Skip Navigation
Breaking News

The Ticker

Breaking news from Washington and beyond

Illustration by Dave Murray

Of Course Elon Musk Is Being Sued for the Way He’s Mass Firing Twitter Employees

What did the "Chief Twit" think was going to happen?

Elon Musk laughing and holding a mic
CARINA JOHANSEN/NTB/AFP via Getty Images

Just when he thought he’d escaped one Twitter-related lawsuit by buying the platform, Elon Musk finds himself at the center of another.

A group of former and current Twitter employees filed suit against the company Thursday night, alleging that they were not provided enough notice of their layoffs, in violation of both federal and California state law.

In the suit, the group said that one member was fired effective immediately, instead of receiving the required 60-days notice. Three others were locked out of their Twitter accounts before they had been formally notified of a layoff or given advance notice.

The billionaire, who definitely bought Twitter because he “loves humanity,” clearly thought he was above the federal law prohibiting mass layoffs without at least 60 days advance notice. His week-long reign has been nothing short of shambolic.

Musk bought Twitter last Friday for $44 billion, after a court ordered him to complete the deal when he tried to back out of it. He promptly fired most of the top executives and the entire board of directors.

He also announced plans to lay off about 3,700 people, roughly half of the company’s staff. Many employees are not told of his decisions directly and instead have to follow him on Twitter to see what’s going to happen next.

Twitter gets 90 percent of its revenue from advertising, but since Musk took over, advertisers have been fleeing Twitter in droves. General Motors has suspended ads on the platform. Earlier this week, advertising behemoth IPG recommended its clients—which include Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Spotify—do the same.

Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists,” Musk tweeted Friday morning. “Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”

Musk has been scrambling to come up with new ways to produce revenue, including a plan to charge verified accounts $8 per month that has been widely met with scathing criticism, including from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Lmao at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that ‘free speech’ is actually a $8/mo subscription plan,” she tweeted Tuesday.

Kyrie Irving’s Week-Long Journey Towards (Sort-of) Apologizing

After the Nets suspended Irving for five games, Irving has finally kind of apologized.

Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

All it took for Kyrie Irving to say the words “I apologize” was a five-game suspension.

Last week, the NBA and Brooklyn Nets star posted a tweet and an Instagram story boosting Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, a movie based on a book of the same name.

The film, filled with antisemetic tropes, depicts a global Satanic conspiracy. It invites viewers to “find out what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have covered up for centuries.” Among other things, the film promotes antisemitic tropes of Jewish power and greed and calls the death toll of the Holocaust one of “five major falsehoods.”

Two days later, Irving pushed back against public backlash, saying he was an “omnist”—someone who respects all religions.

Irving was later confronted by ESPN reporter Nick Friedell about Irving’s promotion of the film. “Stop calling it promotion,” Irving said, accusing the reporter of “dehumanizing” him. “I put it out there, just like you put stuff out there,” Irving said.

By Tuesday, Irving was not made available to the media. “We don’t want to cause more fuss right now…Let’s let him simmer down,” said Nets general manager Sean Marks. The following day, Irving, the Nets, and the Anti-Defamation League released a joint statement saying Irving and the Nets would each donate $500,000 towards organizations working “to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities.”

On Thursday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who is Jewish, expressed disappointment that Irving hadn’t offered “an unqualified apology.” That afternoon, Irving conceded the film “may have had some falsehoods in it,” but stopped short of a straightforward apology. “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” he said.

That evening, the Nets suspended Irving for a minimum of five games. “Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing…Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets,” the team wrote.

On Thursday evening, Irving published an apology on Instagram, writing “To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize:”

Still, the apology was strange, as Irving referred to himself as a “seeker of truth and knowledge” and he apologized for “posting the documentary without context.” 

In some ways, Kyrie has actually embodied “free thinking” in speaking out on behalf of Palestinians, Indigenous peoples, and even animal rights. But his conspiratorial promotion—from his anti-vaccine stance to dangerous antisemitic content—will stain his legacy.

Trump’s Deadline To Hand Over Subpoenaed Documents to the January 6 Committee Is Here

It's still unclear if the former president will comply with the deadline.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

It’s the deadline for former President Donald Trump to turn a slew of subpoenaed documents over to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, but there’s no word on whether he’ll actually comply.

The committee had given Trump until Friday to hand over electronic messages, call logs, photos, videos, and even handwritten notes going back as far as September 2020.

It’s unclear whether Trump will meet the deadline, although committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney has said that the investigators are in contact with his legal team.

This is not a situation where the committee is going to put itself at the mercy of Donald Trump in terms of his efforts to create a circus,” she told PBS reporter Judy Woodruff on Tuesday during an event at Cleveland State University.

“He has a legal obligation to testify, but that doesn’t always carry weight with Donald Trump,” Cheney noted.

In the subpoena, issued on October 21, the committee asked for call logs, text and encrypted message records, photos, videos, and any notes about those conversations. In particular, the panel requested any conversations with the extremist groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers that may have taken place since September 2020.

The committee also requested communications with former Trump advisors Roger Stone, Stephen Bannon, and Michael Flynn, as well as lawyers John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani.

It is unclear what the panel will do if Trump does not comply—Cheney declined to say—but Bannon was recently sentenced to four months in prison for failing to comply with another of the committee’s subpoenas.

In addition to the House committee, Trump is under fire on multiple fronts, facing two lawsuits in New York, where he has been charged with business fraud and his organization accused of tax fraud. The FBI is also investigating his storing sensitive government documents at Mar-a-Lago after leaving office.

He spent Friday morning trashing the New York attorney general Letitia James, as well as presiding Judge Arthur Engoron, who on Thursday ruled that given the “persistent misrepresentations throughout every one of Mr. Trump’s [financial statements] between 2011 and 2021, the Court finds that the appointment of an independent monitor is the most prudent and narrowly tailored mechanism to ensure there is no further fraud or illegality.”

“The New York State Court System is being ridiculed all over the World!” Trump said on his Truth Social platform. “You have a Corrupt, Racist, Weak on Crime Attorney General.”

“Then you have a highly political, biased Judge, who is totally controlled by my worst enemies. His rulings and manner are SICK.”

Why Did Rihanna Invite Johnny Depp to the Fenty Show?

Rihanna and her team specifically invited him to take part, according to reports.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

For reasons clear to absolutely no one, Johnny Depp will feature in the next fashion show for Rihanna’s lingerie line Savage X Fenty.

But the news conveniently comes a day after Depp and his legal team appealed a $2-million verdict awarded to his ex-wife Amber Heard in their blockbuster defamation trial in the spring.

Depp will appear in the November 9 Fenty show in a pre-recorded video cameo, TMZ reported. Rihanna and her team specifically invited him to take part, according to the outlet.

In the past, Fenty has been praised for its inclusive sizing and its hiring of models with a diverse array of body types, genders, and ethnicities. But fans are not pleased with the Depp decision and are calling Rihanna out of touch.

On Wednesday, Depp’s legal team filed paperwork appealing a jury’s decision to side with Heard on one of her counterclaims in their defamation lawsuit.

The lawsuit was over a 2018 op-ed Heard published in The Washington Post saying she had been in an abusive relationship. She did not mention Depp by name, but he sued her for defaming him in the piece, as well as in a separate headline and two other statements she had made.

Heard countersued him for saying her claims were “a hoax” and charged that his former lawyer Alex Waldman had defamed her in comments to the Daily Mail.

A jury in Fairfax, Virginia decided in April that Heard had defamed Depp, and he walked away with a whopping $10 million. But the jury also found that Waldman had defamed Heard and awarded her $2 million.

Many domestic abuse victims’ advocates said at the time that the ruling was a backlash against the #MeToo movement and would make it much harder for other abuse victims to come forward.

Depp has now appealed the jury’s decision in Heard’s favor, saying he was not responsible for Waldman’s comments.

Regardless, the main question when it comes to his Fenty appearance is: Huh?

Report: 96 Percent of U.S. Coal Plants Have No Plans to Clean Up Groundwater They Contaminated

Coal plants have gotten away with contaminating our water for years.

Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Seven years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its coal ash rule, ordering power plants to clean up toxic coal ash waste dumps. But three presidential administrations later, just one out of 292 plants evaluated by researchers has planned a comprehensive cleanup. Ninety-six percent of all plants evaluated have proposed no groundwater treatment at all.

These toxic sites host arsenic, lead, mercury, and other toxic metals—all of which seep into groundwater and thus the water we drink. Seventy percent of these waste ponds threaten lower income neighborhoods and communities of color.

These findings were published in a report by the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice, revealing that coal-fired plants across the country have gotten away with data manipulation, lax environmental safety measures, and delayed clean-ups (not including the baseline carbon emissions they have spewed into the atmosphere for years).

It’s not just a lack of planning that has kept coal plants from cleaning up their mess. The report found nearly half the contaminating plants had owners refusing to take any cleanup action, and many even denying responsibility. Other plants have taken some action, simply agreeing that action is needed and—if we are so lucky—providing a list of possible solutions they could pursue someday. But owners have delayed actually executing solutions for years.

In January, the EPA began following up with plants that requested more time and others that have not complied. But enforcement is limited; much of the follow-up has been limited to notifying plants about their obligations to comply with regulations.

Though coal is on the decline in the U.S., it still generated about 22 percent of the nation’s electricity last year—roughly the same amount of all renewables. While renewable energy generation must overtake fossil fuel sources (by existential necessity), the report serves as a reminder that it isn’t enough to stop fossil fuel generation—the waste it leaves behind must be accounted for.

Read more at Environmental Integrity Project.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Suddenly Having Problems With Twitter After Fighting Elon

The New York representative said she is having problems with her Twitter account after criticizing Musk's subscription plan idea.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is in a Twitter feud with the platform’s new owner Elon Musk, accusing him Thursday of blocking her from viewing her own notifications.

Ocasio-Cortez, popularly known as AOC, has been hitting out at Musk since Tuesday over his plan to charge verified Twitter users $8 a month.

At first, Musk only responded to those criticisms by highlighting that AOC’s campaign sweatshirts cost $58, which the congresswoman said was because the workers who make them are paid a living wage.

But soon after, AOC tweeted that her notifications and mentions—where users can see who has tagged them in posts—were not working.

She posted a screenshot of her mentions tab, which was empty. “This is what my app has looked like ever since my tweet upset you yesterday,” she explained. “What’s good? Doesn’t seem very free speechy to me.”

AOC, who has backed multiple pro-worker efforts in Congress, has expressed her displeasure with Musk’s Twitter takeover plans all week.

Lmao at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that “free speech” is actually a $8/mo subscription plan,” she tweeted Tuesday.

She also pushed back on longtime Musk associate David Sacks, who demanded to know why news publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic aren’t free.

“Are you seriously equating an app where people are torrenting racial slurs at an accelerated clip with the New York Times,” AOC responded with a cry-laughing emoji.

“Also fyi, legacy newspapers actually care about verifying newsworthy sources. And they don’t charge their journalists/creators for ‘priority’ placement.”

Musk is reportedly planning on laying off about half of Twitter’s entire staff. He has already fired all of the top executives and the board of directors. Meanwhile, multiple companies including Coca-Cola, Spotify, and HBO are considering pulling advertising activity from the platform.

The Tesla founder has been pushing employees to work 24/7 to develop a plan that will produce enough money to keep Twitter going, such as the $8/month scheme.

But experts warn that such a plan could encourage more disinformation and hate speech on the platform, leading more companies to pull their ad dollars.

Trump Closes Out Midterms By Eyeing Impeachment of Mitch McConnell

"It's crazy what's happening with this debt ceiling," said the former president, who raised the debt ceiling three times.

SAUL LOEB,MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Less than a week before the midterms, two former presidents shared their closing messages. Barack Obama spent his Wednesday evening visiting Arizona, rallying for Democrats and speaking to the fragility of democracy. Meanwhile, Thursday morning, Donald Trump suggested that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell should be impeached if he allows the debt ceiling to be raised.

“It’s crazy what’s happening with this debt ceiling. Mitch McConnell keeps allowing it to happen. I mean, they ought to impeach Mitch McConnell if he allows that,” Trump said, responding to a question about Congress potentially eliminating the debt limit. “Frankly, something has to be—they have something on him. How he approves this thing is incredible.”

The comment comes as Democrats seek to eliminate the debt ceiling before Republicans potentially retake congressional majorities. They fear Republicans using the debt limit as an excuse to cut spending on social and economic programs.

The former president, largely taken to be the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination, wants his party to hold strong on a debt limit they themselves raised three times throughout Trump’s presidency. Under Trump, U.S. debt increased by $7 trillion.

But Trump suddenly cares so much about the debt ceiling that he’s willing to call for the impeachment of the Republican Party’s Senate leader.

Members of Congress can’t really be impeached. A 1797 impeachment against Senator William Blount of Tennessee established that members of Congress could not be formally impeached; rather they could only be expelled from office by a two-thirds vote by their respective chambers.

This is not the first time Trump has picked a fight with McConnell. Last month, Trump said McConnell had a “death wish” for supporting Democrat-sponsored legislation, and hurled racist comments at Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife, calling her McConnell’s “China loving wife, Coco Chow!” Trump has also called McConnell “a piece of shit,” and urged Republicans to replace him.

Numerous sitting and potential Republican senators have expressed hesitancy for McConnell to be party leader.

Even if Republicans do gain power this election after such stellar closing arguments, there will be a clash between two camps: McConnell or Trump. The Republicans are in disarray.

Georgia’s Maternal Deaths Will Increase By Nearly One-Third If Abortion Is Banned

The governor's race in Georgia will determine the future for abortion access in the state.

A projection on a building reads "BAN KEMP" and "KEMP WILL BAN ABORTIONS."
Derek White/Getty Images for MoveOn

Maternal mortality in Georgia will increase by nearly a third if the state bans abortion, a new study has found, which it could well do if Brian Kemp is elected governor next week.

A study by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that if abortion is banned in Georgia, maternal mortality will increase 29 percent. If the procedure is banned nationwide, then maternal mortality will rise 24 percent overall.

Maternal mortality among Black people nationwide will skyrocket 39 percent.

The United States already has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, and Georgia has the second-highest rate in the country, of 48.4 deaths out of 100,000 births, according to the World Population Review.

It is second to Louisiana, which has 58.1 deaths out of 100,000 births.

Abortion has become a major issue since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Several states, including California, Michigan, and Vermont, will vote in midterms next week on whether to codify abortion in their state constitutions. Kansas voted over the summer to keep abortion protections in the constitution.

Georgia has enacted one of the strictest abortion laws in the country (short of an outright ban). The procedure is banned after six weeks, before many people know they are pregnant, and there are many restrictions on access before the deadline.

During a recent debate, Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp refused to say whether he’d sign even more restrictions into law if elected.

His opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, was quick to seize on his non-answer: “Let’s be clear, he did not say he wouldn’t,” she warned. “Under this governor, women are in danger.”

Abrams highlighted several of his stances, such as supporting the cruelly restrictive Texas abortion law that offers financial rewards for turning in someone who had an abortion, and signing a law that would allow investigations into pregnant people who miscarried.

“Abortion is a medical choice,” Abrams stressed during the debate. “That is a decision that should be made between a doctor and a woman.”

“There should not be arbitrary timelines set by men who do not understand biology,” she said, adding that 82 of Georgia’s 159 counties do not have an OBGYN.

But as the CU Boulder report shows, the situation in Georgia looks set to get much worse.

Elon Musk’s New Plan for Twitter Is Going So Well He’s Now Firing Half of Its Employees

After floating a subscription plan, and as advertisers consider leaving Twitter, Musk is looking to fire 3,700 workers, according to a new report.

Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Last week, ahead of acquiring Twitter, Elon Musk visited the company headquarters. “Meeting a lot of cool people at Twitter today!,” he tweeted.

Turns out he’s going to fire half of those “cool people.”

Bloomberg reports that Musk plans to lay off about 3,700 people on Friday, in an effort to drive down costs of an acquisition that has placed about $13 billion worth of debt onto the company. The exact number of cut jobs and amount of severance to be offered is still in flux, according to the report—but the 3,700 number would cut the company’s staff in half.

Musk also plans to require all employees to work in person, reversing Twitter’s work-from-anywhere policy instituted amid the pandemic. The billionaire has suggested that people who prefer remote work should “pretend to work somewhere else.”

The news comes after reports that numerous companies—including Coca-Cola, Spotify, and HBO—are considering suspending advertising activity on Twitter, amid concerns that Musk’s “maximalist” approach to free speech may make the platform unsafe. The social media platform nets some 90 percent of its revenue from advertising. General Motors has already suspended its advertising for the time being.

And while Twitter’s primary source of revenue is threatened, Musk has pushed employees to work day and night on a haphazard plan to generate enough money to keep the platform afloat. The largely-formulated-through-tweets plan would charge users $8 a month, so they can receive benefits like account verification and visibility priorities. Such a plan could lead to further issues involving misinformation and hate speech, potentially encouraging more companies to cut advertising.

“The expectation is literally to work 24/7 to get this out,” Musk reportedly said in an internal company message. While employees throw themselves into making Musk’s financially unsound vision become reality, there’s no guarantee they’ll even have their job in the coming days.

The Weirdest, Smallest Counter-Protest Took Place at Biden’s Speech on the Threat to Democracy

Protesters tried to start a chant, but there were only six of them, so it wasn't very loud.

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing activists showed up to protest President Joe Biden’s speech Wednesday night warning that the future of U.S. democracy was at stake in next week’s midterm elections.

But things didn’t quite go to plan: there were only six of them.

Outside of Union Station, six low-energy right-wing activists have gathered to protest Biden‘s speech,” Daily Beast reporter Zachary Petrizzo said on Twitter, alongside a photo of the group.

The protesters had two flags and posters with photos of people who had died during the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

In his speech, Biden slammed “extreme MAGA Republicans” who he said are already trying to undermine the election results. “We can’t take democracy for granted any longer,” he said.

While he spoke, protesters tried to get a chant going, but there weren’t enough of them to make an impact. Later, when Biden left, they missed the motorcade and thus another opportunity to complain that the 2020 election had been stolen or that those arrested for the January 6 insurrection were political prisoners.

One of the oddest details, though, was the people the protesters chose to feature on their signs. The victims included Ashli Babbitt, who was shot dead by Capitol police while trying to enter the building on January 6; and Rosanne Boyland, who appeared to have been trampled to death by the crowd of insurrectionists, but a later medical examination revealed she had died of an amphetamine overdose.

Another poster featured Brian Sicknick, a Capitol police officer who was violently assaulted by rioters on January 6. He suffered two strokes the next day and died.

His mother, Gladys Sicknick, is actively campaigning against election deniers running for office. In a recent ad targeting Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Sicknick charges that “my son died because of people like Kari Lake.”

Lake “is very dangerous for our country. She saw what happened on January 6 and continues to spread the big lie,” Sicknick says in the ad.

Former Capitol police officer Michael Fanone, who was also brutally attacked on January 6, praised the ad.

Gladys Sicknick is “out there, I think trying to do what all of us are trying to do here, which is bring accountability for January 6,” he told MSNBC. “And, you know, I also support the fact that Kari Lake’s a piece of shit.”