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Lara Trump’s RNC Convention Is Looking for Event Space at Rikers

The RNC is preparing for a convention with Donald Trump in jail.

Donald Trump gestures as he speaks into a microphone
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Donald Trump might already be in jail by the time he accepts the GOP nomination for president at the Republican National Convention—at least according to RNC Chair Michael Whatley.

Whatley told Newsmax Tuesday that the GOP organization is already planning for the possibility.

“We’re working on that right now,” Whatley said. “We expect that Donald Trump is going to be in Milwaukee, and he is going to be able to accept that nomination. And if not, we will make whatever contingency plan we need to make for it. But the fact is, he is going to be our nominee, and he’s going to be the 47th president of the United States.”

When pressed for the details on the “contingency plans”—such as whether Trump would have to deliver a speech from prison or if he would need to prerecord a speech before he was sentenced—Whatley said he couldn’t elaborate but added that “everything is being thought about” and everything was being “considered at this point in time.”

“We will have to wait and see what the courts present us with the opportunity to do, but look, Donald Trump will communicate directly with the American voters the way that he always does,” Whatley said.

“Believe me, Mr. Chairman, I can feel the audience right now upset that I’m asking these questions, but I have to ask them just because we are in such uncharted territory,” responded Newsmax host Rob Finnerty.

Meanwhile, the tides are turning against Republicans who dared to respect the rule of law and the judgment of 12 jurors who convicted Trump. After a weekend of waffling on the fate of former Maryland governor and Republican Senate candidate Larry Hogan, Whatley flatly said that the Republican primary winner “has to run his own race.”

“The RNC is not behind Larry Hogan?” pressed Finnerty.

“We are behind the Republican nominee, and we will support that nominee, but Larry Hogan is going to have to have that conversation with his voters there,” Whatley said.

“So the RNC won’t support Larry Hogan … as the guy on the ballot?” continued Finnerty.

“I didn’t say that. We’re making decisions based on investments in races every single day as we go forward with it,” Whatley said evasively. “Right now, we will evaluate it as we move forward in the election cycle.”

RFK Jr.’s VP Pick Brags She and Tucker Carlson Are “So on Same Page”

Nicole Shanahan says she has a lot in common with Tucker Carlson.

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

In the conspiracy world, white supremacist conspiracy theorist Tucker Carlson is evidently a triumph of independent antiestablishment thought. At least if you ask Robert F. Kennedy Jr. running mate (and billionaire) Nicole Shanahan.

“I’m sitting across from Tucker, and he and I are so on the same page in every single way,” Shanahan boasted during a campaign stop last week in Maine, provoking cheers from the small audience. “We are on the same page because we have left ‘establishment thinking’ once and for all.”

While touting his campaign as a defiant underdog battling against the forces of establishment control, former so-called Democrat Kennedy has long been a conspiracy theorist who routinely finds himself apologizing for pushing antisemitic rhetoric and appalling conspiracies—like nonsensically claiming Covid-19 was created to spare Jews, and that vaccine requirements are worse than the Holocaust.

The anti-vax nonprofit Kennedy chairs, Children’s Health Defense, was a major propagator of anti-vaccine disinformation in 2021 and often found itself rubbing shoulders with QAnon-addled Trumpsters and election-denialist insurrectionists. According to The Washington Post, Children’s Health Defense has peddled the “great reset” conspiracy, which claims “global elites” (billionaires, like Shanahan?) planned to use the coronavirus pandemic to “push forward a globalist or Marxist plot to destroy American sovereignty and prosperity and control the population.”

Tucker Carlson was ousted at Fox News after repeatedly pushing the deeply racist ‘great replacement’ theory, a racist conspiracy that falsely claims nonwhite immigrants are relocating to the United States with the explicit intention of eliminating “white culture.” Great replacement is a staple conspiracy among the extreme far right, and has been frequently touted by racist mass shooters.

Shanahan’s embrace of Carlson, both ultrarich and espousing conspiracies either covertly or overtly rooted in racism, is just another example of how the “antiestablishment” label is often just a scam to get people buying into authoritarian, extremist ideologies.

Fauci Torches “Crazy” MTG for Her Insane Attacks

The former NIAID head did not hold back against Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Anthony Fauci smiles as he sits in front of a microphone
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

After a tumultuous, side-winding hearing on Capitol Hill, Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared particularly unimpressed by a line of questioning directed at him by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

During his testimony Monday before the House oversight committee about the origins on Covid-19, Greene torched Fauci, the medical leader of America’s pandemic response, refusing to refer to him as a doctor and claiming that he belongs “in prison” for committing “crimes against humanity.”

Afterward, Fauci took to CNN to explain how rhetoric like hers immediately and inevitably results in an increase in death threats for himself and his family.

“Whenever somebody gets up, whether it’s a news media—you know, Fox News does it a lot—or it’s somebody in the Congress who gets up and makes a public statement that I’m responsible for the deaths of x number of people because of policies or some crazy idea that I created the virus—immediately, it’s like clockwork, the death threats go way up,” Fauci told Kaitlan Collins.

“So that’s the reason why I’m still getting death threats. When you have performances like that unusual performance by Marjorie Taylor Greene in today’s hearing, those are the kinds of things that drive up the death threats because there are a segment of the population out there that believe that kind of nonsense,” Fauci said.

But Greene wasn’t the only representative who threw inexplicable curveballs at the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Several GOP lawmakers all played the same game while Fauci was in the chair: New York Representative Nicole Malliotakis and Arizona Representative Debbie Lesko tried and failed to implicate him in popular conspiracy theories with evidence they didn’t have; committee Chair James Comer wouldn’t let him speak, claiming he had too many questions to get through; and Ohio Representative Jim Jordan threw him such irrelevant questions that it caused Fauci to ask, “What does that have to do with me?”

“I have testified literally hundreds of times over the last 40 years, over [at] Congress, and there’s always been differences of opinion, differences of ideology, criticisms, and things like that,” Fauci told CNN. “But the level of vitriol that we see now just in the country in general—but actually played out during this hearing was really quite unfortunate.”

And, ultimately, those questions distracted from and derailed a hearing with a real purpose: to educate Congress to better protect the American people ahead of another pandemic, according to Fauci.

Only time will tell if they learned something.

Felon Trump’s Really Dumb Defense Reveals Republican Hypocrisy

It’s getting hard to argue that Republicans stand for “law and order.”

Donald Trump holds up his fist
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt doesn’t seem to have a sense of irony when it comes to calling Republicans the party of “law and order” in defense of their presumptive nominee, who as of last week is an actual felon.

During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Representative Adam Schiff discussed Trump’s menacing warning about the public reaching a “breaking point” when he is sentenced for his various crimes. Schiff said the former president’s comment was “clearly Donald Trump once again inciting violence, potential violence, when he is sentenced.”

The next day, Leavitt hit back at Schiff during an interview on Newsmax, and conveniently ignored her client’s felony convictions to accuse the Democrats of being lawless and violent. 

“Adam Schiff is a vile and disgusting human being, and the Democrat Party is the party of violence; they are the party that have called to threaten the lives of Trump supporters,” she said.  

“It’s Maxine Waters who said, ‘Do whatever you have to do to go after them.’ It’s Adam Schiff who lied to the American public for years over a fake ‘Russia-Russia-Russia’ hoax that was paid for and concocted by the Democrat Party, just like this political persecution of Joe Biden’s opponent is today,” she said. 

“Republicans stand for law and order, Democrats stand for violence,” Leavitt continued. “The violence we see taking place in our inner cities, at our southern border, and all around this world is the result of Democrat policies.”

One might want to set aside Leavitt’s mischaracterizations of Waters’s comment—in which the California representative encouraged her supporters to hound Trump officials, not his MAGA followers—and of Schiff’s failed investigation into allegations that Trump had colluded with Russian officials, but really they shouldn’t. It’s all symptomatic of the Trump press secretary’s necessary break with reality, as she embraces her new job description: selling a criminal as the “Law & Order president.”

Watch: House Republicans Grilled on Running Alongside Convicted Felon

Here's what House Republicans in swing districts had to say about running after with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Representative Nick LaLota of New York

How do Republicans in Congress feel about their presidential nominee being a convicted felon? Quite dismissive, according to interviews conducted by CNN’s Manu Raju.

On the network’s OutFront show Monday, Raju spoke to several House Republicans in districts that supported Joe Biden for president in 2020 about whether they had misgivings about Donald Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts during his hush-money trial, and how that would affect their electoral chances.

“My district is full of very smart people with a firm grasp on reality. They can smell bullshit,” said Representative John Duarte of California.

Some shot down the question outright.

“I have no issues in supporting Donald Trump for president of the United States,” said Representative Anthony Esposito, despite the fact that the New York 4th congressional district that he represents was won by Joe Biden by 14 points in 2020.

Representative Mike Garcia from California also blew off any possibly negative effects on him from Trump’s conviction.

“I think the American people saw what happened in New York,” Garcia said. “They saw two, what were typically misdemeanors, being elevated to 34 felonies.”

New York’s Representative Nick LaLota said his constituents saw “a tainted process.”

“A lot of my constituents were focused on the trial not being fair, the process not being fair. And they’re upset, and they’re angry,” LaLota said.

The question was too controversial for at least two members of Congress, though. Representatives Mike Lawler of New York and Tom Kean Jr. of New Jersey refused to speak to Raju, either out of fear of alienating constituents or getting on Trump’s bad side.

These reactions are not surprising. The entire Republican Party has effectively been taken over by Trump and his acolytes, so we’re likely to continue to see prominent members of the party either offering full-throated defenses of the convicted felon and presidential nominee Trump or trying to avoid critical journalists altogether. This is despite the fact that having taken over the Republican National Committee, Trump is keeping party funds for himself and refusing to help their reelection campaigns, no matter how close their races may be.

Watch part of the segment here:

Matt Gaetz and Nancy Mace File Astonishing Amount of “Reimbursements”

The Republican representatives are reportedly taking full advantage of a new congressional program that doesn’t require receipts.

Matt Gaetz and Nancy Mace splitscreen
Getty x2

Republican Representatives Matt Gaetz and Nancy Mace are living high on the hog thanks to a shadowy reimbursement program for House lawmakers passed last year, according to records released by the House and reviewed by The Washington Post.

Mace submitted $19,395 in reimbursement claims from the program last year—and according to two former staffers who spoke with the Post, Mace directed her staff to find the maximum reimbursement she could get, regardless of her actual expenses. Her staff told her she couldn’t conceivably net more than $1,726 in monthly reimbursements, but Mace requested reimbursements at an average of over $2,000 a month anyway.

Meanwhile, one of the program’s top spenders, Representative Matt Gaetz reimbursed himself more than $10,000 for food last year—double the household average—and nearly $30,000 for lodging.* According to The Washington Post, Gaetz got reimbursed for more than $4,000 for lodging for two months in 2023—twice the average cost of rent in Washington, D.C.—and more than $3,000 for five months.

The reimbursement program, launched in 2023, issued $5.2 million in total reimbursements to more than 300 of the House’s 435 members last year. Intended to reflect private-sector reimbursement for business-related expenses, the program is a stopgap in lieu of the deeply unpopular move of Congress voting to give themselves raises. It provides a per-diem maximum spending on lodging and food as laid out by the General Services Administration, which oversees per diems for federal employees.

According to the GSA’s rate chart, a House lawmaker who spends 100 percent of the year working in Washington, D.C.—with no breaks for holidays, the end of legislative session, or weekends—could conceivably collect a maximum reimbursement of $80,377 for the 2023–2024 fiscal year in just lodging. For that same period and parameters, they could conceivably collect $28,835 in food reimbursements. To be crystal clear: These numbers are unachievable for lawmakers, who take weekends and holidays, who travel to their home states, and take legislative breaks. Gaetz somehow managed to achieve half that impossible expense.

Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a nonprofit government watchdog and public interest lobbying group, harshly criticized the reimbursement plan, pointing out its lack of requiremenet of receipts as a “ridiculous loophole” that opens opportunities for abuse.

“Clearly it becomes very difficult to tell whether or not it’s a legitimate payment and whether it’s proper,” Holman told The Washington Post.

A spokesperson for Gaetz defended his splurges, claiming the lawmaker raked up more costs because he’s just a really hard worker and spent more days than most in Washington working. “In 2023, Rep. Gaetz dedicated significant time to his work on the Weaponization Subcommittee, requiring his presence to be in Washington, D.C., on days often when there were no votes, which incurred additional reimbursement expenses to conduct depositions,” the spokesperson told The Washington Post.

While lawmakers aren’t required to provide receipts, running afoul of the rules to fleece the system could result in corruption charges. For lawmakers endorsing a felon for president, that’s practically a badge of honor.

* An earlier version of this article said that Representative Matt Gaetz was the reimbursement program’s top spender for 2023. That was based on outdated data reviewed by the Post, which has since updated its article. The program’s top spender was Representative Jack Bergman, another Republican.

Felon Trump Just Escalated His Most Insane Lie About Biden

Donald Trump is doubling down on his claim that he was the target of an assassination attempt.

Donald Trump speaks into a microphone
Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump is now looping his baseless conspiracies into his fundraising emails.

On Monday, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee escalated his claims that President Joe Biden authorized the FBI to shoot and kill him during its 2022 raid on Mar-a-Lago, this time promising to punish his two-time opponent for the alleged assassination attempt.

“Biden’s day of reckoning is coming,” the Trump campaign wrote in a fundraising email distributed Monday. “He tried to publicly torture and humiliate me … but he failed. He tried to raid my home and take me out with deadly force … but he failed.”

Trump’s blow-up accusation that the Biden administration had authorized the FBI to shoot him during its search and seizure of Mar-a-Lago is, in actuality, a wild misread of a standard policy statement regarding the agency’s use of deadly force during investigations.

But the ominous threat of revenge is a particularly odd attack from a man whose legal team argued that presidential immunity could cover political assassinations. In January, Trump’s legal team suggested that even a direct order for SEAL Team Six to kill a political opponent could avoid prosecution under a former president’s broad immunity.

The former president faces 42 felony charges in the case related to willful retention of national security information, corruptly concealing documents, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. But the judge actually overseeing the former president’s classified documents case seems to have no motivation to move forward with the trial.

In May, Judge Aileen Cannon ordered a stay on Trump’s legal requirement to give the government advance notice of which classified materials will be discussed in his classified documents case—but offered no expiration date for the theoretically temporary reprieve.

Convicted Felon Trump Scores a Big Win in Georgia Case

Donald Trump has landed another win as the Georgia appeals court set a date for arguments in the Fani Willis case.

Fani Willis sits in court and furrows her brows, looking confused or mad
Alex Slitz/Pool/Getty Images

The Georgia Court of Appeals has set a date to hear the Trump legal team’s appeal to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from the Georgia election interference case. Oral arguments are set to begin in October—all but guaranteeing to delay the election racketeering trial until past the election and well into 2025.

Tweet Screenshot: Anna Bower

In mid-March, Judge Scott McAfee ruled that Willis could continue to prosecute the case, so long as she cut ties with her special prosecutor, Nathan Wade, with whom she was accused of having an improper relationship. Two weeks later, Trump and eight of his 18 co-defendants in the case filed an application with the Georgia Court of Appeals asking it to reconsider McAfee’s decision, and last month, the court agreed to hear the case.

With Willis’s status on the fraud case pushed late in the year, the odds of the trial even beginning before the election in November have shrunk to zero. It’s a success for the convicted felon and Republican presidential candidate, whose legal strategy in the many cases against him has been to delay them so they can’t affect his chances of winning back the presidency.

Between this delay, Judge Aileen Cannon stalling Trump’s classified documents trial, and the Supreme Court’s examination of presidential immunity, Trump’s conviction on 34 felony charges in his hush-money trial may be the only legal consequences he faces for a long time. Even though sentencing is set to be decided in July in that case, Trump still can appeal the conviction and push his sentence further down the road.

If he’s elected president, the convicted felon plans to recruit his Republican allies to make it illegal to prosecute him for the crimes he commits, forever. He also wants to go after everyone who has tried to hold him accountable before the law.

It seems that, except for his hush-money trial conviction, what started out as a perilous year for Trump is looking better and better as his other legal cases get delayed and he evades further consequences. The only avenue for accountability may be for Trump to be soundly defeated In five months.

V.P. Wannabe Tom Cotton Ducks Key Question on Trump Trial

Cotton is rushing to Donald Trump’s defense after his guilty verdict.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Appearing on Meet the Press on Sunday, Republican Senator and Trump V.P.-hopeful Tom Cotton intently avoided answering whether he’d support the verdict if Trump loses the appeal in his hush-money trial—and weaseled away from his stance on other topics that went against Trump’s position too.

“Republicans are attacking the judge, the jury, the legal system here instead of letting the process play out,” Meet the Press anchor Peter Alexander asked. “If Donald Trump wins on appeal, is that valid?”

Cotton quickly answered the softball question, responding, “I think there’s no question Donald Trump should win on appeal.” On follow-up, Cotton was asked if he would find the verdict valid if Trump loses on appeal. Cotton blew off the question entirely, instead opting to speak straight through it to falsely assert, “He’s an innocent man who did nothing wrong.”

“This judge, again, violated New York rules by giving money to Joe Biden in 2020, specifically to stop Donald Trump,” Cotton continued. “I hope that the Court of Appeals in New York actually applies the law in an even-handed way as opposed to do what this judge did, what Joe Biden’s Department of Justice has done, which is bending the rules in return solely to stop Donald Trump. The only thing Donald Trump is guilty of is being a threat to Joe Biden’s reelection.”

Alexander noted to Cotton that “Joe Biden’s Department of Justice” is in the midst of prosecuting Robert Menendez, Henry Cuellar, and Hunter Biden. Alexander also noted to Cotton that the case against Trump began in 2018—well before Biden was the presidential nominee, and before he’d ever announced he was running for president.

In the same interview, Cotton revealed he would do Trump’s bidding elsewhere, adding a condition to whether he would accept the 2024 election results. Cotton was further grilled on his previous statements about the January 6 Capitol riot and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Notably, Trump has promised to pardon everyone convicted for the Capitol riot—including those who assaulted police—while Cotton has only gone so far as to call for pardoning people who did not assault anyone or vandalize anything. Cotton was also asked if he’d condemn extreme threats made against jurors, the judge, and prosecution in Trump’s hush-money trial that MSNBC pulled from Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social. Cotton initially dodged by deriding the comments as coming from an “obscure platform” and insinuating they must have come from “some obscure account” before admitting “I will always say that violence has no place in our politics.”

Republican Chairman Reprimands MTG Over Bonkers Fight With Dr. Fauci

The Republican chairman of the subcommittee criticized MTG and ordered her to cut it out.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene holds up a photograph of Dr. Anthony Fauci while questioning him during a hearing of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Monday, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene screamed at and berated Dr. Anthony Fauci in a petty fight that earned her a reprimand from the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Greene called Fauci’s medical credentials into question during a hearing on the U.S. response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“That is completely unacceptable to deny Dr. Fauci, who is here as a respected member of the medical community, his title, and that’s actually a personal attack on his character,” Representative Robert Garcia, a Democrat, said.

“He’s not respected,” Greene shot back. Others on the committee quickly moved to correct Greene and have her words stricken from the record when she refused to comply.

Representative Brad Wenstrup, the Republican chair of the subcommittee, eventually reprimanded Greene and ordered, “The gentlelady will suspend.”

Garcia later tore into Greene and other Republicans for their conduct in the hearing.

“I am so sorry that you are subjected to those level of attacks and insanity,” Garcia said, addressing Fauci. “Your quote-unquote ‘so-called science’ that the gentlewoman is referring to has saved millions of lives in this country and around the world.”

Garcia went on to praise Fauci and other medical officials for saving lives during and outside of the pandemic, pointing out that Greene introduced the Fire Fauci Act and that she accused the infectious diseases specialist of creating the Covid-19 virus. Garcia noted that he lost both of his parents to Covid-19.

It’s pretty clear that Greene’s attack is part of her and other far-right Republicans’ culture-war posturing on vaccination and the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather than achieve anything, their attacks on Fauci and other medical professionals, both on Monday and throughout the pandemic, only achieve attention for themselves and dangerous health outcomes for their supporters.

Greene hasn’t had a good spring. Last month, her attempt to insult Democratic Representative Jasmine Crockett backfired and turned her into a bankable meme for Crockett, and she’s lost a lot of goodwill from her fellow Republicans over her failed effort to oust Speaker Mike Johnson.