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Matt Gaetz Finally Admits Why He Really Pushed Out Kevin McCarthy

The Republican representative only pushed out former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to get revenge.

Matt Gaetz walks through the Longworth House Office Building.
Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images

Private correspondence between Florida Representative Matt Gaetz and a close friend reveals that the MAGA lawmaker’s intentions in kicking out former Speaker Kevin McCarthy weren’t quite as clean as he claimed they were.

In private communications reviewed by The Daily Beast, Gaetz makes clear that his efforts to undercut and oust the former speaker were motivated by the renewed House Ethics Committee probe into Gaetz’s alleged payments to a minor for sex. The source was so fearful of Gaetz’s retribution that the Beast could not quote or even refer to the type of communication for fear that Gaetz would identify them—but they shared information indicating that Gaetz singled out McCarthy individually for reviving the investigation, refusing to believe that McCarthy did not have singular control over its resurgence.

Gaetz initially led the crusade to oust McCarthy from the speaker’s office in October, claiming that he was caving to Democrats on a spending deal.

Since then, the truth has become clearer. Over the summer, the Floridian reportedly told a group of colleagues that his push to boot McCarthy was in direct response to the probe, while a senior GOP staffer recalled Gaetz complaining about Kevin due to the investigation, according to the outlet.

“As I’ve answered likely 100 times on the record, I led the charge to remove Kevin McCarthy from his role as House Speaker because he failed to keep his promises,” Gaetz said in a statement to the Beast. “The Daily Beast continues to lie about me, and I think it’s due for a round of layoffs.”

Meanwhile, the congressional investigation into Gaetz has entered a new phase, reportedly making contact with several new witnesses in recent weeks as it probes allegations of sexual misconduct, drug use, and public corruption by the MAGA Republican.

The accusations against Gaetz arise from a DOJ sex-trafficking probe into one of Gaetz’s friends, Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector for Seminole County, who was later convicted of sex trafficking. The initial probe also named Gaetz, who Greenberg claimed had paid him via Venmo in order to have sex with an underage girl in 2017.

GOP Lawmaker Thinks He’s an Abortion Expert Because He’s a Veterinarian

Wisconsin state Representative Joel Kitchen made a truly unhinged statement while pushing for an abortion ban.

Abortion rights advocates protest indoors. One person in the foreground holds a sign reading "Abortion is health care." Another in the background reads "Bans off our bodies."

A Wisconsin Republican representative says his medical background makes him an expert on abortion. The catch? Before being a state lawmaker, he was a veterinarian.

The Republican-controlled state Assembly voted 53–46 on Thursday to pass a bill to ask voters whether abortions should be banned after 14 weeks of pregnancy. The measure now goes to the Republican-led Senate.

During the two and a half hours of debate, Republican Representative Joel Kitchens tried to argue that abortion isn’t health care. And he should know, he said, because he was a vet.

“If you believe that a fetus is a human life, then abortion is not health care,” Kitchens said. “In my veterinary career, I did thousands of ultrasounds on animals.… So I think I know mammalian fetal development better than probably anyone here. And in my mind, there’s absolutely no question that’s a life. And I think the science backs me up on that.”

Kitchens’s offensive analogy implies that human women are no better than animals, who need someone else with a bigger brain to make their medical decisions for them.

Abortion isn’t health care because women are kind of like dogs,” legal expert Elie Mystal dryly quipped on X (formerly Twitter), referring to Kitchens as a “forced birth veterinarian.”

Minnesota Senator Tina Smith was shocked at Kitchens’s comparison. “I can’t believe I have to say this but do not compare women to animals,” she wrote on X. “We’re humans capable of making our own health care decisions—including on abortion.”

Putting aside Kitchens’s incredibly disturbing dehumanization of pregnant people, it is also sometimes necessary to perform abortions on animals. When the pregnancy is no longer viable, such as due to a bacterial infection, it must be terminated. So even for animals, abortion is health care.

Wisconsin has banned abortion after 20 weeks since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022. The bill that passed Thursday would ban abortions 14 weeks after “probable fertilization,” with exceptions to save the patient’s life or health.

The measure also includes exception for rape and incest, but it was only amended to do so on Tuesday. One Republican representative said the exceptions weren’t initially included because she had “a really hard time believing that somebody who doesn’t know they’re pregnant at 14 weeks wants to know. Maybe they just don’t want to know.”

Democratic Representative Lisa Subeck shot back that lawmakers shouldn’t “make those judgments about what a 13-year-old who may be a victim of rape or incest may or may not know or may or may not have access to.”

The bill must first get approval from Democratic Governor Tony Evers before it goes on the ballot for voters. Evers has already indicated that he intends to veto the measure. He has repeatedly demonstrated his support for expanding reproductive care, including announcing during his State of the State speech on Tuesday that he was broadening access to contraception.

Even if the bill does make it to the ballot box, Badger State residents have already made it clear how they feel about abortion. State Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz was elected in April last year, beating her Republican opponent by a whopping 11 percentage points and flipping the court for the first time in 15 years. She campaigned heavily on her support for abortion rights.

Republicans Push Greg Abbott to Go All Out in Border War With Biden

Republican lawmakers are pledging to back Texas Governor Greg Abbott as he defies the Supreme Court.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks and gestures with his hand in the air
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Republicans around the country are throwing their hats behind Texas Governor Greg Abbott amid his escalating border security standoff with the federal government, seemingly attempting to transform the dispute into a “civil war,” according to several conservative commentators.

On Wednesday, Abbott declared the influx of immigrants across the border an “invasion”—a status that Abbott claimed supersedes federal mandates—and issued a statement on the state’s constitutional right to defend itself.

That was just two days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of President Joe Biden by declaring that Texas went outside its jurisdiction by erecting makeshift concertina wire fences along the Rio Grande section of the U.S.-Mexico border, effectively preventing the U.S. border patrol from doing their job. Texas has continued building new wire barriers since that ruling.

At least 25 Republican governors have declared their support for Abbott, including Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon.

“The Biden administration has turned every state into a border state. We must stop the flow of fentanyl, save lives, and secure our southern border,” Youngkin posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“Texas, you can count on Alabama to have your back,” Ivey said.

House Speaker Mike Johnson also chimed in, roping the U.S. House of Representatives into the conflict by announcing that “the House will do everything in its power to back [Abbott] up.”

That, however, doesn’t seem to include advancing a border security deal within his own realm of government. Republicans all but killed a bipartisan border deal this week, for fear it could be interpreted as a political win for Biden as Donald Trump ramps up to make immigration a wedge issue in the upcoming election.

“Trump wants them to kill it because he doesn’t want Biden to have a victory,” a source told HuffPost on Wednesday. “He told them he will fix the border when he is president.… He said he only wants the perfect deal.”

“The border is a very important issue for Donald Trump,” Utah Senator Mitt Romney told reporters on Thursday. “And the fact that he would communicate to Republican senators and congresspeople that he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is really appalling.”

Judge Absolutely Kneecaps Trump’s Testimony in E. Jean Carroll Trial

Donald Trump finally testified ... kind of.

Donald Trump sits in court and stares off camera
Curtis Means-Pool/Getty Images

All eyes were on Donald Trump on Thursday as the former president finally took the stand in his second trial brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll. After weeks of drama between Judge Lewis Kaplan and attorney Alina Habba, during which the managing partner of Habba, Madaio & Associates LLP painted herself as an inexperienced attorney in way over her head, Trump was heavily anticipated to deliver bombastic testimony that would rock the courtroom. But then, he didn’t.

Moments before Trump took the stand, Kaplan set severe parameters for Trump’s appearance, alerting Habba that her client would not be allowed to reject the results of Carroll’s first trial against Trump, which found him liable for sexually assaulting the writer.

“The jury found that Mr. Trump inserted his fingers into her vagina. And that Ms. Carroll did not make up her claim. And that Mr. Trump’s June 11 and June 22 statements were defamatory. Now Mr. Trump may not make any argument against this,” Kaplan warned Habba, according to Inner City Press.

Then Kaplan notified Habba that she would only be permitted to ask Trump a couple of questions: whether or not the former president stood by his deposition testimony, and whether he ever instructed anyone to hurt Carroll.

At another point, Kaplan asked Habba to outline every detail that Trump planned to say on the stand, to which Habba replied that she couldn’t testify on behalf of her client, according to Politico’s Erica Orden.

Trump spent just three minutes in total on the stand, answering questions with minute flair that Kaplan immediately ordered the jury to disregard.

When asked if he instructed anyone to hurt Carroll, Trump responded in the negative.

“No, I just wanted to defend myself, my family and frankly, the presidency,” Trump said, before Kaplan interjected that the jury should ignore everything Trump said after “no.”

And when asked if he denied the allegation in order to defend himself, Trump again tried to push the judge’s boundaries.

“Yes, I did. That’s exactly right. She said something I considered a false accusation—” Trump began, before Kaplan told the jury to disregard everything after “Yes, I did.”

The aggressive strategy to keep Trump—and the courtroom—under control was likely inspired by the GOP front-runner’s rambunctious and threatening behavior during his New York bank fraud trial under Judge Arthur Engoron and his D.C. trial with Judge Tanya Chutkan, both of which resulted in seemingly ineffective gag orders on the former president.

And despite its anticlimactic finale, Kaplan’s strategy proved surprisingly effective at trial, generally cordoning off Trump’s more disruptive tendencies to outside the courtroom—something other judges haven’t been able to achieve. That may be thanks to Kaplan’s decades behind the bench, during which he presided over some of the biggest terrorism cases in the nation’s history. Those include closing the docket on Osama bin Laden following his death at the hands of Seal Team Six and presiding over the case of Ahmed Ghailani, the only Guantánamo Bay detainee to be tried in a civilian court.

Trump Screws Himself Over in Just Three Minutes in E. Jean Carroll Trial

Donald Trump finally took the stand. Here was his lie-riddled testimony.

Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Donald Trump sits in court, flanked by his two lawyers.

Donald Trump testified for just three minutes on Thursday during his defamation trial against E. Jean Carroll—and he still managed to lie nonstop.

Trump had not attended his first trial against Carroll, so his testimony Thursday was highly anticipated. But his attorney Alina Habba ended up asking him just three questions, after presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan significantly limited what Trump’s legal team could discuss in the courtroom.

Before Trump took the stand, Kaplan reminded the jury that Trump has already been found liable of sexually assaulting Carroll and then defaming her when he denied the attack.

“There are no do-overs,” Kaplan said.

Habba proceeded to ask Trump if he stood by his video deposition, in which he claimed he never met Carroll and that she was lying when she said he had assaulted her.

“One hundred percent, yes,” Trump said.

Habba asked Trump if he denied the accusation in self-defense.

“That’s exactly right,” Trump said.

Finally, Habba asked Trump if he had instructed anyone to hurt Carroll, which he denied.

Kaplan had to cut Trump off during his second and third answers and instruct the jury to disregard the majority of what the former president said.

This trial is just to set damages. In May, a jury unanimously found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll and then defaming her when denying her accusations. Kaplan ruled in September that since it was already proven Trump assaulted Carroll, the comments for which he is on trial this time are by default defamatory.

Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in damages. Trump had one chance to make a case for the jury to award her a smaller amount, and instead he wasted everyone’s time by making claims that have already been proven false. Trump already owes Carroll $5 million in damages from the first trial.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Just Took His War With the Feds to the Next Level

Greg Abbott doesn’t seem to care what the Supreme Court says on the border.

Greg Abbott in foreground, law enforcement behind him
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Even a ruling from the nation’s highest court doesn’t seem to be enough to deter Texas’s governor from fooling around at the border.

On Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott amped the situation up a notch, declaring the influx of immigrants over the border an “invasion”—a status that Abbott claimed supersedes federal mandates—while shipping more members of the Texas National Guard to erect more concertina wire along the Rio Grande section of the U.S.-Mexico border.

That move appeared to openly defy a Supreme Court ruling made on Monday, which sided with the Biden administration that Texas had overstepped its authority by placing the wire in such a way that federal agents could no longer access the border.

“Texas’ razor wire is an effective deterrent against the illegal border crossings encouraged by Biden’s open border policies,” Abbott said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “We continue to deploy this razor wire to repel illegal immigration.”

The online defiance came part and parcel with an eyebrow-raising interview on Fox News on Thursday, in which Abbott dodged a point-blank question about the state’s standoff with federal agents.

“Will you instruct your officers to physically prevent federal officers from accessing that part of the border?” asked host Bill Hemmer.

“So, what Texas is doing is just very simple. And that is because the Biden administration has really, truly, abdicated this responsibility to secure the border and enforce the laws, Texas very simply is securing the border,” Abbott responded, remarkably not saying no. “So we put up the razor wire that you were talking about, Bill, and put up all these barricades that have denied illegal entry.”

But then Abbott seemed to imply that his state wasn’t done attempting to litigate its case, suggesting that it would return in new form to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The case that was presented to the United States Supreme Court actually did not have very much of a record upon which an appellate could make a decision,” Abbott continued. “So, those who may not have voted in favor of Texas, or those who voted to send it back to the Fifth Circuit, they may have thought in their mind that there’s not enough record to make a decision.”

“There were no sentences or paragraphs or pages of an opinion written by the Supreme Court. So no one knows at all what they were thinking. All we know is they wanted to send it back to the Fifth Circuit,” he added.

“Texas has a constitutional right to defend and protect itself,” Abbott posted on X after the interview. “We will continue to hold the line.”

The 5–4 decision, which was issued on Monday without an opinion, as is the norm in cases of emergency applications, was initially believed to be the cap on a monthslong spar between Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the federal government over elements of the state’s anti-immigration effort, dubbed “Operation Lone Star.” In October, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced his initial lawsuit against the Biden administration, claiming that federal agents were unlawfully destroying elements of the state’s border deterrence efforts and “damaging Texas’s ability to effectively deter illegal entry into Texas.”

The case was granted an emergency request filed by the Biden administration, which argued that the wire was preventing federal agents from accessing the border and from reaching migrants who had already crossed the border.

Peter Navarro Spent Years Daring the Feds to Catch Him. They Just Did.

The former Trump adviser just got punished over his role in January 6.

Peter Navarro stands outside before several mics. He raises his hand and looks distressed.
Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s former adviser and top loyalist Peter Navarro was sentenced Thursday to four months in prison for contempt of Congress, after he failed to comply with a subpoena from the congressional January 6 investigative committee.

Navarro spent years avoiding the congressional subpoena, and was finally convicted in September of two counts of contempt of Congress. He had tried to claim executive privilege before the trial, arguing that Trump had directed him to assert privilege so he could avoid the charges. Presiding Judge Amit Mehta rejected Navarro’s request.

When Mehta issued Navarro’s sentence Thursday, the judge said he wanted to show “respect for the law” and the need for “general deterrence” against similar behavior.

“This was a significant effort by Congress to get to the bottom of a terrible day in American history,” he said.

Just before his sentence was issued, Navarro tried to argue that he was the victim of a two-tiered justice system, a popular claim for Trump and his allies. Mehta shut him down immediately.

“Sitting here with four lawyers at his table who are extremely competent and have done an outstanding job, a real head-scratcher,” Mehta said. “There is, some would say, a two-tiered system of justice. This is not it.”

Navarro was indicted in June 2022 for failing to provide testimony and failing to provide documents to the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. He said he didn’t comply with the subpoenas because Trump had told him to claim executive privilege—except Trump failed to tell the January 6 committee about this, nor did he submit anything to back up Navarro’s claim.

The former economic adviser is the second Trump ally to be found guilty of defying a subpoena related to January 6. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was similarly found guilty of contempt of Congress last year for refusing to comply with a January 6 committee subpoena. He was sentenced to just four months in prison and a $6,500 fine. Bannon appealed his case and has yet to serve his sentence.

Navarro can appeal his sentence. Mehta has not yet said whether the sentence would be stayed pending appeal.

Trump’s About to Win This Nomination—And Top Republicans Have Gone Mum

Some key Republicans are still silent on whether they’re backing Donald Trump for the party’s nomination.

Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Trump collected another slew of endorsements from a cautious GOP leadership following his double-digit win in New Hampshire on Tuesday, with some members, like Senator John Cornyn, making the jump mere minutes after the race was called.

But some of the biggest names were missing from the deck, suggesting that not every Republican is giddy to fall back in line behind Donald Trump. Perhaps most notably, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator John Thune—the number two Republican in the upper chamber—have yet to raise their glass to the GOP front-runner.

At the moment, neither McConnell nor Thune has backed either contender in the race. Thune had previously tossed his hat in behind Senator Tim Scott, though he dropped out of the race in November. McConnell has yet to indicate who he prefers, emphasizing to a USA Today reporter on Tuesday that he has “stayed essentially out of it.”

It’s not the first time the duo has been mum on Trump’s bid to return to the White House. In December, McConnell and Thune stayed silent after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump would not be allowed on the state’s primary ballot, on the basis that Trump violated the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment when he spawned an insurrection on January 6, 2021.

The pair’s silence suggests that the Republican anti-Trumpers foresee a better Republican Party without the wannabe despot, who beat his primary rival Nikki Haley by 11 percent during the first primary of the season.

But the pressure is mounting as more and more Republicans demand that Haley exit the race in favor of turning toward a grueling general election rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden.

“I’m looking at the math and the path going forward, and I don’t see it for Nikki Haley,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News’s Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum on Tuesday. “I think she’s run a great campaign, but I do think there is a message that’s coming out from the voters, which is very clear.”

“We need to unite around our eventual nominee, which is going to be Donald Trump, and we need to make sure we beat Joe Biden,” McDaniel added.

Trump’s Big Mouth Just Cost Him Big-Time in E. Jean Carroll Case

A Trump deposition video from one case is about to screw him over in another.

Trump at the New York state Supreme Court

Donald Trump is probably kicking his past self, after E. Jean Carroll’s lawyers on Thursday used his previous testimony from a totally different legal trial to make their case for damages.

The Carroll trial is just to set damages, because presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan has already ruled that Trump defamed Carroll. Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in damages.

Her lawyers played a clip of Trump’s video deposition that he sat for last year, ahead of his bank fraud trial in New York. In the clip, Trump brags that his Doral resort in Miami “could be worth $2.5 billion by itself.”

In another clip, Trump claims that his value has only increased since becoming president. “Probably my most valuable asset … that’s the brand,” he said. “I became president because of the brand. I think it’s the hottest brand in the world.”

“I did an NFT deal the other day.… It sold out in less than a day,” he added, referring to some truly wild digital art of himself that he sold in late 2022.

These boasts could drive up the amount he will ultimately owe Carroll in damages. Legal analyst Lisa Rubin explained on MSNBC last week that the jury “is allowed to consider how much Donald Trump is worth.”

“If you’re trying to punish someone, if they only have $10 in their pocket, that’s very different than punishing someone who has hundreds of millions—if not billions—of dollars in their pocket.”

This latest exhibit is proof that Trump’s multiple legal trials are intertwined and what he says in one case can quickly doom him in another.

New York Attorney General Letitia 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. The judge presiding over that trial, Arthur Engoron, determined in September that Trump indeed 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.

But even though Trump isn’t worth as much as he claims, because his sworn statements put his value so high, he could end up owing Carroll a massive amount in damages. Her minimum of $10 million is already on the low end. Carroll’s expert witness Ashlee Humphreys, a Northwestern University marketing professor who analyzes social media trends, testified last week that the price to repair the harm caused by Trump’s defamatory comments could be as high as $12.1 million. And that doesn’t even include punitive damages.

Trump already owes Carroll $5 million in damages after a jury in May unanimously found him liable for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault.

Republican Rep. Has No Regrets About That “Marshall Law” Text

Years later, Ralph Norman still stands by his infamous text to Mark Meadows after the 2020 election.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Representative Ralph Norman wears a suit and stands in a doorway making a weird face.

The Republican representative who sent the now-infamous text urging former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to use “Marshall law” to overturn the 2020 election has just one regret: the typo.

South Carolina Representative Ralph Norman was one of at least 34 Republican members of Congress who texted Meadows about overturning the presidential election. Norman defended his message during a Wednesday night interview on CNN.

When host Kaitlan Collins asked him if he regretted sending the text, Norman replied, “The only thing I regret, I misspelled ‘martial law.’”

“Look, everything happened so quick in that election, the time that was given to see if the ballots were real,” Norman said.

He then proceeded to spout multiple conspiracies, including that false ballots had been cast and that “questions” remain about the validity of the 2020 election. He also cited the movie 2000 Mules, a right-wing purported “documentary” that just spreads more falsehoods about the election.

Collins pointed out that everything Norman mentioned has been disproven multiple times. No evidence of election fraud has been found, including by people that former President Donald Trump hired.

She also pointed out how ironic it is that Norman, who has endorsed Nikki Haley in the Republican primary, is calling now to let the voters decide instead of dubbing Trump the nominee outright.

Just three days before President Joe Biden was inaugurated, Norman texted Meadows that “our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!!”