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Samuel Alito Caught on Tape Revealing His True Guiding Force

And it’s not neutrality or justice.

Samuel Alito frowns as he sits in front of a microphone
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A secret tape has exposed some of Justice Samuel Alito’s privately held beliefs, including endorsing a fight to “return our country to a place of godliness” with the stark understanding that “one side or the other is going to win.”

Alito’s comments were recorded by advocacy journalist Lauren Windsor during the Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual dinner on June 3, an opportunity leveraged by many right-wing activists to cozy up to members of the nation’s highest judiciary.

A copy of the tape, which documented the incredible candor with which Alito forewent any illusion of neutrality, was provided to Rolling Stone.

Leading Alito on, the liberal documentarian is heard approaching the justice about a disbelief that American polarization can come to an end by way of negotiating with the political left. Instead, Windsor posits that it’s more a matter of conservatives “winning.”

“I think you’re probably right,” Alito replies. “On one side or the other—one side or the other is going to win. I don’t know. I mean, there can be a way of working—a way of living together peacefully, but it’s difficult, you know, because there are differences on fundamental things that really can’t be compromised. They really can’t be compromised. So it’s not like you are going to split the difference.”

Alito then agreed with Windsor’s assessment that the country needed to return to a “place of godliness.”

Meanwhile, responses from Chief Justice John Roberts—who was appointed to the bench the same year and by the same president as Alito—to near-identical questions offered a stark contrast between the two conservative judges.

“The idea that the court is in the middle of a lot of tumultuous stuff going on is nothing new,” Roberts told Windsor, in response to her question about intense polarization in the United States.

Roberts pushed back when pressed on whether the court should right the U.S. onto a “moral path,” and pointed to the perspectives of “Jewish and Muslim friends” when presented with the idea that the country is a “Christian nation.” He argued that it wasn’t the Supreme Court’s role to lead the country with any religious bearings.

“It’s not our job to do that. It’s our job to decide the cases the best we can,” Roberts said.

Alito’s comments are particularly telling considering he has come under fire for two flags flown outside two of his houses. One was an upside-down American flag, which is associated with the January 6 insurrection, and the other is a Christian nationalist banner.

Nancy Mace’s Disdain for Trump Supporters Exposed by Former Staffers

Nancy Mace’s former staffers are revealing what it was really like to work with the Republican representative desperate for media attention.

Nancy Mace wearing sunglasses outside speaks with reporters
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A new profile of Representative Nancy Mace in Slate has some surprising revelations about the South Carolina congresswoman, chief among them her actual opinion of the Republican Party’s voters.

The article, sourced from Mace’s former staffers, shows a second-term member of Congress desperate for attention. When Representative Kevin McCarthy was ousted as House speaker in October, Mace was among those who voted against him, much to everyone’s surprise, including her own staff’s.

In the following days, however, Mace sought to stand out even more, showing up to work wearing a shirt with a big red “A” on the front, in a nod to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic, The Scarlet Letter. The move baffled her staff, one of whom told Slate they thought “it was just some fashion statement. I was like, OK, well, maybe this is an Abercrombie shirt or something.”

It quickly became apparent that Mace was attempting to place herself at the center of attention.

“She wanted every single person to think—when they thought of the McCarthy ouster vote, not to think of the eight, but to think of Nancy Mace,” the staffer said.

While Mace claimed that her choice of wardrobe was because she had been “demonized for my vote and for my voice” and would “do the right thing every single time, no matter the consequences,” it drew many puzzled reactions. An unhappy Mace told her staff that the people who didn’t understand it were probably “Trump voters” who weren’t smart, a startling thing to say for a Republican.

Congress, and more specifically the Republican caucus, has no shortage of members who seek attention but provide little in the way of legislation, like Representatives Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene. One of Mace’s former staffers told Slate that the congresswoman used to criticize such colleagues, but now “she has turned herself into what she hates.”

Mace’s record is full of such behavior, whether it’s claiming that she was being shamed as a victim of sexual assault because she was asked why she supported Donald Trump to calling campus protesters against the war in Gaza “terrorist-loving kids” who “hate our country so much.” Congressional staffers have called her “abusive” and quit working for her in droves. There is an ethics complaint against her for seeking higher monthly lodging reimbursements than what her expenses actually warranted, charging the government for more than $8,900 over what she was eligible for.

Mace is trying to ward off a primary challenger in her reelection race, as her actions have attracted criticism back in North Carolina, where she is currently polling under 50 percent.

Trump’s New Comments on Taylor Swift Will Gross You Out

A new book reveals what Donald Trump thinks about the megastar.

Taylor Swift touches her hair
Andre Dias Nobre/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump has finally unveiled his urgent political take on the mega-popular singer Taylor Swift, who has been relentlessly attacked by his right-wing cronies: He thinks she’s good-looking. 

In the soon-to-be released book Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass, the presumptive Republican nominee gushed over the very same superstar that far-right MAGA cronies once tried to cut down.

“She’s got a great star quality,” said Trump. “She really does.” The former president then pivoted to discuss the most important quality about any woman, her physical appearance.

“I think she’s beautiful—very beautiful! I find her very beautiful. I think she’s liberal. She probably doesn’t like Trump. I hear she’s very talented. I think she’s very beautiful, actually—unusually beautiful,” he told Ramin Setoodeh, Variety’s co–editor in chief and the author of the book. 

Caught up by his strange string of shallow, sexist compliments, Trump had the gall to suggest Swift might secretly be an undercover Republican. Quite the change from the government psyop Fox News once suggested she was. 

“But she is liberal, or is that just an act?” Trump asked Setoodeh. “She’s legitimately liberal? It’s not an act? It surprises me that a country star can be successful being liberal.”

Swift has not produced a country album since 2012.

The former president was also asked about Swift’s chart-topping music. “Don’t know it well,” Trump replied, which should tell you everything you need to know.  

Trump’s objectifying response gets even creepier when taken in the context of his noted affinity for blonde women, who consistently populate his inner circle. Trump’s attempt at flattery is likely an effort to neutralize the vitriol of his far-right Republican fanboys so as not to alienate the many, many Americans who love Taylor Swift. 

But no matter how “beautiful” Trump may find her, it won’t change that in 2020, Swift backed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and joined in the chorus of those who publicly shamed Trump for spewing violent rhetoric at Black Lives Matter protesters. Swift has yet to issue some election-altering, generation-defining creed about who her fans should support in November. But fans and foes alike know all too well who’d she’d back. 

Trump’s New Nickname for January 6 Insurrectionists Speaks Volumes

Donald Trump used his Las Vegas rally to downplay January 6—and to spread another conspiracy theory.

Donald Trump smiles and waves
James Devaney/GC Images

In a move that increases the temperature of his rhetoric considerably, Donald Trump called rioters under prosecution for participating in the violent January 6 Capitol insurrection on his behalf “warriors.” The comment came during a sweltering hot campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday.

“Those J6 warriors—they were warriors. But they were really, more than anything else, they’re victims of what happened,” Trump said while decrying prosecution of the rioters. “All they were doing was protesting a rigged election,” he added, reaffirming the Big Lie he pushed in the lead-up to the certification of Biden’s presidency in 2021.

Trump also alleged that the whole insurrection was a setup by law enforcement, who directed the rioters to storm the Capitol.

Trump has previously described Capitol rioters facing prosecution and riding out federal jail time as “hostages” and “unbelievable patriots,” seemingly endorsing vandalism and violent assaults on cops from his base of conspiracy theorists and far-right extremists.

His comments Sunday represent an escalation in Trump’s rhetoric in defense of the rioters and comes amid his efforts to stir his base into similar violence following his felony conviction. Last Monday, Trump speculated there would be a “breaking point” for the American public if he faced jail time, with his followers eagerly calling for extreme violence in response to his conviction.

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Dissent Is Growing: Boycott Netanyahu Calls Pick Up in Congress

A growing number of Democrats are pledging to boytcott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in Congress.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking

A growing number of Democrats are vowing to boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress next month, due to Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza.

In March, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a speech criticizing Netanyahu’s conduct of the war and calling for new elections in Israel. Only a short time later, though, Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries joined Republican Speaker Mike Johnson’s invitation to Netanyahu to address Congress.

The decision has led to a serious blowback from the rest of the party, even from Democrats who haven’t been vocal critics of Israel’s war, which has killed over 37,000 people, including at least 15,000 children. On Friday, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN that it was “wrong” to invite Netanyahu and that she would “absolutely not” have invited him if she were still leading the chamber.

Other Democrats echoed Pelosi.

“I won’t attend and turn my back towards him,” Representative Hank Johnson said. “So I’m just gonna stay away.”

“I’m not planning on attending, and/or I’ll be participating in whatever events there are to express that we want this war to end and we want both him and Hamas to agree to a cease-fire,” said Representative Greg Casar.

Opposition is even coming from Jewish members of Congress, such as Representative Jan Schakowsky.

“The role that the prime minister is playing is very negative, and I don’t want to be there,” Schakowsky said. 

It’s not the first time Democrats have taken issue with Netanyahu speaking before Congress. In 2015, Netanyahu spoke before Congress in an attempt to sink then-President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, drawing the ire of many Democrats. At least 50 House members and eight senators chose to boycott that speech.

“He imported a little bit of controversy the last time he was here,” Representative Stephen F. Lynch said. “I thought it was disrespectful to the president, so I’m inclined not to attend.”

Increased opposition to Netanyahu’s appearance is also coming from progressives, many of whom have already called for a cease-fire.

“I’ve spoken to several members in the House and the Senate, actually, who had gone to the last speech, the last time he was here, even though they had a lot of misgivings about it, and have been clear that they’re not planning to go this time,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal, head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who won’t be attending.

As the war draws on with more and more Palestinian civilians being killed, House and Senate leadership need to realize that inviting a prime minister accused of war crimes is not the answer, but ending weapons shipments to Israel to force an immediate cease-fire is. 

TNR Takes the Anti-Censorship Fight to the Belly of the Beast

Last Saturday’s event in Ron DeSantis’s Florida with Lauren Groff and Jodi Picoult struck a blow for free expression.

Jodi Picoult reads one of her own novels
Darren McCollester/WireImage for BCH/Getty Images

Panelists at The New Republic’s Right to Read celebration in Miami Saturday evening seemed united in their diagnosis of the state of intellectual freedom in the United States: Censorship of books in schools across the country is exceedingly unpopular but nonetheless represents a grave threat to free expression.

“There are so many more of us,” said New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult. “We just have to be a little bit louder.”

The celebration, held in the cradle of the latest wave of American censorship, lifted up the voices of activists, writers, and educators, whom AFT secretary treasurer Fedrick Ingram called “first responders” and the “vanguard” of the fight against book bans.

“Public school teachers and librarians saved my life,” said 1619 Project author Nikole Hannah-Jones.

If teachers are the vanguard of the movement challenging these prohibitions, writers like Picoult and celebrated Florida-based novelist Lauren Groff, along with panelists Jacqueline Woodson, George M. Johnson, and Ellen Hopkins, represent a powerful rear guard against the sanitization of historical education in schools. As TNR’s Alex Shephard pointed out while interviewing Picoult, book bans are about nothing less than the question of American identity itself.

The author Ashley Hope Perez reminded the audience that the real problem isn’t discussing our country’s ugly past but rather that past itself. “The thing that we should be upset about is not people talking about painful histories and ugly aspects of our past; it should be that we allowed those things to happen, that those were the experiences of generations of young people,” Perez said.

And Picoult, against the conservative canard that interrogating the country’s darkest moments “divides” us, highlighted books’ unifying capability. “Books have always bridged gaps between people,” she insisted. “Book bans are meant to create them.”

The threat of what PEN American Florida director Katie Blankenship called “educational gag orders,” designed to clamp down on books discussing race, gender, and sexuality in classrooms, extends beyond the classroom.

Groff, explaining her decision to open a bookstore selling banned books in Florida, was more emphatic: “In the places where people burn books, they will one day burn people.” Indeed, the bans are of a piece with a broad right-wing agenda that seeks to restrict civil liberties across the board.

Ingram identified book bans as part of a wider war on public schooling and low-income families. Groff connected them to the rollback of reproductive rights in red states since the Dobbs decision. “People in Florida do not have control over our own autonomy in Florida right now,” she said. “This is happening under the cloak of a lot of the book banning stuff.”

Book bans, like abortion bans and the gutting of the social service net, are unpopular, the repressive last gasps of a minority that has given up on persuasion. According to Picoult, 11 people are responsible for more than half of the country’s book bans. (In Martin County, Florida, a single disgruntled parent was behind the banning of 92 books, 20 of which were written by Picoult.)

But a nascent parental rights movement that enjoys the backing of red-state governors threatens the freedoms of millions of Americans unequipped to engage it. Ingram captured it, and the strategy to oppose book bans, succinctly: “It’s about power.”

John Fetterman Brags That Brain Damage Made Him Abandon Progressives

The Pennyslvania senator sat down with Bill Maher of all people to chat about leaving progressives behind.

John Fetterman wearing a hoodie smiles and waves at reporters as he arrives at the Capitol
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

During an appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher, Senator John Fetterman credited his near-fatal stroke with making him a conservative darling, describing it as “freeing.”

“There’s a line from the first Batman, Joker, he’s like, ‘I’ve already been dead once already. It’s very liberating,’” Fetterman told Maher on Friday. “That’s not reckless, that’s just freeing. It’s just freeing in a way. And I just think after beating all of that, I just really want to be able to say the things that I have to really believe in and not be afraid of if there’s any kind of blowback.”

Following the October 7 Hamas attack, Fetterman broke from the progressives who got him elected to saber-rattle for Israel’s brutal attacks on Gaza. His stance has largely been antagonistic, trolling protesters rallying for a cease-fire by waving an Israel flag over them, laughing at military veterans getting arrested protesting for a cease-fire, and castigating the United States for abstaining from a cease-fire resolution instead of voting against it. He has described student encampment protests as “pup tents for Hamas” and spread debunked propaganda denigrating pro-Palestine demonstrations in Philadelphia.

Since adopting an aggressively pro-Israel stance, Fetterman has also backed harsher border policies—a curious stance given that he used to point to his wife’s undocumented status as a child to tout his progressive bona fides.

Fetterman frames his seismic shift as stances he’s always had, which his brain damage simply allowed him the freedom to embrace—despite constantly describing himself as a progressive through the years, seeking endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America, and himself endorsing progressive candidates for office.

While progressives who campaigned hard for Fetterman feel betrayed by his shift, conservatives have celebrated Fetterman’s self-described brain damage–induced embrace of right-wing positions—itself a clear signal he’s garnering the wrong audience.

“It’s heartwarming to see regular people using their brain,” said one account on X (formerly Twitter) in response to a white nationalist disinformation account boosting Fetterman’s interview with Maher.

“If only there was some way we could repeat this experiment with other elected officials,” replied another user in response to a Fox News post about how Fetterman’s brain damage “freed” him.

Chappell Roan Calls Out Biden After Snubbing White House Invitation

The pop star called for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Chappell Roan, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, holds one hand in the air as she sings into a microphone
Marleen Moise/Getty Images

Pop singer Chappell Roan, whose star has quickly ascended over the last five months, announced that she recently turned down an invitation to perform for the president of the United States during the annual New York’s Governor’s Ball music festival.

“In response to the White House, who asked me to perform for Pride,” Roan said. “We want liberty, justice, and freedom for all. When you do that, that’s when I’ll come.”

The rebuffed request was confirmed by Roan’s representatives to Variety. Later in her performance, Chappell Roan, the stage persona of 26-year-old Kayleigh Rose Amstutz, continued to explain why she’d turned down the offer.

“I am in drag of the biggest queen of all,” announced the singer, who appeared dressed as the Statue of Liberty, which stood a little over a mile away  across the New York harbor. “But in case you had forgotten what’s etched on my pretty little toes: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.’

“That means freedom and trans rights. That means freedom and women’s rights. It especially means freedom for all people in oppressed—” she paused, placing her hand over her mouth, appearing to tear up. “It especially means freedom for all oppressed people in occupied territories,” which many in the audience understood to be a reference to Israel’s deadly military campaign in Gaza and ongoing occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

The crowd erupted into cheers, and the singer quickly pivoted to her performance. “Thank you,” she shouted. “We’re gonna do ‘Hot to Go’!”

Over the weekend, Israel Defense Forces killed 274 people in Nuseirat as part of an extraction effort that saved four hostages, while reportedly killing three others. More than 37,000 people in Gaza were killed in the last eight months.

V.P. Wannabe Tom Cotton Defends Trump “Rewarding Putin”

Donald Trump’s new plan shows where his loyalty really lies.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shake hands
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump appears to have an unconventional idea about how to handle the Russia-Ukraine conflict—and his allies don’t seem to have a good explanation for it.

When pressed for details on Sunday, Trump vice presidential hopeful Senator Tom Cotton explained to Fox News that Trump would likely allow Russia to claim parts of Ukraine.

“There are reports that what President Trump plans to do to end that conflict is to potentially push Ukraine to give up Crimea, parts of Donbas,” host Shannon Bream said. “If that is the plan, do you agree with that strategy? And would that be rewarding [Vladimir] Putin in order to wrap this thing up in the way that he intended to start it—and take some of that territory? Is that just giving him what he wanted?”

Such a plan would effectively reverse President Joe Biden’s policy and lose any wins that Ukraine has had in its year-and-a-half war against its superpower neighbor. But despite the plan’s shocking intentions, Cotton still didn’t deny its details.

“President Trump and his campaign have said that any reports of plans like that are not authorized, and they’re not coming from the president himself,” Cotton said. “Furthermore, President Trump has said that he strongly supports Ukraine’s strength and survival. He had a strong relationship when he was in office with President Zelenskiy.”

Cotton seemed to conveniently forget that Trump’s relationship with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy consisted mainly of withholding military aid to try to get the Eastern European nation to dig up dirt on Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Trump was impeached (the first time) for his demand.

Trump’s new whole plan is awfully similar to an idea previously pitched by biotech investor Vivek Ramaswamy. In August, the former GOP presidential candidate told CNN that the only way to break up the Russia-China alliance would be to give the Slavic nation what it wants. But even then, the plan was pitched on the false premise that the U.S. has any say in how a foreign nation divvied up its land.

During a meeting with the Ukrainian leader on Friday, Biden actually apologized for the delayed aid package, blaming its late arrival on some contentious conservative members of Congress—and possibly on Cotton, who was one of 29 Republicans to vote against the $95.3 billion foreign aid package in February. But the Arkansas lawmaker couldn’t square that when asked about it by Bream.

“Well, Shannon, he should only be pointing the finger at himself,” Cotton said of Biden. “For more than two years, Joe Biden pussyfooted around and didn’t give Ukraine the weapons it needed to defend itself.”

Trump Is Pissed Biden Reminded People of His Insult to Dead Soldiers

Donald Trump says only a “psycho or a crazy person or a very stupid person” would say something like that. Well ...

Trump is wearing a red Make America Great again cap and speaking at a mic
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Donald Trump went nuts over the weekend over an ad from the Joe Biden campaign highlighting Trump allegedly calling dead soldiers “suckers and losers.”

The ad was posted on Friday afternoon with the tagline “Donald Trump doesn’t know a damn thing about service to his country.”

At a Las Vegas rally on Sunday, the convicted felon and former president once again denied making the comments, as he did when The Atlantic first reported on them in 2020.

“[Biden] said I stood over graves of soldiers and I said: ‘These people are suckers and losers,’ the dead soldiers from World War I,’’ Trump said Sunday. He claimed it was all “made up” and that the Biden campaign knew it was “phony” but still “took an ad using it—these are sick people.”

“Unless you’re a psycho or a crazy person or a very stupid person, who would say that, anyway?” Trump said at the rally. “I don’t like mentioning it. But for me to say ‘suckers and losers’ about people that died in World War I in front of military people? It’s not a possibility you could say a thing like that.”

On Sunday evening, Trump continued to vent on Truth Social, posting twice about his alleged comments and attacking their source, his former chief of staff John Kelly.

Trump Truth Social June 9, 2024: Crooked Joe Biden Biden, the WORST PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, just confused Ukraine with Iraq. He actually doesn’t know the difference, probably gets money from both, a Manchurian Candidate! He also said, in another Democrat Disinformation “hit job” like Russia, Russia, Russia, the “51 Intel Agents,” or the Fake FISA Reports, that I called dead American Soldiers, “losers and suckers.” Who would ever say such a thing? Only a sicko with an axe to grind would suggest that anyone would make such a statement. They even made these horrific words into an advertisement, which shows how desperate they are. No President, especially “dumb as a rock” Joe Biden, has done more for our Military than DONALD J. TRUMP. The Military hates Crooked Joe, and all of the failure he represents. Take down the Fake Ad, Joe, and stop the unprecedented Weaponization of “Justice” against your Political Opponent. You are destroying our Country!
Trump Truth Social post June 9, 2024: Obviously, I never said that dead Soldiers are “losers and suckers.” Who would say such a thing? It was MADE UP DISINFORMATION by Radical Left Democrats, and Trump Haters, working with a failing Magazine, just like Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, FISA Fraud, 51 Intel Agents, and so much more. Anytime you see that despicable FAKE statement used, remember that it comes from the FASCIST SCUM that is destroying our Country. Nobody has done more for the Military than Donald J. Trump - I completely Rebuilt it, and added SPACE FORCE to boot! VOTE FOR TRUMP - MAGA2024!

In October, Kelly confirmed that Trump made the comments in 2018, refusing to visit the graves of American soldiers buried near Paris because the cemetery is “filled with losers.”

Trump is “a person that has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about.… A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law,” Kelly said. “There is nothing more that can be said.”

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