Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Oops! Trump Spotted Outside the Courtroom Editing Stooges’ Speeches

Donald Trump has been caught using an obvious ploy to circumvent the gag order in his hush-money trial.

Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump has had some of his political cronies show up at his hush-money trial. And it turns out he has been editing what they would say on his behalf, a seemingly obvious violation of his gag order.

One of the journalists covering the trial says the former president was “editing” and “making notations” to the speeches his allies made outside of the courtroom Tuesday.

“In court yesterday, actually, I was sitting close enough that I could actually look over Trump’s shoulder and see what he was reading. At one point he was actually reading the quotes that these individuals were—and going through and making notations with a pen on the paper,” New York magazine contributing editor Andrew Rice said on MSNBC Tuesday.

“While Michael Cohen was testifying against him, he was actually going and going through and annotating and editing the quotes that these people were going to say,” Rice added.

This roundabout effort by pro-Trump surrogates to try and get around the gag order was also noticed by his former White House communications director Michael Dubke.

“They have the ability to say the things that Donald Trump has been wanting to say but has basically been struck down 10 times for saying,” Dubke said on CNN Tuesday. “So this is one way to get around the gag order.”

Trump seemed to be careful not to say he was directing anyone to speak on his behalf, dodging a reporter’s direct question about it Tuesday. However, it was plainly obvious to observers that something was going on when Speaker of the House Mike Johnson attempted to defend Trump by discrediting the legitimacy of the judicial branch and even attacking Judge Juan Merchan’s daughter.

Trump’s gag order prohibits him not only from attacking court staff, jurors, prosecutors, witnesses, or their families but also from directing others to do so on his behalf. Trump’s actions yesterday would seem to be a new violation. The former president has already been fined $10,000 for violating the order and has been warned that new ones would send him to prison.

Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime by using Cohen to pay off adult film actress Stormy Daniels to cover up an affair before the 2016 election. The Republican presidential nominee has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Nikki Haley Doing Shockingly Well for Someone Who’s Not Even Running

Haley had strong showings in the Nebraska, Maryland, and West Virginia primaries.

Nikki Haley smiles
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Donald Trump is still facing some lingering opposition in his Republican primaries around the nation, all stemming from holdouts for a candidate who threw in the towel months ago: Nikki Haley.

Three states saw diversions away from Trump’s name on the primary ticket Tuesday. In Maryland, Haley still managed to pull 20 percent—a fifth of the GOP vote in the Old Line State. She also garnered 18 percent of the vote in Nebraska, and 9.4 percent of the vote in West Virginia. And the numbers aren’t just a fluke; they’re a trend. Earlier this month, Haley nabbed 21 percent of the Republican vote in Indiana, as well as 16.6 percent in Pennsylvania’s GOP presidential primary.

Ultimately, the staunch holdouts are a warning sign for Trump’s campaign. Haley has yet to endorse Trump for president. On her exit from the race on March 6, Haley skirted endorsing the former reality TV star like his other contenders did. Instead, the former U.N. ambassador said it’s up to Trump to “earn” the support of all Republican and independent voters—a critical task that he has not yet seemed to accomplish.

Haley’s brand of politics has formed an intraparty buttress against a growing wave of Trumpism in the Republican Party. Now those holdouts are being courted by an unlikely source: the Democratic Party. When Haley pulled out of the race, President Joe Biden extended an olive branch to her stranded voters, pushing a message of unity with the moderate conservative demographic.

“Donald Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters. I want to be clear: There is a place for them in my campaign,” Biden said in a statement in March. “I know there is a lot we won’t agree on. But on the fundamental issues of preserving American democracy, on standing up for the rule of law, on treating each other with decency and dignity and respect, on preserving NATO and standing up to America’s adversaries, I hope and believe we can find common ground.”

Blabbering Donald Trump Agrees to Debate Biden on These Terms

It looks we’ll be getting a Biden-Trump debate this election after all.

Morry Gash/Pool/Getty Images

“Make my day, pal.”

Biden and Trump, both presumptive presidential nominees, are trading barbs like two creaky prizefighters offering to debate one another, giving a glimpse into the type of back and forth voters can expect ahead of the general election in November.

The latest banter battle comes on the heels of Biden formally notifying the Commission on Presidential Debates that he won’t participate in its scheduled debates slated for later in the fall. Biden instead challenged Trump to two debates, in June and September—and surprisingly, Trump seems to have accepted.

Side-stepping tradition, Biden’s campaign chose the dates to account for early voting and to compensate for what they claim is the commission’s inability to enforce traditional debate rules in 2020, according to reporting by CNN. This shift follows the Republican National Committee’s breakaway from committee-run debates two years ago.

In a video posted to his social media accounts, Biden pointed out Trump’s prior refusal to participate in all Republican presidential candidate debates and how it contrasts with his desire to debate Biden now, insinuating that Trump is simply afraid to debate.

On Truth Social, Trump quickly accepted the offer, and suggested they schedule more than just two debates and a “very large venue” for “excitement purposes.”

“Just tell me when, I’ll be there. ‘Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!’” Trump wrote.

“Let’s pick the day, Donald. I hear you’re free on Wednesdays,” said Biden, a nod to the ongoing hush-money trial against Trump, which breaks each Wednesday.

In his video challenge to Trump, Biden noted that he won their past debates in 2020, reflected by polling data. In response, Trump posted to Truth Social that “Crooked Joe Biden is the WORST debater I have ever faced,” which says very little considering he’s avoided every debate since 2020.

Shortly after issuing his public offer to debate Trump in June and September, Biden announced receiving an offer from CNN, an outlet Trump is notoriously hostile toward, to debate on June 27. “Over to you, Donald,” Biden said. “As you said: anywhere, any time, any place.”

Trump accepted soon after: “I’ll be there,” Trump told Fox News, adding that he’s “looking forward to being in beautiful Atlanta.”

CNN confirmed that Trump has accepted the debate invite. The debate will be held in its Atlanta studios with no audience present, a rarity in presidential debates.

Since this morning’s challenge and June debate offer, Trump and Biden have both accepted a second debate hosted by ABC News on September 10.

This story has been updated.

Republican Congressman Joins Lindsey Graham in Calls to Nuke Gaza

“Nuke Gaza” is quickly becoming the new normal for the GOP.

Greg Murphy speaking
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Representative Greg Murphy joined his fellow Republicans in suggesting that  Israel could use nuclear weapons in its already brutal war on Gaza.

Speaking to Chris Salcedo on Newsmax Tuesday afternoon, the North Carolina congressman compared the situation to Japan and the United States during World War II.

“If you look at what imperial Japan did to the United States, we came back and said basically you’re going to have to unconditionally surrender, and when they didn’t, we had to drop the two atomic bombs on them,” Murphy said. “This is where Israel has every single right in the world to press this conflict further.”

The congressman’s extreme rhetoric follows that of Senator Lindsey Graham, who on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday similarly suggested Israel could drop nuclear bombs on Gaza.

“When we were faced with destruction as a nation after Pearl Harbor, fighting the Germans and the Japanese, we decided to end the war by the bombing [of] Hiroshima [and] Nagasaki with nuclear weapons,” Graham said. “That was the right decision.”

He added, “Give Israel the bombs they need to end the war. They can’t afford to lose.”

Graham and Murphy aren’t the first in Congress to suggest nuking the besieged Palestinian territory, though, as Representative Tim Walberg, another Republican, suggested that “it should be like Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” at a town hall meeting in late March.

Nuking aside, much of Gaza has already been reduced to rubble by Israel’s bombing campaign, which has killed more than 35,000 people, including at least 14,500 children. One wonders what would be enough for Republicans (and some Democrats) to recognize a genocide and humanitarian catastrophe enabled by the policies they help to enact, and do the right thing themselves. Instead, they seem to be more upset at the college students who are trying to do something.

Trump’s Idiot Lawyers Blew a Major Chance to Question Michael Cohen

It’s unclear if they achieved anything while cross-examining the star hush-money trial witness.

Donald Trump sits between his lawyers Todd Blanche and Emil Bove
Craig Ruttle/Pool/Getty Images

The first day of cross-examination against arguably the most consequential witness in Donald Trump’s hush-money case resulted in … practically no results for the GOP presidential nominee’s legal defense.

Over the course of several hours on Tuesday, Trump’s attorneys badgered Cohen about his juvenile social media posts—including calling his old boss a “Cheeto-dusted cartoon villain”—and whether Cohen hoped that his sentence would be reduced in exchange for cooperation in the trial. But legal experts didn’t feel that the cross was very effective at positing a new or reformed narrative that would help their client or have any sway with the jury whatsoever.

MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin wrote that the cross-examination had “not accomplished much” beyond showing that Cohen is still a wealthy individual who has made money off books he’s written about Trump, that his opinion of Trump had changed after he was sentenced in December 2018, and that he’s thrown a bevy of insults at Trump.

Unfortunately for Trump’s defense, none of that was news.

“We’re likely just over 15 minutes from the end of … today, and I’m still unsure what the defense gained from the start of the cross, if anything,” wrote Lawfare managing editor Tyler McBrien. “No checks, no business records, no alternate theories of the case presented.”

Ultimately, the effort was a startling contrast to a prosecution team that started the morning by arriving with a cartful of documents, ready to burst into action.

The trial will resume on Thursday, though even that opportunity to continue developing a defense out of Cohen’s testimony will be cut short by a preapproved appointment for a juror, ending the trial slightly early at 4 p.m.

Trump is accused of using Cohen to sweep an affair with porn star Stormy 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.

Newly Released January 6 Tapes Destroy MAGA Republicans’ Biggest Lie

The new January 6 footage blows up another popular right-wing conspiracy theory.

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
January 6, 2021, Washington, D.C.

House Republicans have inadvertently debunked one of their biggest lies about January 6—that the police opened the doors of the Capitol building so the rioters outside could enter.

Journalist Jamie Dupree on Tuesday posted footage from inside the main doors of the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, showing rioters not only breaching the doors but also pushing past police officers.

In November, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson announced that most of the security footage from that day would be released to the public. He may not have considered how much of it might debunk the stories he and other Republicans have been telling in an attempt to minimize the events of that day. Just last month, Johnson claimed that innocent Americans were just “walking through the building.”

Republican politicians have touted numerous conspiracy theories about January 6, from claiming that the secretary of the Army delayed calling the National Guard in order to get a job with the Biden administration, to saying that fake Trump supporters arrived in Washington, D.C., on “ghost buses.” Trump was also caught on tape saying he could have stopped the riots—when in reality, he wanted to join them. Many in the GOP still believe that the federal government instigated the whole thing.

This latest discovery still may not convince die-hard Trump supporters, who ignore the fact that many January 6 defendants say that they were there on Trump’s orders. At the very least, though, there is now video proof against one of the many January 6 conspiracy theories.

Trump Draws Fire for Using Obvious Mafia Tactic on Gag Order

Trump’s “I cheated on my wife with a porn star” club seems to be helping him violate his gag order.

Justin Lane/Pool/Getty Images

As the hush-money trial for former President Donald Trump resumed on Tuesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson held a press conference outside the courthouse and issued a slew of falsehoods in defense of Trump, denigrated the legitimacy of the judicial branch, and even attacked the adult daughter of the judge who is overseeing the case, Juan Merchan.

The move was quickly noticed by court reporters, who asked Trump if he was using Johnson and others to sidestep the gag order prohibiting him from making the types of statements levied by Johnson moments earlier. Trump responded expansively while saying nothing: “I do have a lot of surrogates, and they are speaking very beautifully.”

Trump further called for the gag order to be lifted, claiming that there has “never been anything like this in the history of our country,” though it is in fact typical to restrict an actively hostile defendant who is targeting people in order to disrupt the case against them. Trump has incited violence both against the electoral system and against the courts overseeing his corruption trials.

Many were quick to notice that, were Trump to say any of what Johnson said on Tuesday, he’d be found in violation of his gag order. Former Representative Liz Cheney criticized Johnson’s appearance, writing, “I’m surprised that @SpeakerJohnson wants to be in the ‘I cheated on my wife with a porn star’ club.”

Part of Trump’s gag order prohibits him from directing others to make statements on his behalf. Judge Merchan last warned Trump that if he violated the gag order again, he could face jail time.

Trump Lawyer Tries to Trip Up Michael Cohen but Ends Up Owning Himself

Todd Blanche read out some choice insults from Cohen’s TikTok.

Donald Trump speaks while standing next to Todd Blanche
Mark Peterson/Pool/Getty Images

Michael Cohen had no qualms about taking ownership of the insults he’s thrown at Donald Trump and the GOP presidential nominee’s legal counsel.

Opening cross-examination of Cohen on Tuesday, Trump attorney Todd Blanche attempted to call him out for Cohen’s relentless name-calling—but he only ended up embarrassing himself.

“You went on TikTok and called me a ‘crying little shit,’ didn’t you?” Blanche growled.

“It sounds like something I would say,” Cohen replied, before prosecutors objected.

Blanche then scrounged up another moniker Cohen had coined for Trump.

“You referred to Trump as a ‘dictator douchebag,’ didn’t you?” Blanche continued, referring to a post in which Cohen said Trump should be sent “where he belongs, in a fucking cage.”

“Sounds like something I said,” Cohen repeated to a crowd of stifled laughs.

Legal experts have speculated that Cohen may soon be the second person to receive a gag order in the hush-money trial due to his incessant online gossiping about Trump and his counsel.

“Witnesses need to keep their mouths shut until they are in the courtroom,” former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance said on The Insider Podcast earlier this month, predicting that Cohen’s comments online would become “fodder” for Trump’s attorneys.

That was in reference to evidence brought out by Blanche earlier in the trial, including a mess of inflammatory social media posts Cohen made in April referring to Trump as “Von ShitzInPantz” and retweeting another post that lambasted Trump as a “racist jackass who referred to African nations as ‘shithole countries,’” in light of Trump’s attempt to liken himself to Nelson Mandela.

Lara Trump’s RNC Falls Flat on Its Face After Assault on Voting Rights

The Republican National Convention just got dealt another blow before the 2024 election.

Lara Trump speaks at a CPAC lectern
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A bid launched by the Republican National Committee to block voting rights in Arizona failed Tuesday after a Maricopa County judge summarily dismissed a complaint lodged by the RNC against the state’s 2023 Election Procedures Manual, handing a win to voting rights advocates. Conservatives launched a tsunami of legal attacks in February against the manual, to impede voting rights and allow for voter harassment in Arizona. Tuesday’s decision is the first ruling addressing those lawsuits and mud in the eye of the RNC, newly run by nepobaby-in-law Lara Trump.

According to Democracy Docket, the lawsuit filed February 9 by the Republican National Committee, Republican Party of Arizona, and Yavapai County Republican Party sought to block enforcement of the EPM on the basis that Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes failed to give the public enough time to comment before implementing the EMP and that portions of the EMP violate state law. The complaint also sought to have provisions removed regarding limiting public access to voter signatures, restrictions against challenging early mail-in ballots before they’re returned, and allowances for out-of-precinct voting.

The suit was filed by the RNC the same day as another suit by conservative group Arizona Free Enterprise Club, which claims the EMP, by prohibiting voter intimidation and harassment, inhibits “free speech.” That case has not yet been decided.

More on the 2024 election:

Justice Department Says It’s Time for Key Trump Ally to Go to Prison

The Justice Department says Steve Bannon needs to quit stalling and report to prison.

Steve Bannon sits at a courtroom table. Three security guards stand behind him.
Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

The Department of Justice wants former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon to begin his prison sentence immediately.

In 2022, a federal jury found Bannon guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress for ignoring the House January 6 committee’s subpoena, and he was sentenced to four months in prison. A federal judge had delayed the sentence while Bannon appealed the conviction, but that appeal was rejected last week.

In a federal court filing on Tuesday, the DOJ said that a person who is found guilty must report for their term of imprisonment unless the defendant can establish that “the appeal is not for the purpose of delay and raises a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in reversal.”

“The D.C. Circuit rejected defendant’s appeal on all grounds, including the primary argument on appeal: the requisite mental state required for a contempt of Congress violation,” the Justice Department added.

Bannon fought the conviction and sentence every step of the way, attempting to turn the trial into a circus and stir up the MAGA faithful. Since Trump’s term ended, Bannon has attempted to interfere in Brazil’s politics as well as the upcoming election in the United States, and his radio show is a haven for Republicans who want to tout their pro-Trump bona fides. It’s pretty clear that he wants to continue his far-right activities and avoid jail. After all, he was already pardoned once by Trump for a border wall fraud scheme.