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Having Lost Abortion Vote, Ohio GOP Now Plans to Sabotage Results

Ohio Republicans do not care about the election results. Sound familiar?

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks during a pro-life canvassing meeting in Columbus, on November 4.

Ohio state Republican lawmakers are once again trying to overturn the will of the people, after a devastating loss on abortion rights.

Ohioans overwhelmingly chose to enshrine abortion protections in the state Constitution earlier this week. Republicans had tried multiple times to block the referendum, called Issue 1, but they were handily defeated every time.

So on Friday, the state GOP unveiled a new tactic: stopping the courts from allowing the new amendment to take effect.

“To prevent mischief by pro-abortion courts with Issue 1, Ohio legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative,” Republican state representatives said in a press release. “The Ohio legislature alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides.”

The new amendment doesn’t take effect until December 7, and even then, it isn’t automatically implemented. Each individual abortion restriction needs to be repealed by a court. And Ohio has a lot of restrictions.

Abortion is legal up to 22 weeks, but certain abortion procedures are banned. Patients must wait 24 hours and undergo anti-abortion biased counseling before they can undergo the procedure. State-based insurance is prohibited from covering abortion services, and minors must have the consent of a parent, guardian, or judge in order to get an abortion.

As abortion reporter Jessica Valenti explained, Ohio Republicans don’t want the courts to repeal all of these restrictions. They want the GOP-controlled state legislature to decide whether to repeal the restrictions.

In the press release, lawmakers also blamed “foreign billionaires” for interfering in the election and tipping it in favor of abortion rights. In reality, right-wing billionaires and organizations donated millions of dollars from out of state (although still domestically) to try to block Issue 1.

This isn’t the first time Ohio Republicans have blatantly ignored—and actively worked against—what the people want. In August, they tried to raise the threshold for constitutional amendments to a 60 percent vote instead of a simple majority.

When that failed, the Ohio Ballot Board voted 3–2, along party lines, to change the text of the amendment on the ballot to a Republican-authored summary littered with inflammatory and fearmongering language.

Republicans have repeatedly refused to accept the results of elections on abortion, in a massive threat to local democracy. In Kansas, despite residents voting overwhelmingly in August 2022 to keep abortion rights in the state Constitution, the state legislature is still trying to pass laws that would restrict abortion access. And in Wisconsin, after voters elected a state Supreme Court judge in large part because of her outspoken support for abortion access, state Republicans tried to impeach her.

“Let It Go to Voicemail”: Democrats Reportedly Ignoring Calls for Cease-Fire

A new report shows many Democratic lawmakers are simply ignoring their constituents’ phone calls about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

Celal Gunes/Anadolu/Getty Images
Jewish activists stage a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the Capitol building on October 18.

Many Democratic lawmakers are telling their staff to let phone calls asking for a cease-fire in Gaza go to voicemail.

At least 24 lawmakers in the House and Senate have called for a cease-fire in Gaza, but Joe Biden has said there is “no possibility” of that happening. Instead, Israel agreed this week to a daily four-hour “humanitarian pause,” which it seems to think is enough time for civilians to flee bombs on foot.

Staff from more than 24 Democratic congressional offices told HuffPost in a story published Thursday that the caucus was unprepared for how many calls, emails, and letters they are receiving from constituents demanding a cease-fire. Most lawmakers do not yet have an official response.

One staffer, speaking anonymously, said that until a formal stance is developed, many of them have been told to “let it go to voicemail.”

Another staffer said that the office phone rings every five minutes with someone urging a cease-fire. A third staffer said the phone “doesn’t stop ringing at any point in the day.”

The majority of voters across party lines believe in the need for a cease-fire, and 80 percent of Democratic voters agree that the United States should call for a cease-fire and de-escalation in Gaza, according to a poll from Data for Progress.

It’s not just constituents, either. More than 100 staffers, both Democratic and Republican, staged a walkout on Wednesday to call for a cease-fire in Gaza.

But lawmakers, by and large, seem to be fine ignoring the calls. Some believe the movement will eventually just die down, and one lawmaker allegedly joked, “They weren’t going to vote for me anyway.”

Staffers are shocked at both the public unity behind the issue and lawmakers’ refusal to take it seriously.

“This building is not listening,” one Democratic aide told HuffPost. “I’ve never seen such a disconnect between where voters and constituents are and where Congress is, and that’s saying something because there’s always a disconnect.”

More than 11,000 Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israel’s ongoing retaliation to Hamas’s October 7 attack. The fighting has also killed at least 39 journalists and other media workers and more than 100 United Nations employees.

Why Is Mike Johnson Flying a Christian Nationalist Flag Outside His Office?

A new report confirmed that the House speaker is displaying an “Appeal to Heaven” flag outside his door.

Mike Johnson
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson has three flags hanging outside his office: the American flag, the Louisiana state flag, and a flag representing a movement that wants to turn the United States into a religious Christian nation.

Normal stuff, you know?

The flag is white with a green evergreen tree in the middle and the phrase “An Appeal to Heaven” at the top. A report published Friday by Rolling Stone confirmed that the flag is outside his district office in Washington.

The flag was originally used as a banner during the Revolutionary War, but over the past decade, it has been embraced by a sect of Christianity called the New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR. A central tenet of NAR’s belief system is that it is God’s will for Christians to take control of all aspects of U.S. society—including education, arts and entertainment, the media, and businesses—to create a religious nation.

The NAR fully embraced Donald Trump when he announced he was running for office, endorsing him early on and helping endear him to other Christian movements. As a result, the Appeal to Heaven flag has become popular among Trump supporters.

The flag has appeared in photos of far-right politicians and election deniers such as Doug Mastriano, the Trump-endorsed candidate for Pennsylvania governor. Mastriano lost to Democrat Josh Shapiro.

The flag was also everywhere at the January 6 insurrection. Rolling Stone estimated that there may have been hundreds of Appeal to Heaven flags throughout the mob.

It should not be surprising that Johnson subscribes to the NAR belief system. He has a well-documented history of opposing abortion access, LGBTQ rights, and environmental policy on the grounds that they are non-Christian.

But it’s upsetting and deeply concerning that he is able to embrace it so openly without so much as a slap on the wrist. What’s more, Rolling Stone’s revelation comes just days after the House of Representatives censured Rashida Tlaib for her comments about Israel and Palestine.

Republicans have previously harangued Tlaib, the only Palestinian American member of Congress, for flying a Palestinian flag outside her district office. The GOP has accused her of antisemitism for showing pride in her nationality.

But even if supporting Palestinian civilians were inherently antisemitic (it’s not), it’s unclear how that is different from what Johnson is doing. The creation of a Christian nation implies the elimination of all other religions. But somehow, no one is censuring Johnson for it.

Even Judge Cannon Can’t Fathom Trump’s Reasoning to Delay His Trial

Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, is moving full steam ahead with his trial.

The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s classified documents case on Friday denied the former president’s request to delay the trial.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, seemed poised last week to hand Trump a massive win when she indicated she might delay proceedings. But Friday’s ruling means that the trial will kick off on May 20 as initially determined.

Trump initially tried to delay the trial until after the 2024 election, in part due to the many other legal cases he is facing. In her order Friday, Cannon wrote that Trump’s request to delay the trial is “premature.”

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 Walt Nauta and a Mar-a-Lago employee Carlos 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.

Cannon received nationwide scrutiny at the start of the investigation into Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. Following the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago, and upset with how things were going, Trump filed a made-up motion titled a “Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief.”

Cannon agreed to hear the motion, despite having no jurisdiction to do so, and ultimately assigned a “special master” to review all of the material the FBI found at Mar-a-Lago before the investigation could proceed—a victory for Team Trump.

The Justice Department appealed the decision, and the Eleventh Circuit Court ultimately ruled that neither Cannon nor Trump had had any legal right for their actions. The appeals court threw Cannon’s decision out entirely.

This story has been updated.

Did Mike Johnson Send House Home Early So He Could Speak to Paris Elitists?

Days away from a government shutdown, Speaker Mike Johnson has sent the House of Representatives home early for the weekend.

Mike Johnson
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
House Speaker Mike Johnson

Despite having little more than a week to avert a government shutdown, House Speaker Mike Johnson has sent representatives home early. He was also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech to a far-right conference in Paris on Friday.

Congress has just eight days to figure out how to fund the government and avoid a crippling shutdown. To say that Republican priorities have been elsewhere would be a massive understatement. Johnson has yet to reveal the details of his supposed plan to prevent a shutdown.

Johnson’s early dismissal on Thursday may have been because he needed to get his talking points in order for the Worldwide Freedom Initiative. The New Republic could not confirm whether he delivered his keynote speech as scheduled.

Johnson spokesman Raj Shah tweeted that the speaker was not attending “any events in Paris or anywhere overseas this weekend.” When contacted by The New Republic for additional comment, he said that the House schedule had already been set to dismiss on Thursday. Shah refused to explicitly confirm whether Johnson had spoken virtually, or why the speaker was featured so prominently on WFI social media and event publicity if he did not speak.

It seems that Johnson is a bit of a special guest for the WFI. He gave the keynote speech at the group’s launch event on July 4. The inaugural conference in Paris was organized by the groups Republicans Overseas Worldwide and Republicans Overseas France, with the goal of bringing together “the world’s like-minded conservative, patriotic and center right leaders.”

Other scheduled speakers at the Paris conference included South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, a staunch ally of Donald Trump, and former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski. Noem and Lewandowski have reportedly been having a years-long affair, despite Noem still being married to her husband of more than 30 years, Bryon Noem.

The WFI lineup also includes a former spokeswoman for Moms for Liberty, former U.S. Representative and current Truth Social CEO Devin Nunes, chief Brexit engineer Nigel Farage, and Hungarian politician Balasz Orban. Orban is not related to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, but he does serve as the latter’s political director.

French far-right politician Marine Le Pen was initially slated to speak, but she appears to have dropped out. But the program does feature French far-right candidate Eric Zemmour, who is known for his xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, and hatred of the media.

Johnson has promised to deliver “results” and pass appropriations bills. But apparently, that may have taken a backseat to a speaking gig.

This article has been updated to note The New Republic could not confirm Johnson’s appearance at the event.

Good Riddance to Joe Manchin

The West Virginia senator has announced he will not seek reelection.

Joe Manchin
Jemal Countess/Getty Images for JDRF

Senator Joe Manchin announced Thursday that he will not seek reelection in 2024, but instead will seek to “fight to unite the middle” ground of American voters.

“I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for reelection to the United States Senate,” the West Virginia Democrat said in a video. “But what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.”

Manchin was critical to the Democrats’ majority in the Senate, a position he often leveraged for increased influence. He tanked multiple major pieces of legislation and regularly sided with Republicans on issues such as infrastructure, student loan relief, and climate change.

In particular, Manchin often teamed up with Senator Kyrsten Sinema to block Democratic efforts. Both worked to keep the filibuster and prevented Democrats from passing student loan relief.

Manchin’s exit message is not new. In the past year, he has openly toyed with switching his political affiliation to independent. He accused other Democrats of shifting too far to the left and leaving behind more moderate voters.

He has also hinted at a third-party presidential run, insisting that an independent candidate would be able to unite a politically divided electorate. Manchin spoke in July at an event hosted by No Labels, a bipartisan centrist political advocacy group, further fueling speculation.

His announcement on Thursday focused on uniting “the middle”—and this could very well be a sign that he’ll soon announce his 2024 bid for the White House.

If that’s true, it’s worth reminding Manchin: Independent candidates tend to perform terribly, instead siphoning just enough votes away from one of the main party candidates to swing the election towards the other.

Republican senators insist—and some Democratic ones fear—that a Manchin candidacy would pull enough votes away from Joe Biden to tip the 2024 election for Donald Trump. But a July poll by Monmouth University found that if Manchin runs, it will swing the election in Biden’s favor.

Either way, is ending up as a political spoiler a risk Manchin wants to take?

This story has been updated.

Democrats Back Down on Harlan Crow Subpoena After GOP Promises “Sh*tshow”

Why is Dick Durbin so afraid of doing something to upset Republicans?

Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday walked back a planned vote to subpoena two megadonors connected to Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The reason? Republicans threw a fit.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee finally took the first step last week to address the high court’s ethics crisis and announced they would seek to subpoena Republican billionaire megadonor Harlan Crow and ultraconservative activist Leonard Leo. Both men feature prominently in the ethics scandal for their relationships with Thomas and Alito. The committee said it would also seek to subpoena wealthy GOP donor Robin Arkley II.

But Chair Dick Durbin appeared to put that all on hold on Thursday, when he abruptly ended a committee meeting after outraged Republicans threatened to retaliate if Crow and Leo were subpoenaed.

Committee Republicans threatened to file multiple amendments relating to border security, social media use, and liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor in opposition to attempts to investigate conservative justices and donors.

“You’re going to have a complete shitshow, but if that’s what you want, that’s what you’re gonna get,” Senator Lindsey Graham warned.

Senator Josh Hawley accused Democrats of orchestrating a “witch hunt” against Thomas.

Durbin backed down and told reporters the committee may try again next week to vote on the subpoenas.

Judiciary Democrats’ spineless response is disappointing, to say the least. Other attempts to rein in the high court and establish a formal code of ethics have stalled. Meanwhile, confidence in the Supreme Court as an institution is rapidly sinking over the ethics scandal.

Crow, a Nazi memorabilia collector, has repeatedly lavished Thomas with expensive gifts. These include island-hopping yacht vacations, private school tuition for Thomas’s nephew, and buying and renovating a Thomas family property, where Thomas’s mother still lives.

Thomas has also been Crow’s guest at Bohemian Grove, which ProPublica describes as a “secretive all-men’s retreat in Northern California” that attracts major corporate and political players. It costs thousands of dollars for a member to bring a guest to the Grove, but Crow has reportedly brought Thomas there almost every year for the past two decades.

Thomas’s visits to the Grove helped him develop a relationship with the Koch brothers. Thomas has participated in events for the Koch donor network for at least a decade. All of his appearances were arranged with the help of dark-money king Leo.

In addition to securing Thomas’s goodwill, Leo also helped organize a luxury vacation that Alito went on. Neither Thomas nor Alito had disclosed any of these lavish gifts on their financial statements.

Oops! Republican Congressman Admits Hunter Biden Subpoena Double Standard

Representative Greg Murphy gave away the whole game.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Republican Representative Greg Murphy

Republican Representative Greg Murphy said he would vote to hold members of the Biden family in contempt if they didn’t respond to congressional subpoenas, a complete 180 from his position on subpoenas a few years ago.

House Republicans issued subpoenas Wednesday to President Joe Biden’s brother Jim and embattled first son Hunter, as part of their investigation into the family’s supposed criminal business practices. Led by Representative James Comer, the GOP has for months accused Biden of corruption, despite producing no evidence.

During a Thursday interview, CNN host John Berman asked Murphy if he would vote to hold Jim and Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress should they fail to appear before the House.

“Absolutely!” Murphy said. “What do they have to hide?”

Berman then pointed out that Murphy had voted against holding former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt when Bannon refused to testify before the House January 6 investigative committee. Bannon was ultimately convicted of contempt of Congress in October 2022.

Murphy tried to argue that the circumstances were different this time. “It’s a little bit higher, different standards, John, when you have someone who’s in elected office versus someone who’s not in elected office,” he said.

“Who are you saying is in elected office here when you’re talking about holding people in contempt of Congress for being nonresponsive?” Berman pressed.

“Well, tell me what office Steve Bannon was in?” Murphy demanded.

“Well, tell me what office Hunter Biden was in?” Berman replied.

Murphy was visibly stunned. He was silent for a few seconds before stumbling through arguments about the president’s supposed guilt. Republicans, of course, have not subpoenaed Joe Biden.

If Murphy is interested in holding elected officials accountable, he doesn’t even have to look that far. House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, who is also at the forefront of Republicans’ Biden investigation, has been avoiding a subpoena from the January 6 committee for nearly 600 days.

Republicans have aggressively sought to prove Biden’s guilt, despite the fact that they consistently fail to produce evidence. Their star witnesses debunk the GOP accusations, and lawmakers have even accidentally admitted that they have no evidence and don’t really care about the accuracy of their claims.

Who’s the Senile One? Trump Mixes Up Countries Again

Donald Trump does not appear to be doing well.

Donald Trump
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried to attack “incompetent” foreign policy officials in the Biden administration—before confusing two very different countries.

“We have never been closer to World War III, and only for one reason. We have incompetent people talking on our behalf,” Trump said during an event in Florida that took place at the same time as Wednesday night’s Republican debate.

He then began to defend previous comments in which he lauded various world autocrats. “Well, what am I supposed to say? They’re stupid people?” Trump asked the crowd. Trump named Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whom he previously called “smart” and “very talented.”

In classic Trump style, the former president followed up a defensive litany by seemingly confusing North Korea and China. “Kim Jong Un leads 1.4 billion people, and there is no doubt about who the boss is. And they want me to say he’s not an intelligent man.”

The population of North Korea is in fact closer to 26 million, meaning in the best-case scenario, Trump inflated the population by about 1.3 billion people. In the probably more accurate version, Trump mixed up two Asian countries.

China has a population of 1.4 billion, and this isn’t the first time Trump has mixed up countries. During a speech last month, Trump mixed up two fascist leaders who adore him, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Don’t Rule It Out: Trump May Be Back on the Stand Soon in Fraud Trial

A prominent legal expert predicts Donald Trump will soon return as a witness in his New York fraud trial.

Donald Trump in a courtroom
Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump and his three oldest children have all testified in their New York business fraud trial, but most of them will probably be back on the stand soon enough.

Over the past two weeks, Trump, his sons Don Jr. and Eric, and his daughter Ivanka have testified in court about the Trump Organization’s business practices. The New York attorney general has accused them and their allies of fraudulently inflating the value of their real estate assets to get more favorable terms on bank loans. Ivanka is not a co-defendant, because an appeals court ruled that the statute of limitations on her alleged involvement had run out.

But the testimony for all four Trumps spelled disaster, and they may try to rectify it.

“I think on balance, it was bad for the Trump family,” legal expert Lisa Rubin told MSNBC Thursday, referring to the family’s testimonies. “But I will caveat that, saying, we expect three of those four Trumps to come back.”

Rubin explained that the questioning so far has been limited to the scope of Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit. Trump, Eric, and Don Jr. will likely testify again so that they can try to give more context to their previous testimony.

“[Trump’s] lawyers want to elicit testimony from all three of those male Trumps that goes beyond what the attorney general was interested in,” Rubin said. “And so they will bring them back to afford them … the latitude that they think the former president and maybe future president … should be afforded to explain himself.”

To say the Trumps’ testimonies went poorly is an understatement. They were repeatedly caught undermining their own defense. Trump, Eric, and Ivanka all had to admit they were involved in working with the organization’s financial statements.

Trump himself effectively admitted Monday that the organization’s financial statements were made with an eye to encourage favorable loans. The New York attorney general’s office revealed that Trump had signed financial documents intended to look good for banks.

The trial, which is only to set damages, has not been going well for Trump. He has been grasping at straws in an attempt to avoid accountability, using an argument the presiding judge has already deemed “worthless” and incorrectly insisting he was president in 2021.