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Experts: The Walls Are Closing in Fast on Trump After Immunity Ruling

Things are not looking good for Donald Trump after a federal appeal court completely destroyed his presidential immunity arguments.

Donald Trump raises his hand up in a fist (presumably to the cameras) as he walks outside

Donald Trump’s legal team has until Monday to appeal to the Supreme Court over his recent immunity ruling—but according to legal experts, there’s little that they, or any judge, or any court, can do to reverse course for the GOP front-runner.

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court unanimously voted against all three of Donald Trump’s presidential immunity arguments in his January 6 case, finally and formally dubbing the former president as simply “citizen Trump.”

Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissman noted that’s all you need to know about the ruling.

Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe told CNN the ruling is “bulletproof,” and a case that will “be studied by law students for generations.”

George Conway, a conservative attorney and husband of former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, called the ruling “airtight.” In a piece for The Atlantic, Conway described how the court “patiently, painstakingly, and unsparingly” dismantled Trump’s legal arguments for immunity.

“How does the Supreme Court read this?” CNN’s Kaitlin Collins asked Conway on Tuesday.

“This opinion is so good, and so clear, so comprehensive, there’s nothing in it that could be possibly attacked. I don’t see how even the Supreme Court could write—I don’t see how any judge, any court, anywhere, including the Supreme Court, could write a better opinion that more accurately states what the law is and should be,” Conway responded.

“I don’t think it’s worth the court’s time to deal with it at this point. If Trump is convicted, which I think he will be, they can actually review this after his conviction,” he added.

The ruling was “masterful because it combined so many elements” like “constitutional text, judicial precedent, history, and just sheer logic and the party’s own concessions—Trump’s own concessions—just to make an absolutely cohesive whole opinion that just inexorably leads you to the conclusion that he is not immune,” Conway explained.

And Trump’s February 12 turnaround is so quick it “puts him in a box,” according to former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman.

“Given thoroughness and unanimity of opinion, we will have lost only about six weeks should the Supreme Court deny the stay application, which we should look to it to do by around February 19. If it takes the case, mandate doesn’t return to Chutkan until early July,” Litman posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Some Backbone! GOP Congressman Torches Trump on Border

You don’t really have to trust Republican Representative Chip Roy, but at least on this one thing, he’s right.

Chip Roy looks off camera
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A Republican lawmaker has gone off on Donald Trump for tanking the Senate bipartisan border deal while failing to actually address immigration issues himself.

After demanding more restrictive immigration policies for years, Republican lawmakers have acted fast to kill the bill revealed Sunday. Some Republicans think that any compromise with Democrats is an automatic nonstarter, but many others were working out of loyalty to Trump. They didn’t want to potentially hand Joe Biden a win on immigration.

Trump hailed the bill’s failure Tuesday night, writing on Truth Social that “ALL A PRESIDENT HAS TO DO IS SAY, ‘CLOSE THE BORDER,’ AND THE BORDER WILL BE CLOSED. A COSTLY NEW BILL IS NOT NECESSARY!”

It’s an argument Trump has repeatedly made, but in reality, the U.S. president cannot unilaterally seal off the border. If the position had that power, it’s likely Trump would have used it during his time in office.

Representative Chip Roy lashed out at Trump for making this claim. “No, we’re not going to just pass the buck and say that, ‘Oh, any president can walk in and secure the border.’ I saw former President Trump make that allegation earlier today on one of his social media posts,” he said Tuesday night on the House floor.

“Well, with all due respect, that didn’t happen in 2017, -18, -19, and -20. There were millions of people who came into the United States during those four years.”

Roy doesn’t support the bipartisan bill and instead would prefer more extreme measures. He expressed opposition to the deal on Monday, saying the package authors “don’t know what they’re talking about.”

He criticized the measure for allowing 5,000 average daily migrant encounters at the border before the border gets shut down. “If you set a standard of about 5,000, the cartels will go ah, I get it. 4,999? You got it,” Roy said, in a horrifically racist take.

But the Texas Republican is growing increasingly frustrated with his party’s inability to achieve any of its goals. Roy lost it on the House floor in November, criticizing Republicans for failing to follow through on a single campaign promise.

“One thing. I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing. One. That I can go campaign on and say we did,” Roy said. “One!”

“Talked a big game about building a wall and having Mexico pay for it. Ain’t no wall, and Mexico didn’t pay for it, and we didn’t pass any border security.”

Here’s Mike Johnson’s Pathetic, Viral Reaction After Brutal Day of Losing

House Speaker Mike Johnson had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Mike Johnson stares off in space, it looks like he was caught with nothing to say
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

After wasting weeks on the issue, the House Republican impeachment vote against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas proved to be a dud—and one person was particularly unhappy about the result.

House Speaker Mike Johnson was visibly upset by Tuesday’s 216–214 vote against impeachment, contorting his face upon reading the result of the vote.

As Democrats in Congress cheered, Johnson slammed the gavel for the House to come to order.

Republicans had accused Mayorkas of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust” with regard to his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border, threatening to symbolically oust the secretary as part of a border crusade in which the party does practically everything except negotiate a legitimate border package.

Over the last several months, Republicans have routinely conceded the actual job of governing to Donald Trump’s reelection wishes, making a crisis out of the border without actually working to solve it. On Monday, Johnson reiterated that the bipartisan Senate border package would be “dead on arrival” in the House. Meanwhile, Republican governors are going toe to toe with federal agents along the Rio Grande section of the southern border, backing Texas’s defiance of a Supreme Court order to remove haphazardly placed concertina wire that effectively prevents federal border agents from doing their jobs.

Four House Republicans joined Democrats in voting against Mayorkas’s impeachment. That included Utah Representative Blake Moore, who changed his vote at the last minute, ultimately siding with the liberal party to avoid a tie.

“House Republicans will be remembered by history for trampling on the Constitution for political gain, rather than working to solve the serious challenges at our border,” Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Mia Ehrenberg said in a statement to The New York Times.

“This baseless impeachment should never have moved forward,” she continued. “If House Republicans are serious about border security, they should abandon these political games and instead support the bipartisan national security agreement in the Senate.”

It was a spectacular embarrassment for Johnson—who in December said that God had told him to lead the GOP, like Moses, through a “Red Sea moment”—revealing that the rookie speaker just might not have the gumption to maneuver his radically divided caucus.

House Republicans Suddenly Miss Kevin McCarthy After All That Losing

Some House Republicans have buyer’s remorse with Speaker Mike Johnson.

House Speaker Mike Johnson is surrounded by reporters holding phones in front of him to record what he says
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

After losing two major votes, House Republicans are suddenly starting to regret giving Kevin McCarthy the boot.

The House on Tuesday voted 250–180 against a $17.6 billion aid package for Israel, a measure brought by Speaker Mike Johnson in an effort to kill the bipartisan Senate border deal. The lower chamber also failed to pass articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Four Republicans joined all Democrats to oppose the move.

In the hours following, as Republicans lamented the brutal losses, some lawmakers began to wish they had kept McCarthy in charge.

Getting rid of Speaker McCarthy has officially turned into an unmitigated disaster,” Representative Thomas Massie, who had supported McCarthy, tweeted Wednesday morning.

“All work on separate spending bills has ceased. Spending reductions have been traded for spending increases. Warrantless spying has been temporarily extended. Our majority has shrunk.”

When someone commented that Republicans should have kept serial fabulist George Santos in Congress but were right to dump McCarthy, Massie replied, “Name one thing that’s improved under the new speaker.”

The night before, Representative Matt Gaetz, who introduced the motion to vacate McCarthy in the first place, also bitterly complained about McCarthy’s absence.

“Wouldn’t it have been nice to still have Kevin McCarthy in the House of Representatives?” Gaetz said on Newsmax. “He would have been a reliable vote for impeachment.”

Gaetz still managed to twist the knife, though, noting that after his ouster, McCarthy resigned from Congress at the end of 2023, leaving House Republicans with a precariously thin majority. “If he wasn’t speaker, he wasn’t willing to stick around,” Gaetz said.

I think that the errant expulsion of Santos and the abject selfishness of Kevin McCarthy contributed to this result as much as the three Republican members who voted ‘no.’

Even before Johnson took over from McCarthy in October, Republicans had proven themselves wholly unable to accomplish anything in Congress. Even some of the farthest-right members of the caucus have been forced to admit as much. Since Johnson took over, the GOP’s majority has shrunk significantly, leaving the party with even less wiggle room to get measures passed.

Meanwhile, McCarthy—who is probably currently dancing around his California home to “How You Like Me Now”—is plotting revenge against the Republicans who kicked him out of Congress. His allies are working to recruit primary challengers to those eight turncoats.

It Sure Looks Like Mitch McConnell Is About to Become the Next Kevin McCarthy

Senate Republicans are turning against Mitch McConnell after his failed border deal.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Republicans are starting to turn on their leader Mitch McConnell over his support of the bipartisan border deal, a situation that echoes the October ouster of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

McConnell has urged his fellow GOP senators in recent days to support the bipartisan measure, but he has been met with resistance. Some Republicans think that any deal brokered with Democrats is an automatic nonstarter, and some are following Donald Trump’s orders—but whatever the case, enough oppose the border bill that McConnell was forced to finally admit Tuesday that the measure has “no real chance” of passing.

Senator Ted Cruz pointed to McConnell’s stance on the bill Tuesday when he called for the minority leader to step down. When asked at a press conference whether it was time for McConnell “to go,” Cruz replied, “I think it is.”

I think a Republican leader should actually lead this conference and should advance the priorities of Republicans,” Cruz said.

While Cruz has long opposed McConnell’s power, even voting against him for Senate minority leader in 2022, he’s not alone this time. Shortly after the bill was unveiled on Sunday, Senator Mike Lee took to X (formerly Twitter) to blast the measure as “an unmitigated disaster.”

“I cannot understand how any Republican would think this was a good idea—or anything other than an unmitigated disaster,” Lee wrote. “WE NEED NEW LEADERSHIP—NOW.”

Many other Senate Republicans have been privately and publicly lambasting McConnell’s negotiation over the deal, even though it contains a lot of the border policies Republicans have been demanding for months.

The calls for McConnell to resign over his support for a bipartisan deal are reminiscent of the House ousting McCarthy after he helped broker a deal with Democrats on the debt ceiling. It’s unclear whether Republican senators are moving to oust McConnell from his leadership position, or if they would even succeed at doing so.

But McConnell’s power in Congress has slowly started to wane. Some Republicans started to grow frustrated with him at the end of 2022 over his support for continued U.S. aid to Ukraine (another element of the bipartisan bill). And last summer, he froze up during two different public appearances, prompting demands he resign due to flagging mental capabilities.

More on McConnell’s plight ahead:

House Republicans Have Total Meltdown After Trump’s Immunity Loss

House Republicans are desperately trying to defend Donald Trump from claims of insurrection.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Hours after a federal appeals court unanimously voted against all three of Donald Trump’s presidential immunity arguments in his January 6 case, the former president’s biggest fans in Congress decided to introduce a nonbinding resolution that Trump “did not engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States.”

One after another, a hurried collection of MAGA House Republicans made their case for the former president.

“We are here today to authoritatively express that President Trump did not commit an insurrection, and we believe Congress has a unique role in making that declaration,” Representative Matt Gaetz said. “It’s not the job of the states and especially not the job of some bureaucrats in Colorado to make this assessment and interfere with the right of voters to cast their vote for the candidate of their choice.”

“Is there a practical implication if this passes; would this help Trump legally in court, or is this just a symbolic thing?” asked one reporter.

“I think it would be incredibly helpful, legally, if we were to adopt this provision. You know, I’ve been the victim of federal crimes,” added Gaetz, who is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly paying $900 to a sex trafficker for sex with a minor. “If we’re the purported victim, in Congress, and we’re saying this was not an insurrection, I think that would hold a great deal of weight.”

Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene seemed equally keen for Trump’s favor when she took the podium, completely flipping the script by claiming that President Joe Biden’s actual inauguration was an insurrection.

“When they came to Washington and protested, all of you called it an insurrection,” Greene said, referring to more than 2,000 rioters who forcefully entered and devastated the Capitol building—of which 749 have received criminal sentences.

“And then when Joe Biden was inaugurated and this entire Capitol complex was surrounded with 30,000 National Guard troops, none of you stood there and called that an insurrection,” she continued. “Oh no, you all stayed silent.”

New York Republican Elise Stefanik, who along with Gaetz is rumored to be on Trump’s short list for his vice presidential pick, also chimed in during the press conference to decry the legal effort to hold the former president accountable for attempting to thwart the transfer of power.

“As President Donald Trump continues to dominate in the polls, extreme Democrats will stop at nothing in an attempt to prevent President Donald Trump from returning to the White House,” Stefanik said.

It’s unclear if the one-page resolution, which was co-signed by 60 Republican members of the House, would have any sway in an actual court of law—especially when the Colorado Supreme Court already set a precedent for the language, ruling in December that Trump was ineligible to appear on the state’s GOP primary ballot on the basis that he had taken part in an insurrection and violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

Of Course Tucker Carlson Is in Russia to Interview Putin

The former Fox News host has spent years expressing his love of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Tucker Carlson, seated, wears a suit and laughs before a mic
Ian Maule/Getty Images

Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson announced Tuesday that he is in Russia for the worst reason possible: He is going to interview Vladimir Putin.

Carlson has been in Moscow over the past few days, gleefully fueling speculation that he would interview the Russian president. Neither he nor the Kremlin would explicitly confirm or deny anything until Carlson posted a video on X (formerly Twitter).

Carlson said he was interviewing Putin so that Americans would finally know the truth about the war in Ukraine.

American “media outlets are corrupt,” he said in the video. “They lie to their readers and viewers, and they do that mostly by omission.”

He cited the multiple interviews Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has given to U.S. outlets. “The interviews he’s already done in the United States are not traditional interviews,” Carlson said. “They are fawning pep sessions specifically designed to amplify Zelenskiy’s demands.”

“That is not journalism. It is government propaganda.”

Carlson did not acknowledge that he himself has held multiple “fawning pep sessions” for a politician. Both while he was at Fox News and after he was unceremoniously fired, Carlson has repeatedly parroted Donald Trump’s talking points and invited the former president on air to spew falsehoods unchecked.

Meanwhile, Carlson claimed, no Western outlets have interviewed Putin, meaning most Americans don’t know “why Putin invaded Ukraine, or what his goals are now.”

Putin has actually made it pretty clear why he invaded Ukraine: He wants to force the country to rejoin Russia, in an effort to reestablish the Soviet Union. But if there is a lack of coverage about the Russian side of the invasion, it’s because Putin has cracked down on journalism.

Since the war broke out, the Kremlin has rushed to silence reporting on the military conflict. Two American journalists, Evan Gershkovich and Alsu Kurmasheva, are currently imprisoned in Russia for covering the war.

It’s likely that Putin only accepted Carlson’s request for an interview because Carlson, while at Fox, repeatedly expressed support for Putin on air and echoed Kremlin talking points. He has vehemently opposed U.S. military aid for Ukraine and blamed Western nations for Russia’s invasion because they supported letting Ukraine join NATO.

More on the fall of Tucker:

If This Email Is Any Proof, the Verdict in Trump’s Fraud Trial Is Gonna Hurt

A new email from Judge Arthur Engoron demands answers on possible perjury from a key witness in the case.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron smiles at the camera while seated in court
Spencer Platt/Getty Images/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s wallet is in for a new world of pain, according to a new letter by the judge in his $370 million New York bank fraud case.

That’s thanks to Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, who is reportedly negotiating a plea deal with Manhattan prosecutors that would require he admit he lied on the stand during the trial, according to The New York Times.

In an email on Monday sent to attorneys for Trump, Weisselberg, the Trump Organization, as well as counsel for New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office, New York Justice Arthur Engoron explained he wanted answers before issuing his verdict.

“As the presiding magistrate, the trier of fact, and the judge of credibility, I of course want to know whether Mr. Weisselberg is now changing his tune, and whether he is admitting he lied under oath in my courtroom at this trial,” Engoron wrote.

“I do not want to ignore anything in a case of this magnitude,” Engoron added.

Engoron has asked the legal teams to respond by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Ultimately, Engoron noted, he might use the news as reason to invoke “falsus in uno”—which would discount the credibility of Weiselberg’s entire testimony.

“If you’re going to issue a ruling and if it turns out Weisselberg lied, that’s going to harm the Trump Organization when it comes time for the verdict,” former federal prosecutor Elie Honig told CNN on Thursday.

Weisselberg was a key witness out of the 40 odd people who took the stand during the bank fraud trial, in which Trump is accused of massively overinflating his net worth in order to broker better (and fraudulent) deals with banks and insurance companies.

The Times reported that prosecutors seemed particularly focused on claims Weisselberg had made on October 10 about Trump’s penthouse at Trump Tower, which had been overvalued on his financial statements by inaccurately reporting it as three times its actual size.

Engoron ruled prior to the start of the trial that James had proved that Trump committed fraud. What remains to be seen in Engoron’s verdict is just how much dough Trump will have to cough up as recompense for his scheme, which was likened by the judge to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The court has also floated the possibility of stripping the Trump Organization’s licenses to do business in the state.

Dozens of Public Housing Officials Arrested in Record Corruption Bust

A New York corruption scandal has led to the largest number of federal bribery changes in a single day.

David Dee Delgado/Getty Images
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams

More than a third of New York’s crumbling public housing buildings were just implicated in a massive corruption scandal.

Federal prosecutors are charging 70 current and former employees of the New York City Housing Authority on corruption and bribery charges—a single-day record for the Department of Justice.

The no-bid contracts allowed superintendents and their assistants to hire workers directly without going through the bidding process, which is overseen by the city government. The public housing employees would then refuse to sign off on payments to the contractors unless they got a kickback, according to the attorney general’s office.

The employees, who included superintendents and assistant superintendents, allegedly demanded more than $2 million in corrupt payments from contractors in exchange for awarding over $13 million in no-bid contracts.

The corruption impacted vital infrastructure repairs, including plumbing and window repairs, at NYCHA locations across the city—many of which already struggle with supplying the basics, including cooking gas, running water, and mold-free apartments.

“The corruption we’ve alleged infected every corner of the city. As the charges show, superintendents accepting and extorting bribes from contractors had become business as usual, occurring at almost 100 NYCHA buildings across all five boroughs. That’s nearly a third of all NYCHA buildings,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.

Sixty-six of the offenders were arrested Tuesday morning, according to a DOJ press release. All of the charged employees have been suspended immediately, according to NYCHA leadership.

“NYCHA has zero tolerance for wrongful and illegal activity,” said NYCHA Chief Executive Officer Lisa Bova-Hiatt in a statement to TheCity. “The individuals allegedly involved in these acts put their greed first and violated the trust of our residents, their fellow NYCHA colleagues and all New Yorkers. These actions are counter to everything we stand for as public servants and will not be tolerated in any form.”

The bribes pose just another monetary loss for an essential housing system that has been woefully underfunded for decades. According to a 2018 NYCHA assessment, federal capital funding has met only a fraction of capital needs since 2006. In the agency’s 2017 physical needs assessment, a five-year financial trajectory for improvements, NYCHA determined that it’s short $31.8 billion to return its campuses to a “state of good repair.” Failing remediation, by 2023 that number had shot up by 73 percent, with the agency declaring it needed a new 20-year capital investment of $78.3 billion.

Meanwhile, the city is in the thrall of a housing crisis, woefully failing to produce enough homes for its growing population. According to Governor Kathy Hochul’s office, the state will need an investment of 800,000 new homes over the next 10 years—double the rate of production—in order to “make up for decades of underproduction.”

After killing Hochul’s Housing Compact in April, a cohort of progressives within the state legislature are refocusing their attention from rent control and eviction bans to the dire housing need. A new bill, set to be introduced on Thursday, would create a new agency that would build housing using its own money or money raised in the bond market. The shift in conversation is an “acknowledgment from the left that solving the housing crisis will inevitably mean building more homes,” per The New York Times.

Judge in Abortion Pill Case Cited Study So Bogus It Was Just Retracted

A study used as justification to ban the abortion pill was just retracted by the journal that published it.

Combipack misoprostol and mifepristone tablets
Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto/Getty Images

An academic publisher has retracted three studies about the adverse effects of the abortion pill mifepristone, two of which are central to the ongoing lawsuit to ban the medication nationwide.

Sage Publishing announced its decision Monday to pull the studies after they were revealed to have been funded and produced by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the powerful anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. The studies were published in 2019, 2021, and 2022. Sage began reviewing the 2021 study last year after a pharmaceutical sciences professor raised concerns about how it was cited in the mifepristone case.

Ultraconservative Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who presided over the initial mifepristone trial in Texas, used the 2021 study to justify his ruling invalidating the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone. Another one of the studies, also since retracted, was used by the anti-abortion plaintiffs in the case.

The Sage investigation found that all but one of the study authors, including the lead author on each study, were affiliated with at least one of the anti-abortion associations Charlotte Lozier Institute, Elliot Institute, and American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The AAPLOG is listed as a plaintiff in the mifepristone lawsuit. One of the peer reviewers was also associated with Charlotte Lozier. None of the authors or the reviewer disclosed these affiliations.

Since all three studies had the same lead author, Sage carried out an independent post-publication peer review of the data in all three studies. Two subject matter experts determined that the 2021 and 2022 articles, which use the same dataset, had “fundamental problems with the study design and methodology, unjustified or incorrect factual assumptions, material errors in the authors’ analysis of the data, and misleading presentations of the data.”

These issues “demonstrate a lack of scientific rigor and invalidate the authors’ conclusions in whole or in part,” according to the experts.

Similarly, the 2019 study, which used a different dataset, included “unsupported assumptions and misleading presentations of the findings that … demonstrate a lack of scientific rigor and render the authors’ conclusion unreliable.”

Kacsmaryk ruled in April that mifepristone had been improperly approved and should be yanked from the U.S. market. The Department of Justice appealed the decision, first to the Fifth Circuit Court, which only partially stayed the ruling. The Justice Department then appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which issued a temporary stay while the lawsuit plays out. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case next month.

Kacsmaryk’s initial ruling hinged on several heavily biased “studies.” In addition to the faulty Charlotte Lozier article, he cited another study that claimed to find most people who had medication abortions reported negative effects. The sample size was 98 blog posts from an anti-abortion website. The study authors only analyzed 54 posts and then just cherry-picked quotes from the rest.

Medication abortions make up more than half of all abortions performed in the United States. These drugs can be ordered online and delivered via mail, making them a key resource for people who live in states that have cracked down on abortion access since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

A bigger issue at play, in this case, is that nonelected judges who do not have medical backgrounds are now making decisions about medication. When the lawsuit first began to play out, Rachel Rebouché, the dean of Temple University’s law school, told The New Republic, “The question for appellate courts is not just about abortion but about deference to a federal agency’s expertise.”

The Texas case “undermined” the FDA’s authority, she said. “To take seriously that it ignored risks, risks unsupported by any credible evidence, suggests questions as to what federal courts might decide about other federal agencies’ decisions.”