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Trump’s Proposed Cabinet Is the Stuff of Nightmares

A second Trump term would be far, far more radical than his first.

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Steven Miller in 2017

Donald Trump is starting to plan his Cabinet for a potential second term, and the people on his shortlist are nothing less than nightmare fuel for democracy.

Trump is weighing different options based on two main factors: “pre-vetted loyalty to him and a commitment to stretch legal and governance boundaries,” Axios reported Thursday, citing anonymous sources close to the GOP presidential primary front-runner.

First and foremost, Trump needs a running mate. Former Vice President Mike Pence is out after he refused to overturn the 2020 election results and then ran a (lackluster and short-lived) presidential campaign against Trump.

Trump has apparently considered Senator J.D. Vance, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and failed Arizona gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake. He has also mentioned Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is definitely gunning for a spot on Trump’s ticket.

Melania Trump wants her husband to pick erstwhile Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Trump has previously said he was open to having Carlson as a running mate. During a November podcast interview, Trump said he thought Carlson has “great common sense.”

Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon, two of the most reactionary and vile former members of the Trump White House, could make a comeback. Miller has been floated for attorney general, while Trump is considering Bannon, who currently hosts a podcast that regularly traffics in white nationalism, as chief of staff. Kash Patel, a former member of the Trump administration and a current Trump adviser, could return for a top national security position.

Trump’s former assistant attorney general could also return for a top Justice Department job. Clark pushed department officials to say they were investigating claims of election fraud after the 2020 election. In August, Clark was indicted in Georgia alongside Trump and 17 other co-defendants for allegedly trying to overturn the state’s 2020 election results.

Trump’s inner circle is working hard to find ways to stack both the executive branch and his legal team with loyalists who will obey his every command. Trump has already said that if he is elected, he would be a “dictator” on the first day of his new term. If he succeeds at filling his Cabinet with allies, then it won’t just be day one.

Nikki Haley Thinks TikTok Is Magic

The Republican presidential candidate thinks exposure to the app turns users into antisemites—and she has (extremely) dubious stats to back it up.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Nikki Haley at Wednesday's debate

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley claimed that TikTok is making young Americans more antisemitic, during the primary debate Wednesday night, but she got her one crucial stat so very wrong.

“For every thirty minutes that someone watches Tik Tok every day, they become 17 percent more antisemitic, more pro-Hamas, based on doing that,” Haley said, pulling those shocking numbers seemingly out of nowhere. The reason this statistic is so shocking is that it is false.

The study Haley is referencing was conducted by Generation Lab. That study claimed that research “suggests TikTok is a meaningful driver of the current surge in antisemitism.” The problem is that it conflated antisemitism and what it calls “anti-Israel” sentiment.

The Generation Lab survey asked 1,323 Americans under the age of 30 questions like “How true or false are the following statements: The Holocaust did not take place or the death toll of Jews is exaggerated,” alongside ones like “Please indicate your agreement or disagreement with the following statements: Israel has a right to exist as a homeland to the Jewish people.” The result is a study that is biased and that erases any and all distinctions between pro-Palestinian sentiment, concern about Israel’s ruthless bombing campaign of Gaza, and hateful antisemitism and bigotry.

TikTok has denied allegations that it is promoting pro-Palestine content, saying that young people just tend to be more pro-Palestine, a fact that has been borne out in a number of more rigorous studies.

Haley has previously called for the U.S. government to ban TikTok after a letter penned by Osama bin Laden circulated on the app in November. Haley has made talking about TikTok a central part of her campaign and promised that social media reforms would be some of her first major moves if she gets to White House.

One can only imagine how fearful a world would be where watching six and a half hours of hospital TV show edits and P.R. unboxing videos on TikTok would make a user’s antisemitism double. Thankfully, we don’t live in that world because it would be logically and mathematically impossible.

One Republican Running for George Santos’s Seat Is Also a Crook

Sean Grillo was just convicted for his role in the January 6 insurrection.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
George Santos shortly after his expulsion from the House of Representatives.

A candidate for former Representative George Santos’s old seat was convicted on January 6 charges after mounting an astoundingly stupid defense, according to a Department of Justice release.

Former Queens Republican Party District Leader Philip Sean Grillo was found guilty on Tuesday of one felony for obstructing the certification of the presidential election and four misdemeanors related to rioting on Capitol grounds. He has yet to be sentenced, though obstructing an official proceeding has a possible maximum sentence of 20 years.

Despite filming himself throughout the insurrection entering and exiting the Capitol building several times while shouting things like, “We stormed the Capitol” and “We shut it down,” and despite his experience in politics, Grillo testified in court that he had “no idea” Congress met inside the Capitol building.

“I’m here to stop the steal. It’s our f— House,” Grillo said in one clip.

“We f— did it! We got to the Capitol building. We f—did it! We f— did it, baby! We f— did it, you understand? We stormed the Capitol. We shut it down! We did it! We shut the mother—,” he said in another.

The court also saw videos of the local Republican official smoking weed and high-fiving rioters as he opened doors to help them flood inside the building, yelling at one point, “Our House.”

The New Yorker’s attorneys argued that Grillo “believed he was authorized to engage in the conduct set forth in the indictment,” according to legal documents.

The court didn’t buy it.

Grillo was arrested on February 23, 2021, by the FBI. He filed in May 2023 to run against Santos, whose own shady dealings have earned him a 23-count federal indictment, a scathing ethics report, and an expulsion from Congress. It is currently unclear if Grillo’s arrest will prevent him from participating in the February 13 special election to replace the disgraced lawmaker.

Vivek Ramaswamy Went Full Q at Wednesday’s Debate

The Republican presidential candidate rattled off as many kooky ideas about 9/11, January 6, and QAnon as he could.

Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Vivek Ramaswamy at Wednesday’s debate

Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy went on a conspiracy theory–laden rant during the latest primary debate that needs to be seen to be believed.

Ramaswamy took aim at his fellow contenders Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, and Nikki Haley during Wednesday night’s debate. The biotech millionaire accused the other candidates of trying to toady up to front-runner Donald Trump and of failing to see who the “real enemy” is.

“Here’s my issue with all three of my other colleagues on this debate stage: It’s all three of them have been licking Donald Trump’s boots for years,” Ramaswamy said, which is a spicy opener from a man who appears to have based his entire campaign, public persona, and even approach to lawsuits on Trump.

“I think the real enemy is not Donald Trump. It’s not even Joe Biden,” Ramaswamy said. “It is the deep state.”

Ramaswamy then proceeded to spout multiple dangerous right-wing conspiracy theories, including that the January 6 insurrection was an inside job and that Saudi Arabia was involved in 9/11. He also claimed that both the 2020 and the 2016 elections had been rigged against Trump.

Ramaswamy insisted the great replacement theory is a “basic statement of the Democratic Party’s platform.” This theory is a far-right, white nationalist conspiracy that white people are being replaced by nonwhite immigrants.

Ramaswamy has been struggling to gain support among voters. Some experts have pointed out that Ramaswamy has failed to differentiate himself from the former president. If people want someone who acts like Trump, they could just vote for Trump.

So instead, Ramaswamy seems ready to say the wildest things possible in order to keep getting attention.

It’s Crazy, but at Least George Santos Is Finally Earning an Honest Dollar

It looks like George Santos is about to make more money on Cameo than he did as a member of Congress.

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

Former New York Republican George Santos seems to be turning a new leaf, exiting a life of (alleged) crime and deception in favor of an honest day’s work on Cameo, the platform offering personalized messages by mid-tier celebrities.

The disgraced politician, who was expelled from Congress’s lower chamber last Friday, is already making more than six figures off the platform, according to Semafor. That puts him on pace to make more than his old congressional salary of $174,000, through Cameo alone.

In just 48 hours after creating his profile, the fabulist former congressman has reached a popularity rivaling some of the platform’s biggest stars, raking in thousands of requests for $200 to $300 videos averaging a minute or less.

Cameo’s founder and CEO, Steven Galanis, told the outlet that he expects Santos to be “an absolute whale.”

“Sarah Jessica Parker, Bon Jovi—he’s putting numbers up like that,” Galanis said.

The moment is so irresistible that even other politicians have hopped on the Santos-Cameo bandwagon. Hours after Santos announced his new venture, Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman tapped the “seasoned expert” to tell indicted New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez to “stay strong” amid foreign bribery allegations.

The upshot of all this is Santos—who lied about having a high-paying job working for Goldman Sachs or Citigroup and ultimately used stolen campaign money to bolster his Botox and designer goods binges—won’t be strapped for cash in his criminal trial, which is set to begin in September 2024. Santos faces 23 charges related to wire fraud, identity theft, and credit card fraud. He has pleaded not guilty to the first 13 charges announced in May and has since denied another 10 charges announced in a superseding indictment in October.

Still, that’s only half the battle, according to Santos. More important is his F-U legacy.

“Obviously there’s a monetary benefit,” Santos told Semafor. “I’m not here doing it for charity—but the other aspect is to remind these assholes who think they’re holier-than-thou that they will be forgotten in history and I will live forever, period.”

Santos’s transition to social media fame is one of the more unusual career pivots post-Congress, and interrupts what many believed would be the lawmaker’s quick jump to reality TV. For those still holding out for the drama king’s soul-fated appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, Santos has a reminder: “I am the most conservative member of the New York delegation.”

It Never Ends: Yet Another State Has Indicted Fake Trump Electors

The fake Trump elector schemes are all falling apart.

Brett Forrest/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
Nevada state GOP Chair Michael McDonald is one of several people who participated in a scheme to pass off fake electors as real ones in 2020.

Nevada on Wednesday charged six Republicans, including the state Republican Party chair, for pretending to be state electors in 2020 to hand the election to Donald Trump.

State Attorney General Aaron Ford opened the investigation earlier this fall, and a grand jury issued an indictment Wednesday. Nevada is now the third state to seek charges against fake pro-Trump electors.

“When the efforts to undermine faith in our democracy began after the 2020 election, I made it clear that I would do everything in my power to defend the institutions of our nation and our state,” Ford said in a statement. “We cannot allow attacks on democracy to go unchallenged.”

After Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, Republicans in seven highly contested states launched attempts to overturn the results. GOP operatives signed certificates falsely stating they were the state’s Electoral College representatives and tried to claim that Trump had won their state.

Many of the fake electors were highly ranked state Republicans. The Nevada fake electors included Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald. McDonald was one of those indicted on Wednesday.

Nevada is now the third state to charge fake electors. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel charged 16 people in July with felonies for pretending to be 2020 electors. The accused include state Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock and state Republican National Committeewoman Kathy Berden.

In Georgia, the Fulton County district attorney has charged some fake electors as part of her larger indictment against Trump. The former president and his allies have been indicted in the Peach State for trying to overturn the 2020 election results.

There is also an investigation into the fake elector scheme in Arizona. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, 10 Republicans who posed as fake electors settled a lawsuit over their actions on Wednesday. Under the agreement, the Republicans acknowledged that Biden had won the state and promised not to serve as electors in 2024 or any other election where Trump is on the ballot.

The other states where Republicans tried to overthrow the results—New York and Pennsylvania—have yet to publicly announce whether they will probe the fake elector plot.

The plan to use fake electors was initially thought of by lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, who was indicted in Georgia, and then eventually taken over by Trump lawyer John Eastman. An internal memo reveals that Chesebro knew his “bold, controversial strategy” would “likely” be rejected by the Supreme Court.

But the point of Chesebro’s plan was not actually to pass legal and judicial scrutiny. Instead, the goal was to increase the spotlight on the baseless claims of voter fraud and to give Trump’s campaign more time to win its multiple lawsuits challenging the vote results. Judges threw out every single one of those lawsuits because they had no basis.

Senate Republicans Don’t Even Need a Vote Now to Stop Gun Control

Senate Republicans just blocked even the smallest step toward gun control.

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A historic year for mass shootings across the country wasn’t enough to convince conservatives that it’s time to implement some restrictions on assault rifles.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked an assault weapons ban along with universal background checks for a class of weapon designed solely for the slaughter of people. They wouldn’t even let the legislation come up for a vote.

Congress’s blatant dismissal of potential gun reforms flies in the face of what a majority of not just Americans but even gun owners say they want—more than eight in 10 gun owners support universal background checks for all gun sales, according to an Ipsos poll, while 92 percent of Americans support the same, according to a 2022 Gallup poll.

“This just feels like a test of democracy. It really does. Like, how does democracy survive if 90 percent of Americans, 90 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Democrats want something, and we can’t deliver it?,” Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked prior to a request for unanimous consent to pass the background checks bill.

The bill, originally sponsored by the late Senator Dianne Feinstein, would have made it illegal to produce, transfer or own military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Rifles and guns with military features, like pistol grips, forward grips, folding, telescoping or detachable stocks, grenade launchers, barrel shrouds, or threaded barrels would have been outlawed.

But Republicans ignored even those modest attempts at gun control—blocking the request for unanimous consent to pass the bill.

“Americans have a constitutional right to own a firearm. Every day, people across Wyoming responsibly use their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” Senator John Barrasso argued. “Democrats are demanding that the American people give up their liberty.”

Ten states in the nation—including Washington State, Illinois, Delaware, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, as well as Washington, D.C.—already effectively have assault weapons bans, though their efforts are curtailed by the weaker regulations of surrounding states.

This past weekend, the U.S.—which is the only country in the world plagued by large-scale gun violence—hit a new record for the amount of mass shootings suffered in a single year. After a pair of weekend attacks and back-to-back shootings in Texas and Washington State on Tuesday, the U.S. has tallied up 38 mass shootings in which four or more people have been killed, and 630 mass shootings in which four or more victims were shot—almost two per day, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

That’s higher than the number of mass shootings in any other year since 2006, two years after Democrats allowed the 1994 assault weapons ban, which didn’t give gun manufacturers any incentive to stop producing the gun, to lapse.

AR-15s are nothing short of civilian-killing machines. As The New Republic’s Colin Dickey noted in his review of American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15, Eugene Stoner’s 1954 invention “exists to extinguish human lives.”

Its popularity within the contemporary American canon comes from an early failure to land its place in the military arsenal that it was designed for, kneecapped by Army bureaucracy that frowned upon a weapon developed out of house.

The gun’s subsequent infiltration of the public sphere has made the AR-15 the bestselling rifle in America. Roughly a third of Americans are estimated to own a gun, according to a 2022 Ipsos poll, while one in 20 U.S. adults are expected to own an AR-15, according to a Washington Post/Ipsos survey that same year.

Further still, the modular rifle has become ingrained in the American consciousness by way of mass casualty events, favored by killers who are looking to do as much damage to the human body as possible.

At least 10 of the 17 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history saw a gunman wield an AR-15 style rifle, reported the Post.

Despite Republican attempts to wash Democratic efforts to curtail the weapon’s availability as an infringement on the lifestyles of blue-collar countrymen, invoking images of farmers and backwoods hunters, the vast majority of AR-15 owners are actually nonrural, with 48 percent living in suburban sprawl and 24 percent living in cities. Additionally, AR-15 owners tend to be some of the wealthier among us, with 56 percent having annual incomes in excess of $100,000, according to the WaPo/Ipsos survey.

Kevin McCarthy, Shortest-Serving House Speaker in U.S. History, Is Retiring

Goodbye and good riddance to Kevin McCarthy.

Kevin McCarthy speaks at a podium.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Two months after losing the highest position in the House, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he’s completely done.

On Wednesday, the California representative announced that he would be leaving his longtime career in Congress’s lower chamber by the end of the month.

“It is in this spirit that I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways,” McCarthy wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “I know my work is only getting started.”

McCarthy’s new leaf will take him behind the GOP’s recruitment effort for new talent, scouting and supporting rising elected officials around the country.

“The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders,” McCarthy said.

His retirement follows a radical ousting in October, when he became the shortest-serving House speaker in U.S. history thanks to a fringe, far-right minority in the House who he empowered in order to secure the gavel in the first place.

With McCarthy’s forthcoming absence, Representative Bill Johnson’s impending retirement in March, and Representative George Santos’s recent expulsion, a historically divided caucus of House Republicans will be left with a slimmer than slim majority—potentially pulling weight with just one seat.

“Now in 2024, we will have a 1 seat majority in the House of Representatives,” wrote Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene on X. “I can assure you Republican voters didn’t give us the majority to crash the ship. Hopefully no one dies.”

McCarthy’s ascent to the House’s highest seat came after a grueling 15-ballot vote earlier this year in which he handed the tools of his ultimate demise to a fringe collection of far-right members of the House led by Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, agreeing to terms that a single member could spur a no-confidence vote and initiate his dismissal.

McCarthy has been seemingly weighing his future in Congress since the ousting, noting at The New York Times DealBook Summit last week that he was considering an exit.

“If you just got thrown out of speaker, you’d go through different stages, would you not?” he said. “I want to know that it’s the right thing to do. And then if I’m walking away from something that I spent two decades at, I don’t want to look back and say I made an emotional decision.”

McCarthy’s exit is the latest in a sweep of retirements from Capitol Hill, which includes the exit of former Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry and 29 other members of the House, including Representatives Ken Buck, Debbie Lesko, and Michael Burgess. Seven senators have also announced they will not be seeking re-election after their current terms end, including Senator Mitt Romney and Joe Manchin.

McCarthy, for his part, hasn’t hid his resentment for the members who ousted him. Last month, he was caught in a bout of schoolyard drama in which Representative Tim Burchett accused the California Republican of elbowing him in the back, which McCarthy fervently denied.

“If I were to hit somebody, they would know I hit them,” McCarthy said.

This story has been updated.

RFK Jr. Admitted What About His Relationship With Jeffrey Epstein?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was forced to clarify his travels on Jeffrey Epstein’s jet.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy Jr seems to have been a little closer to notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein than previously admitted.

During an interview with Fox News’s Jesse Waters, the presidential candidate admitted that he had been on Epstein’s so-called Lolita Express jet not just once but twice.

The first time was in 1993 on his way to spend Easter with his mother, and on another occasion, he flew on the jet with four of his children to Rapid City, South Dakota, to go “fossil hunting for a weekend.”

“My wife had some kind of relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell and they offered us a ride to Palm Beach,” Kennedy said.

“Otherwise I was never on his jet alone, I’ve been very open about this from the beginning,” Kennedy said, noting that this was 30 years ago and long before “anybody knew about Jeffrey Epstein’s nefarious issues.”

That’s one more time than Kennedy told Newsweek in November, claiming that he had been on the jet just once.

“All of this information should be released and we should get real answers on what happened to Jeffrey Epstein and any of the high-level political people that he was involved with, all of that should be transparent to the public,” Kennedy added.

The Kennedy and Maxwell families have had ties going back decades.

Maxwell was once a guest at the wedding between disgraced former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Kerry Kennedy at which Maxwell boasted about sleeping with John F. Kennedy Jr., reported the New York Post.

In October, Kennedy announced that he would quit his Democratic bid for the presidency in favor of running as an independent—much to the chagrin of Republicans, who fear the conspiracy theorist could pull some votes away from GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

Check Out Donald Trump’s Gross, Wishcasting Prediction About Joe Biden

This is not normal.

Donald Trump
Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

Donald Trump revealed a trick up his sleeve to beat Joe Biden in the 2024 election: He thinks the president will die before it even happens.

Biden is the oldest president in U.S. history, and Republicans regularly use his age to argue that he is unfit to hold office. During a Tuesday night town hall, Fox News host Sean Hannity said Biden was “struggling cognitively” and asked Trump if Biden could still be the Democratic presidential nominee.

“I personally don’t think he makes it,” Trump said to cheers from the audience. “I think he’s in bad shape physically.”

“Do you remember when he said, ‘I’d like to take him behind the barn’? If he took me behind the barn and I went like this,” Trump said, blowing air, “I believe he’d fall over.”

Trump is only about four years younger than Biden, but Biden has received far more questions about whether he is capable of being president. This is despite the fact that Trump’s own slip-ups are growing increasingly common. For instance, in October, Trump mixed up Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Biden’s age is proving an issue with younger voters, but not necessarily because they believe he is mentally unfit. Instead, they worry that both Biden’s and Trump’s advanced ages prevent them from understanding young people’s perspectives on major issues.

This isn’t the first time that a Republican has made a morbid and crass quip about Biden’s age. In February, Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert delivered a sermon in Texas during which she appeared to joke about praying for Biden’s death.

“Joe Biden’s president. We don’t know what to do, Lord!” Boebert said. “It’s all right, we pray for our presidents. You know, it says, ‘Let his days be few and another take his office.’”