tents for Hamas” and spread debunked propaganda denigrating pro-Palestine demonstrations in Philadelphia.

Since adopting an aggressively pro-Israel stance, Fetterman has also backed harsher border policies—a curious stance given that he used to point to his wife’s undocumented status as a child to tout his progressive bona fides.

Fetterman frames his seismic shift as stances he’s always had, which his brain damage simply allowed him the freedom to embrace—despite constantly describing himself as a progressive through the years, seeking endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America, and himself endorsing progressive candidates for office.

While progressives who campaigned hard for Fetterman feel betrayed by his shift, conservatives have celebrated Fetterman’s self-described brain damage–induced embrace of right-wing positions—itself a clear signal he’s garnering the wrong audience.

“It’s heartwarming to see regular people using their brain,” said one account on X (formerly Twitter) in response to a white nationalist disinformation account boosting Fetterman’s interview with Maher.

“If only there was some way we could repeat this experiment with other elected officials,” replied another user in response to a Fox News post about how Fetterman’s brain damage “freed” him.

Chappell Roan Calls Out Biden After Snubbing White House Invitation

The pop star called for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Chappell Roan, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, holds one hand in the air as she sings into a microphone
Marleen Moise/Getty Images

Pop singer Chappell Roan, whose star has quickly ascended over the last five months, announced that she recently turned down an invitation to perform for the president of the United States during the annual New York’s Governor’s Ball music festival.

“In response to the White House, who asked me to perform for Pride,” Roan said. “We want liberty, justice, and freedom for all. When you do that, that’s when I’ll come.”

The rebuffed request was confirmed by Roan’s representatives to Variety. Later in her performance, Chappell Roan, the stage persona of 26-year-old Kayleigh Rose Amstutz, continued to explain why she’d turned down the offer.

“I am in drag of the biggest queen of all,” announced the singer, who appeared dressed as the Statue of Liberty, which stood a little over a mile away  across the New York harbor. “But in case you had forgotten what’s etched on my pretty little toes: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.’

“That means freedom and trans rights. That means freedom and women’s rights. It especially means freedom for all people in oppressed—” she paused, placing her hand over her mouth, appearing to tear up. “It especially means freedom for all oppressed people in occupied territories,” which many in the audience understood to be a reference to Israel’s deadly military campaign in Gaza and ongoing occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

The crowd erupted into cheers, and the singer quickly pivoted to her performance. “Thank you,” she shouted. “We’re gonna do ‘Hot to Go’!”

Over the weekend, Israel Defense Forces killed 274 people in Nuseirat as part of an extraction effort that saved four hostages, while reportedly killing three others. More than 37,000 people in Gaza were killed in the last eight months.

V.P. Wannabe Tom Cotton Defends Trump “Rewarding Putin”

Donald Trump’s new plan shows where his loyalty really lies.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shake hands
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump appears to have an unconventional idea about how to handle the Russia-Ukraine conflict—and his allies don’t seem to have a good explanation for it.

When pressed for details on Sunday, Trump vice presidential hopeful Senator Tom Cotton explained to Fox News that Trump would likely allow Russia to claim parts of Ukraine.

“There are reports that what President Trump plans to do to end that conflict is to potentially push Ukraine to give up Crimea, parts of Donbas,” host Shannon Bream said. “If that is the plan, do you agree with that strategy? And would that be rewarding [Vladimir] Putin in order to wrap this thing up in the way that he intended to start it—and take some of that territory? Is that just giving him what he wanted?”

Such a plan would effectively reverse President Joe Biden’s policy and lose any wins that Ukraine has had in its year-and-a-half war against its superpower neighbor. But despite the plan’s shocking intentions, Cotton still didn’t deny its details.

“President Trump and his campaign have said that any reports of plans like that are not authorized, and they’re not coming from the president himself,” Cotton said. “Furthermore, President Trump has said that he strongly supports Ukraine’s strength and survival. He had a strong relationship when he was in office with President Zelenskiy.”

Cotton seemed to conveniently forget that Trump’s relationship with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy consisted mainly of withholding military aid to try to get the Eastern European nation to dig up dirt on Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Trump was impeached (the first time) for his demand.

Trump’s new whole plan is awfully similar to an idea previously pitched by biotech investor Vivek Ramaswamy. In August, the former GOP presidential candidate told CNN that the only way to break up the Russia-China alliance would be to give the Slavic nation what it wants. But even then, the plan was pitched on the false premise that the U.S. has any say in how a foreign nation divvied up its land.

During a meeting with the Ukrainian leader on Friday, Biden actually apologized for the delayed aid package, blaming its late arrival on some contentious conservative members of Congress—and possibly on Cotton, who was one of 29 Republicans to vote against the $95.3 billion foreign aid package in February. But the Arkansas lawmaker couldn’t square that when asked about it by Bream.

“Well, Shannon, he should only be pointing the finger at himself,” Cotton said of Biden. “For more than two years, Joe Biden pussyfooted around and didn’t give Ukraine the weapons it needed to defend itself.”

Trump Is Pissed Biden Reminded People of His Insult to Dead Soldiers

Donald Trump says only a “psycho or a crazy person or a very stupid person” would say something like that. Well ...

Trump is wearing a red Make America Great again cap and speaking at a mic
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Donald Trump went nuts over the weekend over an ad from the Joe Biden campaign highlighting Trump allegedly calling dead soldiers “suckers and losers.”

The ad was posted on Friday afternoon with the tagline “Donald Trump doesn’t know a damn thing about service to his country.”

At a Las Vegas rally on Sunday, the convicted felon and former president once again denied making the comments, as he did when The Atlantic first reported on them in 2020.

“[Biden] said I stood over graves of soldiers and I said: ‘These people are suckers and losers,’ the dead soldiers from World War I,’’ Trump said Sunday. He claimed it was all “made up” and that the Biden campaign knew it was “phony” but still “took an ad using it—these are sick people.”

“Unless you’re a psycho or a crazy person or a very stupid person, who would say that, anyway?” Trump said at the rally. “I don’t like mentioning it. But for me to say ‘suckers and losers’ about people that died in World War I in front of military people? It’s not a possibility you could say a thing like that.”

On Sunday evening, Trump continued to vent on Truth Social, posting twice about his alleged comments and attacking their source, his former chief of staff John Kelly.

Trump Truth Social June 9, 2024: Crooked Joe Biden Biden, the WORST PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, just confused Ukraine with Iraq. He actually doesn’t know the difference, probably gets money from both, a Manchurian Candidate! He also said, in another Democrat Disinformation “hit job” like Russia, Russia, Russia, the “51 Intel Agents,” or the Fake FISA Reports, that I called dead American Soldiers, “losers and suckers.” Who would ever say such a thing? Only a sicko with an axe to grind would suggest that anyone would make such a statement. They even made these horrific words into an advertisement, which shows how desperate they are. No President, especially “dumb as a rock” Joe Biden, has done more for our Military than DONALD J. TRUMP. The Military hates Crooked Joe, and all of the failure he represents. Take down the Fake Ad, Joe, and stop the unprecedented Weaponization of “Justice” against your Political Opponent. You are destroying our Country!
Trump Truth Social post June 9, 2024: Obviously, I never said that dead Soldiers are “losers and suckers.” Who would say such a thing? It was MADE UP DISINFORMATION by Radical Left Democrats, and Trump Haters, working with a failing Magazine, just like Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, FISA Fraud, 51 Intel Agents, and so much more. Anytime you see that despicable FAKE statement used, remember that it comes from the FASCIST SCUM that is destroying our Country. Nobody has done more for the Military than Donald J. Trump - I completely Rebuilt it, and added SPACE FORCE to boot! VOTE FOR TRUMP - MAGA2024!

In October, Kelly confirmed that Trump made the comments in 2018, refusing to visit the graves of American soldiers buried near Paris because the cemetery is “filled with losers.”

Trump is “a person that has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about.… A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law,” Kelly said. “There is nothing more that can be said.”

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Eric Swalwell Brings Back “Cult” Roast for Bonkers Trump Rally

The Democratic representative hilariously cited new proof of the comparison.

Eric Swalwell speaks into microphones
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Representative Eric Swalwell reprised his pitch-perfect burn for the cultish fervor of MAGA Republicans after Donald Trump and his disciples demonstrated their demented brand of devotion on Sunday.

Last week, Swalwell made waves on the internet for a viral speech declaring that Republicans’ steadfast loyalty to Trump, despite his obvious faultiness and recent guilty verdict, reminded him of the unwavering followers in a cult.

After Sunday’s sweltering rally, Swalwell resurrected his gag, after Trump and his disciples doubled down on their crazy.

“Thank God we’re here in Sunset Park to worship and bring back the greatest president we’ve ever known in our generation!” cried Nevada Republican Party Chair Michael McDonald, beneath the blazing sun that sent several so-called parishioners to the hospital.

McDonald’s suggestion that Trump supporters should “worship” the presumptive Republican nominee seemed particularly unhinged, especially in the context of what Trump said later that day during one of his many rambling rants.

“Easier to vote for Biden? I don’t think so! It would be suicide before Biden, right?” Trump asked the crowd.

Swalwell seized on the unhinged comments, which evoked the taste-memory of Kool-Aid. He posted the newest installment of his viral rant on X, formerly Twitter, and captioned it, “You might be in a cult if …”

Incredibly enough, Swalwell’s video didn’t even contain all of the insane pseudoreligious comments from even that one rally.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene proudly touted a particularly blasphemous comparison. “The Democrats and the fake news media want to constantly talk about, ‘Oh, President Trump is a convicted felon,’” the Georgia Republican griped. “Well, you wanna know something? The man that I worship is also a convicted felon. And he was murdered on a Roman cross.”

Greene’s comment suggests she lacks an understanding of the Bible, or Trump, or hey, maybe even both. As the poster child for Trump’s cult, it should surprise no one that she has actually already compared Trump to Jesus after he was arrested last year.

Cognitive Decline? Trump Short-Circuits During Bonkers Rant

The former president glitched during a tirade about sharks and batteries.

Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at a podium
Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump appeared fully unable to articulate a story about electric batteries on Sunday, instead opting to spin a thread in which zero of the underlying premises were actually true.

During his Las Vegas rally, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee told a story that flew a bit off the rails. The tale began by allegedly asking a South Carolinian boat manufacturer, who made boats that were too heavy and “can’t go fast,” a self-described “very smart” question about the efficacy of electric batteries in water-faring vessels—but then quickly devolved into nonsense about Trump’s fear of sharks.

“So I said, ‘Let me ask you a question,’” Trump told the crowd. “And he said, ‘Nobody ever asked this question.’ And it must be because of MIT. My relationship to MIT. Very smart. He goes. I say, “What would happen if the boat sank from its weight? And you’re in the boat and you have this tremendously powerful battery, and the battery is now underwater, and there’s a shark that’s approximately 10 yards over there.”

Then, a quick sidenote: “By the way, a lot of shark attacks lately. You notice that? A lot of shark. I watch some guys justifying it today. ‘Well, they weren’t really that angry. They bit off the young lady’s leg because of the fact that they were—they were not hungry, but they misunderstood what-who she was.’ These people are crazy.”

And back to the story.

“He said, ‘There’s no problem with sharks. They just didn’t really understand a young woman swimming. No really got decimated and other people too, a lot of shark attacks,’” Trump recalled, his voice pitching. “So I said, ‘So there’s a shark 10 yards away from the boat, 10 yards or here. Do I get electrocuted? If the boat is sinking, water goes over the battery, the boat is sinking. Do I stay on top of the boat and get electrocuted? Or do I jump over by the shark and not get electrocuted?”

“Because I will tell you, he didn’t know the answer. He said, ‘You know, nobody’s ever asked me that question.’ I said, ‘I think it’s a good question. I think there’s a lot of electric current coming through that water.’ But you know what I’d do if there was a shark or you get electrocuted? I’ll take electrocution every single time. I’m not getting near the shark!” Trump said.

Meanwhile, things didn’t look so hot for Trump’s team behind the scenes. At several points during the rally, Trump actually attempted to read his teleprompter but claimed it wasn’t working, suggesting to the crowd that he didn’t intend to pay for a “shitty job.”

“And then I don’t pay the company that does it, right?” Trump said. “And then I end up with a story, ‘Trump doesn’t pay.’ I don’t pay contractors that do a shitty job. And that’s a shitty job. That’s a shitty job. You can’t read a word.”

Then they’ll say, ‘Oh, isn’t it terrible? Trump takes advantage of his—,’” he continued, before cutting himself off. “No … when I have a good contractor, a subcontractor, nobody gets paid faster. But when I have contractors that do this kind of work? You can have them.”

Trump is notorious for stepping out on the check, according to several former employees and contractors who have accused him of failing to pay up, sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars. His former attorney Rudy Giuliani may be one of the most recent instances of a former fixer being left holding the bag, but even before his 2016 presidential win, Trump was involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits for allegedly skirting the bill.

Trump Finally Admits What He Thinks of His Supporters

Donald Trump revealed exactly how he feels about his supporters at his campaign rally in Las Vegas.

Donald Trump points and smiles as supporters behind him hold up "Trump 2024" and "Joe Biden You're Fired" signs
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“The press will take that and they’ll say ‘he said a horrible thing,” Trump accurately predicted after telling supporters in Nevada on Sunday, “I don’t care about you. I just want your vote. I don’t care.”

The comments came as Trump remarked on a passing breeze during a scorching outdoor rally in Las Vegas where temperatures climbed above 100 degrees. Six people were hospitalized, and 24 more were treated by EMTs on-site for heat-related illness. Sunday’s rally followed a similar event in Arizona on Thursday where at least 11 people were hospitalized for heat exhaustion, which Team Trump wrote off as “enthusiasm.”

Trump’s recent rallies, which either occur outdoors or involve long lines outside waiting to be let in, have been punctuated by people boiling in the sun. Team Trump has taken no efforts to mitigate the heat for his followers—and in fact booked the Nevada rally after his supporters collapsed in Arizona. This comes despite the fact that a third of Trump’s supporters are those most sensitive to heat.

Though Trump’s sun-fried supporters let out laughs at his remark, Trump has a history of despising his supporters. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Trump expressed gratitude for the highly contagious disease because it meant he didn’t have to shake hands with “these disgusting people.”

“He talked all the time about the people themselves being disgusting,” Olivia Troye, former homeland security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told The New York Times in 2020 while discussing Trump’s view of his supporters. “It was clear immediately that he wanted nothing to do with them.”

Trump’s latest admission of apathy while holding rallies that keep sending people to the hospital speaks volumes on Trump’s perception of his base, but it begs the question of how he’s expected to get their votes if he keeps encouraging them to do things that can kill them.

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