Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Kansas Legislators to Kansas Voters: You Spoke Loud and Clear, and We Don’t Care

Kansas Republicans are bringing back their scheme to overturn voters on abortion.

Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Republican lawmakers in Kansas want to make sure you know they don’t care about the will of the voters. State representatives have introduced a bill completely banning abortion, despite Kansans voting less than two years ago to keep protections for the procedure in the state constitution.

House Bill 2492 was introduced Wednesday by eight Republican state representatives, seven of whom are men. The measure would ban all abortions except those necessary to save the patient’s life.

The bill bans prescribing, distributing, selling, or donating abortion medication. Anyone who helps someone get an abortion could face civil proceedings, while doctors who perform abortions would face a minimum fine of $10,000 per procedure.

The measure flies directly in the face of the will of the voters, as noted by Amber Sellers, the advocacy director of Trust Women, a pro-abortion nonprofit in Wichita, Kansas. “Kansans spoke—loudly—on the issue,” Sellers told the Kansas Reflector. “It’s time for anti-abortion lawmakers to wake up, remember and finally listen to the message that voters continue to send.”

In August 2022, less than two months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Kansans voted overwhelmingly to keep language in the state constitution protecting the right to abortion. The vote proved to be a bellwether, with multiple states voting to increase abortion protections since.

But that didn’t stop Kansas Republican lawmakers from trying to circumvent the will of the people. The Sunflower State GOP has tried to pass a bill that would let local governments of individual towns and cities ban abortion, as well as a bill that would force doctors to lie to their patients about abortion medication. Both measures were ultimately unsuccessful.

And just as the Kansas vote turned out to be an indicator of what voters wanted nationwide, so too have Republicans in other states followed the Kansas GOP’s model. Most recently, Ohio residents voted in November to enshrine abortion protections in the state constitution. Ohio Republican lawmakers immediately set about finding ways to enact legislation that would undermine the results.

If the Kansas bill passes the state legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, it will likely be vetoed by Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. The GOP does have a large enough majority to override Kelly’s veto, but the abortion ban is unlikely to survive a legal challenge. The state Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the Kansas constitution protects abortion rights, meaning the bill violates those rights.

The Stable Genius Trump Just Got Hammered to the Tune of $400,000

Donald Trump has suffered another legal blow, this time over his lawsuit against the The New York Times.

A New York state judge on Friday ordered Donald Trump to pay The New York Times almost $400,000 in legal fees for a lawsuit he brought against the paper in 2021.

Trump accused the paper and three Times reporters of conspiring with his niece Mary Trump, who has contributed to The New Republic, in an “insidious plot” to illicitly obtain his tax records. The Times published a series of stories on Trump’s taxes in 2018 that revealed the president wasn’t the self-made billionaire he claimed he was. In fact, most of his wealth came from his parents or from dodging taxes, as his businesses continued to bleed money elsewhere.

State Supreme Court Justice Robert Reed dismissed Trump’s case in May, writing in his ruling that Trump’s claims “fail as a matter of constitutional law.”

Reed issued another ruling on Friday ordering Trump to pay the paper and the reporters Susanne Craig, David Barstow, and Russ Buettner a total of $392,638.69 in legal fees.

Trump made waves by refusing to release his tax returns when he first ran for president in 2016, which is not required but is precedent. He then actually brought more attention to his taxes by continually refusing to release the documents to the public or at the very least to Congress.

The House Ways and Means Committee finally obtained six years’ worth of the former president’s tax returns in late November 2022. After first reviewing the documents behind closed doors, the committee released Trump’s tax returns. The documents revealed Trump listed large charitable donations, millions of dollars in goods sold, and massive financial losses each year to avoid paying taxes.

Trump Must Return Millions He Got From Foreign Governments, Democrats Say

Democrats are tearing into Donald Trump for his violation of the Constitution.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Representative Jamie Raskin demanded Friday that Donald Trump return the nearly $8 million he was paid by foreign governments while he was president.

A report released last week by House Oversight Committee Democrats found that Trump made more than $7.8 million during his first two years in office. He did not ask Congress for permission to keep the money, as is required by the Constitution.

“I write today to demand that you immediately return to the American people the $7,886,072 that we know you have accepted from foreign governments,” Raskin said in a letter to Trump.

The Maryland Democrat noted that the report findings were likely incomplete, as it covers just half of Trump’s presidency and transactions at just four of his more than 500 businesses.

“I also demand that you give Congress a full accounting of the money, benefits and other emoluments ‘of any kind whatever’ you pocketed from foreign governments or their agents during your term as President and that you return the total sum of these foreign emoluments,” Raskin said in his letter.

“Your acceptance of foreign emoluments while in office was a stunning violation of the U.S. Constitution—and a profound betrayal of the interests of the United States and the trust of the American people.”

The money came from some of the “world’s most unsavory regimes,” according to the report, and Trump never asked for congressional approval to keep the funds, as mandated by the Constitution. The countries included China—which gave Trump $5.5 million, the largest sum listed in the report—Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Hungary.

Trump isn’t even trying to hide the fact that he received payments from foreign governments. In a Fox News town hall Wednesday night, Trump dismissed the amount as “a small amount of money.”

He then justified the fact that he received foreign payments by arguing he was “doing services for them.”

“People were staying in these massive hotels, these beautiful hotels,” Trump said. “I don’t get $8 million for doing nothing.”

Here’s Who Qualifies for the New Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

Biden has announced a new round of student loan forgiveness for some Americans.

Sarah Reingewirtz/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News/Getty Images

Joe Biden announced Friday that federal student debt will be wiped out for millions of people, despite previous conservative attempts to stop him.

The Biden administration unveiled the Saving on a Valuable Education plan in August. The SAVE plan reduces millions of borrowers’ monthly payments based on their income and family size. The plan also caps interest accrual and forgives remaining balances after a certain number of years.

The new round of student loan forgiveness under the SAVE plan applies to borrowers who took out less than $12,000 in federal loans and have been paying off their balances for at least 10 years. They will have their remaining debt canceled in February.

This move, which comes nearly six months ahead of schedule, “will particularly help community college borrowers, low-income borrowers, and those struggling to repay their loans,” Biden said in a statement.

About 30 million people are eligible for the SAVE plan, but Biden said in his statement that just 6.9 million are currently enrolled. He did not give details on how many borrowers will see immediate benefits from the upcoming cancellations.

Biden has repeatedly pushed for increased student debt cancellation, despite pushback from conservatives. But the president has refused to give up: In July, his administration announced it was forgiving $39 billion in student debt.

The Biden administration counted payments for borrowers who had made partial or late payments, and for people who had paused their payments under certain circumstances, for instance if they were a student or unemployed, but continued to pay the interest. These types of payments previously went uncounted, according to the government.

Biden had originally proposed a plan to cancel up to $20,000 of student debt for up to 43 million people. But the ultraconservative Supreme Court ruled 6–3 against his plan in June.

Biden’s Airstrikes on Yemen Draw Outrage From Democrats and Republicans Alike

Lawmakers you would never expect are joining forces after Biden’s bombing of Yemen.

Joe Biden
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Members of Congress are expressing their displeasure with Joe Biden for launching airstrikes in Yemen, a move that has achieved the rare effect of uniting many Republicans and Democrats.

The United States and the U.K. bombed 16 different sites in Yemen Thursday night, hitting more than 60 targets, in a retaliatory strike against the Houthis. The strikes were meant to pressure the Houthis to stop blocking commercial ships in the Red Sea, a campaign it began over growing frustration with Israel’s war on Gaza.

Members of Congress across the political spectrum expressed frustration late into the night that Biden gave them just a few hours’ notice before authorizing the strikes. Democratic Representative Ro Khanna was one of the first to state his outrage, writing on X (formerly Twitter) that presidents do not have unilateral authority to launch military strikes unless the country is under attack.

Khanna also retweeted former Republican Representative Justin Amash, who explained that the War Powers Act only allows the president to involve the U.S. military in overseas hostilities if the country is already at war or is currently under attack, or if the president got special approval. Otherwise, Congress must be notified 48 hours in advance.

Republican Representatives Matt Gaetz, Anna Paulina Luna, and Thomas Massie, as well as Senator Mike Lee, were quick to back Khanna up on his point. All four Republicans stressed that Congress should have been given more advance notice.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene slammed Biden for authorizing the airstrike without congressional approval, though she also slammed him for multiple other issues. The Georgia Republican accused him of becoming a warmonger by supporting conflict in Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and now the Middle East.

Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, accused Biden of violating the Constitution. “The American people are tired of endless war,” she wrote on X.

In a shocking display of unity, Massie backed her up in the comments against people arguing on Biden’s behalf.

Democratic Representatives Cori Bush and Summer Lee warned against involving the U.S. in more “endless wars,” alongside expressing their displeasure that Biden hadn’t notified Congress 48 hours in advance. Representative Pramila Jayapal called it “an “unacceptable violation of the Constitution.”

Representatives Sarah Jacobs and Barbara Lee, both California Democrats, were worried that the airstrikes could escalate into something much greater.

Many other lawmakers, again both Democrats and Republicans, also made an unlikely alliance in backing Biden’s decision to order the airstrikes. House Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the bombing “overdue.” Democratic Representatives Ruben Gallego and Seth Moulton praised Biden for standing up to “terrorism” overseas.

Trump Launches Into Berserk Tirade in Fraud Trial—as Judge Tells Him to Shut Up

Donald Trump launched into a deranged rant at the end of his bank fraud trial.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Donald Trump on Thursday burst into a rant, which he reportedly spent days practicing, during the last day of his civil fraud trial.

Trump had wanted to present his own closing arguments, which the presiding judge, Arthur Engoron, said he could do so long as the former president abided by a strict set of rules about what he could actually discuss. This included sticking to the matter at hand instead of giving “a campaign speech” and not attacking New York Attorney General Letitia James or the courtroom staff. When Trump’s lawyers refused to agree, Engoron barred Trump from speaking, a move that Trump called “MEAN & NASTY” on TruthSocial.

During the trial, Trump’s lawyer asked if his client could address the court. Engoron asked if Trump would keep his comments to the facts and evidence at hand, which Trump apparently took as a green light to go right ahead.

“This is a political witch hunt, and that should be set aside,” Trump cut in. “We should receive damages for what we went through.”

“This is a fraud on me,” he continued to rave. “What’s happened here, sir, is a fraud on me.”

“We have a situation where I’m an innocent man. I’ve been persecuted by somebody running for office, and I think you have to go outside the bounds.”

There is no evidence linking President Joe Biden to the lawsuit. New York’s attorney general sued Trump for fraud.

Trump complained for several minutes about the trial and legal proceedings. He even claimed he had spoken with an insurance executive from Zurich who said they hadn’t been defrauded by Trump.

Trump also insisted he had never had a problem, but Engoron interjected to point out that Trump has been sued before.

“Isn’t that a problem?” Engoron asked.

The judge eventually told Trump’s lawyers to “control your client.”

Trump requested earlier this week to deliver his own closing arguments. He apparently spent days rehearsing an appropriately aggrieved and biting speech, Rolling Stone reported Thursday, citing anonymous sources. Clearly, Trump wasn’t about to let Engoron’s decision stop him from getting his moment in the spotlight.

James accused Trump, his sons Don Jr. and Eric, the Trump Organization, and other company executives of fraudulently inflating the value of various real estate assets to get more favorable terms on bank loans. Engoron determined in September that Trump committed fraud and ordered that all Trump’s New York business certificates be canceled, making it nearly impossible to do business in the state and effectively killing the Trump Organization. The current trial is primarily just to determine how much Trump owes in damages.

West Virginia Bill Could Ban All Transgender People From Schools

The new bill classifies transgender people as “obscene matter.”

Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post/Getty Images

A West Virginia Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill that would classify transgender people as “obscene matter” and ban them from getting within 2,500 feet of a school.

Senate Bill 197, which was introduced Wednesday, prohibits obscene matter from being within 2,500 feet of a public school building or facility. Obscene materials are defined as something that is sexually explicit “in a patently offensive way” or something that “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

The bill states that, for the sake of protecting children, obscenity also includes “any transvestite and/or transgender exposure, performances or display to any minor.”

Any school faculty or staff that allow obscene material within 2,500 feet of the school can face up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $500, or both. The bill, which was introduced by Republican state Senator Michael Azinger, makes no mention of how the new rules would affect transgender students.

Besides the obvious transphobia of the bill, which dehumanizes trans people by classifying them as “materials,” the measure would also dramatically increase the criminalization of trans people. Obscenity laws are hard to enforce, because definitions of obscenity still largely come down to individual interpretation. As a result, there will likely be more reports of obscenity, made by people who are either more conservative or just nervous about accidentally breaking the law.

Azinger’s bill, like many other Republican-backed measures curbing LGBTQ rights, is not intended to protect children or prevent public displays of indecency—or even necessarily stand up to legal challenges. The vaguely worded text is primarily meant to scare people.

This bill is the latest in West Virginia’s assault on trans rights. In March 2023, Governor Jim Justice signed a bill banning gender-affirming care for trans and nonbinary minors. Gender-affirming treatments such as hormone therapy and reversible puberty blockers are widely backed by the medical community and have been proven to decrease depression and suicidality in trans and nonbinary teens.

The Five Most Powerful Moments in The Hague’s Israel Genocide Case

Israel is on trial for committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Here’s what happened on day one of the hearings.

Michel Porro/Getty Images

The United Nations’ top court on Thursday held the first public hearings in a case accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

South Africa brought the case, charging Israel with violating the U.N.’s 1948 Genocide Convention, which was established in the wake of the Holocaust. South Africa is asking the International Court of Justice to order an immediate end to Israel’s war in Gaza, which has thus far killed more than 23,000 Palestinians and displaced nearly the entire population.

During Thursday’s hearing, a team of South African ambassadors and lawyers began presenting the case against Israel. Here are some of the most powerful things they said:

1. “The first genocide in history where its victims are broadcasting their own destruction in real time in the desperate, so far vain hope that the world might do something.”

Irish lawyer Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh, representing South Africa, delivered these powerful remarks:

The international community continues to fail the Palestinian people, despite the overt dehumanizing genocidal rhetoric by Israeli governmental and military officials matched by the Israeli’s army’s actions on the ground. Despite the horror of the genocide against the Palestinian people, being livestreamed from Gaza to our mobile phones, computers, and television screens, the first genocide in history where its victims are broadcasting their own destruction in real time in the desperate, so far vain hope that the world might do something.

2. “The terrible new acronym born out of Israel’s genocidal assault on the Palestinian population in Gaza.”

“On the basis of the current figures, on average, 247 Palestinians are being killed and are at risk of being killed each day, many of them literally blown to pieces,” Ní Ghrálaigh warned.

“They include 48 mothers each day, two every hour. And over 117 children each day. Leading UNICEF to call Israel’s actions a war on children. Entire multigenerational families will be obliterated and yet more children will become WCNSF—wounded child, no surviving family—the terrible new acronym born out of Israel’s genocidal assault on the Palestinian population in Gaza.”

3. “Ongoing Nakba of the Palestinian people through Israel’s colonization since 1948.”

Vusi Mandonsela, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, opened the genocide case by referencing Israel’s system of colonization, apartheid, and occupation. He also referenced the Nakba, the Arabic word for “catastrophe” which is used to describe the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland upon Israel’s creation in 1948.

His remarks gave greater context to the war we are witnessing today:

South Africa has recognized the ongoing Nakba of the Palestinian people through Israel’s colonization since 1948, which has systematically and forcibly dispossessed, displaced and fragmented the Palestinian people, deliberately denying them the internationally recognized inalienable right to self determination and their internationally recognized rights of return as refugees to their towns and villages in what is now the state of Israel.

We are also particularly mindful of Israel’s institutionalized regime of discriminatory laws, policies, and practices designed and maintained to establish domination, subjecting the Palestinian people to apartheid on both sides of the Green Line.

Decades-long impunity for widespread and systematic human rights violations has emboldened Israel in its recurrence and intensification of international crimes in Palestine.

At the outset, South Africa acknowledges that the genocidal acts and omissions by the state of Israel inevitably form part of a continuum of illegal acts perpetrated against the Palestinian people since 1948.

The application places Israel’s genocidal acts and omissions within the broader context of Israel’s 25-year apartheid, 56-year occupation, and 16-year siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

4. “This killing is nothing short of destruction of Palestinian life. It is inflicted deliberately. No one is spared. Not even newborn babies.”

Adila Hassim, another lawyer presenting South Africa’s case, described Israel’s “unparalleled and unprecedented killing.”

In schools, in hospitals, in mosques, in churches, and as they tried to find food and water for their families. They have been killed if they failed to evacuate, killed in the places to which they have fled, and even killed while they attempted to flee along Israeli declared safe routes.

The level of killing is so extensive that those whose bodies are found are buried in mass graves, often unidentified.

In the first three weeks alone, following 7 October, Israel deployed 6,000 bombs per week. At least 200 times it has deployed 2000 pound bombs in southern areas of Palestine designated as safe. These bombs have also decimated the north, including refugee camps. Two thousand pound bombs are some of the biggest and most destructive bombs available. They are dropped by lethal fighter jets that are used to strike targets on the ground by one of the world’s most resourced armies.

Israel has killed an unparalleled and unprecedented number of civilians. With the full knowledge of how many civilian lives each bomb will take.

More than 1,800 Palestinian families in Gaza have lost multiple family members and hundreds of multigenerational families have been wiped out with no remaining survivors. Mothers, fathers, children, siblings, grandparents, aunts, cousins, often all killed together.

This killing is nothing short of destruction of Palestinian life. It is inflicted deliberately. No one is spared. Not even newborn babies.

5. “Genocides are never declared in advance, but this court has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence that shows incontrovertibly a pattern of conduct and related intention that justifies a plausible claim of genocidal acts.”

Hassim went on to outline the crimes Israel has committed over the last 97 days:

All of these acts individually and collectively form a calculated pattern of conduct by Israel indicating a genocidal intent. This intent is evident from Israel’s conduct in:

Targeting Palestinians living in Gaza using weaponry that causes large scale, homicidal destruction, as well as targeted sniping of civilians.

Designating safe zones for Palestinians to seek refuge and then bombing these.

Depriving Palestinians in Gaza of basic needs—food, water, health care, fuel, sanitation, and communications.

Destroying social infrastructure, homes, schools, mosques, churches, hospitals, and killing, seriously injuring, and leaving large numbers of children orphaned.

Genocides are never declared in advance but this court has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence that shows incontrovertibly, a pattern of conduct and related intention that justifies a plausible claim of genocidal acts.

Trump Admits He Was “Doing Services” for Foreign Governments Who Paid Him

The Republican Party’s front-runner, everyone

Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump says it’s OK that he got paid by foreign governments while he was president because he was “doing services” for them.

Trump participated in a Fox News town hall Wednesday night instead of the Republican primary debate. At one point, he was asked about a recent congressional report that found he made almost $8 million from nearly two dozen foreign governments during his first two years in office.

Trump dismissed the amount as “a small amount of money.”

“You know, it sounds like a lot of money. That’s small,” he said.

He then said that it was fine he had received so much money because it was payment for accommodation at his various clubs and hotels.

“I was doing services for them,” Trump explained. “People were staying in these massive hotels, these beautiful hotels.”

“I don’t get $8 million for doing nothing.”

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee released a report last week that found Trump’s businesses had received at least $7.8 million from at least 20 different countries. The report acknowledged that its findings were likely incomplete, as it covers just half of Trump’s presidency and transactions at just four of his more than 500 businesses.

The money came from some of the “world’s most unsavory regimes,” according to the report, and Trump never asked for congressional approval to keep the funds, as mandated by the Constitution.

The countries included China—which gave Trump $5.5 million, the largest sum listed in the report—Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Hungary.

The report came as Republicans are trying to impeach Joe Biden for allegedly benefiting from his son Hunter’s overseas business dealings. But the GOP has yet to produce any actual evidence of wrongdoing by the president.

Florida’s War on Books Has Found a New Casualty: The Dictionary

A Florida school district has removed the dictionary over concerns that it doesn’t comply with state law.

Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

A Florida school district has banned multiple versions of the dictionary for including sexual content. Yes, you read that right.

The Escambia County School District, located in Florida’s Panhandle, has allegedly removed five dictionaries, eight encyclopedias, The Guinness Book of World Records, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not from its library shelves after a December investigation found those books could violate House Bill 1069.

Those reference books are among 1,600 titles that the December investigation found inappropriate for county school library shelves. Other banned books include Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, some Sherlock Holmes books, and the autobiographies of Beyoncé, Oprah, and Lady Gaga.

“We can’t believe we have to say this but students have a right to read the dictionary in school,” the ACLU said in a TikTok posted Wednesday.

With the latest purge, Escambia County has now pulled more than 2,800 books from its library shelves because they might violate state law on teaching students about sex and sexuality. The other banned books cover subjects including race, racism, and LGBTQ identity. The nonprofit organization PEN America, along with county students and parents, has sued the school district for banning books.

Florida Republican lawmakers dramatically expanded Governor Ron DeSantis’s hallmark “Don’t Say Gay” legislation in May 2023. The legislation bans teaching material on sexual orientation and gender identity through eighth grade. The law also makes it easier for people to file complaints to ban books.

Since the law went into effect, Florida schools have undergone massive purges of books from both classroom and school libraries. Other titles yanked from shelves include “The Hill We Climb,” the poem read at Joe Biden’s inauguration, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, the graphic novel Little Rock Nine, and the movie Ruby Bridges.