Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Biden’s Israel Waffling Let This Company Scam Refugees

An Egyptian company is charging Palestinian refugees thousands of dollars to get out of Gaza.

Joe Biden gestures as he speaks into microphones
Ken Cedeno/CNP/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A new report from the Win Without War Education Fund, a progressive foreign policy advocacy group, details how the U.S. government’s failure to intervene in Gaza has allowed an Egyptian company to exploit American citizens and Palestinians desperate to secure passage away from the Israeli military’s ceaseless bombardment. 

For nearly eight months, there was only one way out of Gaza: the Rafah crossing, a thin strip of land on Gaza’s southern border. The crossing has since been seized by the Israeli government, preventing the transfer of essential aid and humanitarian workers, as well as blocking the only means of escape. Before Israel seized the crossing, the only way to use it would be to get your name on a list that is maintained by the Egyptian government.

To expedite the process, many families turned to one company, Hala Consulting and Tourism Services, which promised to help get people’s names on Egypt’s list—for a steep price. Hala is part of the Orjani Group, which is owned by Ibrahim Al Arjani, a close ally of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, and one of the most powerful men in Egypt. 

By the end of April, Hala had raked in at least $88 million by charging people to cross, according to an investigation from The Times. By the time Israel seized the border crossing days later, the price for a “coordination fee” had ballooned from $4,000 to $10,000 per name.  

The burden of this cost was far too steep for most Gazans, who have been forced to leave their homes, families, and friends amid the ruins of their cities. Instead, the price was thrust onto their family members and allies in the United States, who turned to private charities as a last resort for fundraising. 

Once Hala received money to add a family member to the list, it would still take up to a month for that person to move to the top of the list. In that time, a lot could change, as the dangers in Gaza are ever present.  

Family members of those trapped in Gaza were forced to pay Hala’s exorbitant fees because the U.S. government has refused to pressure Israel to stop its relentless assault. Washington has even failed to expedite the evacuation of U.S. citizens. 

Texas attorney Maria Kari, who works with hundreds of Americans who are trapped, or have family members trapped, in Gaza, said that the State Department has been slow and at worst unresponsive to her efforts to secure humanitarian parole for her clients and their families.

One woman interviewed for the WWWEF report, identified only by her first name, Shifa, turned to GoFundMe to raise money to get the names of her 50 family members in Rafah on the list after exhausting all other options.

“We’ve exhausted absolutely every avenue to save their lives,” Shifa, a Palestinian American lawyer, told WWWEF. “We submitted correspondence to the State Department. We’ve submitted all the applications to expedite this process. We’ve reached out to immigration attorneys. We have done it all; no response.”

Because of the high costs, waiting period, and lack of government support, Shifa was forced to make difficult decisions about which family members to prioritize. “Time is of the essence. We’ve exhausted every avenue possible,” she said. “They’re waiting to either leave or die.”

Ron DeSantis’s Signature Anti-Trans Law Brutally Shut Down in Court

A judge has struck down Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s ban on transgender care on the grounds that it is wildly unconstitutional.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis looks forlorn
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Federal Judge Robert Hinkle ruled Tuesday that Florida’s ban on gender-affirming care for trans children is unconstitutional—taking down one of Governor Ron DeSantis’s signature “anti-woke” laws, which the judge described as “divorced from reality.”

In his ruling, Hinkle found that a “significant number of legislators” were motivated by animus to enact the trans health care ban. In legalese, a motivation of animus is an illegitimate basis to pursue legislation. Hinkle’s ruling provided numerous instances of legislators acting in prejudice against trans people, saying lawmakers “single-mindedly pursued the predetermined outcome sought by the Governor and Surgeon General” to ban gender-affirming care.

“Had there been no animus,” Hinkle wrote in his ruling, “gender-affirming care probably would not have come before the Legislature at all.”

Hinkle’s ruling also nuked every single part of the state’s requirements to severely restrict access to gender-affirming care—including requiring annual hand X-rays, in-person consent forms, restrictions on who can provide gender-affirming care and therapy, as well as excessive appointments and lab tests intended to make access to gender-affirming care cost-prohibitive to discourage people from pursuing care.

“If ever a pot called a kettle black, it is here. The statute and the rules were an exercise in politics, not good medicine,” Hinkle wrote.

“Where there is bigotry, there are usually—one hopes, always—opponents of bigotry,” Hinkle added, noting that medical professionals who treat people with gender dysphoria are frequently advocates for gender-affirming health care.

In Hinkle’s ruling, as with the preceding injunction leading to Tuesday’s ruling, Hinkle asserted “gender identity is real” and noted during arguments that even the defense—representing Florida’s surgeon general and Board of Medicine—acknowledged it as such. Hinkle also noted that the defense, which sought to uphold the trans health care ban, “explicitly admitted that prohibiting or impeding individuals from pursuing their transgender identities is not a legitimate state interest.”

Hinkle’s ruling further assessed that “gender-affirming care causes no harm to others—no harm to individuals who do not receive the care. Those who are not involved are not involved.” The court decision nukes any potential claim that access to gender-affirming care is somehow harmful to public health, a favored talking point of transphobes who simply can’t leave other people alone.

“You Are in a Cult”: Democrat Slams GOP Reaction to Hunter Biden News

Representative Jim McGovern called out Republicans’ conspiracy-laden response to the Hunter Biden verdict.

Representative Jim McGovern puts his hands on his temples as if in exasperation
Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

At a House hearing Tuesday, Representative Jim McGovern called out Republicans who have started to spout conspiracy theories after President Joe Biden’s son Hunter was convicted on federal gun charges.

“The only ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’ going on around here is on the other side of the aisle. People are saying that Biden orchestrated the conviction of his own son in order to justify the criminal charges against Trump,” McGovern said. “That is how you think when you are in a cult.”

McGovern also called out the Republicans who claimed that Democrats had “weaponized” the Justice Department to go after Donald Trump, but were suddenly celebrating Hunter Biden’s conviction.

“The contrast today is just staggering. Apparently when a Republican is convicted, it’s weaponization. But when a Democrat is convicted, the president’s son no less, that’s justice? I mean, give me a break,” McGovern said. “Hunter Biden was found guilty by a jury of his peers, just like Donald Trump, because this is our justice system at work.”

McGovern can point to any number of wild Republican reactions to the Hunter Biden verdict, ranging from Representative Thomas Massie’s contention that marijuana users should not be in jail for buying or owning guns to House Speaker Mike Johnson’s statement that the verdict doesn’t disprove his theory that the Democrats are using a “two-tiered” justice system to target Donald Trump. Representative Matt Gaetz even called the verdict “kinda dumb” on X (formerly Twitter), despite having a contentious past with Hunter Biden.

But regardless of how Republicans are dealing with the verdict against Hunter Biden, it doesn’t change the fact that the Republican presidential nominee is a convicted felon in the state of New York and still has pending cases against him in Georgia, Florida, and Washington, D.C.

More on the conspiracy theories floating around:

Jamie Raskin Torches Republicans’ Bonkers Hunter Biden Conspiracies

The Maryland Democrat compared his colleagues’ response to their reaction to Donald Trump’s conviction.

Jamie Raskin leans over a desk
Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Republicans quickly hailed Hunter Biden being convicted Tuesday on federal gun charges for failing to disclose his drug use while purchasing a weapon—despite their objections that Donald Trump’s felonies were the result of a corrupt judge and an inherently flawed system.

Democrats wasted no time pointing out the hypocrisy.

“Hunter Biden was just convicted of every single count that was brought against him by the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Representative Jamie Raskin while testifying before the House Rules Committee. “I have not heard a single Democrat—anywhere in the country—cry fraud, cry fixed, cry rigged, cry kangaroo court, or cry any of the many epithets that our colleagues have mobilized against the U.S. Department of Justice and our federal court system, despite the fact that Donald Trump was not even tried in federal court. That was at the state level.”

Raskin then went on to draw further comparisons between the trials of the first son and Trump, arguing that both had the right to a presumption of innocence, a right to counsel, a right to a jury of his peers, and a right to a unanimous verdict.

“And in both cases, a jury unanimously found against the defendant on all counts in both cases. And compare and contrast the difference in reaction between the Republicans and the Democrats,” Raskin said.

The ranking member of the House Rules Committee, Representative Jim McGovern, also had harsh words for the conservative party over their duplicitous moral stance.

“The contrast today is just staggering. Apparently, when a Republican is convicted, it’s weaponization. But when a Democrat is convicted—the president’s son, no less—that’s justice. I mean, give me a break. Hunter Biden was found guilty by a jury of his peers, just like Donald Trump, because this is our justice system at work,” McGovern said.

“After the verdict this morning, how can any Republican in their right mind argue that the Biden administration is weaponizing the [Justice Department] to hurt Republicans and to help Democrats? They just convicted the president’s own son,” he added.

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, accepted the outcome of the case shortly after the decision was released—a stark contrast to Trump’s constant raving about a two-tiered judicial system.

“I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal,” Biden said in a statement. “Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that.”

Trump Lashes Out Over Report He’d Enforce Mandatory Military Service

Donald Trump is lashing out over a report that he may revive mandatory military service.

Donald Trump yelling into a mic
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Donald Trump is lashing out after a report that those in his inner circle are considering reviving mandatory military service.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump’s last defense secretary, Christopher Miller, said a national service requirement should be “strongly considered” in order to boost numbers and morale in America’s armed services.

Trump, in response, took to Truth Social to decry the whole thing as “fake news.”

“The Story is completely untrue,” Trump said of the on-the-record interview. “In fact, I never even thought of that idea. Only a degenerate former Newspaper, which has lost 50% of its Readers, would fabricate such a tale. Just another Fake Story, one of many, made up by the DEAD Washington Compost!”

Speaking to the Post, Miller outlined a vision, also detailed in the Trump team’s Project 2025 document, to give military recruiters increased access to schools and mandate the armed service’s entrance examination at public schools that receive federal funding. “If we’re going to prepare for a great-power competition,” Miller said, “it’s helpful to have a baseline understanding of the pool of potential military service members and their specific aptitudes prior.”

Though Trump tried to distance himself from the report, he’s had nothing but good things to say about Miller in the past, and Miller is reportedly being considered for defense secretary if Trump retakes the White House. According to the Post’s reporting, other former Trump officials are also musing about bringing back mandatory military service.

But perhaps Trump’s reaction to a mandatory service requirement isn’t all that surprising. Though he attended a military academy, Trump notoriously dodged the draft during the Vietnam War. More recently, his infamous “suckers” and “losers” quote, referring to fallen U.S. soldiers, has come back to haunt him.

According to polling, the public’s confidence in the military is at a multidecade low, and over the past several years, branches of the military have struggled to meet their recruitment goals. The idea of mandatory service is not a radical idea in the Republican Party. Senator J.D. Vance, a Trump V.P. contender, and Senator Lindsey Graham have both voiced support for a compulsory service program in the past. “I like the idea of national service. And I’m not talking about in wartime,” Vance said, calling for more Americans to put “some skin in the game.”

Mike Johnson Tries Saving GOP’s Biggest Lie on Hunter Biden and Trump

Hunter Biden’s verdict has blown up a major Donald Trump claim.

Mike Johnson speaks while looking over his shoulder
Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

It seems that nothing, not even a guilty verdict for Hunter Biden, can convince right-wing conspiracy theorists like House Speaker Mike Johnson that the Department of Justice is not under the direct control of the Democratic president.

CNN’s Manu Raju spoke to Johnson shortly after the ruling on Tuesday, and asked him whether he felt Biden’s guilty verdict undermined the GOP narrative that Democrats have implemented a “two-tiered” justice system to target Donald Trump.

“It doesn’t, every case is different, and clearly the evidence is overwhelming here,” Johnson said. “I don’t think that’s the case in the Trump trial, and all the charges that have been brought against him have been obviously brought for political purposes. Hunter Biden is a separate instance.”

Ever since Trump was found guilty of 34 felony counts in his hush-money trial, the former president’s allies in the far-right GOP have claimed louder than ever that the Department of Justice is a politically motivated weapon of the Biden administration. One might think this notion would be challenged by Hunter Biden’s guilty verdict, but that person would also have to imagine that these Republicans operate on a baseline of logic or reason. No such luck.

The Republican response to Biden’s conviction is unsurprising, since the cast of disgruntled lawmakers hasn’t been convinced by any other evidence that challenges their worldview. Last month, the Department of Justice released an indictment against Texas Representative Henry Cuellar and his wife, charging them with bribery and money laundering. On Monday, a witness in the case against Bob Menendez testified that the New Jersey senator agreed to intervene in two criminal investigations, in exchange for a Mercedes. Both Democrats. Both pursued by the Justice Department.

The reality that Johnson would have the public ignore is that the evidence was overwhelming in Trump’s case too. That’s precisely how a unanimous jury found him guilty of all charges.

In terms of Biden’s case not being “politically motivated,” it’s worth noting that the case brought against him is considered relatively rare among gun prosecutions, with even Fox News commentator Trey Gowdy suggesting he might be subject to political persecution. None of this can penetrate the victim complex of the Republican front-runner, however, or his cronies like Johnson.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Amplifies Deep MAGA Conspiracy on Hunter Biden

MTG is spreading a far-right conspiracy theory to cope with the Hunter Biden guilty verdict.

Marjorie Taylor Greene yelling

As conservatives sort out their preferred conspiratorial reactions to Hunter Biden’s felony conviction on Tuesday, Marjorie Taylor Greene has helpfully come along to merge two competing conspiracies together.

Conservatives initially reacted to Hunter Biden’s guilty verdict by largely choosing one of two conspiracies: that Biden’s conviction is an offering from the Department of Justice to weaken outrage over Trump’s conviction, or that Biden’s gun conviction is simply smoke and mirrors to distract from the (very false) allegation that Joe Biden took a bribe to coerce the Ukrainian government away from investigating a gas company whose board Hunter Biden sat on.

Marjorie Taylor Greene has opted to blend these two together, posting well after the initial surge of hot takes that Hunter Biden is “the Deep State’s sacrificial lamb.”

Twitter screenshot: Marjorie Taylor Greene

It will likely never occur to those circulating these conspiracies that Trump’s conviction in the hush-money trial came from a city-level investigation unaffiliated with the Justice Department, which began more than a year before Biden announced his bid for president. Nor will it become apparent that Hunter Biden’s charges and conviction are relatively routine and that the Biden-Ukraine conspiracy to which conservatives clutch so tightly was found to have been totally made up by a former FBI informant with reported ties to Russian intelligence.

Republicans Are Completely Fed Up With Marjorie Taylor Greene

Republicans can’t figure out how to control MTG and her constant antics.

Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks and gestures with her hand as reporters surround her
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has pushed Republican leadership to their wits’ end.

After she remained loyal to Representative Kevin McCarthy during his nine-month tenure as speaker of the House, her disruptive, attention-seeking actions and outbursts under Speaker Mike Johnson have led to some of her Republican colleagues calling for her to face consequences, according to a new CNN report.

“This is supposed to be a collaborative body, at least within your own conference, and she doesn’t play nice in the sandbox,” Republican Representative Carlos Giménez told CNN.

“She is not part of any group,” another unnamed Republican lawmaker said. “She’s kind of an island unto herself.”

“(McCarthy) kept her in Bubble Wrap,” said yet another anonymous Republican lawmaker.

In the past two weeks, Greene has continued to push for a long-shot impeachment vote against President Joe Biden and has also called for Johnson to push for a government shutdown instead of funding the Department of Justice, both of which are opposed by much of the Republican caucus. Prior to that, Greene led a failed effort to oust Johnson over aid for Ukraine in its fight against a Russian invasion.

Greene derailed the House Oversight Committee in May, when she insulted Democratic Representative Jasmine Crockett’s appearance in a hearing about holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress, which many Republicans were pushing for. When Democrats asked her to apologize, she adamantly refused.

“There’s no f**king way I’m doing that. I won’t apologize. And I’m not leaving,” Greene said to committee Chair James Comer, a fellow Republican, she told CNN. “I don’t care what happens in this committee room—I will not leave.”

Greene has already been kicked out of the far-right House Freedom Caucus for feuding with other members and is campaigning against its head, Representative Bob Good. She has a long-standing beef with fellow far-right Representative Lauren Boebert and recently called the Republican Party “feckless and useless,” saying its members “have their head up their ass.”

Still, House Republicans fear the Georgia representative, according to CNN.

“They are over her, but they still fear her, because she has an incredible audience and fundraising mechanism and could turn that against you,” one GOP lawmaker said.

Nancy Mace Is Pulling Off Another House Scam—Literally

The representative has listed her D.C. house, for which she allegedly fraudulently collected congressional reimbursement money, on a short-term rental site.

Nancy Mace looks at her phone as she walks
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Representative Nancy Mace appears to have been double-dipping in her Washington, D.C., housing scam.

The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into the South Carolina Republican’s use of a congressional reimbursement program after former staffers accused Mace of “secretly fleecing taxpayers” to the tune of $12,000.

Mace had, on several occasions, requested reimbursements of more than $3,000 at a time to cover costs associated with her $1.6 million townhouse—nearly double what her team had calculated she was eligible for.

But all the while, that property was simultaneously being leased out as a short-term rental on VRBO, an online vacation rental marketplace, according to pictures obtained by the Daily Mail.

Screenshot of a Google search result

The listing describes the large redbrick home as having three bedrooms (one king, one queen, and one room with two twin beds) and being good for events with 10 to 24 guests, noting that it is “perfectly situated a block from the Capitol. Perfect for short events where proximity to the capitol is ideal.” Pictures of the entry depict the house with two flags hanging to the sides of the front door: an American flag and the flag of South Carolina. The ad also lists the property owner as “Ruth M.” Ruth is Mace’s middle name.

“Representative Mace has violated House Ethics Rules by repeatedly seeking reimbursement for lodging in excess of the actual monthly expense of maintaining her co-owned townhouse in  Washington, D.C., resulting in a misuse of taxpayer funds for purposes unrelated to her official duties,” read an ethics complaint filed against the congresswoman last week.

Mace’s requests plainly violated two key rules of a congressional reimbursement program, according to the complaint: Lawmakers cannot be repaid for interest or principal on their mortgage payments, and they cannot ask to be repaid for more than their actual expenses.

Mace has repeatedly blamed her staff for her inaccurate financial reports—but that’s just one jagged element of working for the South Carolinian, whom former employees have described as fostering a “toxic” work environment. By February, every member of Mace’s staff had turned over since November 1, 2023, including deputy chief of staff Richard Chalkey, legislative director Randal Meyer, communications director Will Hampson, a financial adviser, a staff assistant, two legislative assistants, and her military legislative assistant. In fact, her former chief of staff is running against her in the South Carolina Republican primary.

Republican Rep. Displays Utter Lack of Logic Over Hunter Biden Verdict

Thomas Massie tried to square his love of guns with his hatred for the Biden family.

Thomas Massie looks up
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

For Republicans who oppose putting restrictions on purchasing firearms, resisting the urge to  cheerlead Hunter Biden’s guilty verdict in his gun trial might present a real-head scratcher. Just look at Representative Thomas Massie.

“Hunter might deserve to be in jail for something, but purchasing a gun is not it,” Massie wrote on X. “There are millions of marijuana users who own guns in this country, and none of them should be in jail for purchasing or possessing a firearm against current laws.”

The Kentucky Republican’s position, as confusing as it may appear, should come as no surprise. Between 2012 and 2023, political action committees for gun rights gave $42,500 to Massie, according to the Lexington Herald Leader

In 2021, Massie posted an image of his family’s Christmas card photo, which showed each member of his family holding a firearm. In total, the seven guns were estimated to cost between $20,000 to $190,000, according to Forbes

“Merry Christmas,” Massie captioned the picture. “P.S. Santa, please bring ammo.” 

Massie’s mind-bending statement also drove in another Republican trope: an insistence that the Biden family is guilty, but of what crime, they’re not quite sure

Read about other responses to the verdict: