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Trump Just Made the Weirdest False Claim About Hush-Money Trial Judge

The former president said he was banned from attending his son’s high school graduation.

Donald Trump gestures with his hands as he speaks
Jabin Botsford/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump had a strange claim at the end of the first day of his hush-money trial: He said that the judge had barred him from attending his son’s high school graduation next month.

“It looks like the judge will not let me go to the graduation of my son who’s worked very, very hard and he is a great student,” Trump told reporters outside of Manhattan district court Monday. “It looks like the judge isn’t going to allow me to escape this scam. It’s a scam trial.”

Trump’s legal team had filed a motion requesting the former president be allowed to attend the graduation ceremony. Judge Juan Merchan declined to decide the issue on Monday, saying it depends on if everything is running on schedule.

But the thing is, if Trump can’t go, then he has no one to blame but himself. Trump’s legal strategy has been to delay, delay, delay in order to keep the rulings in his many legal cases as late as possible, hopefully past the November election. But now that strategy may backfire on him—but in his personal life.

It’s an unexpected development in the legal saga of the former president who, in addition to his Manhattan hush-money trial, is on trial in Florida for mishandling classified documents; in Washington, D.C., for attempting to overthrow the election; and in Fulton County, Georgia, for interfering in that state’s election.

He’ll be required to be in court for every session of his New York trial—which is standard procedure for criminal trials but beyond the pale to Trump and his Republican supporters—and he’ll only be able to be on the campaign trail every weekend, evening, and Wednesday as long as the case continues. If he misses a day in court, he could even face prison time.

The former president had to know that dragging each case out would eventually cause a scheduling issue between his presidential campaign and his personal life. It’s unprecedented for a former president to face criminal charges, let alone while they are campaigning for reelection, so this is probably not the end of any new, weird developments. In the end, though, if Trump is still in court by the time Election Day comes around in November, it could be bad for his chances of returning to the White House.

What else about the trial has Republicans angry:

Republicans Are Furious Over This Very Normal Thing in Trump’s Trial

Trump’s allies are accusing the court of bias against the former president.

Donald Trump, seen in three-quarter profile, looks ahead while sitting at a table with his hands folded
Jabin Botsford/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s MAGA disciples were left fuming after the first day of his hush money criminal trial… but all their heat boiled down to one detail: that the GOP presidential nominee was being held to the same legal standards as every other private citizen.

The weeks-long proceeding will require Trump to be in court for every session—something Trump himself has challenged as “election interference” on the basis that it will keep him away from the campaign trail—even though he’ll be permitted to campaign every weekend, evening, and Wednesday during the process. If he fails to appear in court, he could face an arrest warrant.

But that standard expectation for a criminal trial was, apparently, all too much for his allies, with the campaign’s official spokesperson Karoline Leavitt condemning the procedure on Monday as “banana republic tactics.”

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New York Representative Elise Stefanik—who has been vying to become Trump’s vice presidential pick—undercut the expectations of New York law, similarly suggesting in a post that Trump was being unfairly treated, when in actuality the judge was just going through the usual motions.

“Corrupt Judge Merchan, a Biden donor whose family member has profited off this case & who illegally gagged President Trump just said ‘If you do not show up, there will be an arrest,’” Stefanik posted. “A 6-8 week show trial... Total election interference.”

In her replies, one attorney reminded the New York lawmaker that Trump was being held to the same standards as any criminal defendant. The rule about presence in court is called the Parker Warning, and it is given to all defendants in New York state.

“Elise. You know that this is a standard charge given to every defendant in every criminal case pending in nys,” wrote Joshua Stein, a law partner at Greenberg & Stein. “Why, if you’re so in the right, do you have to mislead your constituents?”

And Trump’s other GOP followers, such as Florida Representative Byron Donalds, just don’t seem to care if he’s guilty anymore, according to a new report by The Daily Beast which found that just one in 20 interviewed GOP lawmakers showed concern for the possibility that their nominee for the White House might become a convicted felon.

But their perspective wasn’t shared by prospective jurors, one of whom told MSNBC contributor Adam Klasfeld that they “feel that nobody’s above the law, whether it’s a former president, a sitting president or a janitor.”

Trump is accused of using former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. He faces 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.

Once Again, We Must Wonder What the Heck George Santos Is Doing

The serial fabulist has raised no money in his current congressional campaign.

George Santos looks to the side
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Former Representative George Santos has raised $0 in his campaign to return to the House, and he says it’s for a good reason: to stop people from thinking he’s a grifter.

The New York Republican has a well-established reputation as a serial fabulist whose lies got him expelled from Congress. He is currently facing 23 felony counts for aggravated identity theft, credit card fraud, and illegally receiving unemployment benefits.

A report published Monday by the Daily Beast reveals that Santos hasn’t raised any money in an effort to overcome his reputation as a conman. But according to a Federal Election Commission filing, also released Monday, Santos’s campaign account has spent money without raising any, which isn’t exactly a good sign.

“I will not be raising a single dime until I’m confirmed on the ballot, unlike many in the media speculating I’m only running to ‘grift.’ I’m setting the standard that only confirmed ballot access candidates should raise money,” Santos said in a statement.

Santos is running as an independent against Nick LaLota, a Republican, in New York’s first congressional district. LaLota was one of the first members of Congress, from either party, to call for Santos’s resignation—Santos made no secret of his animosity.

“He’s not well liked. He’s an arrogant person. He’s not a nice guy. He’s cocky,” Santos said of LaLota the day before his expulsion in December. “He’s a traditional meathead, somebody who’s not nice to you for no reason.”

It’s not just LaLota, either: Santos has been on a petty, scorched-earth path since being expelled from Congress, taking shots at several of his ex-colleagues.

The former congressman faces an uphill battle running as an independent. In order to even get on the ballot, he needs to obtain enough petition signatures from district residents—which some legal experts say is unlikely. Based on Santos’s record, outside observers could think it’s another attempt for him to make a few bucks, perhaps to supplement his Cameo earnings.

Tesla’s Value Is Crashing Like a … Well, Like a Tesla

The electric-car maker laid off more than 10 percent of its workforce.

Elon Musk holds a microphone as he stands in front of a Tesla logo
Nora Tam/South China Morning Post/Getty Images

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla announced Monday that it will be laying off more than 10 percent of its global workforce—at least 14,000 employees—following a catastrophic first quarter, in which the company missed delivery estimates and suffered a year-over-year reduction in sales.

“As part of this effort, we have done a thorough review of the organization and made the difficult decision to reduce our headcount by more than 10% globally,” Musk wrote, blaming the cuts on redundancies in a leaked memo to employees first obtained by Electrek. “There is nothing I hate more, but it must be done. This will enable us to be lean, innovative and hungry for the next growth phase cycle.”

While it’s unclear which teams will be most significantly affected by the layoffs, news of the cuts came hand in hand with resignations from some of the company’s top talent.

“I made the difficult decision to move on from Tesla after 18 years yesterday,” Andrew Baglino, Tesla’s senior vice president for energy engineering and powertrain, wrote on Monday. “I am so thankful to have worked with and learned from the countless incredibly talented people at Tesla over the years.”

Stock traders were quick to observe, however, that Baglino had been offloading millions of dollars’ worth of Tesla stock each month for the last several years.

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Rohan Patel, Tesla’s vice president of public policy and business development, also put in his two weeks’ notice after the automotive giant announced the cuts, writing his thank-yous to the company’s customers, his fellow employees, his parents, former President Barack Obama, and Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk.

“The past 8 years at Tesla have been filled with every emotion—but the feeling I have today is utmost gratitude,” Patel posted on X.

Tesla has been struggling with complaints stemming from myriad issues with its car models, as well as with its latest release, the Cybertruck. The company froze Cybertruck sales on Monday after it was reported that the vehicle’s gas pedal cover had become dislodged, pinning itself against the floor for at least one customer. In 2022, complaints related to the Tesla’s misadvertised driving range became so pervasive that the company developed a secret “Diversion Team” to suppress the noise.

Tesla will deliver its quarter one report on April 23. “Analysts estimate that Tesla will still turn a profit of around 50 cents a share, down from 85 cents a share in Q1 2023,” reported Electrek.

You Won’t Believe How Trump Spent Day One of His Trial. Wait—You Will.

Trump decided his hush-money trial was the perfect time for a nap.

Donald Trump sits at a table with his hands folded on top while he looks to the side
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Bloomberg/Getty Images

For all of the insults Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans like to lob at President Biden over his energy levels, perhaps he should look in the mirror.

As his hush-money trial in Manhattan started Monday, the former president seemed to be sleeping, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who was present in the courtroom.

“Trump didn’t pay attention to a note that his lawyer Todd Blanche passed him. His jaw kept falling on his chest and his mouth kept going slack,” Hagerman told CNN.

It’s pretty ironic behavior for someone who has long mocked his presidential election opponent by calling him “Sleepy Joe.”

Before the trial began this morning, Trump characteristically took to his Truth Social account to attack presiding Judge Juan Merchan and Biden and complain about the gag order against him.

Trump is accused of paying off adult film actress Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged affair before the 2016 presidential election. He is charged with 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime.

Republicans aren’t likely to acknowledge Trump’s dozing, and plenty of them don’t have room to talk. When Biden repeatedly demonstrates his mental sharpness before national audiences, they try to explain it away with some ridiculous excuses. Meanwhile, Trump keeps making verbal gaffes and going on nonsensical rants whenever cameras are on, as recently as a Saturday rally in Pennsylvania.

The Supreme Court Just Dealt a Massive Blow to the Right to Protest

The high court declined to hear a case challenging laws in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Protesters gather with their fists raised
Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images
Protesters gather in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 9, 2016.

The Supreme Court’s inaction has effectively abolished the right to mass protest across three states, allowing a lower court’s ruling to seemingly infringe upon the Constitution’s First Amendment.

The nation’s highest court decided Monday not to hear Mckesson v. Doe, leaving in place a decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that punishes protest organizers with extreme financial consequences if even one participant commits an illegal act. The decision, which now stands as law in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, makes it dangerous and practically impossible to organize mass protests.

The case questioned whether DeRay Mckesson, the leader of a 2016 Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, could be held liable for negligence after an unidentified member of the march threw a rock at a police officer’s face, seriously injuring him.

But the high court’s decision not to take up the case does not necessarily mean that it agrees with the constitutionality of the lower court’s ruling. In a brief opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out that even though the court denied a review, “its denial today expresses no view about the merits of Mckesson’s claim.”

Instead, Sotomayor believes that another monumental decision by the court last year in Counterman v. Colorado—which looked at whether statements could be considered free speech if they were threatening in nature—should inform a review of Mckesson v. Doe in lower courts.

“In Counterman, the Court made clear that the First Amendment bars the use of ‘an objective standard’ like negligence for punishing speech,” she wrote. “Although the Fifth Circuit did not have the benefit of this Court’s recent decision in Counterman when it issued its opinion, the lower courts now do. I expect them to give full and fair consideration to arguments regarding Counterman’s impact in any future proceedings in this case.”

Mckesson was, ultimately, unsatisfied with the decision, lamenting the need to return to district court for a renewed opinion.

“Today, the Supreme Court did not grant cert in my case. This has been going on since 2016. And now we go back to the District Court,” he wrote on X. “This has been endless.”

Trump’s Completely Incoherent Gettysburg Rant Gets Flayed on Twitter

The Republican presidential nominee couldn’t seem to recall any details about the pivotal battle.

Donald Trump gestures as he speaks into a microphone
Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried to recount some history for the crowd during a weekend rally in Pennsylvania—but he didn’t seem to know what he was talking about.

“Gettysburg, what an unbelievable battle that was. The Battle of Gettysburg,” the former president said Saturday. “What an unbelievable―I mean, it was so much and so interesting, and so vicious and horrible, and so beautiful in so many different ways.”

As he spoke further, Trump even drew confused looks from his audience of supporters.

“The statement of Robert E. Lee―who’s no longer in favor, did you ever notice that?” Trump continued. “No longer in favor―‘Never fight uphill, me boys, never fight uphill.’ They were fighting uphill. He said, ‘Wow, that was a big mistake.’ He lost his great general, and they were fighting. ‘Never fight uphill, me boys!’ But it was too late.”

Leaving aside the incoherence, speaking about a Confederate general in a weird, favorable way also sets off some red flags.

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Was it because Lee was an insurrectionist?

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And it’s not even the first time: In 2020, Trump also praised Lee and cited the made-up quote about fighting uphill.

But mostly, people just couldn’t believe how incoherent Trump sounded, even for Trump, with author James Surowiecki describing the speech as a “bizarro history lesson.”

Screenshot of a tweet
Screenshot of a tweet

Does Trump know that much about American history? Seven years ago, he had some odd words about nineteenth-century abolitionist Frederick Douglass being “recognized more and more.”

Maybe it’s yet another example of his cognitive decline. Trump has said he wants to deport U.S. citizens, can’t give a straight answer about TikTok, claimed that migrants at the southern border speak languages no one can understand, and, when called out about his gaffes, says he’s just being sarcastic.

Perhaps he needs to pay a visit to the actual battlefield—although he’d probably say something even more insane.

GOP Rep. Desperately Begs New York to Acquit Trump in Hush Money Case

Representative Byron Donalds pleaded with potential jurors in Trump’s hush-money trial to vote “not guilty.”

Byron Donalds and Donald Trump shake hands
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The Republican Party is all in on Donald Trump, so much so that at least one representative is trying to sway his legal proceedings.

Ahead of the start of the Republican presidential pick’s first criminal trial on Monday, Representative Byron Donalds pleaded with the people of Manhattan to give his party leader a break.

“My plea is to the people of Manhattan that may sit on this trial: Please do the right thing for this country,” the Florida congressman told Newsmax. “Everybody’s allowed to have their political viewpoints, but the law is supposed to be blind and no respecter of persons. This is a trash case, there is no crime here, and if there is any potential for a verdict, they should vote not guilty.”

Donalds’s appeal is indicative of a new wave of opinion within the conservative party—that is, a complete disregard for not just Trump’s 91 criminal charges but also their outcome. According to The Daily Beast, just one in 20 interviewed GOP lawmakers showed concern with the possibility that their nominee for the White House could be a convicted felon, instead referring to the proceedings as “frivolous.”

“You get an alleged conviction on BS charges in front of a judge that is not impartial and that’s supposed to sway my mind?” Donalds told the Beast. “Man, I’m bigger than that. I don’t worry about that kind of stupid stuff.”

Other lawmakers, such as Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, completely threw the judicial system under the bus, blaming Trump’s woes—which also include repercussions for bank fraud, sexual abuse, election interference, hoarding classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, and more—as the failures of another pillar of government.

“I’m very uncomfortable with the weaponized justice system,” Vance told the outlet. “I couldn’t care less what a weaponized justice system says. Ultimately, it’s not going to change my vote. I don’t think it’ll change most Americans’ votes.”

The only outlier was Utah Senator Mitt Romney, a longtime Trump critic who is leaving Congress at the end of his term. He told the Beast that the implications of having a convicted felon as president were “not good”—still, he didn’t believe that a conviction would “make any difference at all” to Trump voters.

“He will once again say, ‘This is all political,’” Romney told the outlet. “And they will dutifully follow.”

That appears to extend to Trump’s acolytes in Congress, as well.

House Republicans Ridiculed into Dropping “Appliance Week”

Republican representatives hastily scrapped plans for bills opposing regulations on household appliances.

The burner on a gas stove is lit
Davide Bonaldo/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

House Republicans announced early Monday they were dropping bills tackling home appliances, plans that had drawn widespread scorn, in light of Iran’s counterattack against Israel over the weekend.

Last week, the House Rules Committee was scheduled to review six bills about washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners, sparking jokes from Democrats and commentators. Monday’s last-minute change means the House agenda this week will now consist of 17 bills meant to either shore up support for Israel or to punish Iran, reported Chad Pergram, the senior congressional correspondent for Fox News. Of those bills, 11 would require a two-thirds majority vote, including one that would increase sanctions on Iran, and six would head to the House Rules Committee, where one would explicitly condemn Iran’s attack.

Some of the bills will also sanction Chinese companies that buy oil from Iran, as well as target U.S.-designated terror groups, particularly Hamas. One such bill will be blatantly superficial: declaring the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” to be antisemitic (despite the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used the phrase “From the river to the sea” himself).

In a statement, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said the bills “demonstrate our support of Israel and take action against Iran.”

“These bills … represent a comprehensive response to the Iranian threat by supporting Israel’s response to the attack and sanctioning Iran’s leaders, cutting off their revenue sources, and targeting their partners and terrorist proxies,” Scalise said.

While it certainly is an improvement to see House Republicans flushing “appliance week” for more serious and current events, why did it take a new international crisis? Not to mention that Israel’s brutal assault of Gaza has been ongoing for six months, without any substantive bills from the GOP side.

It may be an improvement that Congress isn’t wasting time on dishwashers, or, for that matter, gas stoves, but the GOP’s posturing on Iran isn’t a breath of fresh air. It doesn’t take much for Republicans to start rattling sabers every time there’s news from Iran, with the last such event taking place just a couple of months ago.

Even Republicans themselves know that their party wastes time while ignoring important issues. And when the important issues come up, the party melts down into chaos and inaction, and then its own members start looking for the exits.

Even party stalwarts know that the GOP has little to nothing to campaign on. And “We talked tough about potentially starting a new war” is hardly a better campaign slogan than “We spent a week worrying about your appliances.”

Read about what Republicans originally wanted to do:

It Wouldn’t Be a Trump Trial Without a Wild Rant Beforehand

The former president let loose on social media just hours before his hush-money trial began.

Donald Trump sits at a table, looking at the camera
Jeenah Moon/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump had a few last words to say before entering  the initial proceedings for his—and the country’s—first criminal trial of a former president.

Jury selection in Trump’s hush-money trial began Monday. But just hours before, Trump slammed the proceedings in several posts on Truth Social, hurling insults at Judge Juan Merchan and President Joe Biden.

“As virtually every legal scholar has powerfully stated, the Biden Manhattan Witch Hunt Case is, among other things, BARRED by the Statute of Limitations. This ‘trial’ should be ended by the highly conflicted presiding Judge,” Trump wrote.

The GOP presidential nominee also claimed that the criminal charges against him and the lengthy trials are tantamount to election interference as a method to keep him away from the campaign trail—even though he’ll be permitted to campaign every weekend, evening, and Wednesday during the process.

“The Radical Left Democrats are already cheating on the 2024 Presidential Election by bringing, or helping to bring, all of these bogus lawsuits against me, thereby forcing me to sit in courthouses, and spend money that could be used for campaigning, instead of being out in the field knocking Crooked Joe Biden, the WORST President in the History of the United States,” he wrote. “Election Interference!”

Trump also lamented the recently expanded gag order placed on him by Merchan, insisting that it’s “unconstitutional” that he isn’t allowed to say whatever he wants related to the trial—like repeatedly insulting Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan.

“I want my VOICE back. This Crooked Judge has GAGGED me. Unconstitutional!” he posted. “The other side can talk about me, but I am not allowed to talk about them! Rigged Trial!”

Moments before entering the courtroom, Trump had a couple more words to share—with a slightly different tone.

“It’s an assault on America. And that’s why I’m very proud to be here,” he told reporters.

Trump is accused of using former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. He faces 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.