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Here’s Just How Stupid Tommy Tuberville’s Military Blockade Really Was

A new report reveals just how little money the Defense Department actually spends helping service members get abortion or other reproductive services.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

A new report from the Department of Defense reveals the number of times military members were reimbursed for costs of traveling out of state for reproductive health care—and in doing so, exposes just how ridiculous Senator Tommy Tuberville’s protest of that policy was.

Tuberville single-handedly held up more than 400 military promotions last year to protest the Defense Department policy of reimbursing service members who had to travel for an abortion or other form of reproductive care. Despite repeated warnings from department leadership that he was hurting military readiness, the Alabama Republican claimed he wanted to “stand up for the taxpayers of this country” against what he considered a “bad policy.”

But deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh revealed Tuesday that the policy wasn’t such a burden on taxpayers after all.

Between June and December 2023, “the policy was used 12 times to access noncovered reproductive health care services,” Singh told a press briefing. Those services include abortion, as well as assisted reproductive procedures such as egg retrieval and in vitro fertilization.

“The number 12 accounts for each instance of an individual using the policy for a round-trip event,” Singh explained.

The total cost for travel and transportation in those 12 instances was $44,791.20, Singh said.

In comparison, the Defense Department’s total budget for 2023 was $816.7 billion. And the amount has gone up for this year.

Tuberville held up hundreds of military promotions for most of 2023, throwing the entire U.S. military into disarray. He finally relented in December, after succeeding only in making everyone angry with him. Military leaders called him out by name, accusing him of “aiding and abetting Communist and other autocratic regimes,” while fellow Republicans criticized him, with one calling him “dumb” on the Senate floor.

Through it all, the Defense Department refused to budge on its policy. Dropping that policy “would be an egregious violation of the covenant that we make, the military makes, with the people that sign up and volunteer,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in October.

“When they volunteer for that duty, they have every right to expect that they’re going to get the health care they need.”

This Alabama Democrat Won a GOP Seat in Stunning Election. Here’s How.

Marilyn Lands defeated a Republican in a deep-red Alabama district. Her victory deserves more attention.

Marilyn Lands smiles and looks off camera
Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post/Getty Images

A special election in Alabama on Tuesday proved one thing for Democrats: Abortion is a winning issue.

Democratic candidate Marilyn Lands defeated her Republican opponent, Madison City Council member Teddy Powell, for a state House seat in a deep-red district after she made abortion and in vitro fertilization access a cornerstone of her campaign.

“Today, Alabama women and families sent a clear message that will be heard in Montgomery and across the nation. Our legislature must repeal Alabama’s no-exceptions abortion ban, fully restore access to IVF, and protect the right to contraception,” Lands said in a statement after her victory.

Lands secured a whopping 63 percent of the vote—a 26-point lead—by aggressively going against the grain, telling voters she supports a repeal of Alabama’s abortion bans while sharing her own experience with abortion two decades ago, when she received a devastating diagnosis: a genetic defect called trisomy.

“Twenty years ago I was able to get the care I needed. My three doctors told me this is the procedure I needed, that my life was at risk. I was able to go to my own hospital with my own doctor there, I didn’t have to leave my community,” Lands told The New Republic’s Greg Sargent. “And to think we’ve gone 20 years backwards. I can’t believe that. I’ve seen, in my lifetime, women make great strides in many areas. And, I’m just, I’m outraged that 20 years later women do not have the same freedoms and protections that I had.”

The special election also sees Lands take the seat back from a Republican she lost to in 2022—former state Representative David Cole, who resigned from the elected position after pleading guilty to voting fraud charges.

It could be the beginning of a turning tide for a state that witnessed an immense backlash after Alabama’s highest judiciary voted 7–2 to ascribe rights to embryos, effectively restricting IVF access across the state. Still, Democrats have a long way to go before they have a stronghold in the state legislature. Republicans currently hold a 75–27 advantage over the liberal party in the state House.

The RNC Is Asking Job Applicants and Employees One Shocking Question

The Republican National Committee’s new leadership reportedly has a dangerous litmus test in 2024.


Now that Lara Trump, who once said that people should “get ahead by merit and merit alone,” is in charge, the Republican National Committee has a new question to determine the merit of all job candidates: Was the 2020 election stolen?

Trump and former North Carolina Republican Party head Michael Whatley took over the RNC at the beginning of the month. Both had been picked by her father-in-law, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to replace Ronna McDaniel. Lara Trump and Whatley promptly purged all RNC staffers but allowed them to reapply for jobs with the organization.

The application process now includes an interview with Donald Trump advisers, The Washington Post reported Tuesday night, citing anonymous sources. One prospective employee, who is based in a key swing state, said they were asked, “Was the 2020 election stolen?”

Applicants told the Post they were startled by the question, which seemed more about measuring their loyalty to Donald Trump than their political acumen. While the questions about the 2020 election were reportedly open-ended, one former RNC employee pointed out that “if you say the elections wasn’t stolen, do you really think you’re going to get hired?”

Republican strategist Doug Heye, who worked as the RNC’s communications director, told the Post that the party has always expected staffers to mimic presidential candidates’ positions. “You’re there for that specific reason, to back the candidate up and go along with the worldview,” he said.

“The problem with Trumpism is that despite bringing in very smart and very capable people, if you want to play Trump’s game, you have to back him up on everything he says. Claims about the election being stolen is kind of the last frontier of that.”

The RNC has doubled down on promoting election fraud falsehoods. One of the organization’s first hires post-purge was Christina Bobb, a lawyer and outspoken election denier. Bobb will head the RNC’s new election integrity unit.

The new loyalty test in the application process shouldn’t be surprising now that Lara Trump is at the helm of the RNC. The former personal trainer, model, and cake decorator is running the RNC, all because she has sworn absolute loyalty to her father-in-law.

Trump Wins Himself a Gag Order After Unhinged Attack on Judge’s Family

Donald Trump just keeps getting slammed in his hush-money trial in New York.

Donald Trump yells while others stand behind him
Mary Altaffer/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump endured a couple of losses in his hush-money trial on Tuesday, though maybe none more irritating for the boisterous GOP presidential pick than his first gag order in the case.

The ruling came after Trump openly attacked Judge Juan Merchan and his family in a post on Truth Social, targeting the judge’s daughter in particular.

In his order, which came at the request of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Merchan forbade Trump from speaking publicly about courtroom staff, prosecutors, or any of their family members. Comments about jurors are similarly prohibited, and he cannot make—or order others to make—comments about witnesses. The order does still allow Trump to attack Bragg himself.

In a post on Truth Social earlier in the day, Trump attacked Merchan and his daughter.

“Judge Juan Merchan, a very distinguished looking man, is nevertheless a true and certified Trump Hater who suffers from a very serious case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. In other words, he hates me!” he wrote in a Tuesday morning post. “His daughter is a senior executive at a Super Liberal Democrat firm that works for Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff, the Democrat National Committee, (Dem)Senate Majority PAC, and even Crooked Joe Biden. He was recently the judge on an unrelated trial of a long term employee, elderly and not in good health.”

“This judge treated him viciously, telling him either you cooperate or I’m putting you in jail for 15 years,” Trump continued. “He pled, and went to jail for very minor offenses, highly unusual, served 4 months in Rikers, and now they are after him again, this time for allegedly lying (doesn’t look like a lie to me!), and they threatened him again with 15 years if he doesn’t say something bad about “TRUMP.” He is devastated and scared! These COUNTRY DESTROYING SCOUNDRELS & THUGS HAVE NO CASE AGAINST ME. WITCH HUNT!”

The whole ordeal is a sign that Trump still hasn’t learned his lesson, even after suffering gag orders in previous trials. In October, Judge Arthur Engoron silenced the former president after he ushered a scourge of far-right vitriol onto Engoron’s chief law clerk. Trump was later fined $15,000 for violating the order. Judge Tanya Chutkan also imposed a gag order on the former president in his D.C. trial, which focuses on his efforts to subvert the 2020 election.

Still, the gag came as welcome news to some of Trump’s other victims, including his former fixer (and one of the expected star witnesses in the trial), Michael Cohen, who said he’s “been under relentless assault from Donald’s MAGA supporters.”

“Nevertheless, knowing Donald as well as I do, he will seek to defy the gag order by employing others within his circle to do his bidding, regardless of consequence,” Cohen told New York Daily News’s Molly Crane-Newman.

Trump’s Idiot Lawyers Just Screwed Themselves Over in Hush-Money Case

The judge in Donald Trump’s first criminal trial is warning his legal team to be very careful about their next steps.

Trump yells as his legal team surrounds him. A security guard is in the background.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump just lost another bid in his hush-money trial, thanks to his idiot legal team.

On Tuesday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan batted away several of Trump’s efforts to waylay the case, and doubled down on his warning that Trump’s legal team must ask for permission in future filings in the case. In a harsh reminder, Merchan warned Trump’s lawyers that he “has the power to punish a party for disobedience of a lawful mandate of the court.”

“This Court advises counsel that it expects and welcomes zealous advocacy and creative lawyering,” wrote Merchan in a court order. “However, the Court also expects those advocates to demonstrate the proper respect and decorum that is owed to the courts and its judicial officers and to never forget that they are officers of the court. As such, counsel is expected to follow this Court’s orders.”

“A court of record has power to punish for a criminal contempt,” noted Merchan in his order.

The root of the effort is all too clear from the judge’s perch.

“[Trump], either directly or through counsel, has repeatedly stated publicly that the defense goal is to delay these proceedings, if possible, past the 2024 presidential election,” Merchan wrote in a footnote to the court order.

On Monday, Merchan ruled that jury selection will begin April 15. It’s the first criminal trial officially on the docket for the former president, while the proceedings for his three other criminal trials are on hold thanks to appeals and delay tactics from Trump’s legal team.

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. He’s facing 34 felony charges in this case for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime. Trump has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Pro-Trump Network Newsmax Secured a Ton of Cash From Qatar—For a Price

A Qatari royal invested a boatload of money into the conservative media company Newsmax, according to a new report.

A giant white sign that reads "Newsmax." Others walk in front, out of focus.

A previously undisclosed $50 million investment helped launch Newsmax into a Fox News competitor, a new report shows, and it came from an unexpected place: the Qatari government.

In 2019 and 2020, a former Qatari government official and member of the royal family, Sheikh Sultan bin Jassim Al Thani, invested tens of millions into the fledgling far-right media company, according to documents leaked by a Cayman Islands–based financial services provider and reviewed by The Washington Post.

At the time, Newsmax was massively scaling its operations, transforming itself from a network that paid hosts to drink and advertise scotch on weekday afternoons to one that would end up embroiled in defamation lawsuits after denying the 2020 presidential election results. But it desperately needed an influx of cash before it could compete with Rupert Murdoch’s broadcast empire.

Halfway across the world, Qatar was struggling with an economic blockade created by a coalition of its regional neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar had turned to former President Donald Trump for help with the situation, but was cast aside on criticisms that it had funded terrorism.

Before and after Al Thani decided to shell out a lump sum to a network that would grow to hold Trump’s attention, senior newsroom leaders told Newsmax staff to go easy on its coverage of Qatar, an order that resulted in at least one host being verbally reprimanded by Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy after making on-air remarks about the nation. “We were not allowed to criticize Qatar,” one unidentified source told the Post. “We were told very clearly from the top down, no touching this.”

A Newsmax representative who spoke with the Post rejected the notion that they had “slanted coverage to be favorable to Qatar.”

Anti-Choice Lawyer Makes Huge Slip-Up in SCOTUS Abortion Pill Case

The lawyer arguing against the abortion pill at the Supreme Court made a slip of the tongue that revealed how flimsy the entire case really is.

Protesters gather in front of the Supreme Court. One woman with gray hair holds a sign that reads "Abortion on our own terms"
Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images

The lawyer arguing the case against the abortion pill mifepristone in the Supreme Court made a major mistake Tuesday, when she let slip that the drug has only caused complications “dozens of times.”

Erin Hawley, who is married to Republican Senator Josh Hawley and works for the extremist legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, represents a coalition of anti-abortion groups seeking to block access to mifepristone. The group first sued in November 2022, arguing that the Food and Drug Administration improperly approved mifepristone and that doctors who oppose abortions could be harmed if they had to treat patients experiencing negative health effects from mifepristone.

“According to Guttmacher, nearly 650,000 women take mifepristone every single year,” Hawley said in arguments before the Supreme Court, referring to the pro-abortion access research group Guttmacher Institute. “It’s no surprise that respondents have seen an increase in emergency room visits and indeed treated women suffering from abortion drug harms tens of thousands of times.”

“Excuse me, dozens of times,” she corrected herself quickly. “Women have suffered tens of thousands of times.”

That huge numerical confusion could end up costing her, but at the very least, it reveals how baseless the entire case really is.

Mifepristone, which has been proven safe through more than 100 studies, is one of two drugs used in medication abortion, one of the most common abortion methods in the country. The drug has become a crucial tool for abortion access since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022.

A series of reports published last week by the Guttmacher Institute found that more than one million abortions were conducted in the United States in 2023. Of those, about 63 percent were medication abortions. And that number doesn’t even account for self-managed abortions when people took medication at home, such as people living in states with abortion bans who had the medication mailed to them.

Out of all of those medication abortions, very few actually result in the kind of emergency situations that Hawley describes. A study published in February in the journal Nature Medicine looked at more than 6,000 patients who took mifepristone and the companion drug, misoprostol, used to induce abortions. Of those patients, only 0.25 percent of them experienced a “serious abortion-related adverse event.”

The Insanely Racist Conspiracy Theory on Baltimore Key Bridge Collapse

Fox News is amplifying a racist conspiracy on the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. Because of course it is.

The steel frame of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, lies in the water after it collapsed

At about 1:40 a.m. EST on Tuesday, a 1,000-foot cargo ship careened past large concrete obstacles ahead of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, colliding with one of its structural pillars and toppling it into the Patapsco River. Mere hours later, conservatives were already hurling their racist conspiracy theories against the wall to see what sticks.

In an early morning broadcast, Fox Business attempted to tie the horrific situation—which was deemed a developing mass casualty event by the Baltimore City Fire Department—to the “wide-open border.” Via a clumsily worded, cross-wired question, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo connected the catastrophic collapse to President Joe Biden’s immigration policy.

“Let me also get your take on what’s going on in terms of world affairs. The White House has issued a statement on this saying that ‘there’s no indication of nefarious intent in the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge,’” started Bartiromo. “The ship involved in the collapse of the bridge is 948 feet long, called The Dali, a Singaporean-flag container, but of course you’ve been talking a lot about the potential for wrongdoing or potential for foul play given the wide-open border. That is why you have been so adamant.”

A construction crew had been performing maintenance on the bridge at the time of its collapse. So far, two have been rescued, while a search continues for another six people in the water.

The area around Baltimore, which is just a one-hour drive from D.C., constitutes one of the most heavily trafficked sections of the country. The Key Bridge offered an alternative route along Interstate 95, the East Coast corridor, and was used by approximately 35,000 people a day, according to Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld.

The bridge’s loss—and its subsequent blockade in the river—also shuts off the Port of Baltimore from its shipping route.

But even though the FBI had already determined that the crash was not the result of terrorist activity, other conservatives still joined the digital pile-on, including self-avowed misogynist Andrew Tate and far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who baselessly pegged the accident as a “cyber attack.”

Supreme Court Considers Wrecking Abortion Access Nationwide

The court is hearing oral arguments on the biggest abortion case since Dobbs, on access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

Protesters outside the Supreme Court hold banners that say "Our Bodies Our Freedom" and "Pro Roe."
Photographer: Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court on March 26, as the court hears oral arguments on whether to limit the use of mifepristone, one of two drugs most commonly used for abortions in the U.S.

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments Tuesday on whether the abortion pill mifepristone was improperly approved, in a case that could decimate access to abortion nationwide.

The case arrived at the Supreme Court after a lengthy legal roller-coaster. Mifepristone’s status currently remains unchanged until the high court issues a ruling. Mifepristone is one of two drugs used in medication abortion, one of the most common abortion methods in the country. The drug has become a crucial tool for abortion access since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, with nearly 28,000 additional doses of abortion pills provided in the six months after Roe fell alone.

A coalition of anti-abortion groups, represented by the extremist legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, sued to block access to mifepristone in November 2022. They argued that the Food and Drug Administration improperly approved mifepristone, despite the fact that more than 100 studies have proven the drug to be safe. They also claim that doctors who oppose abortions could be harmed if they had to treat patients experiencing negative health effects from mifepristone.

Oral arguments on this case have already begun. You can tune in and listen to the case here.

While the Supreme Court cannot technically ban mifepristone outright, it could reimpose restrictions on it to the point that it would be incredibly difficult to acquire. In 2016, the FDA determined that mifepristone was safe for use through 10 weeks of pregnancy, up from seven weeks, and could be provided after just two in-person appointments, down from three.

In 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Biden administration said providers could prescribe mifepristone during telemedicine appointments. The administration made that change permanent later the same year. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the anti-abortion group, it could undo all of those FDA-approved changes.

As arguments began Tuesday, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, who represents the FDA, argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the case in the first place. Their arguments of potential harm, she said, “rely on a long chain of remote contingencies.” The circumstances that would cause anti-abortion doctors harm are unlikely to arise often enough to merit the lawsuit.

In fact, the initial lawsuit and ruling against mifepristone cited multiple bogus studies that either cherry-picked results from a small sample pool or were based on such faulty data that they were retracted altogether.

A bigger issue at play is the challenge to the FDA’s authority. The original lawsuit “undermined” the FDA’s authority—and by extension, the authority of other federal agencies, Rachel Rebouché, the dean of Temple University’s law school, told The New Republic when the case first began.

“To take seriously that [the FDA] ignored risks, risks unsupported by any credible evidence, suggests questions as to what federal courts might decide about other federal agencies’ decisions,” she said.

Michael Cohen Reminds Trump He Should Be Scared in Hush-Money Case

Cohen will be a key witness in Donald Trump’s hush-money trial—and he had some choice words for his former boss.

Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A former employee of Donald Trump has a small message for his old boss now that his hush-money trial has a concrete date: “Be worried.”

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney turned fixer, took to MSNBC on Monday to send the warning to the GOP presidential nominee.

“He shouldn’t be worried about me,” Cohen told Jen Psaki. “He should be worried about the Manhattan district attorney, the district attorney of New York prosecutors, he should be worried about the documentary evidence, he should be worried about all of the witnesses that are going to be coming into that trial simply because, as others have also appropriately put it, this is a simple case.”

On Monday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan ruled that jury selection will begin April 15. It’s the first criminal trial officially on the docket for the former president, while the proceedings for his three other criminal trials are on hold thanks to appeals and delay tactics from Trump’s legal team.

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

Despite Trump’s efforts to keep them both far away from the courthouse, Cohen and Daniels are both expected to be star witnesses in the trial.