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Trump’s New York Fraud Trial Just Got a Very Fun New Witness

Ivanka Trump, welcome to the stand.

Ivanka Trump in the background looks at Donald Trump (blurred, foreground)
Mark Makela/Getty Images

Ivanka Trump may have a new job in her father’s real estate empire: help dissolve it.

On Friday, a federal court judge ruled that the Trump heiress cannot block the subpoena calling her to testify against her father and brothers, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., in their $250 million New York fraud case.

“A trial is a search for the truth,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron said before ruling against her.

Ivanka Trump has until November 1 to appeal the decision, after which she will be required to take the witness stand.

The businesswoman was originally expected to be named as a defendant in the fraud trial, though a New York appeals court struck down her inclusion, ruling that the claims against her were too old.

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 dissolving 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.

Mike Johnson: Guns Don’t Kill People, Hearts Kill People

The new House speaker had an unbelievable answer when asked about the mass shootings in Maine.

Mike Johnson
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

While other GOP leadership stuck to their usual “thoughts and prayers” mantra for the victims of the Lewiston, Maine, shooting, the newly minted speaker of the House tried out a new gun control dismissal tactic.

In a one-on-one interview with Sean Hannity on Thursday, Speaker Mike Johnson made an old Republican line new again, claiming that it’s not guns that kill people—it’s their hearts.

“At the end of the day, the problem is the human heart. It’s not guns, it’s not the weapons,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, we have to protect the right of the citizens to protect themselves, and that’s the Second Amendment. That’s why our party stands so strongly for that.”

“This is not the time to be talking about legislation. We’re in the middle of that crisis right now,” Johnson added.

It’s no surprise the Republicans’ House speaker is dismissing gun control and gun violence so quickly after a mass shooting.

And for what it’s worth, his push to allow citizens to protect themselves in mass casualty events isn’t backed by the data. Between 2000 and 2021, fewer than 3 percent of 433 active attacks in the U.S. ended with a civilian firing back, according to data collected by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University, which described active attacks as shootings of one or more people in which law enforcement are called to the scene while violence is still ongoing.

Wednesday’s assault in Lewiston left 18 people dead, the largest death toll so far out of 565 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Law enforcement agencies are still scouring the woods of southern Maine in a desperate search for the suspect, believed to be Robert Card, a certified firearms instructor who received extensive combat training from the Army Reserve Unit, reported CNN.

Footage Reveals How the Koch Network Plans to Gut Federal Agencies

New footage shows senior operatives from several Koch entities gleefully discussing their next targets.

Protesters hold signs that read "America has a Koch problem"
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Activists protest near the Manhattan apartment of billionaire and Republican financier David Koch on June 5, 2014.

Dead or alive, the Koch brothers continue to have an iron grip on American politics.

The Koch network, an arm of right-wing organizations cultivated by David and Charles Koch, have been working overtime to gut federal agencies that impact Koch Industries’ bottom line, driving a coordinated campaign to bring lawsuits targeted at deregulation to the conservative supermajority on the Supreme Court, according to an investigation by The Guardian.

In a 37-minute panel discussion obtained by Documented, senior employees at Koch-affiliated entities described the court’s new makeup as a “landscape opportunity” that they’re “doubling down on.”

“That’s why we are partnering with organizations that can get the right cases to the Supreme Court,” said Casey Mattox, a legal strategist at the Koch advocacy group Americans for Prosperity.

Some of the issues at stake are pollution, consumer protections from predatory lenders, and workers’ rights. Koch Industries, which makes most of its money in the energy, trade, and chemicals industries, is the second-largest privately owned firm in the United States, with annual revenues exceeding $125 billion.

The initiative appears to have already done the trick, with two cases attempting to curtail the government’s ability to regulate corporations already before the court in its 2023–24 term, thanks to the backing of Koch-linked groups, reported the outlet.

Read more at The Guardian.

Federal Court Deals Blow to Georgia Republicans’ Racist Congressional Map

Georgia Republicans have just suffered a major setback.

Cheney Orr/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Georgia’s legislature will literally have to return to the drawing board after a federal court ruled that the state’s discriminatory congressional maps broke the law.

The new maps, which must be redrawn before the 2024 election, will be required to include one Black-majority federal congressional district, as well as two new Black-majority districts in Georgia’s state Senate and five new Black-majority districts in its House.

Thursday’s ruling consolidates three cases brought against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, which argued that Georgia’s political leaders were not adequately representing the Black communities that fueled the state’s population growth over the last decade.

In a 516-page order, U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones ruled against Raffensperger, deciding that the GOP-drawn maps violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Jones noted that although Georgia has made “great strides” in increasing the political opportunities of Black voters since the law was enacted, “the Court determines that in certain areas of the State, the political process is not equally open to Black voters.”

“For example, in the past decade, all of Georgia’s population growth was attributable to the minority population, however, the number of majority-Black congressional and legislative districts remained the same,” Jones wrote.

The state is expected to appeal the decision, though that effort may fall flat for Republicans. Similar attempts to save GOP-gerrymandered maps have failed in Florida and Alabama.

Other legal challenges to congressional maps are underway across the country, including in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah, reported the Associated Press.

Ford, UAW Deal Is a Lesson to Workers Everywhere: It’s Time To Unionize

The United Auto Workers secured a huge labor victory for its members.

Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

Many of America’s autoworkers are about to see a massive bump in pay.

Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday, smashing records with a historic contract that other autoworkers hope will start a radical shift in the industry. The labor victory is a huge win for the UAW—and shows what workers everywhere can achieve with the power of unions.

After a six-week strike, the two organizations have agreed to a staggering 25 percent base wage increase through April 2028, raising union members’ top wages to more than $40 an hour.

Starting salaries will also see a massive bump, growing by 68 percent over the term of the contract to more than $28 an hour. Meanwhile, the lowest-paid workers at Ford will receive an immediate 85 percent pay increase, with a raise of more than 150 percent over the lifetime of the agreement.

The union also finally recouped benefits that workers lost during the Great Recession, including a cost of living allowance that effectively bumps that 25 percent hike to a 33 percent raise, as well as a three-year wage progression (meaning workers can get pay bumps much more quickly). Retirement benefits were also improved, and in a first, the contract also permits union workers the right to strike over future plant closures.

Altogether, the deal will increase union members’ wages more in the next four years than they have in the previous two decades, according to data from the union.

“We won things nobody thought possible,” said UAW President Shawn Fain. “Since the strike began, Ford put 50 percent more on the table than when we walked out. This agreement sets us on a new path to make things right at Ford, at the Big Three, and across the auto industry.”

The eyebrow-raising agreement adds pressure on General Motors and Stellantis, where UAW workers are continuing to strike. So far, Stellantis has temporarily laid off more than 2,000 workers since some 7,000 union members began their strike at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant on Monday.

“It’s usually a domino effect, you know, for the most part. We want to stay optimistic that if they can do it, then we could reach something tentative,” striking employee Sheu Shea Anderson told ABC Channel 7 Detroit.

Both companies have released statements saying that they are working to secure agreements “as soon as possible.”

Screw You, Republicans, and Your Stupid, Useless Prayers

Two deadly mass shootings in Maine—and Republicans are doing nothing but recycling their old “thoughts and prayers.”

Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News/Getty Images
A candlelight vigil in honor of the mass shooting victims in Half Moon Bay, California, on January 27.

Here we go again. At least 18 people were killed and upward of 60 people injured in Lewiston, Maine, late Wednesday evening. This is the 565th mass shooting that has been reported in 2023 alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

The senseless violence has also tapped into another fruitless round of Republican leaders issuing “thoughts and prayers” to the families of victims while continuing to pocket large donations from gun lobbyists.

In the last decade, the National Rifle Association has spent more than $37 million on its political lobbying, with GOP legislators reaping the bulk of it, including Senators Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell, according to data from OpenSecrets. Meanwhile, the money behind “gun rights” lobbying groups has dwarfed that for gun control efforts every year dating back to 1998.

Their unbroken influence over the political right has swept votes on issues ranging from bans on assault weapons to high-capacity magazines, both of which Maine’s own Senator Susan Collins voted against.

Like Collins, other Republicans are once again offering us nothing but their thoughts and prayers.

Recent changes to the House’s leadership are unlikely to change circumstances, either. Just last week, now-Speaker Mike Johnson entertained a meeting with a group against gun control legislation, Women for Gun Rights.

Roughly 63 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with U.S. gun laws, according to a 2023 Gallup poll, which noted that just 54 percent of Republicans were satisfied with their own party-driven policies—a five-point decrease from 2022.

“Praying for everyone’s safety in Maine, and for the victims and their families,” tweeted Florida Representative Maxwell Alejandro Frost. “But unlike some in Congress, I don’t believe the only thing we can do about gun violence is pray. Every minute our leaders fail to act = more people dead to senseless gun violence.”

Sean Hannity Thinks He Can Stop Mass Shooters With His Pampered Millionaire Fists

The Fox News host offered an unbelievable plan after two mass shootings in Maine.

Sean Hannity of Fox News
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Sean Hannity offers some truly pathetic advice to those afraid of mass shootings: Take up mixed martial arts!

On Wednesday evening, at least 18 people were killed in two mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine. The alleged perpetrator—who at the time of writing, is still being searched for by law enforcement—reportedly used a semiautomatic rifle.

Just hours later, Hannity used his Fox News show to express his frustration at the speed that a mass shooting “becomes politicized,” before careening into his real complaint: the victims’ lack of preparedness in the face of a semiautomatic firearm.

“And then I always ask the question, when something like this happens, what is your plan? What do you do?” Hannity said to his guest, Nikki Haley. 

The Fox News millionaire went on to describe his foolproof plan in case of such an incident.

“I have a personal security plan. I train in mixed martial arts. I’ve been a big believer in the Second Amendment for a long time, with the prayer that I never would have to use it,” he said.

If Hannity is “bothered” by the speed at which mass shootings inspire calls for gun reform, is it fair to say that we are frustrated at the speed at which he offers ridiculous and tasteless advice?

This year, there have been 565 mass shootings in the United States.

New House Speaker Kicks Things Off With Crass Remark About His Wife

Representative Mike Johnson made a gross gaffe about his wife in his acceptance speech.

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

Usually when a new speaker of the House is elected, they have major plans to unveil, recontextualizing the House’s work. Speaker Mike Johnson, however, had some other priorities. First thing on his agenda? Make a weird joke about his wife.

Shortly after the little-known congressman won the title that he claimed he never sought, Johnson took the podium to thank the hard work of the congressional staff, Speaker Emeritus Kevin McCarthy, and his wife.

“I want to thank my dedicated wife of almost 25 years, Kelly. She’s not here, we couldn’t get a flight in time. This happened sort of suddenly,” Johnson said.

“She’s spent the last couple of weeks on her knees in prayer to the Lord. And, um, she’s a little worn out,” Johnson smirked.

“We all are,” he added.

Johnson, a legislator with a track record of anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion, and anti–election integrity initiatives, won the speakership with a unanimous GOP vote on Wednesday. It was a feat that several of his more prominent colleagues had failed to accomplish in the last three weeks since McCarthy was ousted, and which some speculated may even be impossible.

Johnson’s ascension to a post second in line for the presidency has been the fastest in modern U.S. history, according to The Atlantic. The 51-year-old, who began his congressional career in 2017, was mentored by the likes of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Representative Jim Jordan. The head-down congressman has also closely aligned himself with Donald Trump, fighting tirelessly during 2020 to help overturn the presidential election results and becoming what The New York Times described as the “most important architect” of the 2020 Electoral College objections on January 6, 2021.

New House Speaker Thinks It’s Christian to Call Gay Love Sinful

Speaker Mike Johnson has a long history of homophobia. Here is a small sampling.

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

Mike Johnson finally got the votes on Wednesday afternoon to fill an embarrassing three-week vacancy in the House speakership.

While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle touted Speaker Johnson as a low-key and quiet lawmaker, a long history of homophobia has already begun to surface from the Louisiana Republican’s past.

On Wednesday, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported on Johnson’s extensive history of editorials, amicus briefs, and legislation to undermine marriage equality, including drafting what some have called a national version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill in 2022.

But the bread crumbs of Johnson’s homophobia go much deeper than had previously been reported. The New Republic has learned that as early as 2003, Johnson was attacking LGBTQ rights and individuals. At the time, Johnson was a key advocate against marriage equality as a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has called a hate group.

In 2004, Johnson defended Louisiana’s proposed statewide ban on same-sex marriage in the courts—and went as far as to use a derogatory term for opposing counsel. Johnson directly called John Rawls, an attorney advocating for marriage equality, a “homosexual” while awaiting a court decision on the ban. Rawls was so upset by Johnson’s remark, he charged the future House speaker, according to reporting in the Times Picayune. “I am not a homosexual,” Rawls angrily told Johnson. “I am a gay man.… No one calls me the ‘h’ word.”

The following year, in 2005, Johnson defended a so-called “Day of Truth,” in which far-right Christian organizations organized students to protest same-sex marriage as an attack on religious liberty. At Harvard, pamphlets were handed out decrying gay love as sinful and evil. “If the other side is going to advance their point of view, it’s only fair for the Christian perspective to present their view, too,” Johnson told The Harvard Crimson.

“You can call it sinful or destructive—ultimately it’s both,” he told NBC News of same-sex relationships.

A decade later, in 2014, Johnson (who calls Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett a friend) was again defending another statewide ban on gay marriage in Lousiana before the courts. In a 2020 interview with The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner, Johnson argued (unsuccessfully) that the issue of marriage equality is one of states’ rights.

It has yet to be seen if curbing LGBTQ rights will be part of Johnson’s governing agenda as House speaker. So far, marriage equality has flown under the radar in the current Congress. And for his part, Johnson isn’t taking questions from the press.

As speaker designate, Johnson declined to take questions Tuesday night about his role in the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. After being elected speaker on Wednesday afternoon, Johnson held a press conference on the House steps, during which he answered no questions from reporters.

During the vote that elected Johnson as speaker, Representative Angie Craig had a special message for her partner as she voted for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

“Happy anniversary to my wife,” said Craig, drawing a standing ovation from Democrats, ostensibly as a jab at Johnson’s long history as a career homophobe. Only Representative Matt Gaetz stood and applauded on the Republican side of the aisle.

Trump and His Big Mouth Violate Gag Order—and It’ll Cost Him

Donald Trump will be fined for breaking a court gag order.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump has crossed the line in Judge Arthur Engoron’s courtroom—again.

On Wednesday, the former president was fined $10,000 for violating his gag order in his $250 million New York fraud trial, the second such incident in less than a week. Engoron has threatened more severe sanctions should Trump continue to break the order, including the possibility of jail time.

At issue was an offhand remark Trump made to reporters during a break, apparently criticizing Engoron and his law clerk.

“This judge is a very partisan judge with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is,” Trump said.

Once back in the courtroom, Engoron called on Trump to testify under oath about who he had been referring to.

Trump claimed he was referring to Michael Cohen, but when pressed by the judge on whether he’d previously called his law clerk “partisan,” Trump said “maybe” he had called her unfair, adding that she’s “very biased.”

“Why should there not be severe sanctions for disobeying a clear court order?” Engoron said.

About 45 minutes after the judge levied the fine, Engoron denied a motion on a separate issue brought forward by Trump’s team. Then, surprising everyone, Trump got up and stormed out of the courtroom, reported NBC News.

The gag order stems from the second day of Trump’s fraud trial, after the former president went on a social media campaign, lambasting Engoron’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, and baselessly claimed that the legal adviser was in a relationship with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Trump also shared Greenfield’s Instagram details, effectively ushering a scourge of far-right sympathizers onto her social media accounts.

“Consider this a gag order on all parties with respect to posting or publicly speaking about any member of my staff,” Engoron said at the time. “Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate, and I won’t tolerate it.”