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Coward Trump Scrambles to Worm Out of Biden Debate

Sean Hannity suggested Donald Trump should wait to debate until he has formally secured the Republican presidential nomination.

Donald Trump holds his finger up to his mouth
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The first presidential debate is set to take place June 27 at CNN’s studios in Atlanta. The event was always going to occur, but that didn’t stop Donald Trump from spending weeks goading his opponent into accepting the details. Now it seems that the presumptive GOP presidential nominee may be trying to weasel his way out of the situation.

Fox News host Sean Hannity floated the idea Monday night, wondering aloud if Trump should “pass on the debate.”

“I think we’ll see the return of ‘Jacked-Up Joe,’” Hannity began, speculating about Biden’s abilities. “Whatever Joe drank, ate, took before the State of the Union—maybe it was just Red Bull and caffeine pills. I don’t know. Whatever it was, that was not the normal Joe. We never saw it before, and we haven’t seen it since. But we will see it for the debate.”

“Now, there are some even saying, Mark, that Donald Trump might be wise to just pass on the first debate, wait until he’s nominated, then debate him,” Hannity said, speaking to Harris Poll chairman Mark Penn. “What would you say to that?”

“I’d say he accepted it. He accepted it in the lion’s den. If I were Donald Trump, I would have done some better negotiating here, but I don’t think he can back out now without really looking cowardly,” Penn replied.

Hannity then took it a step further, suggesting that Trump would be better off during the debate if moderators muted his mic.

“Joe might have done Donald Trump a favor, and I say this affectionately, by insisting that when it’s not his turn to speak that they mute his microphone, ’cause I think that was a mistake in the first debate in 2020,” Hannity said, recalling Trump’s terrible performance the first time the pair squared off in the last election.

Hannity has held a close relationship with Trump for years. The two reportedly exchanged upward of 80 text messages between the 2020 election and Biden’s 2021 inauguration, with Hannity acting as a pseudo-adviser to the former president. Trump, however, has stayed surprisingly mum on the debate, even with the reality of the event just two weeks off.

The Toni Morrison Award Winners: Fighters in the Censorship Trenches

Five award recipients at Saturday night’s Right to Read celebration talk about what drives them.

Eleven authors hold up prizes  while standing on a stage side by side
Johnny Louis
From left to right: Crystal Etienne (Democratic Public Education Caucus of Florida), Esther Jimenez (Cuban-American Women Supporting Democracy), Pastor Laurie Hafner (Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ), Mitchell Kaplan (Books and Books Literary Foundation), Stephanie Pacheco for Dr. Marvin Dunn (Miami Center for Racial Justice), Katie Blankenship (PEN-Miami), Ana Sofia Palaez (Miami Freedom Project), Vanessa Brito (Moms4Libros), Lissette Fernandez (Moms4Libros), Maxx Fanning (PRISM), and Hedieh Sepehri (FABB)

“I think it’s important for us as teachers to create a space so that our students can dare to reimagine new futures, and they can dare connect and they can dare to dissent,” Texas history teacher Daniel Santos said as he accepted the Toni Morrison Award for Courage at The New Republic’s Right to Read celebration in Miami Saturday night. Santos, executive vice president of the Houston Federation of Teachers and one of five recipients of the award, told the story of a graduating former student from Guatemala who returned to tell him how much a novel he’d assigned about Japanese internment had stayed with him. “He connected with that book, and to this day, he says he continues to read that book because it was valuable and it was important,” he said.

Santos criticized policymakers in his home state, who have enacted some of the country’s most restrictive book banning legislation. So did fellow award-winner Allison Grubbs, Broward County Library director. Over 40 percent of book bans have occurred in Florida, prompting Grubbs to create book sanctuaries in all 36 branches of the Broward County Library system. Grubbs pledged that her “commitment to the freedom to read will remain unwavering,” even in the face of the harassment and threats she’s faced by right-wingers. “When we lose the unchallenged right to read, think, speak freely, we have lost not only our social liberty, but our humanity,” Grubbs said. “The history of totalitarianism in every age and culture has demonstrated that censorship of citizens and their press is a preliminary mechanism by which the descent begins.”

Two award recipients, Texas booksellers Valerie Koehler and Charley Rejsek, are taking on that mechanism directly. They are lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of House Bill 900, the Texas law requiring booksellers to rate books being sold to schools for their “sexual content.” The case, currently in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals after the state unsuccessfully appealed the ruling blocking the law’s enforcement, reminded Rejsek of a line from Fahrenheit 451, the once-banned Ray Bradbury novel from which her store draws its name. “‘Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick when it came to censorship.’ And I feel like we’re in that moment right now,” she said.

Four-time Newbery Award–winner and MacArthur grant recipient Jacqueline Woodson, who sat on a panel during the Right to Read celebration before accepting her award, drew from another celebrated American writer. “You think your pain is unprecedented in the history of the world, and then you read,” she said, paraphrasing James Baldwin. Woodson’s memoir of the Civil Rights Movement, Brown Girl Dreaming, which won the National Book Award and Newbery Honor award, was challenged in Florida and Texas during the 2021 “critical race theory” panic.

Woodson recalled reading Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, one of the country’s most banned books, as a fifth grader, reflecting on how it informed her own work. “We have seen mirrors of ourselves in literature,” she said. “We have seen windows into worlds that we would never have experienced or understood, or grown to have empathy for. We have seen the other and come to love the other, and we want the other to be OK because sometimes the other is us.”

Trump’s Beloved Golf Clubs at Risk After Felony Conviction

Donald Trump’s liquor licenses are under review now that he’s a convicted felon.

Donald Trump puts his hands on his hips while standing on the golf course. He wears a red Make America Great Again cap and looks off to the side.
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Now that Donald Trump is a convicted felon, he is not only technically barred from traveling to 38 countries, but his businesses might start to feel the effects too, including his golf courses in New Jersey.

The State of New Jersey is reviewing whether the Republican presidential nominee’s felony convictions will affect the liquor licenses for his three golf courses in the state, according to the state attorney general’s office.

In New Jersey, anyone convicted of a crime “involving moral turpitude” can’t be issued a liquor license. These crimes are ones that include “dishonesty, fraud or depravity” that are punishable by more than one year in prison, according to a state handbook. Other states have similar laws, but Trump has workarounds. This is the case in California, where Trump already transferred the liquor license to Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles to his son, Donald Jr., in 2017.

Trump co-owns a hotel in Las Vegas, but the laws in the Sin City’s Clark County are friendlier to felons, where liquor license applicants only have to be “of good moral character” and there is no ban regarding felony convictions. Liquor authorities in New York, Virginia, Illinois, and North Carolina told Forbes magazine that Trump doesn’t hold any liquor licenses in their states, although the publication found financial disclosure forms indicating otherwise. Florida has moral character laws for its liquor licenses too, but Trump can submit an affidavit claiming he knows right from wrong, and can provide character references or evidence of good citizenship.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Trump seem to have patched up their differences, meaning that he probably doesn’t have to worry about a liquor license or jumping through hoops to be able to vote in the state. But he should have no trouble getting an exception from the man he once called “Meatball Ron” and “Pudding Fingers,” right?

Unfortunately more on Trump:

New January 6 Footage Exposes Chaos That Day—and Failed Trump Response

Previously unaired footage reveals what members of Congress were going through as they were forcibly evacuated from the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York walks to a room on Capitol Hill where senators gathered on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Newly released footage from the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot depicts tense scenes as then–Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and then–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scrambled for a military response to force out the Trump-driven mob that had taken over the Capitol that day.

“You’re going to ask me—in the middle of the thing when they’ve already breached the inaugural stuff—‘Should we call … the National Guard?’” Pelosi asked Terri McCullough, her chief of staff, as they rode in an SUV while being evacuated from the Capitol to Fort McNair. “Why weren’t the National Guard there to begin with?”

The footage was filmed by Pelosi’s daughter, documentarian Alexandra Pelosi, and was recently provided to Republican congressional investigators from HBO before landing in the hands of Politico and MSNBC.

In another clip, Schumer is seen demanding answers about directing Donald Trump to make a statement telling his supporters to leave. Schumer fumes that the city of Washington, D.C., had requested the National Guard but it was denied by the Department of Defense. “I’d like to know a good fucking reason why it’s been denied,” Schumer growls into a flip phone. “We need them fast. We’ve all had to—I’ve never seen anything like this. We’re like a third-world country here. We had to run and evacuate the Capitol.”

“They have not denied it,” Schumer said to Pelosi after getting off the phone. “I spoke to the secretary of the Army. He’s given the full OK to get the National Guard, he says it was not denied. I’m gunna call up the effin’ secretary of DoD.”

The clips shed new light as to why the National Guard failed to mobilize for hours after a pro-Trump mob breached the building and forced members of Congress to evacuate. Alongside existing evidence, it appears Trump colluded with the Department of Defense to drag their feet and let the deadly insurrection play out.

Trump has long falsely claimed that he signed an order for 10,000 National Guard troops to mobilize to D.C. prior to the Capitol riot. Trump and fellow conservatives have also falsely claimed that Pelosi was responsible for preventing their deployment. These claims were previously debunked by noting Trump failed to issue any formal request. As The Washington Post notes, Trump had informally suggested bringing in thousands of National Guard troops to protect his supporters from leftist counterprotests—not as part of a defense of the Capitol.

On January 7, 2021, the Department of Defense released a statement claiming, “Once the reality of the assault on the U.S. Capitol became apparent, National Guard troops responded appropriately and with alacrity.” At the same time, Trump claimed he “immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.” The National Guard didn’t mobilize to the Capitol until 5:40 p.m.—nearly five hours after the pro-Trump mob first breached the exterior barricades and began beating cops before breaching the Capitol at around 2 p.m.

Trump Media Stock Tanks Again as Trump Is Buried in Legal Troubles

Donald Trump’s media company is tumbling as he risks a serious cash crunch.

Donald Trump walking with his mouth open

Trump Media stock is once again slumping.

Donald Trump’s social media venture reaudited its finances and filed them with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday, confirming that the company had a whopping net loss of $58.2 million in 2023. As a result, Trump Media shares dropped more than 6 percent Monday afternoon.

The company had to change auditors last month after its previous firm, BF Borgers, was charged with “massive fraud” and subsequently barred from ever serving as accountants again. 

“As a result of [BF Borgers’] 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,” Gurbir S. Grewal, the director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said at the time, calling the firm a “sham audit mill.” 

Trump Media executives have reached out to the SEC to see why the company’s stock is performing so poorly, and its CEO, former Representative Devin Nunes, complained in April to Nasdaq’s CEO that the company was the victim of illegal “naked short selling.” In response, he was brutally mocked on Wall Street.

It’s the latest piece of bad news for what was expected to be a cash cow for Trump. The company reported a staggering $327.6 million loss last quarter, and only brought in $770,500 in revenue. The company is trading at just $42 per share, much less than the $72 it was trading at in March after its initial public offering. Trump can’t brag his way out of his media company’s issues, either: The SEC could see it as an illegal attempt to pump up Trump Media stock. And even if he could get away with it, he still can’t sell off any of that stock for six months without board approval, a difficult prospect considering his hefty legal bills.

Unfortunately more on Trump:

Trump Promises “Comeback” for Extreme Anti-Abortion Christian Group

Donald Trump virtually addressed the Danbury Institute—and that reveals everything you need to know about his real views on abortion.

Donald Trump speaks with a mic before him and he gestures with his right hand. There are several U.S flags behind him.
Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s impending attacks on abortion rights continue to take shape ahead of November.

Trump on Monday virtually addressed a forum hosted by abortion extremist group Danbury Institute, which describes itself as an “association of churches, Christians, and organizations aligned to affirm and preserve God-given rights to life and liberty,” and which in reality advocates for abortion to be “eradicated entirely” and calls the lifesaving medical procedure “child sacrifice.”

Trump delivered two-minute prerecorded remarks, in which he promised that if he’s reelected, the group would “make a comeback like just about no other group.”

“We have to defend religious liberty, free speech, innocent life, and the heritage and traditions that built America into the greatest nation in the history of the world,” Trump added. “I know that each of you is protecting those values every day—and I hope we’ll be defending them side by side for the next four years.”

Trump was initially slated to appear in person at the conference, shifting last-minute to providing pre-written remarks. As Politico noted, none of Trump’s messaging to the extreme anti-abortion conference actually mentioned abortion, and instead read like something pulled together in the eleventh hour by someone attending fascism school who forgot they had a paper due today. According to a senior Trump campaign official, the message is part of a “welcome message” that was prerecorded for attendees of the Southern Baptist Convention, of which the Danbury Institute is hosting a forum dubbed “Life and Liberty” featuring a slate of evangelical anti-abortion figures.

​​The Danbury Institute describes abortion as “the greatest atrocity facing our generation today” and “child sacrifice on the altar of self.” The christofascist group is also ardently anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans and rails against “critical race theory and Marxist ideologies.” Biden’s campaign leapt on the appearance, describing Trump’s participation in the convention “campaigning with abortion ban extremists.”

Trump has previously suggested he’d be open to banning contraceptives, which he walked back only to then clarify that his real target is mifepristone—the medication used to terminate early miscarriages and pregnancy, which accounts for 60 percent of abortions nationwide. He walked back those remarks, as he frequently does, and defaulted to leaving abortion restrictions up to the states.

Trump’s floating stance on abortion appears to be an effort to appease competing factions: His most intensely supportive base, Christian fundamentalists, want abortion banned at the federal level while other parts of his base either support abortion rights or prefer the decision be left to the states.

Trump’s Hilarious Question for Potential V.P.s Shows Irony Is Dead

“Have you ever committed a crime?”

Donald Trump speaks into a microphone
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s campaign has begun vetting candidates to join his ticket as vice president, and according to Senator J.D. Vance, Trump’s asking them about their criminal record, with no sense of irony at all.  

During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy asked the Ohio Republican whether he had “been asked to submit documents to be vetted.”

“You’re not at that level yet,” Doocy pushed. “Or are you?”

“They’ve asked us for a number of things,” Vance replied. “I think that a number of people have been asked to submit this and that.”

“Like your taxes or something?” Doocy pressed. “Your criminal background?” he added with a short laugh. 

“Yeah, but certainly like, ‘Have you ever committed a crime?’ Or ‘Ever lied about this?’ Certainly you have those conversations, but I think a lot of people have those conversations,” Vance said, vaguely. 

Doocy has become a rare voice of dissent on Fox & Friends, regularly pushing against his fellow hosts’ reactionary perspectives, urging them to provide evidence for some of their more baseless claims about President Joe Biden and his family, according to The Washington Post. Doocy has also proven to be the least likely host to blindly back Trump or defend him from worthy criticism. It’s not clear whether his jab about a criminal background was intentional, but it did appear to make Vance sweat.

It appears that Trump’s campaign plans to hold his vice presidential pick to a higher standard than the candidate himself, who was recently found guilty of 34 felony counts. 

To be fair, it’s not exactly clear how that information will be factored into Trump’s decision. For all we know, the “Law & Order president” might welcome the camaraderie of another politician with a rap sheet.

Of the contenders on Trump’s V.P. shortlist, it appears that the only one with a criminal record is Byron Donalds, who was arrested twice, once for marijuana possession and later for felony theft. In the first case, Donalds was kept out of prison through a pretrial diversion program, and in the second, he pleaded no contest to the felony theft charge and received probation. Donalds’s record was expunged and sealed.*

*This article has been updated the clarify that Donalds’s record was expunged and sealed.

Samuel Alito Caught on Tape Revealing His True Guiding Force

And it’s not neutrality or justice.

Samuel Alito frowns as he sits in front of a microphone
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A secret tape has exposed some of Justice Samuel Alito’s privately held beliefs, including endorsing a fight to “return our country to a place of godliness” with the stark understanding that “one side or the other is going to win.”

Alito’s comments were recorded by advocacy journalist Lauren Windsor during the Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual dinner on June 3, an opportunity leveraged by many right-wing activists to cozy up to members of the nation’s highest judiciary.

A copy of the tape, which documented the incredible candor with which Alito forewent any illusion of neutrality, was provided to Rolling Stone.

Leading Alito on, the liberal documentarian is heard approaching the justice about a disbelief that American polarization can come to an end by way of negotiating with the political left. Instead, Windsor posits that it’s more a matter of conservatives “winning.”

“I think you’re probably right,” Alito replies. “On one side or the other—one side or the other is going to win. I don’t know. I mean, there can be a way of working—a way of living together peacefully, but it’s difficult, you know, because there are differences on fundamental things that really can’t be compromised. They really can’t be compromised. So it’s not like you are going to split the difference.”

Alito then agreed with Windsor’s assessment that the country needed to return to a “place of godliness.”

Meanwhile, responses from Chief Justice John Roberts—who was appointed to the bench the same year and by the same president as Alito—to near-identical questions offered a stark contrast between the two conservative judges.

“The idea that the court is in the middle of a lot of tumultuous stuff going on is nothing new,” Roberts told Windsor, in response to her question about intense polarization in the United States.

Roberts pushed back when pressed on whether the court should right the U.S. onto a “moral path,” and pointed to the perspectives of “Jewish and Muslim friends” when presented with the idea that the country is a “Christian nation.” He argued that it wasn’t the Supreme Court’s role to lead the country with any religious bearings.

“It’s not our job to do that. It’s our job to decide the cases the best we can,” Roberts said.

Alito’s comments are particularly telling considering he has come under fire for two flags flown outside two of his houses. One was an upside-down American flag, which is associated with the January 6 insurrection, and the other is a Christian nationalist banner.

Nancy Mace’s Disdain for Trump Supporters Exposed by Former Staffers

Nancy Mace’s former staffers are revealing what it was really like to work with the Republican representative desperate for media attention.

Nancy Mace wearing sunglasses outside speaks with reporters
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A new profile of Representative Nancy Mace in Slate has some surprising revelations about the South Carolina congresswoman, chief among them her actual opinion of the Republican Party’s voters.

The article, sourced from Mace’s former staffers, shows a second-term member of Congress desperate for attention. When Representative Kevin McCarthy was ousted as House speaker in October, Mace was among those who voted against him, much to everyone’s surprise, including her own staff’s.

In the following days, however, Mace sought to stand out even more, showing up to work wearing a shirt with a big red “A” on the front, in a nod to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic, The Scarlet Letter. The move baffled her staff, one of whom told Slate they thought “it was just some fashion statement. I was like, OK, well, maybe this is an Abercrombie shirt or something.”

It quickly became apparent that Mace was attempting to place herself at the center of attention.

“She wanted every single person to think—when they thought of the McCarthy ouster vote, not to think of the eight, but to think of Nancy Mace,” the staffer said.

While Mace claimed that her choice of wardrobe was because she had been “demonized for my vote and for my voice” and would “do the right thing every single time, no matter the consequences,” it drew many puzzled reactions. An unhappy Mace told her staff that the people who didn’t understand it were probably “Trump voters” who weren’t smart, a startling thing to say for a Republican.

Congress, and more specifically the Republican caucus, has no shortage of members who seek attention but provide little in the way of legislation, like Representatives Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene. One of Mace’s former staffers told Slate that the congresswoman used to criticize such colleagues, but now “she has turned herself into what she hates.”

Mace’s record is full of such behavior, whether it’s claiming that she was being shamed as a victim of sexual assault because she was asked why she supported Donald Trump to calling campus protesters against the war in Gaza “terrorist-loving kids” who “hate our country so much.” Congressional staffers have called her “abusive” and quit working for her in droves. There is an ethics complaint against her for seeking higher monthly lodging reimbursements than what her expenses actually warranted, charging the government for more than $8,900 over what she was eligible for.

Mace is trying to ward off a primary challenger in her reelection race, as her actions have attracted criticism back in North Carolina, where she is currently polling under 50 percent.

Trump’s New Comments on Taylor Swift Will Gross You Out

A new book reveals what Donald Trump thinks about the megastar.

Taylor Swift touches her hair
Andre Dias Nobre/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump has finally unveiled his urgent political take on the mega-popular singer Taylor Swift, who has been relentlessly attacked by his right-wing cronies: He thinks she’s good-looking. 

In the soon-to-be released book Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass, the presumptive Republican nominee gushed over the very same superstar that far-right MAGA cronies once tried to cut down.

“She’s got a great star quality,” said Trump. “She really does.” The former president then pivoted to discuss the most important quality about any woman, her physical appearance.

“I think she’s beautiful—very beautiful! I find her very beautiful. I think she’s liberal. She probably doesn’t like Trump. I hear she’s very talented. I think she’s very beautiful, actually—unusually beautiful,” he told Ramin Setoodeh, Variety’s co–editor in chief and the author of the book. 

Caught up by his strange string of shallow, sexist compliments, Trump had the gall to suggest Swift might secretly be an undercover Republican. Quite the change from the government psyop Fox News once suggested she was. 

“But she is liberal, or is that just an act?” Trump asked Setoodeh. “She’s legitimately liberal? It’s not an act? It surprises me that a country star can be successful being liberal.”

Swift has not produced a country album since 2012.

The former president was also asked about Swift’s chart-topping music. “Don’t know it well,” Trump replied, which should tell you everything you need to know.  

Trump’s objectifying response gets even creepier when taken in the context of his noted affinity for blonde women, who consistently populate his inner circle. Trump’s attempt at flattery is likely an effort to neutralize the vitriol of his far-right Republican fanboys so as not to alienate the many, many Americans who love Taylor Swift. 

But no matter how “beautiful” Trump may find her, it won’t change that in 2020, Swift backed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and joined in the chorus of those who publicly shamed Trump for spewing violent rhetoric at Black Lives Matter protesters. Swift has yet to issue some election-altering, generation-defining creed about who her fans should support in November. But fans and foes alike know all too well who’d she’d back.