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The Insanely Idiotic Ways Trump Is Prepping for the Biden Debate

Donald Trump has adopted a wild approach to preparing for his debate against Joe Biden.

Donald Trump smiles as he stands in front of a giant American flag
Hannah Beier/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump provided a small window into his preparation strategy for Thursday night’s debate hosted by CNN, and it seems like the former president is in deep, deep trouble. 

Before Trump’s rally in Philadelphia Saturday night, Trump stopped for an interview with conservative radio talk show host Chris Stigall, during which they discussed the former president’s approach to the upcoming presidential debate.

Stigall asked how Trump was feeling about CNN’s debate terms, including mutable mics and the lack of live audience, suggesting that the terms to which the former president readily agreed suddenly present an unfair burden. 

“It’s probably a one-on-three,” Trump said, referring to Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, the two CNN anchors tapped to host. Amid all of his whining about an event he fully opted into, Trump confirmed that his actual debate prep is nonexistent.

“People say, ‘How are you preparing?’ I’m preparing by taking questions from you and others, if you think about it,” said Trump.

It’s difficult to imagine how being interviewed by a fan could possibly prepare Trump for the difficult questions that are likely to come his way on Thursday night. Trump will likely face questions about his role in the January 6 insurrection, the millions of dollars he owes author E. Jean Carroll, or the additional millions he owes in penalties from the Trump Organization’s civil fraud case in New York. He’ll likely also face questions about his recent conviction on 34 felony charges in his hush-money trial, allegations that he stole classified documents and obstructed their retrieval, and his racketeering indictment in Georgia for a conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election election. 

Trump will likely field questions about his whole range of unsavory, in many cases illegal, deeds and dangerous proclamations, which conservative pundits would never deign to ask him about. 

“So, uh, I’m preparing by dealing with you. You’re tougher than all of them, right?” Trump said, grinning crookedly. 

Stigall burst into laughter, appearing overjoyed. Trump then shook Stigall’s hand, and thanked him for being a “good friend.” Stigall promptly changed his profile picture on X, formerly Twitter, to a photo of him shaking hands with the former president. 

This is hardly on par with the “hostile environment” Trump’s spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt described during her Monday interview on CNN, which was ultimately cut short. Leavitt said her candidate was wading into dangerous waters so that he could reach the broadest possible audience—admitting that the debate will be the furthest thing possible from these softball interviews with his own supporters.  

But appearances like Leavitt’s, which devolved into airing grievances about Tapper’s coverage of the former president, are Trump’s real debate prep, and it started weeks ago. Through escalating conspiracy theories alleging Joe Biden will be on performance-enhancing drugs, whining about biased moderators and the weaponization of mutually agreed-upon debate terms, Trump’s spin campaign and his debate prep are really one and the same: a battle plan that demands no real strategy because it discounts the outcome before the fight even takes place. 

It’s not dissimilar from Trump’s election strategy. If you can’t beat ’em, there was no race, right? But for someone obsessed with not being a loser, it’s shocking how blatantly Trump telegraphs his inability to win. If his comments are anything to go by, Thursday night will be a fiasco.

How else Trump is preparing for the debate:

Very Stable Genius Trump Can’t Remember Event That Just Happened

Donald Trump had the strangest reaction to being asked whether he had eaten a sandwich.

Donald Trump greets supporters
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

It’s common for politicians on the campaign trail to make a show of sampling the local cuisine to look more like an “everyman.” So when Donald Trump was in Philadelphia, of course, he got a cheesesteak. But then, he did something unusual.

Trump had stopped by Tony and Nick’s Steaks Saturday to grab one of Philly’s famous sandwiches. An interviewer asked him about it, and the convicted felon contradicted himself in his answer.

“Ohhh, that was good,” Trump said. “I haven’t sampled it yet, but I will.”

Why would Trump answer the question in that way? Clearly, he wouldn’t know the sandwich was “good” unless he had tried some, but maybe he just loved the experience of having his order taken. And why not eat a hot, melty sandwich right away? It doesn’t taste as good when it’s cold.

But the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has always been weird about food. He loves eating fast food such as McDonald’s because he reportedly has a fear of being poisoned and thinks those places are “safer.” He’s posted staged photos that call into question whether he eats fried chicken with a knife and fork, or even at all. In 2011, he was famously called out by Jon Stewart for eating chain-store pizza with a knife and fork. Maybe Trump didn’t want to make a mess by eating a hot, melty cheesesteak.

Or maybe he forgot if he ate it or not. Trump has shown numerous signs of cognitive decline in recent months, whether it’s fumbling through speeches at rallies, ranting about boats and sharks, or making bizarre, nonsensical claims about migrants. He continues to brag about acing a cognitive test, but he changes the details every time he relates the story. MeidasTouch even made a supercut of several of his gaffes, including him mixing up Nancy Pelosi and Nikki Haley.

Maybe Trump ought to be a little more careful taking shots at Joe Biden and claiming he’ll be on drugs at Thursday’s presidential debate. After all, Biden’s pretty clear about what he enjoys eating.

Trump Ally Fumbles Hard When Asked About Trump’s Penchant for Violence

Lee Zeldin couldn’t answer a simple question on Trump’s long history of political violence.

Lee Zeldin
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

CNN commentator and former New York Representative Lee Zeldin made a mess of a simple question about political violence ahead of the first presidential debate.

When CNN’s Kasie Hunt asked Zeldin if he thought Donald Trump was “living up to what you say, that leaders should use rhetoric that discourages political violence,” Zeldin, a former New York gubernatorial candidate, talked in circles around the question, evidently still bound by the party diktat that Trump’s conduct is beyond reproach.

“Well, listen, there’s a lot that I would say, you know, as far as President Trump, what he has said, stuff that President Biden has said, that is not maybe you know, what my particular style is, but President Trump is a fighter. You know, he is, he is on offense. I’m sure he’ll be on offense again on Thursday.… Again, not just talking about what, I, my preference is for that positive, uplifting message. But I do think that a lot of people also want to see that contrast outlined. And this is high stakes. Talking about the president of the United States,” Zeldin said.

The verbal contortion act, aside from its shameless refusal to engage with Trump’s long history of encouraging political violence, was not exactly an incisive bit of analysis.

And Zeldin, who unsuccessfully ran against current New York Governor Kathy Hochul to replace Andrew Cuomo, should know the implications of violent political rhetoric better than most; he was attacked while giving a speech on the campaign trail in 2022. Party loyalty, however, seems to have overridden firsthand experience.

Damning New Evidence Against Trump Uncovered in Lawyer’s Secret Notes

Evan Corcoran’s notes include more incriminating evidence against Donald Trump in his classified documents case.

Evan Corcoran walks outside
Nathan Howard/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Judge Aileen Cannon is considering throwing out a collection of sealed notes on Trump’s behavior that practically prove that he knowingly stole and withheld classified documents from the U.S. government after he left office.

The notes, written by Trump’s former lead attorney Evan Corcoran two months before the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago in August 2022, describe a man who knew that he had taken troves of sensitive documents from the government and who then continued to knowingly conceal the documents from federal investigators, out of concern that being caught with them could result in criminal charges.

“He raised a question as to, if we gave them additional documents now, would they, would they, the Department of Justice, come back and say well, why did you withhold them, and try to use that as a basis for criminal liability or to make him look bad in the press,” Corcoran wrote of a May 2022 interaction with Trump, according to documents reviewed by ABC News.

Cannon is hearing arguments Tuesday on how strongly prosecutors can lean on the note package, and whether the case could be dismissed outright based on the role the notes play in the prosecution’s case.

A quick refresh: The National Archives requested as early as May 2021—just four months after he left office—that Trump return the missing documents to the government. Months later, a Trump representative would admit that 12 boxes of such material were at Mar-a-Lago. The National Archive ultimately retrieved 15 boxes, 14 of which included classified information, though some of the documents were discovered to have been torn up by Trump upon their retrieval. By May 2022, the Justice Department had obtained a subpoena for “any and all” classified documents at Trump’s residence, expecting the documents by the end of the month.

After Trump failed to respond to the subpoena, three FBI agents and DOJ counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt traveled to Mar-a-Lago in June to iron out the dispute. When they arrived, Trump’s attorney handed over an envelope double-wrapped in tape that they said held more classified documents and, despite being made aware that the boxes holding the sensitive documents were being held in a storage room at the resort, the agents were given “no opportunity … to confirm that no documents with classification markings remained.”

Meanwhile, Trump has practically confessed that he took the sensitive records. In an interview on Newsmax earlier this year, Trump claimed point blank that he actually did take the classified documents, describing the process of shamelessly packing them away while leaving office.

“I took ’em very legally,” Trump told the far-right network in March. “And I wasn’t hiding them.”

Trump faces 42 felony charges in the case related to willful retention of national security information, corruptly concealing documents, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Meanwhile, the Trump-appointed judge overseeing the case has slow-walked the trial so aggressively that she has been accused by legal experts of attempting to postpone it indefinitely. Last week, Judge Aileen Cannon began hearing arguments not related to Trump’s actions—but instead on whether special counsel Jack Smith’s appointment to the case, and its subsequent prosecution, was constitutional.

If Trump wins the election in November, he could potentially pardon himself, considering all of the alleged crimes are federal charges.

Panicking Trump Tries Yet Another Get-Out-of-Debate-Free Card

Donald Trump seems pretty desperate to avoid debating Joe Biden.

Donald Trump speaks as he walks
Hannah Beier/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s campaign is hard at work manufacturing a reason for him to skip Thursday’s presidential debate, and his latest tactic is the most ridiculous one yet.

Trump and his former White House doctor Representative Ronny Jackson, who reportedly kept the former president’s administration “awash in speed,” have repeatedly suggested that President Joe Biden will take performance-enhancing drugs before the debate, as part of their crusade to undermine the event and give Trump a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Now they’ve elevated their own bonkers conspiracy theory even further: Trump posted a letter to Truth Social on Monday that Jackson supposedly sent to the White House demanding Biden submit to a drug test before the debate.

“I demand that you submit to a clinically validated drug test in order to reassure the American people that you are mentally fit to serve as President and not relying on performance enhancing drugs to help you with your debate performance,” Jackson wrote. The pill-pushing Texas Republican demanded that the results of the president’s drug test be made public.

In his letter, Jackson echoed Trump’s and right-wing media’s insistence that Biden is suffering from cognitive decline, including a reference to a video of Biden that had been doctored to make him appear to wander away from a group at the G7 conference, and Robert Hur’s damning report casting public doubt on Biden’s memory. Hur’s characterization of their interview has been contested by the White House.

All of this concocted drama around drug use, as well as claims that CNN will host a biased debate, positively reek of desperation to get the former president out of Thursday night’s presidential showdown. It’s not surprising, as Trump is not suited to actual debate: His speech is often erratic and incoherent, and he’s prone to going off on tangents. Plus, Trump has historically taken a hit in the polls after debating with Democrats, in 2016, and again in 2020. While Trump loves to hype up a crowd, he’s just not that convincing when he’s sharing the stage.

It also appears that Jackson may soon want to focus on problems of his own. The House Ethics Committee announced Monday that it will review a report from a congressional watchdog that discovered “substantial reason” to believe that Jackson had converted thousands of dollars of campaign money for his own personal use.

Jackson was demoted by the U.S. Navy in 2022 after the Pentagon inspector general found that he regularly drank on the job, berated his subordinates, and acted inappropriately. Last year, Jackson was filmed unleashing a profanity-laced tirade on a Department of Public Safety officer.

Judge Cannon Shredded by Expert for Constant “Bonkers” Favors to Trump

A legal analyst slammed Judge Aileen Cannon for being in over her head with Donald Trump’s classified documents trial.

The Alto Lee Adams Sr. United States Courthouse building
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The Alto Lee Adams Sr. United States Courthouse, where U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has held hearings regarding former President Donald Trump, in Fort Pierce, Florida

Judge Aileen Cannon, who is presiding over Donald Trump’s classified documents case, once again has made a decision that appears to help the former president and convicted felon—and legal experts are calling her out. 

On Tuesday, Cannon will continue to divert the trial’s focus to whether special counsel Jack Smith’s appointment to investigate and prosecute Trump’s mishandling of classified documents is even constitutional. Legal experts, including Trump’s former lawyer Ty Cobb, have blasted Cannon’s decision to entertain Trump’s motion against the special counsel, pointing out the mountains of legal precedent affirming the appointment’s legality under the Constitution.

MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissman, a former federal prosecutor, took Cannon to task on Deadline: White House Monday afternoon, calling her aptitude into question. 

“There’s no question she’s inexperienced. And she does not have the tools to handle a case that is this complicated. That’s clear. There’s, you know, everyone’s seen that,” Weissman said.  “We also do have the fact that the Eleventh Circuit, a conservative circuit that she is in, reversed her not once, but twice. And those were conservative judges who just thought she was absolutely bonkers in terms of her rulings.

“And of course, both times that she was overturned, her rulings were for Trump. It’s not like she’s inexperienced and sometimes she gets it right for Trump and sometimes she gets it right or wrong for the government. They’re always siding with Donald Trump and it’s very, very hard at this point to see her as being anything other than partisan,” Weissman added. 

Cannon’s actions in the classified documents case have constantly served Trump’s interests from the start, giving weight to the accusation that she is prone to exploitation. When the case was initially handed to her, more senior judges in her circuit urged her to turn over the case to a judge with more trial experience, but she refused

Cannon has also agreed to hear pretrial motions that have slowed down proceedings, including the one questioning Smith’s appointment. She’s thrown out parts of the case, and her willingness to entertain every motion from Trump’s team, no matter how frivolous, has postponed the trial indefinitely.

Steve Bannon Reveals Real Reason MAGA Is Freaking Out at CNN

The far right is mad that CNN cut off an interview with a Trump ally. But Steve Bannon just admitted the endgame in the manufactured outrage.

Steve Bannon walks outside and smiles
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Steve Bannon pointed out why the right wing is whining about CNN dismissing Donald Trump’s press secretary Karoline Leavitt from an interview on Monday, and it’s because of Trump’s upcoming debate with Biden.

On his War Room show on Real America’s Voice, Bannon said in an interview with Leavitt that she was owed an apology.

“[CNN’s] Kasie Hunt owes you an apology, CNN owes you an apology today, and if we don’t get that apology to Karoline Leavitt and to the Trump campaign, to MAGA today, President Trump should cancel this,” Bannon said, referring to the June 27 presidential debate that CNN is hosting.

Trump and his allies have already made plenty of excuses to try and either weasel out of the two scheduled debates with Biden or make excuses for his possible poor showing. The former president and convicted felon has tried to push a third debate on his own to give himself an out when it wouldn’t be accepted by the Biden campaign.

Trump’s friend Sean Hannity has floated that Trump shouldn’t take part in any debates until he formally secures the Republican nomination. Trump himself has pushed the idea that Biden will be drugged up to perform well during the debates multiple times, with Hannity and Representative Ronny Jackson echoing this conspiracy theory. Now Bannon is insinuating that CNN won’t be fair to Trump because they have criticized him in the past, and is giving Trump an out, even though Biden and Trump both agreed to the terms of the debate last month.

Bannon should maybe be more worried about his impending four-month prison sentence, which he has bitterly fought and is now trying to weasel out of with a desperate appeal to the Supreme Court. If it goes the way MAGA fellow traveler Peter Navarro’s Supreme Court appeal went, Bannon will end up trying to figure out if he can record his show from a prison like Rikers Island.

Trump Facing More Trouble After Shady Meeting With Oil Executives

Donald Trump has just been hit with a bribery complaint.

Donald Trump speaks at a mic and looks concerned. You can see the outline of his spray tan on his face. (He looks sickly.)
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Donald Trump may be in trouble for asking oil executives to donate $1 billion to his campaign in April.

Citizen for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit watchdog organization, filed a complaint with the Justice Department alleging criminal bribery regarding Trump’s meeting with industry leaders. The former president and convicted felon told them the $1 billion would be part of a deal in exchange for loosened regulations of the oil industry.

In a statement, CREW’s president Noah Bookbinder said Trump’s actions towards oil executives “follow a pattern.”

“Donald Trump’s actions here follow a pattern of Trump opening himself up to corrupt influence, courting conflicts of interest, and using official positions to enrich himself—and in this case may run afoul of the criminal law,” Bookbinder said. The complaint was sent as a letter to the chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, Corey Amundson, as well as FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Ron Wyden, the respective chairs of the Senate Budget and Finance Committees, are also investigating the meeting, with Whitehouse calling it the “definition of corruption.”

And he has a point. Trump is effectively selling laws to big business, with oil executives already drafting executive orders for him to sign immediately if he gets reelected. Trump reportedly promised these executives that he’d scrap a ban on permits for new liquefied natural gas exports on the first day, overturn new tailpipe emission limits designed to help the transition to electric vehicles, and offer more leases for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Trump’s first term was full of giveaways to the fossil fuel industry, so why is he asking for cash now? It’s because he’s short on cash, already funneling his donor contributions to the lawyers concerned with his many legal issues. As much as his rise in politics came from attacking the wealthy elite establishment, he’s fully willing to cozy up to billionaires and wealthy business leaders as long as they are willing to pay up.

Louisiana’s Ten Commandments Law Already on Its Way to Supreme Court

Louisiana’s governor said he can’t wait to be sued. He just got what he wanted.

Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry has his mouth slightly ajar. A mic is before him. (He is in a congressional hearing.)
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Last week, Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signed into law a controversial bill requiring the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public school classrooms. Shortly before, he told donors at a GOP event in Tennessee, “I’m going home to sign a bill that places the Ten Commandments in public classrooms. And I can’t wait to be sued.” Sure enough, Louisiana parents and a coalition of civil liberties organizations are granting him his wish.

The ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, along with the parents of children enrolled in Louisiana public schools, filed a lawsuit against the state for violating the religious freedom of students on Monday. The move was widely expected, not just by Landry and religious conservative pugilists, but also by a consensus of legal experts, who claim the law is unconstitutional. Supreme Court legal precedent is on their side; two previous attempts to mandate similar displays were struck down.

But Landry’s giddiness for the upcoming legal fight echoes the attitude of the bill’s co-author, Louisiana State Representative Lauren Ventrella, who, in the midst of a flailing attempt to defend the law on national television, revealed the Christian conservative strategy on which she and Landry will rely.

“Now it is a different bench” on the Supreme Court, Ventrella told CNN’s Abby Philip. With a 6–3 conservative majority—including religious fundamentalist Christians Amy Coney Barrett and Samuel Alito, and multiple justices who have shown a willingness to depart from precedent capriciously—advocates of the law are hoping to move the lawsuit through the courts until it finds a friendly reception at the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, though, they’ll continue to run roughshod over the First Amendment.

More on the nefarious reason this law was signed:

Judge Cannon Finds Another Way to Delay Trump’s Classified Docs Trial

The judge took issue with funding for special counsel Jack Smith’s team.

Donald Trump smiles as he stands at a microphone
Hannah Beier/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Judge Aileen Cannon was poised Monday to do Donald Trump yet another massive favor in his classified documents case, aiming to slow down proceedings and muddy the waters by raising concerns about special counsel Jack Smith’s spending.

Attorneys for the former president have continued to push the claim that Smith’s appointment was constitutionally invalid, and in a hearing Monday, they took aim at the budget for Smith’s investigation. Cannon, who has readily slowed Trump’s trial to a complete standstill, was happy to entertain the defense’s grievances.

Fresh off of his loss in Manhattan criminal court, Trump’s lawyer Emil Bove argued that the Department of Justice had violated the U.S. Consitution’s appropriations clause by improperly funding Smith’s office.

Trump’s defense lawyers had argued in a court filing Friday that Smith was not paid through the Justice Department but through an “off the books” fund reserved for “independent counsels,” which lack the necessary oversight. They alleged that Smith has access to a “permanent indefinite appropriation,” which is otherwise not available to a special counsel.

During Monday’s hearing, assistant special counsel James Pearce responded to the defense’s claims, arguing that the Justice Department could just as easily pay Smith’s bills out of their own pot.

But Cannon didn’t seem convinced. The Trump-appointed judge said that the seemingly “limitless” funding suggested a separation of powers issue, per Bove’s claim.

Cannon called the cost of Smith’s appointment a “significant” amount of money, according to The Washington Post, although it is likely only a small fraction of the Department of Justice’s whopping $40 billion annual budget.

Resolving whether Smith’s appointment is constitutional will only drag out Trump’s classified documents case, making it less likely with every passing day that he will face trial before the November election.

Cannon held a second hearing Monday afternoon over prosecutors’ request that a gag order be placed on the former president, preventing him from making unfounded claims against the FBI. Trump has insisted that federal agents intended to maim or even assassinate him while searching Mar-a-Lago, while in reality, they purposefully timed their search to occur when he was absent.