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78 Percent of George Santos’s Voters Want Him To Resign

An overwhelming majority of Republicans in his district want him gone too.

George Santos walks outside as reporters surround him. He looks directly at a camera phone pointed at him.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Amid a continual stream of reports revealing how George Santos has lied about most, if not all, of his past, an overwhelming majority of his voters want him to resign.

Voters in New York’s 3rd congressional district want Santos to resign, at a margin of 78–13 percent, according to a Newsday/Siena College poll. That includes 89 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents, and even 71 percent of Republicans. Eighty-three percent of his constituents view him unfavorably.

The poll, released Tuesday, also showed a 2-to-1 margin of voters who say they voted for Santos now saying they would not have voted for him, had they known what they now know about the endlessly lying congressman.

What’s more, 71 percent of respondents said it was wrong for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to have seated Santos on two congressional committees; on Tuesday, Santos told his Republican colleagues he will temporarily recuse himself from serving on those committees while he remains under numerous investigations.

Santos insisted the recusal was his own decision, and also had little to say about the Siena poll showing his district’s voters overwhelmingly wanting him to resign:

While some Republican officials have called for Santos to resign, that momentary movement has trickled away. But in the meantime, this poll, coupled with Santos’s (voluntary or not) recusal, shows he’s not all in the clear yet.

At the same time, while Santos may face public pressure or moral quandaries (if those affect him), the basic political reality is that, unless Santos is forced out by the magnitude of something like an incriminating investigation, the narrow GOP House majority will want to hold on to Santos as long as they can.

Matt Gaetz Confronted With Video Receipts That He Sought a Pardon From Trump

The Florida representative denied the reports, despite under-oath testimonies.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

At least three people have testified under oath saying Representative Matt Gaetz asked former President Donald Trump for a preemptive presidential pardon regarding a Justice Department investigation into whether the Florida congressman had violated federal sex trafficking laws. Now Gaetz is saying all of those testimonies, provided under risk of perjury, are lies.

On Ari Melber’s MSNBC program Monday, Gaetz repeatedly denied asking for a pardon.

Melber showed Gaetz footage of former Trump officials who testified to the House select committee investigating January 6 that Gaetz had indeed asked Trump for a pardon.

John McEntee, who served as director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office in the Trump administration, also said Gaetz sought a pardon relating to the Justice Department investigation.

McEntee told the committee that Gaetz allegedly said “he did not do anything wrong but they are trying to make his life hell, and you know, if the president could give him a pardon, that would be great.” McEntee also recalled Gaetz saying he had asked Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows for a pardon.

Gaetz told Melber that he shared many conversations with McEntee “about pardons for other folks and different groups of people.”

Former Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson similarly told the committee that Gaetz “was personally pushing for a pardon.” She testified that “Mr. Gaetz had reached out to me to ask if he could have a meeting with Mr. Meadows about receiving a presidential pardon.” Hutchinson had also listed several other members, including Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, and Scott Perry, who had all asked for pardons.

Gaetz told Melber that Hutchinson is “a known liar,” without specifying when exactly she has lied.

Former Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann also said Gaetz sought a pardon. “The general tone was we may get prosecuted because we were defensive of the president’s positions on these things. The pardon that he was discussing, requesting, was as broad as you could describe,” Herschmann said. “I remember he said, from the beginning of time up until today for any and all things.”

“I do not remember it the same way Eric Hershmann does,” Gaetz said. “I did have conversations with [him] about groups of people that could potentially receive pardons, even including some of the people who may have committed a technical violation of federal law but weren’t engaged in violence on January 6.”

“Was I asking something specifically for me and only me under those circumstances, the answer would be no,” Gaetz told Melber, with careful word choice.

Gaetz’s associate Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector, pleaded guilty to federal charges including a count of sex trafficking a child. No charges have been filed against Gaetz, however, and he has denied any involvement in the sex trafficking allegations.

George Santos Says He’s Stepping Down From House Committees Until Ethics Issues Are Resolved

The New York representative, who has admitted to lying about his background, says that he will temporarily recuse himself from his committee assignments.

George Santos
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Embattled congressman and serial fabulist George Santos told his House Republican colleagues Tuesday that he would temporarily recuse himself from his committee assignments, amid ongoing investigations into his past behavior.

Santos was assigned seats on the Small Business Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

A spokesperson for Santos has confirmed the news. “He has reserved to see it until he has been cleared up both campaign and personal financial investigations,” the spokesperson said.

Other Republican House members have also confirmed the news. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene told CNN the decision was Santos’s own: “He just felt like there was so much drama really over the situation, and especially what we’re doing to work to remove Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.”

Santos, who appears to have fabricated the bulk of his background, is the target of multiple ethics probes and criminal investigations. Democrats and Republicans alike have called for him to resign. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who needs all the votes he can get as his party holds a razor-thin majority, refused to penalize Santos for his lies and instead seated him on two committees.

Santos has repeatedly insisted he has done “nothing wrong,” but said Tuesday in closed-door meetings that he would not sit on the committees.

The freshman congressman’s falsehoods range from bizarre—he says he was a volleyball star at Baruch College, which has no record of him attending—to unethical, including that his grandparents fled the Holocaust, his mother died in the 9/11 attacks, and some of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Santos is facing multiple ethics complaints with the House Ethics Committee and the Federal Election Commission. He is also under criminal investigation in Brazil for fraud and at the New York state and county levels into his background and finances.

A recent report by Mother Jones found that many of the donors listed on Santos’s campaign finances reports do not seem to exist.

Santos could even face a Department of Justice investigation into his financial issues, including his dramatic increase in reported wealth and income, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars he loaned his campaigns from personal accounts, a potential violation of campaign finance law.

Santos has remained mum about the issues plaguing him, though, giving evasive responses to the more out-there accusations but refusing to address his professional background, his finances, or his apparently nonexistent animal charity.

GOP State Lawmakers Are Pushing a Slew of Dangerous Anti-Trans Bills This Week

The bills attack everything from gender-affirming care to birth certificates to trans kids in school.

A protester holds a trans flag and raises their left hand in the sky.

A slew of bills attacking transgender and LGBTQ rights will go up for debate across the United States this week.

State governments in Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia will hold hearings on bills covering everything from gender-affirming care to bans on drag performances.

Some of the bills will prevent trans people from changing their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity or will set a legal definition of gender that excludes them. In Iowa, the House Education Committee will discuss a bill that would require teachers to out transgender students.

Bills in Virginia, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Tennessee ban gender-affirming care for anyone under the age 18 and prohibit the use of public funds such as Medicaid for gender-affirming care for people over 18.

Proponents of anti-trans legislation argue they are trying to protect children. But as critics point out, it’s not about the kids—it’s about stopping anyone from transitioning. And if anything, bills such as these could make life more dangerous for young queer people, as protests against drag shows and even children’s hospitals have escalated.

“State lawmakers pushing anti-LGBTQ+ bills and spewing dangerous rhetoric towards our community has led to more stigma, discrimination, and ultimately, deadly violence—particularly against the transgender community,” Sarah Warbelow, the legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, told Salon.

Republicans have made it very clear that they are targeting women and gender minorities. The raft of cruel legislation comes just days after a Florida panel recommended requiring student athletes to give their menstrual history to their school. Meanwhile, on a national level, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives included transphobic policy items in the new rules package.

Florida Republicans Push to Let People Carry Guns Without a Permit

A new bill would allow people to carry concealed loaded guns without any permits.

A man has a gun in the holster on his hap. His hands are on the gun as his shirt is tucked up.
George Frey/Getty Images

In Florida, just weeks before the anniversary of the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Republicans are pushing to allow people to carry concealed loaded guns without any permits.

Republicans hold supermajorities in both state chambers. The bill, filed Monday by State Representative Chuck Brannon, has a clear path of passage, especially under the wing of Governor Ron DeSantis, who had promised to pass such a bill. Just hours after the bill was filed, a mass shooting in Lakeland, Florida, left 10 people injured.

Meanwhile, though Florida is dominated by Republicans in office, voters seem less enthused by such a proposition. A poll conducted by the Global Strategy Group in December showed that 68 percent of voters in Miami-Dade oppose permitless carry—this includes 65 percent of registered Republicans and 60 percent of voters who said they voted for DeSantis in November.

Once voters were told explicitly that the bill would allow anyone who can purchase a gun to carry it in public, opposition grew by 12, to 80 percent—with 81 percent of Hispanics and 69 percent of DeSantis voters being opposed to such a policy. Moreover, more voters were found to attribute crime to lax gun laws than to lack of police funding.

Another poll conducted last September showed similar results, with 61 percent of Floridian voters opposed to permitless carry, including 71 percent of Hispanics.

Republicans, however, no strangers to proceeding with dangerous and unpopular policies, look poised to steamroll ahead. Along with DeSantis, the bill is endorsed by House Speaker Paul Renner, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, the Florida Sheriffs Association, and of course, the NRA.

If the bill passes, Florida would become the twenty-sixth state to allow permitless concealed carry. This, as the country continues to be plagued by deadly mass shootings. A recent analysis found that states that pass a permitless carry law suffer from a 22 percent increase in gun homicide for the three years following the law’s passage. While states could be responding to the crisis of gun violence in this country, especially after another string of mass shootings this month, Florida instead looks poised to loosen restrictions even further—against the will of its voters, and threatening their lives too.

This post has been updated.

Trump Sues Journalist Bob Woodward for Making an Audiobook of Multiple Interviews He Agreed To

Donald Trump is seeking nearly $50 million in damages over the audiobook of his interviews, which Woodward says were voluntary and on the record.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Donald Trump sued Bob Woodward Monday for using recordings of interviews they did to make an audiobook, claiming he only gave the journalist permission to use them for a book.

Woodward interviewed Trump for hours over the course of 19 interviews in 2016, December 2019, and August 2020. The recordings became the basis for Woodward’s 2020 book Rage, which was about the Trump presidency. About two years later, publisher Simon & Schuster released the recordings as an audiobook, The Trump Tapes.

The lawsuit, first reported by Bloomberg, focuses on Woodward’s alleged “usurpation, manipulation, and exploitation” of the material, according to court documents filed Monday.

“Defendants have converted the audio not only into an audiobook but also into derivative works, including a CD, paperback, and e-book—again, all at the expense of President Trump and without accounting to him,” the lawsuit says.

Trump is seeking nearly $50 million in damages from Woodward, Simon & Schuster, and the publisher’s parent company for alleged violation of his copyright interests, arguing that he never gave permission for the recordings to be made public.

Trump criticized Woodward right after the audiobook was released, insisting on Truth Social that he allowed the interviews to be recorded “only for the purposes of making sure that he got my quotes & statements correct for ‘the WRITTEN WORD.’”

Trump also claimed The Trump Tapes was “highly inaccurate” and edited to make him look “as bad as possible.”

Woodward, however, told CNN that the recordings were “done voluntarily” and “all on the record”—meaning, agreeing “for people to report and repeat what you are saying.”

Trump has a history of suing news outlets and people who do or say things he doesn’t like. He has filed libel suits against The Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN, the latter two of which have been tossed out of court.

Last week, he dropped a lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James, who had sued his Trump Organization for fraud. Less than a week before, Trump was hit with about $1 million in sanctions for what a Florida judge slammed as a “completely frivolous, both factually and legally, lawsuit against Hillary Clinton.”

CNN Welcomes Bill Maher, Who Once Used a Racial Slur on Air, to Its Lineup

If CNN wanted to dip its toe into comedy, Bill Maher wasn’t the only option.

Matt Winkelmeyer/VF20/WireImage

When Chris Licht took over CNN last year, he told employees he sought to make CNN “an organization that exemplifies the best characteristics in journalism,” pillaring values like “fearlessly speaking truth to power” and “educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary.” Seeming to forget all of that, CNN will now be hosting Bill Maher’s late night HBO segment, Overtime, every Friday night, beginning this week. Falling short of some of these pillars, Maher comes with a spanning history of issues.

In 2017, Senator Ben Sasse appeared on Maher’s show, where he invited the host to “come work in the fields with us” in his home state.

“Work in the fields?” Maher replied. “Senator, I’m a house n*****.” Sasse and the audience awkwardly laugh (Maher later apologized for using the word).

Maher once questioned where Zayn Malik, the Pakistani-British member of One Direction, was during the Boston bombing and has described Muslims as dangerous and anti-American. He once said, “What if during Black History Month, we all bought lobster with food stamps? What if for Cinco de Mayo we all went swimming in blue jeans?” Maher also hosted alt-right commentator and alleged pedophilic advocate Milo Yiannopoulous. 

Maher hosted anti-vaxxer Jay Gordon, giving the “doctor” open and unopposed headway to peddle anti-vaccine talking points. He also praised Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for being a “voracious consumer of the scientific literature” on Covid-19. Maher said DeSantis “protected his most vulnerable population, the elderly, way better than did the governor of New York.” As of January 30, Florida’s seven-day average of Covid deaths stands at 53.6 deaths; New York’s is 32.3.

Maher appeared on Chris Cuomo’s show to talk about the need for “an honest history of racism,” only to then use right-wing terms to denounce “critical race theory,” manufacturing a nonexistent conflict between the two ideas.

To be fair, Maher has hosted people from across the political spectrum for years: from Cornel West and Ann Coulter to Andrew Yang and Barbara Lee. Maher, and his guests, may not fit in one particular ideological box, and some use that as evidence of Maher’s independence. After all, though espousing some culturally conservative and simply problematic stances, Maher has also earned favor with different factions of the left. Liberals may support him for his general anti-Trump stances; progressives may find appreciation in his endorsing Medicare for All and marijuana legalization or platforming people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

But Maher isn’t unique; millions of people have complicated and cross-ideological views. And if someone peddles baseless conspiracy or dehumanizes (or gives permission for others to dehumanize) entire groups of people, there’s no need to pay them to lead your network’s expansion. Even if CNN wanted to expand into comedy, and wanted a charismatic host who can roll with wherever punches may come, it’s not as if Maher was their only option.

A White Officer Involved in Tyre Nichols’s Death Has Been Put on Administrative Leave

Preston Hemphill is the sixth officer implicated in Nichols’s death. The five others, all Black men, were charged with second-degree murder.

A Black protester holds a sign reading, "What about the other officers?"
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Demonstrators march through downtown protesting the death of Tyre Nichols, on January 28, in Memphis, Tennessee.

A white officer present during Tyre Nichols’ brutal beating at the hands of Memphis police was put on administrative leave, Memphis Police confirmed Monday.

The Tennessee city is reeling over the fatal beating of Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man. The Memphis Police Department released the body camera footage of the tragedy on Friday, showing multiple officers were involved in his death.

Preston Hemphill is the sixth officer implicated in Nichols’s death, but the first white one. Memphis P.D. would not say how he was involved, local news outlets reported. Hemphill was hired in 2018, according to the department.

Administrative leave is when an employee “is asked to remain at home during regular work hours but continues to receive regular pay and benefits,” according to the University of Washington.

Five other officers were fired over Nichols’s death and charged with second-degree murder. All five men were Black.

Social media was already in uproar over Hemphill’s involvement after Amber Sherman, a Memphis-based policy analyst and activist, identified him as the officer who tased Nichols.

Sherman told The New Republic that the police affidavit for Nichols’ death was posted on Facebook. She already had the names of the officers in the Scorpion (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) unit, the armed unit that stopped Nichols, from research she was doing with a local nonprofit.

I looked up the individual named person that had not already been charged and found their mom’s Facebook page. In a picture she posted, he was wearing the same Apple Watch and green band and that’s how I confirmed his identity as Preston Hemphill,” Sherman told TNR.

A local news channel reported Monday it had also identified Hemphill as the officer who tased Nichols. Sherman’s finding was picked up by The Tennessee Holler, an independent news organization that said Hemphill was also the officer who said, “I hope they stomp his ass” of Nichols.

Many Twitter users demanded to know why Hemphill was not also fired or charged for Nichols’s death.

This post has been updated.

RNC Directs Party To “Go on Offense” on Abortion, Supports Six-Week Bans

The Republican National Committee passed a resolution urging lawmakers to pass extreme anti-abortion legislation, like six-week abortion bans.

Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg/Getty Images

After reelecting Ronna McDaniel as its leader, the Republican National Committee has passed an anti-choice resolution instructing the party to “go on offense” against abortion rights and pass legislation including six-week bans.

In the resolution passed Monday, the RNC pushes the party apparatus—candidates, consultants, and committees—to “go on offense in the 2024 election cycle,” with regard to abortion. It further urges Republicans in state legislatures and Congress to pass the “strongest” anti-choice legislation possible, using language previously used to justify so-called “heartbeat” bills that would ban abortions at six weeks, before many even know they are pregnant.

By passing such a resolution, the RNC is both directing the party to pursue extreme legislation that would strip away significant bodily autonomy from women and gender minorities, and doubling down on a radical strategy that helped the party’s projected midterm red wave fizzle away.

In the lead-up to the midterms, Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a nationwide ban on abortion after 15 weeks, seeking to present a “reasonable” abortion talking point for the party. Some Republicans took issue with the introduction, worrying, perhaps correctly, that any nationwide ban would give Democrats ample ammo to hammer away on. But the new RNC resolution makes clear that the party apparatus has wanted such a ban, only preferably more extreme.

Neither here nor there, the resolution also farcically cites the party’s “proud heritage of challenging slavery, segregation” as a complement to their anti-choice resolution. The former, of course, has little to do with the latter and is an effort today’s Republican Party would be hard-pressed to support, given they don’t even want kids to learn about slavery, segregation, or race generally.

“I’m Just Trying to Get Home”: Memphis Police Release Videos of Fatal Beating of Tyre Nichols

The city of Memphis police released four videos of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols.

RowVaugn Wells has her head in her hands, covering her face with a tissue.
Brandon Dill for The Washington Post/Getty Images
RowVaugn Wells at a press conference at Mount Olive Cathedral CME Church after she viewed footage of the police beating that led to the death of her son Tyre Nichols, in Memphis on January 23. She is flanked by, from left, attorney Antonio Romanucci, husband Rodney Wells, and attorney Ben Crump.

Memphis police released video footage of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols right around 7 p.m. E.T. Friday night. The videos showed not just the brutal beating death of Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, but an inexplicable series of events leading up to the beating in which many officers—more than the five who were charged—were on the scene yet no one seemed to be in charge as many minutes passed, and officers stood passively by for around 25 minutes as a dying man lay on the street before them, seemingly doing nothing.

The videos were released in four sections. The first three are from officer body cams, and the last is a Police Department camera positioned on a light pole at the intersection where Nichols was left for dead by police,* just minutes away from home. The fourth video showed the repeated kicks, punches, and baton lashings that took Nichols’s life.

The videos will surely raise dozens of questions about the incident and about the MPD officers’ handling of it. The first video shows Nichols being stopped, although it isn’t clear why he was pulled over. Nichols asks why he was stopped, but there is no apparent answer (large chunks of the video are either silent or unintelligible). Nichols is heard saying, “Damn! I didn’t do anything!” and, later, as the cops tell him to get on the ground, “I am on the ground!” Nichols also says, “You guys are trying to do a lot right now. I’m just trying to get home.”

Toward the end of the first video, he flees down a street identified in the crosstalk as Ross Street, and reinforcements are called. “I hope they stomp his ass,” one cop says of the others giving chase.

In the second video, Nichols is found down the street. He is wrestled to the ground, and pepper spray is administered. Nichols is screaming for his mother. In the third, a large number of officers, eight or 10, are surrounding Nichols, who is lying on the street handcuffed with his back propped up against a patrol car. He is kicked and punched. Many minutes pass. Finally, paramedics arrive, but they do not take him away.

It’s the fourth video that shows the brutal violence, and the police leaving Nichols to lie there. There is no sound with this video, unlike the other three. Two officers are holding him down. One administers several fierce kicks, some to the head. Another punches him. Another uses his baton. Within five minutes, Nichols lies on the ground, motionless. For several more minutes, three or four officers surround Nichols, just watching.

On CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta expressed shock that no one offered Nichols care and said it was likely given the blows that Nichols’s brain was severely damaged and swollen and he needed immediate care. But at least five officers are standing around. Doing nothing. For several minutes.

Bottom line: The violence is shocking. But every bit as shocking: the officers’ nonchalance at the death happening in their midst, the death they caused (he died three days later in the hospital). Even cops who shoot an assailant call 911 immediately. The fourth video shows Nichols’s body going apparently lifeless and 26 minutes passing before a stretcher arrives. There is no urgency; one officer, who had kicked Nichols, limps down the street, walking it off.

* This post has been updated to clarify the timeline of Nichols’s death.