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What the Hell Was That Stuff on Donald Trump’s Hands?

The entire internet is speculating about the mysterious red marks on Trump’s hands.


Donald Trump’s hands didn’t look too good on Wednesday, leading to a flurry of theories about the current state of the GOP front-runner’s mental and physical health.

Political advisers and voters alike speculated across the spectrum as to the origin of the dark, red spots on Trump’s hand, arguing that the marks’ origin could be anything from syphilis to ink splotches.

“They don’t look like cuts to me, they look like sores,” said Bill Clinton’s former presidential campaign strategist James Carville, during a livestream. “I’ve asked a number of M.D.s what medical condition manifests itself through hand sores, and the answer is immediate and unanimous: secondary syphilis.”

Earlier on Wednesday, syphilis was trending on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Others pondered whether the mysterious condition emerged due to a rash, dry skin, or even as the result of some emotionally charged tantrum.

“Is it magic marker? Because it looks like he has a sore on his index finger there,” said Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

“There was a point in time during the day where Trump, very frustrated with Judge Kaplan, banged his hands down on the table. I doubt that the blisters or marks that were seen there come from that. But could they be exacerbated by that? Perhaps,” speculated MSNBC’s Lisa Rubin.

“Like a toddler having a tantrum, perhaps, and causing bleeding into his hand?” responded Willie Geist.

Some online posters noticed that the emergence of Trump’s mysterious hand condition coincided with a bizarre speech Wednesday night, theorizing that Trump’s cluttered and nonsensical speech could be a symptom of late-stage syphilis. 

“We’re also going to place strong protections to stop banks and regulators from trying to debank you from your—you know, your political beliefs what they do. They want to debank you, and we’re going to debank—think of this. They want to take away your rights, they want to take away your country, the things you’re doing,” Trump said during a New Hampshire campaign rally, immediately before diving into a rant about electric cars.

Florida Republicans Want to Ban More Than Just the Pride Flag

Florida Republicans are advancing a bill that would ban a sweeping array of flags in classrooms. One critic calls it “fascism at its best.”

Pride flag
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Florida state Republicans have advanced a bill that would ban schools and government buildings from displaying Pride flags, Black Lives Matter flags, and the Palestinian flag.

House Bill 901 passed the state House Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee on Wednesday by a vote of 9–5, along party lines. The bill must pass one more committee before going before the full chamber.

The measure bans all government entities from displaying flags that represent “a political viewpoint, including, but not limited to, a politically partisan, racial, sexual orientation and gender, or political ideology viewpoint.” Government employees would be banned from wearing lapel pins that express these ideologies.

Bill sponsor David Borrero said this would also prohibit flags of countries that the United States does not recognize as sovereign nations, such as Palestine.

“Public classrooms should not be the place where our kids go to be radicalized and evangelized into accepting these partisan, radical ideologies,” Borrero said. “It’s wholly inappropriate to be putting those types of flags in front of public school students and in government buildings.”

The bill applies to state and local government buildings, and all schools in the Florida public school system. This includes state colleges and universities, which detracts significantly from Borrero’s main argument. College and university students are legally adults, so this bill isn’t really about protecting children.

The bill is “not about indoctrination,” Democratic Representative Johanna Lopez said. “It’s about discrimination.”

Several Democratic state lawmakers fly Pride or Black Lives Matter flags in their offices. If the bill becomes law, they would be required to take those banners down—although they are already saying they won’t.

Democratic Representative Michele Rayner, who is Black and lesbian, lamented the fact that “once again we’re focusing on things nobody has asked us to focus on.”

Rayner has rainbow “Protect LGBTQ+ Students” flyers in her office and a “Black Voters Matter” sign hanging outside. “It will remain outside my office regardless of what bill they pass because there’s a thing called the First Amendment,” she said.

Democratic Senator Shevrin Jones slammed the bill as “authoritarianism” and “fascism at its best.” Jones is Black and gay, and he has multiple Pride symbols in his office, including a rainbow “Pride at the Capitol” poster.

“How I was raised, the rainbow meant hope … I can promise you it wasn’t that that made me gay,” Jones said. “I’m not taking a damn thing down. I want everybody to see it.”

Here’s What Alarms Legal Experts Most About Trump’s Upcoming Cases

Pay closer attention to what’s happening to the jurors.

Donald Trump in the courtroom. Others stand around him, including his legal team and a security guard.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

One prominent legal expert is sounding the alarm bells over impending damage in Donald Trump’s upcoming criminal trials, likening Trump’s behavior on the stand and his relentless bullying of judges and court staff to that of a mob boss.

While Trump and his political allies have so far been successful at hounding judges and defendants—like Judge Arthur Engoron in Trump’s Manhattan bank fraud trial—there could be members of even more vulnerable demographics in the courtroom who could be legitimately compromised by Trump’s harassment.

Andrew Weissman, a New York University law professor and former lead prosecutor in Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, raised the issue during The New Republic’s “America in Crisis” event on Wednesday evening.

“Obviously the investigation and prosecution is important, and as serious of a problem as it is with respect to judges and prosecutors and journalists, I’m particularly concerned with what is going to happen with respect to witnesses and jurors,” said Weissman.

Weissman likened Trump’s conduct in the courtroom to the “organized crime cases” that he prosecuted as a young attorney, pointing to the “extraordinary” measures taken thus far—like keeping jurors fully anonymous and partially sequestered in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case.

“The jurors go by number, and they were instructed to not use their names, even with each other … and that is an extraordinary step, even in a criminal case—but that is the kind of measure that I think you’re going to see, whether it’s the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal case against Donald Trump or the Jack Smith case before Judge [Tanya] Chutkan,” Weissman continued, noting that for witnesses it will be “a lot more difficult.”

In the Carroll defamation case, Judge Lewis Kaplan cited Trump’s behavior as a reason for the extreme measures to protect the jury.

Trump is on the line for 91 charges across four separate criminal cases, for his behavior related to the January 6 insurrection, his attempt to undermine the election results in Georgia, his alleged theft of thousands of classified documents, and the Stormy Daniels hush-money case, in the last of which Trump is accused of using his former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with the porn actress under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The outcome of Trump’s criminal trials has proven to be one of the few issues that sways some of his raucous supporters. More than a quarter of Republicans said that the real estate mogul should not be a presidential candidate if he’s convicted of a crime, according to a December New York Times/Siena College poll—enough to swing the general election in a matchup against President Joe Biden.

But that would require Trump’s numerous trials to come to fruition before November. According to Weissman, just two are due to be resolved by then: the D.C. January 6 case and the Stormy Daniels hush-money case.

And that’s significant, since Trump’s race to the White House will likely only be impeded by America’s electorate. In fact, nearly every legal expert at The New Republic’s event—including Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center for Justice and Michael Pollack of the Cardozo Law School—agreed that the Supreme Court is unlikely to affirm Colorado’s and Maine’s decisions to push Trump off their primary ballots.

“It will be up to voters as to whether they want an insurrectionist in the White House,” Weissman added.

Republican Lawmaker Says It’s Time to Bring Back Family Separation

Representative Anna Paulina Luna is saying the quiet part out loud.

Representative Anna Paulina Luna holds a newborn baby
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A Republican representative on Wednesday made a shocking confession: “We want family separation.”

Representative Anna Paulina Luna, a freshman congresswoman from Florida, made the startling claim during a House hearing on immigration, in which she tried defending former President Donald Trump’s horrific family separation policy.

She questioned whether any real trauma took place when children were separated from their “quote unquote parents” under the program.

Cato Institute immigration expert David Bier, a witness in the hearing, apparently began laughing at her use of the phrase—which was enough to set off Luna.

“Why are you laughing?” she angrily yelled at Bier.

“Because you said ‘quote unquote parents,’ as if they weren’t really their parents,” he responded.

“You have no idea,” she immediately responded.

“I do have an idea. I’ve met with—”

“You have no idea if these people are their intentional parents or not. Really? Are you psychic? Have you won the lotto, Mr. Bier?”

It’s at this point that Luna revealed what she really thinks.

“The reason why we want family separation until we can confirm if they are their actual biological parents—”

“You want family separation?” Bier asked, stunned by her admission.

To be clear, Trump’s family separation caused lasting trauma to entire families. Under the 2018 “zero tolerance” policy, at least 2,000 children were separated from their parents at the border. Those children were placed in Health and Human Services custody, while their parents were placed in detention and then prosecuted in federal court. Years later, hundreds of families still remain separated.

In 2019, a watchdog report documented some of the trauma experienced by the children. “The little ones don’t know how to express what they are feeling, what has happened,” one program report told investigators. “Communication is limited and difficult. They need more attention.”

“According to program directors and mental health clinicians, separated children exhibited more fear, feelings of abandonment, and post-traumatic stress than did children who were not separated,” the report found, noting that many children cried inconsolably or experienced other physical symptoms of trauma. One child said that “every heartbeat hurts.”

Luna, by the way, is best known for likely fabricating her Jewish heritage. In a Washington Post report last year, many of her family members disputed her claim that she was raised Jewish. In fact, they noted, her grandfather served in the Nazi army.

Judge Threatens to Kick Trump out of Court Over His Constant Muttering

It is seriously not looking good for Donald Trump in the E. Jean Carroll trial.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump was nearly kicked out of his own defamation trial on Wednesday for repeatedly making comments within earshot of the jury, nearly a week before he is allowed to testify.

The trial is to determine how much Trump owes writer E. Jean Carroll in damages for defaming her. Trump did not appear at his first trial against Carroll in May, but this time around, he is in the courtroom. He has requested to testify, and Lewis Kaplan, the presiding judge, said he can do so on January 22.

But apparently, Trump didn’t feel like waiting to make his side of things heard. His attorney Alina Habba claimed twice that Carroll has gotten funding for the lawsuit, pushing conspiracy theories that either leftist billionaire George Soros paid her to accuse Trump or that leftist billionaire Reid Hoffman was paying her legal bills. As Carroll denied this, Trump said, “She got her memory back.”

Trump also muttered to Habba that the trial “is a witch hunt” and “really is a con job.” When Carroll’s lawyers played a video from 2023 of Trump calling his first trial against Carroll a “witch hunt” and a “disgrace,” Trump told Habba, “It’s true.”

Kaplan finally had had enough. “Mr. Trump has the right to be present here. That right can be forfeited if he is disruptive, which has been reported to me, and if he disregards court orders,” Kaplan said just before the trial broke for lunch.

“Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to exclude you from the trial. I understand you are probably very eager for me to do that. Control yourself,” he said.

Trump replied he would “love it” if the judge kicked him out.

“I know you would,” Kaplan said. “You just can’t control yourself in this circumstance, apparently.”

“Neither can you,” Trump shot back.

It’s only the second day of the trial, and Trump and his team are already at loggerheads with Kaplan. Earlier Wednesday, Kaplan admonished Habba multiple times for disruptive behavior. During opening statements the day before, Habba almost immediately violated the rules Kaplan had established about what Trump’s team can and cannot say about Carroll.

Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in damages from Trump for defaming her in 2019, when she first released her memoir that accused him of sexual assault. Trump already owes Carroll $5 million after 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

Watch: Mike Johnson Forced to Answer Whether Biden’s Election Was “God’s Will”

A clever reporter put House Speaker Mike Johnson on the spot.

Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson, one of the primary legal architects of an amicus brief used by Republicans seeking to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 Electoral College victory, backpedaled in incredible fashion on Wednesday when asked point blank whether Biden’s win was God’s will.

“Do you believe that Joe Biden’s presidency is God’s will?” asked Capitol Hill reporter and New Republic contributor Pablo Manríquez.

“Oh, I know where you’re going with this,” chuckled the evangelical politician, calling himself a “Bible-believing Christian.”

“The Bible says that God is the one that raises up people in authority,” Johnson continued. “I believe that God is sovereign. By the way, so did the Founders. I quoted the Declaration of Independence—they acknowledge that our rights don’t come from government, they come from God. And we’re made in his image. Everybody is made the same.”

“So, if you believe all those things, then you believe that God is the one that allows people to be raised in authority. It must have been God’s will, then,” Johnson noted, adding that the nation made the decision to elect Biden collectively but he expects it will make “a much better choice” in 2024, before slyly dubbing the upcoming presidential election a “regime change.”

The admission is a surprising twist for the MAGA congressman, who has been struggling in recent weeks to keep hold of his newfound power since he won the House’s highest seat in a shocking election in October. Johnson now faces identical problems to his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, who lost the confidence of his party during a bipartisan negotiation on a short-term government funding measure to avoid a shutdown. With just days on the clock until the federal government hits the first of two partial shutdowns, far-right hard-liners in the House are whispering that it’s time to give Johnson the boot, as well.

Judge Unleashes on Trump’s Lawyer in Testy Exchange During Carroll Case

Alina Habba keeps making things worse for Donald Trump in the E. Jean Carroll case.

Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The second day of Donald Trump’s defamation trial against E. Jean Carroll was off to a very bad start on Wednesday, and not just for the former president. One of his lawyers managed to anger the presiding judge before testimony even began—and several times after that.

Attorney Alina Habba requested an adjournment on Thursday so that Trump could attend his mother-in-law’s funeral. This was not the first time Habba tried to use this excuse to stall the case, and Judge Lewis Kaplan shut her down.

“The application is denied. I will hear no further argument on it,” he said.

When Habba tried to keep talking, Kaplan cut her off.

“None. Do you understand that word?” he said. “Sit down.”

Things did not improve after Carroll took the stand. The writer began to testify about the defamatory comments Trump has made about her and how they prompted a deluge of insults and death threats from his supporters. Habba repeatedly objected to things that Carroll said, and Kaplan overruled her nearly every time.

At one point, Carroll’s lawyer asked her what one of her books was about. Carroll explained it’s about “what women think,” only for Habba to object that her answer was too vague.

Kaplan admonished Habba. “Ms. Habba, when you speak in this courtroom or any other courtroom, you’ll stand up,” he said.

A little later, Carroll’s lawyer asked her about the conspiracy that liberal billionaire George Soros paid her to accuse Trump of rape. Carroll denied the claim, and Habba interjected that she would ask about this during her cross-examination.

“The last I heard, Ms. Habba, I do not need announcements from counsel about what they intend to do,” Kaplan replied.

When Habba started to speak again, Kaplan told her, “Sit down.”

Habba’s combative approach is not playing out well for her or for Trump. Kaplan has already made clear he intends to suffer no foolishness from Trump during this trial process, repeatedly denying the former president’s requests to delay the case and barring him from attacking Carroll (not that that has stopped Trump).

Habba also seems to have a habit of undermining Trump’s lawsuits. During opening statements on Tuesday, she violated some of Kaplan’s restrictions on subject matter almost immediately.

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.

Baltimore Sun’s New Right-Wing Owner Kicks Things Off by Insulting Everyone on Staff

David Smith, of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, is laying out a dangerous vision for Maryland’s largest daily newspaper.


The Baltimore Sun’s new owner doesn’t seem to be on the same page as the paper’s staff.

David D. Smith, the chairman of the monopolistic, conservative, local media empire Sinclair Broadcast Group, scooped up Baltimore’s hometown legacy paper last week for an unspecified, nine-figure dollar point—but his outsize ideas and a crude first impression might have just slapped a damper on the partnership from the get-go.

During a contentious two-hour meet and greet with staff on Tuesday, Smith said he had read the daily paper—which has been a staple in the Baltimore market since its inception in 1837—just four times, according to NPR’s David Folkenflik.

Despite that, Smith seems to be keen on making some big changes. He announced that although the Sun was a profitable enterprise, it could be more profitable. Smith harangued the paper for failing to focus on what he deemed were stories worth reader interest, like fraud in local government, Folkenflik reported. The Baltimore Sun won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for its investigation on corruption in the Baltimore mayor’s office.

The Baltimore Banner reported that in the same meeting, Smith was asked about previous comments he made in 2018, when he claimed that print media is “so left-wing as to be meaningless dribble.” Smith said he stood by those comments. Asked again if he felt that way about The Baltimore Sun specifically, he replied, “In many ways, yes.”

It’s clear what Smith’s aim is with his purchase of Maryland’s largest daily newspaper. His TV empire’s local Baltimore station has been keen on a series of coverage blaming the city’s Black, Democratic mayor, Brandon Scott, for a flurry of local issues, including ongoing gun violence and education-related issues. And Smith’s tax records, obtained by the Associated Press, paint a clearer picture of the multimillionaire’s political affiliations, with donations to far-right political messaging machines like Project Veritas and Turning Point USA. Campaign contributions by the 73-year-old have also generally veered Republican for the last couple decades, according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity.

Smith deflected questions about his own political leanings in Tuesday’s meeting with staff. Instead, he spent most of the time talking about profits, at one point ordering reporters to “go make me some money,” according to The Baltimore Banner.

If this first meeting is any indication, Smith’s takeover could mean the paper will soon be forced to mime changes at Sinclair-bought local stations, focusing on negative coverage of the state’s Black leadership, including Governor Wes Moore, a rising party star who has been described by DNC insiders as a “future president.

The Sun will not technically be included in the Sinclair media empire. Instead, under Smith’s helm, the paper will be under local ownership for the first time in nearly four decades, according to the paper. The media magnate will own it privately and in partnership with one of his on-air commentators, Armstrong Williams.

Like most legacy papers around the nation, The Baltimore Sun has been gutted and gutted again by decades of cycling corporate ownership that have drained resources, cut salaries, and depleted staff for the sake of inflated executive bonuses. The Sun’s last change of hands came in May 2021, when the hedge fund Alden Global Capital purchased Tribune Publishing for $633 million, snatching The Baltimore Sun and nearly 200 other local U.S. newspapers, including The New York Daily News and The Chicago Tribune, in the process.

Florida Democrats Just Flipped a District Blue—And That’s a Big Freaki

Florida’s special election brought Democrats a massive victory. There could soon be more to come.

Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Florida Democrats have flipped a state House seat in a special election, a sign that the party may be more competitive than previously thought come November.

Tom Keen defeated his Republican challenger, Erika Booth, on Tuesday night, with a decisive 51.3 percent of the vote. The special election had been prompted after former Republican state Representative Fred Hawkins resigned last year to become a state college president.

Orange and Osceola counties, which Keen now represents, are almost evenly split among Democratic, Republican, and independent voters. Keen won between 65 and 70 percent of independent voters, a crucial demographic.

“What actually clinched the win for Democrats was this massive margin with [nonpartisan voters] and perhaps some Republican moderates, as well,” Democratic elections analyst Matt Isbell told the Orlando Sentinel. “If anything, this should be concerning for the GOP because it indicates a voter anger that maybe they have not understood.”

Florida Republicans swept to power in 2022, winning the governor’s office and supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Since then, they have dedicated themselves to passing unpopular and expensive laws targeting some of the national GOP’s favorite culture wars, including gutting abortion access and LGBTQ rights.

Booth ran on many of these issues. Her campaign website said she wanted to fight wokeness, as well as “trans-education” and the “indoctrination” of children in schools. She also promised to crack down on undocumented immigrants, despite the Florida GOP having to walk back a measure it passed targeting migrants.

Keen, on the other hand, ran primarily on increasing abortion access and decreasing property insurance rates. Insurance rates have skyrocketed in Florida as a result of climate change and Governor Ron DeSantis’s refusal to address environmental issues.

State House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell hailed Keen’s victory and said it was a sign that her party shouldn’t be counted out.

“This proves that Democrats can win close races in the Sunshine State,” she said in a statement to the Sentinel. “Florida is worth fighting for.”

Separately, on X (formerly Twitter), Driskell said there “is still hope for Florida.”

“With hard work and coordination, FL Dems can do great things,” she wrote.

Donald Trump Suddenly Ramps Up Attacks on Rival Nikki Haley

Donald Trump seems to be worried about Nikki Haley’s rise in the polls.

Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Despite leading the polls with more than 60 percent, Donald Trump is apparently feeling the heat in the increasingly narrow GOP primary race, devoting the better part of Tuesday night to a TruthSocial binge dedicated to his rival Nikki Haley.

The GOP front-runner made a dozen posts in a handful of hours devoted to Haley, attacking her policy stances and her favorability ratings. In another post, Trump shared a photoshopped image slapping Haley’s face onto Hillary Clinton’s body.

It’s another sign that Haley is beginning to pose a serious threat to the former president—at least from his perspective.

Earlier this month, Trump’s campaign spent some serious moolah to dismiss Haley’s potential candidacy. In one ad wielding Nazi rhetoric, a Trump-allied super PAC MAGA Inc reissued a Trump claim that immigrants are “poisoning our country” and chastised the daughter of Sikh Indian immigrants for refusing to call undocumented immigrants “illegals.”

“Illegals are criminals, Nikki. That’s what illegal means,” the ad said, slamming Haley as “too liberal” on immigration.

As of the beginning of the year, the Trump-aligned super PAC spent nearly $3.5 million in anti-Haley advertising, largely criticizing the former South Carolina governor for flip-flopping on her position on an unpopular gas tax in the state, according to a report from The Daily Beast.

Haley’s slow-burning success on the ballot poses a serious if unconventional threat for Trump, particularly as the former president contends with several states removing him from the GOP ballot entirely on the basis that he violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis seems to have lost all steam from what was once predicted to be a fireball campaign against the increasingly fascist GOP favorite. As of Tuesday, Haley officially surpassed DeSantis’s waning poll numbers, barely nabbing the number two spot by a margin of 0.3 percentage points, according to FiveThirtyEight.