Associated Press: “Trump historically has not reacted well when pressed on stage about his behavior toward women, most notably during the first Republican presidential debate of 2015, when he sparred with then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly. He later said she had ‘blood coming out of her wherever’ when she was questioning him.”
Ruth Marcus: “The verdict — that Trump subjected Carroll to sexual abuse and then defamed her when he called her claims a ‘hoax’ and ‘complete con job’ — will not change minds. Still, it is an ineradicable part of the record, perhaps only the beginning of a legal system holding Trump responsible for his actions, however belatedly…”
“Will this verdict do anything to stop him? Probably not. This isn’t a criminal conviction. The jury had to decide to credit Carroll’s account by only a preponderance of the evidence — not the higher criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. Trump could have raped E. Jean Carroll in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his true believers wouldn’t care. The rest of us have long known who he is and what he is capable of…”
“Justice is dispensed in small, imperfect doses. A single teaspoonful will not cure the disease. But it is a start.”
New York Times: “When Alvin Bragg secured the indictment of former President Donald Trump, it galvanized Trump supporters. Allies of his Republican rival, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, mark that indictment as the moment that Mr. Trump sped away from his nearest opponent in the polls.”
“Nobody around Mr. Trump is making a prediction publicly or privately that there will be a similar effect after a jury on Tuesday in the lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll found him liable for sexual abuse and defamation.”
“The price that Mr. Trump was ordered by the jury to pay his accuser, Ms. Carroll, was $5 million, in a verdict he has promised to appeal. But whether he pays any political price at all is unclear. Mr. Trump was said to be furious about the verdict, and questioning the various decisions that were made by his team in the defense. Far from letting up on Ms. Carroll, his team plans to aggressively attack her claims and tether her to Democrats.”
Politico: “Legal threats in Washington, Manhattan and Atlanta — both criminal and civil — are crystallizing in ways Trump has skirted for his entire political life. And the story of his bid to regain the presidency is likely to be defined by his attempts to stave off criminal liability for things he did the last time he occupied the White House.”
E. Jean Carroll appeared on the Today Show to discuss her court victory holding Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation. She also mentioned her interaction with Trump’s attorney after the verdict: “He came over to congratulate me. He put out his hand, and I said, ‘He did it and you know it.’ And then we shook hands and I passed by, so I got my chance to say it.”
Harry Litman: “The damning verdict will of course be ignored by the fraction of the electorate that is willing to overlook or ignore every one of Trump’s transgressions no matter how grave.”
“But for the rest of us, the verdict stands for far more than his misconduct on one afternoon in 1996. It’s a judgment of a character that is by leaps and bounds more loathsome than that of any other figure to occupy the presidency.”
Daily Beast: “By agreeing to an exclusive town hall in New Hampshire with his biggest cable news nemesis—CNN—the 2024 Republican frontrunner was poised for a made-for-primetime clash to delight his followers, set off his critics, and suck up the political oxygen in the critical early primary state.”
“Just over 24 hours before Trump’s scheduled sit-down, however, whatever hopes he had to ambush CNN turned into what one of his former advisers called ‘walking into a complete ambush.’”
“That’s because on Tuesday, a Manhattan jury found Trump to be liable for sexually abusing, and then defaming, the writer E. Jean Carroll, awarding her $5 million in damages.”
Said one Trump adviser: “If I were on his communications team, I would be shitting my pants right now.”
Politico: Trump world booked CNN hoping for a big audience. Now, they’re in the thick of it.
Embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., turned himself in to federal authorities Wednesday morning as it was revealed he faces 13 charges including wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and false statements, the New York Times reports. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York confirmed Santos was in custody at the federal courthouse. The 13-count indictment against Santos was unsealed shortly after he surrendered.
Santos was charged with:
- Seven counts of wire fraud
- Three counts of money laundering
- One count of theft of public funds
- Two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives
“Taken together, the allegations in the indictment charge Santos with relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.
Rep. George Santos (R-NY) pleads not guilty to the 13 federal criminal charges filed against him, CNN reports. He will be released on $500,000 bond and has surrendered his passport. Santos was told he was allowed to travel to Long Island, New York City and Washington, D.C. Travel elsewhere will require permission.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) says indicted Rep. George Santos should be removed from office: “The people of New York’s 3rd district deserve a voice in congress. George Santos should be immediately expelled from Congress and a special election initiated at the soonest possible date.”
Playbook: “Any single House member could force a vote on Santos’ expulsion by simply bringing it to the floor as a privileged resolution. But that gambit, of course, would be extremely dicey without broad support for Santos’ removal or the backing of their party’s leadership — not to mention the extraordinary can of worms that it could open if such a move were to become precedent.”
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has signaled that Rep. George Santos (R-NY) will be allowed to continue to serve in Congress even after being indicted on federal charges, the New York Times reports.
President Biden said he was “considering” the use of the 14th amendment as a means to circumvent the debt ceiling standoff he currently finds himself in with House Republicans, Politico reports.
But he cast some doubt on whether it could work, saying it would “have to be litigated and in the meantime without an extension it’d still end up in the same place.”
Punchbowl News: “If you’re honestly assessing the situation right now, you’d have to be pretty bearish about the prospects of coming to an agreement by June 1. Lawmakers and aides on both sides said they thought Tuesday’s meeting was mostly a wash. One source involved in the discussions said Biden and the Big Four can’t afford many more days like Tuesday if they want to reach an agreement in a timely manner.”
“The question, as ever, is who will blink first and when will that happen. McCarthy told us Tuesday that if the two sides are to solve this impasse by June 1, they’ll need an agreement in principle by early next week. And, as of right now, that looks a long way off.”
“Here’s some more bad news: McCarthy is firmly ruling out a short-term debt-limit increase. It’s only May 10, so perhaps this will change. But McCarthy seems pretty steadfast in his conviction that he won’t put a stopgap measure on the floor. Schumer and Jeffries ave also pushed back against a short-term hike.”
Inflation slowed for a 10th straight month in April, a closely watched report on Wednesday showed, good news for American families struggling under the burden of higher costs and for policymakers in Washington as they try to wrangle rapid price increases.
The Consumer Price Index climbed 4.9 percent in April from a year earlier, less than the 5 percent economists in a Bloomberg survey had expected. Inflation has come down notably from a peak just above 9 percent last summer, though it has remained far higher than the 2 percent annual gains that were normal before the pandemic.
“U.S. small business confidence fell to more than a 10-year low in April on worries about the near-term economic outlook and persistent worker shortages, but there were few signs that businesses were having difficulties accessing credit,” Reuters reports.
Politico: “The latest survey of lending standards by banks, released by the Federal Reserve on Monday and intently watched by Wall Street for recession signals, reflected ‘tighter standards and weaker demand for commercial and industrial loans to large and middle-market firms as well as small firms over the first quarter.’”
Tucker Carlson will relaunch his show on Twitter with help from former Fox News producers and staff, Puck reports.
He will forgo at least $25 million owed to him by Fox News in order to break his non-compete clause.
Of course, Carlson made the announcement on Twitter.
Axios: “The Twitter move would seem to technically violate Carlson’s contract with Fox, but his lawyers’ letter effectively holds that Fox breached the contract first.”
“Carlson already has gotten eye-popping offers from several right-wing outlets, and has talked to Elon Musk about working together.”
The CEO of CNN’s parent company defended the cable network’s town hall event next week with Donald Trump on CNBC: “The U.S. has a divided government. We need to hear both voices.” Said David Zaslav: “All voices should be heard on CNN.” He added: “He’s the frontrunner, he has to be on our network. We’re happy he’s coming on there.”
Playbook: “It was always going to be a consequential moment for Trump and for CNN, but it suddenly became even weightier yesterday after jurors in Manhattan sided with journalist E. Jean Carroll’s claim that Trump had forced himself on her nearly three decades ago in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room.”
“As is so often the case with Trump, it’s worth putting in perspective just how bonkers the circumstances are and just how crippling they would be for any other political figure. Instead, of course, Trump is vowing to charge ahead — launching what is likely to be a long appeals process and continuing to test his old supposition that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue (or at least be found civilly liable for a sexual assault on Fifth Avenue) without suffering a political price.”
“Tonight, he’ll be confronted on national television about all of it — facing Collins and GOP primary voters at New Hampshire’s Saint Anselm College. The town hall comes as Trump continues to devour the Republican presidential field despite a criminal indictment and multiple ongoing investigations into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.”
“At the center of the drama will be Collins, who was famously tough with Trump and his deputies during his administration.”
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) said the civil rape trial verdict against Donald Trump “makes me want to vote for him twice,” the HuffPost reports. Said Tuberville: “They’re going to do anything they can to keep him from winning. It ain’t gonna work… people are gonna see through the lines, a New York jury, he had no chance.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told Fox News that grandparents could join a force of armed military vets and retired police officers to protect schools from shootings. Said Blackburn: “They know to de-escalate situations. I’ve talked to a lot of them. They like this idea. They are grandparents like we are — my husband and I are grandparents — and they want to be there to help protect children.”
“Three churches in West Texas have made financial contributions to a pastor running for a hotly contested seat on the Abilene City Council, a clear violation of federal rules prohibiting nonprofits and churches from endorsing candidates,” the Texas Tribune reports.
Vice President Kamala Harris pulled out of an MTV event in solidarity with the Hollywood writers’ strike, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Harris will deliver the commencement speech at the West Point military academy this month, the first woman to do so, ABC News reports.
“Two-thirds of Americans say the abortion drug mifepristone, used in the majority of abortions in the United States, should remain on the market,” according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
“House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul is threatening to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress over his panel’s investigation into the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to a letter the Texas Republican sent him Friday,” CNN reports.
“The letter, the latest escalation in the panel’s investigation, comes after McCaul subpoenaed Blinken in March for a dissent cable written by US diplomats in Kabul criticizing the Biden administration’s plans to withdraw troops in 2021.”
CBS News: “Hundreds of U.S. asylum officers were trained on how to enforce the restriction on Tuesday and the regulation is expected to be published on Wednesday, less than 48 hours before Title 42 is set to expire.”
“The regulation, which is expected to be challenged in federal court, will be a dramatic shift in asylum policy, disqualifying migrants from U.S. protection if they fail to request refugee status in another country, such as Mexico, on their journey to the southern border.”
“The Texas House unanimously voted to expel Bryan Slaton on Tuesday, one day after the Royse City Republican submitted his resignation after an internal investigation determined that he had sex with an 19-year-old aide after getting her drunk,” the Texas Tribune reports.
“After a solemn, sometimes angry and tearful recounting of Slaton’s ‘graphic’ and ‘offensive’ behavior, the House voted 147-0 for expulsion, making Slaton the first member of the Texas Legislature to be removed from office since 1927.”
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) declared that President Biden will face a “judgment day” on Wednesday when his panel releases financial documents that purportedly will show “wire transfers from adversaries around the world” going to the commander in chief’s family members, the New York Times reports.
Said Comer: “For the first time, the American people are gonna see actual bank records that show wire transfers from adversaries around the world into a web of LLCs that were owned or controlled by the Bidens and then those transfers were made back into the Biden family accounts.”
“Comer laid out new details to support allegations that members of Joe Biden’s family including his son Hunter received millions of dollars in payments from foreign entities in China and Romania including when Biden was vice president,” CNN reports.
“New bank records cited in the memo were obtained by the committee through a subpoena and include payments made to companies tied to Hunter Biden.”
Key takeaway: “The foreign payments raise questions about Hunter Biden’s business activities while his father was vice president, but the committee does not suggest any illegality about the payments from foreign sources.”
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) predicted U.S. funding to support Ukraine’s military will continue to flow despite growing calls from isolationist members of his own party to reduce or end aid to Kyiv, Bloomberg reports.
Said McConnell: “I do think that we have enough support within Congress to sustain this for a good deal longer. All the leadership in the House and Senate in my party is very much in favor of defeating the Russians.”
Bloomberg: “The [arms] package will involve sending existing stockpiles of US weapons or support equipment to Taiwan under what’s known as a Presidential Drawdown Authority.”
“Using a drawdown will let the US sidestep the often-lengthy process of contracting and producing weapons, which has resulted in what lawmakers say is a $19 billion backlog in armaments that have been approved but not yet delivered to Taiwan.”
“Italy has signaled to the US that it intends to pull out of a controversial investment pact with China before the end of the year,” Bloomberg reports.
“New results from a U.S. Census Bureau simulation suggests a significant number of noncitizens were missed in the 2020 census, a national head count during which the Trump administration tried but failed to prevent people in the country illegally from being tallied,” the AP reports.
Time: “Luna would be only the 12th member of Congress to give birth while in office out of more than 12,500 legislators who have served in either chamber since the U.S. Congress convened 234 years ago.”
“I have to have regular conversations with my kids: ‘What happens if I am killed?’ I have to have regular conversations with them about how to walk down the street, things to look for.”— Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Axios: “Tom Nides said he wants to go back to the U.S. for personal reasons after being away from his family since December 2021… Nides notified the senior staff at the U.S. embassy Tuesday morning local time about his planned departure.”
“Roads in Florida could soon include phosphogypsum — a radioactive waste material from the fertilizer industry — under a bill lawmakers have sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis,” NPR reports. “Conservation groups are urging DeSantis to veto the bill, saying phosphogypsum would hurt water quality and put road construction crews at a higher risk of cancer.”
William Saletan has a series of pieces — also available as a free e-book — on Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) transformation from Republican thought-leader to Donald Trump sycophant. “The surrender to despotism doesn’t happen all at once. It advances in stages: a step, a rationalization. Another step, another rationalization. The deeper you go, the more you need to justify. You say what you need to say. You believe what you need to believe.”
“So let’s go back to the beginning. Let’s see who Lindsey Graham was before he drank the poison.”
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