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House Republican Invents Bonkers Reason Steve Bannon Should Go Free

Representative Barry Loudermilk argued that Bannon was justified in ignoring his congressional subpoena.

Barry Loudermilk looks up
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Republicans in Congress are desperately trying to save Steve Bannon from prison—and they’re coming up with some insane legal theories in the process.

Representative Barry Loudermilk filed a brief with the Supreme Court Wednesday not only asking them to throw out Bannon’s contempt of Congress case but also adopting the standard that if any witness in a congressional investigation thinks a subpoena isn’t valid, they can ignore it.

It’s a crazy thing to push in a legal filing, and it completely ignores the facts of Bannon’s case: He didn’t make any such legal arguments until after he had flouted the subpoena against him. Subpoenas are meant to compel someone to come to court and testify. The idea that a witness should be allowed to ignore one would defeat their entire purpose.

Loudermilk’s filing didn’t even come from House lawyers, but rather outside counsel: Stephen Miller’s America First Legal firm, to be exact.

Screenshot of a tweet

The move follows another last-ditch effort late Tuesday night, when Speaker Mike Johnson and other GOP leaders held a secret vote to reject the previous Congress’s formal position on the January 6 committee. The Republicans’ hope was that their vote would undermine the legitimacy of the congressional committee and its subpoena of Bannon in turn, and allow members of Congress to file briefs on behalf of Bannon against the committee. It seems that Loudermilk’s brief came as a result of their efforts.

It’s unclear whether House Republicans will be able to make Bannon’s indictment, conviction, and four-month prison sentence just go away. Former Trump White House aide Peter Navarro also appealed to the Supreme Court to dodge his contempt of Congress sentence and failed, but he didn’t have America First Legal and House Republicans backing him. It remains to be seen whether this right-wing Supreme Court will help Bannon avoid serving time in a place such as Rikers Island.

How Republicans are helping Steve Bannon:

Trump Allies Beg Him Not to Be “Raging Asshole” at Biden Debate

If Trump isn’t his usual self at the debate, this is why.

Donald Trump speaking (yelling?) into a mic
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Trump’s debate preppers are begging him to not be a “raging asshole,” according to sources who shared their sigh-inducing strategies with Rolling Stone ahead of Thursday’s presidential debate against Biden.

A Republican who recently provided debate prep to Trump paraphrased their advice to Rolling Stone as, “Don’t be a raging asshole while you’re on stage with Biden.” The unnamed Republican also discouraged Trump from taking the bait from Biden to devolve into the aforementioned “raging asshole” like he did in 2020. During those debates, Trump opened by derailing what NPR at the time described as “maybe the worst presidential debate in American history,” then took a restrained approach for the second, which led to him face planting.*

Trump appears to be taking the advice seriously. According to Rolling Stone, Trump has privately acknowledged that Biden would try to make him act “crazy” during the debate, which for Trump is just something he typically does all on his own. Rolling Stone also notes the topic has come up at rallies. At a rally in Atlanta, Trump reportedly told the crowd that multiple advisers had told him he “should be nicer.” At another rally in Pennsylvania, Trump asked attendees how he should act during the debate. According to Rolling Stone, he asked the crowd, “Should I be tough and nasty, and just say, ‘You’re the worst president in history’? Or should I be nice, and calm, and let him speak?” The crowd overwhelmingly cheered for him to be the “raging asshole” his debate preppers have urged him against.

Allies and advisers around Trump are concerned he’ll let Biden get to him, with pressure points aplenty amid a historic felony conviction, allies getting creamed in state courts across the country for their efforts to overturn the 2020 election, his election-denialist base getting carted off to federal prison for participating in the January 6 insurrection, and Trump-endorsed candidates losing their primaries. They’re also concerned Trump will be a “raging asshole” about Biden’s age.

“You can be strong and fight, but most people won’t like to see you beating up too hard on grandpa,” one source told Rolling Stone, referring to attacks on Biden’s age. Dan Eberhart, a longtime GOP donor who claims to have spent a lot of time around Trump recently, also urged caution, telling Rolling Stone, “He needs to be careful to be assertive but not aggressive with Biden. If he’s too aggressive, it’ll turn off female voters.”

Trump and his followers are already convinced he’ll lose the upcoming debate, naturally claiming it is rigged: Both Trump and his daughter-in-law Lara Trump have pushed a doping conspiracy that claims if Biden is anything other than altogether boring during the debate, it’ll be due to drugs. Other allies like Steve Bannon and Marjorie Taylor Greene, both everlasting sources of nonsensical conspiracy theories, have preemptively decided Trump will lose the debate because the moderators are biased against him.

Meanwhile, Trump claims the entirety of his debate prep is just … being interviewed by conservative outlets. Ahead of his rally in Philadelphia last Saturday, Trump told conservative radio talk show host Chris Stigall, “People say, ‘How are you preparing?’ I’m preparing by taking questions from you and others, if you think about it.”

If Trump shows restraint in Thursday’s debate, it won’t be because he’s magically developed a mature and level-headed “presidential tone”—but because he listened to his advisers begging him not to be a “raging asshole” for once.

* This article originally misstated the number of Trump-Biden debates in 2020.

Shocker Poll: Swing-State Voters Trust Trump More on Democracy

A new poll spells even more trouble for Biden in swing states.

Donald Trump speaks in a crowd, eyes narrowed and making a hand gesture
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Good news for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party: The swing-state voters most likely to decide the election believe that democracy is on the ballot in November. The problem: They trust Donald Trump to protect it more than Biden.

A new poll from The Washington Post and George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government shows that the Biden campaign’s effort to frame the 2024 election as a battle between democracy and the rising tide of authoritarianism—the “most important election of our lifetime”—has been successful; 61 percent of surveyed swing-state voters described “threats to democracy” as “extremely important” to them.

But the campaign’s messaging does not seem to have translated to support for Biden. Remarkably, 44 percent of swing-state voters trust Trump to best handle those threats over Biden’s 33 percent. Among undecided voters, the numbers are just as bleak: 38 percent trust Trump and 29 percent trust Biden.

The troubling numbers come as Trump faces an election interference trial in Georgia and an investigation by special counsel Jack Smith over his involvement in the January 6 Capitol insurrection. Amid his legal woes, the former president has continued to peddle lies about the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

Biden’s messaging problem is surprising. Voters appear to agree that democracy is in danger, a central theme of Biden’s stump-speech pitches and campaign ads, many of which contain footage of the mob outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021. They just don’t trust that he’s best suited to guard it. Claims made by Trump of the threat to democracy in the wake of his felony conviction in his hush-money trial may partially explain the poll’s results, as may frustration with Biden’s insistence on continuing to fund Israel’s unpopular assault on Gaza, even as he violates international and domestic weapons transfer laws to do so.

But whatever voters think threats to democracy entail—like a president sowing doubt in elections and refusing to submit to the peaceful transfer of power—Biden, who has prioritized comparatively abstract messaging on democracy at times during his reelection campaign, will need to figure out how to fully get through to voters on the issue, or change course soon.

Lauren Boebert’s Bizarre Election Victory Outfit

The Colorado Republican revealed she was wearing fake Donald Trump sneakers.

Lauren Boebert speaks to reporters
AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Getty Images

Representative Lauren Boebert celebrated winning her new Colorado district’s Republican primary wearing a MAGA hat and an admittedly counterfeit pair of Donald Trump’s golden sneakers.

The tacky, reflective gold “Never Surrender” high-tops were first launched in February as a moneymaking scheme for the embattled former president, who’s been hit with mounting legal fines in addition to his costly campaign. It appears that Boebert, who claims to be one of Trump’s favorites, couldn’t secure an actual pair of the sneakers, so she had to go with knock-offs, according to Westword.

“These are very China, but I’m OK with that,” Boebert said at Tuesday night’s victory party, laughing. “If I could’ve bought the OGs, I would have.”

Trump has begun promising the limited-edition sneakers as a gift to donors who gave in excess of $2.5 million, but originally they sold for $399, a steep sum for a pair of plastic kicks. If Boebert had shelled out, the money would’ve gone to Trump’s Save America PAC, which will pay the bills across his many legal battles.

During her victory party, Boebert took a phone call, which she told Westword was from Trump himself. “I said a lot of great things,” she said. “I told him I’m looking forward to helping him in this fight, and that I’m going to be there, and I told him he needs to win his third election.”

Maybe next time she gets Trump on the phone, she should ask him for merch. The sneakers are sold out online, but Trump clearly has some extras knocking around.

“He congratulated me, he loves me and thanks me for a good win,” she said.

In December, Boebert announced that she would be switching districts, to run in a Republican stronghold after only narrowly securing her seat in 2022 from a Democratic challenger. With Tuesday’s win, the far-right Christian nationalist showed she will have far better luck staying in Congress in November.

Fox News Fuels Election Panic With Racist Kamala Harris Claim

Host Jesse Watters brought back a popular far-right dog whistle to refer to the vice president.

Kamala Harris gestures as she speaks into microphones
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Fox News and Jesse Watters are pushing a bizarre conspiracy theory ahead of Thursday’s presidential debate: that Joe Biden is part of a plot to install Kamala Harris in a “DEI presidency.”

On The Five Tuesday evening, Watters claimed that the debate was part of progressives’ plan to “drag [Biden] across the finish line and install” the vice president to the top job.

“There is a lot at stake, plus the progressive movement—they are this close to locking this thing in,” Watters lamented. “They have opened the borders. They have changed the entire culture of this country. If you look at the cities, it’s almost over.”

“If they can drag him across the finish line and install Kamala, we have a DEI presidency that they can celebrate for the rest of the administration,” he added. “That’s all they need to get to. It’s just 90 minutes. That’s all it takes.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion principles have been a buzzword on the right in recent years, often standing in for racism and bigotry. Two weeks ago, Republicans in Congress introduced a bill to ban DEI from all government offices and contracting, and DEI was among the slurs used to allege another conspiracy involving the Baltimore bridge collapse in March. Conservatives have blamed DEI for the Hawaii wildfires last year and the rise in train derailments. And of course, there’s also Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s statewide crusade against DEI.

Alas, it’s no surprise that DEI would join right-wing media’s conspiracy mongering regarding the upcoming debate. So far, conservative pundits and politicians, including Trump himself, have been pushing the idea that Biden will need to be drugged up to speak coherently during the debate, despite Trump’s own cognitive issues. Right-wingers have also alleged that CNN is rigging the debate against Trump, crying about a “hostile environment.”

All of these excuses add up to some kind of justification for Trump in the event that Biden outperforms him in the debate, which anyone who saw Biden out-debate the convicted felon in 2020 can understand.

Supreme Court Accidentally Posts Major Abortion Ruling on Website

The court mistakenly released an opinion allowing hospitals in Idaho to perform emergency abortions.

People hold up pro-abortion protest signs outside the Supreme Court
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to temporarily protect the right to abortions in medical emergencies in Idaho, according to an opinion that was briefly posted to the court’s website Wednesday morning, before promptly being taken down, according to Bloomberg.

The opinion indicated that the majority ruled 6-3 to dismiss the case as “improvidently granted,” which will send it back to a lower court to be retried. The lower court had previously reinstated emergency abortions for the health of patients, after Idaho enacted a near-total abortion ban following the 2022 Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

The decision “will prevent Idaho from enforcing its abortion ban when the termination of a pregnancy is needed to prevent serious harms to a woman’s health,” wrote Justice Elena Kagan in a concurring opinion.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

The court was asked to decide whether Idaho’s uber-restrictive ban violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospitals receiving funds from Medicare to provide stabilizing treatment to any patient experiencing a medical emergency. In some cases, that could mean the patient requires an emergency abortion.

After President Joe Biden issued a memorandum explicitly stating that EMTALA preempted Idaho’s abortion ban, a lower court halted the law from going into effect. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group behind challenges regarding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the abortion pill mifepristone, filed for emergency relief with the Supreme Court—which the court granted, allowing the Idaho law to go into effect, while agreeing to hear the case in Idaho v. United States.

While this is not necessarily the final copy of the opinion, if the court does follow through with its ruling, emergency abortions may continue in Idaho while the issue is duked out in a lower court.

Patricia McCabe, the court’s public information officer, addressed the accidental posting, and said that the court has yet to release its final ruling. “The Court’s Publications Unit inadvertently and briefly uploaded a document to the Court’s website,” she said. “The Court’s opinion in Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States will be issued in due course.”

If final, the decision will provide essential relief for pregnant people who may seek emergency care in Idaho— but it will also let the court get away with putting off making actual decisions to protect abortion access, similar to its decision on mifepristone.

In her opinion, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote that doing away with the case “is not a victory for pregnant patients in Idaho.”

“While this court dawdles and the country waits, pregnant people experiencing emergency medical conditions remain in a precarious position, as their doctors are kept in the dark about what the law requires,” she wrote.

This story has been updated.

Supreme Court Nukes Hunter Biden Laptop Conspiracy in Brutal Ruling

Even the conservative Supreme Court thinks the far-right’s FBI conspiracy theory is ridiculous.

Supreme Court building
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The Supreme Court issued a surprising decision on Wednesday, finding that complaints that the Biden administration had forced censorship on conservative social media users were unfounded. In its 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court laid a death blow in particular to the conspiracy theory that the FBI forced social media companies to suppress stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

One of the main conspiracy theories that has kept conservatives in a chokehold for the past three years is that the FBI forced social media companies to remove content discussing Hunter Biden’s laptop to protect the Bidens. In reality, social media companies cracked down on the dissemination of photos purporting to have come from Biden’s laptop in accordance with their boilerplate hacked-materials policies, which enforce against the dissemination of content obtained through illegal means, such as revenge porn. That enforcement resulted in a removal of posts discussing Biden’s laptop that included those photos, but discussions of the laptop on their own weren’t restricted.

One plaintiff in the Supreme Court case was Jim Hoft, founder of the failing far-right conspiracy website Gateway Pundit. Hoft elevated the FBI interference conspiracy and claimed moderation efforts taken by Twitter caused him harm. Hoft embedded Twitter posts made by his brother, Joe Hoft, sharing photos claiming to be from Biden’s laptop. Twitter suspended Joe Hoft’s account, which resulted in the posts embedded on Gateway Pundit turning up as dead links. Hoft was likely trying to pull a sneaky workaround to avoid licensing and verifying the images himself, instead sourcing to content published on Twitter, and the effort failed. Hoft claimed the FBI interfered to remove the photos and that doing so caused him harm.

The Supreme Court meticulously ripped these claims to shreds, hilariously sourcing Hoft’s own claims that the crackdown came from Twitter’s existing hacked materials policy.

“Hoft points to the FBI’s role in the platforms’ adoption of hacked-material policies. And he claims that Twitter, in December 2020, censored content about the Hunter Biden laptop story under such a policy,” the Supreme Court opinion reads. “Hoft’s own declaration reveals that Twitter acted according to its ‘rules against posting or sharing privately produced/distributed intimate media of someone without their express consent.’”

Further twisting the knife in the FBI conspiracy, the decision notes, “Hoft provides no evidence that Twitter adopted a policy against posting private, intimate content in response to the FBI’s warnings about hack-and-leak operations.”

Twitter screenshot @MarshallCohen: The founder of far-right conspiracy site Gateway Pundit claimed the FBI coerced Twitter into censoring his posts about Hunter Biden's laptop in 2020. But SCOTUS disagrees, finds several problems with his theory, and says "evidence does not support the conclusion" that Twitter's actions can be traced to the government.

Twitter nuked posts from The New York Post and other conservative accounts that circulated Hunter Biden’s hacked photos. The conservative blowback was intense, yet the Federal Election Commission ruled that Twitter acted lawfully in restricting the circulation of Hunter Biden’s hacked photos. Soon after, Twitter decided to change its policy to allow for the circulation of hacked materials, so long as the poster isn’t the hacker or someone working “in concert” with the hacker.

Adam Kinzinger Blasts Trump “Threat” to Democracy in Biden Endorsement

Adam Kinzinger has come out swinging against Donald Trump.

Adam Kinzinger looks forward
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Former Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of the few Republicans to vote for Donald Trump’s second impeachment and a consistent critic of the convicted felon, has endorsed Joe Biden for president.

In an interview Wednesday on Morning Joe, Kinzinger said that his “entire life has been guided by the conviction that America is a beacon of freedom, liberty, and democracy.

“So while I certainly don’t agree with President Biden on everything, and I never thought I’d be endorsing a Democrat for president, I know that he will always protect the very thing that makes America the best country in the world: our democracy,” Kinzinger said in the video, which he also posted on his X (formerly Twitter) account.

Kinzinger has been critical of Trump going back to 2019, when he called out Trump for retweeting a pastor warning of a civil war if the then president was removed from office. Kinzinger went on to criticize QAnon and other conspiracy theories that were gaining popularity among Republican voters, and rejected Trump and the GOP’s assertions of a stolen election in 2020.

After the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, Kinzinger called for Trump to be removed from office, and not only endorsed the January 6 committee but served on it as one of two Republicans, along with Liz Cheney. He ultimately chose not to run for reelection in 2022.

In September, a Kinzinger spokesperson told The New Republic that he’d only vote for Trump if the opponent was “actual Satan.” Kingzinger also said in a speech at Occidental College that month that he would “probably” vote Democratic in the next presidential election, so his endorsement is not a huge surprise.

Still, it’s a sign that many Republicans disillusioned with Trump, whether they are politicians or just ordinary people, will be looking to vote for the other party this November. The only question is whether they will be enough to win the election for Biden.

What else Adam Kinzinger thinks about Donald Trump:

Ketanji Brown Jackson Blasts “Absurd” Supreme Court Bribery Ruling

The Supreme Court justice took aim at her conservative colleagues’ supposed originalist beliefs.

Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks at a podium
Butch Dill/Pool/Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson took her conservative colleagues to task Wednesday over a ruling weakening a federal statute that prevented public officials from receiving bribes in the form of gratuities. 

In her dissent, Jackson issued a brutal smackdown of the majority opinion, penned by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who read the statute as a ban on all “gratuities,” meaning gifts including lunches, plaques, and gift cards. Kavanaugh and the other conservative justices ruled 6–3 that the responsibility to regulate gratuities should rest with state and local governments. 

Jackson wrote that the ruling relied on an “absurd and atextual reading of the statute” that “only today’s Court could love.”

She argued that the ruling had ignored the plain text of the statute, which targeted officials who “corruptly” received bribes and gratuities “intending to be influenced or rewarded,” and that the court had instead decided the statute did not criminalize gratuities at all.  

“The Court’s reasoning elevates nonexistent federalism concerns over the plain text of this statute and is a quintessential example of the tail wagging the dog,” she wrote. 

Instead, Jackson argued, determining the exact extent of the statute should be handled by Congress, “not in the pages of the U.S. Reports.”

Jackson is the latest liberal justice to express frustration with the high court’s sharp rightward turn. In recent weeks, Justice Sonia Sotomayor has repeatedly used her dissents to call out her conservative colleagues for hypocrisy and encroaching on people’s rights.

MTG Just Started the Most Ridiculous Debate Conspiracy Yet

Marjorie Taylor Greene is trying to undermine the credibility of the debate moderators.

Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks into a microphone while standing at a podium
Adam J. Dewey/Anadolu/Getty Images

MAGA Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has joined the list of Donald Trump’s allies bashing the moderators of CNN’s upcoming presidential debate, but she’s giving it her patented conspiracy theory twist.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday, the Georgia Republican wrote that CNN’s moderators “hate” Trump.

“Dana Bash’s husband is one of the 51 spies who in 2020 lied by signing his name to the intel community letter claiming Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation,” she wrote. “Jake Tapper hates Trump so much and has called him Hitler.”

Bash’s ex-husband since 2007, Jeremy Bash, was one of 50 former senior intelligence officials who signed a letter in 2020 stating that the emails discovered on Hunter Biden’s laptop had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” according to Politico. The former officials said that Russia was once more trying to influence the outcome of the election by making Hunter Biden look guilty.

The letter was sent in response to a New York Post report that Joe Biden was tied to his son’s business dealings, based on emails found on Hunter’s laptop hard drive, which the outlet had received from Rudy Giuliani.

Right-wingers who were intent on using the Hunter Biden laptop story to derail the 2020 election have baselessly claimed that the letter was a lie meant to boost Biden, and keep Trump from staying in the White House.

Years later, this conspiracy theory—the 51 “spies who lie” as the Post termed it—still lives rent-free in the minds of many Trump supporters. The Post published a new piece about the theory on Tuesday, which was subsequently reposted to the House Judiciary Committee Republicans website.

In addition to being the CNN host’s ex-husband of 17 years, Jeremy Bash was a former chief of staff for the CIA, former chief of staff at the Department of Defense, and former chief counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, according to the letter. Greene seems to imagine that because Jeremy and Dana Bash were married nearly two decades ago, the CNN anchor somehow has anything to do with the letter, or the animus Greene fantasizes was behind it.

As for Greene’s other claim, Republicans have been whipped into a frenzy over Tapper’s comparisons of Trump to the Nazi leader—but they didn’t have any problems when Steve Bannon made the same comparison, because he meant it as a compliment.

Greene has joined the chorus of conservative voices who have decided that the mutually agreed terms of the debate present an unfair disadvantage to the former president— again, despite the fact that he signed on to them. Trump and his cronies have taken up their old strategy of whining and lying to get out of it, while simultaneously insisting that Trump will win regardless.

“I have faith in President Trump,” Greene wrote on X. “He’s going to do great!”