DHS docs reveal where paroled migrants under controversial Biden flight program are landing

EXCLUSIVE: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data is revealing the more than 45 cities in the U.S. that hundreds of thousands of migrants have flown into via a controversial parole program for four nationalities — with the vast majority entering the U.S. via airports in Florida.

During an eight-month period from January through August 2023, roughly 200,000 migrants flew into the U.S. via the program. Of those, 80% of them, (161,562) arrived in the state of Florida in four cities: Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa Bay, according to DHS data obtained via a subpoena by the House Homeland Security Committee and provided to Fox News.

The policy was first announced for Venezuelans in October 2022, which allowed a limited number to fly or travel directly into the U.S. as long as they had not entered illegally, had a sponsor in the U.S. already, and passed certain biometric and biographical vetting. The program does not itself facilitate flights, and migrants are responsible for their own travel.


In January 2023, the administration announced that the program was expanding to include Haitians, Nicaraguans and Cubans and that the program would allow up to 30,000 people per month into the U.S. It allows for migrants to receive work permits and a two-year authorization to live in the U.S. and was announced alongside an expansion of Title 42 expulsions to include those nationalities. By the end of February 2024, more than 400,000 nationals have arrived under the parole program, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently said the program is a "safe and orderly way to reach the United States" and has "led to a reduction in numbers of those nationalities."

"It is a key element of our efforts to address the unprecedented level of migration throughout our hemisphere, and other countries around the world see it as a model to tackle the challenge of increased irregular migration that they too are experiencing," Mayorkas said.


The top 15 cities migrants flew into during the eight-month window are:

1) Miami, Florida: 91,821

2) Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: 60,461

3) New York City, New York: 14,827

4) Houston, Texas: 7,923

5) Orlando, Florida: 6,043

6) Los Angeles, California: 3,271

7) Tampa, Florida: 3,237

8) Dallas, Texas: 2,256

9) San Francisco, California: 2,052

10) Atlanta, Georgia: 1,796

11) Newark, New Jersey: 1,498

12) Washington, D.C.: 1,472

13) Chicago, Illinois: 496

14) Las Vegas, Nevada: 483

15) Austin, Texas: 171

DHS also revealed in the subpoena response that as of October 2023, there were about 1.6 million applicants waiting for DHS approval to fly to the U.S. via the parole program.

DHS said in its subpoena response, "All individuals paroled into the United States are, by definition, inadmissible, including those paroled under the CHNV processes."

Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green, argues that the program exceeds parole powers put in place by Congress. The authority is to be used on a "case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit."


"These documents expose the egregious lengths Secretary Mayorkas will go to ensure inadmissible aliens reach every corner of the country, from Orlando and Atlanta to Las Vegas and San Francisco," he said in a statement. "Secretary Mayorkas’ CHNV parole program is an unlawful sleight of hand used to hide the worsening border crisis from the American people. Implementing a program that allows otherwise inadmissible aliens to fly directly into the U.S. — not for significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reasons as the Immigration and Nationality Act mandates — has been proven an impeachable offense." 

He then made reference to the House's efforts to impeach Mayorkas. The chamber impeached him, but the Senate has not held a trial on the articles.

"Following our subpoena and the House’s impeachment vote — especially in light of the Senate's complete failure to fulfill its duty to hold a trial — the Committee will not rest until this administration is finally held accountable for its open-borders agenda and its devastating impact on our homeland security," he said.

Green's arguments against the program have been echoed in a lawsuit by multiple states, who have sued to block the program. The 20 states argued that it "amounts to the creation of a new visa program that allows hundreds of thousands of aliens to enter the United States who otherwise have no basis for doing so."

The lawsuit was struck down by a district judge, but states have appealed. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has repeatedly said it is confident the lawsuit will ultimately be successful.

"Biden's parole program is unlawful, and constitutes an abuse of constitutional authority. Florida is currently suing Biden to shut it down, and we believe that we will prevail," press secretary Jeremy Redfern told Fox News. 

DHS has said that those who enter the U.S. under the program undergo and clear a "robust security vetting" as well as other eligibility criteria. 

"These processes are publicly available online, and DHS has been providing regular updates on their use to the public. These processes are part of the administration’s strategy to combine expanded lawful pathways with stronger consequences to reduce irregular migration, and have kept hundreds of thousands of people from migrating irregularly," a spokesperson told Fox News Digital this month.

Mitch McConnell will stop at nothing to regain Senate majority

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Sunday airwaves to pat himself on the back for getting Ukraine aid passed, and promptly reverted back to his old ways. Bipartisanship is in the rear view mirror now and McConnell is still intent on the GOP winning at all costs, no matter what damage is done to the country.

In lengthy interviews on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’s “Face the Nation,” McConnell dodged the most critical issues of the day in furtherance of his primary goal. 

“I think the single most important thing I can do is make sure my successor is the majority leader, no matter how the presidential election comes out,” he told CBS’s Margaret Brennan. "What I want to do and what I'm focused on is not the presidential race, but getting the Senate back. I've been the majority leader, I've been the minority leader. Majority is better."

McConnell said he intends to "get ready for the challenges that we have ahead of us, rather than just looking backward." The nation’s biggest challenge ahead is Donald Trump and his threat to democracy, and that’s what McConnell is refusing to look back on.

When asked about Trump’s claims of immunity from prosecution, McConnell insisted he “stands by what he said” after Jan. 6, namely that “[t]here is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of [Jan. 6]” and the attack on the Capitol “was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.” 

That faux-righteous diatribe came after McConnell voted to acquit Trump in his second impeachment, the one fail-safe opportunity he and his fellow senators had to ensure Trump could never run for office again. He failed then, just like he failed when he gave Trump his endorsement earlier this year. Now he insists that he has to support Trump, telling Brennan “[a]s the Republican leader of the Senate, obviously, I’m gonna support the nominee of our party.” 

And that support doesn’t even really mean anything, he claimed. 

“The issue is, what kind of influence, even if I had chosen to get involved in the presidential election, what kind of influence would I have had?” McConnell mused.

He had enough influence to make sure Trump would not be barred from running again. On top of that, the Supreme Court McConnell stole for Trump seems intent on clearing Trump’s path back to the White House.

Saving democracy wasn’t the only big issue McConnell tried to dodge on Sunday. NBC’s Kristen Welker asked him whether he supports a national abortion ban, and he refused to answer. 

“I don’t think we’ll get 60 votes in the Senate for any kind of national legislation,” McConnell said, not-so-deftly avoiding the question. 

He deflected instead, using the standard GOP rationalization.

“It seems to me views about this issue at the state level vary depending where you are. And we get elected by states,” McConnell said. “And my members are smart enough to figure out how they want to deal with this very divisive issue based upon the people who actually send them here.” 

Welker pushed McConnell, asking him to explain his celebratory remarks in 2022, after the Supreme Court he built overturned Roe v. Wade and he said a “national ban is possible.” Now that the political blowback of that decision has hit Republicans hard when it comes to election results, McConnell once again obfuscated. 

“I said it was possible. I didn’t say that was my view,” he claimed. “I just said it was possible.”

Once again, McConnell’s eye is on that ultimate prize of a Republican Senate majority, no matter what he has to do or lie about. If reclaiming that majority means a second term for Trump, so be it.

Stop McConnell in his tracks. Donate now to stop Republicans from snatching the Senate!  


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Morning Digest: Florida Republican colludes with preferred successor to hand off House seat

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

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Leading Off

FL-08: Republican Rep. Bill Posey essentially handed off his House seat to former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos on Friday when the eight-term incumbent unexpectedly announced his retirement and endorsement shortly after candidate filing closed in Florida. Haridopolos hasn't sought public office since his disastrous U.S. Senate bid ended prematurely 13 years ago, but he's now on a glide path to Congress.  

Posey, who filed to run again on April 9, said he was ending his campaign after it was too late for anyone else to run because of unspecified "circumstances beyond my control." He also acknowledged he'd previously discussed his decision with Haridopolos, who filed to run only an hour before the deadline, claiming the "stars aligned during the past week and Mike decided he was ready for Congress."

Donald Trump carried the 8th District, which is based in the Cape Canaveral area, by a comfortable 58-41 margin, so the winner of the Aug. 20 GOP primary should have no trouble claiming this seat in the fall. Apart from Haridopolos, the only two Republicans running are a pair of candidates who were waging little-noticed challenges to Posey, businessman John Hearton and attorney Joe Babits.

Both Hearton and Babits had done some self-funding when they expected to be running against Posey, but it remains to be seen if they can throw down enough to give Haridopolos a hard time. Hearton loaned his campaign $140,000 and had $100,000 on hand at the end of last month, while Babits had invested $82,000 in his own effort but had just $13,000 left over. Neither had raised a meaningful sum from donors.

By conspiring with Posey, Haridopolos prevented anyone stronger from entering the race, even though an open seat would likely have attracted other established politicians. While the Sunshine State allows candidates to get on the primary ballot by collecting signatures, they can avoid this time-consuming process by paying a $10,400 fee. That allows anyone who has the money to submit their names right as the clock expires, an option Haridopolos readily took advantage of on Friday.

A few states have laws in place that try to prevent this sort of collusion. In Nebraska, for example, all incumbents are required to file two weeks before everyone else, even if they're running for a different office than the one they currently hold.

California, meanwhile, automatically extends the candidate filing deadline by five days in races where an incumbent chooses not to run for reelection. And Missouri reopens its filing period in contests where any candidate, incumbent or otherwise, withdraws within two business days of the original deadline.

Florida, though, has no such preventive measures, which is why we've seen this kind of maneuver before. Another Republican, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, took advantage of this loophole in 2010 when she announced on the final day of candidate filing that she was abandoning her reelection campaign for health reasons and said that Hernando County Sheriff Rich Nugent would run in her place. The swap worked, and Nugent easily won three terms before retiring―albeit long before the 2016 filing deadline.

However, Haridopolos' detractors may have some hope that if one of his intra-party opponents can get organized, his comeback bid will go as well as his last effort to enter Congress.

Haridopolos was serving as leader of the state Senate in early 2011 when he launched a campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and initially looked like a frontrunner. Those impressions were solidified when he hauled in a hefty $2.6 million during his opening quarter, which was more than the incumbent brought in.

However, what followed was a campaign that the Miami Herald would summarize months later with the headline, "Anatomy of a meltdown: How Mike Haridopolos U.S. Senate campaign fell apart and ended." (The full article isn't online anymore, but attorney Nicholas Warren posted a copy of the print edition.)

In particular, Haridopolos was harmed by his connections to former state party chair Jim Greer, who would eventually plead guilty to theft and money laundering. The state Senate leader also attracted negative publicity over a book deal that awarded him $150,000 in public funds to write a college textbook on government that resulted in just a single copy getting produced.

Haridopolos made many more mistakes during his campaign, including taking three tries to explain how he stood on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's unpopular plan to cut Medicare. His decision to come out in opposition did not help his standing with tea party activists who already resented how what had been hyped as "the most conservative" state Senate in state history failed to pass anti-immigration laws modeled after the hardline provisions Arizona had put into place the previous year. 

Haridopolos' bid was further beset by infighting and staff shakeups. His vaunted fundraising also plummeted in the second quarter, with observers noting that, while the special interests who had business before the legislature were initially eager to contribute, they had no reason to keep doing so once the body adjourned.

Haridopolos pulled the plug on his doomed effort in July, though things didn't go any better for his party after he dropped out. Rep. Connie Mack IV eventually ran and secured the nomination only to lose to Nelson 55-42

After leaving the legislature the following year, Haridopolos occasionally mulled a comeback, but he decided not to campaign for an open state Senate seat in 2016. Instead, he became a lobbyist and spent the next decade using leftover money from his failed bid against Nelson to boost a pro-Trump super PAC, legislative candidates, and other entities such as the state GOP. He eventually terminated his campaign in 2022, more than a decade after he'd ceased running.

Posey, for his part, easily won a promotion from the state Senate to Congress in 2008 when GOP Rep. Dave Weldon retired—though unlike Posey, Weldon announced his departure well in advance of the filing deadline. (Weldon lost the 2012 Senate primary to Mack, but he's now campaigning for a seat in the state House.)

Posey made national news early in his first term when he introduced a bill to require presidential candidates to submit a copy of their birth certificate. The congressman unconvincingly denied that his proposal, which critics quickly dubbed the "birther" bill, was targeted at President Barack Obama. But Posey never struggled to hold his seat and remained an ardent hardliner throughout his tenure, though he was soon overshadowed by louder voices like fellow Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.


UT-Sen: The Republican field to succeed Utah Sen. Mitt Romney shrunk from 10 candidates to four over the weekend when convention delegates overwhelmingly backed Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who received Donald Trump's endorsement hours before the event began.

"Let’s replace Joe Biden’s favorite Republican with Donald Trump’s favorite Republican in Utah," Staggs told the crowd, and the room full of hardline delegates eagerly responded to his pitch.   

Staggs earned 70% of the vote on the fourth and final round of voting, which gives him a spot on the June 25 primary ballot. The Deseret News writes that, because the mayor exceeded 60%, he also gets access to the state GOP's "resources and organization."

Rep. John Curtis was a distant second with 30%, but, because he turned in the requisite 28,000 signatures, he was guaranteed a place in the primary no matter how the convention went. The same was also true for two other Republicans, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and businessman Jason Walton. The eventual nominee will be the favorite in November in this dark red state.

Staggs, by contrast, was one of seven Republicans who didn’t collect signatures and therefore needed to secure the support of at least 40% of the delegates to continue his campaign. In the end, he was the only contender to come anywhere close to hitting that threshold. Conservative activist Carolyn Phippen, attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, and four minor candidates were not so fortunate, so their campaigns are now over.

The development was a particularly big blow for allies of Hatch, who is the son and namesake of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch. The younger Hatch, who served as treasurer of the right-wing Federalist Society, benefited from $1.8 million in outside spending from a group funded by the Club for Growth and spent a sizable sum himself. But Hatch learned Thursday evening that he had failed to turn in enough signatures to survive a convention loss, which is exactly how things turned out for him when he took less than 2% of the vote.

By contrast, Staggs, who began running as a hard-right alternative to Romney months before the incumbent announced his retirement, has raised by far the least of any of the four candidates who will be on the June ballot. However, his support from Trump, who extolled him as "100% MAGA," could help him overcome his fundraising difficulties.

Wilson, meanwhile, has led the pack financially in large part to about $3 million in self-funding. The former speaker has touted his work passing conservative legislation, though unlike most candidates in the Trump-era GOP, he's pledged to work with members of Congress from both parties who "also care about this country’s future and want to solve some of the biggest problems."

Curtis has raised by far the most from donors, though he's already benefited from more than $3 million in support from a super PAC funded by North Carolina businessman Jay Faison. Curtis, a one-time Democrat who has at times criticized GOP extremists and called for protecting the environment, comes closest in temperament to the outgoing incumbent, though Romney himself has not taken sides.

Finally, Walton, who is CEO of a pest control company, has self-financed his campaign almost as much as Wilson, putting in at least $2.5 million. Walton has promoted himself as an ally of Utah's other member of the upper chamber, far-right Sen. Mike Lee, though Lee has yet to make an endorsement in this contest.

Utah’s Senate contest was the final race that delegates voted on after a nearly 17-hour convention that stretched well into the wee hours of Sunday morning. ("This is officially the longest I've ever been at any political convention, and I've been coming to these things since 2001," Bryan Schott from the Salt Lake Tribune posted on social media with an hour still to go.) See below for recaps of the action in the state’s races for governor and the House.


UT-Gov: State Rep. Phil Lyman beat Gov. Spencer Cox 68-32 on the convention floor, but the governor had already earned a spot in the June 25 GOP primary by turning in signatures. That was not the case for former state GOP chair Carson Jorgensen and two little-known contenders, who are now done.

"Maybe you hate that I don’t hate enough," Cox told his detractors in a convention speech, but he has reason to be optimistic that the primary electorate will be more charitable than delegates. Back in 2016, another sitting governor, Gary Herbert, lost at the convention by a 55-44 margin against businessman Jonathan Johnson only to win the primary in a 72-28 landslide two months later. Cox, incidentally, was Herbert's running mate that year (candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run together as a ticket in both the primary and general elections).

Lyman, meanwhile, may have some issues with his own pick for lieutenant governor. The state representative announced the day of the convention that he'd chosen former Trump administration official Layne Bangerter to be his number-two, but while Bangerter grew up in Utah, he says he only moved back to the state from Idaho in 2021. That's a potential problem because, as the Salt Lake Tribune notes, the state constitution requires candidates for both governor and lieutenant governor to have been Utah residents "for five years next preceding the election."

Lyman responded by downplaying the issue. "I won’t be surprised if it’s challenged. I hope it’s not, but if it is, I think we’ll win it," he told the Tribune. "I’ve talked to a number of attorneys over the last few days. That was a huge concern right up front."

Lyman, for his part, ran afoul of federal law in 2015 when, as a San Juan County commissioner, he was convicted after leading an all-terrain vehicle group through a canyon the federal government had closed to protect Native American cliff dwellings. Prosecutors alleged that he recruited people who had recently taken part in far-right militant Cliven Bundy's armed standoff with federal law enforcement officials.

Lyman spent 10 days in prison, though Trump later pardoned him in late 2020. Lyman has since made a name for himself by advancing lies about the 2020 and 2022 elections.

He also attracted national attention following the collapse of Maryland’s Francis Scott Key Bridge when he retweeted a post claiming that a Black woman on the state’s Port Commission was a "diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) auditor and consultant."

"This is what happens when you have governors who prioritize diversity over the wellbeing and security of citizens," Lyman said. He told the Tribune that the tweet, as well as a follow-up saying, "DEI=DIE," came from a staffer without his approval. However, Lyman refused to apologize, and the first missive was still up more than a month later.

As of mid-April, Herbert enjoyed a $990,000 to $638,000 cash advantage over Lyman. Most of the challenger's funds came from a mysterious new company that appears to be connected to his family and a large loan from a former Texas congressional candidate named Johnny Slavens.

WV-Gov: Allies of former Del. Moore Capito at the Coalition for West Virginia's Future have released a new poll from NMB Research showing Capito with a 31-23 lead over state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey ahead of the May 14 GOP primary for governor. That makes this the first poll released all year to give top honors to Capito, who recently earned an endorsement from term-limited Gov. Jim Justice.

The survey also finds businessman Chris Miller and Secretary of State Mac Warner far behind at 14 and 13 respectively, while another 18% are undecided. For much of the race, Morrisey's buddies at the Club for Growth had treated Miller as their top threat, but earlier this month, the Club also began training its fire on Capito.

The campaign has descended into an ugly contest in which each candidate has sought to prove they're the most transphobic. The winner will be the overwhelming favorite to succeed Justice in November.


FL-15, FL-20: Freshman GOP Rep. Laurel Lee and Democratic Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick both got some welcome news Friday when, despite intense speculation to the contrary, no big names filed to challenge either incumbent.

However, while Cherfilus-McCormick is unopposed in both the primary and general elections for her dark blue 20th District in South Florida, Lee still could face a tough battle to hold her light red 15th District in the Tampa area.

Lee infuriated Donald Trump last year when she became the only member of Florida's congressional delegation to support Gov. Ron DeSantis' doomed presidential bid, but only two failed House candidates answered his call last month for "great MAGA Republicans" looking to beat Lee to “PLEASE STEP FORWARD!” 

One of these contenders is businessman James Judge, who ran against Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor in 2022 in the solidly blue 14th District next door and predictably lost 57-43. This cycle, Judge had been waging another longshot bid, this time against GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis in the neighboring 12th District, and ended March with just $27,000 in the bank

Earlier this month, though, Judge announced he would heed Trump's plea and campaign for a third House seat by going after Lee. Judge, however, lives in Dade City back in the 12th, though House members don't need to reside in the district they represent.

But Judge, unlike Lee's other intra-party foe, can at least say he ran as a Florida Republican. Jennifer Barbosa, who only set up a fundraising account with the FEC on April 23, challenged California Rep. Adam Schiff in 2020—and did so as an independent. That campaign ended with her taking a distant fourth place in the top-two primary with less than 6% of the vote

Another Republican, Navy veteran Brian Perras, did not file by Friday even though he announced he was in earlier this month. 

Despite Judge's and Barbosa's unimpressive campaign histories, however, it's possible Trump hates Lee enough to give one of her opponents a boost by rewarding them with his endorsement. That would probably be fine with Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, who has no Democratic primary opposition as she tries to flip a seat Trump took by a modest 51-48 margin in 2020

Cherfilus-McCormick, by contrast, learned Friday she wouldn't have to get past 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell in what would likely have turned into one of the most attention-grabbing primaries in America.

"It’s gonna be very hard for me not to run," Campbell said in a video on April 9, and speculation only intensified when he set up an FEC account on Tuesday. 

But while Campbell promised an announcement at 11 AM Friday, he was silent until after filing closed an hour later without his name on the ballot. He put out a video later that day saying he'd decided to stay out of the contest. Campbell's brother, businessman Stanley Campbell, is waging an uphill battle for the U.S. Senate.

You can find a complete list of candidates who filed in Florida by Friday, though it doesn't include everyone running for office this year in the Sunshine State. That's because the deadline to run for the state legislature, county-level offices, and a few other posts is not until June 14.

Florida is now the 36th state where filing for the 2024 cycle has closed for major-party congressional candidates (the deadline for third-party and independent contenders is sometimes later), and it was by far the largest state left on the calendar. The most populous remaining state where candidates can still run for Congress is Washington, which closes on May 10. Filing closes in the final state, which as always is Louisiana, on July 19.

While there's still suspense about who will run in the 14 remaining states, the deadline for major-party contenders has now passed in 375 of the nation's 435 House seats—a full 86% of the chamber. Primaries have taken place in states with a combined 168 of those congressional districts, though there are still some runoffs pending in North Carolina and Texas.

KS-02: Former state Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who was the GOP's unsuccessful nominee for governor in 2022, jumped into the race for Kansas' newly open 2nd Congressional District on Friday.

Schmidt's entry came a day after Jeff Kahrs, who just stepped down as district director for retiring Republican Rep. Jake LaTurner, announced his own bid for his now-former boss' seat. A third Republican, businessman Shawn Tiffany, also kicked off a campaign on Thursday; Tiffany owns a cattle company and is a former head of the Kansas Livestock Association.

Kahrs and Tiffany don't appear to have run for office before, but Schmidt is a longtime fixture in Kansas politics. After a decade in the state Senate, Schmidt won three terms as attorney general beginning in 2010 and was often mentioned for higher office. But when he finally decided to run for governor, his campaign went poorly. Despite running in a red state in what should have been a good year for Republicans, Schmidt lost to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly by a 50-47 margin.

He even managed to fall short in the 2nd District, which had supported Donald Trump by a wide 57-41 spread two years earlier: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin says Kelly edged out Schmidt 49-48 in the district he's now seeking. As Rubashkin observes, that weak showing likely wouldn't translate into a federal race, but Schmidt's Republican opponents may not hesitate to call it out.

MD-03: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin relays data from AdImpact showing that the United Democracy Project, which is an arm of the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, has now spent $3.5 million on the airwaves to boost state Sen. Sarah Elfreth in the May 14 Democratic primary for Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District.

Combined with her own spending, Elfreth has now aired 53% of all broadcast TV ads in the race, while retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who raised a monster $3.7 million in the first quarter of the year, has accounted for 37%. The remaining 10% of broadcast ads have been aired by state Sen. Clarence Lam, though these figures don't take into account other media, such as cable television or digital platforms.

MT-02: State Auditor Troy Downing has publicized an internal from Guidant Polling & Strategy that shows him beating former Rep. Denny Rehberg 38-26 in the June 4 GOP primary to succeed retiring Rep. Matt Rosendale, a fellow Republican.

Another 10% support Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen while 27% are undecided. The survey does not appear to have included any of the other six Republicans who filed for this dark red seat in the eastern part of the state, none of whom have brought in much money. This is the first poll we've seen since candidate filing closed last month

NC-13: Businessman Fred Von Cannon, who finished third with 17% in last month's primary, has endorsed former federal prosecutor Brad Knott in the May 14 GOP runoff for North Carolina's open 13th Congressional District. Attorney Kelly Daughtry led Knott 27-19 in the first round of voting, but Knott recently earned an even more important endorsement when Donald Trump weighed in on his behalf.

UT-01: GOP delegates backed electrician Paul Miller, who hasn't reported raising any money at all, by a 55-45 margin over Rep. Blake Moore.

Moore, who had collected enough signatures to advance no matter how the convention went, went through a similar experience last cycle against a different GOP foe. Retired intelligence officer Andrew Badger outpaced Moore 59-41 at the 2022 conclave, but the incumbent beat him 58-28 in the primary before easily securing reelection in the conservative 1st District.

UT-02: Freshman Rep. Celeste Maloy narrowly avoided a career-ending disaster at Saturday's convention when Green Beret veteran Colby Jenkins defeated her 57-43. Maloy, like Jenkins, did not collect signatures, so had she fallen below 40%, she would not have made the June 25 primary ballot.

Jenkins received an important endorsement shortly before the convention on Thursday when hardline Sen. Mike Lee announced his support. The Deseret News' Brigham Tomco notes that the senator has indicated he sided against Maloy because of her recent vote for the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Lee bitterly opposed.

Maloy ended March with a $290,000 to $170,000 cash edge over Jenkins. Utah's 2nd District, which includes central and western Salt Lake City and southwestern Utah, backed Donald Trump 57-40 in 2020. 

UT-03: State Sen. Mike Kennedy triumphed 62-38 against Utah Young Republicans chairman Zac Wilson on the sixth and final round of convention balloting, which ensures Kennedy a spot in the June 25 GOP primary to replace Senate candidate John Curtis. Wilson was one of three Republicans whose campaigns ended Saturday, along with perennial candidate Lucky Bovo, former Senate aide Kathryn Dahlin, and former state Rep. Chris Herrod.

Kennedy, who lost the 2018 U.S. Senate primary to Mitt Romney, will compete against four Republicans who successfully collected the requisite 7,000 signatures to petition their way onto the ballot. (Kennedy himself successfully pursued a convention-only strategy.) His intra-party opponents are Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird, state Auditor John Dougall, businessman Case Lawrence, and former Utah County party chair Stewart Peay.

Bird finished March with a wide $800,000 to $461,000 cash lead over Kennedy. Dougall was far back with $208,000, compared to $196,000 for Lawrence. The latter, though, has thrown down close to $1.3 million of his own money so far, so he may have access to more. Peay, finally, had just $109,000.

This could be an expensive battle, as Bird and Lawrence had each deployed over $1 million of their own money through March. Dougall and Kennedy respectively have self-funded $250,000 and $156,000. Donald Trump carried Utah's 3rd District, which includes the Provo area, the southeastern Salt Lake City suburbs, and rural southeastern Utah, 57-38.

WI-03: State Rep. Katrina Shankland announced Friday that she'd received the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO ahead of the Aug. 13 Democratic primary. Shankland faces businesswoman Rebecca Cooke, who was the runner-up in last cycle's primary, for the right to freshman GOP Rep. Derrick Van Orden in a southwestern Wisconsin constituency that Donald Trump took 51-47 in 2020.

There's no obvious frontrunner in this year's nomination contest, though Cooke finished the first quarter with more than twice as much money available as her intra-party rival. Cooke ended March with a $808,000 to $357,000 cash advantage over Shankland; Van Orden, who has no notable GOP primary opposition, had $1.9 million at his disposal.

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FCC restores net neutrality, fulfilling a Biden promise 

It’s about damn time.

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House GOP manufactures new fight after Biden impeachment fails

House Republicans’ attempt to impeach President Joe Biden has fizzled out. But the two members tasked with the job, Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and Oversight Chair James Comer,  needing to atone for their failure, have picked another fight: threatening to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt over the Department of Justice’s refusal to provide the audio recordings of Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur in the classified documents probe. 

Garland is refusing to play their game. 

On Thursday, the DOJ refused for a second time to provide that audio, arguing that it has complied in full with the committees’ subpoenas for information. It provided both the transcription of the Biden interview as well as Hur’s interview with Biden’s ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer for Jordan’s big disaster of a hearing. Two months ago, it even gave Jordan and Comer access to two of the classified documents, which Comer insisted were critical to his investigations. 

But Comer “has not yet taken us up on our offer,” DOJ Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte wrote.

In Uriarte’s first letter to Jordan and Comer earlier this month, he detailed all of the information they had provided in response to their demands and subpoenas. 

“The Committees’ reaction is difficult to explain in terms of any lack of information or frustration of any informational or investigative imperative, given the Department’s actual conduct,” Uriarte wrote. “We are therefore concerned that the Committees are disappointed not because you didn’t receive information, but because you did.”

Uriarte reiterated that point Thursday. 

“It seems that the more information you receive, the less satisfied you are, and the less justification you have for contempt, the more you rush towards it,” he wrote. “[T]he Committees’ inability to identify a need for these audio files grounded in legislative or impeachment purposes raises concerns about what other purposes they might serve.”

Those purposes are clearly political. They need to keep up the fight against Biden and are scrambling for whatever they can get. They also probably believe that the audio of the interview could be damaging to Biden. Hur’s report included gratuitous hits about Biden’s age and mental acuity, so Jordan and Comer want to play it during their hearings, knowing that the media would eat that up

Uriarte outlined the DOJ’s concern about that, writing that it would impinge on Biden’s privacy and that “courts have recognized the privacy interest in one’s voice—including tone, pauses, emotional reactions, and cues—is distinct from the privacy interest in a written transcript of one’s conversation.”

He also implied that Comer and Jordan can’t be trusted with the audio, writing that it could be manipulated by “cutting, erasing, and splicing.” 

That’s a safe assumption on Uriarte’s part.

After basically crying “uncle” on impeaching Biden on influence peddling, being humiliated over their Alejandro Mayorkas impeachment stunt, and losing on Ukraine and government funding, Jordan and Comer are itching for revenge.

But the DOJ has called them on it

“The Committees have demanded information you know we have principled reasons to protect, and then accused us of obstruction for upholding those principles,” Uriarte wrote. “This deepens our concern that the Committees may be seeking conflict for conflict’s sake.”


The Biden impeachment is a huge failure. The GOP is looking for a way out

House GOP to launch critical investigation into just how old Biden is

The New York Times is determined to make 'but his age' the new 'but her emails'

Here's one way to avoid dealing with election results you don't like: just wipe them from the record books. It's not Orwell—it's Arizona, and we're talking all about it on this week's episode of "The Downballot." This fall, voters have the chance to deny new terms to two conservative Supreme Court justices, but a Republican amendment would retroactively declare those elections null and void—and all but eliminate the system Arizona has used to evaluate judges for 50 years. We're going to guess voters won't like this one bit … if it even makes it to the ballot in the first place.

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SCOTUS weighs monumental constitutional fight over Trump immunity claim

The Supreme Court waded cautiously Thursday in a landmark area of law it has never before encountered: whether former presidents have "absolute immunity" from criminal prosecution, stemming from the special counsel's federal election interference case.

In a special courtroom session lasting more than two and a half hours, the justices appeared to be looking for middle ground that might see at least some of Trump's sweeping claims dismissed, while still allowing future presidents to be criminally exempt from clearly official executive functions — like their role as commander in chief.

The official question the justices are confronting: "Whether, and if so, to what extent does a former president enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office?"


In riveting arguments, a partisan divide developed early on the nine-member bench, as it weighed whether and when executive official duties versus private conduct in office could be subject to prosecution.

Both liberal and conservative justices focused on the broader implications for future presidents.

"If the potential for criminal liability is taken off the table, wouldn't there be a significant risk that future presidents would be emboldened to commit crimes with abandon while they're in office?" asked Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. "If someone with those kinds of powers, the most powerful person in the world with the greatest amount of authority, could go into office knowing that there would be no potential full penalty for committing crimes, I'm trying to understand what the disincentive is from turning the Oval Office into, you know, the seat of criminal activity in this country."        

Justice Samuel Alito asked, "If an incumbent who loses a very close, hotly contested election, knows that a real possibility after leaving office is not that the president is going to be able to go off into a peaceful retirement, but that the president may be criminally prosecuted by a bitter political opponent, will that not lead us into a cycle that destabilizes the functioning of our country as a democracy?"

Justice Brett Kavanaugh summed up the stakes, however the court rules: "This will have huge implications for the presidency."

Trump was not in attendance at the argument but talked about the stakes when greeting supporters at a New York construction site.

"A president has to have immunity," he said Thursday morning. "If you don't have immunity, you just have a ceremonial president, you won't have a president."

The underlying factor is time — whether the court's expedited ruling, expected in May or June, would allow any criminal trial to get underway before the November presidential election. Depending on the outcome, jury selection could begin by late summer or early fall, or the case could be delayed indefinitely or dismissed altogether. 


The stakes could not be higher, for both the immediate political prospects and the long-term effect on the presidency itself and the rule of law. 

As the presumptive GOP nominee to retake the White House, Trump is betting that his broad constitutional assertions will lead to a legal reprieve from the court's 6-3 conservative majority — with three of its members having been appointed to the bench by the defendant himself.

Special Counsel Jack Smith has charged the former president with conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.

Those charges stemmed from Smith's investigation into Trump's alleged plotting to overturn the 2020 election results, including participation in a scheme to disrupt the electoral vote count leading to the subsequent January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot. Smith and several of his deputies attended the arguments. 

Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges in August.


The lengthy courtroom arguments raised a series of hypotheticals to explore the "outer perimeter" of criminal executive liability.

Several justices wondered whether a president could someday be prosecuted for ordering the assassination by his military of a political rival; ordering a nuclear weapons strike; or demanding a bribe for a political appointment.

"If you expunge the official part from the indictment, that's like a one-legged stool, right?" said Chief Justice John Roberts, suggesting official executive acts could be separated from partisan, unofficial acts. "I mean, giving somebody money isn't bribery unless you get something in exchange. And if what you get in exchange is to become the ambassador of a particular country, that is official: the appointment that's within the president's prerogatives. The unofficial part: I'm going to get $1,000,000 for it."

Justice Elena Kagan asked whether the president could stage a coup to remain in office. When John Sauer, Trump's attorney, hedged on an answer, Kagan replied, "That answer sounds to me as though, under my test, it's an official act," subject to post-office prosecution. "But that sure sounds bad, doesn't it?"

She added there was no immunity clause in the Constitution for a good reason. "Wasn't the whole point that the president was not a monarch and the president was not supposed to be above the law?"

Michael Dreeben, attorney for the Special Counsel’s office, defended the government’s position.

"It's baked into the Constitution that any president knows that they are exposed to potential criminal prosecution," he said. "It's common ground that all former presidents have known that they could be indicted and convicted. And Watergate cemented that understanding."

Sauer suggested only an impeachment and conviction in the Senate could lead to future criminal prosecution of an ex-president.

"There are many other people who are subject to impeachment, including the nine sitting on this bench," said Justice Amy Coney Barrett, pointing to her colleagues, "and I don't think anyone has ever suggested that impeachment would have to be the gateway to criminal prosecution for any of the many other officers subject to impeachment. So why is the president different when the impeachment clause doesn't say so?"

Justice Sonia Sotomayor focused on the specific allegations facing Trump and other potential criminal liability, which no jury has yet considered. "I'm having a hard time thinking that creating false documents, that submitting false documents, that ordering the assassination of a rival, that accepting a bribe and a countless other laws that could be broken for personal gain, that anyone would say that it would be reasonable for a president or any public official to do that."


But Kavanaugh, who served as President George W. Bush's staff secretary, a key White House legal adviser on executive power, offered larger concerns.

"I'm not focused on the here and now of this case. I'm very concerned about the future," he said.

"We're writing a rule for the ages," added Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Trump faces criminal prosecution in three other jurisdictions: another federal case over his handling of classified documents while in office; a Georgia case over alleged election interference in that state's 2020 voting procedures; and a New York case over alleged fraud involving hush money payments to an adult film star in 2016.

Jury selection in the New York state case began April 15.

But the start of the election interference trial in Washington remains in doubt. Again, depending on how the court rules, proceedings may not get underway until later this summer, early fall, or perhaps much later.

The wildest of wildcards: Trump wins re-election and then, upon taking office, orders his attorney general to dismiss the special counsel and his cases. Some justices wondered if Trump — if re-elected — could execute a self-pardon for all past and future crimes.

But the practical fact is that Jack Smith's case is frozen for now.

And while this appeal would normally be decided in late June at the end of the Court's term, it is being expedited, so a ruling could come sooner. 

If the Supreme Court rules in the government's favor, the trial court will "un-pause" — meaning all the discovery and pre-trial machinations that have been on hold would resume. 

Trump's team would likely argue to trial Judge Tanya Chutkan that they need several months at least from that point to actually be ready for a jury trial. 

A sweeping constitutional victory for the former president would almost certainly mean his election interference prosecution collapses and could implicate his other pending criminal and civil cases.

But for now, Trump may have achieved a short-term win even if he eventually loses before the Supreme Court — an indefinite delay in any trial, that may carry over well past Election Day on Nov. 5.  

The case is Trump v. U.S. (23-939).

Shelter dogs would provide therapy for distressed border agents under new bipartisan push

Stray dogs living in shelters could be given a shot at a new life providing comfort to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers under a new bipartisan proposal.

Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, introduced a bill this week to establish a pilot program allowing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to adopt the animals from local shelters and train them to be therapy dogs for Border Patrol personnel. 

It would build on the existing Canine Support Program established by CBP early last year in the face of mounting concerns about agents' mental health as they deal with the ongoing border crisis.

"These men and women work long hours year-round and face enormous challenges head-on," Gonzales said in a press release. "By improving access to canine therapy support, this legislation will give our law enforcement one more tool to improve mental health outcomes at CBP."


Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., one of the bill's original co-sponsors, said the existing program "has shown promise to increase staff morale and allow them to better deliver on their promise to keep our homeland safe."

"This is a strong step in the right direction – not just for those serving, but the communities they serve, too," he said.

In addition to aiding border agents, the proposal could also potentially have a positive effect on the country's animal shelters, which have struggled with overcrowding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a growing number of Americans struggle to make ends meet for themselves, let alone their pets.

"By facilitating the adoption of therapy dogs from local shelters, we're not only providing essential emotional support for our CBP workforce but also offering a loving home to shelter dogs," said Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., another of the bill's co-sponsors.


Concerns about the mental health of Border Patrol officers reached the national stage amid an alarming spike in the number of suicides the department has seen in recent years.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, another of the bill's co-sponsors, spoke with Fox News Digital about the issue during a congressional delegation trip to the McAllen, Texas, sector of the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this year.

"Every time I come down here, it gets worse; the lack of detention space, the human tragedy you see here; what the Border Patrol has to deal with every day, day in and day out, looking at these migrants that are pouring in; this sense of hopelessness, that it won't stop," the Texas Republican said in January.

"Profoundly, I worry about the mental health of our Border Patrol. The suicide rate is going up. They don't have the proper resources."


Seventeen CBP agents died by suicide in 2022 alone, Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, told Congress in March 2023. That’s the highest number since CBP began tracking it in 2007. There were 19,357 CPB agents on the job in 2022.

Since then, the number of illegal border crossings has continued to climb to new highs, while CBP agents are struggling with replenishing a dwindling workforce. 

Live coverage: Trump trial resumes with payoff to Stormy Daniels front and center

The third day of testimony in Donald Trump’s criminal trial for 34 felony counts of falsifying business records begins Thursday morning. Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker is expected to resume the stand, and based on where his testimony left off on Tuesday, prosecutors are likely to move directly into aspects of the incident that led to Trump’s indictment. 

Jurors have already heard how Trump, Pecker, and attorney Michael Cohen set up a “catch-and-kill” scheme to buy stories that threatened Trump’s 2016 campaign for the White House. Pecker’s testimony made clear that the scheme was not meant to protect Trump from personal scandal, but to prevent the public from hearing stories that might affect the outcome of the election. The scheme was outlined in a Trump Tower meeting that included not just Cohen, but Trump’s campaign press secretary, Hope Hicks. Pecker even noted that he would have published one of the stories directed at Trump, but would have held it until after the election.

On Thursday, it’s expected that Pecker will be questioned about the events surrounding Trump’s encounter with adult film actress Stormy Daniels, how the National Enquirer purchased Daniels’ story, and how Daniels was persuaded to sign a non-disclosure document that kept her from revealing her relationship with Trump before the election.

Pecker will also be able to answer some of the questions at the heart of the trial, such as how Trump handled paying back the funds that were used to quiet Daniels. So far, the prosecution has been very effective in making the case that this isn’t about a personal scandal or about hush money. This is about a conspiracy to affect the results of the 2016 election by illegally covering up information from the public.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 9:12:43 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

This would seem to put a large dent in the law school-worthiness of Bove’s work today.

Bove will start tomorrow w/ a real embarrassment before jury, as judge tells them Bove basically misled them in characterizing document he was supposedly using to "refresh [Pecker's] recollection." A bad way to start the day and +-undoes the solid if not very damaging work he did

— Harry Litman (@harrylitman) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:47:14 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Lisa Rubin with high praise for both sides today.

Between four trials and multiple additional hearings in GA, DC, and FL, I've seen a lot of lawyering in the Trump cases, and not all of it good. But today's direct and cross examinations of David Pecker were the sort of things you'd want to show law students.

— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:41:35 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Truthfully, when it came to what he needed to accomplish in the courtroom today, it didn’t seem that Emil Bove did that poor a job. He showed that Trump was just one of several pals of Pecker who had been given breaks when it came to holding back negative stories or playing up positive news, he reiterated that Pecker conducts intrinsically unethical checkbook journalism, and presumably, he was going somewhere with the questions about Hope Hicks.

But when it comes to dealing with Merchan, both Bove and lead attorney Todd Blanche are scoring idiot goals all around.

Merhcan to Bove: "Are you missing my point? Because I don't think you're responding to my statement. you gave the impression there was something in the document when there wasn't. so please be more careful." not as bad as "you're losing all credibility," but not great.

— Harry Litman (@harrylitman) April 25, 2024

Merchan announces he’s adding the four new instances of potential gag order violation that the prosecution brought up today to the list of Trump statements the defense has to … defend. Now everybody gets another hearing on Wednesday afternoon to deal with this. That’s supposed to be everyone’s day off from this trial, so no one is going to be happy.

But it’s a good example of how Merchan is keeping things moving along (except in making rulings about those violations).

Merchan’s anger at the end of the day was also directed at the way Bove went after Pecker. Basically, he felt that the way Bove acted as Pecker tried to refresh his memory was meant to mislead the jury into thinking that Pecker was unreliable or following a script. So the jury is going to get a special jury instruction before court begins again in the morning. 
Which it will, no matter what some knucklehead told you on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:30:38 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

A flurry of post-trial action.

Post-trial proceedings: Prosecution accuses Trump's counsel of improper impeachment, leading to an exchange where Emil Bove tests the judge's patience. Merchan: "Mr. Bove, are you missing my point? Because I don't think you're responding to what I'm saying."

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:27:26 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Meanwhile, things are getting shaking-fist-at-clouds cantankerous outside the courthouse.

I am here outside NY Trump trial Courthouse and as far as I can tell only one pro Trump protester is in the vicinity The area is totally open and people are coming and going but only this gentleman bothered to show to support the former president pic.twitter.com/2E6LoQiuaK

— Norm Eisen (#TryingTrump out now!) (@NormEisen) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:25:48 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The day ends with the attorneys still in a sidebar with Merchan. Pecker is off the stand. He’s expected to be back tomorrow.

With the attorneys and Trump remaining in the room, the court may now rule on the gag order hearing. Hang in there.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:21:38 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

A lot of this in the last few minutes. Not sure if Trump’s team intends to say that Hicks was not there, of if they’re saying Pecker has a bad memory, or if they're accusing him of collaborating with the government.

Trump's lawyer Bove: And on August 2, 2028 you met again with the prosecutors about the August 2105 meeting Pecker: I need to see the report... Bove: You need to see a report to remember? Pecker: Yes. Bove: At no point did you mention Hope Hicks Gov't: Objection!

— Inner City Press (@innercitypress) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:18:08 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Bove is now hitting Pecker on the idea that he didn’t claim Hope Hicks was at the Trump Tower meeting in his initial statements. This has generated a couple of objections and a sidebar. Pecker starts to argue with Bove, Bove gives him a document to read through.

Q: You didn't initially tell prosecutors that Hope Hicks was in aug 2015 meeting in Trump Tower, right? [it's not in 302-- ie FBI report -- of the meeting] A: correct, but-- Q: just yes or no A: no

— Harry Litman (@harrylitman) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:14:24 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Not sure where Bove is going with this, other than to claim that the Trump Tower meeting was just something that happened, not a turning point.

Pecker agrees that Cohen acted as an intermediary for potentially negative stories. Bove notes that Cohen worked for Trump for at least eight years before the Trump Tower meeting.

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:12:50 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

I’m honestly surprised the prosecution didn’t bring this up. It could have been run through in a couple of “you’ve had other dealings with Cohen...” sentences and largely defused as fuel for the defense.

Pecker testified that Michael Cohen often asked Pecker for favors for himself, including asking Pecker to arrange paparazzi shoots of Cohen and to promote Cohen's daughter’s rock climbing.

— erica orden (@eorden) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:10:13 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Bove’s questioning has now turned to Cohen. Considering what Pecker said during the prosecution, it seems likely the defense will present Cohen as someone who was in it for himself and who was frequently lying when he claimed to be representing Trump.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:09:10 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Bove discovers that Pecker doesn’t just say “yes” to everything he asks.

Trump lawyer trying to suggest he rehearsed, went over material repeatedly. Pecker pretty well punctures the line of questioning: "What I said under oath was the truth. That's all I planned on doing today."

— Harry Litman (@harrylitman) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:07:32 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Still getting tales of Pecker helping out celebrities by holding back negative stories or running more favorable stories. Unclear how many more of these Bove has in his pocket.

Considering the long-time friendship between Pecker and Trump, his defense may have a pretty complete list.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:02:38 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And here’s why Bove brought up Ari Emanuel—his brother.

Pecker said he helped suppress a potentially negative story about Rahm Emanuel while he was running for mayor of Chicago, at Ari Emanuel's request.

— erica orden (@eorden) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 8:00:20 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

A lot of very similar statements are going past, some of them slightly worded repeats of statements already asked. Again, the idea is to make it seem that, no matter how shocking Pecker’s deal with Trump may seem, it was nothing special for National Enquirer.

Bove asks Pecker about other celebrities with whom he had a "mutually beneficial" relationship and for whom he has sought to publish positive stories or kill negative stories. You had similar relationships w/ people other than Trump? Yes. Meaning other people who you would…

— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:57:43 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker gets led through efforts AMI has made to support others in the past, including Ron Perlman, who Pecker considered a friend and media agency owner Ari Emanuel, who was embroiled in a lawsuit over supposed sexist and racist remarks in 2002.

Not sure either of these does much other than to give Bove some additional examples of Pecker refusing to run every story.

Pecker says that AMI only runs about half the stories it buys. However, what doesn’t get said, because Bove doesn’t ask, is that most of those stories that don’t get run are killed because they proved to be untrue or simply weren’t interesting enough on closer examination.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:50:29 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

What Bove is doing is setting up the idea that there was nothing unusual or illegal about buying stories to hide them, and that just because it was being done to support a campaign doesn’t make any difference.

He’s trying to elicit testimony to support the defense theory of the case: That there’s nothing illegal about hush money payments. And that there’s nothing unusual about a campaign coordinating with friendly media entities. In the defense narrative, that's just standard operating…

— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:47:40 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker admits that the first time he heard the term “catch-and-kill” it was from the prosecution.

Bove seems to think this is a mic drop moment, giving the jury a long pause for this to sink in. But this term has been a part of journalistic ethics for some time. Among other things, it was the title of a 2019 book by Ronan Farrow.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:39:56 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Bove hitting Pecker over the idea that slanting his paper for Trump was a long-time practice, diminishing the importance of the post-Trump Tower meeting scheme. 

During cross, Bove is driving home the point that Pecker long sought to publish positive stories about Trump, because it was good for business, and hide negative ones.

— erica orden (@eorden) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:36:46 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Bove may not quite accuse Pecker of holding onto the doorman, McDougal, and Daniels stories to use against Trump, but that’s certainly the initial implication.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:35:50 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Ah, here’s where Bove was going. In addition to buying stories to run, and buying stories for Trump’s catch-and-kill scheme, there was a third category: buying up stories to use them as leverage (i.e. blackmail) to convince celebrities to give interviews.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:33:39 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Bove starts off by reiterating National Enquirer’s checkbook journalism process.

"AMI wasn't a charity?" Bove asks.

"No, it was not," Pecker says.

"Part of AMI's business model was to purchase stories, correct?" Bove asked.

"Yes, it was," Pecker responded.

Bove hasn’t yet asked Pecker how many times he purchased stories to not run them, which is the critical factor in this case.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:30:05 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker closed out his answers for the prosecution with a big My Pal Donald story.

Pecker launches into a story about how, in 2001, all of his magazine offices were consolidated in one building in Boca Raton. That October, shortly after 9/11, his office received multiple anthrax letters. One of the editors at his magazine inhaled anthrax and ended up dying.…

— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) April 25, 2024

Trump called him to provide help by … recommending an attorney. Pecker doesn’t say if this was so he could sue the FBI.

Anyway, on to the defense.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:25:45 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And that’s it. The prosecution announces that it is done with Pecker for now.

Emil Bove is up to cross-examine for Trump’s defense. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:23:09 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

If you run a tabloid whose business is based on exaggerations, slander, and plain old lies, who could be a better mentor than Trump?

Asked if he has any ill-will toward Trump, Pecker emphatically answers in the negative. "On the contrary, [...] I felt that Donald Trump was my mentor. He helped me out throughout my career."

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:21:03 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The documents include a list of accepted facts that Pecker is now reading. Many of the items on this list seem to match things that have been in testimony this week. This could suggest that prosecutors are nearing the end of what they want from Pecker.

Jurors are reportedly still paying attention and taking notes. Good for them.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:12:00 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Still at it. 

Prosecutors are now presenting the cooperation letter David Pecker signed to assist with the Manhattan district attorney's investigation. It is dated October 25, 2019.

— erica orden (@eorden) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:10:07 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker still reading through agreements with law enforcement. This can’t be exciting for the jury. I still don’t understand why the prosecution didn’t just enter the agreements as exhibits, then question Pecker about the parts they wanted to highlight.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 7:08:02 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Lisa Rubin comes through with the explaination.

David Pecker is now reading from American Media's non-prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice, which have been public for years but which misled the public about who exactly was involved in the alleged conspiracy to promote Trump's election. 1/

— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) April 25, 2024

Those documents never reflect Trump or "Individual-1"'s participation; instead, they disclose only that AMI acted in concert with "one or more members or agents" of the Trump campaign & refer to the August 2015 meeting between Pecker, Cohen & "at least one other member of the…

— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:59:23 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The questioning moves from pre-election corruption to post-election dictatorship.

In 2018, Pecker received a letter from the federal election commission. He called Cohen “immediately” after receiving the letter. Pecker told Cohen he was worried. "Why are you worried?" Cohen asked. "Jeff Sessions is the AG and Donald Trump has him in his pocket," he said.

— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:56:26 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker and Steinglass are looking at AMI’s non-prosecution deal that landed Pecker on the stand the first three days of trial.  Merchan reminds jurors that they can’t use anything in the agreement as evidence against Trump. Not quite sure why the prosecution pulled out this document. Again, we’ll probably find out.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:51:30 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Well, come on down, queen of the podium! Welcome to the case.

Pecker testified he remembers a call with Hope Hicks and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

"Both of them said that they thought it was a good idea," Pecker said, referring to extending McDougal's contract.

Trump’s PR front was united in trying to keep his affairs hidden. That may be understandable, considering that they might have to answer questions about Trump's mistress.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:48:21 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

That they swerved back for another question about McDougal suggests there’s still something they’re trying to get Pecker to say about the biggest case in the catch-and-kill triptych. But it’s unclear exactly what they’re going for now.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:46:27 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Trump got angry at seeing McDougal interviewed, even though this was after the election.

According to Pecker, Trump got angry after seeing Anderson Cooper interviewing McDougal. Trump said that he thought there was an agreement forbidding her from speaking to the press. Pecker replied: "Yes, we have an agreement but I amended it to allow her to speak to the press."

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

Trump got even angrier when he learned about the amendment. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:43:28 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

CNN reports questioning has moved back to a discussion of Stormy Daniels, but there have been mentions in the last few minutes around a White House dinner, discussions with both Trump and Cohen, and issues in handling McDougal that are likely to surface again.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:38:57 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker explaining a meeting with McDougal after she seemed upset about the pace at which the deal was moving.

Pecker said the purpose of the meeting was to make sure they were complying to the agreement. "I wanted her to remain within our (pause) family, I should say."

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:36:35 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

All these questions about McDougal, and referring to her as “our girl,” will be hard for Trump to explain if he sticks to his prior claims. It could get 10x worse for him after McDougal testifies.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:34:03 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Another example of how Trump seemed to take a very personal interest in someone whose story he still claims to be false.

During the visit to the White House, Trump walked with Pecker to the Rose Garden. Trump asked, “How’s Karen doing?” It was a reference to McDougal. Pecker replied: She’s good, she’s quiet.

— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:31:30 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Some cross-story synergy for your afternoon.

Boris Epshteyn, the Trump aide who was among several people indicted Wednesday by an Arizona grand jury for their efforts to overturn the 2020 election, is in the courtroom.

— erica orden (@eorden) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:30:43 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

I can’t visualize, so tidbits like this don’t really help set the scene. But I realize that most people have that internal movie rolling, so …

David Pecker returns to the witness stand. He's wearing a charcoal suit, a light pink collared shirt, and a red tie. Then the jurors file into court. Steinglass, for the prosecution, trots to the lectern to resume his direct examination.

— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) April 25, 2024

I do like the idea of the prosecutor “trotting.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 6:23:49 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And we’re getting underway for the afternoon.

Pecker is returning to the witness stand.

— erica orden (@eorden) April 25, 2024

This may not be Pecker’s last day on the stand. Prosecutors have indicated that they may not finish his questioning today, and then Trump’s team will get to cross-examine. Which at this point will likely consist of Blanche asking Pecker to prove “who’s ‘the boss’” over and over.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 5:36:57 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Something missed earlier that at least seems like it should be important.

Trump didn’t just thank Pecker for saving him from scandals through the catch-and-kill scheme, he did this in front of FBI Director James Comey.

Somehow, it seems that might have triggered some kind of alarm. But Comey might not have been able to hear it over all the self-congratulations he was handing himself for violating DOJ rules and making public statements about Hillary Clinton days before the election.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 5:14:22 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

What did we get out of the morning? Quite a bit, actually.

Though there were moments when it seemed as if things were going to sink into a morass of agreements and shell companies, overall the questioning and answers remained pretty lively.

  • Pecker has now outlined his behavior in the three catch-and-kill schemes he conducted for Trump following the Trump Tower meeting with Hope Hicks and other members of the campaign. In each case, Pecker made it clear that he didn’t believe he was acting to protect Trump’s reputation, but to protect his campaign-—a critical part of the underlying conspiracy that makes Trump’s falsifying business documents into a felony offense.
  • Pecker went over how he had previously attempted to shield Arnold Schwarzenegger during his run for governor in California, and how that effort generated legal issues for the National Enquirer and parent company AMI.
  • The concern over what Karen McDougal had to say was so extensive that Cohen and Trump urged Pecker to give her what she asked for. That didn’t mean just money, but two columns and a modeling contract. Trump personally checked in on “our girl” to see that she was staying quiet. 
  • Pecker made it clear that when he appeared to get cold feet in paying McDougal, it wasn’t over concerns about whether Trump would cough up the $150,000 she had been promised. It was because he had legal counsel look over the arrangement that he, Trump, and Cohen had cooked up using a shell company to confuse the control of McDougal’s contract and that counsel sniffed something wrong.
  • It’s a good bet that wrongness is related to something AMI ran into with Schwarzenegger, considering the emphasis the prosecution brought to those acts, but Pecker was unwilling to go into details to protect himself and AMI.
  • Finally, whatever had happened with McDougal made Pecker reluctant to directly pay Stormy Daniels when that incident came up. Pecker encouraged Cohen to pay for himself, but seemed surprised that Cohen had covered Daniel’s $130,000 payment out of his own pocket.
UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 5:02:13 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Lunch recess. Everyone is due back in court at 2:15 PM ET.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 5:01:17 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Trump talking to Pecker about McDougal during a private meeting.

Trump asked Pecker, “How’s our girl doing?”

Pecker said he told Trump, “She’s writing her articles. She’s quiet. She’s fine.”

This is profoundly creepy.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:55:44 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

This is Pecker after saying that Trump thanked him for covering up the McDougal and Dino the doorman stories. Every time Pecker says something like this, an angel in the DA’s office gets its wings.

Asked by the prosecutor whether Trump's concern about the stories getting out was primarily about his family or the campaign, Pecker responds: "I thought it was for the campaign."

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:50:27 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker ultimately ignored Cohen’s advice and amended the agreement with McDougal, allowing her more freedom to speak publically.

But he waited until December, more than a month after the election.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:48:27 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

If there were worries that Cohen was misrepresenting what “the boss” wanted … nope. 

Pecker describes a conversation in Trump's office: "I said Michael Cohen is very concerned about his bonus for this year, and I wanted you to do that he's very loyal." He said Cohen was working very hard. "I believe that he would throw himself in front of a bus for you."

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:46:00 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Still getting it through my head that, as prosecutors are questioning a tabloid publisher about Trump’s affairs with a Playboy model and a porn star, more Trump attorneys are in another courtroom defending his appeal over defaming a woman he assaulted in a dressing room, and still more Trump attorneys are in front of the Supreme Court arguing that he can sell nuclear secrets or carry out political assassinations without consequence.

He truly is God’s man on Earth.+

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:42:16 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker: “I wanted to protect my company, I wanted to protect myself and I wanted also to protect Donald Trump. ”

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:40:19 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

For those still covering the details of Trump’s body position. 

As David Pecker testified about learning of Stormy Daniels’ allegation of having sex with Donald Trump, the former president leaned back in his seat and appeared to close his eyes, per @benfeuerherd

— erica orden (@eorden) April 25, 2024

Maybe he’s getting sleepy. Maybe he’s just visualizing a fond memory.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:38:19 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Cohen instructed Pecker to keep McDougal under wraps despite the WSJ article which made most of her story clear.

Cohen recommended that Pecker not release McDougal. Q: Did you take that advice? A: No, I did not.

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:33:47 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker testifies that Trump got angry when some parts of the McDougal story were published by the Wall Street Journal before the election. 

Trump accused Pecker or one of his employees of leaking.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:28:56 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Questions to Pecker are generating some discussion on the frustrations of practicing checkbook journalism. It seems that some of those connected to the Daniels story were good sources for Pecker’s pay-as-you-go story mill, so he didn’t want to burn those bridges. But Pecker and Cohen continued to dicker over who should pay.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:23:53 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The New York Times is providing a lot of reporting on Donald Trump’s interpretive courtroom dance. Trump reportedly let out a “big yawn” when the prosecution first mentioned Stormy Daniels. Since then, he has reportedly become “more animated” including motioning to his lawyers and crossing his arms.

This announcement is brought to you by the Dept. of Is That Journalism?

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:19:19 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Cohen tried to muscle Pecker into buying the Daniels story, once again threatening that Trump would be angry. But Pecker turned it around on Cohen, telling him to buy the story or Trump would be angry at Cohen.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:16:39 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Heavens forbid that something sully the sterling reputation of the National Enquirer.

Pecker told Howard that they couldn't pay $120,000. "I don't want the National Enquirer to be associated with a porn star," Pecker says he told Howard that night. Chuckles in the gallery.

— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:15:22 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The courts are a very busy place today. This is only tangentially related to the trial underway, however… 

Breaking Trump LOSES his bid for a new trial or a judgment overturning the more than $80 million verdict for E. Jean Carroll in the second trial. Ruling https://t.co/5JncAkNDLj pic.twitter.com/pLpN2CWS4i

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:08:56 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker continues to be pretty straightforward in his answers.

“Do you know of someone named Stephanie Clifford?” Steinglass asks Pecker.

Pecker replies: "Stormy Daniels was a porn star." 

So far, there’s only been one instance where Pecker claimed to not know what the prosecution was talking about. That one related to Howard mentioning an “other” thing he discussed with Cohen.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:06:07 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Cohen spoke with Pecker about the tape. 

Email exhibit: After the "Access Hollywood" tape, Pecker said he spoke with Cohen and learned about the campaign's concerns about an old Radar Online article titled "Donald Trump, Playboy Man." Radar is an AMI property.

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

Dylan Howard then wrote that he had “deleted the article entirely.” So it appears that Pecker and Howard were even destroying existing articles to help protect Trump’s campaign.

Questions are now going to the main event — Stormy Daniels.

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UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:02:36 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker being asked about his knowledge of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

Asked if he remembers the "Access Hollywood" tape coming out, Pecker says: "I do. It was very embarrassing, very damaging for the campaign."

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 4:01:04 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

That Rubin post explains something that happened right before the break.

Steinglass just stood up & yelped loudly to stop Trump lawyer Emil Bove from saying something. It's not clear exactly what or why, but it seems like Steinglass was suggesting that Bove was about to describe the nature of a relationship btwn Dylan Howard & someone he was texting.

— erica orden (@eorden) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 3:58:21 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Dylan Howard was editor-in-chief at the National Enquirer. Everything we’re hearing this morning suggests that Howard and Pecker knew this was an illegal scheme to conceal information during an election at the time it was happening.

NEW: On Election Night 2016, Dylan Howard texted an unknown "first-degree relative," "At least if he wins, I'll be pardoned for electoral fraud." Fortunately for the defendant, that text has been excluded by the judge for now. 1/

— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 3:56:32 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

We’re back, Pecker is back on the stand (and I’m running about 5 minutes behind, but will rectify).

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 3:51:40 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

I’m posting all three of these Lisa Rubin quotes that cover what the jury just heard, because they go a long way to covering a misconception that I had coming into this testimony—one that I repeated in an earlier update because of what I “knew” about this case.

NEW: It has long been conventional wisdom that David Pecker did not pay Stormy Daniels himself because he was angry Trump never reimbursed him. Not so, Pecker testified. 1/

— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) April 25, 2024

The implication? Trump and Cohen had every intention of repaying Pecker until Pecker pumped the brakes for what he implied, without going into attorney-client privileged information, were concerns about the company's legal exposure. FIN.

— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) April 25, 2024

The implication? Trump and Cohen had every intention of repaying Pecker until Pecker pumped the brakes for what he implied, without going into attorney-client privileged information, were concerns about the company's legal exposure. FIN.

— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) April 25, 2024

And if that’s not enough, here’s another Anna Bower to make it doubly clear.

Pecker did not say why he decided he no longer wanted the reimbursement. But he said he made the decision after speaking with legal counsel. [Pecker does not have to reveal the legal advice he was given during that meeting bc it's privileged.]https://t.co/3CRutzTiKP

— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 3:29:30 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The reason I can indulge in reviewing how Cohen handled McDougal and how it relates to the shell company he created for Daniels is that we went into a morning recess about ten minutes ago. I should have given a hand signal at the time.

Anyway, hustle for that next cup of coffee if you need it.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 3:21:49 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The source of that anger was an agreement to transfer McDougal’s story from AMI to a shell company, Resolution Consultants, that Cohen created strictly as an oubliette for any information about Trump’s relationship with McDougal.

The equivalent of Resolution Consultants in the Stormy Daniels story was Essential Consultants, another single-purpose shell company created by Cohen.

And yes, all this is tangled and feels a couple of steps removed from the action. That’s the purpose of shell companies: to be confusing and hide motivations.

Hopefully, the jurors are still taking good notes.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 3:16:24 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The ugly end of the McDougal agreement, after Pecker got cold feet and asked Cohen to rip up the contract.

Pecker says of Cohen's reaction: "He was very very angry, very upset, screaming at me basically." [...] "Cohen said, 'The Boss is going to be very angry at you.'" But Pecker said he stuck to his guns: "I said I'm not going forward. The deal is off."

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 3:13:48 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

A lot of what’s going on now is talking about how, despite that Trump Tower meeting and despite Cohen’s assurances, Pecker had a hard time getting repaid by Trump. This is important because when it came time to buy Stormy Daniel’s story, Pecker was no longer willing to float Trump what amounted to a campaign protection loan.

That’s why Cohen ended up having to shoulder the expense, and why Trump made his illegal payments to Cohen, not Pecker.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 3:06:36 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The Washington Post with more details on what McDougal was offered for this story that Trump denies.

Pecker said she wanted to write for celebrity magazines and wanted to be on the cover of some health and fitness publications. She also wanted to launch a fitness clothing line and a beauty products company, and that she wanted to be an anchor for red carpet events, according to Pecker.

Pecker said he told Cohen he didn’t have a problem with what McDougal was asking, but asked again, “who is going to reimburse me for this?”

McDougal had Trump over a barrel, and both she and Pecker knew it. She got an entire wish list of items to keep her silent during the campaign.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 3:02:57 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

From Jesse McKinley at The New York Times.

David Pecker is now describing Trump’s interest in obtaining boxes of material regarding Karen McDougal, saying that Trump was worried about what would happen if Pecker got “hit by a bus” or his company was sold. Trump “did not want someone else to potentially publish those stories.”

That’s a whole heaping lot of concern over something Trump says wasn’t true. It’s going to be interesting to see which way Trump tilts his head when McDougal takes the stand later in this trial.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:58:52 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Yes, he is watching closely. Head tilted to the right. https://t.co/WYQUa2l6Fy

— Inner City Press (@innercitypress) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:57:15 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker is being asked to look at additional paperwork. Other than the court TV show joy of watching each item held up and asking for it to be entered into evidence, the jury isn’t likely getting a lot out of this part/

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:54:59 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Steinglass asks a question that goes directly to those 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Steinglass is asking whether Pecker was aware that corporations making campaign expenditures in coordination with a campaign without disclosing them was unlawful.

Yes, Pecker says.

Pecker also confirms the transaction was not reported under campaign finance obligations.

That seems like a big whoopsie from someone who just testified that he had structured McDougal’s contract after running into problems during Schwarzenegger’s campaign.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:50:43 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Again, this was about protecting the campaign. The prosecution is never going to tire of leading Pecker back to this point, because that underlying conspiracy is at the core of their case.

Pecker: "We didn't want the story to embarrass Mr. Trump or embarrass or hurt the campaign."

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

Pecker then says that he would not have purchased the story at the price McDougal demanded if Cohen hadn’t promised that Trump would pay for it.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:47:50 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pecker reiterates that for the National Enquirer, McDougal’s story was “a very, very large purchase.”

On a threat level, Cohen and Trump seemed to have rated this story the one that might create the most potential damage.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:45:54 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Jurors seem to be staying engaged. Not only are heads swiveling back and forth as Steinglass questions Pecker, there have also been reports that jurors are back to making lengthy notes.

The biggest group waiting for them at the door of the courtroom may be literary agents.

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UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:38:39 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Make everything clear to the jury.

Question from Conroy: Q: Do you know whether anyone other than Michael Cohen had knowledge of this contract? A: Yes, I believe Donald Trump did.

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:36:18 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And here’s why the prosecution made that side trip into discussing Pecker’s deal with Schwarzenegger before bringing out McDougal’s contract—there’s a direct connection.

Because Pecker had found himself in some hot water after he paid then-Governor Schwartzenegger's housekeeper in exchange for the Terminator's continued association with two of his fitness titles--and after Arnold was running for governor.

— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) April 25, 2024

Again, the prosecution is underscoring that this isn’t about protecting Trump’s personal reputation. It was about protecting his chances in the election.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:31:53 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

This is not exactly subtle.

Exhibit: The deal with Karen McDougal. The contract purchased the "Limited Life Story Rights" for "any romantic, personal and/or physical relationship McDougal has ever had with any then-married man."

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:30:32 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The contract was signed the first week of August, five months before Election Day. McDougal didn’t just get the money, but a two-year contract for columns in two AMI magazines.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:28:02 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Steinglass has brought out McDougal’s contract with AMI.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:24:31 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The prosecution has moved on to asking Pecker about other incidents where he got involved in a political campaign. Pecker says Arnold Schwarzenegger called during his run for governor and Pecker agreed to refuse to publish stories from women who came forward about affairs with the would-be governator. At least one of those stories ended up being published in the LA Times.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:20:56 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Much of the questioning that’s gone in in the last few minutes has been around the issue of payment for the McDougal story. While Cohen began by saying that Trump would take care of it, he later told Pecker that “you should pay,” which concerned Pecker because not only was it a sizable chunk of money, McDougal was asking to appear in other publications controlled by Pecker’s company, AMI. Cohen eventually came back around to saying that “the boss” would take care of it, but this took several calls with Pecker and with others at AMI.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:12:43 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

A reminder of why Pecker was so concerned about hanging McDougal $150,000 to bury her story. On Tuesday, Pecker testified that the $30,000 he paid to quiet the “Trump’s secret love child” story was already way above what the National Enquirer normally paid. Pecker’s first offer to McDougal was just $10,000.

Trump really wanted this story buried.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:09:48 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Politico with more details on the latest gag order violations by Trump. That includes speaking directly about Pecker’s testimony.

Conroy told the judge: “This is a message to Pecker: Be nice. It’s a message to others: I have a platform and I can talk about you and I can say things like this, or I can say things like I said about Cohen.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:07:13 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

You can almost hear The Godfather theme playing every time there is a quote from Cohen.

Pecker says Michael Cohen told him: "You should go ahead and buy this story." "I am going to have Dylan Howard negotiate the terms," Pecker said he responded, before asking: "Who's going to pay for it?" Cohen: "Don't worry. I'm your friend. The Boss will take care of it."

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:05:42 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

From Jonah Bromwich at The New York Times:

Joshua Steinglass, the prosecutor, is now asking David Pecker, the former National Enquirer publisher, about a call he had with Trump about Karen McDougal … Steinglass is reminding [jurors] that it happened, and reemphasizing that Trump himself was personally involved, this time with more details. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:03:48 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

According to The Washington Post, Trump made an announcement on the way into court that seems aimed at winning over those fickle New Yorkers. Trump told reporters that he plans to hold a rally in Madison Square Garden that will honor police officers. Or maybe firefighters. Or maybe teachers.

It seems unlikely that Madison Square Garden knows anything about this rally.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 2:01:19 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The opening round of questions to Pecker are centered on the case of model Karen McDougal, who says she had an affair with Trump that lasted for over ten months. As CNN reports, McDougal had more than one offer for her story, but Michael Cohen encouraged Pecker to buy it.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 1:58:04 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Before the jury came in, Merchan talked with both defense and prosecution. Prosecutors insisted that Trump continues to break the gag order by talking about witnesses and threatens the jury be insisting that Merchan hurried to seat “95% Democrats.” Still no ruling from Tuesday’s gag order hearing.

Now: Prosecutor Chris Conroy files ANOTHER order to show cause to hold Trump in contempt for "four violations in the last three days" of the gag order.

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 1:53:26 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The jury has entered and Pecker is heading back to the stand.

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 1:49:28 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

One source you won’t be hearing this morning is MSNBC’s Katie Phang. That’s because Phang is in Washington this morning for that other court proceeding. The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments this morning on Trump’s claim of total immunity. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 1:46:47 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Just a few choice examples of the things David Pecker ‘s publication cranked out in 2016. Was National Enquirer enough to sway the results of the election? Maybe. Considering the razor-thin margins that determined the outcome, there were half a dozen issues, any one of which could have made the difference. 

It took everything falling Trump’s way for him to get that last-minute nudge across the line, and Pecker was shoving all the way.

Good morning from New York. On Day 1 on the stand, David Pecker described how he turned his tabloid empire into the Trump campaign's "eyes and ears": promoting him, attacking his rivals, and silencing "women selling stories." The ex-AMI chief's testimony resumes today. 🧵 pic.twitter.com/jKjIhEkwbq

— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 25, 2024

UPDATE: Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 · 1:44:11 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

If you’re shocked to find that court is actually in session today, that’s probably because you listened to some knucklehead who said there would be no court on Thursday because he didn’t notice an update to the schedule that happened a week ago.

Sorry about that.

Campaign Action

Trump attorney, Supreme Court justice clash on whether a president who ‘ordered’ a ‘coup’ could be prosecuted

An attorney for former President Donald Trump in the presidential immunity hearing clashed with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan over a hypothetical question on whether a president who "ordered" a "coup" could be prosecuted. 

"If it's an official act, there needs to be impeachment and conviction beforehand," Trump's attorney John Sauer argued Thursday before the Supreme Court, which is being broadcast publicly via audio only. 

Sauer's statement was in response to Justice Elena Kagan's hypothetical question, asking if a president who is no longer in office directing the military to stage a coup would constitute an "official act."

"He's no longer president. He wasn't impeached. He couldn't be impeached. But he ordered the military to stage a coup. And you're saying that's an official act?," Kagan asked.


"I think it would depend on the circumstances, whether it was an official act. If it were an official act, again, he would have to be impeached," Sauer responded. 

"What does that mean? Depend on the circumstances? He was the president. He is the commander in chief. He talks to his generals all the time. And he told the generals, 'I don't feel like leaving office. I want to stage a coup.' Is that immune [from prosecution]?" Kagan pressed.


Sauer responded it would "depend on the circumstances of whether there was an official act" if the hypothetical president would be immune from prosecution. 

"That answer sounds to me as though it's like, 'Yeah, under my test it's an official act.' But that sure sounds bad, doesn't it?" Kagan said.


"That's why the framers have a whole series of structural checks that have successfully, for the last 234 years, prevented that very kind of extreme hypothetical. And that is the wisdom of the framers. What they viewed as the risk that needed to be guarded against was not the notion that the president might escape, you know, a criminal prosecution for something, you know, sort of very, very unlikely in these unlikely scenarios," Sauer responded.

"The framers did not put an immunity clause into the Constitution. They knew how there were immunity clauses in some state constitutions. They knew how to give legislative immunity. They didn't provide immunity to the president. And, you know, not so surprising. They were reacting against a monarch who claimed to be above the law. Wasn't the whole point that the president was not a monarch and the president was not supposed to be above the law," Kagan said. 

The back and forth came as the Supreme Court weighs whether Trump is immune from prosecution in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s election interference case. Smith’s case is currently on pause until the Supreme Court issues a ruling. The case charged Trump with conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights. The case stems from Jan. 6, 2021, when supporters of Trump breached the U.S. Capitol. 


Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges in August, and called on the Supreme Court to weigh whether a former president can be prosecuted for "official acts," as the Trump legal team argues. 

The Supreme Court is expected to reach a resolution on whether Trump is immune from prosecution by mid-June. 

Trump is also part of an ongoing trial in New York City where he is accused of 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. He pleaded not guilty to each charge. The trial prevented Trump from attending the Supreme Court hearing Thursday. 


The NY v. Trump case focuses on Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen paying former pornographic actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to allegedly quiet her claims of an alleged extramarital affair she had with the then-real estate tycoon in 2006. Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels. 


Prosecutors allege that the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen, and fraudulently logged the payments as legal expenses. Prosecutors are working to prove that Trump falsified records with an intent to commit or conceal a second crime, which is a felony.  Prosecutors this week said the second crime was a violation of a New York law called "conspiracy to promote or prevent election."

Fox News Digital’s Brooke Singman contributed to this report.