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DeSantis’s Latest Stunt: Moms for Liberty Leader to Florida Ethics Commission

A co-founder of a designated hate group is now in charge of policing Florida state employees.

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Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday appointed the co-founder of the far-right group Moms for Liberty to the state ethics commission.

Moms for Liberty is a far-right “parental rights” organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center recently categorized as an extremist group. New DeSantis appointee Tina Descovich co-founded the group in 2021 to push back against Covid-19 restrictions in schools and against classes that teach about nonwhite history and LGBTQ rights.

Descovich tweeted that it was a “privilege” to join the Florida Commission on Ethics. The nine-member commission is tasked with investigating complaints about alleged breaches of trust by state public officers and employees.

What this appointment actually does is give Descovich even more power to target the same groups that Moms for Liberty attacks. Legal expert Alejandra Caraballo warned that Descovich will now “be able to investigate LGBTQ state employees and allies and systematically remove them from state government.”

Appointing Descovich is DeSantis’s latest attack on LGBTQ rights in Florida. He expanded his “Don’t Say Gay” law, banned drag performances in public, and prohibited transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, among many other policies.

Descovich’s appointment is also a sign of how much power Moms for Liberty wields on the political right. Their recent annual summit featured multiple high-profile speakers, including presidential candidates DeSantis, Donald Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, and Asa Hutchinson.

DiSaster: Ron DeSantis Is Losing All His Top Donors

A new report says DeSantis’s biggest donors are backing out of supporting him for 2024.

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Ron DeSantis is continuing his spiral into loserdom as his campaign rapidly sheds its biggest donors, according to a new report from Politico published on Wednesday.

Of the 50 top donors who contributed at least $160,000 to DeSantis’s 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign, fewer than one-third (only 16 people) have contributed to the Never Back Down super PAC. Another eight donors have contributed to DeSantis’s presidential campaign directly, but still, that’s less than half of the total donors who supported him just last year.

Former Governor Bruce Rauner was one of DeSantis’s biggest boosters, having donated nearly $1 million to DeSantis during his 2022 reelection bid. Now Rauner says he’s planning to back another Republican presidential candidate: Nikki Haley.

“I think [DeSantis]’s done a terrific job as governor of Florida, and I’ve been, as I think you know, a big supporter of him in that role,” Rauner said. “I think Nikki Haley probably has the best chance to win the general election.… I think everyone is trying to sort things out. We gotta win, we gotta win the general.”

Last month, Rob Bigelow, the biggest donor to Never Back Down and to DeSantis’s reelection campaign, said that he would hold off from writing more checks for the super PAC until DeSantis adopted more moderate policies and generated more of his own funds.

Five other donors from the list of 50 are now supporting other Republican candidates, and of those who are still donating to DeSantis’s campaign, five are splitting their donations between DeSantis and other candidates.

The DeSantis campaign is still well funded; Never Back Down had nearly $97 million in June, which far surpasses his Republican competition, including Donald Trump. But those funds aren’t from new donors. According to Politico, $82 million of those funds are actually from DeSantis’s reelection campaign.

The DeSantis campaign has been marred by a series of failures and humiliations, which may help to explain his donors’ vanishing act. In July, the DeSantis campaign cut a third of its staff, and in August it replaced its campaign manager. But despite all his attempts at a campaign “reset,” his poll numbers continue to lag. In a CNN poll published Tuesday, DeSantis now trails Trump by a whopping 34 points.

Mar-a-Lago Employee Will Now Testify Against Trump in Classified Docs Case

A key witness has flipped against Donald Trump.

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A Mar-a-Lago employee and key witness in the classified documents case against Donald Trump has agreed to testify against the former president.

Resort information technology worker Yuscil Taveras had initially denied to special counsel Jack Smith’s team that there had been any conversations at Mar-a-Lago about security footage that prosecutors subpoenaed in 2022 as part of the investigation. But once he was assigned a new public defender in July, Taveras immediately recanted his testimony and gave a statement implicating Trump and his two co-defendants in efforts to delete the footage.

Taveras has now agreed to testify against Trump, Walt Nauta, and Carlos De Oliveira in exchange for avoiding prosecution, CNN reported Wednesday.

Trump was charged in Florida with keeping national defense secrets, making false statements, and conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other things, for hoarding classified materials at Mar-a-Lago. His body man Nauta and a Mar-a-Lago employee De Oliveira have also been charged. All three men are accused of trying to destroy evidence, including attempting to delete security footage off a server.

Taveras provided his original testimony when he was represented by Trump-appointed lawyer Stanley Woodward, who also represents Nauta. Prosecutors raised concerns in July that Woodward representing a defendant and a witness could create a conflict of interest. The chief judge presiding over Trump’s other federal indictment case in Washington offered to assign a federal public defender to Taveras, and Taveras accepted.

“Immediately after receiving new counsel, Trump Employee 4 retracted his prior false testimony and provided information that implicated Nauta, De Oliveira, and Trump in efforts to delete security camera footage,” an August filing from Smith said. Taveras was not named in the filing, but he was later identified through media reports.

Taveras’s flip is a major blow to Trump’s defense. Smith’s team has sought to prove that Trump not only knew that he was wrong to keep classified documents but also tried to cover up his actions. Taveras’s new testimony directly implicates Trump in the cover-up.

Judge Tosses Chesebro, Powell’s Desperate Attempt to Sever Cases in Georgia Trial

This is another huge blow for the two former Trump lawyers, who were charged for their role in trying to overthrow the 2020 election.

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Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee

A Georgia judge on Wednesday dealt a huge blow and denied requests from two of Donald Trump’s ex-lawyers to sever their lawsuits from the indictment against the former president for trying to overthrow the state’s 2020 election.

Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro were charged alongside Trump and 16 other co-defendants with felony racketeering for trying to overturn Georgia’s election results. All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Judge Scott McAfee heard arguments Wednesday from Powell and Chesebro’s lawyers. Powell was charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft, trespass and invasion of privacy and conspiracy to defraud the state. Her lawyers argued that she is not connected to the other defendants because she never officially represented Trump in Georgia.

Chesebro was charged with racketeering and conspiracy. He requested that his trial be severed not just from Trump’s but from Powell’s too. He has argued that he didn’t commit any unlawful actions because he was only sharing legal advice, not actively participating on Trump’s team.

Both his and Powell’s lawyers insisted that they could only get fair trials if they were tried alone, instead of alongside the other co-defendants, as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis plans.

But McAfee found their arguments unconvincing—and delivered a partial win for Willis. Although he also said he remained “very skeptical” of trying everyone at once, he gave Willis more time to make her case.

Based on what’s been presented today, I am not finding the severance from Mr. Chesebro or Ms. Powell is necessary to achieve a fair determination of the guilt or innocence for either defendant in this case,” he said at the hearing.

Chesebro was the original mastermind behind the plan to use slates of fake electors to swing the election for Trump. He also attended the rally on January 6 that eventually turned into the insurrection. It is unclear if he entered the Capitol, but video footage shows Chesebro following conspiracy theorist and Infowars host Alex Jones into sections of the restricted area around the building.

Powell was one of the main people pushing the falsehood that the election had been rigged. She regularly appeared on Fox News to spread the conspiracy theory. She was sanctioned in Michigan for alleging the election was fraudulent.

James O’Keefe Used Money From Project Veritas to Try to D.J. at Coachella

A new report says the far-right activist used his shady nonprofit’s money on a desperate attempt to flex.


The disgraced founder of Project Veritas, the right-wing nonprofit known for undercover “stings,” used the organization’s funds on a desperate attempt to D.J. at Coachella, a Washington Post report published Wednesday found.

James O’Keefe founded Project Veritas in 2010, rising to far-right prominence for his secretly recorded videos. O’Keefe claimed he was trying to expose wrongdoing by journalists, labor unions, and liberal figures and organizations, but it was later proven the videos were edited to leave out crucial context. O’Keefe was forced out of the nonprofit in February under a cloud of allegations of workplace misconduct and mismanaged funds.

Following O’Keefe’s departure, the Project Veritas board hired an outside law firm to conduct an internal audit. The nonprofit raised millions of dollars from conservative donors but recently was forced to lay off more than half of its staff and has since been operating on a skeleton crew. The results of the audit were shared with The Washington Post.

The audit found that O’Keefe had used hundreds of thousands of organization dollars to pay for personal expenses. This included $2,500 for a set of D.J. equipment, because O’Keefe wanted to perform at Coachella, the Post reported, citing two anonymous former employees. O’Keefe was apparently upset that his staff couldn’t book him a performance slot at the music festival, which has featured major acts including Beyoncé, Blackpink, and Billie Eilish.

O’Keefe also allegedly pressured his staff to set up donor meetings in California so he could use the organization’s funds to visit his girlfriend, who has been identified as California real estate agent and Selling the OC cast member Alexandra Rose. O’Keefe would write his romantic getaways off as work trips but only meet with minor donors. He also allegedly demanded his employees buy Rose “many expensive bottles of tequila,” according to the Post.

Other expenses included $600 for bottled water during one trip to San Antonio and $20,500 to move some staff operations to Virginia from Mamaroneck, New York, to coincide with O’Keefe’s stint as the lead in a September 2021 production of the musical Oklahoma! O’Keefe left his staff to deal with Hurricane Ida flooding their Mamaroneck office while he evacuated early to make one of the performances.

In August 2022, O’Keefe spent $12,000 for a helicopter flight to Southwest Harbor, Maine, from New York, and then $1,400 for a chauffeured black car from Portland to Southwest Harbor when bad weather forced the helicopter to land early. He actually spent $208,980 on luxury black-car travel over the course of two years.

Another Big Loss: Trump Found Liable in Second E. Jean Carroll Defamation Case

A federal judge has dealt another huge blow to Donald Trump in the E. Jean Carroll case.

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A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Donald Trump is liable for defaming E. Jean Carroll in 2019 and owes her monetary damages, which will be set at a later trial.

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. She had a second defamation lawsuit against him for comments that he made in 2019 that was originally set to go to trial in January.

Judge Lewis Kaplan, who also presided over her first lawsuit, issued a partial summary ruling Wednesday in Carroll’s favor, noting that Trump was already found to have defamed her.

“The truth or falsity of Mr Trump’s 2019 statements therefore depends—like the truth or falsity of his 2022 statement—on whether Ms Carroll lied about Mr Trump sexually assaulting her,” Kaplan said. “The jury’s finding that she did not therefore is binding in this case and precludes Mr Trump from contesting the falsity of his 2019 statements.”

Kaplan said that the January trial will simply be to set the amount of monetary damages Trump owes Carroll. The judge also denied Trump’s request to cap any future damages, meaning that the previous amount awarded should not be a factor the jury considers. Trump already owes Carroll $5 million from the first trial, and she is seeking $10 million this time around.

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 earlier this year. She amended her second lawsuit to include those comments.

Trump has tried repeatedly to wiggle out of paying Carroll what he owes her and of going to trial a second time. He even countersued her for defamation. But his efforts have been thwarted at every turn.

Kaplan has repeatedly tossed out Trump’s requests, slamming the arguments as “entirely unpersuasive” and noting that Carroll’s accusations that Trump raped her—not just sexually abused her—are “substantially true.” Trump also suffered a major blow in July when the Department of Justice said it no longer considers him immune in the case.

Navy Secretary: Tuberville Is “Aiding and Abetting” Communists With Military Blockade

Secretary of the Navy Carlos del Toro blasted Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville for his continued blockade of military promotions.

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Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville

The secretary of the Navy has condemned Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville for “aiding and abetting” Communist regimes with his months-long blockade of military promotions in objection to the Department of Defense’s abortion policy.

The Republican senator has blocked hundreds of promotions since March in protest over the department’s policy of reimbursing travel costs for service members who have to go out of state for an abortion. The Defense Department has warned that the blockade, which has left three branches of the military without official leaders, harms U.S. national security. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro on Tuesday issued the most scathing denunciation yet.

“As someone who was born in a Communist country, I would have never imagined that actually one of our own senators would actually be aiding and abetting Communist and other autocratic regimes around the world,” Del Toro, who was born in Cuba, told CNN. “This is having a real negative impact.”

Tuberville has blocked an unprecedented 301 military promotions over the abortion policy, resulting in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps being led by “acting” military leaders instead of confirmed ones. Some Pentagon officials have commented that if this continues, the Joint Chiefs of Staff will have to be renamed the “Joint Chief of Staff,” the Defense Department noted wryly in a Tuesday news brief.

The Pentagon says the policy will stay in place, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley warned that U.S. adversaries could interpret Tuberville’s blockade to mean the “United States was in a situation of internal division, instability … at the highest levels of its military.”

Tuberville continues to falsely insist that he is not endangering U.S. security or military readiness. “I’m disappointed that a secretary would say that about a senator. Makes you feel bad that we got leaders in the country like that,” he told CNN’s Manu Raju on Tuesday. “If I thought it was hurting readiness, I wouldn’t be doing this. But it’s not.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby hit back later that evening. “My best advice to the senator is, if you don’t like being criticized for this outrageous effort to hold up these promotions and advancements, then lift your hold,” he said on CNN.

“If it bothers you that we’re publicly talking about the impacts it’s having—and it is having an impact—then just lift the hold.”

Tuberville may have already reaped some consequences for the blockade. President Joe Biden announced in July he will keep the U.S. Space Command headquarters in Colorado, instead of moving it to Alabama as his predecessor wanted. White House officials said abortion policy had no influence in the decision, but the move still means that Alabama will miss out on 1,400 jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact.

That Big Poll Showing Trump and Biden Are Evenly Matched? Trump Helped Pay for It.

The Wall Street Journal poll is being cited in all the mainstream media outlets, with no caveat that Donald Trump’s Super PAC paid one of the pollsters.

Donald Trump
James Devaney/GC Images

A recent Wall Street Journal poll announced that most voters think Joe Biden is too old to be president for a second term—and a 2024 matchup between Biden and Donald Trump would be evenly split. The poll has since been covered across multiple mainstream media outlets, including MSNBC, CNN, and Fox.

There’s just one problem: The poll was conducted in part by Trump’s former campaign pollster.

The poll, which was published Monday, found that Biden and Trump are tied with 46 percent support each. But “nearly three-quarters of voters say the president is too old to run again,” the Journal article said. It has garnered widespread media attention and outrage. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough pointed out that Trump has been indicted four times and lied many, many more times, and yet he is tied with Biden simply because the latter is just three years older.

But the Journal neglects to provide information about one of the men behind the poll. Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio conducted the survey in partnership with a Democratic colleague, Michael Bocian. In a separate piece, the Journal acknowledged that Fabrizio “works for a super PAC supporting Trump’s candidacy.”

What the Journal does not mention anywhere is that Fabrizio also worked as the chief pollster on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. And since the start of 2023, Trump’s super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., has paid Fabrizio’s company more than $567,000, according to FEC filings.

Screenshot: FEC

Fabrizio also has extensive ties to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Manafort was convicted of tax evasion and bank fraud in 2018 (as well as of having terrible taste in jackets by the court of public opinion).

Fabrizio owned the firm that made a shady payment of $125,000 to Manafort in 2017. Fabrizio was also the lead Trump campaign pollster at the time Manafort provided raw polling data to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, via Manafort’s associate Konstantin Kilimnik. Deripaska has been under U.S. sanctions since 2018, and Kilimnik has been discovered to be a Russian spy.

61 Cop City Protesters in Atlanta Are Being Hit With RICO Charges

Dozens of activists have been indicted for opposing the construction of a massive police facility outside Atlanta.

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A protest against the proposed Cop City being built in an Atlanta forest, on March 9

Over 60 protesters have been indicted on RICO charges for their efforts to block construction of the massive police training facility known as “Cop City” outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

The indictment out of Fulton County court last Tuesday charges 61 protesters with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Many are facing additional charges of domestic terrorism or money laundering. The indictment was handed up by the same grand jury that handed up the indictments against Donald Trump and his co-defendants, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and is being prosecuted by Georgia Republican Attorney General Chris Carr.

Over the past year and a half, Georgia police have made dozens of arrests at the proposed site for Cop City, with charges ranging from alleged property damage and trespassing to domestic terrorism.

In May, Atlanta police arrested the organizers of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a bail fund for the protesters of Cop City. One of the fund’s organizers who was arrested, Marlon Kautz, had predicted in February that the state would level RICO charges at the protesters. 

“We understand that this movement is as broad as society itself. It includes environmental activists, community groups, faith leaders, abolitionists, students, artists, and people from all over,” Kautz said in February.

“But police, prosecutors, and even Governor Kemp have been trying to suggest in the media and in court that the opposition to Cop City is actually the work of a criminal organization whose members conspire to commit acts of terrorism. In essence, they’re trying to concoct a RICO-like story about the movement.”

Kautz along with fellow Atlanta Solidarity Fund organizers Adele Maclean and Savannah Patterson are listed in the RICO indictment, and are also facing an additional 15 counts of money laundering.

The date listed on the indictments is May 25, 2020, the day George Floyd was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. Although this date predates any Stop Cop City protesting, it’s possible that the Attorney General’s office plans to link the Stop Cop City movement with the larger protests that followed Floyd’s death.

The Cop City Vote coalition, an Atlanta-based campaign leading a referendum to halt the construction of the police facility, released a statement condemning the indictment.

“Today, Republican Attorney General Chris Carr, who used his platform to recruit for the January 6 insurrection, announced blatantly authoritarian RICO charges against 61 people,” the statement said. “These charges, like the previous repressive prosecutions by the State of Georgia, seek to intimidate protestors, legal observers, and bail funds alike, and send the chilling message that any dissent to Cop City will be punished with the full power and violence of the government.”

In June, Atlanta District Attorney Sherry Boston announced that her office would withdraw from criminal cases tied to the Cop City Protests the state’s Republican Attorney General had leveled at protesters. Boston cited the domestic terrorism charges specifically and said that she and Attorney General Chris Carr had “fundamentally different prosecution philosophies.”

The new indictment out of Fulton County is the state’s latest attempt to suppress political protest and dissent, even in the wake of violent police brutality—and to push through the massive $90 million police facility, no matter the cost.

This story has been updated.

Gloria Johnson, of Tennessee Three, Looks to Unseat GOP Senator Marsha Blackburn

Gloria Johnson has officially launched her 2024 Senate campaign.

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Tennessee state Representatives Justin Pearson, Gloria Johnson, and Justin Jones

Democratic state Representative Gloria Johnson, a member of the Tennessee Three, announced Tuesday that she will run to unseat Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn in 2024.

Johnson, alongside Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, gained national attention in March when she joined thousands of pro–gun control protesters in the state Capitol in the wake of a school shooting in Nashville. Republicans accused all three lawmakers of violating House decorum rules and voted to expel Jones and Pearson, both of whom are Black. The GOP fell one vote short of expelling Johnson, who is white.

Johnson used that same sense of activism when she launched her Senate campaign Tuesday near Knoxville’s Central High School, where she worked for years as a special education teacher and survived another school shooting in 2008. Johnson referred to the recent Tennessee legislature’s special session, which ended abruptly last week with no resolutions on gun control.

“I’m tired of Tennessee families being betrayed by those that represent them, over and over and over,” she said.

Several hundred people attended the launch event. Johnson will make stops in Nashville, which Jones represents, and Memphis (Pearson’s district) throughout the rest of the day. Pearson is also co-chairing the campaign.

In addition to gun control, Johnson has made abortion rights a central part of her campaign. Supporting abortion rights has proved massively beneficial to other Democratic campaigns, even in traditionally Republican strongholds.

“Republicans and Marsha Blackburn specifically … have taken away equality for women,” Johnson said at her launch event. “When you take someone’s bodily autonomy away, you have taken away equality.”

It won’t be an easy fight. Tennessee hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1995, and the last Democrat who won a statewide race was Governor Phil Bredesen, who was in office from 2003 to 2011. Blackburn beat Bredesen for her Senate seat in 2018 by nearly 11 percent.

But Johnson is confident she can mobilize enough grassroots support. She pointed to how the political landscape has changed dramatically, particularly with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and said that people who have historically voted Republican are telling her they plan to support her instead.

“I have never seen people so excited in my life as they are right now for 2024 to happen,” Johnson told Knox News.