Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

This Is the Big One: Donald Trump Indicted for Trying to Overthrow the 2020 Election

Donald Trump has been indicted a third time.

Donald Trump
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Third time’s the charm? Donald Trump was indicted Tuesday for a whopping third time, adding to an already sweeping list of charges against him.

Trump was charged for his role in the January 6 insurrection and other attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He faces four counts that include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote.

Six co-conspirators were also mentioned, but their names were not listed in the indictment.

In the very beginning of the indictment, Jack Smith calls out Trump for his refusal to accept the election results.

“The defendant, Donald J. Trump, was the forty-fifth President of the United States and a candidate for reelection in 2020,” the indictment states. “The Defendant lost the 2020 election.”

The indictment also notes that Trump knowingly spread lies about election fraud: “These claims were false, and the Defendant knew that they were false. But the Defendant repeated and widely disseminated them anyway—to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

Trump was warned in July that he was a target in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into efforts to reverse the election. The twice-impeached, thrice-indicted, and liable for sexual abuse and defamation former president is now forcing Republicans to answer the question: Is someone charged with trying to overthrow democracy fit to serve?

Until now, Republicans have been up in arms, rushing to Trump’s defense. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy suggested the potential indictment was because Trump was polling well, while Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene called Smith a “weak little bitch.”

Trump has been charged with business fraud in New York for his alleged role in making hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. He also has been charged with keeping national defense information without authorization, making false statements, and conspiring to obstruct justice. And he is still under investigation in Georgia for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election—despite an attempt to block that probe.

This piece has been updated.

Oops! Trump’s Michigan Allies Charged With Voting Machine Tampering in 2020

Two prominent Republicans in Michigan are facing criminal charges for their role in trying to overthrow the election.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Two Trump allies in Michigan have been charged in an investigation into the improper acquisition of voting machines in 2020 as part of an attempt to overturn the presidential election.

Matthew DePerno, whom Donald Trump endorsed in his unsuccessful campaign for attorney general last year, and former state Representative Daire Rendon were both charged Monday, according to online court records.

DePerno, whose name was misspelled as “DeParno” in the records, was charged with two counts of undue possession of a voting machine, one count of conspiracy for undue possession of a voting machine, and one count of conspiracy for unauthorized access. Rendon was charged with one count of conspiracy for undue possession of a voting machine and one count of false pretenses.

State Attorney General Dana Nessel launched the investigation in February last year. But she handed the reins to special prosecutor D.J. Hilson a few months later after DePerno, who was running against Nessel for attorney general, came under scrutiny.

Other people still under investigation include Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf and Doug Logan, the former head of Cyber Ninjas, a pro-Trump data security firm that oversaw a controversial (and, as it turns out, entirely unnecessary) 2020 election review in Arizona.

The charges against Rendon and DePerno relate to attempts by Trump allies to acquire voting machines. There are investigations into similar efforts across the country, as pro-Trump activists tried to access the voting data and prove the election had been rigged against the former president. One such investigation is in Georgia and could factor into the highly anticipated indictment of Donald Trump for trying to overturn the state’s election results.

In Michigan, four clerks in three different counties gave voting machines to third parties. The machines were taken to Detroit, where a group of men broke into them and performed “tests” on them, according to Nessel’s office. The group returned the machines weeks or even months later, after the clerks became nervous.

Nessel has been steadily cracking down on election deniers. Last month, she charged 16 people, including top members of the state’s Republican Party, with felony for pretending to be electors in the 2020 presidential election.

Kamala Harris Torpedoes Ron DeSantis’s Shameless Invite to Debate Black History

“They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, in an attempt to divide and distract our nation with unnecessary debates.”

Kamala Harris
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Vice President Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris is not interested in talking about Black history with Ron DeSantis.

The vice president rejected DeSantis’s invite to discuss the state’s new horrendous Black history curriculum, which requires teaching students that enslaved people learned valuable skills thanks to slavery.

“Well I’m here in Florida, and I will tell you there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities of slavery,” Harris said Tuesday at the 20th Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Quadrennial Convention in Orlando.

“Right here in Florida, they plan to teach students that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” she continued. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, in an attempt to divide and distract our nation with unnecessary debates, and now they attempt to legitimize these unnecessary debates with a proposal that most recently came in of a politically motivated roundtable.”

Florida’s new Black history curriculum has been met with backlash due to its extreme revisionism.

The Florida State Board of Education approved new social studies standards last month that say middle school students should learn that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” Other language says high school students should be taught that Black people were also perpetrators of violence during race massacres.

DeSantis has gone above and beyond in watering down Black history, both in Florida and beyond. He successfully got the College Board to revise its A.P. African American studies course after threatening to ban the curriculum in Florida. The new curriculum stripped many of the sections that DeSantis had complained about, including the work of prominent Black queer writers and a section on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Last week, Florida’s Department of Education also approved the use of school curriculum from PragerU, a right-wing group that downplays the horrors of slavery and dismisses any acknowledgment of racism (especially against Black Americans) throughout U.S. history.

Harris made clear Tuesday that she has no interest in any of this.

“As I said last week, when I was again here in Florida, we will not stop calling out and fighting back against extremist so-called leaders who try to prevent our children from learning our true and full history,” she said. “And so, in this moment, let us remember, it is in the darkness that the candle shines most brightly.”

Florida’s New School Curriculum Is Designed to Make Kids Conservative

The right-wing group behind the newly approved school materials is proud of its agenda.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Florida Department of Education has approved a set of educational materials created by PragerU, a right-wing group that has explicitly stated it wants to indoctrinate children.

PragerU is not an accredited academic institution. Rather, it’s a conservative advocacy group cloaked in the guise of scholars that are best known for spreading disinformation on climate change, questioning the role of slavery as the pretext for the Civil War, and generally dismissing any acknowledgment of racism (especially against Black Americans) throughout American history.

But according to the group’s founder, conservative radio host Dennis Prager, it’s actually OK to indoctrinate kids … as long as you’re making them conservative.

“We are in the mind-changing business, and few groups can say that,” Prager says in a promotional video for PragerU. He repeated the same thing again at the Moms for Liberty conference in Philadelphia last month, noting that it’s “fair” to say PragerU indoctrinates kids.

“It’s true we bring doctrines to children,” Prager told the right-wing audience. “But what is the bad about our indoctrination?”

Florida is the first state to approve PragerU’s ersatz curriculum in K-12 schools, despite Governor Ron DeSantis’s repeated insistence that kids needed to be protected from indoctrination.

The exception for PragerU perhaps makes sense when you take a closer look at its content. Many of its videos are narrated by right-wing personalities like Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, and Candace Owens. The subject material is as bad as you’d expect.

In one five-minute video history lesson, two kids travel back in time to meet Christopher Columbus, who reassures them that violence against Indigenous and Black people is OK.

“Well, in our time we view slavery as being evil and terrible,” one of the kids tells him.

“Ah. Magnifico! That’s wonderful,” the fictional Columbus responds. “I am glad humanity has reached such a time. But you said you’re from 500 years in the future? How can you come here to the fifteenth century and judge me by your standards from the twenty-first century?”

Columbus tells the kids that slavery was “no big deal” and that “being taken as a slave is better than being killed.”

In fact, downplaying the harms of slavery is a common theme in PragerU’s content. In another video, a cartoon Booker T. Washington tells the time-traveling kids that slavery is bad but “it’s been a reality everywhere in the world.”

“America was one of the first places on earth to outlaw slavery,” he adds. (America was actually one of the last countries to do so.)

Other videos push pro-cop propaganda, celebrate the benefits of British colonialism, dispute the reality of climate change, and praise the apartheid state of Israel.

PragerU CEO Melissa Streit has defended the group’s content as “pro-American ideology.”

“The ideology that we promote is a pro-American ideology, the ideology of which America was essentially built upon that has created this nation,” she told The Orlando Sentinel. “But we are not a political enterprise, we are a pro-American enterprise.”

Right-Wing Billionaires Are Funneling Money to Stop Ohio’s Abortion Ballot

Conservative donors far from Ohio are pulling all the stops to try to doom the abortion ballot.

A protester holds a placard that reads "We will not go back" in support of abortion rights, Dayton, Ohio, May 2022. Other protesters stand nearby.
Whitney Saleski/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
A protester holds a placard in support of abortion rights, Dayton, Ohio, May 2022.

Right-wing donors across the country are pouring money into Ohio to try to influence a special August referendum and ultimately block enshrining abortion protections in the state constitution.

Abortion is currently legal in Ohio until about 22 weeks, although not for lack of GOP efforts after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Ohioans will vote in November on a constitutional amendment that would allow people to decide for themselves about all reproductive health. The state could only restrict abortion access after a doctor determines the fetus is viable, or could survive outside the uterus. And even then, abortions can be performed if the patient’s health or life is at risk.

Ohio currently requires only a simple majority of votes to amend the constitution. But Republicans have pulled out all the stops in trying to block the abortion amendment. So first, Ohioans will vote in August on a measure that would raise the threshold for constitutional amendments to a 60 percent vote.

The main “yes” campaign committee calling for the higher threshold, Protect Our Constitution, has raised a little more than $4.85 million, per a financial filing first reported in the Ohio Capital Journal.

Nearly all of that—$4 million—came from Richard Uihlein, a billionaire right-wing megadonor in Illinois. Other contributions have come from Georgia, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. In total, only 14 percent of the money raised (less than $700,000) has come from within Ohio.

Three other “yes” groups have also raised millions of dollars primarily from far afield. One of those groups, Protect Women Ohio Action, is actually based in Virginia. Its primary donor is the Concord Fund, also known as the Judicial Crisis Network, a D.C.-based organization that backs conservative judges. Protect Women Ohio Action’s two other major donors are Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and the Catholic Church.

To be fair, it’s a similar picture on the opposing side, which has raised $14.8 million. Only about 16 percent of those funds came from Ohio donors, while the rest came from left-leaning philanthropic organizations and a Silicon Valley psychiatrist and philanthropist named Karla Jurvetson.

Still, it’s notable that right-wing donors outside of Ohio are so determined to stop people from changing their own constitution. If the “yes” groups prevail, they could block abortion protections in the fall. GOP lawmakers insist that raising the threshold is not about abortion, but Secretary of State Frank LaRose gave the game away in June, saying, “This is 100 percent about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution.”

All of these right-wing efforts may still fail, because they completely ignore the will of the people. A USA Today Network/Suffolk University poll released in July found that only 26 percent of Ohio voters support increasing the amount of votes needed to amend the constitution, while 57 percent oppose it.

Another poll, released last week by the same organizations, found that 58 percent of Ohioans support the amendment to guarantee access to reproductive services, while just 32 percent oppose it. The support crosses party lines, with a third of Republicans backing the amendment, as well as 85 percent of independent women—a crucial voter demographic.

Biotech Firm Is Paying Up Big-Time to Henrietta Lacks’s Family

The family of Henrietta Lacks has reached a historic settlement with the firm that took her cells without her consent.

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post/Getty Images
A photo of Henrietta Lacks sits in the living room of her grandson, Ron Lacks, in Baltimore.

The multibillion-dollar biotech company that has used Henrietta Lacks’s cells, taken without her consent or knowledge, for 70 years is paying up, after reaching a historic settlement with her living relatives.

In 1951, Lacks was treated for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore. During the treatment, researchers secretly sampled cells from her cervix. Lacks died of her cancer a few months later, and around the same time, researchers discovered her cells were capable of regenerating outside the body.

They shared the “HeLa” cells with other scientists, and the cells have since been used to develop vaccines for polio and Covid-19, as well as the world’s most common fertility treatment, among other things.

Her family sued the Massachusetts-based biotech company Thermo Fisher Scientific in October 2021, arguing that the cells belong to Lacks and that she—and her estate—should be compensated when companies use them for research and product development.

Thermo Fisher Scientific officials had previously argued that her descendants had waited too long to sue. The company also said it was being unfairly singled out, because countless other companies around the world also use HeLa cells without paying.

But the settlement, reached late Monday, opens the door for the Lacks family to succeed in other complaints seeking compensation for and control of the HeLa cells. The terms of the settlement are confidential, but the agreement is a crucial step forward in helping Black people reclaim their agency in the medical industry.

Lacks’s ordeal is part of a long history of Black people, particularly Black women, being used for scientific experimentation without their consent. Her family’s lawsuit touched on this, arguing that “the exploitation of Henrietta Lacks represents the unfortunately common struggle experienced by Black people throughout history.”

“Indeed, Black suffering has fueled innumerable medical progress and profit, without just compensation or recognition. Various studies, both documented and undocumented, have thrived off the dehumanization of Black people.”

Great “Reset”: DeSantis Makes Cringey Joke About Kids With Depression

When lagging in the polls, definitely make fun of kids ... said absolutely no one.

Ron DeSantis
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis’s latest attempt to make fun of Democrats has resulted in a cringey and incomprehensible dig at people with depression.

During an event at a coffee shop in Oskaloosa, Iowa, on Friday, DeSantis tried to demonstrate how he is overhauling the main message of his campaign. He made some biting comments about Joe Biden and slammed the (actually pretty good) state of the U.S. economy. But he ended up falling back on his old favorites: fighting “woke” culture and taking the country backward on racial justice and human rights.

At one point, a 15-year-old asked about military service restrictions on people with mental health disorders. DeSantis has been playing up his military experience—a marked shift from when he would snap at reporters who asked him about his time working at Guantánamo Bay—so you’d think he’d have some good talking points prepared.

You’d be wrong.

“I can’t legally vote,” the 15-year-old said, “but I struggle with major depressive disorder.”

DeSantis interrupted to quip, “It’s never stopped the other party from not letting you vote.”

It is entirely unclear what DeSantis meant with this comment. He could be complaining about letting people with mental health issues vote, which is the same as saying someone with the flu shouldn’t vote. Or he could be complaining about voting rights for minors, which does not exist. His use of a double negative makes the remark even more confusing.

(If you figure out what he’s trying to say there, please let us know.)

The teenager continued talking, and DeSantis replied blandly by saying he wasn’t sure what restrictions were in place but that any such rules are to ensure “whatever is best for the unit.”

Despite being touted early on as the natural successor to Donald Trump, DeSantis has struggled to take off as a candidate. He’s the runner-up to Trump in the polls, but by a massive margin.

In recent months, his campaign has shed more than a third of its staff and tried to pivot its messaging. Staffers have planted horrific campaign ads that attempt to show what a good conservative warrior DeSantis is but instead have backfired spectacularly. And none of this is helped by the fact that DeSantis is apparently terrible at small talk.

Team DeSantis Created That Weird Meme Video With the Giant Nazi Symbol

The campaign has an entire war room dedicated to making the meme videos.

Ron DeSantis
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Ron DeSantis

The DeSantis campaign made that weird meme campaign video featuring a giant Nazi symbol—and then planted it in a fan account.

The campaign last week faced backlash after a top staffer reshared a video, in which an image of DeSantis was layered with a Nazi symbol, the Florida flag, and marching soldiers. The video was first posted by the Ron DeSantis Fancams Twitter account and later deleted.

But reporting from Semafor confirmed what many had suspected: The DeSantis campaign made the video.

A Signal text message chain titled “War Room Creative Ideas” was responsible for the creation of the video, as well as a rabidly homophobic ad released earlier this month. That video too was planted in a fan account.

In the Signal channel, managed by DeSantis rapid response director Christina Pushaw, people praised the video when it was first created, according to Semafor.

“This belongs in the Smithsonian,” wrote Kyle Lamb, the campaign’s director of research and data, before the ensuing backlash. Lamb was let go days later, amid massive layoffs in the DeSantis campaign.

It’s not clear who shared the image of the Nazi symbol that made it into the video.

The far-right circular symbol is known as a “sonnenrad,” a symbol co-opted by Nazis in their attempt to claim an “Aryan heritage.” Today, it’s often found in white supremacist literature and the manifestos of far-right mass shooters.

As the very bad Nazi memes roll in, DeSantis supporters are reportedly getting fed up with the campaign’s priorities.

One donor told Rolling Stone: “If they keep blowing money on fucking memes, I’m out.”

Trump’s PAC Near Broke as He Burns Through Donors’ Money

Trump’s legal fees are getting expensive.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s political action committee is nearly broke, after spending tens of millions of dollars—nearly everything in its bank account—on the former president’s many, many legal fees.

Save America PAC started out last year with $105 million, but now it has less than $4 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings released on Monday.

In fact, things are so bad that Save America requested a $60 million refund it had previously given to a pro-Trump super PAC. The super PAC has already reimbursed it $12.25 million, nearly its entire intake from the first half of the year, an exchange that has increased scrutiny on the two political organizations’ spending.

Save America had already prompted closer inspection from special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating Trump’s role in the January 6 riot, for paying lawyers representing witnesses in Trump’s lawsuits. The PAC is legally forbidden from directly spending money on his presidential campaign.

But by donating $60 million to the pro-Trump super PAC, Save America was able to skirt that law. Meanwhile, the $12.25 million refund is believed to be the largest on record in the history of federal campaigns. But by returning the money, the two political action groups may have violated a different law.

The super PAC, which is purportedly an independent entity, and Save America, which Trump controls, are forbidden from coordinating on strategy. “So for the super PAC and the Trump PAC to be sending tens of millions dollars back and forth depending upon who needs the money more strongly suggests unlawful financial coordination,” Adav Noti, a former lawyer for the FEC’s litigation division, told The New York Times.

“I don’t know that calling it a refund changes the fundamental illegality,” said Noti, who is now the legal director of the watchdog group the Campaign Legal Center.

By shuffling money back and forth, Save America and the super PAC are able to balance the two main strategies for Trump’s main goal: staying out of prison. On the one hand, Save America is bleeding money to cover legal fees for Trump and his allies. On the other, the super PAC is aggressively spending money to try to get Trump reelected. Earlier this year, the super PAC spent more than $23 million on attack ads against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is second to Trump in the polls (although by a wide margin).

But it’s no surprise that Trump is having to spend so much on lawyers. Smith is expected to indict Trump any day now for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election. A similar indictment out of Georgia is expected to follow soon.

Trump has already been charged with business fraud in New York and endangering national security in Florida. He has also been found liable of sexual assault and defamation, and has been sued for defamation yet again.

Take That, Tuberville: Biden Rejects Plan to Move Space Command to Alabama

Biden has overturned a Trump decision to move Space Command headquarters from Colorado.

Leon Neal/Getty Images

President Joe Biden will keep the U.S. Space Command headquarters in Colorado, instead of moving it to Alabama as his predecessor wanted, a move many fear will aggravate ongoing political debate.

Days before he left office, Donald Trump announced that Spacecom headquarters would move to Alabama, bragging he was “single-handedly” responsible for the state’s selection. The Biden White House ordered multiple reviews—both of the process that led to Trump’s decision and a review of that first review—to determine whether the move was politically motivated.

Although no improper political influence was found, Biden has decided to keep Spacecom in Colorado, senior U.S. officials told the AP on Monday, speaking anonymously. The officials said the head of Spacecom, General James Dickinson, successfully argued to the president that moving the headquarters would jeopardize military readiness.

The choice of the phrase “military readiness,” even if the AP is paraphrasing, is notable considering the ongoing battle between the Department of Defense and Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville has blocked hundreds of military promotions since March in objection to the Defense Department’s abortion policy. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters two weeks ago that Tuberville’s blockade “is a readiness issue.” The secretary has previously warned the block “harms America’s national security.”

The officials told the AP that abortion had no effect on Biden’s decision. Other proponents of keeping the headquarters in Colorado said a move would stall Spacecom’s progress, in part because new headquarters in Alabama wouldn’t be completed until after 2030.

But the administration’s initial review of the decision to move Spacecom to Alabama came just months after the state implemented a law banning nearly all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest.

Other Alabama lawmakers had expressed concerns that Tuberville’s dangerous abortion protest would affect the Spacecom decision. The Alabama delegation sought in May to meet with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall about the delay in the headquarters’ move.

“It saddens me that my senator is holding hostage these military promotions,” Representative Terri Sewell, Alabama’s lone Democratic lawmaker, told Punchbowl. “I hope that that won’t affect—but I’m afraid it will affect—the decision.”

Keeping Spacecom in Colorado means that Alabama will miss out on 1,400 jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact. Whether or not Tuberville’s blockade was actually a factor, he could well get blamed in the court of public opinion.