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Judge in E. Jean Carroll Case: Yes, Donald Trump Is a Rapist

A judge rejected Trump’s semantic attempt to throw out the case.

Donald Trump
Mario Tama/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Trump’s request for a new trial in the E. Jean Carroll case, after he was found liable for sexual abuse, battery, and defamation, was rejected. And in his desperate attempt to avoid accountability, the twice-impeached and twice-indicted former president may have unintentionally allowed himself to now be formally known as a rapist.

Trump’s team had requested a new trial in the case, arguing that the $5 million in damages he was ordered to pay Carroll was excessive, because he was only charged with sexual abuse. The jury had not found that Trump “raped” Carroll, a talking point Trump’s team often parroted.

But Judge Lewis Kaplan called Trump’s semantic argument “entirely unpersuasive.” He clarified that the jury found that the former president did indeed “rape” Carroll based on the common definition of the word.

Kaplan noted that New York penal law (the jury in the Carroll case was based in New York) has a “far narrower” definition of the word “rape” than in “common modern parlance, its definition in some dictionaries, in some federal and state criminal statutes, and elsewhere.”

“The finding that Ms. Carroll failed to prove that she was ‘raped’ within the meaning of the New York Penal Law does not mean that she failed to prove that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape,’” Kaplan wrote.

“Indeed, as the evidence at trial recounted below makes clear, the jury found that Mr. Trump in fact did exactly that [rape, as ‘commonly’ understood].”

“A United States District Judge has now formally held, in a lengthy written opinion, that it is perfectly appropriate, and, indeed, entirely accurate, to call a certain former President of the United States a rapist,” noted George Conway, lawyer and husband to former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway.

All that to say, based on the legal language, a rapist—for the third presidential cycle in a row—is leading the 2024 Republican primary.

Republicans’ Deadly Plan to Block Biden From Declaring a Climate Emergency

Thousands of people are going to the E.R. amid record-breaking heat waves. But Republicans don’t think this is a real emergency.

A billboard displays a temperature of 118 degrees during a record heat wave in Phoenix on July 18.

Wednesday marks the twentieth day in a row that Phoenix eclipses 110 degrees Fahrenheit—and the next seven days are projected to maintain the record-breaking horror. Thousands of Texans have been going to the emergency room because of heat illnesses. And a rotating cast of some 100 million Americans have been under heat wave and smog alerts for over a month.

Amid all that, Republicans are trying to stop the president from being able to declare a national emergency over climate change.

Last month, a group of Republicans introduced a bill, insultingly known as the “Real Emergencies Act,” to prevent President Joe Biden from mobilizing the nation to take necessary action to stave off life-threatening climate change.

As The Lever notes, “If Biden were to declare a national emergency over climate change, he could take aggressive action to cut fossil fuel production and speed up clean energy manufacturing by reimposing the ban on crude oil exports, halting oil and gas leasing, investing in public transit infrastructure, and requiring private companies to manufacture renewables.”

This kind of strong, collective action—to stand up against fat-cat fossil fuels, to make our public transportation actually serve the public, to make our systems and thus lives cleaner—is what Republicans are furiously opposing.

And these do-nothing Republicans are buttressed by their fossil fuel friends who have known for decades the climate and environmental risks of their vampiristic activities—and have kept on drilling anyway.

The bill was introduced by West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito and Texas Republican Representative August Pfluger.

As we noted Tuesday, Pfluger’s own district has been at the center of some of the most severe heat in the country—in, again, a state sending thousands of people to the emergency room. Yet he has been busy using taxpayer-funded time introducing legislation to stop action on climate change, or to pledge American support to Israel while it maintains an apartheid regime over Palestinians.

Pfluger has taken in over $1.1 million from the fossil fuel industry and another $28,050 from pro-Israel, election-denialist-supporting AIPAC. He has collected all that and more while only taking office three years ago.

As The Lever also points out, Pfluger is the House’s second-highest recipient of oil and gas money, behind none other than Speaker Kevin McCarthy. And the Texas Republican has a personal conflict of interest, being a director of “an energy company engaged in pipelines and infrastructure” and an investor in a pipeline company that  celebrated the passage of another one of his bills to repeal a methane emissions tax.

The swamp is swamping.

Capito, meanwhile, is no different; she has been a major backer for the natural gas Mountain Valley Pipeline while also being invested in one of the companies constructing the whole thing.

Overall, the House and Senate sponsors of the bill to stop the government from declaring a climate emergency have collected at least some $5 million from fossil fuel interests in the past five years alone.

This—bought-out officials fighting to stop the government from calling a crisis sending thousands of people to the emergency room an “emergency”—is what is wrong with American politics. Not wokeness, not diversity, not gay people. Don’t let anybody tell you differently.

E. Jean Carroll Tells Trump to Pay Up Her $5 Million After Judge Rejects New Trial

Trump loses another one.

E. Jean Carroll smiles and points to something off camera. She's wearing a brown coat and sunglasses.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
E. Jean Carroll

E. Jean Carroll has a message for Donald Trump: Pay me what you owe me.

Trump was unanimously found liable in May for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s, and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault. He was ordered to pay her about $5 million in damages.

But the former president simply could not accept the fact that he was being held accountable, and he and his lawyers asked in June for a new trial in the decided case. Trump’s lawyers argued in court documents that the damages were “excessive” because the jury determined Carroll had not been raped and that his assault had not caused her any mental injury.

But presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan denied the request on Wednesday, calling Trump’s arguments “entirely unpersuasive.” The request “ignores the bulk of the evidence at trial [and] misinterprets the jury’s verdict,” Kaplan said in his decision.

Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan (no relation to the judge) hailed the decision, saying in a statement, “Now that the court has denied Trump’s motion for a new trial or to decrease the amount of the verdict, E Jean Carroll looks forward to receiving the $5 million in damages that the jury awarded her.”

Carroll accused Trump in her 2019 memoir of raping her in the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. She initially sued him twice for defamation: first in 2019, when he said she made up the rape allegation to promote her book, and again in November for posts he made about her on social media. Carroll is not the only woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault, but her first case was the first to make it to a courtroom.

Trump continues to vehemently deny all of the allegations and launched fresh vitriol at Carroll during the disastrous CNN town hall. She amended her second lawsuit, which is still pending, to include those comments.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly tried to thwart Carroll’s lawsuits, but he has been denied at every turn. And last week, he lost a major battle: The Justice Department said that it no longer considers him immune in the second defamation lawsuit.

Raskin: Star Hunter Biden Witnesses Have Already Undermined GOP’s Case

There are two big flaws when it comes to Republicans’ “whistleblowers.”

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Representative Jamie Raskin

As the House Oversight Committee prepares to interview two IRS agents Wednesday on supposed corruption in the Biden family, Ranking Member Jamie Raskin has already debunked Republicans’ star whistleblowers’ testimony.

House Republicans, led by Oversight Chair James Comer, have for months accused the Bidens of corruption and other forms of wrongdoing, although they have yet to produce any actual evidence. They’ve recently seized on Hunter Biden’s plea deal over his taxes, which will allow him to avoid jail time. Republicans are livid over the deal and have accused the Justice Department of blocking the probe.

Two IRS agents, Gary Shapley and a person identified only as “Mr. X,” are set to testify on how the investigating prosecutor, David Weiss, and the Justice Department allegedly dragged their feet in the investigation. But Shapley and Mr. X have already “undermined this Republican narrative in their depositions” during testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee in May, Raskin said in a memo to other Oversight Democrats.

“Both witnesses acknowledged it is very common for agents, supervisors, and prosecutors to disagree about investigative steps and charging decisions,” Raskin said in the memo, which was sent late Tuesday and obtained by The New Republic.

Shapley previously testified that such disagreements happened with “90-plus percent” of his work. Meanwhile, Mr. X said that even his direct supervisors disagreed with his conclusion about the strength of the case against Hunter Biden.

“That was a huge disagreement,” he testified. “I met with top, top officials on presenting the evidence and presenting the case. And at the end of the day it was still a ‘no.’”

Both agents even previously acknowledged that the evidence wasn’t strong enough in certain cases to merit charges. But they have continued to cry foul over the investigation.

Raskin also noted that many of the investigative decisions that the two IRS agents took most issue with actually happened under former President Donald Trump. Shapley and Mr. X disagreed with decisions made from September to December 2020, when Bill Barr was still attorney general. Weiss is also a Trump appointee.

Weiss has already debunked several of Shapley’s claims, including that Weiss did not have final say on charging Hunter Biden and that the Justice Department blocked him from pursuing charges in D.C. and refused to grant him special counsel status.

“To clarify an apparent misperception and to avoid future confusion, I wish to make one point clear: in this case, I have not requested Special Counsel designation,” Weiss said in a letter to Senator Lindsey Graham last week.

He explained that he would have been granted that status “if it proved necessary,” although he did not say who ultimately decided that it did not. Weiss also said he had “never been denied the authority to bring charges in any jurisdiction.”

Class: Boebert Literally Tosses Pin Honoring School Shooting Victim in Trash

Last month, Lauren Boebert gave mass shooting survivors the cold shoulder. Now she’s decided to level up.

Representative Lauren Boebert
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Representative Lauren Boebert

Among the first rules of P.R. is learning from your mistakes. If, for instance, you are a member of Congress caught on camera actively and coldly ignoring mass shooting survivors who are visiting the Capitol—you might not want a repeat incident.

But Lauren Boebert doesn’t care what you think about her, OK? She’s gonna stick to her guns.

On Tuesday, organizers with Moms Demand Action and Lives Robbed—a group speaking out about the impacts of gun violence after the Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas—were handing out pamphlets dedicated to one victim, Maite Rodriguez. Along with the pamphlet, which included a letter from her mother, the organizers attached a pin of Rodriguez’s green Converse shoes. The pin even had the heart over her right toes that she drew on with a marker.

After an organizer explained the pamphlet to Boebert, thanking her and wishing her a nice day, the Colorado Republican visibly walked faster to the trash can so she could throw it away.

“We hope you take action on gun violence prevention,” an organizer is heard saying as Boebert dashed to the trash.

Last month, organizers simply invited Boebert to say hello to gun violence survivors visiting the Capitol.

“Hey, there’s a lot of survivors over there if you want to …,” one young visitor started to Boebert.

“Survivors of gun violence if you want to talk to them,” another finished. “Survivors from Uvalde, Parkland.… You don’t really care?”

Indeed, she didn’t seem to care. “It’s alright. My son died for you to just go do that,” said Brett Cross, whose son was shot and killed at the Uvalde shooting, as Boebert walked by without even looking at him.

That day, while Boebert and other Republicans gave survivors of gun violence nothing, others, like Representatives Summer Lee, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar, and Senators Bernie Sanders and Jon Ossoff, made sure to share their time with Washington’s guests.

“She does not give a damn,” Cross said in a video Tuesday, with a poster of his son in the background. “And what she seems to forget is that her son is 17, still in school. That could’ve been his pin. She about to have a grandbaby, and in a few years, that could be their pin, and she don’t give a rat’s ass,” he continued.

“All she had to do was just take it, and then say, Look: We might not agree with one another on Second Amendment or assault weapons … but to do that is just so cold and callous. And she is supposed to be a representative of the people.”

“If y’all voted her in—if you actually went to the ballot, and voted for Lauren Boebert—then that just goes to show where your morals are at too. Fuck her.”

House Passes Israel Is Not Racist Measure, Hitting Back at Progressives

Congress can’t handle even a bit of criticism of Israel, which continues to break international law.

Capitol building
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Israel has committed decades of human rights abuses, engaged in land dispossession and home demolition, upheld separate systems of law, and maintained a militarized police state against Palestinians. America contributes nearly $4 billion to this every year.

And apparently that’s not enough.

On Tuesday, the House voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution that declared “the State of Israel is not a racist or apartheid state,” and assured “the United States will always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel.”

The resolution also had one other line, holding that “Congress rejects all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia,” essentially daring anyone opposed to Israel’s human rights violations to vote against stopping bigotry. And it worked: 412 members voted “yes” for the resolution.

Only nine representatives voted against: Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Summer Lee, Andre Carson, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Delia Ramirez, and Ayanna Pressley. Representative Betty McCollum voted “present.” All dissenting votes are Democrats.

Tuesday’s vote follows an all too familiar drama in Washington, when a member of Congress dares to speak out on Israel’s blatant mistreatment of Palestinians and violations of international law.

Over the weekend, Representative Pramila Jayapal called Israel a “racist state.” She had made the remark at the progressive Netroots Nation conference in Chicago, ahead of Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s expected address to Congress on Wednesday. The address is one that Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Bush, Tlaib, and Bowman have all said they will not attend—in similar fashion to members boycotting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States for his record on minority rights.

“The Palestinian people deserve self-determination and autonomy,” Jayapal said to a group of activists at the conference. While Jayapal later walked back her comments, she still maintained her position that Israel has an “extreme right-wing government” that “has engaged in discriminatory and outright racist policies”—the same conclusion that organizations from Human Rights Watch to Amnesty International have also come to, describing Israel’s actions as racist, abusive, and part of an apartheid system.

Nevertheless, establishment politicians from both parties seized the moment to assail Jayapal and anyone else criticizing Israel, leading to Tuesday’s vote on the measure, introduced by Representative August Pfluger.

Apparently the Texas Republican has nothing better to do while his own district has been boiling in record-breaking triple-digit heat that has left scores of people sick, collapsing, and even dying. Pfluger has received over $1.1 million from the fossil fuel industry and another $28,050 from pro-Israel, election-denialist-supporting AIPAC. He has collected all that and more while only taking office three years ago.

Meanwhile, Pfluger, like most of those who supported this resolution, has little regard for the actual human rights abuses inflicted upon Palestinians, let alone for the day-to-day struggles people in America are facing. Instead, our taxpayer money is going toward our representatives pledging fealty, and billions of dollars, to a country committing international human rights violations.

No-Nonsense Michigan A.G. Charges 16 Republicans for Trying to Overthrow 2020 Election

These are the first charges of their kind in any state.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

Michigan’s no-nonsense Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Tuesday that she has charged 16 people, including top members of the state’s Republican Party, with felony for pretending to be electors in the 2020 presidential election.

Donald Trump’s allies tried to persuade Republican leaders in seven battleground states to write or sign documents declaring Trump the winner of the 2020 election, even if the votes showed otherwise. Trump’s allies insisted this would help them buy time to prove that there had been voting fraud, despite widespread evidence that that was not the case. But several dozen people in the states—including Michigan—listened to them and ended up submitting false slates of electors who backed Trump.

“The false electors’ actions undermined the public’s faith in the integrity of our elections and, we believe, also plainly violated the laws by which we administer our elections in Michigan,” Nessel said in a statement.

The fake Michigan electors include the state Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock and state Republican National Committeewoman Kathy Berden. The 16 people allegedly met in the state GOP headquarters basement and signed multiple documents claiming they were electors for president and vice president.

That was a lie. They weren’t the duly elected and qualified electors, and each of the defendants knew it,” Nessel said.

Berden is also a close ally of RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. Berden texted another fake elector that Maddock had asked them all to “keep silent” about what they were doing.

Nessel is the first state attorney general to issue charges in the fake elector cases. The charges for the 16 Michigan individuals include forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery, conspiracy to commit election law forgery, and election law forgery. Each charge carries a penalty of five to 14 years in prison.

DeSantis Unironically Says People Who Attack Wokeness Don’t Know What It Means

The Florida governor slips up in his “anti-woke” quest.

Ron DeSantis
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On Tuesday, Ron DeSantis sat down with CNN’s Jake Tapper for an exclusive interview. Among other things, the self-proclaimed Anti-Woke Wiz claimed that “people who rail against ‘wokeness’ can’t even define it,” with no hint of self-awareness apparently.

“I think there’s an issue about—like not even—no one really knows what ‘wokeness’ is. I mean, I’ve defined it, but a lot of people who rail against ‘wokeness’ can’t even define it,” DeSantis said. “And so I think it’s a sense of: You know, this is not something that’s holding true to the core martial values that make the military unique,” he continued.

“And I can tell you, the veterans—you don’t have to look far and wide—go to a VFW hall, go to an American Legion, uh, there’s huge amount of concern about the direction the military is going with all this.”

DeSantis made the comments while describing his plan to target diversity initiatives within the military. Tapper had pointed out that of all the concerns listed in a survey of military recruits, discrimination against women and ethnic minorities was number two; “wokeness” was number nine.

The Florida governor also made the comments while complaining about recruitment being at an all-time low since the “Vietnam conflict” and end of the draft, seeming to miss that perhaps “conflicts” like America’s fool-hearted Vietnam incursion are part of the reason people don’t want to join the military.

Democrats Still Don’t Have a Plan to Avoid a Voting Rights Filibuster

Congressional Democrats reintroduced the Freedom to Vote Act, which failed to pass last year.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Congressional Democrats on Tuesday resumed their quest to pass new voting rights legislation, reintroducing the Freedom to Vote Act. Senate Democrats attempted to eliminate the filibuster last year in order to pass the measure, an effort that was stymied by Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who has since registered as an independent.

The Freedom to Vote Act includes provisions to implement automatic and same-day voter registration, ensure early voting, and establish Election Day as a national holiday. It would also require states to conduct postelection audits for federal elections, provide guidelines for redistricting to avert gerrymandering, and require additional disclosures for certain campaign-related fundraising and spending. Democrats first introduced the bill in late 2021.

Despite the unlikeliness of its passage, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would designate the bill S. 1, identifying it as a priority for the Senate Democratic majority. “Make no mistake: Democrats are going to keep fighting,” Schumer said. “We have to be ready to pass this legislation right out of the gate, at the soonest possible opportunity.”

Schumer added that Democrats were aware of the “serious challenge” they’re facing regarding passing the measure, alluding to the difficulty of getting sufficient Republican support to pass it in either chamber of Congress. Representative John Sarbanes, a House co-sponsor of the bill, called the effort to pass it a “relay race.”

Manchin was a co-sponsor of the original Freedom to Vote Act and led the unsuccessful effort to convince enough Republicans to sign onto the bill to avoid a filibuster, and is co-sponsoring the bill again this Congress.*

The bill’s reintroduction comes as House Republicans consider their own election-related legislation, the American Confidence in Elections Act, which would encourage states to adopt voter ID laws, overhaul the elections system in Washington, D.C., and restrict federal funding for states that allow noncitizens to vote. That bill is as unlikely to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate as the Freedom to Vote Act is to pass in the Republican-controlled House.

Democratic Representative Terri Sewell also said on Tuesday that she planned to reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named for the late congressman and civil rights icon, which would restore provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

* This post originally misstated Manchin’s role in the bill.

Well, Well, Well: Looks Like We Have Enough Votes to Censure George Santos

The New York congressman known for his serial lies is on thin ice.

George Santos
Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images
George Santos arrives at federal court in New York on June 30.

It appears Democrats will have the votes to censure George Santos, after six Republicans confirmed Tuesday that they would move to formally rebuke the congressman known for his serial lies.

New York Democrat Ritchie Torres introduced a resolution on Monday to censure Santos. The resolution is privileged, meaning that when Torres calls for a vote, a vote has to be held within 48 hours. Santos is also under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

New York Representatives Nick Lalota, Marc Molinaro, Anthony D’Esposito, Nick Langworthy, and Mike Lawler, as well as Ohio Representative Max Miller, told Politico they will support the resolution. All six of them are among a surprisingly lengthy list of Republicans who have already called on Santos to resign.

“I was the first to call for his resignation. I’ve said on the floor that he is a stain to our institution and I’d vote to censure,” D’Esposito told Politico.

If these six lawmakers and all the Democrats unite to back the resolution, they will have exactly enough votes needed to pass the measure.

This is the second time Democrats have introduced a privileged resolution on Santos over his many, many lies, moving in May to expel him from Congress. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy managed to convince Republicans to refer the resolution to the Ethics Committee as part of its investigation into Santos.

The new resolution lists more than a dozen of Santos’s many lies, such as his fabricating the bulk of his professional and educational résumé—including that he received a volleyball scholarship for college. The resolution also calls out Santos’s lies that his grandparents were Holocaust survivors, his mother died in the 9/11 attack, and four of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting. He also lied about founding an animal rescue charity and producing the disastrous Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

Santos has been federally charged with 13 counts of various types of financial fraud, to which he has pleaded not guilty. He also agreed to a deal with Brazilian authorities investigating him for financial fraud, so that he could avoid prosecution.