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Tom Cotton Goes Full Racist, Badgers TikTok CEO on Whether He’s Chinese

Not all Asians are the same dude.

Closeup of Tom Cotton speaking, black background
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Republican Senator Tom Cotton grilled the CEO of TikTok on Wednesday with a series of increasingly racist questions about the tech executive’s ties to the Chinese government.

TikTok chief Shou Zi Chew testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee alongside the CEOs of Meta, X (formerly Twitter), Snap, and Discord about the risk of child sexual abuse material on their platforms. This was Chew’s second time on Capitol Hill, after a marathon House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in March about data privacy.

At one point, Cotton repeatedly demanded if Chew had been a member of or affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party. Chew, clearly growing increasingly frustrated, replied every time that he is Singaporean.

Cotton also asked if Chew had any citizenship or passport other than Singaporean. Chew said no. (Neither China nor Singapore allow dual citizenship.)

This is not the first time lawmakers have implied (or in Cotton’s case, suggested outright) that Chew has links to the CCP. During the House hearing in March, Representative Dan Crenshaw asked questions about whether Chew had to abide by the Chinese national intelligence law that requires citizens to cooperate with government intelligence agencies. Members of Congress returned to that line of questioning on Wednesday, as Chew tried to explain that every business that operates in China has to abide by the law.

TikTok is a popular target for Democrats and Republicans alike, because the company is headquartered in China. A company associated with the Chinese government also owns a 1 percent stake in TikTok parent company Bytedance. With both political parties eager to seem tough on China, cracking down on TikTok is an easy move.

Republicans also regularly use TikTok as a scapegoat because the platform is popular with young people, the majority of whom tend to lean left.

But TikTok is far from the only problematic actor when it comes to child welfare, which is what Wednesday’s hearing was allegedly meant to focus on. A report published last year by the Tech Oversight Project revealed that Google and its affiliate YouTube were found in 2019 to have violated children’s privacy. Amazon’s livestreaming platform Twitch is rife with sexual harassment and child predators, while Apple and Google parent Alphabet design their products to be addictive for teenagers.

Internal documents leaked in 2021 showed that Meta knew its products were destroying teens’ mental health, particularly teenage girls’, but made no changes to its platform. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was aware of this but lied to Congress under oath about it.

Meanwhile, Congress has repeatedly failed to pass laws that would actually protect children online. In the past decade, Congress passed just one narrow children’s online safety law. Since then, all other safety bills have been stalled by interparty disagreements about specific security and privacy provisions, as well as pushback from the tech industry.

Looks Like Trump Might Say Those Famous Old Apprentice Words to Alina Habba

Donald Trump is on the hunt for new lawyers after that damning $83.3 million loss in the E. Jean Carroll trial.

Alina Habba speaks in front of a mic, while Donald Trump stares at her. A row of U.S. flags are in the background.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump doesn’t seem quite so keen on one of his star attorneys anymore.

Instead, the former president says he is scanning for new legal talent to appeal the verdict after losing the second defamation case brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll, which cost him a whopping $83.3 million.

“I am in the process, along with my team, of interviewing various law firms to represent me in an Appeal of one of the most ridiculous and unfair Witch Hunts our Country has ever seen—The defamation Sham presided over by a Clinton appointed, highly partisan, Trump Hating Judge, Lewis Kaplan, who was, together with certain other Radical Left Democrat Judges, one of the most partisan and out of control activists that I have ever appeared before,” Trump wrote on TruthSocial late Tuesday evening.

That could mean that Alina Habba, the attorney who went above and beyond embarrassing herself while representing Trump, to the point of butting heads with Judge Lewis Kaplan over what he described as “evidence 101,” is finally on the outs.

Habba set herself apart not just by her pathetic, over-the-top courtroom displays for the GOP front-runner but by making unexpected appearances in places she had no business to be, including at Trump’s victory party following his New Hampshire primary win, just one day after Habba claimed she wasn’t feeling well and the trial was postponed due to Covid concerns.

On Truth Social, Trump then went on to baselessly accuse Kaplan of being a “bully” who “only allowed me to be on the witness stand for minutes,” decrying the trial he lost as a “hoax” and a “disgrace” to the American judicial system.

But Trump might have a harder time than he’s letting on finding someone to replace his already paltry legal team. Law firms are reportedly hesitant to represent the bombastic TV star for fear that they won’t be able to keep him from damaging his own defense—and that he won’t pay them.

“First, Trump has a reputation for not paying his lawyers. And he is so toxic to half the population, that lawyers risk losing other business when they accept him as a client,” Neama Rahmani, the president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Newsweek.

Earlier this month, another of Trump’s key attorneys, Joseph Tacopina, announced that he and his firm would no longer represent Trump in the E. Jean Carroll lawsuit and the criminal case against Trump, in which the GOP front-runner is accused of making hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels via his fixer and another former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Man Decapitates His Father, Calls for Uprising Against “Biden Regime”

Justin Mohns has been arrested after posting a YouTube video showing what he claimed was his father’s decapitated head.

Justin Mohns (a white, young man with brown hair) is in a bedroom yelling at the camera. He wears a gray sweater. Behind him is a white comforter, and three sets of doors.
Justin Mohns

A Pennsylvania man was arrested on suspicion of killing his father early Wednesday, after he reportedly uploaded a far-right-conspiracy-laden YouTube video that featured the decapitated head.

Justin Mohn, 32, is charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, and possessing an instrument of crime with intent, according to local authorities.

“We got called to the home and officers went in and discovered the father upstairs deceased,” Middletown Township Police Chief Joe Bartorilla told reporters late Tuesday evening.

The father, Michael Mohn, was found beheaded in the bathroom of the home he shared with his son in Levittown. Police said his wife, Denice Mohn, discovered the body in the first-floor bathroom after arriving home about 7 p.m. on Tuesday, after which her screams led neighbors to summon police to the scene.

Local authorities found the head inside a plastic bag in a pot in the first-floor bedroom, according to a police affidavit. Mohn reportedly used a machete and a large kitchen knife to sever the body. Both weapons were found in a bathtub in the home, according to court documents.

The younger Mohn was arrested in his father’s car, hours later, in Fort Indiantown Gap, home of a large National Guard Training Center, more than 100 miles away from the home, according to police.

“We didn’t know where he was going and what his intentions were when he left here,” Middletown Township Police Captain Pete Feeney told NBC News. “Fortunately, we were able to get a location based on his cell phone.”

A YouTube video, titled “Call to Arms for American Patriots” and posted to the channel Mohn’s Militia, showed Mohn lifting his father’s decapitated head while claiming he now had control over America’s military.

“He is now in hell for eternity as a traitor to his country,” Mohn said in the clip.

The video has since been removed from YouTube for violating the site’s policy on graphic content but reportedly featured a scripted political rant about “far-left woke mobs” and the “traitorous Biden regime,” reported The Daily Beast.

Over the course of 14 minutes, Mohn raged against the LGBTQ community, the Black Lives Matters movement, and antifascist group antifa, which he referred to as a “terrorist organization.” He also called for the seizure of federal buildings and claimed that federal employees should be “publicly executed for betraying their country”—adding, however, that state employees should not be targeted in his fantasy uprising, reported local outlet

“He talked about his dad a lot,” a former friend of Mohn’s told the Beast. “He believed in all these conspiracies. The government is putting stuff in the water, they’re bugging places to listen to our conversations, stuff like that. His dad was always tied up in them somehow.”

Mohn is being held without bail. His hearing is scheduled for February 8.

Suddenly, Marsha Blackburn Is Really, Really Afraid of Taylor Swift

The Republican senator from Tennessee is worried what Taylor is going to say this election.

Taylor Swift wears a green spaghetti strap dress. It looks like she's being photographed at an award ceremony.
Lionel Hahn/Getty Images

Senator Marsha Blackburn on Wednesday became the latest Republican to run scared from Taylor Swift.

Swift has not yet weighed in on the 2024 elections, nor has she given any indication that she intends to. Yet in recent days, Republicans have increasingly accused Swift of being a Democratic operative, including insisting that she will rig the NFL Super Bowl to get more attention ahead of endorsing President Joe Biden (as if one of the biggest musical performers in the world needs to attract more attention).

While Swift rarely weighs in on politics, instead tending to encourage her fans to act without telling them how to do so, she did endorse Biden in 2020. And in the past, she has taken particular aim at Blackburn, who represents Swift’s home state of Tennessee and is up for reelection this November.

When asked Wednesday morning if she thought Swift’s endorsement could affect the upcoming election, Blackburn quickly became tongue-tied. She started by complimenting Swift, in an obvious effort to not alienate the singer’s millions of fans, and then stumbled her way to complaining about the “border, the open border, the Biden border policy.”

Blackburn is one of many Republican senators resisting a bipartisan deal on the border. The GOP has actually spent months working to tank the deal because Donald Trump, Biden’s likely 2024 opponent, has said that any compromise with Democrats will be too lenient on immigrants. He also doesn’t want a bill that could potentially benefit Biden to pass.

Swift broke her long-running apolitical approach to publicity in 2018, when she endorsed Blackburn’s Democratic opponents in the midterm elections. Swift said in a statement that Blackburn’s voting record “appalls and terrifies me.”

Swift’s 2020 documentary Miss Americana shows the singer crying as she explains to her father why she needs to speak out against Blackburn, over the latter’s opposition to LGBTQ rights and the Violence Against Women Act. Swift criticizes Blackburn’s policies and calls her “Trump in a wig.”

Blackburn isn’t the only one getting worked up over Swift. Trump himself is frustrated by all the attention on the singer, and has privately insisted that he is “more popular” than she and has more loyal fans, Rolling Stone reported Tuesday. Trump also said it “obviously” made no sense that Swift was named Time magazine’s 2023 Person of the Year instead of him.

Trump’s anti-Swift ire has some of his more powerful supporters plotting a “holy war” on the pop star, according to Rolling Stone.

The real danger that Swift poses to Republicans isn’t her politics, specifically. Instead, as Edith Olmstead wrote for The New Republic in September, “it’s because of her vast influence over a younger demographic that conservatives have famously struggled to attract or exert an influence upon themselves.”

Mike Johnson’s Disturbing Ties to Slavery-Defending Christian Nationalists

The House speaker won’t exactly disavow the connection, according to a new report.

Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Mike Johnson’s ties to Christian nationalism are well documented, but a new report reveals his long-standing connection to a particularly extremist strain of Christianity—and the House speaker’s refusal to disavow it should be a source of major concern.

An investigation published Wednesday by The Daily Beast reveals Johnson has particularly close relationships with leaders of Christian dominionism, a radical sect of Christian fundamentalism that supports establishing an entirely Christian nation, opposes LGBTQ rights, and even defends slavery.

The Beast asked Johnson’s office whether the speakerthought biblically sanctioned violence conflicted with his duties as an officer of the constitution, whether he denounced the teachings of hardline fundamentalists who have endorsed biblical slavery and rejected constitutional provisions like liberty and justice, and whether he personally believed the Bible permitted slavery.” A spokesperson declined to explicitly disavow any of those beliefs.

“None of these actions or comments you are referencing were made by Speaker Johnson. The Speaker is not going to apologize to the Daily Beast for his Christian faith or judge the beliefs or statements of others,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

While Johnson has been open about his fervent faith, he has previously evaded other questions about just how deeply he believes in Christian fundamentalism. Keri Ladner, a religious studies scholar and author, told the Beast that Johnson is “too smart” to openly state he backs widely decried Christian sects.

But “when you dig into the people around Johnson, that’s what you find when you peel back the layers,” Ladner said. “It’s absolutely in that orbit.”

One of those people is David Barton, a Christian nationalist author and activist. The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that Barton has repeatedly “demonized LGBTQ persons and communities, arguing that HIV and AIDS are god-given consequences for living out one’s LGBTQ life.” Barton has also argued against aspects of the Thirteenth Amendment, insisting there is a biblical defense for slavery.

Johnson has known Barton for at least a quarter-century, and said at a Christian lawmakers’ event two years ago that Barton has had “a profound influence on me, and my work, and my life, and everything I do.”

After Johnson was elected speaker, Barton said on a podcast in October that he and his organization had been advising the Louisiana Republican on who to hire for his staff. In another, more recent podcast, Barton said Johnson becoming speaker gave him and his group “some tools at our disposal” that “we haven’t had in a long time.”

Johnson has also touted close relationships with Tony Perkins, a vocal Christian nationalist, and Mat Staver, who has called for the criminalization of same-sex relationships.

It’s no secret that Johnson holds extreme beliefs. He blames the collapse of the Roman Empire on LGBTQ people and opposes abortion access. He compared himself to Moses, decried the separation of church and state, and has a Christian nationalist flag hanging outside his office. The growing evidence of the people and causes he allows to influence him are further proof that he will try to push Congress to the right.

Republican Senator Stunningly Slams Trump for Killing Border Deal

Republican Senator Kevin Cramer is mad that Donald Trump is destroying what was supposed to be a bipartisan border deal.

Senator Kevin Cramers wears a black suit, red tie, and black glasses. He looks off camera.
Pavlo Bagmut/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images
Senator Kevin Cramer

At least one Republican has reached a breaking point over Donald Trump’s border security chicanery.

On Tuesday, North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer had swing voters at the front of his mind, lobbing his own mud at Trump for describing the bipartisan deal as a “betrayal.”

“Here’s what I worry about. If we don’t try to do something when we have the moment to do something, all of those swing voters in swing states for whom the border is the number one priority have every right to look at us and go: ‘You blew your opportunity. We were ready to give you a shot, and you blew it,’” Cramer told CNN’s Manu Raju.

“I don’t see that coming back as a reward to us,” Cramer added. “If we don’t try, then shame on us.”

Republicans have spent months tanking a potential border deal in an increasingly transparent attempt to help Trump get reelected to the White House.

“As the leader of our party, there is zero chance I will support this horrible open borders betrayal of America,” Trump told a crowd of supporters at a rally in Las Vegas on Saturday. “I’ll fight it all the way. A lot of the senators are trying to say, respectfully, they’re blaming it on me. I say, that’s OK. Please blame it on me. Please.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are on the offensive, claiming that Republicans—who have a measly two-seat majority in the House—chickened out of a “tough deal.”

“It’s clear that when it comes to border security, Democrats are for the fix, and Republicans are for the fiction,” Representative Eric Swalwell told CNN.

And President Joe Biden took a more aggressive stance on the issue over the weekend, following a Supreme Court decision that launched a standoff between Texas state officials and federal border patrol agents.

“Give me the power, I asked them the very day I got into office,” Biden said. “Give me the Border Patrol, give me the people, give me the judges, give me the people who can stop this and make it work,” he added.

During a campaign stop in South Carolina, Biden supported the emerging deal, and said that he would shut down the border if given the authority by Congress.

“It would also give me as president the emergency authority to shut down the border until it could get back under control. If that bill were the law today, I’d shut down the border right now and fix it quickly,” he added.

Republican Congressman Goes on Insanely Racist Rant About Cori Bush

Representative Troy Nehls revealed his true colors after news of the Justice Department investigation.

Split screen: On the left, Troy Nehls makes a fist and a weird face while looking off camera. On the right, Cori Bush is speaking into a mic and looks off camera.
Getty (x2)

Republican Representative Troy Nehls went on a rant loaded with racist dog whistles about his Democratic counterpart Cori Bush after she confirmed the Justice Department is investigating her campaign spending.

Bush, a Missouri progressive, said Tuesday that the Department of Justice is investigating her use of campaign funds for security services. Bush said she used the money to retain personal security, including her husband, due to “relentless threats to my physical safety and life.”

Congressional ethics rules for representatives allow them to use campaign funds to pay family members for “bona fide services,” as long as those payments do not exceed fair market value. Bush said she hired her husband as part of her security team because he was able to provide protection at or below market rate.

Nehls went off on Bush Tuesday evening. “The idea to pay her thug money to try to help protect her this and that, for what?” the Texas Republican demanded. “Maybe if she wouldn’t be so loud all the time, maybe she wouldn’t be getting threats.”

When asked by CNN’s Melanie Zanona if he felt Bush deserved the threats, Nehls said, “No, what I’m saying is, is that when you’re out there talking the way she does.… She’s pretty radical. And maybe she should tone it down a little bit.”

While Nehls did not explicitly mention Bush’s race, he did use multiple anti-Black tropes such as “thug” and “loud” Black woman. Bush noted as much when she responded to Nehls on X (formerly Twitter), demanding he apologize.

Bush also noted the veiled threat in Nehls’s comments that she should “tone it down” or face threats. Republicans have increasingly used language both veiled and overt that appears to call for political violence—and people are only too willing to listen.

Republicans’ Own “Whistleblower” Trashes Their Entire Biden Corruption Claim

Hunter Biden’s business associate, Eric Scherwin, is rejecting Republicans’ allegations about the Biden family.

Julia Nikhinson/BloombergGetty Images
House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer

A man House Republicans had previously claimed was a whistleblower on Joe Biden’s corruption categorically debunked all of the GOP’s accusations in a closed-door hearing on Tuesday.

Eric Schwerin, a longtime business partner of Hunter Biden, testified in front of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees in a closed-door interview. Schwerin also worked as a financial adviser for Joe Biden from 2009 until 2017, during which time he was able to see transactions in and out of the then vice president’s bank accounts.

“Based on that insight, I am not aware of any financial transactions or compensation that Vice President Biden received related to business conducted by any of his family members or their associates nor any involvement by him in their businesses,” Schwerin said in a prepared opening statement obtained by The New Republic.

Republicans have repeatedly accused Biden of profiting from his son Hunter’s overseas business dealings. House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer has spearheaded the impeachment inquiry into Biden, accusing the president and first son of influence peddling and accepting bribes. He has yet to produce any evidence of Biden’s wrongdoing.

Comer had listed Schwerin as one of the many supposed whistleblowers who spoke to Oversight Committee investigators about the Biden family. In March, Comer said four whistleblowers had come forward. But when committee Democrats asked him to share the new information, they were told that there wasn’t actually any new witness information. Comer’s statements referred to just two people: Schwerin and Kathy Chung, who worked as Biden’s executive assistant when he was vice president.

But in his statement Tuesday, Schwerin said Biden had not been involved, either as a public official or a private citizen, in Hunter’s business dealings, nor had he ever been asked to take action on Hunter’s behalf. Schwerin said that in his role as Hunter’s business partner, he never asked Biden to get involved with their work. He and Hunter never suggested to or promised their clients or associates that Biden would get involved, either.

“In my discussions with the Vice President concerning his personal finances, he was always crystal clear that he wanted to take the most transparent and ethical approach consistent with both the spirit and the letter of the law,” Schwerin said. “Given my awareness of his finances and the explicit directions he gave to his financial advisers, the allegation that he would engage in any improper conduct to benefit himself or his family is preposterous to me.”

This is far from the first time that one of Republicans’ star witnesses in the Biden corruption investigation has completely debunked their claims. One such witness was Devon Archer, another of Hunter’s business partners. In his testimony, Archer said he was “not aware of any” wrongdoing by the president and said he disagreed with the allegation that Biden accepted a bribe. Republicans then refused to let Democrats introduce Archer’s testimony as evidence during a September hearing.

Alina Habba Bizarrely Ditches Her Own Bizarre Attempt to Toss Carroll Trial

Only the very best legal team for Donald Trump

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba on Tuesday suddenly backed off her own claim that the presiding judge in the E. Jean Carroll defamation trial had a conflict of interest, less than a day after she made the initial court filing.

Habba filed a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan on Monday accusing him of failing to disclose the fact that he had worked at the same law firm as Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan (no relation) in the 1990s. Habba said she believed the judge had shown “preferential treatment” to Carroll’s team and would seek to have both verdicts overturned.

As Ms. Habba well knows, these allegations are utterly baseless,” Roberta Kaplan said in a letter of her own, submitted Tuesday.

Roberta Kaplan explained in her letter that she and Judge Kaplan had worked at the same New York law firm, but they overlapped for less than two years. What’s more, Roberta Kaplan has no recollection of interacting with the now-judge whatsoever.

She also expressed concerns about the sourcing behind Habba’s accusations and the New York Post article cited in her complaint. The Post article cited one anonymous source, who claims that the Kaplans had a mentor-mentee relationship.

“While both the New York Post and Ms. Habba purport to cite the recollections of an ‘unnamed partner at Paul Weiss’ … that partner (if he even exists) clearly has a very flawed memory about events that occurred three decades ago,” Roberta Kaplan wrote.

Roberta Kaplan accused Trump and Habba of pushing “a false narrative of judicial bias” and explained that while she had wanted to respond quickly to Habba’s allegations, she might still seek sanctions against the other attorney.

Within hours, Habba submitted another letter backtracking on her accusations. “The purpose of the letter was simply to inquire as to whether there is any merit to a recently published New York Post story which reported on the alleged existence of such a relationship,” Habba said.

“Since Ms. Kaplan has now denied that there was ever a mentor-mentee relationship between herself and Your Honor, this issue has seemingly been resolved,” she wrote, although she added in a footnote that there were other issues about Judge Kaplan’s conduct, “including potential bias hostility towards defense counsel,” that she would raise in her appeal of the verdict.

Habba butted heads repeatedly with the judge throughout the trial over her disruptive behavior. Kaplan regularly admonished her for breaking the rules he established before the trial even began.

Mike Johnson Finally Admits Why He’s Killing the Border Deal

Republicans have a shot to address the so-called border crisis they keep railing about—and they’re throwing it all away.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson had a foot-in-mouth moment on Tuesday, absentmindedly admitting to reporters that he has courted Donald Trump’s opinion “at length” on the border deal he wants to kill.

“The former president has made it clear that he doesn’t want you guys to move forward on this, and judging by his comments, he clearly wants to campaign on this issue. Have you spoken to him about the Senate proposal, and are you simply trying to kill this to help him on the campaign?” probed CNN’s Manu Raju.

“No, Manu, that’s absurd,” Johnson retorted before ranting about the federal government’s job to “protect its citizens.”

“We have only a tiny, as you know, a razor-thin—actually, a one-vote majority right now in the House. Our majority is small, we only have it in one chamber, but we’re trying to use every ounce of leverage that we have to make sure that this issue is addressed.”

“I have talked to former President Trump about this issue at length, and he understands that. He understands that we have a responsibility to do here. The president, of course—President Trump wants to secure the country. President Trump is the one that talked about border security before anyone else did. He ran on, as you remember, building the wall. Why? Because he saw this catastrophe coming,” Johnson continued.

Republican officials have become increasingly audacious in giving away the game on the border deal. On Friday, Senator Josh Hawley explicitly tied the GOP’s border security grandstanding to a coordinated effort to hurt President Joe Biden’s reelection chances.

“There is absolutely no reason to agree to policies that would further enable Joe Biden,” Hawley told Fox News.