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Another “Black Americans for Trump” Event Is Major Bust

Team Trump face-planted in yet another stunt to gin up support among Black voters.

Byron Donalds stands on a stage in front of a background that says "Team Trump" and has a QR code. A crowd's silhouette is seen in front of him.
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Trump literally phoned it in for a roundtable event with Black business leaders in Atlanta on Wednesday. The Trump campaign held a “roundtable” of six barber chairs lined up next to each other as part of a “Black Americans for Trump” event. Trump skipped the event, instead calling in to ramble about the tax cuts he’s looking to give the ultrarich and their billion-dollar corporations.

The roundtable setup featured Representative (and Trump V.P. wannabe) Byron Donalds, former Trump Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and Representative Wesley Hunt in attendance. The seats were positioned in a semi-arc facing a gaggle of cameras and sea of white people, and everyone looks abundantly unenthused to be there.

Twitter Screenshot @taliaotg: A majority of the people pictured in the 'behind the scenes' photo here are white. And half the people participating in this bizarre event are politicians, not business leaders.

The event highlights Trump’s lackluster attempts to bolster support among Black voters, a voting bloc that played a pivotal role in Biden’s victory in 2020 and still favors Biden over Trump. In May, Trump hosted a small rally in the Bronx to gin up the Black vote after an even smaller appearance at a Harlem bodega in April. And in June, Trump appeared at a Black church in Detroit before skipping off to a white nationalist convention. The church stunt was a flop: At least half the audience was white, none of the attendees reporters spoke with were actual congregants, and the megachurch’s pastor said people laughed in his face when he scrambled to find people to fill the pews for the event.

Here’s the Next Squad Member in AIPAC’s Crosshairs

Missouri Representative Cori Bush has begun to slip in the primary polls.

Cori Bush walks
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

After Representative Jamaal Bowman’s defeat Tuesday night, Representative Cori Bush could be the next progressive in Congress to face trouble, as a new poll shows her narrowly behind a primary challenger.

The poll, commissioned by Democratic Majority for Israel, shows Bush behind St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Wesley Bell, 42 percent to 43 percent. DMI was one of the major donors to Bowman’s opponent, George Latimer, helping to make that race the most expensive House primary race ever, with Latimer outraising Bowman $5.7 million to $4.2 million.

While the poll was within the margin of error, a previous poll from January showed Bell trailing by 16 percentage points, suggesting that something has moved public opinion against Bush. Judging by the commissioned poll, it could be for the same reason that Bowman suddenly had a well-funded challenger: donors aligned with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its PAC, the United Democracy Project, who flooded the race with money supporting Latimer after Bowman accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. Latimer now calls himself a staunch supporter of Israel, opposing potential cease-fires on the basis that Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Bush seems to think something similar is happening in her St. Louis district, telling The New York Times in February, “I’m being targeted by AIPAC because not only do I believe Palestinians deserve to live freely and peacefully just like Israelis, but because I want to protect our democracy from Republican extremism.”

Bell claims that his focus is more on local issues, but his website reads, “In Congress, I’ll fight to make sure the United States remains Israel’s strongest ally.” He is also the recipient of plenty of United Democracy Project money. This has not endeared him to some progressives in Bush’s district.

“I don’t see Wesley Bell as a progressive,” Hannah Rosenthal, co-founder of Progressive Jews of St. Louis and a Bush supporter, told the Times. “His allegiance with AIPAC supporters is a prime example.”

As the war drags on, with the U.S. funding weapons that kill more and more Palestinian civilians each day, it seems that pro-Israel donors will keep spending as much as they can in local political races to ensure that Israel can continue the war indefinitely with U.S. support. Politicians and voters should realize this will only perpetuate a human rights catastrophe. Such donors are even on the wrong side of the NAACP when it comes to Israel’s brutal war in Gaza.

Perhaps these donors are afraid of actions that would actually end the conflict and promote peace: spurning a prime minister accused of war crimes and ending weapons shipments to Israel to force an immediate cease-fire.

Lara Trump’s RNC Is Already a Total Catastrophe

The Republican National Convention is failing when it comes to bookings in Milwaukee.

Republican National Convention venue
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

If you take Republicans at their word, small businesses are the lifeblood of the party. But their mom-and-pop worship does not appear to apply to Milwaukee, the site of the 2024 Republican National Convention.

According to a new report from longtime Milwaukee journalist Dan Shafer, the RNC, which pitched a projected $200 million in economic impact in its bid to secure Milwaukee as a host city for the convention, has failed to book the expected number of local venues, leaving businesses set to close for the week to accommodate reservations and events related to the convention high and dry.

“That kind of anticipated economic impact that everyone was high-fiving and champagne-popping and press conferencing about. At this point in time, none of that really has come true, for the most part,” Gary Witt, president and CEO of the Pabst Theater Group, which owns several venues that have hosted presidential town halls in the city, said. “It’s 100 percent a case of ‘overpromise, underdeliver,’ on all parts, by everybody.”

The party of personal responsibility reportedly promised to book out theaters to host events throughout the week, only to back out. The same is true of restaurants, many of which blocked off reservations in advance, only to never hear back. “I have a feeling this is going to be a business killer.… “If the (reservation) book stays the way it is, we’re not going to make enough money to cover costs,” Gregory León, a restaurant owner in the city, said. “[This is] certainly nothing like we were told or promised, and I believe it is that way for almost every restaurant in the city, with the exception of the big restaurant groups. We were told that restaurants and venues would be booked months in advance.… It’s turned out to be quite the contrary.”

Witt characterized the RNC planning as “underwhelming” and a “failure.”

News of the empty venues is the latest chapter in the Republican Party’s bizarre project to antagonize the city of Milwaukee at every turn before the start of the convention. Donald Trump trashed the city repeatedly, calling it “horrible.” The RNC’s reneging on deals it promised to make with local businesses, on the other hand, is all too predictable, given that the committee is now a Trump family affair; Lara Trump was named co-chair in March 2024, and stiffing lawyers, cops, and contractors is something of a Trump tradition.

The Republican National Convention is set to begin July 15. In the meantime, the GOP may have found a new slogan: “‘Overpromise, underdeliver,’ on all parts, by everybody.”

More on the right trashing Milwaukee:

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.