ICYMI: ‘Thoughts and prayers’ for Giuliani, plus Fox News doesn’t identify as ‘Swiftie’

Lauren Boebert utterly humiliated in Colorado straw poll 

Everything about this is so deeply satisfying. 

What goes around comes around: Bankrupt Rudy Giuliani claims Trump owes him money

The former New York mayor’s finances have been revealed and hot mess doesn't even begin to cover it.

E. Jean Carroll suggests she'll use the $83 million to create 'something Donald Trump hates'

This is fantastic! Bonus: Read why other conservatives appear to be sweating this judgment.

Cartoon: What's in Trump's box?

Hint: It’s not votes.

Fox News loses it over Taylor Swift

She did the impossible! She got the network to cover climate change.

Republicans admit impeaching Mayorkas is all politics

They are really out here spilling the beans to right-wing media. 

Florida GOP wants to block heat protection for workers. Good thing it's never hot there

That Florida legislators are moving to outlaw something that doesn’t exist might seem odd, even for Florida. But, of course, there’s more to the story.

Team Biden targets Trump on his tax cuts for the rich

A new line of attack is developing, one that the Biden campaign hopes will make it to discussion at your kitchen table. 

Watch Kari Lake get booed at GOP meeting after 'leaked' tape scandal

You hate to see it!

House GOP wages war with itself, the Senate, and reality

Infighting between the House and the Senate is a growing sh*t show and a huge reason nothing gets done.

X pauses some Taylor Swift searches as deepfake explicit images spread

Deepfake tools are a growing problem and they are “overwhelmingly weaponized against women.”

Santos' would-be GOP successor also has a problem with the truth

Congress just got rid of one pathological liar this session, and is now in danger of having that vacated seat filled by someone who also has a tenuous relationship with the truth.

Click here to see more cartoons.

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Despite Trump’s current laughable lawyers, his DOJ could be staffed with skilled radicals

Attorney Alina Habba has been widely mocked for her courtroom blunders and behavior as she defends Donald Trump in the business fraud lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James and in E. Jean Carroll’s second defamation trial against the accused rapist.

Former federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski, who is now editor in chief of the liberal Meidas Touch, had this post on X, formerly known as Twitter:

I’m gonna say you can watch My Cousin Vinny and Legally Blonde back-to-back and you’d be ready to do a better trial than Habba.

— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) January 18, 2024

And “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert said in a monologue earlier this month, “Habba is, to use a bit of legalese, a bad lawyer,” HuffPost reported. He then played a clip from a podcast interview in which Habba, a former fashion executive, said she’d “rather be pretty than smart.” She then added she “can fake being smart.” 

But as Trump has become the first candidate to run a presidential campaign out of a courtroom, Habba has taken on a prominent role in MAGA world by playing the Trump victimization card in numerous interviews on courthouse steps, on Fox News, and other conservative news outlets.

RELATED STORY: How the next Trump-inspired insurrection could unfold and how the administration could respond

And while Trump’s immunity claims may seem a joke, there’s nothing funny regarding the attorney who handled Trump’s appeal seeking immunity from charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith that he conspired to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. The three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is widely expected to reject Trump’s immunity claim.

As Trump sat watching in the courtroom, his attorney, D. John Sauer, in response to questioning from the judges, suggested that even a president directing SEAL Team 6 to kill a political rival would be an action barred from criminal prosecution unless the president was first impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate.

Mother Jones wrote that “it’s hard to overstate the terrifying absurdity of the argument.” But in  social media posts, candidate Trump has argued that presidents deserve complete immunity from prosecution even for acts that “cross the line.” The Atlantic wrote that “Today’s legal argument could very well be next year’s exercise of presidential power.”

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich went even further, stating that “Sauer was arguing for the equivalent of the 1933 Enabling Law in Germany,” which facilitated Adolf Hitler’s success in moving the country from democracy to fascism. That law—approved by the German Parliament in March 1933—gave the new chancellor, Hitler, the power to enact new laws without interference from the president or the parliament for four years.

What’s scary is that unlike Habba, Sauer has a blue-chip legal background. He was a Rhodes scholar and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to federal appellate court Judge J. Michael Luttig and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

In 2017, then-Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley appointed Sauer to serve as the state’s solicitor general and he continued to serve in that post under Hawley’s successor, Eric Schmitt, who also was elected to the U.S. Senate. The New York Times wrote:

As Missouri’s solicitor general, Mr. Sauer took part in a last-ditch effort to keep Mr. Trump in power after his defeat in the 2020 election, filing a motion on behalf of his state and five others in support of an attempt by Texas to have the Supreme Court toss out the results of the vote count in several key swing states.

He also joined in an unsuccessful bid with Texas in asking the Supreme Court to stop the Biden administration from rescinding a Trump-era immigration program that forces certain asylum seekers arriving at the southwestern border to await approval in Mexico.

Sauer left the solicitor general’s post in January 2023. He served as a special assistant attorney general for Louisiana’s Department of Justice in a First Amendment lawsuit against Biden administration officials over their contacts with social media platforms about “misinformation.” 

So could Sauer be another politically ambitious conservative lawyer with an Ivy League law degree looking to make an impression on Trump in hopes of securing a top position at the Department of Justice in a second Trump administration? It’s hard to know for sure, as Sauer keeps a low public profile outside the courtroom and shuns media interviews. But it sounds like he would fit right in, according to a November New York Times article on the subject:

Close allies of Donald J. Trump are preparing to populate a new administration with a more aggressive breed of right-wing lawyer, dispensing with traditional conservatives who they believe stymied his agenda in his first term.

The allies have been drawing up lists of lawyers they view as ideologically and temperamentally suited to serve in a second Trump administration. Their aim is to reduce the chances that politically appointed lawyers would frustrate a more radical White House agenda — as they sometimes did when Mr. Trump was in office, by raising objections to his desires for certain harsher immigration policies or for greater personal control over the Justice Department, among others.

The Times said Trump has even become disenchanted with the Federalist Society, the conservative legal network whose members filled key executive branch legal positions when he was last in office. Trump was particularly enraged at White House and Justice Department legal officials who blocked his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

John Mitnick, who was fired by Trump as general counsel of the Homeland Security Department in 2019, told the Times that “no qualified attorneys with integrity will have any desire to serve as political appointees” in a second Trump term.

The Guardian reported that Trump’s former senior adviser Stephen Miller, known for his draconian immigration policy, “is playing a key role in seeking lawyers fully in sync with Trump’s radical agenda to expand his power and curb some major agencies.” The Guardian wrote:

His search is for those with unswerving loyalty to Trump, who could back Trump’s increasingly authoritarian talk about plans to “weaponize” the DoJ against critics, including some he has labeled as “vermin.”

Miller, who is not a lawyer, is president of the MAGA-allied group America First Legal, which has been filing lawsuits against the Biden administration. Miller also sits on the board of Project 2025, an effort led by the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups to map authoritarian policy plans for a second Trump administration.

And that brings us to who Trump might choose for attorney general if he makes his way back to the Oval Office. Back in November, former Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a member of the House Jan. 6 Select Committee, warned in an episode of The Bulwark podcast:

“If he does get through and he wins this time, he's going to interview 100 candidates for attorney general and only take the one that says, 'Mr. President, in essence, I don't care what the Constitution is. I'm going to do whatever you want as your servant at the Department of Justice.'"

And the scary thing is that there is one lawyer who is media savvy, has a blue-chip legal resume, and is a total right-wing monster. His name is Mike Davis.

Tim Miller, a former Republican National Committee spokesperson and Never Trumper, wrote about an interview Davis gave to conservative political commentator Benny Johnson in which Davis discussed what he would do if he were “acting attorney general” for a few weeks in a new Trump term:

But during my three week reign of terror as Trump acting attorney general, before I get chased out of town with my Trump pardon, I will rain hell on Washington, D.C. ... I have five lists, ready to go and they’re growing.

List number one, we’re gonna fire. We’re gonna fire a lot of people in the executive branch, in the deep state.

Number two, we’re gonna indict. We’re gonna indict Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and James Biden and every other scumball, sleazeball, Biden, except for the five year old granddaughter who they refused to acknowledge for five years until the political pressure got to Joe Biden.

Number three, we’re gonna deport. We’re gonna deport a lot of people, 10 million people and growing—anchor babies, their parents, their grandparents. We’re gonna put kids in cages. It’s gonna be glorious. We’re gonna detain a lot of people in the D.C. gulag and Gitmo.

And list number five, I’m gonna recommend a lot of pardons. Every January 6th defendant is gonna get a pardon, especially my hero horn man. He is definitely at the top of the pardon list.

“This is almost comically pathetic chest-beating of a creepy dork,” says Hayes on far-right lawyer Mike Davis. “But again the history of fascism is full of creepy dorks who…used the power of the state to execute their most despicable, violent fantasies.”pic.twitter.com/dRRVhsRKCw

— IT’S TIME FOR JUSTICE (@LiddleSavages) November 22, 2023

In an article for The Bulwark, Miller wrote:

Davis has become an influential voice in MAGA media and activist circles—understandably so, given his crossover appeal as someone who combines legitimate bona fides as a GOP staffer with the incendiary, burn-it-all-down rhetoric that the MAGA base laps up.

And should, God forbid, Trump win a second term, Davis will be emblematic of the type of person who will staff the government. …

Davis’s current gig is spearheading activist groups that fight for right-wing judicial appointments and oppose “Big Tech.” In this role he makes frequent appearances on right-wing media outlets, including primetime Fox and its MAGA competitors (think Real America’s Voice, Newsmax, Bannon’s War Room), where he preaches the Gospel of Trump on issues ranging from the former president’s many indictments to the Biden impeachment.

Davis has an extensive biography on the Federalist Society website. But Miller also exposed Davis’ dark side, including a rant on X about the “violent black underclass” who are “monsters” and should be subjected to “mass incarceration.” He wrote:

Racist demagoguery. Conspiratorial thinking. Promises for retribution against enemies. This is Trump’s stated agenda for 2024. And people like Mike Davis stand ready and willing to execute it.

Davis now heads the Article III Project, which has run ads defending Trump against his four criminal indictments with messages mirroring Trump’s comments that he is a victim of politically motivated prosecutions.

One 60-second digital ad says, “Activist prosecutors and judges have destroyed the rule of law, the scales of justice forever broken and imbalanced. The worst offenders? Those who have weaponized the legal system for political gain against President Trump. Even now they’re resorting to insane legal theories to take him off the ballot,” the ad continues. “They’ve gone after a president of the United States. Do you think they’ll stop there?”

In November, Mehdi Hasan presented an in-depth report on the dangers posed by Davis on MSNBC.

Davis responded to the report and Miller’s Bulwark article with this tasteless post on X that included a homophobic slur. 

😂 Trump’s Dream Team.@mehdirhasan is now on my Lists 2 (indict), 4 (detain), 6 (denaturalize), and 3 (deport). I already have his spot picked out in the DC gulag. But I’ll put him in the women’s cell block, with @Timodc. So these whiny leftists don’t get beat up as often. https://t.co/Ylhb33KVv2

— 🇺🇸 Mike Davis 🇺🇸 (@mrddmia) November 20, 2023

And here’s the kicker: Donald Trump Jr. actually said on his online show “Triggered” in November that he’d actually like to see Davis as attorney general, even on an interim basis, “just to send that shot across the bow of the swamp.”

Donald Trump Jr. says he wants Laura Loomer as White House press secretary and Mike Davis as attorney general; Loomer has described herself as “pro-white nationalism,” Davis says that he wants to enact a “reign of terror” targeting Trump’s enemies. pic.twitter.com/oy3osluVC4

— Media Matters (@mmfa) November 10, 2023

RELATED STORY: Republicans actually published a blueprint for dismantling our democracy. It's called Project 2025

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Trump’s big mouth is finally getting him in (legal) trouble

Donald Trump's charmed stretch defying legal gravity in spite of his penchant for self-incrimination finally came to an end last month, when he sunk himself in the E. Jean Carroll rape case deposition.

He claimed he had never seen Carroll before in his life and even if he had, she most certainly wasn't his type. Those twin defenses were hilariously blown apart when he was shown a picture of himself interacting with Carroll—and mistook her for his ex-wife Marla Maples.

Ultimately, the jury found Trump had sexually abused and defamed Carroll and awarded her $5 million.

Although the case was civil, not criminal, it marked the beginning of the end of Trump's luck evading the law. During his tenure at the White House, Trump successfully used his chief bulldog at the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr, to run interference on pesky inquiries ranging from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election to the impeachment probe of Trump's efforts to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, not to mention Carroll’s rape case.

But without his White House shield, Trump's publicly incessant blathering, blustering, and bullying is poised to cost him dearly.

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In special counsel Jack Smith's federal probe of Trump's classified document scandal, the emergence of a 2021 recording revealing that Trump clearly knew he had classified information and was contemplating sharing it has provided prosecutors with a rare legal gem: proof of Trump's state of mind.

"The import of the new Trump audio is not that it eviscerates his defense that he declassified everything,” tweeted Justice Department veteran Andrew Weissmann, who served as a prosecutor during the Mueller special counsel investigation. “That was never a legal defense (nor factually plausible). The import is that he is caught lying to the public to gain support when he’s indicted."

Weissmann added that such a recording would be an "admission” that Trump "intentionally and knowingly" possessed a classified document, which is a crime if the document actually exists and Trump wasn't simply bragging to people about a document that didn’t exist.

Given the damning nature of that recording, Weissmann predicted an indictment is "days, not months" away. But either way, he firmly believes it's a matter of when, not if.

As if that weren't enough, now there appears to be a mad hunt for the document in question, which no one seems able to locate. Its apparent disappearance raises the specter that Trump might have followed through on his stated desire (in the recording) to share the classified information. Good thing Trump’s blathering gave the game away!

This week also brought news that the Georgia election fraud probe—built around Trump's recorded demand that the Republican secretary of state "find" the votes to beat Joe Biden—is reportedly expanding into examining Trump's activities in other states and the District of Columbia.

The Washington Post calls the news a "fresh sign" that Fulton County prosecutors and District Attorney Fani Willis could be building an expansive racketeering case against Trump.

[Georgia’s] RICO statute is among the most expansive in the nation, allowing prosecutors to build racketeering cases around violations of both state and federal laws — and even activities in other states. If Willis does allege a multistate racketeering scheme with Trump at its center, the case could test the bounds of the controversial law and make history in the process.

Trump is already facing more than 30 criminal counts of falsifying business records in the hush-money-scheme case brought by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.

And Smith's probe of Trump's role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection is ongoing. Fortunately, there's no shortage of taped material there either, including Trump's post-insurrection assertion that he didn't want to admit the election was over.

“I don’t want to say the election’s over. I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election’s over, okay?” Trump insisted on Jan. 7, 2021, while filming outtakes for a video intended to help calm a roiled nation.

Trump remains the undeniable frontrunner for the Republican nomination. The initial Bragg indictment arguably gave him a small bump with Republican voters, but a gusher of criminal scandals awaits him in the coming months—or days, depending on who you ask.

We have Rural Organizing’s Aftyn Behn. Markos and Aftyn talk about what has been happening in rural communities across the country and progressives’ efforts to engage those voters. Behn also gives the podcast a breakdown of which issues will make the difference in the coming elections.

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Trump lawyer may be edging closer to disqualification from hush-money case for conflict of interest

Attorney Joe Tacopina may be edging closer to getting disqualified from representing Donald Trump in the case about the former president’s alleged role in a scheme to pay hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The basis for removing Tacopina from Trump’s defense team is an apparent conflict of interest. It stems from the fact that Daniels consulted with Tacopina in 2018 about representing her in a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the non-disclosure agreement she had signed days before the 2016 presidential election not to talk about an “intimate relationship” she had with Trump in 2006-2007.  The Wall Street Journal had already broken the story about the hush money payment in January 2018. 

On Tuesday, MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin reported that the judge presiding over Trump's criminal case had ordered Tacopina to turn over his communications with Daniels and disclose what information from Daniels he has shared with Trump.

RELATED STORY: The judge went too easy on Trump's lawyer in E. Jean Carroll case

NEW: The judge presiding over Trump's criminal case has ordered Joe Tacopina to turn over his communications with Stormy Daniels & disclose what information from Daniels he has shared with Trump. https://t.co/ji7ZRZIEIt

— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) May 2, 2023

Rubin cited a story on the law360.com website that said Judge Juan Merchan will scrutinize the material handed over by Tacopina to determine whether Trump’s criminal defense attorney “is conflicted out” of the case. Here is a copy of the April 28 order issued by Merchan to Tacopina:

NEW: Judge will examine if Joe Tacopina, Donald Trump's criminal defense attorney, is conflicted out of the @ManhattanDA's hush-money case, ordering the attorney to turn over records related to his past interactions with Stormy Daniels. @Law360 pic.twitter.com/Xa7WaKVdBJ

— Frank G. Runyeon (@frankrunyeon) May 1, 2023

Merchan was responding to a request made in mid-April by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that the judge order Tacopina to open up his law firm’s files on Daniels for the court’s scrutiny.

On March 22, about a week before Trump’s indictment was announced, Daniels’ lawyer Clark Brewster turned over to Bragg’s office records of communications between the adult film star and Tacopina. Brewster said he believed the communications show a disclosure of confidential  information from Daniels. Brewster raised the issue of a possible conflict of interest on Tacopina’s part in a letter a day before Trump’s April 4 arraignment.

In his order, Merchan gave Tacopina until May 15 to provide the requested records. He said any in-person inquiry, if necessary, would be delayed until the completion of the civil trial in federal court in which writer E. Jean Carroll is seeking damages from Trump for defamation and rape. Tacopina is defending Trump in that case.  

Back in 2018, Tacopina avoided a question from CNN host Don Lemon by suggesting that he may have attorney-client obligations with Daniels, according to the Law & Crime website. Tacopina said: “I can’t really talk about my impressions or any conversations we had because there is an attorney-client privilege that attaches even to a consultation.”

But at Trump’s April 4 arraignment, Tacopina backtracked and told Merchan: “We refused the case. I did not offer her representation. Didn’t speak to her. Didn’t meet with her. And it is as simple as that.”

However, Law & Crime noted that prosecutors in Bragg’s office cited Daniels’ book “Full Disclosure,” in which she described her brief interactions with Tacopina—before she decided to retain attorney Michael Avenatti—in an unflattering light. Avenatti is now serving a lengthy prison sentence for defrauding Daniels and other clients.

“She writes that before retaining Mr. Avenatti, she spoke with a ‘very high-powered lawyer’ who seemed to take her call just for the curiosity factor, dragged it out for a couple of weeks and didn’t seem to share her passion, so she ended it,” prosecutors summarized. “She wrote that she was ‘anxious that this guy now knew my story and my strategy for confronting (Michael) Cohen and Trump.'”

And what’s even more remarkable is that as a legal commentator for CNN back in 2018, Tacopina speculated that Trump had an affair with Daniels, and that he would have advised Trump to admit to the affair and move on. He also said the hush money payoff could put Trump in legal jeopardy because it could be looked on as an in-kind campaign contribution at the time of the election.

Tacopina also said Trump deserved to be impeached. He told WABC radio in February 2021 that Trump incited his supporters—whom he called “a bunch of idiots” and “lunatics”—to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. “I don’t think he did anything criminal,” Tacopina said on WABC in February 2021 when discussing the Capitol assault. “Did I think he did something impeachable? Yes, I do.”

But now, acting as Trump’s defense attorney, Tacopina is singing a different tune. He called the payment to Daniels “plain extortion” on her part, dismissed potential campaign finance violations, and repeated Trump’s denials that he ever had the affair.

“This was a plain extortion. And I don’t know, since when we’ve decided to start prosecuting extortion victims. He’s denied, vehemently denied, this affair,” Tacopina said on “Good Morning America.”.“But he had to pay money because there was going to be an allegation that was gonna be publicly embarrassing to him, regardless of the campaign. And the campaign finance laws are very, very clear, George, that you cannot have something that’s even primarily related to the campaign to be considered campaign finance law.”

Actually, all things considered, it might not be the worst thing for Trump if Tacopina gets disqualified from his legal team for the hush money criminal case. Just look at the bad reviews Tacopina has received defending Trump in the defamation and civil rape trial brought against the former president by E. Jean Carroll. 

Here’s what Salon wrote after Tacopina’s cross-examination of Carroll:

The common wisdom in the post-#MeToo era is that bullying an alleged rape victim is a bad look. So many legal experts were surprised when Donald Trump's defense attorney Joe Tacopino tore in E. Jean Carroll on the witness stand Thursday, during a defamation and rape civil trial of the former reality TV host-turned-fascist coup leader. There wasn't a misogynist rape myth that Tacopino left untouched. His browbeating got so bad that Judge Lewis Kaplan was forced to repeatedly interrupt and reprimand Tacopino.

"Tacopina was derisive, derogatory and dismissive," former federal prosecutor Mitchell Epner wrote at the Daily Beast.

"Not exactly the impression Team Trump wanted the jury to be left with on the way home," defense attorney Robert Katzberg wrote at Slate.  

Tacopino fell "into this other trap," former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said on MSNBC on Saturday, "of putting the jury on her side and willing to listen to her testimony."

RELATED STORY: Trump's lawyer in defamation case leans on Samuel Alito's tired, misogynistic playbook