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Ken Buck Leaves House Republicans With an Unforgettable Parting Gift

Representative Ken Buck is leaving Congress—but first, he joined Democrats on a major foreign policy issue.

Representative Ken Buck walks down stairs in the Capitol

With just a day left in Congress, retiring Representative Ken Buck has delivered a parting gift—that looks more like a parting shot—to his fellow Republicans.

Buck signed House Democrats’ foreign aid discharge petition Thursday night, the first Republican to do so. If the petition, which was launched earlier this month, reaches 218 signatures, it would force a vote on a $95 billion foreign aid package. The package, which has already passed the Senate, includes $60 billion in aid for Ukraine, an increasingly unpopular issue among far-right Republicans.

House Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to consider the aid package, which would also give aid to Israel and Taiwan, despite it passing the Senate with broad bipartisan support, because it does not include regulations for the U.S.-Mexico border that he considers strict enough. But if the aid bill makes it to the House floor, it is expected to pass, again with bipartisan backing.

As of Thursday night, the discharge petition had 188 signatures. It needs just 30 more to pass.

Buck also signed a competing discharge petition to force a vote on a package that includes both Ukraine aid and new border restrictions. Other Republicans have also signed on to that petition, which has only 16 signatures so far.

Although Friday is Buck’s last day in Congress, his signatures will remain on both petitions until his temporary successor is chosen in a special election. If the successor also signs either petition, Buck’s name will be removed. The special election to replace Buck won’t be held until June, coinciding with the Colorado primaries.

Despite sitting on the far-right wing of his party, Buck has found himself at odds with his fellow Republicans in recent years. In fact, the far-right House Freedom Caucus voted Tuesday night to oust Buck from its ranks. One member, speaking anonymously, told The Hill that Buck hadn’t attended caucus meetings regularly for months.

The member cited Buck breaking with Republicans on “several major issues” and “leaving the conference hanging with a historically narrow margin” as the main reasons for his removal.

When Buck first announced his retirement in November, he slammed the GOP for pushing “self-serving lies,” including that the 2020 election had been stolen. More recently, he has been seemingly the only Republican who refused to fall in line with his party’s efforts to impeach Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Buck has repeatedly pointed out that neither impeachment effort is based on any evidence of wrongdoing.

Last week, when Buck announced he would retire early, he told CNN that the past year had been the “worst year of the nine years and three months that I’ve been in Congress.”

“Instead of having decorum, instead of operating in a professional manner, this place has just devolved into this bickering and nonsense and not really doing the job for the American people,” he said.

Shutdown Time? Freedom Caucus Rips Mike Johnson for Spending Bill

The far-right Freedom Caucus is pissed at Mike Johnson (again).

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The government is about to just barely avoid a shutdown (again), and the House Freedom Caucus is livid about it.

Congress has until midnight Friday to approve funding for multiple key government agencies. Leaders from both parties presented a $1.2 trillion spending package early Thursday morning that is expected to pass, just managing to keep the government funded for the rest of the year.

The Freedom Caucus, which comprises the farthest-right lawmakers in the House, is furious over the bill and particularly with House Speaker Mike Johnson. The caucus views both failing to slash government spending and collaborating with Democrats as cardinal sins.

Freedom Caucus members took to social media to blast the spending bill, which they dubbed the “Swamp Omnibus.” Their gripes included the fact that the bill would fund the World Health Organization, fund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in the Department of Defense, and provide military aid for Ukraine.

The caucus then announced it will hold a press conference Friday morning to discuss the bill and the fact that it was not given sufficient time to read the full text. In a statement, the caucus lambasted the fact that the bill “spends $5.5 Million per word, fully funds and continues the Biden border crisis, and it is loaded with radioactive ‘woke’ earmarks.”

Screenshot of tweet from House Freedom caucus and image of statement

House Republicans have a razor-thin majority in the chamber, meaning that Democrats and less extreme Republicans would have to unite behind the spending bill. Otherwise, just a few votes of opposition from the Freedom Caucus could tank the measure.

The House also still has the motion to vacate, the rule that allows just one member of the body to force a vote on whether to remove the speaker. It was this rule that resulted in former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ignominious ouster in October, thanks to several Freedom Caucus members. The caucus could invoke the rule again against Johnson. Far-right Republicans have been mulling the idea since January, accusing Johnson of making too many compromises with Democrats.

Pro-Trump Lawyer Can’t Stop Getting Arrested for 2020 Crimes

Stefanie Lambert, who tried to overthrow the 2020 election, has been arrested for the second time in one week.

Trump Pence Make America Great Again Sign nailed to a tree along with two small U.S. flags below them
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Michigan lawyer Stefanie Lambert unsuccessfully tried to challenge the 2020 election results in court. Now she’s appearing before a judge in another capacity.

Lambert turned herself in at a Michigan courthouse on Thursday, following another arrest earlier in the week, over a plot to seize several voting machines in the state in 2020.

Lambert was arrested on Monday in Washington, D.C., where she was representing election denier Patrick Byrne in a defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems. Federal marshals arrested her in the courtroom for her failure to show up for a hearing in her home state. She’s accused of four felonies related to alleged tampering with voting machines in search of evidence of nonexistent vote manipulation during the 2020 election.

The goose chase began on March 7, when a warrant was issued for Lambert’s arrest for her role in what Michigan state Attorney General Dana Nessel called “a coordinated plan to gain access to voting tabulators.” Lambert, accused of breaking into voting machines to run “tests,” never showed. Then, on March 18, Lambert was arrested after  representing Byrne in the Dominion defamation suit, where she is also accused of leaking confidential internal emails belonging to Dominion. Lambert, who was given access to the emails as Byrne’s counsel, accused Dominion of “[instituting] fraud with this defamation suit” and leaked the emails to a third election-denying nesting doll: Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, who posted thousands of leaked emails on his Twitter account on Monday.

Three days after a D.C. judge instructed her to return to Michigan, the Coen brothers–esque saga has reached its conclusion, at least for now, with Lambert turning herself in to face conspiracy charges for her involvement in the machine-tampering scheme. Notably, Oakland County Judge Jeffery Matis mandated that Lambert’s fingerprints be taken, which, despite court orders, Lambert has resisted, and that she submit a DNA sample, both of which may be used to confirm whether Lambert physically tampered with a voting machine.

A key foot soldier in Trump’s failed postelection lawfare campaign, Lambert worked on some of the highest-profile lawsuits alleging fraud, including Sydney Powell’s boondoggle “kraken” case. She now joins the ranks of former Trump legal team members facing criminal charges for their involvement in efforts to block certification of the 2020 election.

Lambert took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to allege her own conspiracy before turning herself in. “I just know too much.… And I have too much evidence,” she said.

Letitia James Is Prepared to Seize One of Trump’s Favorite Assets

The New York attorney general’s office has filed the paperwork needed to begin taking Donald Trump’s assets—including in Westchester.

aerial view of a very large and very pretty house surrounded by a massive amount of land and trees.
Johnny Milano for The Washington Post/Getty Images

Donald Trump has just days left to post the nearly half-billion-dollar bond in his New York civil fraud case before the state attorney general can start seizing his assets, and Letitia James seems to know exactly where she wants to start: Westchester.

Trump was fined $354 million in mid-February for committing real estate–related fraud in New York. With interest adding $112,000 per day, and adding the fines his adult sons also face, the total sum has already exceeded $464 million. James formally registered the judgment in Westchester County on March 6, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

James’s filing did not give a reason for the registration, nor did it specify which of Trump’s Westchester assets she intends to seize, but the registration will make it easier for James to secure liens. Westchester is home to two of Trump’s most valuable properties, the Trump National Golf Club Westchester and Seven Springs, a mostly undeveloped 212-acre estate.

Seven Springs featured prominently in the civil fraud trial. Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump had fraudulently inflated the estate’s value for years—sometimes by as much as five times the appraised value—in an effort to get more favorable terms on bank loans.

Trump was given 30 days from the day the judgment was entered to post bond. That window expires Monday. Unless an appeals court steps in, James will be allowed to start seizing Trump’s assets next week.

The appeals court has yet to rule on whether Trump can delay posting bond or post a heavily reduced one of just $100 million, as he has requested. James urged the court Wednesday to deny Trump’s request, arguing that his claims could not be trusted.

Trump’s arguments, James pointed out, were based on sworn statements by Trump Organization General Counsel Alan Garten and Gary Giulietti, one of Trump’s close friends. During the trial, Engoron determined that Giulietti could not be considered a credible witness and argued that Garten had “professional interests in this litigation.”

Trump finally admitted earlier this week that he has been unable to find an organization that will underwrite the bond for him. His lawyers wrote in a filing that to obtain the bond, they would need to post collateral worth $557 million—which they say is a “practical impossibility.”

Trump’s lawyers explained they have asked about 30 different organizations to underwrite the bond and have been turned down every time. The list of companies they can keep asking is limited, since the bond is so large, and companies so far have expressed an “unwillingness … to accept real estate as collateral.”

The former president has no one to blame but himself for his current bind. His repeated boasts about his personal wealth—despite reportedly only having about $413 million in cash assets—likely contributed to the size of the judgment. And the trial revealed that Trump was in the habit of inflating the value of his real estate assets to make himself look better when trying to secure loans. So it’s no wonder that bond providers don’t want to accept real estate as collateral.

House Republicans Resurrect Plan to Gut Social Security and Medicare

A new budget from House Republicans clearly states they’ll raise the retirement age—if given the chance.

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern

While progressive politicians and unions are fighting to grant Americans four-day workweeks, Republicans are looking to achieve the complete opposite.

On Wednesday, the Republican Study Committee (made up of more than 170 House Republicans) proposed a 2025 budget with an eyebrow-raising revision of Social Security and Medicare, increasing the retirement age to qualify for Social Security and lowering benefits for the highest-earning beneficiaries.

But don’t worry, Republicans want you to know that this will not take effect immediately, and will only impact everyone who isn’t already of age to acquire their earned benefits.

“Again, the RSC Budget does not cut or delay retirement benefits for any senior in or near retirement,” the caucus underlined.

Under the proposed plan, Medicare would operate as a “premium support model,” competing with private companies, giving subsidies to beneficiaries to pick the private plan of their choice. That stratagem is straight from former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s playbook, who proposed the policy while campaigning as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick in the 2012 election. At the time, President Barack Obama argued that the plan would “end Medicare as we know it.”

Outside of fiscal policy, the proposed budget also endorsed the controversial Life at Conception Act, which would grant rights to embryos and likely gut in vitro fertilization nationwide—despite a Republican press run last month to fake support for the procedure.

The budget is unlikely to pass through Congress, but its drafting still hints at the party’s follow-through on an age-old threat—and offers a glimpse into what kind of future it wants if it wins reelection, and if Donald Trump retakes the White House.

The whole thing is, notably, an odd choice during an election year.

House Republican Admits GOP’s Biden Impeachment Crusade Is Dead

Representative Tim Burchett had some harsh words on the reality of his party’s efforts to impeach Joe Biden.

Representative Tim Burchett presses his lips together and stares off camera, eyes wide
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

A House Republican has finally admitted that it’s time to pack up the effort to impeach Joe Biden and move on.

Representative Tim Burchett told NewsNation Wednesday night he thought the House should vote on whether to impeach Biden or not so that they can all just move on.

“We’re not gonna have the votes … that’s clearly the case,” Burchett said. “And I don’t think we ever did.”

Republicans have a razor-thin majority in the House, which has seemed to shrink on an almost weekly basis as GOP lawmakers retire midterm. One of the most outspoken impeachment opponents, Colorado Republican Ken Buck, said his decision to leave Congress at the end of this week was fueled by the pointless chaos of the impeachment investigation.

Other Republicans have begun to back away from the impeachment effort, as well. Even House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer has changed what his goals are. Two weeks ago, he said he would be happy just making nonbinding criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.

Burchett’s comments came just hours after the House Oversight Committee held a sham hearing on Hunter Biden. The committee heard testimony from Tony Bobulinski, Hunter’s onetime work partner with a history of shady business dealings, and Jason Galanis, who called in from a federal prison where he is serving a 14-year sentence for financial fraud. Republicans claim both men can prove the Biden family’s guilt, despite the fact that Hunter says he and Galanis only met once.

Things quickly devolved when Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked Bobulinski if he had ever actually seen the president commit a crime. When Bobulinski could not name a specific instance, Ocasio-Cortez tore into Republicans for their entire impeachment push.

“At this point, the story is not the fact that the basis of this impeachment inquiry is wrong. The story is why it’s proceeding anyway. Why is this committee proceeding based on false charges?” she demanded.

Manhattan D.A. Slams Trump’s Obvious Delay Tactic in Hush-Money Trial

Alvin Bragg is exposing the truth of all those documents Donald Trump’s lawyers claim they need to review.

Donald Trump yells at a mic
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Manhattan district attorney has decided that the 100,000-page document dump that delayed Donald Trump’s hush-money trial by a handful of weeks is, actually, a gigantic nothingburger.

After chewing through more than 31,000 pages of last week’s offload by the Southern District of New York, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg assessed that Trump already has the “overwhelming majority” of them.

“The people now have good reason to believe that this production contains only limited materials relevant to the subject matter of this case and that have not previously been disclosed to defendant,” the filing read, noting that only an estimated 270 documents are new and relevant to the case (and mostly imply guilt or corroborate existing evidence).

“The overwhelming majority of the production is entirely immaterial, duplicative or substantially duplicative of previously disclosed materials.”

That means that the trial will almost certainly move forward in April. Bragg noted that the current pause, which is scheduled to last until April 15, is “a more than reasonable amount of time for defendant to review the information provided.”

Trump is accused of using his former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Trump is facing 34 felony charges in this case for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Cohen and Daniels are both expected to be star witnesses in the trial, though Trump had previously attempted to keep both of them far away from it on the basis that the two were “liars.” But on Tuesday, a judge nixed that effort, allowing them both to testify.

In a new documentary that intimately follows Daniels’s side of their yearslong legal battle, Daniels explains that she knew that she only had one real option when the $130,000 bribe was offered to her: take it, or risk being killed. In the ensuing years, she would be mercilessly harassed by Trump’s supporters, threatened by strange men insinuating they would kidnap her daughter, and stalked by creeps taking videos of her child.

From Daniels’s perspective, she had become a target after Trump’s political career began: The Republican Party, she says, likes “to make their problems go away.”

House Republicans Proudly Endorse National Abortion Ban, Limits to IVF

Bookmark this for the next time Republicans pretend to care about IVF.

Kevin Hern holds a press conference outside the Capitol. He squints in the sunlight.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern

House Republicans have released their proposed budget for 2025, and it includes giving rights to embryos—despite the GOP’s big statements about how much they support in vitro fertilization.

The budget, released Wednesday by the Republican Study Committee, or RSC, states that the party backs the Life at Conception Act, “which would provide 14th amendment protections at all stages of life.”

This bill has become highly contentious in the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that classified fertilized embryos as human children. First introduced in 2021 with 166 Republican co-sponsors and then again in 2023 with 124, the Life at Conception Act would have established that life begins at fertilization.

Like the Alabama ruling, the act would have severely restricted—if not effectively banned—IVF treatments, because it grants “equal protection” to “preborn” humans, including embryos. Since it’s common for fertilized eggs not to survive the IVF process, the act would put doctors at risk of being charged for wrongful death of embryos. That risk would be enough to scupper the IVF industry.

In the weeks after the Alabama ruling, Republicans rushed to say that they support access to IVF. Seven House Republicans—five of whom represent vulnerable swing districts—introduced a resolution expressing their support for IVF and urging elected officials to protect the treatment.

But the resolution was nonbinding, meaning that those seven elected officials weren’t really doing anything to protect IVF. And now, the RSC, which comprises about three-quarters of the House Republican caucus, has explicitly stated that it supports legislation that would decimate access to IVF nationwide.

The RSC budget also took aim at abortion, backing another bill for a 15-week national abortion ban and recommending a measure that would ban the sale of mifepristone, one of the drugs used to induce abortions. The question of mifepristone’s decades-old approval for market goes before the Supreme Court next week.

The budget backed a bill that would ban abortion access on college campuses, as well as prohibit the Department of Defense from reimbursing travel costs for service members who have to travel for an abortion. The department policy has been a major Republican target of late, particularly from Senator Tommy Tuberville, who single-handedly held up hundreds of military promotions last year in an attempt to protest the program.

The RSC’s proposed budget is unlikely to pass unscathed. The government is currently avoiding a shutdown on a weekly basis due to Congress’s inability to agree on a federal budget. But the entire proposal highlights Republican hypocrisy on reproductive health.

Despite proclaiming themselves the “pro-life” party, Republicans continue to do everything they possibly can to limit access to IVF, a procedure that would allow people to have children, and to force people into life-threatening situations.

Why Did Two of Judge Aileen Cannon’s Law Clerks Suddenly Quit?

Donald Trump’s favorite judge is suddenly losing law clerks.

Judge Aileen Cannon portrait (blue background looks like a yearbook photo)
United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Judge Aileen Cannon has been moving alarmingly slowly in setting up a trial date for Donald Trump’s classified documents criminal case—but it may not be a bid to help out the man who appointed her.

As of Thursday, the Florida judge had lost at least two law clerks in the last six months, who up and quit on her rather than finish out their one-year terms, according to several sources within Cannon’s legal circuit that spoke with attorney David Lat.

It’s incredibly rare for multiple clerks to leave their posts, especially considering that judges typically hire just two or three clerks per annum. As Lat notes in his Substack Original Jurisdiction, “a law clerk’s role is substantive, not clerical or administrative.” Clerks are more like a judge’s right and left hands—they help the judiciary conduct research, prepare for trials, and draft opinions. Clerkships are highly competitive, and one serving a federal judge would otherwise be considered résumé gold, so it’s certainly curious that they seem to be fleeing her bench.

“Because a clerkship typically lasts one year and is an extremely valuable credential, most clerks will ‘ride it out’ instead of quitting, even if they’re miserable or have issues with their judge,” Lat posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, adding that it’s “highly disruptive to the work of a chambers when even one clerk quits, to say nothing of two.”

“Judges in busy districts like [the Southern District of Florida] have heavy caseloads. To be short-staffed can generate a backlog VERY quickly,” Lat wrote.

Both clerks reportedly quit in October and December 2023, around the time that Cannon made clear she was open to delaying Trump’s trial past its original May start date. Cannon’s chambers, as of now, are fully staffed. But details on the ones who left are still emerging. So far, one clerk vacated their position on personal terms—they left roughly halfway through their two-year term to raise their child. Another clerk’s exit is still shrouded in mystery, though Lat notes that “this person’s law-school classmates have been buzzing about the news.”

Alina Habba Accidentally Admits Donald Trump Could Be Totally Bought

Donald Trump is in massive debt, and his attorney admitted he’s open to other strategies to pay it off.

Alina Habba speaks outside at nighttime. Several press mics are in front of her.
GWR/Star Max/GC Images

Donald Trump hasn’t ruled out being bought by foreign powers—according to his legal team.

On Thursday, the GOP presidential nominee’s attorney, Alina Habba, failed to say that Trump definitely would not turn to a foreign country if it meant he could secure bond money to cover his $464 million bank fraud penalty.

“Is there any effort on the part of your team to secure this money through another country, Saudi Arabia or Russia, as Joy Behar seems to think?” asked Fox News’s Martha MacCallum, referring to a recent episode of The View in which Behar speculated that such a move—that is, having a president bought and sold by potentially hostile foreign powers—could be a cataclysmic national security threat.

But none of that fazed Habba, who completely sidestepped answering the question and failed the very basic test of answering “no.”

“Well, there’s rules and regulations that are public,” Habba replied. “I can’t speak about strategy, that requires certain things and we have to follow those rules. Like I said, this is manifest injustice. It is impossible, it’s an impossibility. I believe they knew that.”

“I think everything is done intentionally. I do not doubt that the witch hunt that the election interference goal is what was ringing steady and loudly and true throughout all these trials, frankly. And we’re seeing it. It’s the demise of our country, not the demise of Trump,” she added.

So far, Trump has approached several brokers and 30 suretors for help securing a bond, though it didn’t seem to work out for him, according to a filing by Trump’s attorneys, who admitted that suretors refused to accept Trump’s real estate as collateral. Instead, they would only accept cash to the tune of $1 billion, which Trump said he and his businesses just don’t have.

In a nearly 5,000-page document filed on Monday, Trump’s attorneys argued that the fine was “grossly disproportional” to Trump’s offenses, which included defrauding banks, insurance companies, and investors by falsely inflating his wealth and the value of his properties.

But on Wednesday, an attorney for New York Attorney General Letitia James urged an appeals court to ignore the self-purported billionaire’s attempts to worm out of the nearly half-billion-dollar disgorgement.

The former president has until Monday to come up with nearly half a billion dollars before he’s legally allowed to appeal the case—and before James can begin seizing his assets to cover the debt, including 40 Wall Street and Trump Tower.