Skip Navigation
Breaking News
The Ticker
Breaking news from Washington and beyond

Pathetic: Vivek Ramaswamy Tried to Tweet a CNN Town Hall Into Existence

The Republican presidential candidate seems to think he can strong-arm CNN into this.

Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy desperately tried to tweet a CNN town hall into existence.

Ramaswamy announced in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, last week that he would be appearing in a CNN town hall in New York on September 12. But sources familiar with the matter told Semafor that the event was never actually confirmed.

One source said that Ramaswamy wrote the tweet after CNN told his campaign that the event would not take place on that day, and that it was an attempt to “will it into existence.” Apparently Ramaswamy’s team was so sure that the town hall would happen that some of them bought tickets to the U.S. Open because they planned to be in New York that week.

In a statement, a CNN spokesperson said that CNN does not currently have an event scheduled with Ramaswamy. “The information in Mr. Ramaswamy’s post is incorrect and there is not a CNN Town Hall currently planned for September 12th,” the spokesperson told Semafor.

When shown the statement from CNN, Tricia McLaughlin, a spokesperson for Ramaswamy’s campaign, said that they had confirmed the September 12 slot and even selected a moderator.

Lying on Twitter is just another page Ramaswamy seems to be taking out of the Trump playbook, but too bad for him he doesn’t have the power of manifestation to back it up.

Putin Suck-up Elon Musk Shut Off Starlink to Stop a Ukrainian Attack

A new report found Elon Musk used Starlink to disrupt a planned Ukranian attack on Russia.

Nathan Laine/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Elon Musk personally foiled a Ukrainian attack on Russia last year when he cut off Starlink internet service near the Crimean coast, according to excerpts from a new biography of the Tesla founder.

Musk became involved with the war shortly after Russia invaded in February 2022, when he agreed to set up a nationwide network of satellite internet terminals, called Starlink, throughout Ukraine. This would help protect against Russian cyberattacks and allow the Ukrainian military to maintain constant contact while on the battlefield. An August profile of Musk in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow revealed that Musk repeatedly threatened to cut off Ukraine’s access to Starlink, which has become crucial to the country’s military success.

In Walter Isaacson’s new biography, Elon Musk, which will be released next week, he reveals that in one incident last year, Musk ordered his engineers to turn off the Starlink communications satellites just as explosives-laden Ukrainian submarine drones approached a Russian naval fleet. The submarines “lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly,” Isaacson wrote.

Musk apparently was worried the attack would spark a “mini-Pearl Harbor” should Russia respond with nuclear weapons—based on conversations he was having with Russian officials. So his solution was to insert himself into a conflict in which he has no business meddling nor experience in solving.

Ukrainian soldiers have also lost internet connection on the front lines in other regions, forcing battalions to retreat or commanders to drive into battle just to be in radio range. U.S. and Ukrainian officials told The New Yorker they believed SpaceX, which manages Starlink, had cut off the internet terminals in certain areas, including major battlefields—including Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, and Donetsk.

Musk has said he takes issue with Starlink being used for warfare and has previously advocated for a peaceful end to the Ukraine war. Except, his ideas for peace involve talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin and coming up with a “peace plan” that involves ceding swathes of Ukraine to Russian control.

Musk keeps saying his ultimate goal is to “de-escalate” the war and achieve peace. But all of his actions seem more geared toward making him the center of attention, no matter what.

Trump-Stacked Supreme Court May Have Already Exonerated Hunter Biden

Federal prosecutors plan to indict Hunter Biden on a gun charge. But what about the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on guns?

Julia Nikhinson/Sipa/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The special counsel investigating Hunter Biden plans to indict the first son on a gun charge. The only problem is that the conservative Supreme Court may have already overturned the law Biden allegedly violated.

Biden had initially agreed to a deal in which he would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of tax evasion and participated in a pretrial program for a gun offense, allowing him to avoid jail time. When that deal fell apart in July, the Justice Department appointed David Weiss as a special counsel to investigate Biden further.

Weiss announced his plan Wednesday to indict Biden on just the gun charge by the end of the month. The charge is over Biden answering “no” on a federal form he filled out while buying a handgun when asked if he was an “unlawful user” of drugs. Biden has struggled with crack cocaine addiction and was having trouble staying sober at the time.

Except Weiss may not actually be able to bring the charge. Last year, the Supreme Court significantly loosened gun control laws when the conservative majority ruled that Americans have a general right to arm themselves in public. Biden’s lawyers have already argued that the ruling makes trying to prosecute the first son on gun charges pointless.

The Supreme Court ruling has already been cited in another, much lower-profile case. The Fifth Circuit appeals court ruled in August that drug users shouldn’t be automatically banned from owning guns. The court overturned the conviction of a Mississippi man who had two guns in his car during a 2022 traffic stop and admitted to regular marijuana use, although he was not driving under the influence at the time.

“Our history and tradition may support some limits on an intoxicated person’s right to carry a weapon, but it does not justify disarming a sober citizen based exclusively on his past drug usage,” the three-judge panel said in the ruling.

Republicans have complained that Biden got a “sweetheart” plea deal and that the Justice Department has treated him with kid gloves. But it might be a little harder to take issue with Biden being exonerated by a ruling from the Supreme Court, which was stacked with conservatives by GOP leader Donald Trump.

Trump Plans “Family-Style” Candlelight Dinner to Raise Money for Co-Defendants

Donald Trump will be hosting a dinner at Mar-a-Lago to raise money for all the people implicated in his indictments.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump is planning a “family-style” candlelight dinner with his two adult sons at Mar-a-Lago to help pay the legal bills of his co-defendants and witnesses, according to The Messenger.

While the details of the event are still being worked out, it is expected to raise somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million for the Patriot Legal Defense Fund, a fund set up to pay the legal bills of others implicated across Trump’s four indictments.

Similar to previous fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago, the dinner will be held in one of the resort’s private dining rooms where the table can seat about two dozen attendees. “It’s a family-style dinner, very intimate and exclusive,” said one Trump official.

The Patriot Legal Defense Fund was created by a group of Trump allies led by Michael Glassner, a longtime Trump adviser. Before that, the Save America super PAC was primarily footing the legal expenses of the former president and his allies caught up in the indictments. Sources told The Messenger that Save America will primarily cover Trump’s legal expenses and work in tandem with the Patriot Legal Defense Fund.

While the Patriot Legal Defense Fund is technically separate from both Save America and Trump’s 2024 campaign, allowing it to sidestep the Federal Election Committee’s campaign finance rules, there are some ethical questions remaining. The fund’s website originally redirected clicks to “Donate Now” to Trump’s campaign website, according to The Daily Beast.

Trump is already hosting a $100,000-per-plate fundraiser on Thursday night for Rudy Giuliani, who has been embroiled in an expensive series of lawsuits that have left the former mayor broke and begging for financial assistance.

As the legal bills continue to pile up, these fundraisers will only become more frequent, and it’s possible that the number of people willing to shell out for an expensive dinner with the Trumps will wane. Either way, there is no way that $100K chicken tastes that good.

“I Will Ask It a Third Time”: Vivek Ramaswamy Refuses to Explain Past Trump Criticism

MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan grilled Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy on his past comments in a heated interview.

Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Vivek Ramaswamy is so committed to sucking up to Donald Trump that he won’t even explain his own past criticism of the former president.

Trump was banned from Twitter and Facebook days after the January 6 riot for inciting violence on the platforms. Ramaswamy criticized the tech giants’ move in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece as a violation of free speech, but he also had some choice words for Trump himself. Ramaswamy described the riot as “disgraceful” and called Trump’s actions “egregious” and “downright abhorrent” on Twitter.

But now that he is running against Trump for president, Ramaswamy is confusingly and aggressively refusing to address his comments. When MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan pressed him about the criticisms Wednesday night, Ramaswamy did everything he could to avoid actually answering the question.

“What did Donald Trump do, in your view, that was ‘downright abhorrent’? Second time I’ve asked that question,” Hasan said.

“The thing that I would have done differently if I were in his shoes, is I would have declared reelection on January 7,” Ramaswamy replied.

Hasan asked Ramaswamy to explain his comments several more times, but Ramaswamy never gave a straight answer. Instead, he kept saying what he would have done on January 6.

The interview is a clear example of how most Republican candidates are too scared to criticize Trump—even though they are running against him. Trump is the front-runner by a wide margin, and the other presidential hopefuls can’t afford to alienate his supporters if they want to peel any away from him.

Ramaswamy has also taken several pages from Trump’s playbook. The biotech entrepreneur has openly embraced making Eminem angry, pushing conspiracy theories, caving to autocratic leaders, and using his campaign to evade lawsuits.

Tommy Tuberville Says He’s Worried About People in the Military Reading Poems

The Republican senator says his blockade of military promotions isn’t the real threat to the military. It’s the poetry.

Julie Bennett/Getty Images
Senator Tommy Tuberville

Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville thinks that the real threat to military readiness is sailors reading poems, not his blockade on hundreds of military promotions.

The Republican senator has blocked hundreds of promotions since March in protest over the Defense Department’s policy of reimbursing travel costs for service members who have to go out of state for an abortion. The 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 slammed Tuberville on Tuesday for “aiding and abetting Communist and other autocratic regimes” with his misguided protest.

“Secretary Del Toro of the Navy, he needs to get to building ships, he needs to get to recruiting, and he needs to get wokeness out of our Navy,” Tuberville hit back Wednesday evening, speaking on Fox News. “We’ve got people doing poems on aircraft carriers over the loudspeaker. It is absolutely insane the direction that we’re headed in our military, and we’re headed downhill, not uphill.”

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. The Pentagon says the policy will stay in place, and multiple defense officials, including department Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley, have warned that Tuberville’s blockade is a threat to military readiness and national security.

The senator, however, continues to falsely insist that his actions do not have a negative impact on the military. He said Tuesday that Del Toro’s comment “makes you feel bad.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby had a simple solution. “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 told CNN Tuesday evening.

“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.”

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.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
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.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

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.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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.

Jason Getz/Atlanta Journal Constitution/Bloomberg/Getty Images
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.