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Did Alina Habba Pay Attention in Law School?

The judge in the E. Jean Carroll case keeps reminding Trump’s lawyer about things like “Evidence 101.”

Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s defense lawyer Alina Habba isn’t impressing anyone during the E. Jean Carroll defamation trial—least of all Judge Lewis Kaplan, who has become increasingly fed up with the showy attorney and the rest of Trump’s team, regularly glowering and crossing his arms while complaining about their conduct bench-side.

On Thursday, Habba got into another kerfuffle with Kaplan when she flubbed a line of questioning against Carroll, asking the columnist if she “makes a good amount of money” from her Substack.

“What’s ‘a good amount of money?’” interjected Kaplan, stopping Habba. “This is Evidence 101.”

The outburst is the result of days of questioning by Habba that has at times been redundant, unfounded, or inappropriate, leading to countless objections by Carroll’s legal team and interruptions by Judge Kaplan himself.

In another exchange on Thursday, Kaplan blew past a line of questioning pushed by Habba over Carroll’s Substack subscriber count.

“That was definitely asked yesterday,” Kaplan said.

“Number of subscribers?” Habba insisted.

“Eighteen hundred. Move on,” Kaplan retorted.

The two butted heads even more on Wednesday, when Kaplan corrected Habba more than a dozen times, per Business Insider. At one point, Habba interrupted Carroll’s direct testimony to explain what Trump’s team intended to do later.

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

“And I make the rulings here, not the lawyers,” Kaplan added, before telling Habba to sit down.

During another explosive moment, Kaplan threatened to throw Trump himself out of the courtroom when his comments during Carroll’s testimony could be heard by jurors.

“Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial,” Kaplan warned, noting that his right to attend the trial could be revoked if he continued to be disruptive.

“I would love it! I would love it!” Trump spat back, throwing his hands up in disapproval.

Trump’s lawyers have been walking on eggshells in the trial after Kaplan issued an order last week barring Trump and anyone on his legal team from exploring certain lines of questioning or making certain comments, including about Carroll’s “past romantic relationships, sexual disposition, and prior sexual experiences.” They also cannot argue that Trump—who has already been found liable by a jury for sexual abuse against Carroll—did not sexually abuse, rape, or act with actual malice when defaming the former Elle journalist.

Exasperated Judge Orders Trump Lawyer to Stop Reading Tweets Out Loud

Donald Trump’s lawyers just keep fumbling in the E. Jean Carroll case.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s legal strategy in his defamation trial apparently hinges on reading mean tweets aloud in the courtroom.

Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba finished cross-examining E. Jean Carroll on Thursday. Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan has already ruled that Trump defamed Carroll after sexually assaulting her, so the trial is just to determine how much Trump owes her in damages. Carroll is seeking at least $10 million.

During her cross-examination, Habba sought to prove that people began abusing Carroll online before Trump made his defamatory comments. To back up her argument, Habba repeatedly read aloud mean tweets about Carroll.

Habba read out a comment that accused Carroll of “making up fake news” when she revealed that Trump had sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s. Another tweet said, “Drop this lie.”

Another tweet called Carroll a “lying sack of shit,” and a fourth referred to her as a “pathetic liar.” Habba read each of these tweets one by one.

Kaplan clearly grew tired of Habba’s strategy, eventually saying he would just admit the rest into evidence if there were no objections. “You’ve taken enough time on this,” he said.

But Habba pressed on, reading out a tweet that said, “You’re a joke, no one would [willingly] touch your ugly ass.”

When Kaplan told her to move on, Habba pushed back. “I can’t ask about them?” she said. “With all due respect—”

“With all due respect,” Kaplan cut her off, “when I rule, you go on.”

This is the third time in as many days that Habba has irritated Kaplan. The two repeatedly butted heads on Wednesday over Habba’s disruptive behavior in the courtroom. And during opening statements on Tuesday, Habba almost immediately violated the rules Kaplan had set about what Trump’s team can and cannot say.

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.

Did Trump Just Publicly Admit He May Be Guilty of Crossing the Line?

Donald Trump has a new interpretation of “total immunity”—and it may land him in trouble.

Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump appeared to admit Thursday that some of his actions “cross the line” of legality, but claimed he should be shielded from repercussions because of presidential immunity.

Trump has repeatedly insisted that he cannot be prosecuted for trying to overturn the 2020 election—or for anything else for that matter—because presidential immunity protects him against criminal proceedings.



This is far from the first time that Trump and his legal team have appeared to insist that the former president should be allowed to get away with breaking the law. While trying to appeal the charges in Trump’s January 6 insurrection case, lawyer John Sauro said that even if a president ordered the assassination of a political opponent, he could only be criminally prosecuted if he was impeached first.

If the president was acquitted during the impeachment, Sauro argued, then he should not have to face criminal proceedings.

And in early January, Trump lawyer Christina Bobb argued that anyone can be president, “whether they are guilty of insurrection or not,” so long as they were elected.

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.