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Judge to Donald Trump: STFU or Go to Jail

The judicial system is being forced to reckon with the physiological impossibility of the former president ever not talking.

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Former President Donald Trump speaks after returning from a break during his civil fraud trial at New York state’s Supreme Court on October 18, in New York City.

Donald Trump learned a fundamental legal lesson Friday morning: Actions do have consequences. The former president is currently staring down the very real prospect of jail time after he “blatantly” violated a gag order imposed in his New York bank fraud trial, reported The Daily Beast.

“In the current overheated climate, incendiary comments can and in some cases already [have], led to serious physical harm and worse,” said Justice Arthur F. Engoron as the trial began on Friday, demanding that Trump’s legal team explain the former president’s recent actions. Engoron would go on to levy a $5,000 fine on Trump, “payable to the New York Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection,” according to the order.

At issue was a post made by Trump on Truth Social earlier this month, in which he claimed that Engoron’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, was dating Senator Chuck Schumer. Trump also shared Greenfield’s Instagram details, effectively ushering a scourge of far-right sympathizers onto her social media accounts. Then, hours after Engoron issued his gag order, Trump launched more vitriol at the judge.

Trump attorney Chris Kise claimed the gag order was violated in error, blaming Trump’s “campaign machinery” for forgetting to remove a web page that mirrored the Truth Social post, which Trump had deleted. That answer wasn’t enough for the “typically easygoing” judge, who noted that the 2024 Republican presidential candidate is “still responsible for the large machine.”

“Despite this clear order, last night I learned that the subject of the offending post was never removed from the website DonaldJTrump.com, and in fact had been on that website for the past 17 days. I understand that it was removed late last night, but only in response to email from this court,” Engoron noted.

To say that this all could have been avoided is an understatement. The threat of jail time is an interesting turn in a civil case that was never actually going to lead to Trump facing the prospect of jail time. Rather, the case challenges the validity of his real estate business, the Trump Organization, and some of its dealings.

Engoron hasn’t been the only judge to slap Trump with a court order. On Tuesday, Judge Tanya Chutkan imposed another gag order on the former president in his D.C. trial, which focuses on his effort to subvert the 2020 election. In a statement, Chutkan said that Trump’s First Amendment protections “yield to the administration of justice” and that his presidential candidacy does not give him “carte blanche” to vilify public servants “who are simply doing their job.”

Engoron went to some lengths to impress upon Trump that there would be further consequences for further violations: “Donald Trump has received ample warning from this Court as to the possible repercussions of violating the gag order,” the judge wrote. “He specifically acknowledged that he understood and would abide by it.” “This Court is way beyond the ‘warning’ stage,” he added.

* This post has been updated.

Jim Jordan Makes a Clean Break From Reality in Rambling Rant

The freshly rebuffed would-be speaker of the House gave Capitol Hill reporters several pieces of his mind on Friday morning.

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Hours ahead of a third vote for speaker of the House, Representative Jim Jordan insisted that he’s not backing down.

For about 10 minutes, the continuously imperiled House speaker nominee offered his thoughts to reporters in a bizarre speech that name-checked the Wright brothers, ironically emphasized the need for unity, and even managed to sprinkle in some conspiracy-mongering about the validity of the 2020 presidential election.

But if there was any purpose to the ultraconservative’s brief message, it was that he plans to plough ahead with yet another floor vote, despite intraparty insistence that he should back down after two rounds of voting in which he’s lost ground.

This did not seem to trouble Jordan at all. “There’s been multiple rounds of votes for speaker before,” Jordan quipped, referring to former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s 15-ballot bid to land the House’s highest position, while the prospect of a series of weekend votes for the position looms over the legislature.

But momentum is not on Jordan’s side, as meetings between the Trump ally and his holdouts have gone south. Several of Jordan’s detractors have hardened in their opposition, in reaction to the nominee’s strong-arming campaign, in which Jordan allies sent anonymous threats to congressmen and their spouses. Now Jordan’s antagonists are unwilling to negotiate further, reported Punchbowl News’s Jake Sherman. Instead, they want Jordan to know that he will not be speaker.

Even among his allies, Jordan’s shtick is beginning to “wear a little thin,” and he has possibly “worn out his welcome,” one senior House GOP member told Fox News’s Chad Pergram.

Jordan’s long-shot bid to become speaker has only grown more fraught as the days have dragged on. In his first floor vote, 20 Republicans voted against him. In the second, another two joined their camp. And dozens more may be waiting in the wings to hop into this chorus of refusal: On Wednesday and Thursday, some party members warned that the tribe against Jordan is much larger than the “no” votes that have been tallied, with some alleging that more than half of the Republican members in the House are prepared to vote “no.”

Meanwhile, the House is unable to act on any policy without someone behind the gavel. On Friday, the White House asked Congress for $100 billion in an emergency national security funding package that would provide $61.4 billion to Ukraine, $14.3 billion to Israel, and another $10 billion in humanitarian aid. But if Jordan spends the next few days still fruitlessly chasing a vote he seems destined to lose, there’s no telling when, or if, these measures will get approved.

House Republicans Melt Down, Boil Over, and Spill to Reporters About It

Their plan to empower fill-in Speaker Patrick McHenry went up in flames, and Jim Jordan continues to lose supporters.

Rep. Jim Jordan after Thursday's meeting on Capitol Hill
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Representative Jim Jordan after Thursday’s meeting on Capitol Hill

It’s Day 16 without a House speaker, and congressional Republicans are no closer to electing someone to replace Kevin McCarthy than they were two weeks ago. Meanwhile, tensions appear to have reached a breaking point.

The GOP’s four-hour, closed-door meeting on Thursday began with a debate over extending Representative Patrick McHenry’s temporary speakership, but instead devolved into a full-blown meltdown, with party members pointing fingers at one another and somehow leaving the caucus even less unified than before.

McCarthy and Representative Matt Gaetz, one of the former speaker’s ousters, got especially heated. When Gaetz went to speak at the mic, McCarthy reportedly “screamed” at him to sit down. Representative Michael Bost then got “all emotional” and began cursing at Gaetz, huffing that the current predicament was “all his fault,” reported CNN’s Melanie Zanona.

“I think the whole country is screaming at Matt Gaetz,” McCarthy told Axios’s Juliegrace Brufke, denying allegations that he raised his voice.

One member of the House GOP turned to prayer. Another left for lunch. Still others took to a joint study session, scouring copies of the U.S. Constitution amid an unprecedented bid to expand McHenry’s power as speaker pro tempore so that he could run the House for weeks (or longer) while the party worked on electing a speaker.

But that plan—just like Representative Jim Jordan’s nomination for speaker, and Steve Scalise’s before him—lacks the necessary Republican votes to pass, which means only Democratic support could salvage it.

Jordan emerged from the GOP’s epic meeting to declare, “I’m still running for speaker, and I plan to go to the floor and get the votes.” But it’s not clear how he’ll get there.

The number of House Republicans on record opposing Jordan has grown from 20 to 22, and some of his detractors warn that the real number could be as high as 40. Which means there’s no end in sight to the GOP’s impasse.

GOP Representative Jim Banks said it best: “We don’t deserve the majority if we go along with a plan to give the Democrats control over the House of Representatives.”*

* This piece has been updated with the full quote from Banks.

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Jim Jordan Admits Defeat, Throwing Republicans Into Even More Disarray

Having failed two votes for House speaker, the hard-right Republican is throwing his support behind a plan to give fill-in Speaker Patrick Henry more power.

Rep. Jim Jordan talks to Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Patrick McHenry
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Representative Jim Jordan (right) talks to Speaker Pro Tempore Representative Patrick McHenry in the House of Representatives on October 18.

After two failed floor votes, and his number of Republican supporters in decline, Representative Jim Jordan is backing down from his bid for House speaker.

The Ohio Republican announced Thursday morning that he would not be pursuing an additional floor vote, reported The Washington Post. Instead, Jordan is reversing course and backing a plan to expand the powers of Representative Patrick McHenry’s temporary speakership until January.

It’s currently unclear how many Republicans will get behind McHenry, though predictions haven’t been rosy. Ahead of a short recess, Texas Representative Pat Fallon estimated that two-thirds of the caucus will oppose the resolution, reported Punchbowl News’s John Bresnahan.

Other Republicans appeared frustrated and even betrayed by the turn of events, openly fuming to press about the McHenry plan.

“It’s absurd,” Indiana Representative Jim Banks told Fox News, noting that at least half of the Republican members in the House plan to vote against it. “It was the biggest ‘F.U.’ to Republican voters I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s going to take Democrats to make it happen. And that’s a historic betrayal to our Republican voters if we go along with it. It’s a big mistake,” Banks added.

Arizona Representative Debbie Lesko allegedly told Jordan that he should step down if he supports the McHenry resolution, snubbing Jordan’s behavior as “self-serving,” according to Politico’s Olivia Beavers.

Meanwhile, House Democrats have their own set of requirements for the fill-in.

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Democrats want assurances that the temporary speaker will support the previously negotiated debt limit deal and consider supplemental aid to Ukraine and Israel. They also are demanding that whoever fills the seat be someone who voted to certify the 2020 presidential election results, reported Punchbowl News’s Heather Caygle.

McHenry refused to respond to any questions regarding the impending decision, reported Fox News’s Chad Pergram.

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Look Who’s Flipped on Donald Trump

Lawyer Sidney Powell pleaded guilty in the Georgia election conspiracy case and will testify against the former president.

Fulton County Sheriff's Office/Getty Images
Attorney Sidney Powell poses for her booking photo on August 23 in Atlanta.

Former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell cut a deal with Fulton County prosecutors on Wednesday, pleading guilty to six misdemeanor charges in the Georgia election interference case just one day before her criminal trial was set to begin.

Powell, a prominent election fraud conspiracy theorist, was sentenced to six years probation and slapped with a $6,000 fine. She will also be required to pay $2,700 in restitution to the state of Georgia to cover the cost of replacing the violated election equipment.

As part of the deal, Powell is required to write an apology letter to the citizens of Georgia, and eventually will testify against her 17 co-defendants, including her onetime client Donald Trump.

By taking the plea deal, Powell is admitting to her role in the election-systems breach in Republican-heavy Coffee County in January 2021, where Trump supporters accessed and copied election data in hopes of subverting the presidential election results.

Powell is the second person to plead guilty in the racketeering case. Last month, Atlanta-area bail bondsman Scott Hall admitted to a special grand jury that he gained access to the voting machines. Hall has also agreed to testify at future trials.

Another co-defendant and alleged architect of the scheme, Kenneth Chesebro, allegedly rejected his plea deal, which would have given him three years’ probation and a $10,000 fine, ABC News reported. Jury selection in Chesebro’s expedited trial begins Friday.

Trial dates have not yet been set for Trump and his 16 remaining co-defendants.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene Shamelessly Calls Peaceful Protest at the Capitol an “Insurrection”

The Georgia congresswoman, who has long made excuses for the January 6 rioters, got triggered by a few hundred anti-war activists.

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Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has long downplayed the January 6 riot that claimed five lives, has denounced a peaceful protest on Capitol Hill as an “insurrection” and demanded that the police preserve surveillance footage of the protesters.

Hundreds of Jewish American activists—many of them members of Jewish Voice for Peace, an anti-Zionist group—held a sit-in at a House of Representatives building on Wednesday to demand a cease-fire in Gaza. It was too much for Greene’s delicate sensibilities, apparently.

The Georgia congresswoman says she will ask the House to censure Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib, who Greene says “organized” the protest. She also filed a request with the Capitol Police “to preserve all video surveillance footage, photographic evidence, police reports, and arrest records” from the House office buildings.

This is coming from the same person who has referred to the January 6 rioters as “political prisoners,” suggested they were following “what our Declaration of Independence says ... to overthrow tyrants,” and said that if she and former President Donald Trump had led the attack on the Capitol, they would have “won.

At yesterday’s sit-in at the Cannon House Office Building, activists carried signs demanding a cease-fire and chanted, “Not in our name.” More than 500 people, including Rabbis, were arrested by Capitol Police, organizers estimated.

Tlaib spoke to a section of the protest outside the Capitol Building, calling on President Joe Biden to rethink his unequivocal support for Israel in the war.

“President Biden, not all Americans are with you on this one and you need to understand that. We are literally watching people commit genocide and killing the vast majority just like this, and we still stand by and say nothing. We will remember this,” she told the crowd.

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Rabid Jim Jordan Fans Go Nuts on Republicans Who Let Him Down

Several House Republicans claim they’re being harassed by people who support Jim Jordan for House speaker.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Representative Jim Jordan’s bid for speaker of the House was always a long shot, but his allies may have doomed him.

Along with a pressure campaign orchestrated by Sean Hannity’s production team at Fox, Jordan’s camp is allegedly (and often anonymously) attempting to strong-arm his critics in hopes of reversing some two dozen holdouts against the Ohio Republican.

Tactics, which Jordan himself has disavowed, have so far included veiled threats and leveraging outright lies about political allegiances, according to several Republicans.

Jordan has so far lost two floor votes for the gavel, bleeding more votes with each run. On Tuesday, the ultraconservative lost the ballot by 20 votes. During Wednesday’s vote, he lost two more, suggesting that something behind the scenes was going haywire.

Several of Jordan’s detractors took to the press to make their grievances with the unsavory gambit known.

Representative Don Bacon told Politico that his wife had received several anonymous emails and texts warning her husband to back Jordan, reading things like, “Why is your husband causing chaos by not supporting Jim Jordan?” and claiming that Bacon was a “failure” and not a “team player.”

“Threatening us does not work,” Bacon later told Newsmax.

Representative Carlos Giménez told NBC he has been the target of robocalls over his opposition to Jordan’s candidacy.

In an interview with CBS, Giménez added that Jordan’s camp was weaponizing misinformation and “total lies” to sway opinion, including claiming that the Florida congressman would cast his vote for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

“It doesn’t work on me. What you’ve done now is you’ve cemented my position,” Giménez said, calling the behavior “very disturbing.”

Other Republicans agreed, doubling down on their previous positions.

“The one thing that will never work with me—if you try to pressure me, if you try to threaten me, then I shut off,” Representative Mario Díaz-Balart told Politico.

“I don’t think it’s been helpful to Jim,” Representative Byron Donalds told C-SPAN, referring to Jordan’s whip operation. “Some of the stuff just is not going to move these members. As a matter of fact, it only makes them harder to convince.”

As Jordan preps for another ballot for House speaker Thursday at noon, his Republican opponents warn that he will only continue to bleed more votes, revealing to CNN’s Melanie Zanona that they have been staggering their “no” votes against Jordan to illustrate growing opposition.

“Not in Our Name”: Jewish Activists Take Over Capitol to Demand Ceasefire in Gaza

The massive Jewish-led protest was met with mass arrests.

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
Hundreds of Jewish activists protest against the Israeli military operation in Gaza, inside the Capitol, on October 18.

Hundreds of Jewish activists protested inside the Capitol on Wednesday, demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. And just as quickly, Capitol Police began arresting them.

The Jewish-led protest involved thousands more protesting outside the Capitol, as well as about two dozen rabbis leading a prayer inside the halls of Congress. Organizers of the event estimated that 500 protesters were arrested, including the rabbis.

Activists inside the Capitol rotunda brought signs emblazoned with such slogans as “Jews say ceasefire now” and “Mourn the dead, and fight like hell for the living.” Those gathered frequently broke out into chants, proclaiming, “Not in our name.”

Capitol Police arrested the protesters, citing rules forbidding demonstrations inside congressional buildings.

Wednesday’s protest action, which kicked off at noon local time, was organized by a coalition of groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow.

“Our movement will stop the genocide,” read one post from IfNotNow on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Our movement will end apartheid. Our movement will win freedom, equality, and safety for all.”

Outside the Capitol, several Jewish leaders, as well as Representatives Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib, gave speeches demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. Representative Ayanna Pressley also later expressed solidarity with the protesters. All three progressives are part of a small coalition of House Democrats who have introduced a congressional resolution demanding “an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine.”

Dozens of Jewish activists were also arrested during a protest outside the White House on Monday. IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, which organized that protest as well, demanded that President Joe Biden force a ceasefire.

The latest round of violence in this conflict began when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel earlier this month, killing hundreds of Israelis and taking dozens hostage. Israel has responded with a bombing campaign, as well by limiting the occupied Gaza Strip’s water, food, and electricity. The U.N. estimates that more than 3,000 Palestinians and 1,300 Israelis have died thus far.

This article has been updated.

Trump’s D.C. Trial Could Soon Be Televised for Your Viewing Pleasure

You may be able to watch one of Donald Trump’s biggest trials in real time.

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Donald Trump might be the star of a new TV special soon: his upcoming D.C. trial.

NBCUniversal News Group filed a 43-page motion on Wednesday hoping to televise USA v Trump, the first criminal trial of a U.S. president.

“The American public has an extraordinary interest in seeing and hearing this trial of former President Trump,” the corporation’s legal team, fronted by Theodore Boutrous Jr., wrote in its application. “If ever a trial were to be televised, this one should be, for the benefit of American democracy.”

Trump faces four felony counts in D.C. for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results: two charges related to the disruption of Congress’s certification of the electoral vote on January 6, 2021; another for attempting to thwart the tallying of votes; and a fourth for conspiracy to deprive U.S. citizens of their right to vote.

In a request filed to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, NBC asked to broadcast the trial with audio and video, either with a slight delay by press pool or live using the court’s own equipment.

The effort faces an uphill battle—electronic media coverage of criminal cases has been prohibited in federal courts for the better part of the last century. So far, video access hasn’t been allowed during any of Trump’s pretrial hearings in the case, though an overflow courtroom with a video feed has been set up for reporters.

“No compelling or substantial government interest supports restricting public access to a minuscule number of reporters and a handful of members of the public who can physically access the courtroom in Washington, D.C. to see and hear what happens,” the NBCU legal team wrote.

NBCU’s latest filing isn’t the only attempt to bring cameras into the courtroom, however. Earlier this month, a media coalition including C-SPAN, CBS News, ABC News, and CNN filed a joint application to televise the proceedings. That bid included a request to the Judicial Conference, which drafts the rules and regulations binding federal courts.

Judge Chutkan has scheduled March 4, 2024, as the start date for Trump’s trial—right before Super Tuesday.