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Michael Cohen Stares Down Trump and Drops Fraud Trial Bombshell

Donald Trump’s former fixer has testified against him in the New York fraud trial.

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Steps away from his former boss for the first time in five years, Michael Cohen on Tuesday dropped a giant bombshell during Donald Trump’s New York fraud trial.

While Trump scoffed and shuffled, Cohen described at length how Trump made up numbers and then told Cohen to artificially inflate the real estate mogul’s net worth, sometimes by as much as billions of dollars, in order to broker better deals with banks and insurance companies.

“I was asked by Trump to increase total assets based upon a number he arbitrarily elected, and my responsibility was to reverse engineer and increase those assets to achieve the number Trump had tasked us to,” Cohen told the court on Tuesday.

Cohen said that, at times, Trump would summon him and Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg to claim he was “not worth four and a half billion dollars” but rather “worth more of six,” according to the Associated Press.

The former Trump crony also said that Trump’s eldest children, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, would share information about their projects to inflate the former president’s financial statements, reported Axios.

Outside of court, Trump shirked Cohen’s testimony, claiming that Cohen was a “proven liar.”

“I’m not worried at all about his testimony,” Trump said. “He’s not a credible witness.”

Judge Arthur Engoron issued a summary judgment in September that found New York Attorney General Letitia James had already proved Trump misvalued his properties and committed business fraud, soon after canceling the business certificates of Trump’s companies. What remains to be seen in the trial is whether Trump violated other laws and, ultimately, what kind of financial penalty he might have to pay.

Cohen held several significant roles in Trump’s sphere, including as personal counsel to Trump, vice president of the Trump Organization, co-president of Trump Entertainment, and board member of the Eric Trump Foundation, and he served as deputy finance chairman to the Republican National Committee between 2017 and 2018. He also once pledged he would “take a bullet” for Trump.

Day 21: Republicans Lose Their House Speaker Pick in Record Time

Goodbye, Tom Emmer, we hardly knew ye.

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House Majority Leader Tom Emmer and Representative Elise Stefanik

On Tuesday, the Republican caucus rallied and picked Majority Whip Tom Emmer as its next House speaker.

Also on Tuesday—just four hours later—Emmer dropped out of the race.

Emmer won the nomination Tuesday morning with 117 votes, while 26 Republicans voted against him. In the next few hours, Donald Trump came out against Emmer as speaker, even going so far as to text his brutal Truth Social post to the Republican caucus.

Several Republican lawmakers began to voice concern that Emmer would never win the nomination on the House floor. Representative Matt Gaetz, who voted for Emmer just hours earlier and started this mess by leading the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, said, “It’s really important that the speaker of the House have a good relationship with the leader of our party. That’s Donald Trump.”

It’s clear that Emmer heard the criticism loud and clear. In a House Republican caucus meeting on Tuesday afternoon, he reportedly left the meeting without a word. News then broke that he dropped out.

It has been 21 days without a House speaker.

Astros Fans Are Pissed at “Cursed” Ted Cruz for Attending the Game

The “Cruz curse” is back—and Houston Astros fans are not happy.

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Senator Ted Cruz offended fellow Houston Astros fans Monday night—simply by showing up.

Ahead of Monday’s playoff game against the Texas Rangers, an outpouring of Astros fans begged the Texas congressman not to make an appearance in the stands, reported Rolling Stone.

“I appreciate that Ted Cruz, as a dad, loves taking his kids to the @astros games,” tweeted one fan. “But for the love of all things Houston, let Heidi take them! Send them with friends! It’s game 7 man. We can’t risk this. The whole city is asking you.”

Still, Cruz appeared, and they bombed, losing to the Rangers 11–4. Attendees were seen piling toward the exits by the sixth inning when the Astros were already down 10–2.

Cruz has spent a lot of time inadvertently pissing off Houston fans lately. So far in the MLB postseason, the Astros have lost all five home playoff games attended by the jinxed senator, reviving what locals dub the “Cruz Curse.”

“No matter which team you support in the all-Texas ALCS, you definitely don’t want @tedcruz near your team,” tweeted Texas state Senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat running to defeat Cruz and nab his Senate seat, a week before Cruz attended two losing Astros games.

“For 7 years, Catherine & I have attended nearly EVERY Astros home playoff game,” Cruz tweeted in response to the controversy, calling Rolling Stone “lying hacks.”

“If they’re going to blame me for our recent home losses, pls also credit us for TWO World Series Championships & SEVEN consecutive ALCS’s—we were there cheering Stros on,” Cruz added.

Monday’s blowout loss wasn’t the first major loss attributed to Cruz’s curse. In 2018, losing fans pointed fingers at the senator’s courtside appearance during the Houston Rockets’s Game 7 loss to the Golden State Warriors, when the Rockets missed a record 27 straight attempts from three-point range.

Others have criticized Cruz for compromising their teams when he doesn’t seem to love sports in the first place. Fans seemingly haven’t forgotten Cruz’s blunder during the 2016 Republican primaries, when he referred to a basketball hoop as a “basketball ring.”

Republicans Pick Yet Another Election Denier as Next House Speaker

Republicans keep nominating one election denier after the next.

Representative Tom Emmer
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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
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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
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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.

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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.