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Steve Bannon Is Finally Going to Prison

Amid a flood of bad news, here is a small good thing.

Steve Bannon and his lawyer walk in front of a man holding a "Lock Them Up" sign.
Andrew Harnik/Getty Images
Steve Bannon and his attorney before a recent court appearance

Steve Bannon will have to go to prison even as he awaits an appeal of his contempt of Congress guilty verdict, the Supreme Court ruled Friday, denying his application for release.  

The onetime Trump adviser and host of the War Room podcast on Real America’s Voice has desperately been trying to avoid prison ever since his conviction by a federal jury in 2022 for refusing a subpoena from the House January 6 committee’s investigation into the Capitol insurrection. Several Republicans have gone to bat for Bannon in recent days, attempting some outlandish legal maneuvers.  

Speaker Mike Johnson and other Republican leaders formally disavowed the January 6 committee in a secret vote Tuesday night, in an attempt to allow lawmakers to file a legal brief for Bannon on behalf of Congress. In a subsequent move, Representative Barry Loudermilk filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that if any witness in a congressional investigation thinks a subpoena isn’t valid, they can ignore it. Their cumulative efforts appear to have failed.  

Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered Bannon to report to prison after the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld his conviction. The Supreme Court was a long shot, last-ditch effort for Bannon. Because he faces charges in the state of New York over a border wall fraud scheme, Bannon is not going to go to a minimum-security “Club Fed” facility, as he would prefer, but a less cushy low-security prison for nonviolent offenders.  

In prison, Bannon won’t be able to continue his usual activities, such as interfering in other countries’ politics as well as the upcoming U.S. election. He won’t be able to host his podcast and let far-right Republicans rant about whatever they want. Now, after escaping prison once thanks to a Trump pardon over the border wall fraud scheme, he will soon be behind bars. 

Where Was This Joe Biden at Thursday’s Debate?

At a rally in North Carolina on Friday, Biden was lucid and sharp. But can he do enough to convince voters he’s actually up to the task of being president?

Joe Biden smiles and holds his hand over his chest as he appears before a large crowd at a political rally
Allison Joyce/Getty Images
Joe Biden at a rally in North Carolina on Friday

Less than 24 hours after President Joe Biden’s disastrous performance at the first presidential debate, the commander in chief spoke clearly, coherently, and energetically at a rally in North Carolina. This appearance, meant to soothe Democrats’ freshly ratcheted anxieties, left many with a new question: Where the heck was this version of Biden when 48 million voters were watching him on CNN?  

“Did you see Trump last night? My guess, he set—I mean this sincerely—a new record for the most lies told in a single debate,” said Biden, who was nearly shouting, a huge departure from his unsettlingly quiet demeanor the night before. 

“He lied about the great economy he created. He lied about the pandemic he botched, killing millions of people. He closed businesses, he closed schools. Losing their homes, people all over this country. America was flat on his back,” Biden continued. 

He was briefly interrupted by someone yelling from the audience, possibly a protester, but they were quickly drowned out with vigorous chants from the audience: “Four. More. Years.”

Biden continued, “I had to remind [Trump] that he oversaw a record increase in murder rates in 2020, and on my watch, violent crime has hit a 50-year low.” This was the kind of well-reasoned fact-check that had been sorely missing from Biden’s performance the night before, when Trump repeatedly referenced alleged violent crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, a racist lie meant to stoke fear in the electorate, which had received no on-air refute. 

“Donald Trump isn’t just a convicted felon—Donald Trump is a one-man crime wave,” Biden said. 

It seems that Biden does draw some of his energy from his audience—and, it must be said, some of his coherence from a teleprompter—and without these present at the debate, his strong condemnations came out more as whimpers, and his answers repeatedly trailed off into nothing.

In front of the crowd on Friday, Biden even addressed his weak performance from the debate. 

“Folks, I don’t walk as easy as I used to, I don’t speak as smooth as I used to, I don’t debate as well as I used to. But I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth,” Biden said, drawing massive cheers from the audience.

“I know right from wrong, and I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done. And I know what millions of Americans know: When you get knocked down you get back up!”

After his lackluster performance on Thursday night, Biden attempted to remind Americans what is at stake—freedom, democracy, and America itself—with a renewed energy and vigor. It’s unlikely, however, that it will be enough to reverse the many calls for him to drop out, or to de-escalate frustration among voters as the panic subsides. 

If Biden had the ability to speak strongly on policy and refute Trump’s lies, it would’ve been nice if he’d done it last night, before dealing a brutal  blow to his presidential bid. 

Trump Celebrates Supreme Court’s Huge January 6 Ruling

Donald Trump is thanking the Supreme Court for helping him and his biggest supporters.

Donald Trump smiles weirdly at something off camera. A mic stands before him.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Trump took to Truth Social Friday afternoon to celebrate the news that the Supreme Court rejected a statute used for one charge against Capitol rioter Joseph Fischer, declaring the 6–3 ruling a “BIG WIN!” and “Big News!” His victory lap appears tied to how the court’s decision helps his own federal election interference case, or how it helps other January 6 rioters—but either way, his celebrations may be short-lived.

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that a statute federal prosecutors were using to charge January 6 rioters wasn’t applicable due to the order in which the relevant subsection of the statute appears. Dissenting against the decision, conservative justice Amy Coney Barrett noted the ruling was based on textual backflips to justify the decision.

Half of the charges in Trump’s federal election interference case are based on the statute the Supreme Court just reinterpreted, with Friday’s decision giving a leg up to the already-convicted felon. But that win may have a steep downside if his interference case ever goes to trial: According to Slate, the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday confirmed that submitting false evidence in an official proceeding does violate federal law. Trump is accused of helping to orchestrate a scheme where his allies submitted fraudulent elector letters on his behalf to win the 2020 election.

The Supreme Court’s ruling may also affect cases against more than 300 Capitol rioters charged with obstruction—but they’re not getting off scot-free. Rioters have faced charges of trespassing, assault on an officer, and seditious conspiracy. In Fischer’s case, his obstruction charge is just one of several that includes civil disorder, impeding police officers, entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly conduct and demonstrating in a Capitol building. Fischer’s case has been sent back to lower courts to determine if the obstruction charge is still valid.

In response to the Supreme Court decision, Attorney General Merrick Garland released a statement noting that no one involved in the January 6 Capitol riot has been charged with only the obstruction statute.

“The vast majority of the more than 1,400 defendants charged for their illegal actions on January 6 will not be affected by this decision,” Garland wrote. “There are no cases in which the Department charged a January 6 defendant only with the offense at issue in Fischer.”

Los Angeles’s Mayor Was Contemplating a Mask Ban. She Just Got Covid.

Karen Bass floated banning masks for protesters days before coming down with Covid-19.

Karen Bass looks at the ground and scowls.
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass began the week by suggesting that her city consider a new mask ban for protesters, and ended it by testing positive for Covid-19.

After protesters clashed outside a synagogue in Pico-Robertson, which held an event for a company known for selling high-end properties in Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank, Democratic leaders quickly denounced the chaos and began working on ways to make everything a lot less safe for protesters.

President Joe Biden called it “dangerous, unconscionable, antisemitic, and un-American,” but said nothing about the auctioning of stolen Palestinian land in Israeli settlements, which the international community has widely agreed is illegal. “Americans have a right to peaceful protest. But blocking access to a house of worship—and engaging in violence—is never acceptable,” he wrote.

The incident came on the heels of other large protests across the country, which had left Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams eyeing the reinstatement of a mask ban for protesters, both saying they felt the anonymity masking provides had emboldened protesters to commit violence. Meanwhile, the city is undergoing a renewed wave of Covid-19, which neither politician deigned to consider.

Bass appeared to have taken her lead from those two: At a press conference with local Jewish leaders Monday, the mayor said she would seek “several points of clarity” from the city’s attorney “around what are the parameters with protests: when permits are needed, whether or not people should be masked, and establishing clear lines of demarcation between what is legal and what is not.”

Although she did not offer a specific proposal, she pushed that the city ought to review “the idea of people wearing masks at protests.”

California has also seen a recent surge of Covid-19 cases, and a study in June found that viral levels of Covid-19 in the state’s wastewater had crossed a point of “high activity.”

Only a few days later, her office announced that she tested positive for Covid-19 and will be attending her meetings remotely, a luxury that many workers in this country are no longer afforded.

Bass’s ironic diagnosis is undercut by the fact that for many, especially immunocompromised people, Covid-19 still presents real dangers and carries long-lasting health risks. As the federal government has neglected to keep restrictions for the benefit of the worst-off, states and local governments have been granted the power to keep their citizens safe, and are across the board dropping the ball.

Watch: Nancy Pelosi Gives Ominous Answer on Replacing Biden

After Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance, the former House speaker was asked directly whether it’s time to replace him as the Democratic nominee.

Nancy Pelosi looks down, lips pursed.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked for comment Friday morning about her response to voluminous calls from panicked Democrats for Biden to be replaced on the Democratic ticket following Thursday night’s abysmal debate performance—and she refused to answer.

Reporters for CBS asked Pelosi, “What do you say to Democrats who feel that there should be another nominee after the president’s debate performance last night?” Pelosi evaded the question entirely, saying “I’ll make a statement about this, but not right now.”

Pelosi’s remark—or rather, notable lack thereof—comes on the heels of another influential Democrat, Hakeem Jeffries, who also avoided giving a clear answer as to whether he thinks Biden should be replaced as the Democratic nominee, instead stating he plans to “stand behind the ticket.”

“I’m looking forward to hearing from President Biden,” Jeffries told AP’s Farnoush Amiri Friday morning. “And until he articulates a way forward in terms of his vision for America at this moment, I’m going to reserve comment about anything relative to where we are at this moment, other than to say I stand behind the ticket. I stand behind the Senate Democratic majority. And of course, we’re going to do everything that we need to do as House Democrats to win.”

CBS also asked Pelosi her thoughts on Biden’s debate performance, which she defended in contrast to Trump’s prolific debate lies: “Compared to a person who was lying the whole time?” Pelosi asked. “We saw integrity on one side and dishonesty on the other. That’s how I saw it.”

She then dove into pointing out the absurdity of Trump accusing her of being responsible for the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot, calling Trump a “fool” and saying, “He thinks I planned my own assassination? He’s sicker than I thought.”

Black Politicians Rip Trump’s “Black Jobs” Comments to Shreds

The former president went on a bizarre rant at Thursday’s debate about immigrants taking “Black jobs”—no one knows what he means.

Donald Trump does a toothless smile at Thursday's presidential debate.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

What is a “Black job?” At Thursday’s presidential debate, Donald Trump claimed they were being taken away by immigrants—but no one knows what he’s talking about. 

 “The fact is that his big kill on the Black people is the millions of people that he’s allowed to come in through the border,” Trump said. “They’re taking Black jobs now—and it could be 18, it could be 19 and even 20 million people. They’re taking Black jobs, and they’re taking Hispanic jobs, and you haven’t seen it yet, but you’re gonna see something that’s going to be the worst in our history.” 

On Twitter, the comments immediately drew backlash, as well as some jokes.  

Black politicians were quick to point out what they do for a living.

Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison expressed incredulity Thursday night, but got into a more positive spirit Friday morning. 

BlackPAC, a 527 organization seeking to “harness the political power of Black Americans,” also added some humor to the conversation.

If the former president and convicted felon thinks that these remarks will help gain Black voters, his record undercuts his efforts, whether it’s his vow to fight “anti-white” racism, his pledge to “indemnify all police officers and law enforcement officials” if he’s reelected, or his attacks on Black prosecutors

Even before becoming president, Trump faced accusations of racism over the housing discrimination lawsuit he and his father faced in the 1970s. There was also his time on NBC’s The Apprentice where, behind the scenes, Trump allegedly dropped the n-word and refused to hire Kwame Jackson, the Black finalist on the show’s first season.

Amy Coney Barrett Rips Supreme Court’s Absurd January 6 Ruling

Even Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett thinks her conservative colleagues went too far in their January 6 ruling.

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett speaks and holds her hand up as if telling someone to stop.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Justice Amy Coney Barrett broke ranks with the conservative majority on the Supreme Court Friday, leveraging strong words against her colleagues for their interpretation of Fischer v. United States. After the court ruled 6–3 that the Justice Department overstepped in charging hundreds of January 6 rioters with obstruction, the Trump-appointed conservative judge used her dissenting opinion to tear apart the decision that would narrow all future obstruction charges, including potentially Trump’s.

Noting that the court didn’t dispute the details of the case—namely that Congress’s joint session was an “official proceeding,” that the rioters delayed the proceeding, and that Joseph Fischer’s trespassing and brush-up with law enforcement during the ordeal was “part of a successful effort to forcibly halt the certification of the election results”—Barrett questioned why the court would question the “open and shut” obstruction case.

“Because it simply cannot believe that Congress meant what it said,” she wrote, continuing to explain that the legal code for charging Fischer was a “very broad provision” and that, “admittedly, events like January 6th were not its target. (Who could blame Congress for that failure of imagination?)

“But statutes often go further than the problem that inspired them, and under the rules of statutory interpretation, we stick to the text anyway,” Barrett wrote. “The Court, abandoning that approach, does textual backflips to find some way—any way—to narrow the reach of subsection (c)(2),” referring to part of the statute used to charge Fischer for his actions on January 6.

In doing so, the court “failed to respect the prerogatives of the political branches” to punish illegal conduct that occurred on January 6, according to Barrett.

The high court’s immunity decision is scheduled to be released on Monday. Given her strong words for the court on failing to recognize the obstruction case, Barrett does not seem like she’ll be saddling up in favor of Trump’s immunity argument anytime soon.

More on the Supreme Court’s latest decisions:

Hakeem Jeffries Is “Looking Forward to Hearing From President Biden”

The House minority leader did not answer directly when asked whether President Biden was the Democratic Party’s best messenger.

Hakeem Jeffries, wearing a dark suit and a light purple tie, raises his hand as he walks in the Capitol.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries

Asked if Joe Biden was the Democratic Party’s most effective messenger following his disastrous performance in Thursday night’s debate, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries sidestepped the question—and appeared to suggest an openness to replacing the president as the party’s nominee. 

“President Biden is scheduled to speak today around noon, as I understand it, in North Carolina,” Jeffries told AP reporter Farnoush Amiri Friday morning. “I’m looking forward to hearing from President Biden. And until he articulates a way forward in terms of his vision for America at this moment, I’m going to reserve comment about anything relative to where we are at this moment, other than to say I stand behind the ticket. 

“I stand behind the Senate Democratic majority. And of course, we’re going to do everything that we need to do as House Democrats to win,” Jeffries added. 

Earlier in the day, Jeffries said that Biden shouldn’t step aside as the party’s nominee. But his answer to Amiri’s question suggests reservations, at the very least. After all, the New York Democrat is a party leader and not known for going against the rest of the Democratic orthodoxy, and he didn’t give a full-throated defense of Biden. Given the outright panic in Democratic circles, it would be shocking if the party’s leaders weren’t at least weighing their options at the moment.

While some Democrats have made outlandish defenses of the president, others have openly discussed how to replace Biden before November, mentioning a brokered convention and alternative candidates like Vice President Kamala Harris, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, or California Governor Gavin Newsom.  

There is a clear consensus that Biden showed fatigue and a lack of mental sharpness at the debate, though there is no clear, obvious replacement waiting in the wings—and no easy way to sub Biden out. But there’s still time, as the Democratic National Convention isn’t until mid-August, and the calls will only grow louder if concerns go unresolved.  

Iowa Now Has One of the Most Restrictive Abortion Laws in the Nation

The state’s Supreme Court just approved a law that bans nearly all abortions at six weeks.

A woman wearing a white jacket and green dress signs a law on a lectern surrounded by white people.
Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signing a six-week abortion ban last year.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday to allow a law that will ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks.

Governor Kim Reynolds signed the uber-restrictive heartbeat abortion ban into law in July 2023, carving out exceptions only in the case of incest or for the health of the mother. The law was challenged the next day by Planned Parenthood, which sought a temporary injunction. A district court quickly granted the injunction, which prevented the law from being enforced, but the decision was appealed by the state.

In a 4–3 ruling, Justice Matthew McDermott delivered the majority opinion, and was joined by Justices Christopher McDonald, David May, and Dana Oxley, who provided the tie-breaking vote after recusing herself from ruling on a previous version of the state’s so-called heartbeat ban.

The court’s majority determined that Planned Parenthood could not justify its request for a temporary injunction, because it was not likely to be successful in proving that the abortion ban was unconstitutional. Therefore, the court decided to dissolve the temporary injunction and remand the case back to district court.

“Our holding today—applying rational basis as the constitutional test—undermines the rationale for the district court’s ruling,” McDermott wrote.

Chief Justice Susan Christenson dissented, writing that the majority opinion “strips Iowa women of their bodily autonomy by holding that there is no fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy under our state constitution.” This ruling, she wrote, “relies heavily on the male-dominated history and traditions of the 1800s, all the while ignoring how far women’s rights have come since the Civil War era. It is a bold assumption to think that the drafters of our state constitution intended for their interpretation to stand still while we move forward as a society.”

Christenson argued that Iowa should have maintained its standard to bar abortion restrictions that placed an “undue burden” on pregnant women.

In Justice Edward Mansfield’s dissenting opinion, he wrote that “the decision not to have children is as fundamental as the decision to have children,” and that the law should protect both rights.

Governor Reynolds applauded the court’s decision in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “There is no right more sacred than life, and nothing more worthy of our strongest defense than the innocent unborn,” she wrote. “As the heartbeat bill finally becomes law, we are deeply committed to supporting women in planning for motherhood, and promoting fatherhood and its importance in parenting.”

This decision is just the latest in the erosion of abortion access after the repeal of Roe v. Wade two years ago, which granted states the right to determine abortion restrictions, a decision that has thrown the rights and well-being of Americans into a desperate and dangerous free fall.

Supreme Court Delivers Major Win to January 6 Rioters

The court just weakened the statute used to charge hundreds of Capitol rioters.

Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and John Roberts smile, wearing their robes. Samuel Alito, sitting next to them, is zoning out.
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday tossed some charges against Capitol rioter Joseph Fischer, “significantly weakening” the statute used to convict hundreds of rioters, according to Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern. The 6–3 decision on nonideological lines gives a boost to January 6 rioters and rests on the incredibly nitpicky interpretation of the order of words in criminal statutes.

The statute at the heart of the case, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, includes two subsections that federal prosecutors have used in charging Capitol rioters:

Whoever corruptly (1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or (2) otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined … or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

The first portion of that law prohibits destroying or altering official documents or objects, while the second part is what federal prosecutors have used to charge Capitol rioters. The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, tossed out the charge against Fischer on the basis that Fischer did not tamper with any physical evidence—wholly ignoring the second part of the statute.

In his opinion, Roberts provides an example to make his case likening Congress to zoo animals and Capitol rioters to visitors at the zoo: “A zoo might post a sign that reads, ‘do not pet, feed, yell or throw objects at the animals, or otherwise disturb them.’ If a visitor eats lunch in front of a hungry gorilla, or talks to a friend near its enclosure, has he obeyed the regulation? Surely yes.”

Liberal junior Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson joined conservative justices Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh in the 6–3 majority opinion—while conservative justice Amy Coney Barrett joined liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in dissent.

Barrett’s dissent makes clear her view that the majority opinion is finding a question for a predetermined answer, claiming, “The Court … does textual backflips to find some way—any way—to narrow the reach of subsection.”

“The Court does not dispute that Congress’s joint session qualifies as an ‘official proceeding”’ that rioters delayed the proceeding; or even that Fischer’s alleged conduct (which includes trespassing and a physical confrontation with law enforcement) was part of a successful effort to forcibly halt the certification of the election results,” Barrett writes. “Given these premises, the case that Fischer can be tried for, ‘obstructing, influencing, or impeding an official proceeding’ seems open and shut. So why does the Court hold otherwise? Because it simply cannot believe that Congress meant what it said.”

Fischer’s case now returns to lower court for further consideration under the new interpretation of the statute—meaning hundreds of other January 6 rioters’ cases could be similarly relitigated.

More on the Supreme Court’s latest decisions: