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Donald Trump Has a Long, Long History of Not Picking Up the Check

The former president loves leaving promises unfulfilled and bills unpaid.

Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
Donald Trump greeting supporters at Versailles, a popular Miami café.

Donald Trump has a long history of failing to deliver on promises, and not just when it comes to politics: The man seems incapable of picking up the tab.

After pleading not guilty to 37 criminal charges for mishandling classified documents, Trump stopped at the popular Miami restaurant Versailles to meet with supporters. During his visit, he could be heard shouting, “Food for everyone!” But he left after just 10 minutes—not long enough for anyone to order anything—without paying a single bill, the Miami New Times reported.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that Trump was just a little pressed. He was just arrested for federal crimes! He might need some alone time to decompress.


Trump is notorious for leaving a trail of unpaid bills wherever he goes. Hundreds of people have accused him of failing to pay them for services, ranging from a glass company in New Jersey to workers at his resorts, real estate brokers, and even law firms who represented him in suits for unpaid bills.

In his 2004 book Trump: Think Like a Billionaire, the former president instructed readers to “always question invoices.” But it sounds like his personal approach is more “Just ignore invoices.” He has been sued for failing to pay dozens of vendors who have worked his resort properties as well as his now-defunct, fraudulent university.

And this penny-pinching didn’t start when he became a businessman. Artist and designer Lucy Klebanow recounted a date she had with Trump in the early 1970s. In a 2016 essay for Salon, Klebanow said Trump took her out to an expensive restaurant but didn’t have cash to pay the bill. He promised to pay her back—but never did.

And it looks like the apple didn’t fall far from the tree: Donald Trump Jr. reportedly proposed to his ex-wife, Vanessa, with a ring he got for free. According to the New York Post, he agreed to make promotional appearances for the jewelry company in exchange for the ring.

Then, in 2018, Vanessa divorced Don Jr., in part because he was so cheap that she “had to rely on her mother for financial help for her personal needs,” Page Six reported, citing an anonymous source. Apparently, the family that saves together stays together.

Donald Sr.’s broken promise at Versailles, however, is also part of a larger trend. As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump writes, his failure to pick up the tab in Miami isn’t just about frugality. Trump loves to make big promises in front of cameras—which often, in turn, leads to positive coverage in both traditional media and online, even though he rarely follows through. For Trump, it’s a win-win: Get a short boost of positive press coverage without having to pay a dime.

It Turns Out Being Indicted is Not Good for Donald Trump

A growing number of Independents—and Republicans—are concerned by the former president's handling of classified information.

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Speaking to Georgia’s Republican Party last weekend, Donald Trump made the case that storing America’s nuclear secrets in an unlocked bathroom was good, actually. “The only good thing about it is it’s driven my poll numbers way up,” Trump said in a defiant speech

Trump was right, sort of. The indictment has helped him further consolidate his lead in a Republican primary that he has been consistently dominating for months. He has raked in millions after sending out dozens of fundraising emails decrying a politically-motivated “witch hunt” from “misfits, mutants, Marxists, & communists.” (That said, he raised nearly twice as much in a similar fundraising push earlier this spring after being indicted for hush money payments sent out during the 2016 election.)  

But there are growing signs that being indicted for endangering America’s national security is damaging Trump politically, even if it isn’t harming his chances of securing the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.  An ABC News/Ipsos poll released earlier this week found that 61 percent of voters believed the indictment was “serious,” as opposed to just 28 percent who viewed it as “not serious.” The number of voters who believed that he should be charged was somewhat lower: Just 48 percent, compared to 35 percent who believe the Department of Justice should have refrained from charging the former president. 

Given the early stage of the Republican primary, Trump’s strong support among Republicans has driven much of the coverage of the indictment. But the ABC/Ipsos poll also pours some cold water on this as well: 38 percent of GOP voters believe that the charges are serious, a significant if not overwhelming number. But as David Leonhardt writes for The New York Times, Trump’s numbers among Republicans and Independents are trending in the wrong direction. “The number of Republicans bothered by his legal problems seems to be growing,” Leonhardt writes. “So is the number among independents. More voters are bothered by the case against him — on charges of taking classified material and trying to conceal that he did — than by the earlier New York State charges related to hush money for a sexual encounter.” 

These are both very bad signs for Donald Trump, even if the indictment has only made him stronger in the Republican primary. To win a general election against Joe Biden, Trump will need to consolidate support among both skeptical Republicans and Independents, even if Biden remains stubbornly unpopular. The indictment, moreover, may get worse for him, not better. Democrats have largely stayed silent about it and have not aggressively pressed the case that Trump wantonly and recklessly endangered America’s national security but that may be changing—a growing number of advisers and aides are frustrated by Biden’s kid gloves approach to the indictment and it’s likely that the party will take a more aggressive tack in the coming days and weeks. And the indictment isn’t going anywhere: The case against Trump will proceed slowly over months and may stretch well into the 2024 election. Trump’s problems are only going to get worse, in other words.

More on Trump's (Second) Indictment

Republican Lawmaker Says Abortion Makes Us Lose Potential Laborers

“I think it’s bad for society,” Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos boldly claimed.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos addresses the Assembly with mic in hand
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Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos

Yeah, the right to choose is good and all.… But have you thought about how many more laborers we’d have if people would just suck it up and give birth?

Such is the inquiry Wisconsin’s Republican speaker of the Assembly encourages us to consider.

“I think how many Americans today would be alive in our workforce, doing all the things that helped make America great, if we hadn’t had such easy access to abortion,” Representative Robin Vos said on Tuesday at an event. “I think it’s bad for society.”

Vos hedged the remarks, noting there ought to be a “natural middle ground,” citing his support for a bill to provide easy access to birth control. Nevertheless he continued, saying that “if you get pregnant, I feel like then you’ve made the commitment to deliver that child, and that’s what should happen in my world.”

The remarks followed Wisconsin overwhelmingly electing Janet Protasiewicz to the state Supreme Court in April, flipping the court’s control to the left for the first time in 15 years; the election came in voters’ anticipation of the court ruling on abortion rights and electoral districts in Wisconsin.

Vos also vowed that the state will not expand Medicaid access as long as he is speaker. He made the comments while being perched in front of a banner emblazoned with “UnitedHealthcare,” namesake branch of the world’s largest health care company and eleventh-largest company generally by revenue—ahead of Exxon, Toyota, and Microsoft.

“As long as I am speaker of the Assembly, Medicaid expansion will never happen,” Vos pledged.

“I see absolutely no reason. I can’t imagine it. I think I would resign first before I would vote for that. So, it will never happen.”

While Vos argued there is no utility to Medicaid expansion, that doesn’t appear to be true. The state government found some 312,000 Wisconsinites were completely uninsured in 2020. Wisconsin’s Department of Human Services estimates Medicaid expansion would expand coverage to 89,700 people. Wisconsin is one of just 10 states that have not chosen to expand Medicaid yet; in doing so, it could save $1.6 billion by unlocking enhanced federal funds through the program.

GOP Senator Admits Biden Bribery Tapes Might Not Exist After All

Chuck Grassley was at the forefront of pushing these claims to begin with.

Senator Chuck Grassley
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Senator Chuck Grassley

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley admitted that he doesn’t actually know if the audio recordings that he said reveal Joe Biden accepting a bribe even exist.

Republicans have spent all week accusing the president of accepting a bribe from Ukraine (conveniently at the same time Donald Trump was arrested for stealing and hiding classified documents) and referring specifically to a set of recordings that prove their claim. The GOP learned about these supposed recordings as part of the House Oversight Committee’s months-long investigation into the Biden family, which has yet to produce any actual evidence linking Biden to wrongdoing.

House members were allowed last week to see a redacted version of an FD 10-23, a form the FBI uses to note unverified information from confidential sources. Grassley had called Monday for the FBI to release the unredacted version of the form, which he said mentioned 17 audio recordings of Biden and his son Hunter Biden accepting a bribe from an executive at Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian oil company where Hunter Biden served on the board for a few years.

But speaking on a podcast Wednesday, Grassley admitted he doesn’t know whether or not the tapes are real.

“I’m oversight of the FBI,” the Iowa Republican said, referring to his work on the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus.

“I want to know [if] the FBI, are you doing your work? I want to see your work. Have you listened to these tapes? And if you haven’t, why haven’t you? In other words, do the tapes even exist?”

Grassley isn’t even the only Republican to acknowledge the tapes might not be real. Senator Ron Johnson told Fox News Thursday that “we don’t know” if the tapes exist. House Oversight Chair James Comer, who has led the charge against Biden, said Wednesday he doesn’t know if the recordings are “legit.”

And yet these tapes have been the basis for almost every accusation leveled against Biden this past week. Republicans are pushing a conspiracy first started by Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump that the Biden family accepted a $10 million bribe to remove former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin in 2016 to stop a probe into Hunter Biden’s role at the oil company Burisma Holdings.

This claim has been widely debunked by Ukrainian officials, U.S. State Department officials, American intelligence experts, and Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky.

N.C. Lawmaker Pretends She Never Got an Abortion After Switching Parties to Pass Abortion Ban

Tricia Cotham single-handedly gutted abortion access in the South. And now she’s lying about her own abortion.

Tricia Cotham
North Carolina Representative Tricia Cotham

The North Carolina representative who switched her party affiliation to Republican, paving the way for the state’s cruel 12-week abortion ban and decimating abortion access in the South, is now lying about the abortion she had years ago.

Tricia Cotham was a staunch advocate for abortion rights while she was still a Democrat, promising to codify reproductive rights after Roe v. Wade fell. In 2015, she spoke out against making patients wait 72 hours before they can get an abortion, citing her own experience getting one.

“My first pregnancy ended in an induced physician-assisted miscarriage. While I served in this chamber,” she told the state legislature. “Abortion is a deeply personal decision. It should not be a political debate. My womb and my uterus is not up for your political grab.”

But in a weekend radio interview while at the North Carolina Republican Party convention, Cotham denied having an abortion, saying instead she had a miscarriage.

I had a miscarriage, and a miscarriage in medical terms is called a spontaneous abortion,” she said. “And instead of saying—first of all, they should not be talking about my miscarriage, that is just very painful and wrong. But they are repeating this message that I had an abortion. And that is false. And that is completely frustrating, and they keep on doing it, and that’s below the belt.”

A common Republican talking point is to portray medically assisted miscarriages and abortion as different things. This allows them to pretend they care about people who get pregnant, because they can say they aren’t actually banning medically necessary procedures.

Except, treatment for a medical miscarriage and abortion are the same: Either a health care provider will give the patient medication to induce the miscarriage and expel the fetus, or a doctor will dilate the patient’s cervix and remove the fetal tissue.

Cotham switched parties in April, an abrupt about-face that two of her former aides described as a “deeply petty, personal” decision. Autumn Alston, an activist who canvassed for Cotham’s last two campaigns (when she was a Democrat), told Jezebel that the lawmaker had felt underappreciated and ignored by the left, particularly abortion rights advocacy groups.

She wanted “to be the new shiny object in the Republican Party,” said Alston, who often advised Cotham too.

Cotham switching gave Republicans a supermajority in the legislature, allowing them to pass a 12-week abortion ban and later override Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the measure.

So Cotham single-handedly gutted abortion access in the South, celebrated taking rights away from people, and is now making false claims about abortion. And yet she has the gall to say she’s “still the same person.”

Texas Governor Signs “Death Star” Bill Stripping Power From Local Officials

Greg Abbott’s move prevents local governments from passing needed regulations on things like labor rights, the environment, and more.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Texas Governor Greg Abbott

A new Texas law backed by Republicans, business lobbying interests, and Governor Greg Abbott strips power from local officials to regulate things like housing, worker protections, the environment, public health, and more. In other words, Texas Republicans are stopping cities from being able to govern themselves.

House Bill 2127, nicknamed the “Death Star” bill, bans a city or county from enacting laws that contradict anything in Texas state code in nine areas: agriculture, business and commerce, finance, insurance, labor, local government, natural resources, occupations, and property.

The law is so extreme that it not only prevents localities from passing their own laws, it actually overturns existing ones that may differ from state code.

Proponents say the law, which is set to take effect September 1, helps business owners to avoid having to navigate different regulations in different localities. (Won’t someone please think about the “small” business owner who has the means to operate stores in San Antonio and Austin and Dallas?!)

But in practice, as The Texas Tribune notes, this law would block local ordinances providing benefits to workers like mandatory paid sick leave or water breaks for construction workers (meanwhile, heat-related deaths on construction sites have doubled in the last 10 years compared to the previous decade).

The law will also ban cities from passing new rules against predatory lending without first getting approval from the Texas legislature. That’s a problem when predatory lending—like other capital-driven interests—is always innovating in how it can screw the everyday person.

And when business interests like the Texas Association of Business and Texas Construction Association applaud the legislation, you can imagine that this is all only the tip of the iceberg of things companies are ready to get away with more easily. After all, the law is so remarkably broad, many residents don’t even know the extent to which other codes (already passed or in their interest to advocate for) will now be barred.

The law’s leading proponents were Representative Dustin Burrows and Senator Brandon Creighton.

Burrows, an attorney, is married to someone whose family has been involved with cattle ranching and oil and gas; surely, the family will appreciate the even further weakening of agricultural and natural resource regulations. Cattle ranching is notorious for scandal and corruption—especially in Texas—while oil and gas interests have always enjoyed preferential treatment in America as they decimate our natural landscape and wildlife. The new law will make it all the easier.

Creighton, meanwhile, is the principal and owner of a real estate company, Creighton Realty Partners, and the general counsel for the real estate and development company Signorelli Company. Fortunately, any future developments the companies pursue will not have to deal with pesky regulations, like making sure the workers building the fancy buildings don’t die of dehydration from sweltering heat made worse by those aforementioned hardworking oil and gas executives.

Texas is showing us what has always been the case: Conservatives’ conception of “local control” just means “I control you.”

Supreme Court Delivers Major Win for Native Rights and Tribal Sovereignty

In a stunning ruling, the Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/Getty Images
A Tlingit mother with her child in the village of Kake, located on Kupreanof Island in Tongass National Forest, Alaska

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act, a major win for Native rights and the protection of Indigenous culture.

The justices voted 7–2 to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, a law that prioritizes ensuring Native American children are adopted by Native American families. The law, enacted in 1978, has helped uphold tribal sovereignty and stabilize Native communities.

“The bottom line is that we reject all of petitioners’ challenges to the statute, some on the merits and others for lack of standing,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote in the majority opinion.

The court heard arguments in November for Haaland v. Brackeen. The Brackeens, a white evangelical couple from Texas, fostered a Cherokee and Navajo boy. But when they tried to formally adopt him, the Navajo Nation intervened, arguing that a Navajo family should adopt him instead.

The main issue at play went much further than simply who could or could not adopt an Indigenous child. As The New Republic’s Matt Ford explained, the big question was about the extent of tribal sovereignty and “whether tribal governments—and this country’s Indigenous peoples—are a legitimate part of the American constitutional order.”

The ICWA is also hugely significant for the longevity of Native culture. The law was implemented in an attempt to rectify the decades of Indian boarding schools, when Native children were taken from their families, cut off from their culture, and subjected to horrific abuse for the sake of forcing them to assimilate to white culture. Making sure that Native children stay with Native families allows for cultural knowledge to be passed on.

The Supreme Court shocked everyone last week when it ruled in favor of voting rights for Black residents of Alabama. Thursday’s ruling was another huge win for human rights. Only Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito voted against the ICWA (surprise, surprise).

In his concurring opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch pointed out that Native Americans are often denied justice at the Supreme Court. “But that is not because this Court has no justice to offer them,” he wrote. “Our Constitution reserves for Tribes a place—an enduring place—in the structure of American life.”

“In adopting the Indian Child Welfare Act, Congress exercised that lawful authority to secure the right of Indian parents to raise their families as they please; the right of Indian children to grow in their culture; and the right of Indian communities to resist fading into the twilight of history.”

This article has been updated.

Trump Had a Get Out of Jail Free Card and Chose Not to Use It

Trump could have avoided being charged in the classified documents case, but he ignored his lawyers.

Donald Trump
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Donald Trump could have avoided being indicted in the classified documents case, but he didn’t want to listen to his own lawyers.

Trump pleaded not guilty on Wednesday for mishandling classified documents and making false statements to federal authorities. He faces 37 criminal charges, which could get him 20 years in prison. But a new report from The Washington Post reveals that it didn’t have to be this way. In fact, the former president repeatedly rejected options that would have prevented the indictment.

Trump’s attorney, Christopher Kise, had wanted to try to negotiate with the Justice Department, the Post reported. He had suggested returning all the documents in exchange for the department agreeing not to charge Trump.

But Kise never approached federal prosecutors because Trump wasn’t interested. Instead of listening to his own legal team and advisers, Trump only wanted to get advice from Tom Fitton, the head of the conservative group Judicial Watch. Fitton and a few other people incorrectly told Trump, and even tried to convince his legal team, that he could keep the classified material.

The FBI subsequently raided Mar-a-Lago and found hundreds of sensitive documents stashed in various rooms throughout the resort. Trump has been charged with keeping national defense information without authorization, making false statements, and conspiring to obstruct justice. The investigation also revealed that Trump lied to his lawyers about how many documents he still had and may even have tried to hide boxes of documents from them. Lawyers were also prevented from searching certain rooms.

Fitton told the Post that Trump was “in a good mood” and “ready to fight.” Fitton also blamed Trump’s legal team for not fighting the federal subpoenas hard enough.

But former White House chief of staff John Kelly said it’s no surprise that Trump steamrolled his legal team. “He’s incapable of admitting wrongdoing,” Kelly told the Post. “He wanted to keep it, and he says, ‘You’re not going to tell me what to do. I’m the smartest guy in the room.’”

Kelly had previously told the Post that Trump was “scared shitless” of actually being held accountable for a change.

It is growing ever more clear that the only person Trump can blame for his current situation is himself.

Republicans Declare Banning Universal Free School Meals a 2024 Priority

As states across the country move to make sure students are well fed, Republicans have announced their intention to fight back.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern speaks at a podium
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern

States across the country are moving to provide universal free school meals to all our children. Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to stop them from doing just that.

The Republican Study Committee (of which some three-quarters of House Republicans are members) on Wednesday released its desired 2024 budget, in which the party boldly declares its priority to eliminate the Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP, from the School Lunch Program. Why? Because “CEP allows certain schools to provide free school lunches regardless of the individual eligibility of each student.”

The horror.

Of note is that the CEP is not even something every school participates in; it is a meal service program reserved for qualifying schools and districts in low-income areas. The program enables schools that predominantly serve children from low-income backgrounds to offer all students free breakfast and lunch, instead of means-testing them and having to manage collecting applications on an individual basis. As with many universal-oriented programs, it is more practically efficient and, as a bonus, lifts all boats. This is what Republicans are looking to eliminate.

It’s the kind of provision that many would want every school to participate in. Why not guarantee all our children are well fed as they learn and think about our world and their place in it, after all?

But indeed, as California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, and as of this week, Vermont, all move to provide universal free school meals in one form or another—and at least another 21 states consider similar moves—Republicans are trying to whittle down avenues to accomplish that goal.

Along with trying to stop schools from giving all their students free meals, the proposed 2024 Republican budget includes efforts to:

  • cut Social Security and Medicare
  • make Trump’s tax cuts for the top 1 percent permanent
  • impose work requirements on “all federal benefit programs,” like food stamps and Medicare
  • extend work requirements on those aged 55–64
  • bring back all of twice-impeached and twice-arrested former President Donald Trump’s deregulations, including the weakening of environmental protection.

And that’s just a taste of their hopes and dreams. But don’t mistake it all as just wish-casting: “The RSC Budget is more than just a financial statement. It is a statement of priorities,” the party assures in the document.

Republicans Are Bringing Back Their Plan to Gut Social Security and Medicare

A new budget proposal for the 2024 fiscal year makes sweeping cuts.

Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Republicans have claimed over and over again that they are not trying to cut Social Security and Medicare. Heck, Joe Biden got them to agree they would not make cuts to the programs, in a memorable verbal maneuver during his State of the Union speech earlier this year.

And yet the Republican Study Committee (of which some three-quarters of House Republicans are members) just released its desired 2024 budget, in which the party seeks to, you guessed it, cut Social Security and Medicare.

And note their seriousness. “The RSC Budget is more than just a financial statement. It is a statement of priorities,” the party assures in the document, released Wednesday.

The proposed budget would effectively make cuts to Social Security by increasing the retirement age for future retirees.  The document seeks to assure people that there would only be “modest adjustments” but does not list what Republicans think the new retirement age should be.

On Medicare, Republicans propose requiring disabled Americans to wait longer before getting benefits and turning Medicare into a “premium support” system, a long-floated Republican idea that essentially turns the government program into a voucher scheme. Such a scheme would remove the guarantee for seniors to have affordable access to Medicare.

Republicans also call for “pro-growth tax reform” (read: cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations); “work requirements” (imposing more requirements on poor people trying to attain social services); and “regulatory reforms that increase economic growth” (encouraging the sort of deregulation that welcomes crashing financial institutions, corporate-poisoned rivers, and more than 1,000 train derailments a year).

As far as taxes go, the party wants to make permanent the individual provisions of Trump’s tax cut bill, which gave a roughly $49,000 annual tax cut to the top 1 percent and only $500 to those in the bottom 60 percent. In doing so, they’d add nearly $2.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The party also wants to eliminate the estate tax, which only impacts those who inherit assets worth at least $13 million.

On work requirements, the budget calls for “all federal benefit programs [to] be reformed to include work promotion requirements.” As in, food stamps, Medicare, you name it: They want it subject to work requirements. And sorry, Andrew Yang: The budget explicitly says it opposes any efforts to implement proposals like universal basic income.

The budget also takes issue with the “significantly lower labor force participation rate of 64.6% for those aged 55-64,” saying it supports extending work requirements for this group. There could be any number of reasons fewer people in this age group are working: physical or mental health issues, needing to help take care of their children or grandchildren, or just not wanting to work for their entire life on earth. Instead of imaging how to navigate or meet any of those reasons, Republicans’ solution is to force them to work more.

Speaking of families, the budget also aims to eliminate a provision that allows schools to provide free school lunches to all their students; instead, it aims to means-test which kids are allowed to have free lunch and which ones aren’t.

On regulation, the budget includes a litany of ways it aims to stymie regulation. One of many provisions involves reinstating Trump’s deregulatory executive orders, including a range of orders related to environmental protection. In the wake of smog enveloping one-third of the country, thousands of dead fish washing up on Texas’s shore, and East Palestine, Ohio’s waterways being poisoned, Republicans are pursuing less environmental protection.

And all this is just a sampling of Republicans’ explicit “priorities” they are pursuing in 2024.