“The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday blocked new restrictions set by lower courts on a widely used abortion pill, delivering a victory to President Joe Biden’s administration as it defends broad access to the drug in the latest fierce legal battle over reproductive rights in the United States,” Reuters reports.
Washington Post: “A legal battle over whether to permanently reimpose restrictions, and whether the FDA had properly approved use of the drug more than 20 years ago, will continue.”
“In the only noted dissents, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they would not have granted the Biden administration’s request for a stay of the lower court decision.”
The Hill: Supreme Court abortion pill ruling: Four ways it could have gone, and what it would mean.
The Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America group blasted Donald Trump “on the issue Thursday, saying his contention that abortion restrictions should be left up to individual states, not the federal government, is a ‘morally indefensible position for a self-proclaimed pro-life presidential candidate,’” the AP reports.
Politico: “Unlike in Republican presidential primaries past, just two candidates — Pence, the former Catholic turned evangelical, and Scott, who speaks of finding a ‘God Solution’ to the country’s racial divide — stand alone in making explicit appeals to Evangelical voters. Trump and DeSantis, meanwhile, are relying solely on their reputations as brute-force brawlers in the culture wars.”
“The federal district judge who first suspended the FDA’s approval of the so-called abortion pill mifepristone failed to disclose during his Senate confirmation process two interviews on Christian talk radio where he discussed social issues such as contraception and gay rights,” CNN reports.
“Federal judicial nominees are required to submit detailed paperwork to the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of their confirmation process, including copies of nearly everything they have ever written or said in public, in order for the committee to evaluate a nominee’s qualifications and personal opinions.”
“The GOP is so divided over abortion politics that even top Mitch McConnell allies — who could succeed him as Senate leader — have opposing ideas on how to approach it,” Politico reports.
“Minority Whip John Thune sees a 15-week national abortion ban as something Republicans can defend amidst Democratic attacks. Another possible GOP leader, John Cornyn of Texas, doesn’t see a need for Congress to weigh in on abortion policy in a post-Roe world. And GOP No. 3 John Barrasso said simply that ‘states ought to make the decision.’”
“It’s a microcosm of the bigger problem facing Republicans as the 2024 election draws near: With the national right to an abortion overturned, there’s no clear course for a safe political harbor on an issue where many voters are seeking middle ground. Republicans acknowledge that abortion is costing them votes in some races, but their tactical disagreements over what to do about it are tough to settle without a clear leader to follow.”
“Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Thursday asked Chief Justice John Roberts testify in Congress about the court’s ethical standards amid a controversy surrounding Justice Clarence Thomas,” The Hill reports.
“Durbin vowed to hold a hearing on May 2 on ethical rules at the high court.”
“A member of GOP leadership in the Tennessee House of Representatives was recently found guilty of sexually harassing at least one legislative intern, likely two, by an ethics subcommittee acting in secret,” WTVF reports.
“Rep. Scotty Campbell, who serves as vice chair of the House Republican Caucus and who recently voted to expel three Democrats who engaged in a gun violence protest on the House floor, suffered no consequences as a result of his actions.”
Tennessee state Rep. Scotty Campbell (R) resigned from the General Assembly in a sudden move Thursday after reports surfaced that an ethics subcommittee last month found he had sexually harassed at least one legislative intern, the Tennessean reports.
“House Republicans are feeling a debt ceiling hangover, with senior GOP sources worrying they’re significantly short on votes now that members have read the 320-page bill,” Axios reports.
Said a senior GOP source: “The whip count on this is not good.”
Semafor: Republicans worry as hardliners push for more debt ceiling concessions.
Associated Press: “Republican lawmakers, some who have never before voted to raise the nation’s debt limit, now are seriously considering doing just that. They say McCarthy has built up goodwill by listening to — and accepting — many of their proposals. Rather than fight amongst themselves, they want to force Biden to the negotiating table.”
“To be sure, McCarthy does not yet have the 218 votes in hand for passage. The GOP leadership team is furiously whipping the tally ahead of next week’s vote. Many Republicans are wavering, and the proposal is expected to win almost no votes from Democrats, all but dead on arrival in the Senate.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who faces reelection in a Republican-leaning state, on Thursday slammed President Biden for showing “a deficiency of leadership” on a potential national default and applauded Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for proposing a plan to raise the debt limit, The Hill reports.
Said Manchin: “Our elected leaders must stop with the political games, work together and negotiate a compromise. Instead, it has been more than 78 days since President Biden last met with Speaker McCarthy. This signals a deficiency of leadership, and it must change.”
Politico: “The California Republican is enlisting a stable of close allies to help guide the House GOP on its debt limit strategy, including Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), French Hill (R-AR) and Garret Graves (R-LA). It comes amid tension between McCarthy and his No. 2, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, on the eve of the new majority’s most perilous political challenge.”
“Most House Republicans insist publicly that they’re paying no attention to the simmering mistrust between McCarthy and Scalise. But privately, many are watching the duo’s dynamic strain under the stress of the debt-limit fight.”
My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell has been ordered to shell out $5 million to an expert who debunked his data related to the 2020 election, CNN reports.
Washington Post: “The panel said Robert Zeidman, a computer forensics expert and 63-year-old Trump voter from Nevada, was entitled to the $5 million payout. Zeidman had examined Lindell’s data and concluded that it not only did not prove voter fraud, it had no connection to the 2020 election. He was the only expert who submitted a claim, arbitration records show.”
“Disney is preparing to take its fight with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his GOP allies in the state legislature to the next level,” CNBC reports.
“With just weeks until Florida’s legislative session ends, Disney is pushing lobbyists to step up their efforts to influence the Republican-controlled state legislature and to target land use related bills that could hurt the company, among other measures, said the people, who declined to be named in order to speak freely about the issues.”
“Donald Trump plans to meet Thursday with Florida lawmakers who have endorsed him, part of an ongoing effort to try and intimidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as he prepares to possibly challenge Trump in the 2024 presidential race,” USA Today reports.
“The Missouri House passed a bill Monday allowing guns to be carried on public buses and inside churches and other places of worship, chipping away at the list of places where guns are prohibited even with a concealed carry permit,” the Kansas City Star reports.
Texas public schools would have to display the Ten Commandments and set aside time for prayer and Bible study under bills passed by the Texas Senate that now head to the state House.
I should mention that both the tenure ban and the religion in schools bills were pushed for or supported by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R).
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) sent up an early warning flare this week that Senate Republicans might not even allow a permanent replacement for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to sit on the Judiciary Committee. TPM looked into it, and for now key Republican senators are committing not to violate Senate norms and precedents in this way.
“A top lawyer for Smartmatic, the voting technology company whose defamation lawsuit against Fox News is still pending, said Thursday that he won’t accept any settlement smaller than the $787 million Fox agreed to pay Dominion, and that his client needs a ‘full retraction’ from the right-wing network disavowing the lies it spread about the 2020 presidential election,” CNN reports.
Said the lawyer: “They need to get an apology. They need to get a full retraction.”
“Dan Bongino, the pro-Trump firebrand who turned frequent Fox News appearances into a job hosting a weekend show on the network, is out at the outlet,” Mediaite reports.
Washington Post: “Donald Trump has steadily begun outlining his vision for a second-term agenda, focusing on unfinished business from his time in the White House and an expansive vision for how he would wield federal power. In online videos and stump speeches, Trump is pledging to pick up where his first term left off and push even further.”
“Where he earlier changed border policies to reduce refugees and people seeking asylum, he’s now promising to conduct an unprecedented deportation operation. Where he previously moved to make it easier to fire federal workers, he’s now proposing a new civil service exam. After urging state and local officials to take harsher measures on crime and homelessness, Trump says he is now determined to take more direct federal action…”
“Trump’s emerging platform marks a sharp departure from traditional conservative orthodoxy emphasizing small government.”
Donald Trump slammed his former chief of staff on Truth Social: “Since leaving Washington, I haven’t heard much about Liddle’ Mick Mulvaney, perhaps the dumbest person, along with John Bolton, working at the White House.”
Trump claimed Mulvaney was named “acting” chief of staff because “I never would have named him to the permanent position.”
He added: “This guy was uncharismatic, a born loser.”
“In the 2024 Republican primary, the war on drugs is back on. Literally,” Semafor reports.
“Led by Donald Trump, all of the GOP’s official presidential contenders have endorsed a counter-terrorism operation against Mexico-based drug cartels, bringing tactics to the Southwest that America last deployed in Iraq and Syria — ‘just as we took down ISIS,’ as Trump put it in a January campaign video. The idea, rejected by his cabinet when Trump floated it four years ago, is now mainstream Republican opinion.”
“Federal prosecutors have considered charging Hunter Biden with three tax crimes and a charge related to a gun purchase,” NBC News reports.
“The possible charges are two misdemeanor counts for failure to file taxes, a single felony count of tax evasion related to a business expense for one year of taxes, and the gun charge, also a potential felony.”
New York Times: “The investigator overseeing the Internal Revenue Service’s portion of the case has come forward with allegations of political favoritism in the inquiry that stand to add to the already fraught circumstances facing the department.”
“An IRS supervisor has told lawmakers he has information that suggests the Biden administration is improperly handling the criminal investigation into President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and is seeking whistleblower protections,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
A letter sent to Congress on Tuesday says a career Internal Revenue Service criminal supervisory special agent has information that would contradict sworn testimony by a ‘senior political appointee.’”
Bloomberg: “Drought conditions not seen in some places since the Renaissance are becoming the continent’s new normal, with perilous knock-on effects for food security and supply chains in the European Union, the world’s third-biggest economy. Water levels on European rivers have been shrinking now for six years, with farmland drying up and Alpine glaciers in retreat.”
“Taken together, they’re creating climate feedback loops. Hotter temperatures mean more glacial melting and evaporation; less rainfall and Alpine runoff reduce river flows; dried-out water basins and shriveled vegetation create fuel for wildfire.”
“While heat and drought are also afflicting regions from Asia to East Africa, Europe is a climate change front-runner, warming at twice the rate as other inhabited continents.”
House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer (R-KY) was interviewed by Pamela Brown on CNN:
BROWN: Have you found anything illegal while Biden was actually in office?
COMER: We found a lot that should be illegal.
Freshman Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-NC) has a key takeaway after 100 days in Congress: “Most of the really angry voices here are faking it.”
New York Times: “Tangles of the goopy, leafy seaweed have already begun to wash ashore beaches in southern Florida and Mexico. In the coming months, they could start emitting a rotting stench as they decay, potentially posing health risks to beachgoers.”
An Oklahoma newspaper has released the full audio of a secret recording which captured officials talking about lynching Black people and murdering journalists.
“BuzzFeed is shutting down its news division as part of an effort to cut 15 percent of its work force,” the New York Times reports.
“A Texas man facing charges in the January 6 riot opened fire last week on sheriff’s deputies who had gone to his home to check on him ahead of his scheduled surrender to the FBI,” NBC News reports.
“Richard Riordan, the take-charge venture capitalist who as mayor shepherded Los Angeles’ rebound from the 1992 riots, expanded its Police Department and masterminded its recovery from the Northridge earthquake, has died at his Brentwood home,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) made history on Thursday by casting her 10,000th vote on the Senate floor, becoming the first woman to do so,” Axios reports. “Only 32 other senators — all men — have passed that same milestone in the Senate’s 234 years in existence.”
“President Joe Biden aims to sign an executive order in the coming weeks that will limit investment in key parts of China’s economy by US businesses,” Bloomberg reports.
A new study finds that one-fifth of U.S. households purchased guns during the pandemic, “a national arming that exposed more than 15 million Americans to firearms in the home for the first time,” The Hill reports.
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