Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Biden’s Insistence on Staying in Race Is Making Some Democrats Cry

A group of swing-district representatives were distressed before the caucus meeting.

Joe Biden wears sunglasses while looking down
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Ahead of a private House Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday, a smaller group of Democratic lawmakers from swing districts met to discuss President Joe Biden’s candidacy—and were apparently more than a little depressed.

“There were actual tears from people, and not for Biden,” one anonymous lawmaker told Axios, who explained that the group of lawmakers was “pretty much unanimous” that Biden has “got to step down.”

Biden has repeatedly insisted that he will not drop out of the presidential race, despite criticism from his party. While only six lawmakers have outright asked him to drop out, it seems the dissatisfaction has spread throughout the party.

Another lawmaker simply called the meeting “intense,” according to Axios.

Democrats at the morning’s main meeting seemed far less in agreement about what the president ought to do, but the vibe was reportedly also disconsolate and frustrating. One lawmaker said it “felt like a funeral,” while another said that notion was “an insult to funerals.”

Mike Johnson Privately Begs MAGA Rep. to Quit Merrick Garland Scheme

House Speaker Mike Johnson is once again trying to corral his own party.

Splitscreen: Mike Johnson looks downward and furrows his brow on the left, Anna Paulina Luna speaks on the left
Getty x2

Speaker Mike Johnson doesn’t like where the contempt resolution against Attorney General Merrick Garland is going, and is trying to get the MAGA representative behind the effort, Anna Paulina Luna, to back down.

Johnson reportedly told Luna in the Republican conference Tuesday to back off of introducing a resolution this week, but she’s refusing.

Twitter screenshot Olivia Beavers @Olivia_Beavers: New: In GOP conference, Speaker Johnson is imploring Rep. Luna hold off introducing her inherent contempt resolution this week, per source in room. But she’s dug in, they tell me. 9:56 AM · Jul 9, 2024 254.7K Views

Earlier, Luna told the conference that she would introduce the contempt resolution on the House floor Wednesday, with an amendment that it wouldn’t be to arrest Garland but to fire him. Johnson said he is also concerned about the attorney general, but the House’s lawsuit to enforce the congressional subpoena against Garland is enough, sources told Politico’s Olivia Beavers.

Last month, the House voted along party lines, with only one Republican against, to hold Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over audio of a privileged interview between President Biden and special counsel Robert Hur about the classified documents found in his former office. Despite an obvious double standard, Johnson claimed last month that Garland’s refusal to answer a congressional subpoena is not comparable to the House Republicans who ignored subpoenas from the House January 6 committee, saying, “There couldn’t be a more clear contrast.”

It’s clear that Republican attempts to target Garland are a politicized attempt to take revenge against the Justice Department for pursuing criminal cases against Donald Trump. The convicted felon and his GOP allies, like the now-imprisoned Steve Bannon, have made no secret of their desire to enact retribution against Trump’s enemies. Trump was reportedly upset at a lack of action on his behalf from Republicans after his conviction.

With Trump now effectively above the law after the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling, he will be able to target whoever he wants if he wins in November. His team is already creating an enemies list of federal employees, and Trump himself has already suggested throwing his political opponents in jail. He has an army of right-wing lawyers waiting in the wings as soon as he enters the Oval Office.

Democrats Finally Take Action on Clarence Thomas’s Shady Dealings

Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Ron Wyden are referring Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas to the Justice Department.

Clarence Thomas looks to the side
Eric Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Ron Wyden are asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to assign a special prosecutor to investigate complaints of potential ethics and tax law violations against conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The Democratic senators sent a letter to the Justice Department last week demanding action and detailing various gifts Thomas received from Republican billionaires that Thomas failed to disclose until after they were made public by ProPublica and other news outlets.

“The scale of the potential ethics violations by Justice Thomas, and the willful pattern of disregard for ethics laws, exceeds the conduct of other government officials investigated by the Department of Justice for similar violations,” the letter, dated July 3, reads. “The breadth of the omissions uncovered to date, and the serious possibility of additional tax fraud and false statement violations by Justice Thomas and his associates, warrant the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate this misconduct.”

Whitehouse is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, while Wyden is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Their letter argues that Thomas’s pattern of failing to disclose luxurious gifts from conservative billionaires is a violation of the Ethics in Government Act and raises concerns that neither Thomas nor his billionaire benefactors are in compliance with federal tax-reporting requirements.

The letter points to an investigation led by the Senate Finance Committee and Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts into a loan given to Thomas by Anthony Welters to purchase a luxury motor coach. According to Whitehouse and Wyden’s letter, Thomas never repaid the principal on that loan and only paid interest until collections on the loan stopped in 2008. Welters told The New York Times in August 2023 that “the loan was satisfied” without detailing whether that meant it was paid in full or forgiven.

“The evidence assembled thus far plainly suggests that Justice Thomas has committed numerous willful violations of federal ethics and false-statement laws and raises significant questions about whether he and his wealthy benefactors have complied with their federal tax obligations,” the letter continues.

A ProPublica investigation in April 2023 revealed Thomas received luxury vacations from billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow, which had not been disclosed by Thomas in accordance with mandatory financial disclosure rules. Soon after ProPublica’s April reveal, Thomas submitted amended disclosure forms to include the gifts from Crow exposed by ProPublica. In August 2023, ProPublica revealed even more undisclosed gifts—at least 38 vacations and 26 private jet flights given to Thomas from an array of right-wing billionaires—which ProPublica described as “certainly an undercount.” In September 2023, Thomas submitted more disclosure forms to acknowledge some gifts he received in 2022, which he used to explain failing to disclose gifts he received in previous years. According to NPR, the use of the 2022 form to justify previous lapses in disclosure suggested Thomas wouldn’t be retroactively submitting disclosures for the past 20 years of luxurious treatment from his billionaire friends. Last month, Thomas acknowledged that he should have reported luxury vacations, travel, and hotel stays paid for by Crow.

“Appointment of a Special Counsel would serve the public interest. The public must have confidence that the judiciary and the Department of Justice execute their responsibilities fairly, impartially, and without respect to political expedience or partisan interests,” Whitehouse and Wyden wrote in their letter requesting an investigation into Thomas’s lavish gifts, which they estimate to be “potentially worth millions of dollars.”

The request follows similar promises by congressional Democrats ahead of the Fourth of July holiday break to hit back at the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently stated her intention to file unspecified articles of impeachment following the Supreme Court’s ruling that vastly expanded Trump’s presidential immunity.

How Trump Plans to Crush Jack Smith Before the Election

Donald Trump is trying to avoid facing any consequences before the election for his actions during the January 6 attack.

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

Donald Trump is expected to take a hatchet to any potential “mini-trials” shooting off of the effectively dead D.C. trial, using the legal system to block any potential ramifications from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The sudden move to suppress any potentially damaging efforts would be the final nail in the coffin for special counsel Jack Smith’s case against the former president, after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trump’s presidential immunity argument last week.

That decision opened the door for U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to hold evidentiary hearings to determine which acts in the indictment can survive the high court’s new legal parameters for the case.

But those expanded powers could challenge a sizable portion of the witness pool, according to The Guardian, which noted that if Smith attempted to call former Vice President Mike Pence or White House officials to testify during the hearings, Trump’s legal team could potentially claim executive privilege and shut it down. That would radically limit the scope of who could challenge the former president—and what they might be allowed to say.

A Trump campaign spokesman declined to comment on the potential legal strategy to The Guardian, but in a statement commented that “the entire January 6th case has always been just a desperate, un-constitutional attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their weaponized Department of Justice to interfere with the 2024 Presidential Election. The only thing imploding faster than the Biden campaign is Deranged Jack Smith’s partisan hoaxes.”

Smith’s case has already been kneecapped by the Supreme Court ruling. The case hinges on the allegation that Trump knew he had lost the election but still tried to subvert the results, as proven by conversations he had with Pence and his lawyers. But the court ruled that those conversations could be considered official acts and are therefore inadmissible as evidence.

We Now Know Why a Trump Judge Suddenly Resigned—and It’s a Nightmare

U.S. District Judge Joshua Kindred resigned after just a few years in office, as horrific reports of his sexual misconduct came to light.

a gavel on a wood table
Harold M. Lambert/Getty

One of Donald Trump’s appointed judges is stepping down after lying about engaging in an inappropriate relationship, as well as creating a hostile work environment.

U.S. District Judge Joshua M. Kindred was asked to resign by the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit in Alaska over misconduct allegations that he had an “inappropriately sexualized relationship” with a law clerk, even after she became an assistant U.S. attorney in the state.

“We conclude that Judge Kindred’s misconduct was pervasive and abusive, constituted sexual harassment, and fostered a hostile work environment that took a personal and professional toll on multiple clerks,” the council wrote, citing an incident in October 2022 where Kindred kissed the U.S. attorney and groped her after asking her out for drinks. The council made its recommendation after interviewing clerks and judicial employees and reviewing hundreds of pages of text messages.

Kindred was also accused of “putting his hands on me” by the law clerk, and he urged her to join him at an associate’s apartment and then performed oral sex on her, the council’s report stated. The allegations get worse from there. The judge is alleged to have lied to investigators when questioned about his actions, despite speaking openly about his “romantic preferences,” his sex life, the sex lives of his clerks, and numerous other inappropriate subjects in a professional environment.

Judge Joshua Kindred, a Trump appointee, sexually harassed and preyed upon his female clerks, then lied to investigators when his conduct got reported. He just stepped down. The allegations are absolutely appalling. Image

Kindred was appointed by Trump at age 41 despite a low rating from the Alaska Bar Association, and was confirmed by the Senate 54–41 in a party line vote in 2020. After he abruptly submitted his resignation letter to President Biden last week, observers wondered why a young federal judge with a lifetime appointment would resign after only four years. It quickly became clear on Monday after the Judicial Council released its report.

Biden now has another judicial vacancy to fill, the second one in Alaska’s Ninth Circuit. He started his administration appointing and confirming judges on a faster pace than Trump and has continued that pace this year. However, Trump still had the more consequential appointments, placing three conservative justices on the Supreme Court who may have just saved him from legal prosecution. With Biden facing a Democratic Party divided on whether he should be on the ballot for a second term, he might help himself by pointing out his ability to get new federal judges who aren’t in the mold of Trump.

Trump Has Turned RNC Into a “Slut Walk,” Republicans Complain

Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis was not pleased by the convention’s platform or scheduled speakers.

Jenna Ellis speaks
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Ex–Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis is part of a chorus of conservative Christian Republicans who are not happy with the GOP, after it abandoned its push for a federal ban on abortion in favor of Donald Trump’s pitch to toss the decision back to the states.

The new platform, which will be voted on at the upcoming Republican National Convention next week, also takes a more moderate position on same-sex marriage. While the Trump campaign’s senior advisers have insisted that the new policies are “concise and digestible,” they’re proving to be unpopular among some of the party’s more religious members.

Ex–Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis was among those who were left disappointed by the new policy, and Ellis took to X (formerly Twitter) to share her furious reaction across several tweets.

“The RNC is trading Lila Rose for Amber Rose. Pro-life for pro-abortion. Live Action for Slut Walk. That’s a reflection of Trumpworld over God’s truth,” she wrote, referring to Amber Rose organizing a 2015 SlutWalk protest in Los Angeles to raise public awareness of gender inequality. Rose is reportedly scheduled to speak at the upcoming Republican National Convention. “Christians and conservatives should not support this,” Ellis added.

Ellis, who pleaded guilty to charges that she attempted to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, was recently barred from practicing law in the state of Colorado for three years. Ellis struck a plea deal with Fulton County prosecutors in October and testified that while Trump knew he lost in 2020, he was adamant on staying in the White House.

The ex–Trump lawyer’s name popped up in a new court filing last week, as another former Trump staffer shared text messages where Ellis allegedly claimed that Trump’s 2016 campaign paid to bury complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination.

While Ellis was already decidedly off the Trump train, her RNC complaints seem to be spreading across Trump’s Christian conservative base.

Chad Connelly, the former chair of the South Carolina GOP, expressed disappointment felt by his Christian constituents. “It is fair to say that over 1,000 pastors have emailed, texted and called me about their disappointment over where they saw the platform going,” he said, according to NBC, claiming that he’d been kept out of the platform committee after being “labeled ‘too pro-life.’”

Connelly is also the president and founder of Faith Wins, a supposedly nonpartisan group that mobilizes faith leaders to “leverage” their influence in government and politics. In the past, Connelly used his religious ties to round up voters for Trump, and now it seems he’s beginning to defect.

“The words I am hearing are shocked, betrayed, trampled, depressed, deflated,” Connelly said. “Most pastors I know don’t want Biden and will still probably vote for Trump, but this hurts the energy needed for those folks to do the things it takes to help elect a president.”

Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action, also released a statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the voting committee’s voting procedure and a staunch rejection of the platform’s more moderate abortion stance.

“The right to life transcends other political debates and the interests of any and all political parties and candidates,” he wrote. The FRCA, which Perkins runs, is the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council, a Southern Poverty Law Center–designated hate group that is included on the advisory board of Project 2025. Perkins said that members of the platform committee hadn’t been given the opportunity to draft and amend the platform.

Perkins and Connelly are staunch Trump allies and were among several signatories of a letter from religious advocacy groups criticizing the FBI’s investigation into the former president’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. Perkins’s statement was shared by Ellis, as well as Walker Wildmon, the vice president of the American Family Association, another rabidly anti-gay SPLC-designated hate group.

It’s worth noting that in 2020 the Republican Party did not release a new platform, amid rumors that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was hoping to change the platform drafting process and shorten the final product down to a “single card that fits in people’s pockets.” At the time, Trump requested a “short form” platform from the party, which ultimately opted to reuse its 2016 policy slate. Kushner’s plan also reportedly involved shirking incendiary language and policies that catered to far-right activists, pulling Republican policy closer to the center right, likely to widen the platform’s appeal.

It’s not likely that Trump would altogether abandon the conservative Christian base that he’s been courting for years, but it appears that he may have been making moves to knock them out of the party’s decision-making process, starting as far back as 2020.

In any case, they seem more than a little unnerved, and Trump may have to scramble to stay in their good graces.

Read more about the RNC’s new platform:

Trump Judge Delivers Massive Blow to RNC Protesters—Just in Time

A Trump-appointed judge is helping save the Republican National Convention from protesters.

General view of the Fiserv Forum as workers install signage for the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

With less than a week before the Republican National Convention is scheduled to begin, a Trump-appointed judge on Monday ruled that protesters cannot march through areas visible to the RNC.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Coalition to March on the RNC 2024, an umbrella coalition of several activist groups that led protests against the RNC in 2008, 2012, and 2016. The lawsuit was filed in June after the city of Milwaukee released plans for a “hard perimeter” around the RNC, with limitations on what items protesters can bring into a “security footprint” designated protest area. The plan was approved by the city and mayor in March. Coalition co-chair Omar Flores argued in June when the ACLU’s lawsuit was filed that the designated protest areas and “parade” route were overly restrictive, impeding their First Amendment rights by keeping protest spaces too far from the venue for the gathering to actually be a protest against the RNC.

“This march route is within sight and sound of the RNC,” Flores said in June of the route the coalition crafted for their march in contrast to the city’s offerings. “We’re not going to be led back to their protest pens where, essentially, we’re just going to be chanting and screaming to no one. I mean, that’s really not a protest,” Flores added.

The ruling, delivered by Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig, stated the city of Milwaukee and the Secret Service satisfied security needs and people’s desire to protest, finding much of their plan a “valid restriction on free speech,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“The Coalition members have the right to march in protest of the RNC. Their right to do so lies at the heart of the First Amendment. But the First Amendment does not allow them to protest or parade in any way they choose,” Ludwig wrote in his decision. Ludwig did rule in favor of the ACLU in part, determining that the city of Milwaukee can’t approve sound and protest permits based on an applicant’s criminal history.

House Democrats Have Seriously Bleak Thoughts on Private Biden Meeting

One representative warned that the atmosphere in the party was “an insult to funerals.”

Joe Biden walks out of the White House
Andrew Leyden/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Democrats appear to be at a complete loss over what to do with President Joe Biden’s 2024 candidacy.

A private House Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday morning had members in a whirlwind, seemingly unable to decide whether to hand the November run to another Democratic candidate or stick by Biden’s side, despite the American public’s floundering confidence in him.

Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen appeared frustrated as he exited the private meeting, telling a crowd of reporters that the party was far from on the same page about what to do with Biden. “We’re not even in the same book,” Cohen said.

One unidentified member backing Biden told Punchbowl News that the scene “felt like a funeral.” Another lawmaker told Semafor that the “morale of the caucus is at historic lows” and that comparing the political impasse to a funeral would be “an insult to funerals.”

Several lawmakers reportedly left the building already on their phones, while Pennsylvania Representative Summer Lee had her headphones in. Democrats in attendance were reportedly unified on supporting the caucus’s eventual nominee, but whether that would remain Biden was remarkably unclear.

“The fighting spirit and pride and courage that served the country so well four years ago, that helped Joe Biden win, will bring the ticket down this time,” Illinois Representative Mike Quigley told the Associated Press.

But just a month out from the Democratic National Convention—where either Biden or an alternative will have to be nominated—the other options to the incumbent president aren’t exactly rallying the party behind them. Despite Kamala Harris’s growing popularity as Biden’s replacement, Connecticut Representative Jahana Hayes argued that putting the vice president at the top of the ticket would be “setting her up for failure,” wrote Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman.

Josh Hawley Says Quiet Part Out Loud on Christian Nationalism

Senator Josh Hawley is proudly revealing the truth about the Republican agenda.

Josh Hawley speaks while holding a mic and making a hand gesture
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

At the fourth National Conservatism Conference, known as NatCon 4, Senator Josh Hawley saw fit to tell the audience exactly what he stands for—and it’s Christian nationalism.

“Some will say I’m calling America a Christian nation. And so I am. Some will say I’m advocating Christian nationalism. And so I do. My question is: Is there any other kind worth having?” Hawley said at the conference’s gala dinner Monday night.

The Missouri Republican defended his statement by claiming that American democracy was founded by Christian nationalism, which is also America’s political tradition. He also spoke of replacing the Pride flag on federal buildings with the words “In God We Trust.”

Twitter screenshot David Wiegel: "They want the religion of the pride flag. We want the religion of the Bible. I have a suggestion: Why don't we take down the trans flag from all the federal buildings from which it's flying, and instead, inscribe on every federal building our national motto: In God We Trust?" 8:59 p.m. July 8, 2024

To his credit, Hawley did offer some unexpected suggestions in his speech, such as rejecting “blood and soil” authoritarianism and calling on Republicans to support unions (though not public-sector unions). But Hawley has given unions some token support and praise before, and it has never been backed up with any resolute or specific action.

In reality, his railing against elites and professed support for the working class belies his own private school, Ivy League background. Hawley has mistaken a white nationalist magazine’s words for a Patrick Henry quote, scuttled bills simply to hurt President Biden, and written a bizarre book titled Manhood extolling the virtues of masculinity.

While all of this shows a politician seeking to say certain things for attention without much action, his words on Christian nationalism should be taken seriously because he’s a true believer. For one, his wife is also part of the Christian nationalism movement, working for the extremist legal group Alliance Defending Freedom. Hawley happens to be up for reelection in November, and he faces a strong challenge from populist Democrat and military veteran Lucas Kunce. Will voters swallow his Christian nationalism and give him a second term in the Senate, or give a more genuine politician a chance?

Fox Business Runs the Most Insane Pro-Trump Commercial Ever

The ad is just as scammy as Donald Trump himself.

Donald Trump smiles while sitting in a courtroom
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Bloomberg/Getty Images

As if the warped political landscape, ever-shrinking number of rights, and normalization of violent, racist rhetoric and policy weren’t enough, Fox Business is now advertising a new way to remember the worst president in history: a commemorative $2 bill, complete with Donald Trump’s mugshot!

Fox Business is apparently running ads for a product called the Trump “Never Surrender” Mugshot $2 Bill. The ad itself is so ridiculous, it needs to be seen to be believed.

The product itself is exactly what its name would suggest: an “enhanced” uncirculated $2 bill, plastered with Trump’s tough-guy glare, his signature, his inmate number, and the words “Never Surrender” and “Most Famous Mugshot in History.”

“Donald J. Trump makes history once again by becoming the first former president of the United States to ever be criminally indicted,” explains the chipper voiceover. “The powers that be made good on their threats to get him by indicting him four times.”

The eerie advertisement lists his indictments like badges of honor, and not genuine allegations of criminal wrongdoing, over infomercial-type animated graphics. If it didn’t feel dated already, the advertisement makes no mention of Trump’s recent convictions.

“In the photo, President Trump displays a furrowed brow and a determined gaze, showing he’s ready to fight,” the voiceover continues. “He says he will never surrender.”

“Whether or not you are a supporter of the forty-fifth president, there is no doubting the historic importance of this photo,” says the voiceover, a strange appeal to any non-MAGA viewers, as if they could be convinced to buy Trump merch anyway. While the bill seems to have been on the market for at least six months, Fox Business appears to be in on the move to make money off of Trump’s loyal followers.

The tchotchke is produced by the National Collector’s Mint, a private company that is not associated with the U.S. government and doesn’t appear to be directly associated with Trump, either.

The company is co-directed by former U.S. Representative Barry Goldwater Jr., son of the failed Republican presidential candidate, and conservative political commentator Angela Marie Buchanan.

While Goldwater and Buchanan’s positions on Trump are unclear, they appear to be leaning in to make a buck off his MAGA fans. Goldwater, who also serves as director of the archconservative think tank the Goldwater Institute, dismissed Trump as “an authoritarian” and “a cowboy” ahead of the 2016 elections.

Goldwater has made a few appearances on Fox Business in recent months, and in May appeared on Cavuto: Coast to Coast. Americans are “looking for someone who is going to stand up and take charge. We don’t have that with Biden,” Goldwater said at the time, insisting that Trump’s convictions would not prevent him from winning the presidency.

Buchanan served as treasury secretary under President Ronald Reagan. Her brother, paleoconservative Pat Buchanan, also worked for Reagan, as well as Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

The commemorative bill can be purchased for only $19.95, so about $17.95 more than it’s probably worth. Only five can be bought at a time, so make sure to plan your spending, and remember, in the United States it’s illegal to burn money.