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Republicans Pick Yet Another Election Denier as Next House Speaker

Republicans keep nominating one election denier after the next.

Representative Tom Emmer
Win McNamee/Getty Images

After weeks of failed attempts, Republicans have their latest nominee for speaker of the House: Majority Whip Tom Emmer.

Emmer won the majority vote in a series of quick-fire elimination rounds held Tuesday, ultimately garnering 117 votes.

Nine candidates initially raised their hands and crafted platforms for their speakership ahead of Tuesday’s proceedings—nearly all of them election deniers. Emmer, unlike the majority, voted to certify the 2020 presidential election results and railed against objections to Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s election results, but it’s critical to note that he still worked to spread election falsehoods.

In the days preceding the January 6 Capitol riot, the Minnesota congressman was one of more than 100 Republicans who signed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to throw out Biden’s winning numbers in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Somehow, Emmer’s stance stands out against the opinions of his predecessors, Representatives Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise, who both voted to overturn the results.

Emmer’s insider perspective and congressional experience were enough to earn key endorsements early on in his candidacy, including those of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Representative Ken Buck, who led a holdout vote against Jordan’s failed candidacy last week.

It still remains to be seen if Emmer can hold onto his popularity until the House reconvenes for a floor vote, considering the splintering party’s razor-thin majority.

What Trump Suggests His Supporters Do to Undermine the Next Election

Donald Trump is already laying the groundwork to question the 2024 election results.

Donald Trump
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Donald Trump is already prepping to undermine the 2024 election: this time, by explicitly calling on his supporters to focus on harassing voters and election workers.

At an event in Derry, New Hampshire, on Monday, Trump told a crowd of supporters that rather than participate in the upcoming presidential election, “you gotta be careful, you gotta get out there and watch those voters!”

“You don’t have to vote, don’t worry about voting. The voting—we got plenty of votes,” Trump bizarrely said to his own supporters. (This would be a strange message in any state, but especially so in New Hampshire, where Biden is leading Trump, according to most recent polling.)

This isn’t the only time this week that the Republican Party’s front-runner has tried to preemptively undermine the 2024 election. On Monday, Trump reposted a meme on Truth Social threatening election workers.

Trump and his own group of mobsters are currently on trial in Georgia for interfering with the 2020 election, where their racketeering charges are directly linked to the intimidation and harassment of poll workers. So far, three former Trump lawyers (Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis) have flipped on the former president.

Trump’s attempts to turn up the heat on the pillars of our democracy, like free and fair elections and the people who run them, reveal his increasing desperation to win at any price.

Cancel Culture? Jewish Editor Fired for Sharing Onion Article on Gaza

Michael Eisen says his dismissal was due to his sharing the satirical article.

The Onion newstand
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A Jewish editor in chief of a science journal says he was fired from his position after sharing an article on the siege in Gaza from the satirical website The Onion.

Michael Eisen, who edits the Cambridge-based science journal eLife, on Monday shared the news of his dismissal on X (formerly Twitter).

Eisen, who is also a geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley, had shared an Onion article titled “Dying Gazans Criticized for Not Using Last Words to Condemn Hamas.”

“Every sane person on Earth is horrified and traumatized by what Hamas did and wants it to never happen again,” he clarified in a later tweet. “All the more so as a Jew with Israeli family. But I am also horrified by the collective punishment already being meted out on Gazans, and the worse that is about to come.”

To protest Eisen’s firing, fellow editor Lara Urban also announced her resignation on Monday afternoon.

Since the latest round of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began earlier this month, people who have advocated for Palestinian rights, statehood, or even a cease-fire have been subjected to intense criticism. The U.N. estimates that 1,400 Israelis and nearly 5,100 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been killed.

Trump’s New Ploy to Throw Out D.C. Election Case Is a Stretch Even for Him

Amid a late-night motion frenzy, one pointless argument stands out.

Donald Trump
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s defense team is working overtime to get his D.C. election fraud case thrown out—filing a whopping four motions to dismiss charges.

But the funniest part? In one of the motions filed just before Monday’s midnight deadline, Trump’s attorneys claimed they wanted references to January 6 “stricken from the record.”

His lawyers argue that since the indictment doesn’t technically charge Trump with responsibility for the insurrection, they are “not relevant” to a case deliberating on Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

“They relate to a high-profile issue on which the public has high awareness and strong opinions, making their inclusion prejudicial and inflammatory,” Trump’s team wrote.

To put that another way, Trump’s team wants all references to January 6 removed from Trump’s January 6–related indictment.

In a second motion, Trump filed to dismiss the case outright under the former president’s First Amendment rights, claiming that he did not “defraud the United States,” since he truly believed the election was rigged.

Another late-night filing sought dismissal on statutory grounds, arguing that the “prosecution does not explain how President Trump violated these statutes, beyond simply saying he has while regurgitating the statutory language.”

In a fourth filing, lawyers Todd Blanche, John Lauro, and Gregory Singer also asked for dismissal “on the basis of selective and vindictive prosecution.”

Trump attorneys had long threatened that they would attempt to challenge the conspiracy case, telling Judge Tanya Chutkan outright at a hearing in August that they would do so.

“I can’t wait,” Chutkan said at the time.

Monday’s late-night frenzy is just the latest in the bid to get the proceedings, which constitute the first criminal trial against a former U.S. president, thrown out. In August, lawyers for Trump also demanded that Chutkan recuse herself over comments she had made in previous cases related to the Capitol riots.

Let the Flipping Continue: Trump Election Lawyer Turns Against Him

Another of Donald Trump’s former allies has flipped against him.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

The tides have started to turn in the Georgia election interference case—and it appears there will soon be a tsunami of evidence against Team Trump.

On Tuesday, former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis struck a plea deal with Fulton County prosecutors. Ellis has pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings.

Ellis agreed to be sentenced to five years’ probation along with a $5,000 restitution. She will also be required to complete 100 hours of community service and is expected to cooperate and testify against Trump and his 15 remaining co-conspirators as part of her plea deal.

Ellis is the third member of Trump’s legal team to flip on him in the Georgia case, behind Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, who both pleaded guilty on related charges last week. They followed Scott Hall, a Georgia bail bondsman, who was the first person to plead guilty in the criminal conspiracy.

“In the frenetic pace of attempting to raise challenges in several states, including Georgia, I failed to do my due diligence,” Ellis said.

“If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these postelection challenges. I look back on this whole experience with deep remorse.”

Cognitive Decline? Trump Mixes Up Autocrats Who Love Him

The gaffe says quite a bit about the fascists in Donald Trump’s Rolodex.

Donald Trump
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Donald Trump blundered the name of one of his international friends during a campaign speech on Monday, mispronouncing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s name as “Viktor Orbán”—prime minister of Hungary.

The gaffe underscored a worrying detail about the 2024 GOP presidential candidate: Clearly, Trump has too many adoring fascists in his Rolodex to keep them straight.

“The whole world is exploding. You know I was very honored—Victor Orbán, did anyone ever hear of him? He’s probably one of the strongest leaders anywhere in the world. Right? He’s the leader of Turkey,” Trump said to a quiet crowd in Derry, New Hampshire.

In some ways, it’s not too hard to confuse the two. Erdoğan and Orbán both lead authoritarian regimes, they both belong to NATO, and they’re both obsessed with the concept of an “illiberal democracy” that doesn’t protect individual rights or freedoms.

Then again, there are some big differences, like the countries they come from. Orbán, who has been accused of violating the Geneva Conventions regarding the rights of refugees*, was described by the late Senator John McCain as a “neo-fascist dictator.” He’s also curried a certain level of idolatry from the contemporary American right. Meanwhile, Erdoğan has rigged elections, restricted the press, and been described as an “electoral autocrat.” And again, they run completely different countries. You’d think a former president would be able to remember the difference.

*This article has been amended to clarify the Geneva Conventions that Orban is accused of violating.

Mike Collins Is the Republican Troll We Need Amid Speaker Drama

One Republican representative won’t stop making fun of his own party for the House speaker drama. His name is Mike Collins.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Georgia Representative Mike Collins

Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes, they just make us laugh.

While nine GOP candidates for speaker of the House were unveiling their platforms, Georgia Representative Mike Collins was at it again, cooking up some of the freshest memes from inside the caucus.

“Press releases are out, memes are in,” Collins wrote in a parodistic platform release on Monday.

“Carmines for dinner after every conference,” read another bullet point.

One name-check turned some heads, however. Collins’s deepest jab was directed at conservative pollster and talking point consultant Frank Luntz: that there would be “no more having to listen to Frank Luntz at retreats.”

Since former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was booted from the seat on October 3, Collins has repeatedly found a way to vent his frustrations, and ours, through humor.

The congressman’s gags grew markedly more absurd after Majority Leader Steve Scalise lost his bid for speaker. Since then, Collins has taken the helm of his own Twitter account, grabbing laughs in equal parts to relieve the exhaustion and to snipe at his own blundering peers.

Last Wednesday, in a post anticipating Representative Jim Jordan’s first floor vote, the chief memer shared a video of himself rolling a Magic Eight Ball as its die tumbled around. “Don’t count on it,” the ball predicted.

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Collins shared that he writes most of his viral tweets down himself, though it can require a little collaboration with staff.

Check Out These Activists’ Ingenious Idea for Wiping Out Student Debt

The Debt Collective has just wiped out $10 million in student debt and is calling on Joe Biden to do his part.

Morehouse College graduates wearing caps and gowns participate in the commencement ceremony. A student smiles in the foreground.
Paras Griffin/Getty Images
Morehouse College graduates participate in the 2023 commencement ceremony on May 21, in Atlanta.

About $10 million in student loans were canceled on Monday—all thanks to the work of an activist group.

The action helps 2,777 former students who owed a collective $9.7 million to Morehouse College, a historically Black liberal arts school in Atlanta.

To accomplish the feat, Morehouse agreed to transfer the debt it held in collections to the Debt Collective, a self-described “debtors’ union,” which in turn, chose to unilaterally cancel the privately held loans. Notably, the erased loans were owed directly to the college by way of attendance fees, unpaid tuition, or even parking fees, reported USA Today. They did not impact any outstanding federal loans held by the cohort.

“In many ways, Black Americans are bearing the brunt of the student debt crisis,” tweeted the activist organization. “And now, Biden is resuming costly payments for the first time in 3 years. Shame.”

The $10 million comes as one small drop in the bucket for tens of millions of Americans who owe a collective $1.6 trillion in federal student loans, but the road to forgiveness has been a rocky one.

In July, the Biden administration skirted expectations when it canceled $39 billion in student debt for more than 800,000 Americans, just weeks after an ultraconservative Supreme Court ruled 6–3 to shoot down Biden’s federal student loan forgiveness plan, which would have erased as much as $20,000 per borrower for 43 million Americans under the Heroes Act of 2003.

The forgiveness of $39 billion was primarily the result of fixing bureaucratic errors in the files of thousands of borrowers who had long ago earned their forgiveness but were omitted due to partial or late payments or even claiming temporary pauses to further pursue their education.

Earlier this month, the president announced another $9 billion that amounted to more technical fixes for students who repaid their dues via public service.

But the Biden administration hasn’t given up on outright loan forgiveness. The latest plan hinges on the Higher Education Act, which allows Biden to direct the education secretary to “compromise, waive, or release loans under certain circumstances.”

“This new path is legally sound,” Biden said when he rolled out the initial proposal in June. “It’s going to take longer, but in my view, it’s the best path that remains to provide for as many borrowers as possible with debt relief.”

Texas Dems Finally Push Back on Their Own D.A. Who’s Been Investigating Them

Texas Democrats have had enough of Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.

Brett Comer/Houston Chronicle/Getty Images
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg

In Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city, the feud between District Attorney Kim Ogg and her own party has reached a boiling point.

On Monday, more than 60 Democratic Party leaders submitted a resolution to formally condemn Ogg’s role in weakening voter rights and attacking criminal justice reform, and her tacit approval of Republican voter-suppression laws. The move also comes after reports of Ogg using her power to investigate members of her own party over personal feuds.

“The primary mission of the Harris County Democratic Party is to elect Democrats who support the U.S. Constitution, share our values, and are willing to stand up against extremist Republicans,” the resolution penned by local precinct chairs begins. But Ogg has “stood silent” on Republican efforts to squeeze the life out of Harris County’s blue voting bloc, going so far as to bring criminal charges against a 64-year-old Black man for voting while on parole (the charges were quickly thrown out), and standing by while the Texas Rangers—an agency with a sordid history—opened a criminal investigation against election workers based on “debunked conspiracy theories and outright lies invented and promoted by Republican Party officials.”

Ogg has also used her position to attack political opponents with onerous court cases, effectively punishing them for challenging her. In mid-September, a county court-at-law judge told the Houston Chronicle that he warned colleagues not to cross her: “If you piss her off, you’re going to a grand jury and you may or may not be indicted.” In 2022, Ogg indicted three ex-staffers of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a young progressive in charge of the local Commissioners Court, for steering $11 million in Covid-19 vaccine outreach funds to a politically connected vendor, but since then the case has hung in limbo. Hidalgo denies the charges, and no trial date has been set.

Previously a Republican, Ogg ran as a Democrat in 2016 promising reforms to fix the broken cash bail system, decriminalize drug offenses, and create “a system that doesn’t oppress the poor.” She quickly changed her tune, accepting thousands in campaign contributions from the local bail bond industry while claiming that progressives were trying to “defund” her department. In 2022, she attempted to have a self-described democratic socialist judge removed from the bench due to his criticism of the criminal justice system and his hesitancy to accept plea bargains, which often lock up low-income defendants for crimes they have not committed. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Ogg also noted she would prosecute those who violate Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s abortion ban, among the most extreme in the country, on a “case by case basis.”

The precinct chairs’ resolution is an early step toward the local party distancing itself from Ogg in the lead-up to her March 2024 primary, signaling that they’re not afraid of her any longer and are ready to fight.

It “says out loud what a majority of Democrats in Harris County have become increasingly alarmed about,” precinct chair Cameron Campbell said in a statement. “Her divisive bullying and appalling abuse endangers our community and undermines our civil rights.”

Trump’s New Sidney Powell Hot Take is a Desperate, Obvious Lie

Now that his former lawyer has accepted a plea deal, Donald Trump is trying anything to avoid repercussions.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Sidney Powell, then attorney for President Donald Trump, conducts a news conference at the Republican National Committee on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, on November 19, 2020.

Donald Trump isn’t so buddy-buddy with his former star attorney these days. In fact, the former president appears to be panicking, claiming that Sidney Powell, who took a plea deal on Wednesday in the Georgia election conspiracy case, was never his attorney to begin with.

Powell cut the deal with Fulton County prosecutors last week, pleading guilty to six misdemeanor charges. She was sentenced to six years’ probation and a $6,000 fine, and ordered to testify against her 17 co-defendants, including her onetime client Donald Trump.

“Despite the fake news reports to the contrary, and without even reaching out to ask the Trump campaign, Ms. Powell was not my attorney, and never was,” Trump wrote on Truth Social on Sunday, alleging that the election fraud conspiracy theorist was actually former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s attorney, not his own.

And the jokes were quick to come in.

“We’ve officially reached the ‘I don’t know her’ phase of Donald Trump’s relationship with Sidney Powell,” tweeted podcaster Ed Krassenstein.

Others were quick to point out the immediate pitfalls of Trump’s new, never-have-I-ever defense.

“If she was never his attorney, then there was NEVER attorney-client privilege either,” tweeted Star Trek actor George Takei.

Powell was a key member of Trump’s inner circle throughout the election conspiracy, claiming at one point that she would unleash a national wave of litigation she described as “the kraken” to secure Trump’s win. In the waning days of his presidency, some of Trump’s most extreme supporters implored him to name Powell as special counsel to investigate unfounded claims of voter fraud.

“Her testimony, more than peripheral players like Scott Hall, will provide first-person insight into those critical moments in her part of the larger conspiracy. Powell’s role is only one prong but as dominoes continue to fall it is likely those other prongs will also be corroborated by Trump’s other co-defendants,” Bradley P. Moss, a Washington-based national security attorney, told ABC News in an email.

Kenneth Chesebro, another Trump attorney, also folded in the Georgia conspiracy case last week, pleading guilty to a felony charge tied to Powell’s own crimes. Together, their turning tide against Trump could potentially initiate a wave of new plea deals from the 17 other co-defendants, including former Trump attorneys John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani.