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).

Supreme Court prepares to debate Trump immunity claim in election interference case

In what may be the most closely watched case this term at the Supreme Court – involving the highest-profile appellant – former President Donald Trump has offered a sweeping argument for why he should not face trial for alleged election interference.

The high court will hold arguments Thursday morning in what could determine the former president's personal and political future. As the presumptive GOP nominee to retake the White House, Trump is betting that his constitutional assertions will lead to a legal reprieve from the court's 6-3 conservative majority – with three of its members appointed to the bench by the defendant himself.  

The official question the justices will consider: 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?

This is new territory for the Supreme Court and the nation. No current or former president has ever been criminally indicted.

The stakes could not be higher – both for the immediate election prospects, and the long-term effect on the presidency itself and the rule of law. But it will be the second time this term the high court will hear a case directly involving the former president. 


On March 4, the justices unanimously ruled that Trump could remain on the Colorado primary ballot over claims he committed insurrection in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots.

The decision to intervene at this stage in the immunity dispute is a mixed bag for both Trump and the Special Counsel. The defendant wanted to delay the process longer – ideally past the November election – and Jack Smith wanted the high court appeal dismissed immediately so any trial could get back on track quickly. 

A federal appeals court had unanimously ruled against Trump on the immunity question.

"For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant," the three-judge panel wrote. "But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution." 

Smith has charged the former president with conspiracy to defraud the U.S.; 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 result, including participation in a scheme to disrupt the electoral vote count leading to the subsequent Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges in August.

In its brief on the merits submitted this month, the Special Counsel told the high court that "presidents are not above the law."

"The Framers never endorsed criminal immunity for a former President, and all Presidents from the Founding to the modern era have known that after leaving office they faced potential criminal liability for official acts," said the government. 

But Trump's legal team told the high court, "A denial of criminal immunity would incapacitate every future President with de facto blackmail and extortion while in office, and condemn him to years of post-office trauma at the hands of political opponents."

His lawyers added: "The threat of future prosecution and imprisonment would become a political cudgel to influence the most sensitive and controversial Presidential decisions, taking away the strength, authority, and decisiveness of the Presidency."

In a series of supporting briefs, 19 GOP-controlled states and more than two dozen Republican members of Congress are among those backing Trump's legal positions.

Some of the issues the court will have to consider:

Can a former president ever be prosecuted for "official acts," or does he enjoy "absolute immunity?"

By including the words "whether and to what extent" in its official question framing the case, the Supreme Court – in the eyes of many legal scholars – may be prepared to limit or narrow "absolute immunity," at least in this case.

But court precedent may give Trump some protection – that former presidents should not face civil liability "predicated on his official acts" (Fitzgerald v. Nixon, 1982). Trump, of course, is facing criminal charges brought by the government. The question remains: Will the court now extend any implied civil protection to a criminal prosecution? 

What constitutes an official act of a president? Will the court distinguish between Trump's alleged election interference as clearly acting in his executive capacity, or was he acting in a purely political or personal capacity as an incumbent candidate? 

A federal appeals court that rejected Trump's arguments in a separate civil lawsuit alleging that he incited the violent Capitol mob with his "Stop the Steal" rally remarks on Jan. 6, 2021 concluded that "his campaign to win re-election is not an official presidential act." Trump is making the same immunity claims in those pending lawsuits.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in a separate 2020 case involving Trump financial records sought by New York prosecutors, wrote, "This Court has recognized absolute immunity for the President from 'damages liability predicated on his official acts,' But we have rejected absolute immunity from damages actions for a President's nonofficial conduct." 

Thomas cited the 1997 Clinton v. Jones case, which determined that a sitting president did not have immunity from civil suits over his conduct prior to taking office and unrelated to his office. Again, the current dispute involves a criminal prosecution, and the justices may weigh whether that deserves greater deference to the constitutional claims from both sides.

What acts are within the outer rim of a president's constitutional duties?  

The lower federal courts deciding the matter pointedly avoided addressing that issue, but the high court now has full discretion to take it up. Questions or hypotheticals from the bench may offer hints about how broadly the justices may want to explore the orbit of presidential authority, when weighing political or "discretionary" acts vs. duty-bound or "ministerial" acts.

During January oral arguments before the DC-based federal appeals court, Trump's lawyer, John Sauer, suggested that if a president were to order Seal Team Six military commandos to assassinate a political rival, he could then be criminally prosecuted only if first found guilty by Congress through the impeachment process. 

Given the stakes, the Supreme Court may compromise here and issue a mixed ruling: rejecting Trump's broad immunity claims while preserving certain vital executive functions, like the national security role of commander-in-chief. The big unknown is what side Trump's election-related conduct would fall, in the eyes of the nine justices.  

Do federal courts have any jurisdiction to consider a president's official discretionary decisions?  

On this separation-of-powers question, Smith's team and others have cited the 1952 Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer case that limited a president's power to seize private property – even in a wartime emergency – absent any express congressional authorization. That landmark ruling curbing executive power also affirmed the judiciary's binding role to review a president's actions in office.

Will the Supreme Court ultimately decide not to decide, and throw the competing issues back to the lower courts for further review?

The justices may get buyer's remorse and conclude that weighty questions were not fully considered at the intermediate appellate or trial court level. That could significantly delay any trial.

Or they may let the trial play out first, and give both sides a chance to make their claims before a jury. Depending on the verdict, the Supreme Court would then likely revisit the immunity questions. 

Despite Trump's urging, the court pointedly chose not to address another lingering issue: whether the criminal prosecution violates the Fifth Amendment's ban on "double jeopardy," since he was acquitted by the Senate in February 2021 for election subversion, following his second impeachment.       

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

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

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


There is one other factor to consider: Trump could win re-election and then, upon taking office, order his attorney general to dismiss the Special Counsel and all his cases. Neither side's legal team has yet to publicly speculate on that scenario. 

So, 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.  

Chutkan said in December that she does not have jurisdiction over the matter while it is pending before the Supreme Court, and she put a pause on the case against him until the justices decide the matter on the merits.

A sweeping constitutional victory for the former president would almost certainly mean that 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.   

FBI informant who lied about the Bidens’ ties to Ukrainian energy company had high-level Russian contacts: DOJ

A former FBI informant charged with lying about a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme between a Ukrainian energy company and the Bidens had contacts with Russian intelligence officials, prosecutors said Tuesday. 

In court filings, prosecutors said Alexander Smirnov admitted during an interview before his arrest last week that "officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story" about the president’s son, Hunter Biden. They said Smirnov's contacts with Russian officials were recent and extensive, and said Smirnov had planned to meet with one official during an upcoming overseas trip.

They said Smirnov has had numerous contacts with a person he described as the "son of a former high-ranking government official" and "someone with ties to a particular Russian intelligence service." They said there is a serious risk that Smirnov could flee overseas to avoid facing trial.

Prosecutors revealed the alleged contact as they urged a judge to keep Smirnov behind bars while he awaits trial. 


Smirnov, who holds dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, is charged with falsely reporting to the FBI in June 2020 that executives associated with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each in 2015 or 2016. 

Smirnov had only routine business dealings with the company starting in 2017 and made the bribery allegations after he "expressed bias" against Joe Biden while he was a presidential candidate, prosecutors said. Special Counsel David Weiss said Smirnov’s lies were aimed at affecting the 2024 presidential election. 

Smirnov is charged with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record. The charges were filed in Los Angeles, where he lived for 16 years before relocating to Las Vegas two years ago.

Smirnov was due in court later Tuesday in Las Vegas. He has been in custody at a facility in rural Pahrump, about an hour drive west of Las Vegas, since his arrest last week at the airport while returning from overseas.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts allowed Smirnov to be released from custody on electronic GPS monitoring while he awaits trial. He must stay in Clark County, Nevada, and is prohibited from applying for a new passport.

Before his arrest, Smirnov had been scheduled to leave the U.S. for a months-long, multi-country trip that – by his own admission – involved meetings with officials of foreign intelligence agencies and governments, prosecutors said. 

Ahead of Tuesday's hearing, Defense attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld had argued for Smirnov's release while he awaits trial "so he can effectively fight the power of the government."

Smirnov's claims have been central to the Republican effort in Congress to investigate the president and his family, and helped spark what is now a House impeachment inquiry into Biden. Democrats called for an end to the probe after the indictment came down last week, while Republicans distanced the inquiry from Smirnov's claims and said they would continue to "follow the facts."

Hunter Biden is expected to give a deposition next week.

The Burisma allegations became a flashpoint in Congress as Republicans pursuing investigations of President Biden and his family demanded the FBI release the unredacted form documenting the allegations. They acknowledged they couldn't confirm if the allegations were true.

Fox News' David Spunt and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Texas AG Ken Paxton sues 5 cities over marijuana amnesty policies, cites drug’s reported links to ‘psychosis’

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed lawsuits against five Texas cities – Austin, Denton, San Marcos, Killeen and Elgin – over their marijuana amnesty and non-prosecution policies. 

The litigation charges that the five municipalities adopted ordinances or policies instructing police not to enforce Texas drug laws concerning possession and distribution of marijuana, which the state attorney general's office describes as "an illicit substance that psychologists have increasingly linked to psychosis and other negative consequences."

"I will not stand idly by as cities run by pro-crime extremists deliberately violate Texas law and promote the use of illicit drugs that harm our communities," Paxton said in a statement Wednesday. "This unconstitutional action by municipalities demonstrates why Texas must have a law to ‘follow the law.’ It’s quite simple: the legislature passes every law after a full debate on the issues, and we don’t allow cities the ability to create anarchy by picking and choosing the laws they enforce."

The ordinances notably prevent city funds from going toward or personnel from even testing suspected marijuana seized by police officers, with limited exceptions. 

The attorney general's office said Paxton "remains committed to maintaining law and order in Texas when cities violate the lawful statutes designed to protect the public from crime, drugs, and violence. He continues to seek accountability for the rogue district attorneys whose abuse of prosecutorial discretion has contributed to a deadly national crimewave." 


The lawsuits stress that Texas Local Government Code forbids any political subdivision from adopting "a policy under which the entity will not fully enforce laws relating to drugs." Further, the Texas Constitution notes that it is unlawful for municipalities to adopt ordinances that are inconsistent with the laws enacted by the Texas Legislature (Article 9, Section 5). 

Namely, with the Democratically-run city of Austin, Paxton's lawsuit takes issue with an order that became effective on July 3, 2020, instructing the Austin Police Department not to make an arrest or issue a citation for marijuana possession unless in the investigation of a violent felony or high priority felony-level narcotics case. 

A ballot measure known as Proposition A to further eliminate low-level marijuana enforcement later won the vote in 2022, and the City Council codified it into law as the Austin Freedom Act. 

In addition to limiting police from filing marijuana possession charges unless they come as part of a high-level probe or at the direction of a commander, the measure also states that no city funds or personnel shall be used to request, conduct, or obtain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) testing of any cannabis-related substance, except in some limited circumstances. It adds the caveat that the prohibition shall not limit the ability of police to conduct toxicology testing to ensure public safety, nor shall it limit THC testing for the purpose of any violent felony charge.


Austin, Denton, San Marcos, Killeen and Eligin are all considered "home-rule" jurisdictions, meaning they have the "full power of self-government" and do not need grants from the state legislature to enact local ordinances.

In Killeen, located next to the once embattled Fort Hood, since renamed Fort Cavazos, voters approved a Proposition A of their own in 2022. 

It similarly states that officers should not make arrests for marijuana possession or drug residue alone. If there is probable cause to believe a substance is marijuana, officers can seize the substance. But the ordinance requires that police then also write a detailed report and release the individual if possession of marijuana is the sole charge. 

In Denton, located in the Dallas Fort-Worth metro area, another similar measure enacted by City Council known as Proposition B says officers cannot issue citations or make arrests for Class A or B misdemeanor marijuana possession. Elgin, considered a suburb of Austin, and San Marcos, which sits on the corridor between Austin and San Antonio, also both adopted similar ordinances designed to stifle marijuana enforcement in conflict with state law, according to Paxton's lawsuits.

The litigation comes after headline-making news out of California, where a judge recently ruled a woman who stabbed her boyfriend 108 times before slicing her own neck as police tried to stop her will not serve any prison time because she had fallen into a pot-fueled psychosis after getting high on drugs at the time. 

Though unrelated, the marijuana lawsuits were filed just a day after the Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to temporarily halt Paxton's scheduled testimony in a whistleblower lawsuit that was at the heart of the impeachment charges brought against him in 2023, delaying what could have been the Republican’s first sworn statements on corruption allegations. 

NRA prepares for legal battles against blue state governor ‘torching the Constitution’ with gun control

New Mexico is kicking off its 2024 legislative term with a number of gun control bills that the NRA is already teeing up to battle in court, Fox News Digital has learned. 

"Extremist Governor Lujan Grisham and her allies have unleashed a barrage of gun control proposals that punish the lawful … while ignoring criminals. Last year, Lujan Grisham effectively suspended the Second Amendment by denying citizens their right to carry and self-defense," NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) Executive Director Randy Kozuch told Fox News Digital. 

"Now, she's doubling down on her attacks, effectively torching the Constitution with her latest gun control insanity."

Lujan Grisham held her State of the State address Tuesday afternoon and called for the passage of a gun safety package she said would better protect residents from crime and violence, especially children. 


"I'm calling for a gun safety package. It bans assault weapons, raises the legal purchase for all guns to 21, institutes a 14-day waiting period, increasing penalties for felons in possession of a firearm, keeps guns out of parks and playgrounds and allows law enforcement officers to now file extreme risk protection orders," Lujan Grisham said Tuesday.

"I want to be very clear: No responsible gun owner should be punished or prevented from exercising their right. And no child should ever be put in danger by a weapon of war, especially one wielded by a person who can't pass a background check or can't wait two weeks to get a firearm." 


Lujan Grisham's remarks came after the governor was repeatedly interrupted by protesters with videos on social media showing protesters wearing "cease-fire now" shirts, referring to the war in Israel. 

There are six gun control bills filed in the state House and Senate this legislative season and an "assault weapons ban" that has not yet been introduced but is detailed in a recent press release from the governor as a bill aimed at regulating "the manufacture, possession and sale of weapons of war, most often the gun used in mass casualty event." 

Lujan Grisham announced her "public safety legislative agenda" last week, which she described as the "largest" safety package in New Mexico history, while pinning blame on gun violence for recent crime trends. 

"This is, without a doubt, the largest and most comprehensive public safety package in our state’s history," Lujan Grisham said last week of the package, according to a press release. "Gun violence is a significant contributor to the cycles of crime in our communities, and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to end this epidemic. 

"Likewise, we will strengthen our support for law enforcement, increase penalties for violent crimes and, once again, pursue legislation to keep violent offenders behind bars pending trial. All of this will build upon the progress and investments we’ve made in previous years."


In the New Mexico House, four bills have already been filed, including House Bill 27, which would expand the state’s red flag confiscation laws to allow law enforcement and health officials to report a person’s potentially harmful behavior, which could require the individual to surrender guns to authorities. 

House Bill 114, if passed, would allow the New Mexico attorney general or local district attorneys to file lawsuits against the gun industry for injunctive relief and civil penalties. 


The other two bills, House Bill 127 and House Bill 129, would prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing and possessing a semi-automatic weapon and increase the waiting period on gun purchases to 14 business days, respectively. The NRA-ILA notes on its website that if House Bill 129 passes, New Mexico would have the longest gun purchase waiting period in the nation. 

The Senate has introduced its own version of a bill that would impose a 14-business day waiting period on gun purchases and a bill that would impose an 11% excise tax on guns, gun parts, suppressors and ammunition. The tax bill, styled after a similar California law that takes effect later this year, would collect the tax from gun retailers and place the funds in a victims reparation fund and a fund for abused children and families. 


"As a clear enemy of the Second Amendment and our self-defense rights, Governor Lujan Grisham is already being challenged by the NRA in the New Mexico Supreme Court. We remain on the front lines, ready to combat each and every one of her new oppressive gun control measures. The NRA stands with freedom-loving New Mexicans against Lujan Grisham's assault," Kozuch said. 

Lujan Grisham came under fierce condemnation last year after signing an emergency public health order that temporarily suspended open and concealed carry across Albuquerque and the surrounding county. 


The NRA responded with a lawsuit in the state's Supreme Court, arguing the order was unconstitutional, which earned unanimous support from GOP state House and Senate members and retired law enforcement officers, the Republican Party of New Mexico and the Libertarian Party of New Mexico.

As the number of lawsuits increased over the order, New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez, a Democrat, distanced himself from the governor, telling her he would not defend her administration in court. Other Democrats also spoke critically of the measure, as did gun control activist and Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg.

Lujan Grisham said when she announced the order she anticipated legal challenges and raised eyebrows over her remarks on the Constitution. 

"No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is intended to be absolute," Lujan Grisham responded to a reporter in September when asked whether it’s "unconstitutional" to prevent Americans from exercising their right to bear arms.

Texas AG Ken Paxton, wife targeted by home ‘swatting’ on New Year’s Day

FIRST ON FOX: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his wife are the latest elected Republicans to fall victim to "swatting" after a false report using their home's address was made to authorities.

Addressing the swatting incident in a statement to Fox News Digital, Paxton and his wife, Texas state Sen. Angela Paxton, said they were not at their McKinney home on New Year's Day when first responders arrived on the scene. The couple described the false report to police as being a "life-threatening" situation.

"On New Year’s Day, a currently unidentified caller made a false report to 911 describing a life-threatening situation at our home in McKinney," the couple said. "As a result, the City of McKinney Police and Fire Departments quickly and bravely responded to what they believed could be a dangerous environment. We were not home at the time and were made aware of the false report when a state trooper, who was contacted by McKinney police, informed us of the incident."

"Making false reports to 911 is a crime which should be vigorously prosecuted when this criminal is identified. These fake calls divert resources from actual emergencies and crimes and could endanger our first responders," the couple continued. "We are grateful for the bravery and professionalism of the men and women serving in the McKinney police and fire departments."


"It is also important to acknowledge that this 'swatting' incident happened weeks after the disgraced Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, his lieutenants, and the Dallas Morning News doxed our family by publicly posting our address," they added. "We understand some people may not agree with our strong conservative efforts to secure the border, prevent election fraud, and protect our constitutional liberties, but compromising the effectiveness and safety of law enforcement is completely unacceptable."

The McKinney Police Department did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment on the matter.

"Swatting" is a crime that has become prominent in recent years, gaining more steam in the social media age when people's addresses are easily accessible.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told Fox News Digital recently that swatting is a crime that could be "charged as a form of criminal threats."

"Swatting constitutes a false police report that can be criminally charged," Turley said. "Virginia recently passed a new law making swatting specifically a criminal misdemeanor. It can also be charged as a form of criminal threats."

The incident involving Paxton comes after three Republican lawmakers – Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene of Georgia, and Rep. Brandon Williams of New York – reported "swatting" incidents at their homes after the Christmas holiday.

"This is a crime that flourishes because there is insufficient deterrent," Turley added. "The anonymity and rare prosecutions combine to fuel this form of criminal harassment. … There is no mystery to how to address these crimes. There must be greater detection and penalties to achieve deterrence."

The crime targets an individual by calling in a false police report for a violent crime — such as a murder, a hostage situation or other crimes that would require a greater law enforcement response — to the home of the target.

The goal of the false police report is to elicit a SWAT team response by the police to the target's home. Consequently, swatting draws police resources away from real crimes while the state becomes the unwitting arm to terrorize a person at their own home.


Greene, who has been a victim of the move multiple times herself, announced last week on X that she would be "introducing legislation to make it much easier for law enforcement to arrest and prosecutors to prosecute these criminals" who engage in the false reports.

Over the course of the last year, Paxton has faced an onslaught of accusations from officials in the state, primarily Texas Democrats, who have accused the attorney general of being unfit for office.

Last May, the Texas House of Representatives voted to impeach Paxton over charges of bribery, disregard of official duties and abuse of public trust after hours of debate in an afternoon session – sending the case to the state Senate. The Texas Senate, however, acquitted Paxton of all impeachment articles filed against him for corruption and unfitness for office in September 2023.

Though there was support for impeachment on both sides of the aisle, votes to convict on each charge did not clear the required 21-vote threshold in the Senate. Republican Sens. Robert Nichols and Kelly Hancock joined all 12 Democrats to vote in favor of conviction on several charges.

"Today, the truth prevailed. The truth could not be buried by mudslinging politicians or their powerful benefactors," Paxton said in a statement at the time, thanking his supporters after the verdict was delivered. "The sham impeachment coordinated by the Biden Administration with liberal House Speaker Dade Phelan and his kangaroo court has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, disrupted the work of the Office of Attorney General and left a dark and permanent stain on the Texas House."

"Now that this shameful process is over, my work to defend our constitutional rights will resume. Thank you to everyone who has stood with us during this time," he added.

Prior to his acquittal, Paxton faced accusations that he misused his political power to help real estate developer Nate Paul. Paxton's opponents have argued that the attorney general accepted a bribe by hiring Paul.

Paxton was also previously indicted in June for allegedly making false statements to banks.


Paxton, who was suspended from office pending the trial's outcome, was not required to attend the proceedings. Paxton's wife, who has represented the state's eight district in the Senate since 2019, was required to be present for the whole trial but was prohibited from participating in debate or voting on the outcome of her husband's trial.

Paxton, who previously served as a member of both the Texas House and Senate, was first elected to serve as the Lone Star State's attorney general in 2014. He was re-elected to the position in 2018 and 2022.

Fox News' Chris Pandolfo, Houston Keene, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

How recent ‘swatting’ calls targeting officials may prompt heavier penalties for hoax police calls

ATLANTA (AP) — A spate of false reports of shootings at the homes of public officials in recent days could be setting the stage for stricter penalties against so-called swatting in more states.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Georgia U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost have been among the victims.


Several Georgia lawmakers targeted say they want increased penalties for swatting, like laws enacted this year in Ohio and Virginia. Similar bills are pending in other states and Congress.

Here's a look at the issue and what could be done about it:


Swatting is the act of making a prank call to emergency services to prompt a response at a particular address. The goal is to get authorities, particularly a SWAT team, to show up.

Calls in multiple states in recent days featured the voice of a man calling himself "Jamal," claiming he had shot his wife because she was sleeping with another man and saying he was holding the boyfriend hostage, demanding $10,000.

Two Ohio lawmakers said they thought they were targeted recently for helping pass a law making swatting a felony in the state.

Georgia state Sen. Clint Dixon said the incident at his house in Buford on Christmas evening was "quite startling" for himself, his wife and three children.

"I was watching a little football and my wife was upstairs packing for a trip, and all of a sudden, I heard her, you know, start yelling, ‘There’s police running at the door.’ She saw on our Ring doorbell," he told WABE.


A man in New York called the Georgia suicide hotline just before 11 a.m. Monday, claiming that he had shot his girlfriend at Greene’s home in Rome, Georgia, and was going to kill himself next, said Kelly Madden, the Rome police spokesperson. The call was quickly transferred to police when suicide hotline responders recognized the congresswoman’s address.

The department said it contacted Greene’s private security detail to confirm she was safe and that there was no emergency. The call was then determined to be a swatting attempt so the response was canceled while police were on the way. Greene has been the subject of multiple swatting attempts.

Scott wrote on X that police were sent to his home in Naples, Florida, while he and his wife were out at dinner on Wednesday night. Police said they met Scott’s private security service at the home, but didn’t find anything out of place.

"These criminals wasted the time & resources of our law enforcement in a sick attempt to terrorize my family," Scott wrote.

In Boston, a male caller claimed on Monday that he had shot his wife and had tied her and another man up at Wu’s home. The Democratic mayor said she was surprised to open the door and see flashing lights, but said her home has been targeted by multiple swatting calls since she took office in 2021.

"For better or worse, my family are a bit used to it by now, and we have a good system with the department," Wu told WBUR.

Also targeted have been a Republican congressman from New York, Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and a former state senator in Nebraska. Dixon was among four Georgia state senators who were recently swatted. In Ohio, a total of three current or former state lawmakers were affected.

Jones said his home in a small town south of Atlanta was swatted on Wednesday, only to have a bomb threat called in on Thursday.

"Thankfully everyone is safe, and I commend our local law enforcement officers for their professionalism," Jones wrote on X. "Let me be clear — I will not be intimidated by those attempting to silence me," Jones wrote on X We will put an end to this madness.


Hundreds of cases of swatting occur annually, with some using caller ID spoofing to disguise their number. And those targeted extend far beyond public officials.

Police in Lincoln, Nebraska, told KETV-TV that they had handled three swatting calls in the same 48-hour period in which they went to the unoccupied home of former state Sen. Adam Morfeld.

The FBI said earlier this year that it had created a national database in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies to track swatting incidents nationwide. Police had for months reported a huge surge in fake claims about active shooters at schools and colleges. There have also been reports of hundreds of swatting incidents and bomb threats against synagogues and other Jewish institutions since the Israel-Hamas war began.

The Anti-Defamation League estimates that by 2019 there were more than 1,000 incidents of swatting nationwide each year. That group says each incident can costs taxpayers thousands of dollars in emergency response costs.


Such calls have proven dangerous and even outright deadly.

In 2017, a police officer in Wichita, Kansas, shot and killed a man while responding to a hoax emergency call. Earlier this year, the city agreed to pay $5 million to settle a related lawsuit, with the money to go to the two children of 28-year-old Andrew Finch.

In 2015, police in Maryland shot a 20-year-old man in the face with rubber bullets after a fake hostage situation was reported at his home.

In addition to putting innocent people at risk, police and officials say they worry about diverting resources from real emergencies.


Police are investigating the recent threats. No arrests have yet been reported.

Ohio earlier this year made it a felony offense to report a false emergency that prompts response by law enforcement. And Virginia increased the penalties for swatting to up to 12 months in jail.

Dixon, the Georgia state senator, said in a statement he planned to introduce a bill during the upcoming legislative session to strengthen penalties for false reporting and misuse of police forces.

"This issue goes beyond politics — it’s about public safety and preserving the integrity of our institutions," he said.

Jones, the Georgia lieutenant governor, promised "an end to this madness" after his home in a small town south of Atlanta was swatted on Wednesday, only to have a bomb threat called in to his office on Thursday.

"Let me be clear — I will not be intimidated by those attempting to silence me," Jones wrote on X.

Hunter Biden’s attorney claims indictments would not have been brought if he was not related to the president

Hunter Biden's attorney said Thursday that his client would not be facing charges out of Delaware and California if he was not President Biden's son, saying the charges would not be brought if his last name was "anything other than Biden."

Earlier Thursday, Hunter Biden was indicted in California on nine tax charges over $1.4 million in taxes he owed between 2016 and 2019. Special Counsel David Weiss has been using a federal grand jury in Los Angeles to gather evidence of possible criminal tax charges against Hunter Biden.

The charging documents filed in California accuse Hunter Biden of spending money on personal expenses including drugs, luxury hotels and exotic cars. "[I]n short, everything but his taxes," prosecutors wrote.

If convicted, Hunter Biden could face up to 17 years in prison.


This comes after Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty in October to federal gun charges in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in connection with Weiss' years-long investigation.

"Based on the facts and the law, if Hunter’s last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware, and now California, would not have been brought," defense attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement. "First, U.S. Attorney Weiss bowed to Republican pressure to file unprecedented and unconstitutional gun charges to renege on a non-prosecution resolution. Now, after five years of investigating with no new evidence -- and two years after Hunter paid his taxes in full -- the U.S. Attorney has piled on nine new charges when he had agreed just months ago to resolve this matter with a pair of misdemeanors."

"I wrote U.S. Attorney Weiss days ago seeking a customary meeting to discuss this investigation," he continued. "The response was media leaks today that these charges were being filed. All these issues will now be addressed in various courts, the first to occur this Monday when the prosecutors knew our motions to dismiss their first set of questionable charges would be filed."

Lowell said all of Hunter Biden’s back taxes were paid in full more than two years ago and that he has since been up-to-date with his filings and taxes. Lowell also said his client was suffering from a serious drug addiction during the period of unpaid taxes.


Additionally, Lowell pointed out that millions of Americans fail to file or pay their taxes on time each year and that it is uncommon for someone to be charged for not filing or paying their taxes on time. Lowell said it is especially rare for a person who paid the taxes, interest and penalty afterward to be charged.

Thursday's indictment comes ahead of an expected vote from House Republican leaders next week to formally initiate an impeachment inquiry into President Biden over possible ties to his son's overseas business dealings. The White House has maintained that President Biden had no knowledge of his son's business dealings.

House Republicans have also said they would move to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress if he does not appear for a closed-door deposition on Dec. 13. But Hunter Biden has said he would only testify before the House if it is in public because information from closed-door testimonies is selectively leaked and used to "manipulate, even history, the facts and misinform the American public."

Report shows blue counties have higher murder rate than red, calls out ‘flawed’ studies promoted by top Dems

FIRST ON FOX: A report from the Heritage Foundation shows that homicide rates have been higher in Democrat-run "blue counties" than they have been in "red counties" since 2002 – contradicting a popular talking point recited by prominent liberals like California Gov. Gavin Newsom and billionaire George Soros.

Newsom has publicly stated that "8 of the top 10 murder states are red" while liberal mega-donor Soros wrote in the Wall Street Journal last year that "violent crime in recent years has generally been increasing more quickly in jurisdictions without reform-minded prosecutors" and "murder rates have been rising fastest in some Republican states led by tough-on-crime politicians."

The problem, according to Heritage Foundation’s Kevin Dayaratna, who authored the report along with former research assistant Alexander Gage, is that studies cited by Democrats to make that argument – including a recent study from Third Way titled "The Two-Decade Red State Murder Problem" – use a "flawed" methodology because crime is a local issue and, therefore, crime analysis must be undertaken at the local level.

"It is true that red states have higher homicide rates than blue states, but the problem with this is that crime is a hyper-localized phenomenon," Dayaratna told Fox News Digital. "It doesn't make sense to talk about at the state level. It makes sense to talk about at the local level because that's where the prosecutions occur. The local level crime is handled at the local level by local police, so when you look at this question on a local basis, namely the county level, you'll see that the trend is reversed."


"If you look at the analysis on a state-by-state level, it's 34% higher in red states and blue states, according to the most recent data we analyzed, but then when you look at it as a county-by-county level, it is 60% higher in blue counties than red counties."

The study says that "drawing conclusions from state-level homicide data in such a manner is flawed, as each state consists of a combination of federal, state, county, and local law enforcement agencies, as well as prosecutors with different approaches to law enforcement often based on highly divergent political beliefs."

"Violations of state law are prosecuted largely at the county or city level and, thus, amalgamating data across such units neglects important variation in these different approaches," the study continues.

"Looking at homicide rates by county, states show skewed distributions with many counties having little or no homicides, and a handful of counties with excessively high homicide rates. Thus, state homicide rates can be heavily influenced by a few counties. When those counties have different politics from the rest of the state, it can flip the conclusion about the association between political identifications and homicides."

Dayaratna also told Fox News Digital that Third Way’s conclusion that homicide rates are higher in red states is flawed because it did not update the changes in red states and blue states, in terms of how they shifted in presidential elections over the past 20 years, when compiling the data.


"Third Way held ‘red’ states and ‘blue’ states constant in terms of how they voted in the 2020 presidential election. This approach is fundamentally flawed because electoral sentiment changed across the time period used for the study," the report states.

"For example, although President Biden won Arizona in 2020, the previous Democrat who won the state was Bill Clinton in 1996. Similarly, Donald Trump won Florida in both 2016 and 2020, despite the fact that Barack Obama had won the state in 2008 and 2012."


Dayaratna said that between 2002 and 2008, there was an 88% higher rate of homicide in blue counties than red counties and between 2014 and 2022 there was a 62% increase.

"It is undoubtable that this blue county murder problem has been persisting for quite some time," Dayaratna told Fox News Digital. "And it is quite disingenuous for the Third Way to just present the data as they did. We analyze it from a variety of perspectives at the Heritage Foundation. And we wanted to make sure we put out the proper story."

Last year, Dayaratna partnered with fellow Heritage scholars Cully Stimson and Zack Smith and released a study showing that of the 30 American cities with the highest murder rates, 27 have Democratic mayors, and at least 14 Soros-backed prosecutors.

A spokesperson for Third Way told Fox News Digital that "data is missing or suppressed for many suburban and rural counties, making a complete county-level analysis impossible. But to test a prevalent narrative, we removed the county containing the largest city from only the red states and we found that even after removing the murders from the biggest cities in red states, red state murder rates were still significantly higher than in blue states, which were given no similar advantage."

In response to not updating the electoral map, the spokesperson said they "chose an approach that categorized states consistently across all 21 years" and that "including electoral changes would only increase red state murder rates."

A spokesperson for Newsom's office told Fox News Digital that Newsom has cited more localized crime studies in the past and pointed to a specific interview where he did so in September. 

Hunter Biden sues Rudy Giuliani over laptop, accuses ex-Trump lawyer of ‘hacking’

Hunter Biden on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani alleging the former President Trump lawyer violated his privacy rights by illegally disseminating content from Biden's infamous laptop.

The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California states Giuliani is "primarily responsible" for the "total annihilation" of Biden's digital privacy. It also names Robert Costello, a former federal prosecutor who previously represented Giuliani, as a defendant, Fox News has confirmed. 

"For the past many months and even years, Defendants have dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and energy toward looking for, hacking into, tampering with, manipulating, copying, disseminating, and generally obsessing over data that they were given that was taken or stolen from Plaintiff's devices or storage platforms, including what Defendants claim to have obtained from Plaintiff's alleged ‘laptop’ computer," Biden's attorneys wrote in the complaint, claiming that the data was not even from a "laptop," but from an "external drive."

The contents of this "external drive" include pictures, videos, emails and other data that since their initial publication by the New York Post in 2020, have paced Biden in legal jeopardy and caused political problems for this father, President Biden.


Giuliani and Costello have openly acknowledged that they obtained copies of files from a hard drive device that Biden allegedly left at a Delaware computer repair shop in 2019. Giuliani provided that information to the Post in October 2020, which published a story based on Hunter Biden's emails that implicated President Biden in a business deal with a Ukrainian company that had hired Hunter on its board. 

House Republicans have launched an impeachment inquiry into President Biden based on claims that he used his position, then as vice president, to deter Ukrainian prosecutors from investigating the company that his son worked for. GOP lawmakers further allege, based on their follow-up investigations, that the president was involved in several business deals arranged by his son Hunter. 

The president has repeatedly denied any involvement in his son's business dealings.


Hunter Biden's attorneys previously issued cease-and-desist letters to Giuliani and others who obtained and disseminated the laptop's contents.

The lawsuit seeks a court order to prevent Giuliani and others from accessing, tampering with, manipulating or copying Biden's data and have them return the "device/hard drive" to Biden, along with any backup files, cloud files or copies of the same data.

Neither attorneys for Hunter Biden nor a representative for Giuliani immediately responded to a request for comment. 

The lawsuit filed Tuesday is the latest effort from Biden and his lawyers to hit back after leaks of the information catapulted his sordid private life onto the front page of many conservative media outlets.


Earlier this month, the president's son sued former President Trump aide Garrett Ziegler, alleging that Ziegler and his company spread "tens of thousands of emails, thousands of photos, and dozens of videos and recordings" that were considered "pornographic" from the device.

In March, Biden initiated a countersuit asserting that the Wilmington, Delaware, computer repair shop owner, John Paul Mac Isaac, had unlawfully disseminated Biden's personal information, and leveled six invasion of privacy charges against him. Mac Isaac first filed a lawsuit against the president’s son — as well as CNN, Politico, and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.— in October 2022 for defamation.

According to Mac Isaac, Biden did not return for the laptop within three months after dropping it off, and he could not be reached. He then alerted the FBI after seeing emails illustrating information about then-Vice President Joe Biden’s purported foreign business dealings and videos of Biden taking drugs and performing sex acts with prostitutes.

Before federal agents picked up the device, Mac Isaac made a copy of its hard drive and gave it to Giuliani the following year.

Biden was expected to plead guilty in July to two misdemeanor tax counts of willful failure to pay federal income tax as part of a plea deal to avoid jail time on a felony gun charge. Instead, he pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and one felony gun charge last month.

Fox News' Jamie Joseph contributed to this report.