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Trump Wants an Abortion Ban Based on the Weirdest Logic Ever

A new report indicates that Donald Trump wants a more extreme abortion ban if he’s elected president—and also, it’s for the stupidest possible reason.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Donald Trump has decided on an answer to one of the signature policy questions of the 2024 election cycle. It’s simple arithmetic, at least in the former president’s eyes.

On Friday, The New York Times reported that Trump has privately settled on a 16-week national abortion ban. The reason why, according to sources close to Trump? Sixteen is a “round number.”

“Know what I like about 16? It’s even. It’s four months,” Trump said.

Politically sensible as it may sound to Trump, a 16-week ban is not founded in medical science. Abortion is currently banned outright in 14 states, and Trump’s “round-number” ban would represent a rollback of abortion rights in the remaining 36 states.

It would also represent Trump’s most clearly staked-out position on an issue on which he’s been intentionally vague, an electoral strategy born out of the unpopularity of Republicans’ extreme anti-abortion stances post-Dobbs. He has, until now, avoided publicly endorsing a federal abortion ban but has taken credit for abortion bans passed by red states. This fence-sitting act, whereby Trump presents as a moderate while winking at the party’s rabid anti-abortion base, was already tenuous. After all, it was Trump who secured the conservative Supreme Court majority needed to reverse Roe v. Wade.

The 16-week national ban was not Trump’s idea. Republicans have been pushing for it since Dobbs, but the former president’s arbitrary reasoning is by far the cruelest, most ridiculous explanation for a policy that would strip reproductive rights from millions of women and gender minorities across the country.

Very Stable Genius Trump Hammered to Tune of $350 Million in Fraud Trial

New York Judge Arthur Engoron just delivered the final judgment against Donald Trump in his civil fraud trial.

Donald Trump looks agitatd and like he's about to yell something at the camera, hand raised near his mouth. A security guard is in the background, out of focus.

Former President Donald Trump must pay the state of New York over $350 million in damages for widespread bank fraud, Justice Arthur F. Engoron ruled on Friday.

That charge comes with an addendum that Trump cannot serve as an officer or director of a New York company for three years, including his own. His two sons were also penalized by the ruling—they’ll have to stay out of New York business for two years. All in all, Trump will owe roughly $354 million for the real estate-related fraud. His two sons will owe $4 million each.

Trump and the Trump Organization also cannot obtain loans from any New York financial institutions for a period of three years.

Altogether, the verdict delivers a significant blow to the former president’s stockpile of cash, who reportedly holds roughly $600 million in liquid assets.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” Engoron wrote in his ruling. “They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again.”

The verdict caps a draining four-month civil trial of the former president that began after Engoron ruled that New York Attorney General Letitia James had already proven Trump committed bank fraud. In the ensuing months, Trump railed against the justice and his court staff for alleged bias, baselessly claiming that Engoron’s chief legal aid had a romantic relationship with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, ushering a swarm of far-right harassment onto her and the rest of Engoron’s court.

In the weeks after the trial, while the world awaited Engoron’s ruling, news broke that Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, was negotiating a plea deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office that forced him to admit he lied while on the witness stand in this trial. Weisselberg was also penalized $1 million in Friday’s ruling.

This is the second recent judgment against Trump that vastly outweighs the original asking price in damages. When the trial began in October, James requested that the state punish Trump and his two sons, Don Jr. and Eric Trump, also Trump Organization executives, to the tune of $250 million. But after significant grandstanding about his alleged net worth during his deposition, James asked in a post-trial brief that the state penalize him for $120 million more, bringing the total sum up to $370 million, a little more than Engoron’s final ruling on Friday.

In January, another federal jury ordered the former president to pay writer E. Jean Carroll a whopping $83.3 million for defamation—more than eight times what her legal team had originally requested. That judgment came after another court found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll and ordered him to pay the writer $5 million.

With these verdicts, Trump now owes more than $440 million in damages.

Trump’s bank fraud trial was full of drama, including a formal gag order on the boisterous GOP front-runner after he railed against the justice and his court staff, claiming that Engoron’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, was dating Senator Chuck Schumer. Trump also shared Greenfield’s Instagram details, effectively ushering a scourge of far-right sympathizers onto her social media accounts.

Trump subsequently violated his gag order twice, resulting in $15,000 in collective fines and the threat of jail time in a civil trial that was never supposed to result in incarceration.

Trump is expected to try to appeal the verdict, just as he did in the E. Jean Carroll trial, but will have to either come up with the cash or secure a bond within 30 days to do so.

“This verdict is a manifest injustice—plain and simple. It is the culmination of a multi-year, politically fueled witch hunt that was designed to ‘take down Donald Trump,’ before Letitia James ever stepped foot into the Attorney General’s office,” Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a statement.

This story has been updated.

Trump Quietly Edits Fox News Story That Was Apparently Too Mean to Him

Donald Trump now thinks his favorite news outlet is too critical.

Brendan McDermid/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s latest mission to edit news stories until they suit his own agenda continued with a new ticket item on Friday, when the GOP front-runner snipped huge sections out of an article from Fox News, of all places.

The Friday morning Truth Social post featured several screenshots of a poll published by the conservative outlet on February 1, indicating that Trump was leading President Joe Biden by double digits in Georgia.

But apparently that angle wasn’t cushy enough for Trump, who opted to erase paragraphs’ worth of details from the piece before sharing it with his millions of followers.

Trump snipped six paragraphs of data indicating that Georgia voters believe Biden was legitimately elected in 2020, mentions of the incumbent’s strategy in the Peach state, quotes relating to Democratic victories, hypothetical five-way race projections involving Nikki Haley, and voter concerns about both Trump’s and Biden’s mental acuity.

Other redacted sections include mentions of Biden’s overwhelming support from liberals, Black voters, voters with college degrees, and suburban women and the reality that voters are split on issues related to health care, election integrity, and abortion, while Biden overwhelmingly comes out on top with voters on the topic of climate change.

Trump also altered a portion of a sentence referring to wins by him and Biden, keeping the portion that mentioned “Trump wins among those who want at least a lot of change” while excising the part that said “Biden wins among the remainder.”

And the former president selectively cut around quotes used in the article to avoid mentions of his opponent.

“On the crucial issues of the border and the economy, Georgia voters think Trump is significantly better,” reads a quote by one of the pollsters, Democrat Chris Anderson, in Trump’s edited version.

But the real article shows how much of Anderson’s quote Trump trimmed away.

“The coalition that gave Biden a slim victory in 2020 is in need of reassembly and that may be harder to do this time,” reads the full quote by Anderson. “On the crucial issues of the border and the economy, Georgia voters think Trump is significantly better—Biden will need to make inroads on these issues to win Georgia again.”

It’s at least the third such instance in which Trump has chopped up a news story this week in a transparent effort to substantiate an emotionally fragile, delusional narrative that he faces no criticism and his political rivals have no merits.

On Wednesday, the former president shared altered screenshots of a Newsweek story to his Truth Social account, omitting a lede reference to the outcome of the 2020 election (which Joe Biden won), while cutting a line about the “81-year-old” Biden being seen as too old to run for president. Trump is 77 years old.

And on Tuesday, MeidasTouch caught him altering another piece by the weekly news magazine, posting screenshots of an article titled “Donald Trump Poised to Be First Republican to Win Popular Vote in 20 Years,” removing several sections from the original story that referenced Biden’s strengths as a candidate, Biden’s predicted wins, and Trump’s failures. The only indication that he heavily edited the piece was some ellipses.

In recent months, Trump has increasingly shared content from far-right outlets like Newsmax and Right Side Broadcasting Network. Considering his 91 criminal charges, recent major trial losses, and rickety political platform, perhaps media manipulation is the only way the GOP front-runner can get the kind of press he desires in mainstream outlets, including his former favorite network.

What Tucker Carlson Said About Alexei Navalny and Putin Killing People

A few days ago, Tucker Carlson gave a horrific answer on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who just died in prison.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Tucker Carlson’s latest defense of authoritarianism has already come back to haunt him.

Just days before Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died in prison, the ousted Fox News host was making excuses for Vladimir Putin’s political assassinations.

Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Monday, Carlson, newly returned from his trip to Russia to interview Vladimir Putin and pick up groceries, defended his softball questions for the Russian president.

As Egyptian journalist Emad El Din Adeeb pointed out, Carlson did not use the interview to address the Russian regime’s imprisonment of journalists, restrictions on speech, or the persecution of Navalny.

“[I] have concluded the following: that every leader kills people–including my leader. Some kill more than others,” Carlson replied. “Leadership requires killing people, sorry.”

Navalny died Friday at 47 after three years in prison, not even one week after Carlson’s relativizing excuse.

Joe Manchin Announces He Was Totally Kidding About That President Thing

Joe Manchin held an entire press conference to admit he wasted all our time just for fun.

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Senator Joe Manchin has officially plucked his tentative cap out of the proverbial ring, announcing that he will not be running for president in an already chaotic election year.

“I will not be seeking a third-party run. I will not be involved in a presidential run,” he finally said Friday, in a speech at West Virginia University. “I am not going to be a deal breaker, if you will, a spoiler.”

That’s exactly what everyone had been warning him about for the last year.

Manchin, a so-called conservative Democrat from West Virginia, had previously announced that he would not be seeking reelection in the Senate, instead spending months traveling across the country to see if he could be the one to “bring Americans together” as a third-party candidate. That is, despite his legacy as a consistently stubborn vote in a narrowly divided Senate.

“Everyone says ‘Joe, are you running?’ The only thing I’m running for is to save this nation, and whatever it takes. There are people out there; there’s a lot of good people. If we can get them energized, there’s a lot of good people that could get in there,” Manchin told reporters in November.

On Thursday, Manchin had not ruled out tapping Senator Mitt Romney or Ohio Senator Rob Portman as a possible running mate, reported local West Virginia publication MetroNews.

Although Manchin’s candidacy was so quiet it practically could have stayed a secret, his push for the White House came after years spent in frustration and tumult over American polarization that increasingly evaded middle ground.

“I know of a lot of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, who left here early because they couldn’t take it anymore,” Manchin said. “These are good, solid Americans who are very centrist. Some of them were governors before. They couldn’t stand being here because they had to be weaponizing the party system by joining up on the extremes or leave.”

The 76-year-old lawmaker’s unsurprising exit comes at a time when both major candidates, GOP front-runner Donald Trump and incumbent President Joe Biden, are already facing critical heat related to their age. The race breaks a record, set only by each candidate four years earlier, for the most elderly contenders gunning for the most powerful leadership post in the world.

James Comer’s Reaction to Shocking FBI Informant Indictment? Take a Guess

The House Oversight chair is acting like he didn’t just lose his biggest Biden corruption witness.

James Comer looks off camera
Julia Nikhinson/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden came to an incredible standstill Thursday night when a grand jury indicted the House Oversight Committee’s star witness in its Biden impeachment crusade.

Special Counsel David Weiss announced the indictment of Alexander Smirnov on one count of making a false statement and one count of creating a false record, related to what he told the FBI in 2020 about alleged corruption by the Biden family and its connection to Ukrainian-owned Burisma Holdings.

In an FBI 1023 report, Smirnov shared “false derogatory information about [President Biden] and [Hunter Biden] ... in 2020, after [Biden] became a presidential candidate,” according to charging documents.

So how did Republicans react to the cataclysmic indictment that tore through the heart of their inquiry by revealing their informant made it all up? By scrambling to refabricate the superficial probe’s shattered remains, of course.

In the wake of the grand jury indictment, Committee Chair James Comer attempted to claim that the “impeachment inquiry is not reliant on the FBI’s FD-1023,” insisting instead that the bureau’s previous credibility endorsement of Smirnov was still relevant.

“To be clear, the impeachment inquiry is not reliant on the FBI’s FD-1023. It is based on a large record of evidence, including bank records and witness testimony, revealing that Joe Biden knew of and participated in his family’s business dealings,” Comer said.

“When asked by the committee about their confidence in the confidential human source, the FBI told the committee the confidential human source was credible and trusted, had worked with the FBI for over a decade, and had been paid six figures,” the Kentucky Republican continued.

Legal representatives for the White House were unsurprised by the development.

“For months we have warned that Republicans have built their conspiracies about Hunter and his family on lies told by people with political agendas, not facts,” Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement. “We were right and the air is out of their balloon.”

Republicans had spent months building up the hype around Smirnov as a witness, isolating his allegation that Biden had pocketed millions of dollars from the Ukrainian company as the centerpiece of their probe.

“The impeachable offenses, I think the key thing is in Burisma,” House Judiciary Committee Chairmen Jim Jordan told reporters in December.

GOP Senator Gives Dire Warning on Putin Apologists After Navalny Death

Senator Thom Tillis isn’t mincing words after the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Senator Thom Tillis
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis paid tribute to Alexei Navalny after the Russian dissident died in prison Friday.

“Navalny laid down his life fighting for the freedom of the country he loved,” Tillis wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Putin is a murderous, paranoid dictator. History will not be kind to those in America who make apologies for Putin and praise Russian autocracy.”

In condemning American apologists for Putin, Tillis may have been referencing Tucker Carlson, whose recent interview with the Russian president drew sharp criticism. Tillis himself savaged Carlson’s Moscow grocery store stunt on Thursday, calling Carlson a “useful idiot.”

But he may have also been taking a not-so-veiled shot at other members of his party. Tillis’s position on Russia is evidently not shared by all of his Republican colleagues in the Senate. Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville and Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson both expressed reserved praise for Putin’s leadership earlier this week, in comments that look even worse after Navalny’s death.

Tillis, it should be noted, was previously endorsed by Trump and has been careful not to criticize the Republican Party’s front-runner who once called Putin a “genius.”

The North Carolina senator’s comments are hardly a bold geopolitical stance in 2024, but they gesture at a different political reality: There may be a new Cold War brewing in the Republican Party.

Twitter Files’ Matt Taibbi Says Elon Musk Sent Him Unhinged Messages

The former “Twitter Files” journalist has apparently fallen out of the good graces of billionaire Elon Musk.

STR/NurPhoto/Getty Images

It appears Elon Musk has turned against yet another ally in his wayward war against online censorship.

On Thursday, Matt Taibbi, the Rolling Stone journalist turned blogger, posted screenshots of text messages from Musk allegedly showing that Taibbi had been “shadowbanned” on X, formerly known as Twitter, as revenge for Taibbi’s deal with the publishing platform Substack, which last spring launched Notes, an X competitor.

“Elon, I’ve repeatedly declined to criticize you and have nothing to do with your beef with Substack,” Taibbi’s messages show. “Is there a reason why I’m being put in the middle of things? This seems really crazy.”

“You are dead to me. Please get off Twitter and just stay on Substack,” Musk appears to have replied, all but confirming Taibbi’s suspicion that he was the victim of a “blanket search ban.”

Allegations of censorship would mark an acrimonious, ironic end to Musk and Taibbi’s relationship after Musk trusted Taibbi with publishing the “Twitter Files,” a collection of documents purporting to show X’s (then Twitter’s) coordination with the FBI to suppress mentions of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story and other tweets critical of Democrats. Taibbi, whose exposés of the financial industry in the wake of the 2008 recession garnered the public’s admiration, called the Files, hand-delivered by Musk after he purchased Twitter in 2022, “by far the most serious thing I have looked at, and certainly the most brave story I’ve ever worked on personally.” But Taibbi’s work was called into question by several journalists who reviewed it, and the Twitter Files never had the industry-upending effect Taibbi and Musk promised.

Taibbi retreated to his own Substack to continue to write, and Musk reshaped Twitter in his own Groyper-ish image. Now it appears business has gotten in the way of Taibbi and Musk’s access-based friendship. It’s not immediately clear what this falling out will mean for the future of censorship on X, but it amounts to a burn notice for the source who gave Taibbi the supposed best scoop of his career. At the very least, Taibbi will have plenty of time off X to reflect on his previous work.

Trouble for Matt Gaetz: Witness Says She Was Paid for Sex Parties With Him

The House Ethics Committee is investigating the Republican congressman—and it just got its hands on new text messages and photos.

close-up of Matt Gaetz smiling with blue background (looks a bit like a creepy yearbook photo)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A potential witness in the House Ethics Committee investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz claims that she had sex with the Florida Republican at a drug-fueled party in 2021 that she was paid to attend—and she says she has the texts to prove it.

The unidentified victim received payments to attend multiple sex parties with people in Gaetz’s circle and testified under subpoena to U.S. attorneys investigating Gaetz in 2021, handing over texts, photographs, and other evidence, according to the woman’s attorney who spoke with The Daily Beast.

The House Ethics Committee is now weighing that evidence to determine whether or not the MAGA politician paid for sex with women and an underage teenager.

The woman—who was older than 21 at the time she allegedly encountered Gaetz—told prosecutors that the sex was consensual, the outlet reported.

“She told them that she and lots of girls were provided all kinds of controlled substances at these parties,” the lawyer said.

“The availability of vast amounts of alcohol and controlled substances gave rise to the lack of control of the hormonal imperative,” this lawyer continued, “which inspired people to engage in intimate behavior that may or may not have been because they were financially remunerated.”

According to the attorney, the woman’s decision to speak out and come forward was an arduous and taxing one. In the spring of 2021, a Gaetz associate allegedly berated her over whether she had spoken to anyone investigating the Floridian—a tactic that she interpreted as a pressure campaign to keep her quiet.

“This associate was there asking her over and over and over what she had said, demanding she tell them,” the lawyer told the Beast.

The woman’s name appears across several Venmo transactions reported on by the Beast, tallying up nearly $2,500 between March and July 2017 from Gaetz’s former friend Joel Greenberg, who was later convicted of sex trafficking an underage girl.

Gaetz has insisted he has not committed any wrongdoing in relation to the human sex trafficking probe.

The accusations against Gaetz arise from a DOJ investigation into 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.

Eight months after Greenberg warned Gaetz to “steer clear” of the girl, the lawmaker Venmo’d Greenberg $900 in back-to-back payments, per The Daily Beast, telling the taxman to “hit up” the girl on his behalf. At that point, she was five months past her eighteenth birthday, while Gaetz had just turned 36.

Gaetz has repeatedly denied the allegations, though that hasn’t assuaged the nation’s voters, some of whom have shown up to Trump rallies to troll the MAGA Floridian over the accusations.

Republicans’ Star Hunter Biden Witness Charged for Lying to the FBI

Alexander Smirnov, an FBI informant, was charged for making up his bribery allegations against Hunter and Joe Biden.

Hunter Biden surrounded by reporters holding out mics and phones for recording purposes
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Republicans may have just lost one of their biggest witnesses in their quest to impeach Joe Biden.

The Justice Department on Thursday announced that it is bringing charges against FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, who claimed to have insider information about alleged bribes paid to President Biden and his son Hunter by a Ukrainian oligarch.

Special Counsel David Weiss, the U.S. attorney who’s also overseeing two federal cases against Hunter Biden, is charging Smirnov with making a false statement and creating a false record related to the bribery allegation. This particular bribery allegation has been at the heart of House Republicans’ efforts to prove corruption in the Biden family.

For almost a year, Republicans have been pointing to a conversation that a supposedly credible (but confidential source) had with the FBI agents that, in their telling, proves that Hunter Biden—and his father—engaged in bribery. Republicans further allege that the FBI chose not to investigate those claims further when they had the chance.

Last July, Senator Chuck Grassley and his Republican colleagues sparred with the FBI in an effort to obtain documents about what this informant told investigators about the Ukrainian bribes. Then, Republicans publicly released the materials over the FBI’s objections.

The claim in the documents went like this: Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which at the time employed Hunter, paid both him and his father $5 million in bribes.

It would appear that a tall tale was told. “As alleged in the indictment, the events that Smirnov first reported to the FBI Agent in June 2020 were fabrications,” the Justice Department wrote in a press release announcing the grand jury indictment.

According to the 37-page indictment, Smirnov “transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery allegations against Public Official 1, the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties for President, after expressing bias against Public Official 1 and his candidacy.”

“Smirnov was told at least seven times he may have to testify about information he provided to [the] FBI and was admonished by the handler at least 21 times to tell the truth to the bureau,” according to an NBC News analysis of the indictment.