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Florida Republicans Just Wrecked Abortion Access for the Whole South

The Sunshine State has implemented a six-week abortion ban.

People hold protest signs
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
People protest against Florida's six-week abortion ban in Orlando on April 13.

Florida’s new abortion ban went into effect on Wednesday, terminating access to the medical procedure past six weeks of pregnancy—and wiping out access for much of the southeastern United States.

The new law will prohibit abortion well before a lot of people even realize they’re pregnant, and just one week before drugstore pregnancy tests can detect pregnancy hormones in their earliest, and least reliable, window. The restriction will force patients in need of the procedure to seek treatment in North Carolina, where abortion is banned after 12 weeks, or even further.

Governor Ron DeSantis pushed the law through in April 2023 while campaigning for president, despite dissent from within the state. The move was viewed as something that could prove popular with some voters in swing states such as Iowa, but DeSantis’s presidential bid fell apart when he announced in January that he would be withdrawing from the race—and left Florida holding the bag.

“This is the biggest change to the abortion access landscape since Roe was overturned,” Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro, executive director of Florida Access Network, told The New Republic’s Melissa Gira Grant. “This is being done to further decimate the abortion access landscape in a way that you can’t come back from.”

Prior to the ban, Florida allowed abortion up to 15 weeks, making the state a haven for people seeking the medical procedure in the South. The six-week ban passed alongside similarly restrictive bans in neighboring states, meaning that now, abortion access throughout the entire region has been crippled.

Backlash to Florida’s new law has been extreme, with more than a million Floridians signing a petition to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution and putting abortion rights on the ballot in November. That initiative, known as Amendment Four, would protect abortion until “fetal viability” at approximately 24 weeks. Still, a possible win in the second half of the year will come “on the backs” of people who will have to suffer now, giving birth “when they didn’t want to,” executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund Megan Jeyifo told NPR.

Trump’s New Comments on Gaza Protests Make No Sense Whatsoever

The Republican presidential nominee offered up a word salad when asked about the university protests.

Donald Trump walks
Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

As state violence ramped up against student-led Gaza solidarity protests across the country late Tuesday, Donald Trump couldn’t seem to put his thoughts together.

In a jumbled word salad, Trump hopped from buzzword to buzzword on the issue, and the result is a big nothingburger.

“You look at the antisemitism, the hatred of Israel by so many people,” Trump told Fox News. “You go back 10 years, Israel was protected by Congress. And now, Congress is just doing numbers that are unbelievable with I think a very, very small group of people within Congress, and it’s gotta stop.”

The New York Police Department violently uprooted student protests at Columbia University and City College of New York at the behest of Mayor Eric Adams late Tuesday night, making 282 arrests and indiscriminately attacking activists, students, and members of the press. The upheaval, during which police also threatened to arrest the dean of one of the country’s top journalism schools for shielding the media’s First Amendment right to cover the event, shocked international human rights and press freedom advocates, and even other local lawmakers, who appeared more able in the moment of conflict to voice their opinions than the GOP presidential candidate.

“If any kid is hurt tonight, responsibility will fall on the mayor and [university] presidents,” wrote New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Other leaders and schools have found a safe, de-escalatory path. This is the opposite of leadership and endangers public safety. A nightmare in the making.”

Protest-related arrests were also made at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Tulane University. Meanwhile, authorities at the University of California Los Angeles allowed a mob of pro-Israel supporters to beat and attack the student encampment with weapons that appeared to include fireworks, pepper spray, and tear gas.

The international criminal court at The Hague is weighing whether or not to charge Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with war crimes as the country’s war on Gaza claims so many lives that local authorities say they can no longer keep count. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 77,000 Palestinians have been injured in the conflict, according to data from the Gaza Health Ministry. Most of the victims have been women and children.

Israel has advanced its attacks on the beleaguered nation by blocking humanitarian aid from reaching those who need it. Israel has also utilized mass starvation, as well as blocking or destroying access to critical resources such as water, food, fuel, electricity, and medical aid.

Mitt Romney Brutally Takes Down Kristi Noem Over Puppy Murder

Republicans have finally found something to unify them: trashing Kristi Noem.

Kristi Noem speaks into a microphone
Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg/Getty Images

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is now in the doghouse with her fellow Republicans.

More than a week ago, an advance copy of her new book revealed that she shot and killed her pet puppy allegedly because it wasn’t well behaved. After receiving backlash, Noem proceeded to double down, and now her Republican colleagues aren’t holding back.

“I didn’t eat my dog. I didn’t shoot my dog. I loved my dog, and my dog loved me,” Utah Senator Mitt Romney told HuffPost Tuesday evening. During his 2012 run for president, Romney was criticized for a story where he tied his family’s dog to the roof of his car during a road trip with his family.

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis said Noem was “obviously not an experienced dog trainer because I’ve seen ill-behaved dogs are usually a reflection of their owner.” Tillis, who loves dogs so much that he hosts a “bipawtisan” dog parade for Halloween every year in Washington, noted that most dog owners would “go find someone that would actually take the dog and train it, rehabilitate it.”

In the House of Representatives, several Republicans said Noem’s story hurt their opinion of the governor and that they wouldn’t want her as Donald Trump’s running mate. When asked if the dog story would hurt Noem’s chances, Representative Nicole Malliotakis said to Politico, “It does for me.”

“The worst part of it is that it wasn’t a hit job. She volunteered the information. So, when somebody tells you who they are, believe them,” added Malliotakis, who is known to carry her puppy Luna around the Capitol.

One representative, speaking anonymously, said they didn’t think Noem “was ever a serious [running mate] contender,” making Noem’s revelation—a clear bid to boost her chances as Trump’s potential vice presidential pick—all the more embarrassing. The lawmaker added that the dog story would rule Noem out anyway because it’s “too much of a distraction.”

The Trump campaign apparently agrees, as one campaign official told Semafor that “Governor Noem just keeps proving over and over that she’s a lightweight.”

“We can’t afford a Kamala problem,” the official added, referring to Vice President Kamala Harris.

Noem admitted to deliberately killing her 14-month-old pet dog Cricket in her upcoming book, No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong With Politics and How We Move America Forward. She called the dog “untrainable,” “dangerous to anyone she came in contact with,” and “less than worthless … as a hunting dog.”

“It’s a story that doesn’t go away,” said Representative Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota to Politico. “And it’s not a good story.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Finally Making Good on Her Johnson Threats

The Georgia Republican is preparing to unleash chaos on the House of Representatives.

Marjorie Taylor Greene walks
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Two months after announcing it, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene claims she’s finally going to file a motion to vacate House Speaker Mike Jonhson sometime next week.

“Next week, I am gonna be calling this motion to vacate,” Greene said at a press conference Wednesday morning, calling Johnson a “uniparty” lawmaker for getting the Democrats to back him and claiming that the “American people need to see a recorded vote.”

Greene filed a motion to vacate in March after Johnson worked with Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to pass a $1.2 trillion omnibus bill, torching him for accomplishing one of the legislature’s primary annual responsibilities: funding the government.

In the months since she announced her intentions to undermine the Republican House leader, Greene has had just a small handful of GOP defectors join her. But when pressed about who her tiny cohort would prefer to have run the House, Greene simply said “we have people,” and then said she wouldn’t be “naming names.”

Johnson dismissed Greene’s motion as “wrong for the Republican Conference, wrong for the institution, and wrong for the country.”

When the vote does come to a head, Johnson’s seat appears to be, effectively, safe. Both Republicans and Democratic leadership have come out in support of the speaker, who in the seven months since he took the gavel has been forced to foster bipartisanship on controversial legislation ranging from foreign aid packages to domestic surveillance programs.

And despite what Greene has described as a “slimy back room deal,” Johnson insisted Tuesday that he hadn’t sought help from any Democrats to save his skin. Instead, Democrats seem to have decided on their own to support Johnson.

“At this moment, upon completion of our national security work, the time has come to turn the page on this chapter of Pro-Putin Republican obstruction,” wrote the Democratic leaders of the House in a joint statement issued Tuesday. “We will vote to table Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Motion to Vacate the Chair. If she invokes the motion, it will not succeed.”

Greene’s strategy, meanwhile, hasn’t panned out half as well for her. The Georgian’s repeated threats to oust Johnson with such meager support has backed her into a corner. If she calls the vote off now, she’ll look weak. But the apparent bit of political theater isn’t earning her any allies: even the ultimate chaos-inducing candidate, Donald Trump, supports Johnson’s tenure.

In a Tuesday interview on NewsNation’s The Hill, Johnson threw his own shade at Greene.

“Bless her heart,” the Louisiana lawmaker said when asked if he considers her a serious lawmaker. “I don’t think she is proving to be. No. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about her.”

This story has been updated.

Elise Stefanik Is a Trump Stooge—and This Ethics Complaint Proves It

The Republican representative has filed an ethics complaint against Jack Smith for the absolute dumbest reason.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Representative Elise Stefanik is mad at special counsel Jack Smith for doing his job and prosecuting Donald Trump.

In an ironic move betraying a complete lack of self-recognition, Stefanik on Tuesday filed an ethics complaint against Smith for “illegal election interference.”

“At every turn, he has sought to accelerate his illegal prosecution of President Trump for the clear (if unstated) purpose of trying him before the November election,” the complaint says about Smith.

Attacking Smith for interfering with the 2024 election is outrageous, especially since Smith is investigating and prosecuting Trump for interfering with the 2020 election. And Trump’s entire legal strategy seems to be to delay proceedings so they don’t affect his reelection campaign this time around.

But perhaps it’s no surprise that Stefanik has stooped this low to help Trump, and to pitch herself as his vice president. In the past, she has said she wouldn’t have certified the election if she were in Mike Pence’s position on January 6, 2021. She has gotten angry at a reporter who reminded her that a jury found Trump liable of sexual abuse. She has called the January 6 rioters “hostages’’ and angrily claimed that New York state law requiring Trump to be physically present for his money trial, is, you guessed it, “total election interference.”

She’s even tried to claim that the country was better off four years ago during Trump’s presidency, completely forgetting that Trump was badly mishandling the Covid-19 pandemic during that time. To sum up her latest bonkers move, Stefanik simply wants attention, probably from Trump himself.

This Is the Money Quote in Trump’s Hush-Money Trial

A key witness revealed just how involved Donald Trump was in the deal.

Donald Trump holds up his fist
Justin Lane/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s alleged hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels to mute a crescendoing story about their 2008 affair may have begun with David Pecker’s American Media Inc., but it certainly didn’t end there.

While on the stand Tuesday, Daniels’s former attorney Keith Davidson claimed that “after AMI washed their hands of the deal, AMI handed it off” to Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen. “In essence, Michael Cohen stepped into AMI’s shoes,” Davidson said.

After a rocky payoff to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, the tabloid company seemingly wanted nothing to do with a new scheme to cover up another one of Trump’s affairs—but it wasn’t so simple as Davidson handing the money over to her on his own. According to Davidson, he was always under the impression that the funds were coming directly from “Donald Trump or some corporate affiliation” of the Trump Organization.

But after Cohen failed to make several deadlines for the hush-money payments (and blamed the nonpayments on everything from Yom Kippur to the Secret Service), Davidson notified Cohen that the porn actress would be canceling the agreement.

“I thought he was trying to kick the can down the road until after the election,” Davidson told the court when asked to explain what he thought the reasoning was for the nonpayments.

“I think you can tell by these emails I was sending him, there was a great level of frustration by me and my client,” Davidson testified. “I let him know that the level of dissatisfaction was quite high. He stated, ‘Goddamn it. I’ll just do it myself.’”

Davidson explained he interpreted that as Cohen saying he would just pay up without seeking express permission to do so. A wire transfer form for the payment, displayed earlier Tuesday, showed that Cohen described the payment to Davidson as a “retainer” for legal services.

Trump is accused of using Cohen to sweep an affair with Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The Republican presidential nominee 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.

Ted Cruz Wants to Make Sure Airlines Don’t Have to Refund Your Money

Bizarre policy to be advocating for right before November, but OK.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Ted Cruz and four of his fellow members of Congress want you to fly through hoops to get a refund from an airline.

Last week, the Biden administration issued a new rule requiring automatic refunds from airlines if a flight is delayed or canceled. But then, Senators Ted Cruz and Maria Cantwell, as well as Representatives Sam Graves and Rick Larsen, proposed legislation that would undermine the rule by requiring passengers to submit a “written or electronic request” to get a full refund if their flight is canceled or heavily delayed.

The bill would essentially make refunds only available to people who have the time and resources to navigate whatever processes an airline sets up. Plus, contacting an airline has never been easy to do. This would also seem to defeat the purpose of Biden’s new rule: hassle-free payback to inconvenienced travelers.

“Passengers deserve to get their money back when an airline owes them—without headaches or haggling,” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a statement last week. “Our new rule sets a new standard to require airlines to promptly provide cash refunds to their passengers.” 

It’s not just Republicans attempting to ground Biden’s new rule: Cantwell and Larsen are both Democrats from Washington state, where airplane manufacturer Boeing has several facilities. But why is Cruz weighing in? It might be because he has been obsessing over air travel in recent months, even proposing a bill to give politicians extra security in airports so they don’t have to spend so much time in line.

That bill would also reduce the likelihood of the public seeing or interacting with politicians when they fly—something Cruz wants to avoid, lest he be seen flying to Cancun again while his constituents in Texas get hit with severe weather.

Fox News Rushes to Do Damage Control After Hunter Biden Lawsuit

The network had a not-at-all guilty response to reports that Hunter Biden plans to sue.

Hunter Biden speaks into microphones
Tierney L. Cross/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Fox News has quietly pulled The Trial of Hunter Biden, a six-part “mock trial” of Hunter Biden, from its digital streaming service, signaling that the company is taking the “imminently” arriving lawsuit announced by the president’s son more seriously than it had initially let on.

The scrub was first reported on Tuesday by the Daily Beast, just one day after Biden’s attorneys went public with a letter warning of forthcoming legal action due to the conservative media behemoth’s “relentless” attacks against him. Biden’s team accuses Fox of “conspiracy and subsequent actions to defame Mr. Biden and paint him in a false light.”

The letter also accused the network of knowing that nude images it circulated of Biden, allegedly taken from his laptop, were “hacked, stolen, and/or manipulated digital material” but continuing to publish them regardless, despite multiple state laws banning such acts under the umbrella of revenge porn.

In a statement issued Tuesday to CNN, Fox claimed that it had taken down the explicit miniseries simply out of “an abundance of caution” while it reviewed the letter. Still, handing Biden’s legal team exactly what they wanted is a far cry from the defiant counter statement shared by Fox just hours earlier that insisted the company had accurately covered relevant events pertaining to Biden, including investigations by the Department of Justice and Congress and indictments by U.S. attorney’s offices.

“Hunter Biden’s lawyers have belatedly chosen to publicly attack Fox News’ constitutionally protected coverage regarding their client,” a spokesperson for the network told The New Republic. “Mr. Biden is a public figure who has been the subject of investigations by both the Department of Justice and Congress, has been indicted by two different US Attorney’s Offices in California and Delaware, and has admitted to multiple incidents of wrongdoing. Consistent with the First Amendment, Fox News has accurately covered these highly publicized events as well as the subsequent indictment of an FBI informant who was the source of certain claims made about Mr. Biden.”

“Blockbuster Trump Story”: Witness Reveals How Hush-Money All Began

Keith Davidson, who represented both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, just confirmed some damning texts.

Donald Trump in court
Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

A major witness in Donald Trump’s hush-money trial confirmed a key text message that set off the controversial payments.

Keith Davidson, who was previously the lawyer for both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, took the stand in Trump’s trial on Tuesday. Davidson, notably, was also responsible for transferring the $130,000 hush-money payment to Daniels.

During the trial, Davidson read aloud some texts he sent in June 2016 to Dylan Howard, then National Enquirers editor in chief and chief of content for its parent company, American Media Inc.

“I have a blockbuster Trump story,” Davidson texted Howard at the time, referring to the story of Trump and McDougal’s affair.

“Talk first thing,” Howard replied. “I will get you more than anyone for it, you know why.”

Three days later, Howard followed up. “Did [Trump] cheat on Melania?” he texted Davidson. “Do you know if the affair was during his marriage to Melania?”

“I really cannot say yet. Sorry,” Davidson replied.

“OK. Keep me informed,” Howard texted.

The text messages between the two also reveal that Howard flew out to meet McDougal and Davidson for an in-person meeting just a few days later to discuss the story.

The most interesting part of Davidson’s testimony? Howard’s text message: “I will get you more than anyone for it, you know why.” As previous witnesses have also confirmed, the Enquirer was willing to pay handsomely to bury the McDougal story, all to help Trump just before the election.

Trump Is Totally Pissed at His Lawyer as Hush-Money Trial Goes South

Donald Trump is reportedly fuming at his lawyer Todd Blanche, as things take a turn for the worse in this trial.

Donald Trump yells and points at Todd Blanche
Timothy A. Clary/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump is mad at his attorney Todd Blanche, and is complaining about him constantly.

The New York Times, citing four anonymous sources, reports that the former president is mad that Blanche isn’t following his instructions closely in his hush-money trial, and isn’t being aggressive enough. Trump reportedly wants to see Blanche attacking witnesses, the judge, and even the jury pool in the case more often.

But if Blanche isn’t being aggressive, it might be for a good reason. The attorney has already been reprimanded once for trying to defend Trump against a gag order, claiming that Trump’s posts on Truth Social didn’t violate the order. That drew the ire of Judge Juan Merchan.

“Mr. Blanche, you are losing all credibility with the court,” Merchan warned last week.

The Times article mentions that Trump often vents about not having someone like Roy Cohn, his former infamous lawyer who had a reputation for ruthlessness and dirty tricks. Trump’s complaints track with the rest of his poor record with lawyers. Trump has a history of failing to pay his lawyers, who also tend to quit often. The top lawyer in his classified documents case, Evan Corcoran, quit just a few months ago. Two other lawyers left his legal team last year amid reports of infighting. At least one lawyer on his legal team, Alina Habba, says she was chosen for her looks over her intelligence, and her bizarre defenses of the former president seem to confirm that.

Blanche, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, has been representing Trump since June, and has previously represented other figures in Trump’s orbit, such as his 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort and Igor Fruman, an associate of Rudy Giuliani. He has a tall order in defending Trump from 34 felony charges for allegedly paying off adult film actress Stormy Daniels to cover up an affair prior to the 2016 election. If he’s not performing to Trump’s liking, he might not last much longer.