Ron DeSantis

'It's Over': Fresh Setbacks Seem To Doom Faltering DeSantis Campaign

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies continue to hope that he will be able to turn his struggling presidential campaign around, but some recent disappointments don't give the far-right governor much reason for optimism.

DeSantis' campaign suffered a major disappointment when billionaire Charles Koch's right-wing political network officially endorsed his 2024 GOP primary rival Nikki Haley, arguing that she is the candidate best equipped to overtake Donald Trump as the primary's frontrunner.

On top of that, the Washington Post reports, DeSantis' campaign has been suffering from "internal disputes."

"Ron DeSantis' presidential bid is facing extraordinary turmoil approximately six weeks before the Iowa Caucuses, with internal disputes erupting into public view as Republicans increasingly pin their hopes of stopping Donald Trump on a rival contender," according to Post reporters Hannah Knowles, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey.

A source described by the Post as someone "close to" DeSantis is doubtful that his campaign will recover. The source, interviewed on condition of anonymity, told the Post, "People increasingly think it's over. It's a dumpster fire."

The New York Times also reported Friday that Adam Laxalt, who is the chairman of his super PAC "Never Back Down," is stepping away from his position. This marks the second major departure from the PAC, with chief executive Chris Jankowski suddenly resigning prior to Thanksgiving. Laxalt's departure is arguably even more jarring, as he had known DeSantis ever since the two lived together when DeSantis was a naval officer.

"After nearly 26 straight months of being in a full-scale campaign, I need to return my time and attention to my family and law practice," Laxalt wrote in his resignation letter, adding that he was still supporting the Florida governor's bid for the presidency.

DeSantis' poll numbers have been sliding over the past few months, with RealClearPolitics' national polling average showing his lead over the other non-Trump candidates effectively evaporating between mid-September and mis-November. Haley has overtaken DeSantis as the number two Republican in New Hampshire, and the former South Carolina governor is gaining on him in Iowa. The Iowa caucuses will take place on January 15, 2024.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

James Comer

Why The House GOP's Hunter Biden Probe Is Backfiring Hugely

With 2024 GOP presidential frontrunner facing four criminal indictments and a variety of civil lawsuits, right-wing media outlets and MAGA conspiracy theorists have been claiming that President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden is the real legal story. But legal experts have responded that there is no evidence showing the type of criminal conspiracy within the Biden family that Trump's supporters are alleging.

House Republicans have subpoenaed Hunter Biden to testify during a closed-door deposition on December 13 — and he was quick to respond that yes, he'll be there.

In an op-ed published on November 29, MSNBC's Hayes Brown argues that if Biden's testimony makes anyone look bad, it will most likely be House Republicans.

"Rather than fight the subpoena," Brown observes, "Hunter Biden appears eager, maybe too eager, to appear before the GOP-led panel. In a letter from his lawyer on Tuesday, Biden not only agreed to testify, but to do so in an open committee session. And in his response, Oversight Committee Chair Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., made clear how caught off guard he was — and how unprepared he is to back up his tough talk in public."

Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden's lawyer, told Comer, "Your fishing expedition has become Captain Ahab chasing the great white whale."

"Demanding a public hearing is a dramatic and potential fraught play from Lowell, who has been spearheading an aggressive counteroffensive strategy for his client," Brown notes. "Could such a hearing be embarrassing for Hunter Biden? Yes, definitely. It's a chance for Republicans to bring up the very public scandals he's been linked to and the personal demons that have haunted (him)…. And yet, despite those risks, Lowell in his letter is clearly ready to call Comer's bluff."

Brown continues, "And as he noted, history is on his side in this case. The scramble for Republicans to find something impeachment-worthy to use against Biden has been an absolute circus…. But based on what we've seen so far, it seems more likely that any trap that gets sprung would be ACME-branded and backfire completely on the hapless coyote — er, I mean Comer — who set it."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Letitia James

Trump Lawyers Intensify Personal Attacks On New York Judge's Clerk

Former President Donald Trump and his legal team are fighting two separate gag orders — one imposed by Judge Tanya Chutkan in special counsel Jack Smith's election interference case, the other by Justice Arthur Engoron in New York State Attorney General Letitia James' civil fraud case.

In a report published by The Messenger on November 27, journalist Adam Klasfeld reports that one of the tactics being used by Trump attorneys to fight the civil fraud gag order has been attacking a top Engoron clerk — a tactic they have doubled down on. Trump's lawyers claim that the clerk is a "partisan" who can't be objective in the case.

"On Monday, Trump's attorney Clifford Robert asked New York's Appellate Division, First Department to permanently overturn the gag orders — which bar attacks on Engoron's staff, but not the judge himself," Klasfeld explains. "Engoron justified the orders to protect the safety of his staff, noting that 'hundreds of harassing and threatening phone calls, voicemails, e-mails, letters and packages' have poured into chambers since trial began.'"

Klasfeld adds, "In a sworn affirmation, a court security officer disclosed some of the antisemitic threats Engoron and his clerk have received since trial began."

According to Klaswell, the "court security officer observed that the threats against the clerk spike after Trump attacks her on social media and ebbed during the period the former president was gagged." Robert maintains, however, that "it bears repeating that President Trump and his counsel have never called for violence" against Engoron's clerk.

"Engoron issued the gag order on the second day of trial after Trump baselessly accused the clerk on social media of being the 'girlfriend' of married Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader," Shapiro explains. "The judge ordered Trump to delete the 'untrue' and 'disparaging' post — and then issued the initial gag order after the former president complied. Trump has been found in violation of the gag order twice since that time, racking up $15,000 in fines in total, which are also under appeal."

In the civil fraud lawsuit, James alleges that Trump and the Trump Organization seriously exaggerated the value of their real estate assets. Engoron agreed with James in a ruling, and the bench trial that's presently taking place will determine the type of sanctions that Trump and his company will face.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Brain Drain: Why Smarter Workers Are Fleeing Red States For Blue

Many liberal and progressive pundits have been predicting a "brain drain" from red states — skillful, college-educated doctors, university professors and teachers leaving because of oppressive MAGA policies. OB-GYNs are worried about draconian anti-abortion laws; teachers and librarians are under attack from the far-right Moms for Liberty.

The New Republic's Timothy Noah, in an article published on November 22, emphasizes that the "brain drain" from red states isn't something that may or may not happen in the future — it's already underway.

"Republican-dominated states are pushing out young professionals by enacting extremist conservative policies," Noah reports. "Abortion restrictions are the most sweeping example, but state laws restricting everything from academic tenure to transgender health care to the teaching of 'divisive concepts' about race are making these states uncongenial to knowledge workers."

Noah continues, "The precise effect of all this on the brain drain is hard to tease out from migration statistics because the Dobbs decision is still fairly new, and because red states were bleeding college graduates even before the culture war heated up. The only red state that brings in more college graduates than it sends elsewhere is Texas, but the evidence is everywhere that hard-right social policies in red states are making this dynamic worse."

Noah cites specific examples, including doctors Kate Arnold and Caroline Flint — a same-sex married couple who left deep red Oklahoma and moved to Washington, D.C. to get away from Republican anti-abortion and anti-contraception activities as well as book bans in their former state

"Kate Arnold and Caroline Flint are two bright, energetic, professionally trained, and public-spirited women whom Washington is happy to welcome — they both quickly found jobs —even though it doesn't particularly need them," Noah explains. "The places that need Kate and Caroline are Oklahoma and Mississippi and Idaho and various other conservative states where similar stories are playing out daily. These two fortyish doctors have joined an out-migration of young professionals — accelerated by the culture wars of recent years and pushed to warp speed by Dobbs — that's known as the Red State Brain Drain."

School teacher Tyler Hallstedt, according to Noah, left Tennessee for Michigan because of GOP education policies. And teachers in Texas, Noah notes, have been "quitting at a rate that's 25 percent above the national average," while South Carolina has "teacher shortages in 17 subject areas this school year, more than any other state."

"With the sole exception of Texas," Noah explains, "red states are bleeding college graduates. It's happening even in relatively prosperous Florida. And much as Republicans may scorn Joe and Jane College, they need them to deliver their babies, to teach their children, to pay taxes — college grads pay more than twice as much in taxes — and to provide a host of other services that only people with undergraduate or graduate degrees are able to provide. Red states should be welcoming Kate and Caroline and Tyler and Delana. Instead, they're driving them away, and that's already costing them dearly."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Mike Johnson

How 'Fringe' Movements Shaped Mike Johnson's Far-Right Ideology

Christianity, like Islam and Judaism, has its moderates as well as its extreme fundamentalists. Christian nationalists are hardcore fundamentalists, promoting a severe form of Protestant Christianity that the Republican Party and the MAGA movement have aggressively promoted.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has a long history pushing Christian nationalism — a history that reporter Annika Brockschmidt examines in an article published by Religion Dispatches this month.

"Johnson is a white Christian nationalist — and a true believer at that — part of a growing number who see right-wing reactionary Christianity, white supremacy, and authoritarian politics as an integral part of 'real' American identity," Brockschmidt explains. "Those who do not fall under it must submit, or be forced, if need be, through violence."

Before joining the House of Representatives, Johnson served in the Louisiana State Legislature. And before that, Brockschmidt notes, Johnson spent a decade as an attorney for the Christian Right group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

Brockschmidt reports, "The ADF advocates for the disenfranchisement of and discrimination against LGBTQ people and seeks to criminalize abortion — it was the driving force behind the fall of Roe v. Wade, which protected the right to abortion, last summer…. Indeed, Johnson has a long, well-documented history of bigoted views toward LGBTQ people."

The journalist adds, "In 2005, he claimed that domestic partnerships were not legitimate couples but 'same-sex, live-in lovers' and framed it as an attempt to impose homosexuality on Christians. Two years earlier, Johnson wrote an editorial calling for the criminalization of gay sex."

The House speaker's "fringe" views, according to Brockschmidt, also include "being influenced by Chistian reconstructionism" and "dominionism" — which dictate that only severe Christian fundamentalists should hold public office and that the United States was meant to be a strict theocracy.

"Further evidence that Johnson is deeply anti-democratic is his effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election," Brockschmidt warns. "Johnson, according to the New York Times, 'played a leading role in recruiting House Republicans to sign a brief in support of a lawsuit aimed at overturning the election results' in four contested swing states won by Biden — a swing that would have given the presidency to Trump.… And while the Supreme Court rejected the outrageous claim, this didn't stop Johnson from continuing to spread lies about the election being stolen."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Liz Cheney

New Book: 'Dismissive' McCarthy Blew Off Cheney's January 6 Warning

When Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) approached then-Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) during the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, Cheney — according to the Carol Leonnig/Philip Rucker book I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Yearangrily snapped at him, "Get away from me! You f****** did this."

Cheney and then-Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) went on to serve alongside Democrats on the January 6 Select Committee. Both of them forcefully pushed back against Trump's false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, and according to Kinzinger, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wanted Cheney to keep quiet about Trump in the days leading up the January 6 insurrection.

Kinzinger, according to the Guardian, discusses tensions between Cheney and McCarthy in his forthcoming book, Renegade: Defending Democracy and Liberty in Our Divided Country, due out October 31.

The Guardian's Martin Pengelly, noting that the publication has obtained a copy of Kinzinger's book, explains, "When Liz Cheney warned fellow Republicans five days before January 6 of a 'dark day' to come if they 'indulged in the fantasy' that they could overturn Donald Trump's defeat by Joe Biden, the then-House GOP leader, Kevin McCarthy, swiftly slapped her down…. Five days after Cheney delivered her warning on a Republican conference call, Trump supporters attacked Congress in an attempt to block certification of Biden's win."

In his book, Kinzinger writes, "After Liz spoke, McCarthy immediately told everyone who was listening, 'I just want to be clear: Liz doesn't speak for the conference. She speaks for herself.'"

Kinzinger slams McCarthy's statement as "unnecessary and disrespectful" in his book, adding, "It infuriated me."

According to Kinzinger, McCarthy's "rude and dismissive tone….. was typical of (his) style, which was notably juvenile."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Donald Trump

Trump Spending Tens Of Millions On Legal Bills As He Hoovers Up Donations

2024 GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is in a position that is unprecedented in U.S. history. He is facing four criminal indictments, yet appears to be on track to win his party's nomination: A Morning Consult poll released on October 17 finds Trump leading the primary's second-place candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by 45 percent.

In an article published on October 17, Associated Press (AP) reporters Richard Lardner, Trenton Daniel and Aaron Kessler stress that Trump is dealing with two major expenses at once: the expense of running a campaign, and a mountain of legal bills.

"Donald Trump's political fundraising machine is raking in donations at a prodigious pace," the AP reporters observe, "but he's spending tens of millions of dollars he's bringing in to pay attorneys to deal with the escalating costs of the various criminal cases he is contending with as he moves further into the 2024 presidential campaign."

The "massive amount of money going to" Trump's lawyers, according to the AP reporters, "amplifies the urgency Trump is feeling to raise money both for the campaign and his legal defense, which is unfolding on multiple fronts."

The journalists explain, "Trump's Save America political action committee has paid nearly $37 million to more than 60 law firms and individual attorneys since January 2022, Federal Election Commission records show. That amounts to more than half of the PAC's total expenditures, according to an Associated Press analysis of campaign finance filings, and represents a staggering sum compared to other political organizations."

Lardner, Daniel and Kessler add, "During the first half of 2023, Save America spent more on legal-related costs, over $20 million, than any other political committee that discloses to the FEC — more than the Republican National Committee, Democratic National Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee spent during that period combined."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Why Isn't The Press Focused On Trump's increasingly Violent Rhetoric?

Why Isn't The Press Focused On Trump's increasingly Violent Rhetoric?

After Target announced that it was closing nine stores because of crime, plenty of journalists and politicians — both liberal and conservative — argued that shoplifting in major cities was out of control and that police needed to crack down aggressively on shoplifters in order for retailers to stay in business.

They didn't advocate violence, but they called for shoplifting laws to be aggressively enforced. Former President Donald Trump, however, called for shoplifters to be shot and killed during a speech in California — where he also joked about a violent attack on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul Pelosi.

In an article published on October 5, Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi stresses that Trump's rhetoric has grown increasingly violent — and argues that major media outlets are underreporting this problem.

Farhi observes, "Trump's advocacy of extrajudicial killings was widely covered by newspapers and TV stations in California but generally ignored by the national press. No mainstream TV network carried his speech live or excerpted it later that night. CNN and MSNBC mentioned it during panel discussions over the next few days. The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NPR and PBS didn't report it at all. The New York Times wrote about it four days later, playing the story on Page 14 of its print edition."

The Post media reporter notes that Trump also recently suggested that former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley should be executed, adding that political journalist/author Brian Klaas has used the term "banality of crazy" to describe responses to the former president's violent rhetoric. In other words, Trump says so many outrageous things that, according to Klaas, people become desensitized to it.

The Bulwark's Charlie Sykes, a Never Trump conservative, told the Post, "If the former president of the United States endorses extrajudicial killings of shoplifters, and we have to ask 'Is that newsworthy?' we need to reevaluate what we regard as important.'"

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

FBI Agents Probe Justice Barrett's 'Christian' Cult Over Sex Abuse Charges

FBI Agents Probe Justice Barrett's 'Christian' Cult Over Sex Abuse Charges

When former President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020, her critics were disturbed by her association with People of Praise — a far-right Christian group that combines Catholicism with elements of evangelical fundamentalist Protestantism.

Barrett herself is Catholic, as are most members of People of Praise. But the group's practices are way outside the mainstream of Catholicism.

Now, according to The Guardian's Stephanie Kirchgaessner, the FBI is interviewing ex-members of the group in response to their sexual abuse allegations.

Kirchgaessner, in a report published on October 3, explains, "The individuals were contacted following a years-long effort by a group called PoP Survivors, who have called for the South Bend-based sect to be investigated for leaders' handling of sexual abuse allegations. The body, which has 54 members, has alleged that abuse claims were routinely mishandled or covered up for decades in order to protect the close-knit faith group."

The journalist adds, "It is not clear whether the FBI has launched a formal investigation into the PoP."

According to Kirchgaessner, the Guardian "has confirmed that at least five individuals were contacted by the FBI and four gave detailed accounts to agents of abusive behavior they allegedly experienced or witnessed."

Ken Paxton

Driven By Bribery And Bias, Paxton Acquittal Bitterly Splits Texas Republicans

On Saturday, September 16, far-right Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted on 16 articles of impeachment in the Texas Senate. Republicans have majorities in both branches of the Texas Legislature, but while he was indicted in the Texas House of Representatives, he was found "not guilty" during his trial in the Senate.

But Washington Post opinion writer Karen Tumulty, in her September 18 column, stresses that the bitter, ugly fight between pro-Paxton Republicans and anti-Paxton Republicans (including "Bush Republicans") is just beginning in Texas.

Paxton's attorney Tony Buzbee angrily declared, "Let it be known. Let it be clear now: the Bush era in Texas ends today" — a comment Tumulty describes as a "warning shot" and a "naked appeal to the tribalism that has reshaped the once-rational GOP in Texas."

"That the fix was in for the attorney general in the Senate probably should have been apparent back in July," Tumulty explains. "That's when a campaign finance report revealed that a pro-Paxton political action committee, known as the Defend Texas Liberty PAC, had donated $1 million and made an additional $2 million loan to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who would preside over the impeachment trial."

Tumulty adds, "Yes, you read that right: The person acting as judge took $3 million from the defendant's deep-pocketed allies. Was it any wonder that only two Republicans in the Senate, where the lieutenant governor serves as president of the chamber, voted to convict?"

The columnist notes that "Paxton's far-right forces are now promising all-out warfare on the Republican House members — starting with Speaker Dade Phelan — who tried to remove the attorney general from office."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

New Polls: Trump Seems To Be Losing Ground In Electoral College Contest

New Polls: Trump Seems To Be Losing Ground In Electoral College Contest

Unless there is a dramatic sea change in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, frontrunner Donald Trump has a good chance of going up against President Joe Biden next year.

Republican and Democratic strategists have been paying close attention to what polls are saying about a hypothetical Biden/Trump rematch. A Morning Consult poll released on September 6 found Biden with a 3 percent lead over Trump, while Biden trailed Trump by 1 percent in a CNN poll that came out the following day.

Those are national polls, however. And the Biden and Trump campaigns are also studying polling data on key swing states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan (all of which Trump won in 2016 but lost in 2020).

In a report published on September 11, the New York Times' Nate Cohn stresses that Biden may be gaining an "Electoral College advantage."

"In the midterm elections last fall," Cohn explains, "Democrats fared about the same in the crucial battleground states as they did nationwide. And over the last year, state polls and a compilation of New York Times/Siena College surveys have shown Mr. Biden running as well or better in the battlegrounds as nationwide, with the results by state broadly mirroring the midterms."

Cohn adds, "The patterns in recent polling and election results are consistent with the trends in national surveys, which suggest that the demographic foundations of Mr. Trump's Electoral College advantage might be fading."

According to Cohn, three "basic pieces of evidence" indicate that Trump's "key advantage might be diminished today: the midterms, the Times/Siena polls and state polls."

"On average, Mr. Biden continues to match his 2020 performance in the states where Democrats fared better than average in the midterms, a group that includes every major battleground state," Cohn observes. "Instead, all of his weakness in Times/Siena national polling is concentrated in the states where Democrats fared worse than average last November. In the sample of 774 respondents in the battleground states, Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump, 47-43, compared with a 46-44 lead among all registered voters nationwide."

Cohn continues, "On the other hand, Mr. Biden leads by 17 points, 50-33, in a sample of 781 respondents in California and New York — the two blue states that primarily cost Democrats the House last November — down from a 27-point margin for Mr. Biden in 2020."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Young Americans Leaving Church Over MAGA Ideology And Christian Nationalism

Young Americans Leaving Church Over MAGA Ideology And Christian Nationalism

In polls conducted in 2015 and 2022, the Barna Group asked respondents how much they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: "It is becoming harder to find mature young Christians who want to become pastors."

In 2015, 69 percent agreed either "strongly" or "somewhat." In 2022, the number had increased to 75 percent.

Blogger Hemant Mehta analyzes these figures in a column published on his Friendly Atheist blog on September 8. And he cites far-right Christian nationalism and the MAGA movement as key reasons why so many young Americans have no desire to become pastors.

"It doesn't help that the most pressing social issues of our time put conservative Christians on the wrong side of the moral divide — to the point where even younger Christians often disagree with what their churches teach," Mehta argues. "Thirty-eight percent of white evangelicals under 35 support abortion rights compared to 16 percent of those over 65. Younger evangelicals are more likely to support marriage equality. In 2020, younger white evangelicals were less likely than their parents and grandparents to support Donald Trump and Republicans in general."

Mehta continues, "If older pastors are worried about politics dominating their churches, why would younger potential pastors want to run churches made up largely of MAGA cultists? Many of the most devout younger Christians can't even bring themselves to attend churches, much less consider managing them. Why would anyone growing up in a culture where white evangelical cruelty is the GOP's entire platform, and sexual abuse is routinely swept under the rug, and women are treated as second-class citizens, and immigrants are seen as disposable, want the stigma of pastoring a Christian church?"

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

George Santos

GOP Leaders Knew Santos Was A Fraud In 2021

Despite lying repeatedly about his history during his 2022 campaign — and despite being arrested on federal criminal charges — Rep. George Santos (R-NY) remains in Congress. Many House Republicans are reluctant to criticize Santos, as they know that Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has only a small single-digit majority and needs all the GOP votes he can get.

Headlines describing Santos' lies grew worse and worse in 2023. But according to an early September report by CBS News, some GOP insiders knew about the lies well before his election victory.

CBS' News' Scott McFarlane reports that in late 2021, an in-depth GOP report was designed to "dig into his vulnerabilities."

McFarlane explains, "The report raised now-familiar doubts about a college degree Santos says he earned, his marriage to a woman despite being openly gay, and his alleges ties to companies that have been accused of fraud and scamming customers."

According to McFarlane, CBS News has learned that a "group of GOP campaign strategists in Washington were aware of the conclusions while Santos was running for office."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Sidney Powell

Special Counsel's Expanding Probe Imperils 'Kraken' Lawyer Sidney Powell

In contrast to Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis' broad, far-reaching case, special counsel Jack Smith's prosecution of former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results is often described by legal experts as lean and mean.

But according to CNN reporters Zachary Cohen and Paula Reid, Smith is, in some ways, "widening" his investigation. And this increases the possibility that some of Trump's allies "could still face legal peril" because of their efforts to help Trump stay in office in 2020 despite losing the election to now-President Joe Biden.

One of those allies is far-right attorney and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell, who is among Trump's co-defendants in Willis' case.

"Questions asked of two recent witnesses indicate Smith is focusing on how money raised off baseless claims of voter fraud was used to fund attempts to breach voting equipment in several states won by Joe Biden, according to multiple sources familiar with the ongoing investigation," Cohen and Reid report in an article published by CNN on September 5. "In both interviews, prosecutors have focused their questions on the role of former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell."

The CNN reporters add, "According to invoices obtained by CNN, Powell's nonprofit, Defending the Republic, hired forensics firms that ultimately accessed voting equipment in four swing states won by Biden: Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona."

Powell, according to Cohen and Reid, "has also been identified by CNN as one of Trump's un-indicted co-conspirators listed in Smith's federal election indictment."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Jeffrey Epstein

Epstein Set Up Meetings With Thiel And Other Trump Allies Before 2016 Election

Four years have passed since wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, facing federal sex trafficking charges involving minors, was found dead in a Manhattan jail cell. A medical examiner ruled that Epstein had died from suicide by hanging on August 10, 2019.

Epstein, who was 66 when he died, associated with a lot of famous people. According to the Wall Street Journal, Epstein set up meetings with some of Donald Trump's supporters before the 2016 presidential election.

Those supporters included Thomas Barrack and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel (a major donor to MAGA Republicans), WSJ journalists Khadeeja Safdar and David Benoit (not to be confused with the jazz musician) report.

Another was the late Vitaly Churkin, who was Russia's ambassador to the United Nations at the time.

Forbes reporter Sara Dorn, in a separate article on Epstein, notes that "The New York Times reported in May that e-mails from Epstein's assistant show he planned to meet with Thiel at least three times in 2014, but the paper did not confirm whether the meetings occurred and Thiel declined to comment at the time."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Trump 'Jokes' About Fleeing To Russia In Bizarre Rant On Georgia Case

Trump 'Jokes' About Fleeing To Russia In Bizarre Rant On Georgia Case

Some Russian media pundits have commented that if former President Donald Trump ever decided to move to Russia, they would be glad to have him. And Trump joked about fleeing to Russia after agreeing to surrender in Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis' case against him.

TheDaily Beast reports that Trump announced he plans to surrender this Thursday, August 24. And the former president followed his announcement with a rant on his Truth Social platform.

Trump, who is facing four separate criminal indictments, wrote, "The failed District Attorney of Fulton County (Atlanta), Fani Willis, insisted on a $200,000 Bond from me. I assume, therefore, that she thought I was a 'flight’ risk – I'd fly far away, maybe to Russia, Russia, Russia, share a gold domed suite with Vladimir, never to be seen or heard from again."

The "Vladimir" Trump was referring to was obviously Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump also wrote, "Would I be able to take my very 'understated' airplane with the gold TRUMP affixed for all to see. Probably not, I'd be much better off flying commercial – I'm sure nobody would recognize me!"

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

'Unfounded': Scientists Debunk RFK Jr. Claim That Chemicals Make Kids Gay

The saying that "politics make strange bedfellows" has never been more accurate than it is in 2023.

On one hand, former Rep. Liz Cheney — an arch-conservative neocon — gets a lot of respect from Democrats these days for aggressively calling out former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. At the same time, Democratic presidential candidate and conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. — nephew of President John F. Kennedy and son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Sr. — is being praised by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson for his anti-vaxxer views.

RFK Jr. has drawn a great deal of criticism from medical experts for claiming that vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, are dangerous and that childhood vaccines can lead to autism. Now, according to CNN, medical experts are calling him out for promoting "unfounded conspiracies that man-made chemicals in the environment could be making children gay or transgender and causing the feminization of boys and masculinization of girls."

CNN reporters Abby Turner and Andrew Kaczynski, in an article published on July 13, explain, "Experts dispute the claims from Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine activist, and told CNN's KFile his theories that 'sexual identification' and 'gender confusion' among children could be from their exposure to 'endocrine disruptors' found in the environment are completely unfounded."

Turner and Kaczynski report that CNN "spoke to multiple experts who said there is no link between endocrine disruptors and children's gender and sexuality." The journalists stress that although there are legitimate environmental concerns about the quality of drinking water in the United States, nothing in the water will turn a person gay.

"While sex in in frogs is determined by environmental factors such as temperature and chemicals, Dr. Andrea Gore, professor of pharmacology and toxicology at University of Texas at Austin, said the sex of humans is determined at the moment of conception, and cannot later be altered by endocrine-disrupting chemicals," the CNN journalists report. "The baseless claim that chemicals — particularly in tap water — could turn people gay has gained popularity with conspiracy theorists over the years, most memorably with conservative radio host Alex Jones, who said chemicals in the water were 'turning the friggin' frogs gay.'"

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.