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Trump’s Idiot Lawyer May Already Have Sunk His E. Jean Carroll Defense

If Alina Habba’s opening statements are any indication, this case will not end well for Trump.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Trump attorney Alina Habba

One of Donald Trump’s lawyers may have already blown his defense in the E. Jean Carroll defamation trial, when she violated some of the judge’s rules during her opening statements on Tuesday.

Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan issued an order last week barring Trump and his lawyers from saying certain things. They are prohibited from making comments about Carroll’s “past romantic relationships, sexual disposition, and prior sexual experiences,” and they cannot argue that Trump did not sexually abuse or rape Carroll or act with actual malice when making his comments about her.

But on Tuesday, Trump attorney Alina Habba kicked things off by immediately insinuating that Trump hadn’t sexually assaulted Carroll.

“President Trump defended himself when publicly accused—” Habba began, when Carroll’s lawyer cut her off with an objection.

“Don’t go much farther,” Kaplan warned Habba.

Habba proceeded to argue that Carroll actually wanted all the attention she has gained since 2019, when she accused Trump in her memoir of raping her in a department store dressing room. Habba claimed that Carroll has been enjoying her newfound fame and is just complaining about a few mean tweets.

The evidence I will show you will show you that Ms. Carroll’s conduct has caused this media frenzy,” Habba said.

Habba’s arguments don’t hold water, though, because they mimic what Trump said about Carroll. The former president insisted that Carroll made up the assault allegations to boost book sales—and his comments have already been deemed defamatory.

Kaplan had actually reminded the jury before opening statements began that they were not trying to determine whether Trump assaulted and defamed Carroll but just how much Carroll is owed in damages. “This trial is not a do-over of the previous trial that established those facts,” he said.

Habba also argued that Carroll was “fully enjoying the attention.”

“We will ask Ms. Carroll to confirm that she felt she was in a cocoon of love after the publication,” Habba said.

Carroll has been open about the backlash she faced after revealing Trump assaulted her in the mid-1990s. During her first trial against him in April, Carroll testified that she was fired from Elle magazine after 27 years over the revelation. She got so many death threats that she bought bullets for a gun in her possession. And once the trial started, more people began insulting her online, calling her a “liar, slut, ugly, old.” Not exactly the “cocoon of love” that Habba claims.

The jury in that trial unanimously found Trump liable for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault. He was ordered to pay her $5 million in damages. Kaplan ruled in September that since Trump has already been found liable for sexual abuse, his 2019 comments are by default defamatory. Tuesday’s trial is to set damages, and Carroll is seeking at least $10 million.

Nikki Haley Tries Defending Trump in Case Where He’s Already Been Found Guilty

Innocent even if proven guilty?

Win McNamee/Getty Images

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley is so desperate not to criticize Donald Trump that she went as far as to call him innocent in a case where he’s already been found guilty.

“You’re the only woman in this race. How do you feel about your party’s front-runner being held liable for sexual abuse?” CNN’s Dana Bash asked Haley on Tuesday.

“First of all, I haven’t paid attention to his cases, and I’m not a lawyer,” Haley responded. “All I know is that he’s innocent until proven guilty, and when he’s proven guilty, and he’s sitting in a courtroom—that’s exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve got investigations on Trump and Biden.”

“Forgive me, but a lot of people in the Republican Party blow it all off and say that it’s all a witch hunt,” Bash pressed.

“Some of the cases have been political.… Look, if he’s found guilty then he needs to pay the price, he needs to do what he’s supposed to,” Haley continued. “Every one of these cases, they need to be heard out, he needs to defend himself. If he’s found guilty, he’s gonna pay the price. If he’s not found guilty, then we move forward. What I will tell you is that I’m focused on the economy, the border, and education, and getting our country back on track.”

“If he’s sitting in a courtroom, that goes back to what I’m saying,” Haley added, seemingly suggesting that the several dozen criminal charges against the Republican favorite are unnecessary diversions. “We can’t continue to be distracted. We can’t continue to be in chaos. We have a country to save.”

But that answer conveniently (and rather blatantly) overlooks the fact that Trump has been found liable—the civil case version of guilty—by a court of law.

In May 2023, a jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation, awarding Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll $5 million in damages. He was then found liable for defaming Carroll in a second case. The judge even went on the record to clarify that yes, the liable verdict means that Trump did rape Carroll, based on the common definition of the word.

This isn’t Trump’s only legal woe of course, and it’s not the only one where he was found guilty.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron has already found that the Trump Organization and its top executives, which includes Trump and his adult sons,  committed bank fraud. Engoron is deliberating the final damages owed and whether the Trump Organization can continue to operate in the Empire State. The fraud is so massive that last week, he asked lawyers with the New York attorney general’s office how Trump’s financial strategy compared to Bernie Madoff’s notorious Ponzi scheme.

Trump is currently on the line for 91 criminal charges in four other separate legal cases. On Monday, the GOP front-runner lost a good chunk of his legal representation, including star attorney Joe Tacopina, who filed a declaration to remove his law firm from representing the former president on unknown grounds.

Idaho Republicans’ War on Books Has an Unbelievable New Target

Fellas, is it gay to hold hands?

Yang Kejia/China News Service/VCG/Getty Images

Idaho Republican lawmakers are pushing a bill to ban books that mention homosexuality, a broad definition that could include two characters of the same gender just holding hands.

The House of Representatives State Affairs Committee passed the bill 11–2 on Monday, along party lines. House Bill 384 now goes to the chamber floor for a vote.

The bill would ban all visual, audio, and written material that depicts “nudity, sexual conduct, or sado-masochistic abuse and that is harmful to minors” from schools and public libraries. These would be classified as “obscene materials.”

Obscenity laws are particularly hard to enforce, because definitions of obscenity still largely come down to individual interpretation. As a result, there will likely be more reports of material that should be banned, made by people who are either more conservative or just nervous about accidentally breaking the law.

Republican Representative Julianne Young, who sits on the committee, claimed that the proposed law would target “acts” of homosexuality, which could apply to characters of the same gender holding hands.

The measure says anything overtly sexual is harmful to minors, and specifically states that sexual conduct includes all acts of homosexuality. Any facility that violates the bill would be required to pay $250 in statutory damages, as well as legal fees and additional damages to the person who reported the offending material.

During Monday’s hearing, multiple library workers warned that this bill would prove devastating to libraries. One worker pointed out that libraries’ budgets are not big enough to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees from all the lawsuits that could result from this bill.

One thing I’ve learned is, there is something offensive about everything to someone,” she said.

Another library worker pointed out that many libraries employ people who are 16 or 17 years old. Under the bill, those teenagers would no longer be able to work in libraries.

Homosexuality does not equate to obscenity. It is your choice to sexualize children’s books,” she said.

At one point, Republican Representative Kevin Andrus said he had gotten a lot of emails from people concerned that the bill would require encyclopedias to be moved into the adult section of libraries. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Jaron Crane, said that encyclopedias do not violate the bill because they have “literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

Unfortunately, Crane’s defense doesn’t hold much water. Republican-led states have increasingly banned books that discuss race, gender, and sexuality. Most recently, a school district in Florida banned five dictionaries, eight encyclopedias, The Guinness Book of World Records, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not because those books mention sexual conduct.

Bernie Sanders to Force Vote That Could Freeze Military Aid to Israel

“I hope it is not controversial to ask how U.S. weapons are being used.”

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Bernie Sanders is forcing a Senate vote that could potentially freeze aid to Israel.

The independent senator from Vermont utilized a provision called the Foreign Assistance Act to introduce the resolution last week. If adopted, it would require the State Department to document any human rights abuses committed by Israel since October 7, 2023. Failure to produce a report within 30 days would stall military aid to Israel.

“In essence, we will be voting on a very simple question: Do you support asking the State Department whether human rights violations may have occurred using U.S. equipment or assistance in this war?” Sanders said on Wednesday, citing billions spent in military aid and the use of tens of thousands of American-supplied bombs in the conflict resulting in civilian deaths.

“I hope it is not controversial to ask how U.S. weapons are being used,” he added.

While the measure has small odds of passing—it would need to get through both chambers of Congress and be signed by President Joe Biden, who has vehemently sided with Israel in the ongoing conflict—Sanders’s resolution will elucidate which politicians really care about the widely documented crimes committed by the Israeli military.

As of this weekend, at least 24,100 Palestinians, including more than 9,600 children, have been killed since the war began, along with some 61,000 Palestinians injured, according to Palestine’s mission to the United Nations.

Gazans are also suffering from the complete bombardment of war as well as deliberate intervention by Israel to restrict humanitarian aid to the region, resulting in shortages of food, drinking water, medical supplies, electricity, and housing in Palestine.

The “great majority” of Gazans are “are actually in famine, not just at risk of famine,” Martin Griffiths, the U.N. undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, told CNN on Monday.

“In Gaza, 1.9 million people have been displaced by the bombing and the fighting, more than 85 percent of the population,” Sanders said in his statement last week. “Many of these people are homeless, and some 1.4 million are crowded into UN facilities. More than 100 of these UN facilities have been damaged in Israeli attacks. Tens of thousands of others are sleeping out in the cold as winter sets in.”

“All of us who know a little bit about history, when we hear the name Dresden, know that it is synonymous with the destruction of WWII. But that destruction happened over two years. Gaza matched this in two months,” Sanders noted.

Police Don’t Appear to Think Roger Stone’s Assassination Threats Were Just a Joke

The loyal Trump adviser is under police investigation yet again.

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The Capitol Police are reportedly investigating remarks made by Roger Stone, after explosive audio revealed the longtime Trump ally tried to plot the assassinations of two Democratic congressmen.

The FBI is aiding with the investigation, Mediaite reported Tuesday, citing anonymous sources.

A few weeks before the 2020 election, Stone told a member of his security detail that he wanted either Representative Eric Swalwell or Representative Jerry Nadler (or both) killed, according to audio obtained by Mediaite. Just a few months prior, Nadler had announced that the House Judiciary Committee, on which he and Swalwell serve, would investigate Trump’s decision to commute Stone’s sentence for federal crimes.

“It’s time to do it,” Stone told Sal Greco, then a member of the NYPD who was working as Stone’s security. “Let’s go find Swalwell. It’s time to do it. Then we’ll see how brave the rest of them are. It’s time to do it. It’s either Nadler or Swalwell has to die before the election. They need to get the message. Let’s go find Swalwell and get this over with. I’m just not putting up with this shit anymore.”

Stone, a notorious conservative political operative, has long been a loyal Trump adviser and ally. When Stone was convicted in July 2019 in relation to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, Trump indirectly intervened.

Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction of a proceeding. Prosecutors wanted Stone to be sentenced to nine years in prison, but Trump’s Justice Department reportedly stepped in to give him a shorter sentence. Then, just days before Stone was due to go to jail, Trump commuted his sentence entirely. Nadler announced the House Judiciary investigation into the commutation just a few days later.

Four of the prosecutors abruptly quit the case following the Justice Department’s intervention. At least one, Aaron Zelinsky, acknowledged he had left in protest. A separate audio recording revealed Stone wanted retribution against Zelinsky, as well.

Stone has denied making the comments about Zelinsky, Swalwell, or Nadler and said the audio had been made with artificial intelligence.

Nikki Haley Tries Weighing in on Racism Again—and It’s a Disaster

Why is the daughter of Indian immigrants like this?

Jim Vondruska/Bloomberg/Getty Images

GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley tried to claim that racism is no longer an issue on Tuesday, arguing that the United States isn’t a racist country and never has been.

“We’re not a racist country, Brian,” Haley told Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade. “We never have been.”

“I know, I faced racism when I was growing up. But I can tell you, today is a lot better than it was then,” the former South Carolina governor added. “I don’t want my kids growing up where they’re sitting there thinking that they’re disadvantaged because of a color or a gender. I want them to know that if they work hard, they can do and be anything they want to be in America.”

Viewers were quick to dredge up recollections from Haley’s own  2012 autobiography, Can’t Is Not an Option, as evidence that the daughter of Sikh Indian immigrants did experience discrimination on the basis of her race.

In one section of the book, Haley recounts how as a kindergartner she was cast as Pocahontas during a Thanksgiving play, despite the fact that she “wasn’t that kind of Indian.”

“It was annoying. I remember thinking to myself, Why can’t I be the pilgrim?” Haley wrote.

In another section, Haley recollects how her father was profiled by law enforcement due to his turban, how her brother begged to break with Sikh tradition and have his hair cut due to relentless bullying, and how, at the age of 8, she was disqualified from a local beauty pageant due to the color of her skin.

But despite Haley’s insistence that America—and her hometown of Bamberg, South Carolina—have changed, compatriots and local residents feel otherwise.

“I think all of us know what this country was built on. And [racism] still exists,” Tony Duncan, a Black business owner in Bamberg who went to school with Haley’s older siblings, told NPR last year. “It exists. As people here in America, we have to deal with these things.”

A 2023 Washington Post poll found that 51 percent of Black Americans felt racism would get worse over the rest of their lifetimes, with nearly 70 percent of respondents saying that now is a more dangerous time to be a Black teenager than when they were teenagers. That statistic includes nearly 80 percent of Black Americans who were aged 50 or above.

At the end of the day, the recent gaffe is just another sign that Haley has not yet figured out how to square the issue of race in her campaign. In December, Haley spurred controversy when she stumbled and fumbled her way through answering a point-blank question about the cause of the U.S. Civil War during a New Hampshire town hall, completely avoiding the topic of slavery.

Weeks later, the politico attempted to swat away comments about her perceived ignorance by claiming that she had Black friends.

“I knew half of South Carolinians saw the Confederate flag as heritage and tradition. The other half of South Carolinians saw it as slavery and hate. My job wasn’t to judge either side,” Haley said at the time, noting that “a leader doesn’t decide who’s right.”

Trump Unleashes Barrage of Attacks on E. Jean Carroll Amid Defamation Trial

Donald Trump is not handling any of this well.

Donald Trump
Jefferson Siegel/Pool/Getty Images

Someone is attacking E. Jean Carroll on Donald Trump’s Truth Social account—but it’s not the former president, who on Tuesday sat in a New York courtroom to face trial for defamation.

Trump entered the courtroom at about 9:42 a.m., according to multiple reporters on scene. Electronics were prohibited in the courtroom, so Trump could not have been on his phone.

But Trump’s social media account made 30 posts attacking Carroll and then re-shared two of those posts. The attacks began at 8:56 a.m. and continued until about 10 a.m. Trump could have scheduled most of the posts, but re-sharing something must be done manually, meaning Trump got someone else to keep up his diatribe.

Trump’s account shared media interview clips and social media posts that appear to come from Carroll, all stripped of context so as to paint her as some sort of sexual deviant. He also falsely claimed that President Joe Biden has pushed the lawsuit, that the co-founder of LinkedIn is paying Carroll’s legal fees, and that presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan and Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan (no relation) are Democratic operatives.

This isn’t the first time Trump has gone after Carroll in this fashion. Two weeks ago, he went on a similar posting spree trying to discredit the writer. In fact, his Tuesday posts include some of the same video and text clips.

Trump did not appear at his first trial against Carroll in May. But this time around, not only is he in the courtroom, he may even testify—although that will have to wait until January 22. But Judge Kaplan set a long list of restrictions on what Trump and his lawyers can say, and Trump’s most recent social media rant violates most of those rules.

Team Trump is barred from pushing conspiracies about Carroll’s lawyer or who might be paying her legal fees. They are prohibited from making comments about her “past romantic relationships, sexual disposition, and prior sexual experiences,” and they cannot argue that Trump did not sexually abuse Carroll or act with actual malice when making his comments about her. Kaplan has also ruled that Trump can’t argue he didn’t rape Carroll, because he was technically found to have done so.

In May, a jury unanimously found Trump liable for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault. He was ordered to pay her $5 million in damages.

Kaplan ruled in September that since Trump has already been found liable for sexual abuse, his 2019 comments are by default defamatory. Tuesday’s trial is to set damages, and Carroll is seeking at least $10 million.

Donald Trump May Have Won Iowa—but He Just Lost a Slew of Lawyers

Trump has lost an impressive number of lawyers in one day.

David Dee Delgado/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Despite his overwhelming popularity at the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump can’t seem to keep a grip on his legal representation.

On Monday, one of the GOP front-runner’s star attorneys, Joe Tacopina, filed a declaration to withdraw his firm from two of Trump’s upcoming legal battles: his hush-money criminal trial in Manhattan and the E. Jean Carroll defamation case, which Trump has been desperately trying to appeal since being found liable for sexual abuse and defamation.

“I respectfully submit this Declaration in support of [law firm Tacopina Seigel and DeOreo’s] motion, made pursuant to Local Civil Rule 27.1, to withdraw as counsel (including TSD attorneys Joseph Tacopina, Chad D. Seigel and Matthew G. DeOreo) for Trump, with such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper,” Tacopina wrote in the legal filing, effectively pulling three of Trump’s attorneys in one fell swoop.

It’s not clear why Tacopina decided to withdraw, though the decision comes during a year of extreme legal uncertainty for Trump, who is on the line for 91 criminal charges in four separate legal cases—34 of which stem from the hush-money case, in which Trump is accused of using his former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. That trial is set to begin in late March.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the cases against him.

When asked for comment, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung did not acknowledge the recusal of Tacopina’s firm but instead slammed Trump’s upcoming legal challenges as partisan efforts to keep Trump away from the White House, reported The New York Times.

Trump “has the most experienced, qualified, disciplined, and overall strongest legal team ever assembled,” Cheung claimed, according to the outlet.

“A lawyer might attempt to withdraw as counsel of record for a client in a pending case for a number of reasons,” former federal prosecutor Michael McAuliffe told Newsweek.

“The attorney-client relationship might have suffered a fundamental breach of confidence, running in either or both directions. A strong-willed client who thinks he or she is more of a lawyer than the actual lawyer can create an untenable scenario for that lawyer to continue representing the client’s interests,” McAuliffe said, adding that there’s a chance the court may require Tacopina to identify a legal or factual basis to withdraw from representing the former president.

Rapist Republican Front-Runner Heads Straight to Court After Iowa Win

Donald Trump is back in the courtroom for another legal trial, fresh off his victory in the Iowa caucuses.

Trump at the New York state Supreme Court

Just hours after Iowa Republican voters cemented his status as the party’s front-runner, Donald Trump headed to New York on Tuesday to face the music for sexually assaulting and then defaming E. Jean Carroll.

Trump swept Iowa Monday night with 51 percent of the votes, the largest margin of victory since the state began holding Republican caucuses. The win established him more firmly than ever as the front-runner for the party’s nomination and set him up for another success at the New Hampshire primary next week.

But first, Trump has to face Carroll in New York. Trump is on trial for comments he made in 2019, when he said Carroll accused him of raping her just to promote her memoir. Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan has already determined the former president is liable for defamation, so the trial is primarily to set damages.

Trump did not appear at his first trial against Carroll in May. But this time around, he is in the courtroom and may even testify—although that will have to wait until January 22, the day before the New Hampshire primary. (Trump isn’t required to attend, and he certainly isn’t required to testify.)

There are strict limitations on what Trump can and cannot say if he does take the stand. Kaplan issued an order last week barring Trump and his lawyers from pushing conspiracies about Carroll’s lawyer or who might be paying the writer’s legal fees. They are prohibited from making comments “concerning Ms. Carroll’s past romantic relationships, sexual disposition, and prior sexual experiences,” and they cannot argue that Trump did not sexually abuse Carroll or act with actual malice when making his comments about her.

Kaplan has also ruled that Trump can’t argue he didn’t rape Carroll. Although Trump was found liable for sexual abuse, Kaplan has repeatedly stated that Trump “‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape.’”

In other words, a federal judge has recognized that Trump is a rapist.

Trump has already shown he is unwilling to listen to judges’ rules after he went on a courtroom rant on the last day of his financial fraud trial in New York. So there is no guarantee he’ll stick to Kaplan’s ruling if allowed to testify against Carroll.

In May, a jury unanimously found Trump liable for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault. He was ordered to pay her $5 million in damages.

Kaplan ruled in September that since Trump has already been found liable for sexual abuse, his 2019 comments are by default defamatory. Carroll is now seeking at least $10 million in damages.

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.