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Chief Justice Roberts Kicks Democrats in Teeth Over Alito

Roberts is refusing to engage over Alito’s flags scandal.

Chief Justice John Roberts looks up
Leah Millis/Pool/Getty Images

Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday rejected a request by Democratic senators to discuss Samuel Alito’s impartiality following concerns about a pair of January 6–aligned flags that had been spotted flying at two of the justice’s residences.

In a letter addressed to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Roberts claimed that “the format proposed—a meeting with leaders only of one party who have expressed an interest in matters currently pending before the court—simply underscores that participating in such a meeting would be inadvisable.”

The rejection follows a similar shutdown by Alito himself, who issued a letter to the pair on Wednesday stating that he would not recuse himself from lawsuits relating to the 2020 presidential election—specifically, Trump v. United States—and claiming that his impartiality had not “reasonably” come into question.

Alito was accused of compromising the court’s impartiality after a “Stop the Steal” upside-down U.S. flag was spotted at his house in Arlington, Virginia, and an “Appeal to Heaven” flag—a Revolutionary War symbol adopted by Christian nationalists—was seen flying at the justice’s New Jersey vacation home.

Alito has attempted to wipe his hands of both incidents, blaming the controversial messaging on his wife, whom he described as “fond of flying flags.” Her “reasons for flying the flag are not relevant” to his ability to weigh in on the immunity case, he said in his letter to Durbin and Whitehouse.

But Democrats aren’t letting up on the issue, digging up alternative pathways to hold Alito to account that don’t rely on his having the final say. In a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday, Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin argued that the executive branch could still step in to challenge the judiciary’s ethics.

“The U.S. Department of Justice … can petition the other seven justices to require Justices Alito and [Clarence] Thomas to recuse themselves not as a matter of grace but as a matter of law,” Raskin posited.

“This recusal statute, if triggered, is not a friendly suggestion,” Raskin continued. “It is Congress’s command, binding on the justices, just as the due process clause is. The Supreme Court cannot disregard this law just because it directly affects one or two of its justices. Ignoring it would trespass on the constitutional separation of powers because the justices would essentially be saying that they have the power to override a congressional command.”

“Prove It, Bitch”: Trump Spokesman Loses It Over Rumored N-Word Tape

Team Trump is lashing out after a former producer on “The Apprentice” shed further light on just how racist Donald Trump really is.

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung speaks and points a finger to his head. A press camera and other people (out of focus) are in the background.
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Trump campaign is predictably resorting to the boss’s tactics amid new allegations that he used a racial slur to refer to a Black contestant on The Apprentice—and that it was caught on tape.

Responding to the bombshell claims by former Apprentice producer Bill Pruitt, originally published in Slate, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung launched into a tirade on Twitter on Thursday.

“Prove it, bitch,” Cheung wrote.

“You can’t, because it’s a fake and bullshit story your dumb ass is peddling because Biden is hemorrhaging support from Black Americans.”

Steven Cheung tweet screenshot

There’s no evidence to suggest that Pruitt, who was until this year bound by a nondisclosure agreement, is lying about Trump’s use of the n-word, or about his rigging the show so that Kwame Jackson lost in the finale of the series’s first season. But it is very much on brand for the Trump campaign, and for Cheung, an apparent “virtuoso at mimicking his boss,” in particular, to reflexively dismiss the story as “fake and bullshit.”

The Biden campaign, while not exactly “hemorrhaging support,” is struggling to retain the Black support on which Biden rode to the Democratic nomination, and eventually the White House, in 2020. According to a New York Times poll, Biden is winning only 63 percent of support from Black registered voters in a one-on-one race with Trump, down from the 92 percent of Black voters who supported him in 2020.

Meanwhile, Trump, who recently spoke at a rally in the South Bronx, is making a play to appeal to Black voters. It is unlikely that dismissing credible allegations of racism online is part of that plan. But when the only tool the campaign has is a hammer, everything, even the candidate’s reported use of racial slurs, looks like a nail.

The Latest Biden Officials’ Resignations Over Gaza Are Extra Messed Up

Their now former boss wrote a book on genocide prevention.

Samantha Power stands with her hand on her hip
Franklin Jacome/Agencia Press South/Getty Images
Samantha Power, the head of the United States Agency for International Development

Samantha Power used to be a vocal opponent of genocidal action—until her government underlings began resigning in mass protest over the Biden administration’s continued support for the war in Gaza.

At least 19 internal dissent memos have circulated within the U.S. Agency for International Development, where several employees have left their posts over the administration’s refusal to address the atrocities in Gaza. One now former senior adviser, Alexander Smith, cited an environment in which specific people “cannot be acknowledged as fully human.”

Smith told The Guardian that he was given a choice to resign or be fired after his presentation on child mortality among Palestinians was canceled by the agency’s leadership. He resigned on Monday.

“USAID has always prided itself on our programs supporting democracy, human rights, and rule of law,” Smith wrote to Power in a leaked letter obtained by the publication. “In Ukraine, we call for legal redress when people are victimized, and name perpetrators of violence.… We boldly state ‘Slava Ukraini’ in peppy promotional videos.

“When it comes to the Palestinians, however, we avoid saying anything about their right to statehood, the abuses they’re currently suffering, or which powers have been violating their basic rights to freedom, self-determination, livelihoods, and clean water,” he wrote.

But Power was not always so complicit in state-sponsored violence. In fact, her tacit support for the Biden administration’s actions appears to run directly against her own ethical code. The book sleeve of A Problem From Hell, Power’s examination of America’s silent response to genocide in the twentieth century that won a Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction (among other awards), advertises the former ambassador’s stance on government employees who fail to protect the people.

“Samantha Power poses a question that haunts our nation’s past: Why do American leaders who vow ‘never again’ repeatedly fail to marshal the will and the might to stop genocide?” the jacket asks.

Lauren Boebert’s Election Prospects Suddenly Look Extra Grim

Could this finally be the end of Lauren Boebert?

Lauren Boebert looks up
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Representative Lauren Boebert’s chances of being reelected are not looking good, according to a poll commissioned by one of her Democratic opponents, Ike McCorkle.

Boebert chose not to run in Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, the seat she currently occupies, to get more favorable odds in a more conservative district after a very narrow win in 2022. The district she chose, Colorado’s 4th, is supposed to be the most reliably Republican one in the state and was recently vacated by the retiring Ken Buck.

But McCorkle, one of three Democrats vying for the seat and a former Marine, leads Boebert 41 percent to 27 percent in the poll, with 33 percent undecided. In contrast, Donald Trump leads Joe Biden 45 to 35 percent in the 4th district, with independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. getting 6 percent and 14 percent undecided.

It hasn’t been a great term in office for Boebert since being barely reelected. She missed crucial votes, feuded with fellow far-right Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, was called out by President Biden for celebrating a bill she opposed, and then there’s her inappropriate behavior at a theatrical performance of Beetlejuice, captured on video. Her reelection campaign hasn’t gone well, either, as she bombed in a debate with other candidates and is struggling to win over her district’s Republican voters. She’s lost support from her existing supporters, including volunteers. Everywhere she goes, the Beetlejuice heckling follows.

She’s been trying to demonstrate her Trump bona fides, showing up to support him at his hush-money trial, but if polling is accurate, it doesn’t appear to be helping her chances to stay in office. Not only does she have to win over Republicans and escape the June 25 primary, but it appears that even Democrats have a shot at defeating her.

Why MAGA Is Furious About Hush-Money Jury Instructions

Trump supporters are losing their minds as the jury nears its verdict in the trial.

Steven Hirsch/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump and his supporters are upset over the instructions given to the jury in his hush-money trial.

Judge Juan Merchan issued instructions to the 12-person jury that they had to reach a unanimous verdict on each of the 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Overall, they must agree that Trump used some unlawful means to interfere in the 2020 election, according to Merchan, but they don’t need to agree on which means it was.

“Although you must conclude unanimously that the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you need not be unanimous as to what those unlawful means were,” Merchan instructed.

This was either misunderstood, or too much to handle for Trump and his supporters.

In a Truth Social post on Wednesday, Trump complained, “IT IS RIDICULOUS, UNCONSTITUTIONAL, AND UNAMERICAN that the highly Conflicted, Radical Left Judge is not requiring a unanimous decision on the fake charges against me brought by Soros backed D.A. Alvin Bragg. A THIRD WORLD ELECTION INTERFERENCE HOAX!”

Truth Social Screenshot - Donald Trump

Trump’s political allies also echoed his sentiments.

Tweet screenshot - Marco Rubio
Tweet Screenshot - Kristi Noem
Tweet Screenshot - Elise Stefanik

Trump is on trial for allegedly paying off Daniels to cover up their affair before the 2016 election, and is awaiting a verdict from the jury after closing arguments concluded Wednesday.

Texas Republicans Propose Horrific Punishment for Abortion Patients

The Lone Star State GOP wants to make abortion punishable by death.

A person holds up a pro-abortion rights protest sign
Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle/Getty Images

Having some of the nation’s strictest abortion laws isn’t enough for the Texas GOP. Instead, Republicans in the Lone Star State are actually considering the death penalty as punishment for people who undergo the medical procedure.

A new platform proposed at the state’s GOP convention on Saturday included calls for legislation that would transform the fetal personhood ideology into law, which would effectively categorize any person receiving an abortion at any stage as a murderer.

The 50-page document claims that “abortion is not healthcare, it is homicide” and calls for lawmakers to extend “equal protection of the laws to all preborn children from the moment of fertilization.”

Not everyone in attendance was in support of the endeavor, however. Harris County Precinct 178 Chair Gilda Bayegan volunteered to speak at the event, calling on her party to drop its anti-abortion platforms on the basis that the state’s draconian restrictions to the medical procedure were alienating its base.

“I’m up here begging you not to make it one of our priorities,” Bayegan said.

Her party clearly did not listen. The GOP wish list is a revealing glimpse into which direction they are headed, but it wasn’t the first clue. In January, Hood County Republican Party officials were spotted attending an Abolish Abortion Texas function in which the death penalty was discussed as a possible repercussion for women and minors who seek out not just abortion but also in vitro fertilization treatments.

“There’s no difference in the value of born people and preborn people,” Paul Brown, the group’s director, said in leaked video footage, revealing the philosophy behind the extreme measures. “In short, abortion is murder. And that’s starting at the moment of fertilization even prior to implantation. So that Plan B pill, or what’s known as the morning-after pill, which is used to terminate or kill a baby prior to implantation, that is an abortion.”

(Plan B does not “kill” an embryo, as Brown claims. Instead, it prevents fertilization from occurring in the first place.)

Texas isn’t the only state to consider classifying the lifesaving medical procedure as homicide or even sentencing people to death for seeking the treatment. Republican lawmakers in Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina introduced similar legislation last year. All of those bills were defeated, with even some state Republicans deeming them too extreme.

Racist Trump’s Shocking Apprentice Secrets Exposed

A former producer on “The Apprentice” has revealed what it was like to work with Donald Trump—and how he was so racist he rigged the show.

Donald Trump yells and points next to an sign that reads "The Celebrity Apprentice" with a photo of his face and the NBC logo..
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images
Donald Trump attends a “Celebrity Apprentice” red carpet event at Trump Tower on February 3, 2015, in New York City.

As if any more proof was needed, a former producer for The Apprentice just revealed the depths of Donald Trump’s racism.

Recently freed from a 20-year nondisclosure agreement, Bill Pruitt, who worked on the television show that christened Trump as America’s Boss and arguably shaped the savvy businessman persona that he rode to the presidency in 2016, told the story of The Apprentice’s early days for the first time for Slate. Most notably, he recounted a 2004 incident in which Trump refused to hire Kwame Jackson, the Black finalist on the series’s first season. His reason, according to Pruitt?

“I mean, would America buy a n— winning?” Trump reportedly told the show’s producers.

The comment was reportedly caught on tape, though Pruitt said he’s sure the evidence will never be found.

It’s the most incendiary, if not exactly surprising, moment in a story full of characteristic details of the former president’s deceptive and crooked behavior: requiring NBC to rent out Trump Tower space for the set at a premium because his actual office was “cramped” and with “chipped or peeling” wood furniture; stiffing the architect of Trump National Golf Club, who realized legal fees to sue Trump would exceed the financial reward; and rambling incoherence retouched into slick boardroom operating in NBC’s editing room.

It also comes in the wake of Trump’s rally in the South Bronx last week, held in an effort to “woo” Black and Latino voters.

That Trump is an anti-Black racist is hardly revelatory: a lifetime of discriminatory housing practices, advocacy for the execution of the exonerated Central Park Five, attacks on kneeling NFL players, and many refusals to condemn white supremacists indicate as much.

Still, the remark, stripped of the gloss of plausible deniability his public dog whistles often possess, is alarming.

Trump Ridiculed for Absurd Complaint in Hush-Money Trial

This man is pushing completely nonsensical claims as the jury nears its verdict.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

As his hush-money trial wraps up, Donald Trump thinks key witnesses were not called in his defense.

“A lot of key witnesses were not called. Look at your list. Look at the players, and you know who I’m talking about. You can take five or six of them. Why didn’t they call those witnesses? They didn’t call them because they would have been on our side, and it’s a shame,” Trump told reporters outside of court after the trial wrapped up for the day Wednesday.

“And in particular, one witness, who’s now suffering greatly because of what’s happened, because of the viciousness of these thugs. They’re vicious people, what they’ve done to that person, and you know who I’m talking about,” Trump added.

Who Trump is talking about is unknown. If it’s Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, he’s serving a prison sentence for lying under oath during Trump’s fraud trial, and thus wouldn’t be a credible witness for either side.

What is known is that Trump’s defense team had every opportunity to call any of their own witnesses in his hush-money trial, and they only called two: a paralegal who entered phone records into evidence, and Robert Costello, an attorney who spoke to Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen in 2018 after the FBI raided his home and office. Trump can hardly expect the prosecution to call witnesses to aid in his defense, unless he has a profound misunderstanding about how a trial proceeding works. If the Republican presidential nominee has complaints, he should be making them to his own lawyers. (Or maybe he could have testified himself.)

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Trump is on trial for allegedly paying off adult film actress Stormy Daniels to cover up their affair before the 2016 election with Cohen’s help, and is awaiting a verdict from the jury after closing arguments concluded Wednesday. He faces 34 felony charges for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime.

Bankrupt Rudy Giuliani Can’t Stop Spending at “Egregious” Levels

No wonder the former mayor had to file for bankruptcy.

Rudy Giuliani frowns
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

A bankrupt Rudy Giuliani is so deep in the red that his creditors have described his lavish lifestyle as “gross mismanagement.”

Court documents filed Tuesday by unsecured creditors for the disbarred attorney indicate that Giuliani was blowing off other financial responsibilities—such as paying back his lawyers, accountants, or ex-wife—while racking up more debt, even after filing for bankruptcy last year.

“More than five months ago, the Debtor commenced his bankruptcy case,” reads the legal notice. “One might ask what he has accomplished during that time. An objective review leads to one conclusion: he has accomplished almost nothing.”

According to the notice, Giuliani has continued his “exorbitant spending” to fuel his “extravagant lifestyle.” That included dishing out more than $26,000 for “60 Amazon transactions,” as well as“charges for entertainment such as Netflix, Prime Video, Kindle, Audible, Paramount+ and Apple services and products and numerous Uber rides.”

The creditors slammed Giuliani’s “egregious spending habits,” noting that while making practically zero progress in the debt-induced legal process, he has repeatedly filed inaccurate financial disclosures, even after being told to correct the wrong information, and has delayed the sale of his multimillion-dollar properties around the country.

After “months of empty promises,” Giuliani filed an application to retain a broker on his New York City apartment, for which he paid $21,000 in fees during April alone. Still, he has made no movement on listing his Palm Beach condominium, “despite such property not being an exempt asset,” the notice reads.

“That is how the Debtor spent the last five months in his bankruptcy case: filing false and misleading financial reports, delaying the inevitable monetization of his assets, ignoring this Court’s orders, trying to retain professionals and attempting to relitigate the Freeman Judgment,” the notice continued, referring to the $148 million that Giuliani was ordered to cough up for defaming a pair of Georgia election workers during the “Stop the Steal” initiative.

The telling filing is just the latest in a long series of legal woes Giuliani has suffered since he risked it all to allegedly help Trump steal the 2020 presidential election. In September, Giuliani faced a suit from his former legal representation, who accused him of failing to pay his bill and allegedly only dishing out $214,000 of nearly $1.6 million in legal expenses—after Giuliani claimed he himself was stiffed by his favorite client, Trump, to the tune of millions of dollars.

That resulted in an embarrassing show in which Giuliani had no other option than to beg Trump for help settling his seven-figure legal fees, to which the stingy developer refused but offered to throw a couple of fundraisers for him instead.

Giuliani is also one of 19 co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case and was named in April in an Arizona indictment charging another slew of Republican officials and Trump allies for their alleged involvement in a scheme to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election results.

Vindictive Trump Plots Ruthless Revenge Over His Legal Battles

A spokesperson for the former president warned that “justice needs to be served.”

Donald Trump grins
Yuki Iwamura/Pool/Getty Images

The jury is still out, but Donald Trump’s campaign has already suggested that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee will seek revenge against whoever was involved in his myriad legal trials.

Speaking to Fox News’s Jesse Watters, Trump campaign press secretary Karoline Leavitt warned that people need to be “held accountable” for their “crimes” committed against Trump—that is, all the people who have attempted to prosecute Trump and give the former president the same legal treatment as they would any other private citizen.

“Let’s say he does win reelection this November, will there be any revenge directed at the people that put this hoax case together?” asked Watters.

“Well, certainly people need to be held accountable for the crimes that have been committed over the last several years. We’ve seen them lie, we’ve seen them abuse our justice system, we’ve seen Joe Biden target innocent Americans across this country such as the protesters on January 6, who they’ve thrown in the gulag in Washington, D.C.,” Leavitt said, referring to the Soviet Union–era work camps for criminals and political prisoners.

“President Trump said he will pardon those protesters on day one of his presidency. Yes, justice needs to be served for the good-hearted Americans across this country who want to see an equal application of the law,” Leavitt said, seemingly insinuating that Trump’s followers do not expect to be held to the law if they commit a crime.  “And this trial proves we don’t have that in America right now.”

Trump's other post-election plans: