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Kevin McCarthy Sets His Sight on First Three Targets in Revenge Tour

The former House speaker knows exactly who he’s taking down first.

Kevin McCarthy purses his lips
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is openly plotting revenge against the Republicans who ousted him.

McCarthy was unceremoniously booted from the speakership in October when eight Republicans, led by Representative Matt Gaetz, joined all Democrats in voting to vacate the chair. McCarthy left Congress in December, shrinking his party’s already narrow majority in the chamber.

Now, Politico reported Thursday, citing anonymous sources, McCarthy ally Brian Walsh is working to recruit primary challengers to those eight turncoats. The group is known on Capitol Hill as the “Crazy Eight” or “Gaetz Eight” (because the “hateful eight” was already taken).

McCarthy is ready to mobilize his still-sizeable donor network to mount primary challenges—focusing on three representatives in particular. His allies believe that Representatives Nancy Mace, Bob Good, and Eli Crane are the most vulnerable right now and are looking to recruit other Republican candidates in their districts.

“These traitors chose to side with Nancy Pelosi, AOC and over 200 Democrats to undermine the institution, their fellow Republicans and a duly elected Speaker,” Walsh told Politico in a statement. “There must be consequences for that decision.”

Mace’s turning on McCarthy must be especially bitter, because she was a member of his inner circle before voting to oust him. McCarthy reportedly encouraged her former chief of staff to resign and then run for her seat.

McCarthy’s revenge plans may continue beyond this election cycle. One member of the Gaetz Eight told Politico anonymously they had heard from a potential primary challenger who turned down recruitment attempts from a McCarthy associate. So the former speaker may keep pushing in future elections.

Of course, the biggest target is still Gaetz, who introduced the motion to vacate the speaker. Recently leaked private messages from Gaetz reveal the Florida Republican wanted to oust McCarthy because of the House Ethics Committee’s renewed probe into Gaetz’s alleged payments to a minor for sex.

McCarthy has shown before that he has a vindictive streak. In November, McCarthy allegedly elbowed Representative Tim Burchett, another Gaetz Eight member, in the halls of Congress.

Burchett called McCarthy a “jerk” and accused him of having “no guts.”

“What kind of chicken move is that?” he demanded. “You’re pathetic, man, you are so pathetic.”

If Trump’s Campaign Filings Are Any Proof, He’s Dead Meat

Donald Trump is bleeding money, thanks in large part to all his legal fees.

Donald Trump speaks and looks off camera. A row of U.S. flags are behind him.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s courtroom dramas are beginning to overwhelm his political ambitions.

The GOP front-runner’s reelection campaign spent millions more than it took in over the course of 2023, with the vast majority of expenditures going to Trump’s legal fees, reported Politico.

According to the outlet’s analysis of Trump’s campaign finance filings, made public Wednesday, the real estate mogul’s “web of committees”—which include his campaign, Save America, Make America Great Again PAC, his joint fundraising committee, and MAGA Inc.—tossed money back and forth between them, spending roughly $210 million during the last year. That’s $10 million more than it raised.

Perhaps even more writing on the wall for Trump: The former president used approximately $50 million in donations to cover his legal fees over the course of 2023.

Save America, Trump’s leadership PAC, spent more than $25 million on consulting and legal fees in the second half of the year alone—paying dues to more than 47 law firms and attorneys. That’s on top of some $21 million that the PAC spent on the former president’s mounting legal bill in the first half of the 2023. And the Make America Great Again PAC, which pulls most of its funding from Save America, put an additional $4 million toward Trump’s tab in the latter half of 2023, as well.

That reportedly left just $5 million in the tank for his leadership PACs, according to Politico.

Meanwhile, Republicans will need to be tightening their belts, as well, with recent filings suggesting that the conservative party wasn’t quite so fiscally minded last year. An end-of-year Federal Election Commission filing revealed that the Republican National Committee had just $8 million on hand, per The Guardians Hugo Lowell.

Trump’s campaign is still in the green, however, thanks to a surplus in fundraising from previous years. But the high expenditures signal bad omens ahead for Trump as he grapples with not just the general election but also 91 felony charges across four separate, upcoming trials.

Florida’s War on Books Enters “Goblin Butts Are Sexual” Territory

And of course, Moms for Liberty is behind the whole thing.

A woman wearing a Moms for Liberty t-shirt and cap hold a phone in her hand and is talking to a man next to her. Others are in the background.
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

A Florida school district has drawn over the illustrations in multiple award-winning children’s books in its libraries after the chair of the local Moms for Liberty chapter complained that some of the characters were shown naked. One of the offending characters? A goblin who showed his backside.

Jennifer Pippin submitted multiple formal challenges in November and December to the Indian River County school district, Popular Information reported Thursday. One of the books she took issue with was the book Unicorns Are the Worst, which won a Florida state children’s literature award, because the main character (a goblin) is shown with its butt facing the audience. Here is the offending butt in question:

She challenged the book No, David! for the same reason (although the offending posterior in that book belongs to a young boy). Pippin also challenged In the Night Kitchen, a Caldecott Honorwinning book by Maurice Sendak. The protagonist, a young boy named Mickey, is sometimes drawn naked.

And she submitted yet another complaint about Draw Me a Star, by Eric Carle, the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In classic Carle style, though, very few features are actually distinguishable on the adults Pippin complained about.

After meeting with Pippin, school district officials suggested drawing clothes over the illustrations to hide their nudity. Pippin agreed that this would resolve the issue.

Pippin told Popular Information that she submitted challenges to these books because she felt that the depictions of nudity were “harmful to minors” under two Florida state laws. The first law relates to obscenity and prohibits showing minors any “nudity or sexual conduct.” The second law allows state residents to demand libraries remove any book that “depicts or describes sexual conduct.”

But the thing is, both of these laws specifically apply to sexual conduct, not just straight nudity. It says more about Pippin that she viewed these illustrations, which are intended to make children laugh, as inherently sexual.

David Flynt, whose children attend Indian River County schools, noted as much when he criticized Pippin’s challenges to the book. In an interview with Popular Information, Flynt asked why Moms for Liberty was “sexualizing” a drawing “of a goblin’s bare backside.”

The illustration “was not [included] to cause arousal, and was of a fictional character,” Flynt said.

He also pointed to Pippin’s challenge to the book Sofia Valdez, Future Prez.  Pippin claimed that the main character’s grandfather was shown wearing a pro-LGBTQ pin. While the illustration could be considered to include a pink triangle, an LGBTQ pride symbol, the drawing is so small that it could really be anything.

Pippin indicated in her challenge to Sofia Valdez that she has not actually read the book.

Florida has banned multiple books in the past year, for covering topics including race, gender, and sexuality. Pippin’s challenges are not the first time a school district has had to remove a book long considered innocuous. Recently, another school district removed editions of the dictionary from its library shelves because the reference text includes definitions of sexual conduct.

E. Jean Carroll Lawyer Highlights the Moment Trump Screwed Himself Over

In a new interview, Roberta Kaplan points out that Donald Trump could have gotten himself off the hook—but he caused his own downfall instead.

Donald Trump wears a navy suit and looks off camera. (It appears as if he is sitting.)
Brendan McDermid-Pool/Getty Images

E. Jean Carroll’s lawyer has revealed in a new interview that Donald Trump has only himself to blame for his two massive losses to the writer.

Roberta Kaplan represented Carroll in both of her lawsuits against Trump—and won both of them in the span of less than a year. Just last week, a jury determined Trump owes Carroll $83.3 million for defaming her in 2019 after she revealed he sexually abused her in the mid-1990s.

In an interview with Politico published Thursday, Kaplan said that Trump was the master of his own downfall.

“The single most important thing that convicted Donald Trump—both from his deposition and from the trial—is Donald Trump’s own behavior,” she said.

Carroll is far from the only woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault, with at least 26 other women accusing him of some form of misconduct. Trump has vehemently denied all of the allegations, but he aimed particular vitriol at Carroll, singling her out both when she first accused him and multiple times during this most recent trial.

Targeting Carroll specifically is what ultimately landed Trump in legal trouble, Kaplan explained. In her deposition, Carroll alleged she had also been assaulted by television executive Les Moonves in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s.

In 2018, multiple other women accused Moonves of sexual assault. He stepped down as CEO of CBS and denied all of the allegations, including Carroll’s when she accused him a year later. Carroll said she didn’t sue Moonves because he had issued a blanket denial.

“If Donald Trump had done that here, I wouldn’t have sued him,” Carroll said, according to Kaplan. “She also said if Donald Trump had said that it happened, but he thought she consented, she wouldn’t have sued him. What was so offensive about it was the idea that she was just making it up to sell a book or two as part of a Democratic plot.”

Carroll accused Trump in her 2019 memoir of raping her in the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. He repeatedly claimed that she only accused him in order to garner publicity for her book. Her first lawsuit against him was for the assault and for posts he made about her on social media in November 2022.

During that first trial, Carroll’s lawyers played part of Trump’s video deposition, in which he brags about being able to get away with assaulting women. In the second trial, which Trump attended, he repeatedly got in trouble with the judge for his disruptive behavior. Kaplan believes that contributed to the massive amount of damages he now has to pay.

“One of the flaws—one of the huge mistakes that he made—is he really thought that showing up was going to make a difference,” Kaplan said. “He thought that the jury was going to be like at a MAGA rally. And he could not have been more mistaken in that regard.”

Lauren Boebert Publicly Torched by Fellow Republican Over Groping Date

Representative Lisa McClain absolutely dragged Lauren Boebert.

Lauren Boebert stands in a hallway, partially obscured by shadow
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert is still getting skewered by her fellow lawmakers for getting caught groping a date back in September.

On Wednesday, Representative Lisa McClain mocked that she’d have no patience for any funny business ahead of the Washington Press Club Foundation Dinner. Then she called Boebert out by name.

“If everyone could, please keep their hands above the table. And I know it’s date night for some of you, but no inappropriate touching,” McClain said.

“That includes you Lauren Boebert. No vaping, either,” she added, to a round of shocked laughter.

McClain, a self-described “Trump-lovin’ MAGA Republican,” also spent the lighthearted evening throwing digs at “Oscar winner, an Emmy winner, a two-time Olympian” George Santos, and warned the press club to be careful around the silverware with Senator Bob Menendez, who’s indicted on bribery charges.

But the fallout with Boebert stems specifically from a September incident, when the freshman congressman was ejected from the Buell Theatre in Denver for “causing a disturbance” during an evening screening of Beetlejuice. Patrons allegedly made several complaints about Boebert’s inappropriate behavior, which included vaping, singing along, and recording the show, before security officials escorted Boebert and her date out of the show.

In a clip of released security footage, Boebert can be seen initially refusing to leave her seat. Police were called to the scene and stayed in the theater lobby until the congresswoman and her date had left the premises.

On their exit, Boebert allegedly told employees “do you know who I am,” gave security the middle finger, and claimed that she would contact the mayor over the incident, according to a report issued by the theater.

Republican Congressman Says Quiet Part Out Loud on Doomed Border Deal

Republican Representative Troy Nehls is admitting very clearly why he and other Republicans are killing a bipartisan border deal.

Julia Nikhinson/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Texas Representative Troy Nehls on Wednesday urged Congress not to do anything about the border at all.

“Congress doesn’t have to do anything to secure our southern border and fix it. Joe Biden, you destroyed it, you can fix it on your own through executive order,” Nehls said while waving a cigar around steps away from the U.S. Capitol, according to a video obtained by Rolling Stone.

“Why would I help Joe Biden improve his dismal 33 percent, when he can fix the border and secure it on his own? He can secure it on his own through executive order.”

“Donald Trump, the greatest president of my lifetime, he did it. We had Paul Ryan, he was the speaker. What did he do? Very little. We had both chambers, did very, very little. Donald Trump did it all on his own,” Nehls continued.

“So this bipartisan border security bill is not border security,” he added.

It’s not clear which Trump executive order exactly Nehls sees as inspiration. But many of the former president’s attempts to single-handedly rewrite immigration law were found to be unconstitutional.

Republicans have spent months clashing with the federal government and one another over a border security deal as well as the applications of actual, physical security measures along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, seemingly all to appease Trump’s re-election bid where he plans to make immigration a central issue.

But some lawmakers appear to be fatiguing from the runaround, arguing that their own chances for re-election will be shot if they fail to take advantage of the bipartisan opportunity.

“I don’t see that coming back as a reward to us,” North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer told CNN. “If we don’t try, then shame on us.”

President Joe Biden also 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.

Matt Gaetz Is Trying to Get Republicans to Absolve Trump of Insurrection

The Republican representative is rallying support for a measure that completely rewrites Donald Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection.

Matt Gaetz puts a hand in his suit pocket and looks off camera. Others surround him in the background; one points at him.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Representative Matt Gaetz is trying to drum up support for a resolution stating that Donald Trump did not engage in insurrection.

Gaetz first began shopping the resolution around via email last week, according to the Daily Mail. He started handing out hard copies on Wednesday, requesting people to sign on as co-sponsors by the end of the following day.

The resolution would express “That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that former President Donald J. Trump did not ‘engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or give aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.’”

If the resolution makes it to the House floor, it would force Republicans to show their hand, and whether they are ultimately loyal to Trump or to their country. Gaetz’s resolution already has multiple far-right, pro-Trump cosponsors including Marjorie Taylor Greene and Andy Biggs.

Of course, the resolution doesn’t magically get rid of the indictments Trump still faces. He was indicted for his role in the January 6 insurrection and charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote. He was set to go on trial in March, but that has been put on hold until a Washington, D.C., appeals court determines whether Trump has presidential immunity from legal proceedings.

Trump has also been booted from the primary ballots in Colorado and Maine, after the Colorado state Supreme Court and the Maine Secretary of State determined he was guilty of insurrection, rendering him constitutionally ineligible to run for president. Many Republicans are livid over his disqualification and have accused the Democratic Party (which is not involved in the decision process) of election interference.

Judge Tosses Disney Lawsuit, Greenlights Ron DeSantis Retaliation

A federal judge just gave a massive boost to Ron DeSantis and his crusade against all things “woke.”

Ron DeSantis, wearing a suit and tie, laughs and looks off camera
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

A Trump-appointed judge effectively handed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis the keys to Disney World on Wednesday, ruling that the governor’s choice to dissolve the company’s special tax district and personally appoint every member of its new local governing body was “facially constitutional.”

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor, in an order issued on Wednesday, found that the entertainment behemoth “lacks standing to sue the governor,” specifying that the drama around the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, or CFTOD, formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, could not be challenged with a free speech claim.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Disney in April, accused DeSantis of weaponizing his political position to punish the company for speaking out in disagreement after the state in 2022 passed the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law banning the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools. In a statement released the same day DeSantis signed the controversial bill, Disney said it would remain committed to supporting organizations that would help repeal the law or bring legal challenges against it.

But DeSantis didn’t like that, arguing that Disney’s statement had “crossed the line” and that he would “fight back.”

Pointing to DeSantis’s own memoir, which was released last spring, Disney claimed that the Florida governor had attempted to punish the company for exercising its right to free speech, citing sections of his book that pegged the media conglomerate as “pledging a frontal assault” on the state of Florida, after which “things got worse for Disney.”

But according to Winsor’s ruling, Disney “has not alleged any specific actions the new board took (or will take) because of the governor’s alleged control” and “has not alleged any specific injury from any board action.”

“Its alleged injury … is its operating under a board it cannot control,” Winsor wrote. “That injury would exist whether or not the governor controlled the board.”

“To the extent the Governor contributed to Disney’s injury by appointing CFTOD board members, that action is in the past,” the order read. “Because Disney seeks injunctive relief, it must allege an imminent future injury, and it has not alleged facts showing that any imminent future appointments will contribute to its harm.”

“At the end of the day, under the law of this Circuit, ‘courts shouldn’t look to a law’s legislative history to find an illegitimate motivation for an otherwise constitutional statute,’” Winsor added, effectively dismissing the entire premise of Disney’s case.

DeSantis’s office glibly celebrated the win, with his press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, calling it an end to the “corporate kingdom.”

“This ruling finally ends Disney’s futile attempts to control its own special government and receive benefits not available to other businesses throughout the state,” the press release said.

But Disney vowed its great adventure against the state wasn’t over, promising in a statement that it would continue the legal battle.

“This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here,” a Disney spokesperson told CNN. “If left unchallenged, this would set a dangerous precedent and give license to states to weaponize their official powers to punish the expression of political viewpoints they disagree with. We are determined to press forward with our case.”

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.