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News & Politics Thread (Part 6)

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  • Atypical
    Dec 1st, 2011

    Marianne Williamson’s “abusive” treatment of 2020 campaign staff, revealed
    The self-help guru, who is running for president again, was emotionally and verbally abusive to staff, according to interviews with former employees.

    03/16/2023 04:30 AM EDT


    The best-selling author Marianne Williamson has built a career preaching love and forgiveness. It is the cornerstone of her second Democratic campaign for president which she launched on March 4.

    But those who have worked with Williamson as she has moved into the political realm say her public persona is at odds with her private behavior.

    Interviews with 12 people who worked for Williamson during her 2020 presidential campaign paint a picture of a boss who can be verbally and emotionally abusive.

    Those interviewed say the best-selling author and spiritual adviser subjected her employees to unpredictable, explosive episodes of anger. They said Williamson could be cruel and demeaning to her staff and that her behavior went far beyond the typical stress of a grueling presidential cycle.

    “It would be foaming, spitting, uncontrollable rage,” said a former staffer, who, like most people that spoke with POLITICO, was granted anonymity because of their concern about being sued for breaking non-disclosure agreements. “It was traumatic. And the experience, in the end, was terrifying.”

    Williamson would throw her phone at staffers, according to three of those former staffers. Her outbursts could be so loud that two former aides recounted at least four occasions when hotel staff knocked on her door to check on the situation. In one instance, Williamson got so angry about the logistics of a campaign trip to South Carolina that she felt was poorly planned that she pounded a car door until her hand started to swell, according to four former staffers. Ultimately, she had to go to an urgent care facility, they said. All 12 former staffers interviewed recalled instances where Williamson would scream at people until they started to cry.

    When presented with details of POLITICO’s reporting, Paul Hodes, a former U.S. congressman who served as Williamson’s 2020 New Hampshire state director, said such descriptions mirrored his own experience working with her.

    “Those reports of Ms. Williamson’s behavior are consistent with my observations, consistent with contemporaneous discussions I had about her conduct with staff members, and entirely consistent with my own personal experience with her behavior on multiple occasions,” he said.

    In an email to POLITICO, Williamson said such accusations of her behavior were “slanderous” and “categorically untrue.”

    “Former staffers trying to score points with the political establishment by smearing me might be good for their careers, but the intention is to deflect attention from the important issues facing the American people,” she said. “This Presidential Campaign expects concerted efforts to dismiss and denigrate us. But the amplification of outright lies should not occur.”

    In the same email, Williamson denied ever throwing a phone at staffers. But she did acknowledge that she went to urgent care after getting upset and hitting her hand on a car door, but said a “car door is not a person. I would never be physically hurtful to a person.” She also acknowledged that there was an occasion when she raised her voice in a hotel room and someone came to see what was happening. “I find it hard to believe that people in politics have never raised their voice before,” she said.

    Former staffers interviewed noted that tough boss criticisms tend to unfairly be lobbed at female leaders. But they also stressed that Williamson’s behavior was beyond the boundaries of acceptable regardless of her gender. Although Williamson has little shot at defeating President Joe Biden in the 2024 Democratic presidential primary, they said they were motivated to come forward now to warn people who were considering working on her campaign about her treatment of staff.

    Those former aides said Williamson’s behavior was hard to predict. She berated staffers for seemingly inconsequential things, like if they booked a hotel room that had a walk-in shower and not a bathtub, they said. She would tell her staff to cancel an event, only to change her mind a day later and accuse them of trying to undermine her campaign. She obsessed over the physical appearance of others and ridiculed staffers for being overweight, according to four former aides.

    Williamson said she never “mocked anyone for their weight.”

    “She would get caught in these vicious emotional loops where she would yell and scream hysterically,” said a second former staffer. “This was day after day after day. It wasn’t that she was having a bad day or moment. It was just boom, boom, boom—and often for no legitimate reason.”

    In her year-long candidacy, Williamson burned through two campaign managers, multiple state directors, field organizers, and volunteers. Some were let go, but others said they quit because of the campaign’s culture.

    In a resignation email sent to Williamson on Aug. 14, 2019, Robert Becker, the campaign’s then-Iowa state director, wrote that Williamson’s treatment of staff was “belittling, abusive, dehumanizing, and unacceptable,” according to a copy of the email exchange with Williamson obtained by POLITICO. Becker, who was a controversial hire due to a prior allegation that he forcibly kissed a subordinate while working on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Democratic presidential campaign, added: “I cannot in good faith subject any future campaign hires to this kind of vitriol. For 30 years I have had zero-tolerance for bullying in the workplace, and that has to include the principle.”

    Williamson emailed back: “I did go out on a limb for you, but more importantly I had no idea that you would’ve seen me that way …. Hopefully I will learn from what you have said, and hopefully you will not say such things to others.”

    Becker did not respond to POLITICO’s multiple requests for comment. POLITICO authenticated the emails with a former Williamson staffer.

    Williamson feared that her staff would go behind her back and talk to reporters about her behavior, according to six former staffers, who said she required campaign employees to sign nondisclosure agreements and made clear that they would be strictly enforced. At one point in 2019, she suggested monitoring staffers’ phones, according to one of them, but never followed through with the idea. Williamson denied that she ever suggested doing such a thing.

    “The message was: ‘don’t fuck with me because I will make your life a living hell.’ So no one fucked with her,” said a third former aide.

    Campaigns often use NDAs to protect proprietary information from spilling out into the public. But former aides say Williamson’s use of NDAs went beyond just her full-time campaign staff. Those aides said that Williamson’s personal assistant traveled with NDAs readily available and would ask taxi drivers and other service industry workers to sign them if Williamson lost her temper in front of them. Williamson denied this charge too. However, two former staffers said they witnessed this happen on separate occasions after Williamson started berating staff in cabs to and from fundraising and media events in New York.

    “There was a period after the campaign ended where there was intense trauma bonding,” said a fourth former campaign aide. “It was like, ‘What the fuck did we just go through?’”

    Campaign staff had conversations among themselves about how to approach Williamson about seeking help for her behavior. But most said they thought it would be an uphill battle given Williamson’s track record of skepticism surrounding mental health and antidepressants. Many said they felt like there was no way to talk to Williamson about such sensitive topics without opening themselves up to her verbal attacks.

    “Her perspective on the pharmaceutical industry, those points of views informed her personal actions and not getting medication and help that she needed,” said the second former aide.

    While Williamson’s behavior during the 2020 campaign has not previously been reported, it mirrors reporting from 30 years ago when Williamson’s popularity as a spiritual guru was taking off among major Hollywood celebrities following the publication of her first book, “A Return to Love.”

    A 1992 People Magazine story profiling Williamson said she had a “temper and unchecked ego, as well as a cruelly abrasive management style” and quoted a former associate who called Williamson “a tyrant.” A Los Angeles Times story published that same year reported that people who had worked with Williamson described her as having “an explosive temper that erupts indiscriminately.”

    Still, her behavior came as a shock to most of her 2020 campaign staff, the majority of whom had backgrounds working in politics and only knew of Williamson through her best-selling books and public speaking events encouraging people to harness the power of love and learn to forgive.

    Some people said they joined the campaign simply because they needed a job and Williamson was offering them one. Others said they thought that there was room in the race for a dark horse candidate to push people, including Biden, on topics such as reparations. And some said that Williamson’s books on compassion and forgiveness had helped them through their own struggles of divorce, addiction, and loss of family members.

    Instead, they walked away feeling emotionally tormented.

    “It’s cliché, but all I can say is: don’t meet your heroes,” said a fifth former staffer.

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Biden issues first veto, rejecting bill to reverse ESG rule
    BY BRETT SAMUELS 03/20/23 1:00 PM ET


    President Biden on Monday issued his first veto since taking office, rejecting a bill that would have reversed a Labor Department rule on environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing.

    “I just vetoed my first bill,” Biden said in a tweet announcing the move.

    “This bill would risk your retirement savings by making it illegal to consider risk factors MAGA House Republicans don’t like. Your plan manager should be able to protect your hard-earned savings—whether Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene likes it or not,” he added, referring to the Republican congresswoman from Georgia.

    The Biden administration had previously issued a rule stating that money managers can weigh climate change and other ESG factors when they make decisions for retirement investments on behalf of clients. It replaced a rule from the era of former President Trump that the Biden administration said discouraged consideration of ESG factors “even in cases where it is in the financial interest of plans to take such considerations into account.”

    The GOP-controlled House had passed the bill to undo the Biden rule, and the Senate voted Wednesday to send the bill to Biden’s desk in a 50-46 vote.

    Two Senate Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) joined Republicans in opposing the Biden administration policy, saying they felt it was a case of government overreach that would impose a policy agenda on Americans’ retirement accounts.

    The White House had previously said Biden would veto the legislation if it passed Congress. In a Statement of Administration Policy, the White House noted the rule was not a mandate, but is intended to ensure retirement plan managers recognize that factors related to ESG can be relevant in analyzing investment decisions.

    “The President vetoed the bill because it jeopardizes the hard-earned life savings of cops, firefighters, teachers, and other workers–all in service of an extreme, MAGA Republican ideology.” White House spokesperson Robyn Patterson said in a statement.

    Congress is unlikely to be able to override Biden’s veto, as it would require the support of two-thirds of both chambers.

    The legislation and Biden’s subsequent veto is part of a larger debate over ESG investing. Opposition to the practice has become a point of emphasis for many conservatives, who view it as part of a broader “woke” agenda among Democrats that infringes on Americans’ rights to make their own decisions.

    “This veto by President Biden goes directly against the interests of the American people and once again creates an illegitimate loophole for companies like BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard to exploit to put politics over profits with American pension dollars,” said Will Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research, a group that has led opposition ESG policies.

    “It is disappointing to see this administration use hardworking Americans’ retirements to further progressive politics rather than ensure Americans are financially secure,” Hild said.

    Supporters of ESG investment say that following these principles allows people to make money, have a positive impact on the world around them and avoid some financial risks caused by climate change.

    Banks, investment firms and money managers also say consumer demand for ESG investment offerings grew steadily over the past few years.

    “Today, President Biden used his first veto to reject a bipartisan majority consensus in the House and Senate that Americans’ retirement savings should be invested to get the best return, not to support a political agenda,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), a lead author on the bill that was vetoed, said in a statement, accusing Biden of “doubling down on prioritizing a progressive agenda over Americans’ retirements and the will of Congress.”

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Elizabeth Warren says Jerome Powell has “failed” as Federal Reserve chair
    PUBLISHED SUN, MAR 19 2023 11:37 AM EDT
    UPDATED MON, MAR 20 2023 5:42 AM EDT
    CNBC | Summer Concepcion


    Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., slammed Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell in an interview Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” saying he “has failed” and shouldn’t be in his role.

    “He has had two jobs. One is to deal with monetary policy. One is to deal with regulation. He has failed at both,” she said.

    “Look, I don’t think he should be chairman of the Federal Reserve. I have said it as publicly as I know how to say it. I’ve said it to everyone,” said Warren, who is on the Senate Banking Committee.

    Powell, first nominated by President Donald Trump in 2017, has faced criticism over his handling of banking regulations after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

    Warren, who has been pressing for stricter banking regulations, said Powell “took a flamethrower to the regulations” when Trump was in office, adding that Trump gave Congress the “authority to lighten the regulations even more.”

    “And then the CEOs of the banks did exactly what we expected. They loaded up on risk that boosted their short-term profits. They gave themselves huge bonuses and salaries and exploded their banks,” Warren said.

    In a letter Saturday, Warren urged the inspectors general at the Treasury Department, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Fed Board of Governors to immediately open a “thorough independent investigation” to determine the causes of the bank management and regulatory issues that led to the collapse of SVB and Signature Bank.

    “The bank’s executives, who took unnecessary risks or failed to hedge against entirely foreseeable threats, must be held accountable for these failures,” Warren wrote, asking for preliminary findings of the probe to be delivered to Congress within 30 days.

    A group of Democrats led by Warren and Rep. Katie Porter of California announced legislation last week to restore bank regulations that were undone in 2018, during the Trump administration—an effort they say would address the cause of SVB’s collapse.

    At the time, Republicans in Congress pushed a bill—with the support of some centrist Democrats—that eased Dodd-Frank financial regulations on midsize banks, raising the “too big to fail” threshold from $50 billion in assets to $250 billion. The Warren-Porter bill, first reported by NBC News, would repeal that measure, but it faces a tough road to passage in Congress.

    Some Democrats who voted for the 2018 bill are standing by their votes, joining Republicans in resisting more scrutiny for banks and arguing that the U.S. still has ways under existing law to tackle the issue.

    President Joe Biden renominated Powell as Federal Reserve chairman in November 2021. The decision was met with pushback from some progressives, and certain Democrats had argued that Powell was too hands-off as a banking regulator.

    Around that time, Warren was a leading opponent of Powell, calling him a “dangerous man” who had led an effort to weaken the nation’s banking system at a hearing in late 2021.

    Warren urged Powell to recuse himself from an internal probe into SVB last week, saying his actions “directly contributed to these bank failures.”

    “I’ve opposed him because of his views on regulation,” Warren said Sunday on “Meet the Press,” “and what he was already doing to weaken regulation.”

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    DeSantis slams Manhattan DA in first remarks on potential Trump indictment
    BY MAX GREENWOOD 03/20/23 11:13 AM ET


    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) weighed in Monday on former President Trump’s possible criminal indictment in New York, breaking a two-day silence on Trump’s claim that he will be arrested this week.

    Asked about the rumored indictment during an event, DeSantis lambasted Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office is investigating hush money paid to a porn star on Trump’s behalf during his 2016 campaign, calling him a “Soros-funded prosecutor” and accusing him of “weaponizing” his office.

    “I’ve seen rumors swirl. I have not seen any facts yet, and so I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said DeSantis, a likely 2024 Republican presidential hopeful. “But I do know this: The Manhattan district attorney is a Soros-funded prosecutor and so he, like other Soros-funded prosecutors, they weaponize their office to impose a political agenda on society at the expense of the rule of law and public safety.”

    DeSantis didn’t mention Trump by name, choosing instead to grill Bragg over his approach to crime in New York City, though he drew a laugh from the audience when he quipped that he doesn’t “know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair.”

    “But what I can speak to is if you have a prosecutor, who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction, and he chooses to go back many, many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush-money payments, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office,” he said.

    Still, DeSantis also noted that his office would not be involved in the case “in any way,” signaling that he has no plans to help Trump fight extradition to New York should he face charges.

    The remarks were DeSantis’s first on the potential indictment since Trump claimed in a Saturday post on his social media site that he would be arrested on Tuesday and urged his supporters to protest any possible criminal charges against him.

    DeSantis’s initial silence on the matter kicked off a pressure campaign by Trump’s allies, who raised questions about why the Florida governor hadn’t chimed in on the former president’s claims.

    Other current and prospective Republican presidential candidates, including former Vice President Mike Pence and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, came out in defense of Trump over the weekend, casting Bragg’s investigation as politically motivated.

    Ramaswamy specifically sought to pressure DeSantis and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, one of the few declared Republican presidential candidates, to condemn Bragg’s “political persecution through prosecution” of Trump.

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    Mar 15th, 2023

    These are difficult times in the world.

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Trump’s first ’24 rally has a familiar feel: Anger and attacks on his tormentors
    The former president went to Waco and played the hits.

    03/25/2023 09:34 PM EDT


    WACO, Texas—It was Donald Trump’s first formal rally of the 2024 campaign. But the former president spent the evening sticking with the usual hits, emphasizing personal grievances and going after his nearest targets: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Manhattan district attorney who is poised to indict him.

    Appearing before a crowd of cheering supporters, Trump offered up the type of political bravado and bulldog mentality that he is known for, mocking DeSantis, who is widely seen as his strongest rival for the Republican nomination, for not doing better in the polls.

    “Man, he’s dropping like a rock,” Trump said of the Florida governor. “They keep saying ‘DeSanctus’ could do well with farmers. I don’t think so. Based on polls, he’s not doing well with anything.”

    Trump went on to do a dramatic re-enactment of DeSantis pleading for his endorsement in the 2018 Florida governor’s race. The former president said that after he grudgingly backed DeSantis, the candidate “became like a rocket ship” and prevailed in the primary and general election—and argued that had he not backed him, DeSantis would have never won.

    The audience seemed game to stand for hours under the central Texas sun and listen to Trump’s litany of complaints. They and the event itself offered a vivid illustration of the fault lines that have quickly opened up in the very early GOP primary: in which fealty to Trump appears to be one of the main litmus tests for those running.

    Indeed, rallygoers here in Waco expressed disappointment that DeSantis had not gone further in his defense of Trump as he stares down a possible indictment from the Manhattan district attorney.

    Louise Negry from Lometa, Tex., said DeSantis “might be a traitor.”

    Her friend, Renee Alaniz, agreed, referencing the Florida governor’s implicit mocking of Trump for being involved in an alleged hush money payment to a porn star (which has been the central issue in his potential indictment).

    “His statement about the possible Trump arrest was a little questionable—quite a bit questionable. His choice to be so lax about it and not support Trump in any way,” Alaniz said.

    Chris Blunt, who wore a T-shirt with an image of the Trump NFT he purchased last year, called DeSantis a “Trump clone,” and said the governor should be “dropping the Covid stuff and moving past it.”

    “Trump likes to attack the person and not their character, but DeSantis is attacking Trump’s character and credibility,” Blunt said. “He needs to stop playing games because Trump is going to trounce you.”

    DeSantis was not the lone object of scorn in Waco on Saturday night. Trump also railed against Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, who is investigating the $130,000 hush money payments to adult entertainer Stormy Daniels on Trump’s behalf. The jury in Manhattan had appeared to be wrapping up with the case and a decision on charges against Trump was widely expected to come last week. Now it does not appear any decision will come until at least early next week.

    Trump framed the investigations into him and the “weaponization of our justice system” as “the central issue of our time.” And he claimed the “biggest threat” to the U.S. isn’t China or Russia but “high level politicians that work in the U.S. government like McConnell, Pelosi, Schumer and Biden.”

    “You will be vindicated and proud the thugs and criminals who are corrupting our justice system will be defeated, discredited, and totally disgraced,” Trump said.

    Trump’s first 2024 presidential campaign rally came at a pivotal time. While Bragg closes in on a likely indictment—which would be a first for a sitting or former president—Trump is also facing legal scrutiny over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election as well as his handling of classified White House documents.

    Trump, on Saturday, appeared to bet that he could turn the investigations into a political asset, casting himself once more as a victim of a federal government that was aligned against him.

    “Our opponents have done everything they can to crush our spirit and to break our will. But they failed. They’ve only made us stronger,” he said.

    The campaign and city of Waco had expected at least 15,000 people to attend Saturday’s rally. Wearing MAGA hats and Trump T-shirts, some waved official campaign signs saying “WITCH HUNT” and the entire crowd stood, hand to heart along with Trump, as a rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” sung by the “J6 Choir” played, set to a video of protesters storming the U.S. Capitol.

    Trump ticked through a list of campaign promises that included mandating term limits, keeping “men out of women’s sports” and ending “the invasion at the Southern border.” And he once again vowed, without articulating how, that he would end the war in Ukraine and prevent “World War 3.”

    But the focus wasn’t primarily on the issues facing America, it was on the many issues facing him.

    The Trump campaign rolled out its Texas leadership team and endorsements for 2024 that included Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and twelve members of Congress, including Reps. Pete Sessions, the former NRCC chairman, and Roger Williams, chairman of the small business committee. Rep. Ronny Jackson—Trump’s former White House physician turned U.S. congressman from Texas—helped Trump’s campaign nail down endorsements and Trump personally called each, according to a campaign adviser.

    Notably, Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz weren’t included on the list, although the adviser said they expect more endorsements and Abbott and Cruz have both mulled 2024 runs of their own.

    Capitol Hill Trump allies like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) warmed up the crowds with their own rally cries.

    Greene told the crowd to stop letting people from “blue states” move into Texas, and—in what has been a major pivot for the GOP—told people to embrace ballot harvesting.

    “We need to beat them at their own game and start harvesting ballots,” Greene said. “Except they’ll only come from legal registered voters who are U.S. citizens.”

    Trump seemed pleased with Greene’s speech in particular, and on stage encouraged her to run for Senate.

    Outside the venue, rallygoers wandered through a makeshift marketplace of Trump themed souvenirs that ranged from Trump and Melania Trump lifesize cutouts, MAGA bikinis and T-shirts with crude messages against President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. One vendor said he was close to selling out a T-shirt that read, “I was there, where were you? God, Guns, Trump, in Waco, Texas.”

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    Oct 11th, 2010

    Desantis will win easy. If trump was challenged in 2020 he would have lost

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Trump indicted in Stormy Daniels hush-money case


    Former President Trump was indicted on criminal charges in New York on Thursday for his role in organizing hush money payments made to an adult film star during his 2016 campaign, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.

    The history-making indictment marks the first time a president has been charged in a criminal matter and comes as several law enforcement entities are investigating Trump’s conduct in numerous probes.

    The charges laid out in the indictment remain unclear.

    The indictment, which remains under seal, follows an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) that centered on a $130,000 payment fixer Michael Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels shortly before the election.

    Trump’s company labeled Cohen’s reimbursement of the payment as a legal expense and did not disclose them in campaign expense reports.

    Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 and served time for his role in the matter on charges related to campaign finance violations and tax fraud. He claimed that Trump directed him to make the payment and that Trump reimbursed him in monthly installments that included a bonus.

    The payment was made as part of a nondisclosure agreement as Daniels was prepared to go public with claims she has a sexual relationship with Trump–an affair he denies.

    Trump has repeatedly dismissed the investigation as a witch hunt and previously called on supporters to protest his arrest.

    Trump’s attorneys and campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    The charges against Trump follow reports that the grand jury empaneled to hear evidence in the case was not set to meet again to weigh evidence until late April. Bragg retained the ability to call for a vote on the indictment even on days the grand jury was not meeting about the case.

    Legal observers suggest an indictment of Trump would likely focus on charges of falsifying business records, but bumping that up from the misdemeanor to a felony could prove difficult.

    A felony charge requires a connection to a second crime and would augment the maximum jail time from one year to four years.

    State laws prohibit making “a false entry in the business records of an enterprise”—something Trump and Cohen may have violated by claiming the payments were for legal services that were never rendered.

    Trump has also previously suggested the case extends beyond New York’s statute of limitations, which for most state felonies is five years.

    But the case could be “tolled” which allows for the extension of the timeline to bring criminal charges. New York allows such a move when a defendant has continually been out of the state.

    Though the first charges to be filed against Trump, others could soon follow.

    Trump on Monday sought to quash an investigation by Georgia authorities over his effort to influence the election there. Fulton Co. District Attorney Fani Willis said earlier this year that charging decisions are imminent.

    Attorney General Merrick Garland has also appointed a special counsel to review both Trump’s role in the broader investigation into Jan. 6 and the mishandling of government records at Mar-a-Lago.

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    Oct 11th, 2010

    No one is voting for trump. It’s all Desantis

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Fox News Loses Bid to Have 2020 Election Defamation Case Dismissed; Dogfight with Dominion Voting Heads to Trial Next Month

    by Dominic Patten, Ted Johnson
    March 31, 2023 1:38 pm


    Unless Rupert Murdoch and Fox News settle soon, Dominion Voting Systems will have its day in court in its defamation case against the combative conservative cable newser.

    Heading to toward an April 17 trial start in the $1.6 billion matter, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis today denied all of Fox’s attempts to have the case tossed out, including on grounds that hosts and guests were engaging in opinion or neutral reporting on claims of vote rigging advanced by Donald Trump and his allies.

    Fox News Network “is not a passive entity,” the judge stated in a direct rebuttal of the outlet’s main defense. “FNN controls what is broadcast on its various networks. FNN does this through its employees as agents of FNN. Thus regardless of who within FNN is responsible for publication, FNN did in fact publish the statements to its viewers.”

    Conversely, Judge Davis granted a portion of Dominion’s own summary judgement motion and denied other parts.

    From the beginning, Dominion has claimed that Fox intentionally and knowingly spreading false claims about the company amidst the now indicted Trump’s bellicose assertions the 2020 election was stolen for Joe Biden. FNC has said it was covering a newsworthy topic ultimately in the public interest and doing its job. Though hordes of embarrassing (to put it mildly) private texts, emails and other correspondence from the likes of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Fox execs and Murdoch himself clearly paint a portrait of an organization saying one thing to its loyal viewers and saying something very different when the cameras were off.

    A point that Judge Davis made bluntly in his 130-page ruling released Friday:

    Through its extensive proof, Dominion has met its burden of showing there is no genuine issue of material fact as to falsity. Fox therefore had the burden to show an issue of material fact in turn. Fox failed to meet that burden. The evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that it is CRYSTAL clear that none of the statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true (italics, capitalization, and bolding from Judge Davis). Therefore, the Court will grant summary judgment in favor of Dominion on the element of falsity.

    Focusing further, Judge Davis’ ruling narrows the scope of what the jury will consider to the culpability of Fox Corp. for defamation, whether Fox Corp. or Fox News engaged in actual malice, and whether Dominion incurred any damages.

    A spokesperson for Dominion said to Deadline today: “We are gratified by the Court’s thorough ruling soundly rejecting all of Fox’s arguments and defenses, and finding as a matter of law that their statements about Dominion are false. We look forward to going to trial.”

    “The Court has rejected Fox’s First Amendment ‘newsworthy allegation’ defense and held that Dominion’s lawsuit is consistent with the First Amendment,” the spokesperson added.

    “This case is and always has been about the First Amendment protections of the media’s absolute right to cover the news,” said a Fox News Media spokesperson Friday after the ruling was released. “Fox will continue to fiercely advocate for the rights of free speech and a free press as we move into the next phase of these proceedings.”

    In his lengthy ruling, Davis rejected several of Fox’s defenses: That it was merely reporting on undoubtedly newsworthy allegations, including those made on air by Sidney Powell, who at one time was a member of the Trump legal team. But the judge said that the court was bound by existing precedent that does not recognize a “neutral report privilege,” shielding reporters from liability for reporting on even in defamatory allegations.

    “Even if the neutral report privilege did apply, the evidence does not support that FNN conducted good-faith, disinterested reporting,” the judge wrote, noting that Fox News’s “failure to reveal extensive contradicting evidence from the public sphere and Dominion itself indicates its reporting was not disinterested.”

    Davis also dismissed Fox’s arguments that it was shielded from liability given to journalists for reporting on official proceedings, like lawsuits and court hearings. He noted that many of the allegations advanced by Trump allies on Fox News “were made before any lawsuit had been filed in a court.”

    Dominion has identified 20 instances of election fraud claims made against the company on Fox News airwaves. Fox had argued that the statements were opinion, and therefore shielded from defamation claims, and the average viewer “would understand that the statements, in the immediate and broader social context in which the statement is made, convey opinions, not fact.”

    In his opinion, though, Davis went one by one through the statements to conclude that the statements were either facts or mixed opinion, siding with Dominion.

    Davis wrote that the statements “are defamatory per se because the Statements claimed that Dominion committed election fraud; manipulated vote counts through its software and algorithms; is founded in Venezuela to rig elections for dictator Hugo Chavez; and paid kickbacks to government officials who used the machines in the Election. Dominion contends that the Statements strike at the basic integrity of its business. That alone makes the Statements defamatory per se. The Statements also seem to charge Dominion with the serious crime of election fraud. Accusations of criminal activity, even in the form of opinion, are not constitutionally protected.”

    Jury selection for the trial in Joe Biden’s adopted home state is set to start on April 13.

    Much of the attention to the case has focused on the release of correspondence from Fox News and Fox Corp. personnel, showing the scramble by the network to respond to a backlash in the aftermath of the election that had Trump recommending that his supporters watch smaller rivals Newsmax and One America News Network. Fox News had been the first network to project that Biden would win Arizona, the first sign on election night that Trump would lose–a fact that enraged the then POTUS.

    In his opinion, Davis referred to some of the text messages, including one to Hannity from Carlson, upset that Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich had fact checked Trump’s claims about Dominion. “Please get her fired….It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down,” Carlson wrote.

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Bragg warns GOP effort to oversee ongoing Trump case is “dangerous usurpation”
    BY REBECCA BEITSCH 03/31/23 10:22 AM ET


    Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) warned Republican lawmakers on Friday that their efforts to conduct oversight into his investigation of former President Trump represents a “dangerous usurpation” by Congress that could impinge upon the former president’s rights.

    The response from Bragg’s office comes the morning after a grand jury he empaneled to hear evidence voted to indict Trump in connection with efforts to hide a hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels by couching them as legal payments.

    A trio of Republican House chairmen, led by House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), gave Bragg until Friday to comply with a demand to turn over documents related to his investigation.

    Bragg’s office again rebuffed the chairmen in a second letter, noting that a jury found probable cause to initiate the charges for Trump and laying out his full rights in the upcoming trial.

    “What neither Mr. Trump nor Congress may do is interfere with the ordinary course of proceedings in New York State,” Leslie Dubeck, general counsel for Bragg’s office, wrote in the letter.

    The letter is the fourth in a back-and-forth between Bragg and the lawmakers, who demanded all the documents in the case as well as any communications Bragg’s office has had about it.

    The GOP leaders contended the probe was politically motivated—a point Bragg has repeatedly contested.

    “Your second letter asserts that, by failing to provide it, the District Attorney somehow failed to dispute your baseless and inflammatory allegations that our investigation is politically motivated. That conclusion is misleading and meritless,” Dubeck wrote.

    “We did not engage in a point-by-point rebuttal of your letter because our Office is legally constrained in how it publicly discusses pending criminal proceedings, as prosecutorial offices are across the country and as you well know. That secrecy is critical to protecting the privacy of the target of any criminal investigation as well as the integrity of the independent grand jury’s proceedings.”

    Bragg’s office reiterated a willingness to meet but this time asked lawmakers to supply them with a list of questions and documents they could discuss “without violating New York grand jury secrecy rules or interfering with the criminal case now before a court.”

    The letter attacks another GOP argument seeking to justify their intervention, with the lawmakers in their original March 20 letter saying they were weighing “potential legislative reforms.”

    Again, Bragg’s office questioned the intent of GOP plans.

    “We doubt that Congress would have authority to place a single private citizen—including a former president or candidate for president—above the law or to grant him unique protections, such as removal to federal court, that are unavailable to every other criminal defendant,” Dubeck wrote.

    “Even if you were seriously considering such legislation and had the constitutional authority to enact it (which you do not), your request for information from the District Attorney and his former attorneys concerning an ongoing criminal probe is unnecessary and unjustified. Congress has many sources from which it could seek information on the wisdom of this legislation, including from former federal or state prosecutors not involved in this pending matter.”

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Fetterman discharged from hospital, will return to Senate after recess
    BY JULIA SHAPERO 03/31/23 6:15 PM ET


    Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday, after spending several weeks receiving in-patient treatment for depression.

    “I am extremely grateful to the incredible team at Walter Reed,” Fetterman said in a statement. “The care they provided changed my life. I will have more to say about this soon, but for now I want everyone to know that depression is treatable, and treatment works.”

    “This isn’t about politics—right now there are people who are suffering with depression in red counties and blue counties,” he continued. “If you need help, please get help.”

    The Pennsylvania senator will spend the next two weeks back home in the Keystone State while the Senate is in recess and will return to Washington, D.C., when the session resumes on April 17, his office said.

    “I am so happy to be home. I’m excited to be the father and husband I want to be, and the senator Pennsylvania deserves. Pennsylvanians have always had my back, and I will always have theirs,” Fetterman added.

    Fetterman’s depression is now in remission, according to Dr. David Williamson, the neuropsychiatrist at Walter Reed who oversaw the senator’s treatment.

    He presented with “severe symptoms” of depression when he was first admitted to Walter Reed for treatment in mid-February, including “low energy and motivation, minimal speech, poor sleep, slowed thinking, slowed movement, feelings of guilt and worthlessness,” Williamson said in a discharge briefing provided by the senator’s office.

    Fetterman had also reportedly stopped eating and taking fluids, leading to low blood pressure and “potentially affecting brain circulation,” Williamson also noted.

    His mood “steadily improved” throughout his six weeks of treatment, and he was also fitted for hearing aids after the doctors identified mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss on both sides.

    “With improvement in his depression, improvement in the patient’s speech abilities was noticeable,” Williamson said, adding, “His depression, now resolved, may have been a barrier to engagement.”

    The Pennsylvania senator suffered a stroke shortly before the Democratic primary last May that has resulted in ongoing auditory processing issues.

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    Oct 11th, 2010

    He should resign

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Wisconsin’s record-shattering Supreme Court race barrels to an end
    Voters could decide everything from abortion to the rules of the road for 2024 as they head to the polls for “the most consequential race facing Wisconsin in decades.”

    04/04/2023 04:30 AM EDT


    The most expensive state judicial race in American history is coming to a fiery close: On Tuesday, Wisconsin voters will decide the future of abortion and other hot-button issues in a state at the center of the 2024 presidential election.

    Conservatives currently hold a 4-3 majority on the state Supreme Court—an advantage that’s helped the right lock in power for the Republican-dominated legislature. But a win by the liberal judge on the ballot could provide a new check on the state GOP.

    The contest between former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly, a conservative, and liberal Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz has been unusually contentious for a judicial campaign. The lone general election debate between the two was cutting, and the opposing sides lobbed brutal attack ads back and forth. Kelly Later sniped that his opponents have “slandered the good name my father left me.”

    The election has drawn outside national press—and a gusher of money.

    Spending in the race exploded and surpassed $45 million as of late last week, according to WisPolitics.com, roughly tripling the previous state judicial race record.

    There are some signs that the money is translating into more voters. The February primary for this seat drew the highest ever turnout for a spring primary contest—more than 960,000 voters. Over a fifth of voters showing up for an election that typically has turnout percentages in the low-to-mid teens.

    The outcome of the race could change the course of everything from a 1840s abortion ban winding its way through the courts to congressional and legislative maps that all but ensure GOP control. It could also have implications for the 2024 presidential election in the crucial swing state.

    “People ask me … whether it’s the most important race,” said Brian Schimming, the chair of the state Republican Party. “And I always say this is the most consequential race facing Wisconsin in decades.”

    As of Monday morning, nearly 410,000 people had already voted early.

    “I do think we’re going to see a record-breaking turnout for the spring,” Sarah Godlewski, a Democrat who was recently appointed to be the Wisconsin secretary of state after running for the Senate last year, said in an interview last month.

    Polls close at 8 p.m. Central time.

    The state Supreme Court is expected to rule on access to abortion in the state in the coming months. Wisconsin has a 19th century law on the books that bans the abortion in almost all circumstances that will eventually land in front of the state Supreme Court. In the interim, providers in the state have stopped performing the procedure.

    Pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion groups have poured millions into the contest, and those involved say it has drawn out an intense groundswell of grassroots supporters on both sides.

    Protasiewicz and her allies have made it central to the campaign. “Reproductive freedom and access to safe and legal abortion is the central, defining issue in this race,” Ben Wikler, the chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said in an interview.

    Abortion was mentioned in roughly a third of television ads coming from Protasiewicz’s campaign and other allied groups, according to data from the ad tracking service AdImpact. It was virtually non-existent in ads from the other side, appearing in just 1 percent of ads.

    The race could also have a significant impact on the state’s congressional and legislative lines. Despite the state being close to 50-50 in most statewide elections, Republicans are on the cusp of supermajorities in both chambers, and the state’s congressional districts have a firm tilt toward the GOP.

    Democrats in the state are eager to challenge the lines, should the court flip, and Protasiewicz regularly calls the maps unfair. Republicans have charged that Protasiewicz is crossing the line and projecting how she would rule on cases she hasn’t even heard yet.

    Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates Republican-backed Dan Kelly and Democratic-supported Janet Protasiewicz participate in a debate.

    “We can’t set a precedent of allowing judicial candidates to start just basically hinting at how they’re going to rule on political and legislative issues, before there’s even a case filed,” state Assembly Majority Leader Tyler August said in a recent interview.

    Protasiewicz has repeatedly pushed back against this idea: “I have been extremely careful to indicate that all of my decisions will be rooted in the law and I will always follow the law. That being said, I have been very open about what my values are,” she told POLITICO in a late-February interview.

    Her campaign pointed out that Kelly worked for the state Republican Party, and has recently charged that Kelly is also saying how he would rule on future cases in interviews.

    Should the election be as close as most expect it to be, it will continue an exhausting trend of supercharged elections for Wisconsin voters and politicians.

    The state has elected governors, senators and presidents on razor-thin margins for years, with a competitive Senate race—and presidential contest—on tap for next year.

    “It seems like ever since the beginning of my legislative career, Wisconsin has been political ground zero,” said August, who won his seat in 2010. “So here we are again.”

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Trump surrenders
    It is the first time a current or former president has been arrested on criminal charges.

    04/04/2023 01:25 PM EDT
    Updated: 04/04/2023 01:37 PM EDT


    NEW YORK—Former President Donald Trump turned himself in Tuesday to authorities in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, where he will be booked on criminal charges connected to his alleged role in a hush money payment made to a porn star.

    Trump, the first current or former president ever to be indicted, waved to the crowd then entered the district attorney’s office around 1:30 p.m., accompanied by U.S. Secret Service agents and his lawyers.

    He is expected to be fingerprinted, but is unlikely to have his mug shot taken. He will remain in the custody of the district attorney’s office until he is escorted to a courtroom in the same building Tuesday afternoon to be arraigned. After his arraignment, he is expected to be released without having to post bail.

    For Trump, the accommodations of the district attorney’s office, a drab government facility, are much less comfortable than his typical surroundings.

    Outside the district attorney’s office, police had shut down streets leading to the primary entrance while helicopters buzzed overhead. Across the street from the courthouse, competing factions of anti- and pro-Trump protesters, featuring appearances by Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and George Santos, set up camp in a park, near where throngs of reporters and curious onlookers had slept overnight on the street to compete to gain access to Tuesday afternoon’s arraignment.

    Trump, who lives in Florida, flew to Manhattan on Monday and stayed overnight in his Trump Tower penthouse before a motorcade, followed overhead by news helicopters, ferried him downtown Tuesday afternoon.

    Trump’s surrender marks the first time he has entered the office he has accused of political bias against him, calling District Attorney Alvin Bragg an “animal” and “racist.”

    Bragg has not responded directly to Trump, but did defend the indictment against GOP attacks.


    Trump indicted in porn star hush money payment case: A New York grand jury indicted former President Donald Trump Thursday for his alleged role in a scheme to pay hush money to a porn actress during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    Classified docs probe: A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected Trump’s bid to block special counsel Jack Smith from obtaining key documents in the probe of Trump’s handling of classified documents.

    Fulton County and 2020 election: Trump’s attorney urged a state court in Georgia to prohibit an Atlanta-area DA from filing charges related to his bid to subvert the 2020 election.

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