Trump’s Closing Pitch to New Hampshire Voters Shows He’s Absolutely Losing It

Trump’s Closing Pitch to New Hampshire Voters Shows He’s Absolutely Losing It

After a week plagued by hand sores, deteriorating speech, and legal predicaments that included three key attorneys leaving his side and droves of courtroom faux pas in the E. Jean Carroll case, Donald Trump offered a pretty extreme idea for New Hampshire voters.

“What is your closing message to the people of New Hampshire?” asked Fox News’s Sean Hannity in a one-on-one interview with the GOP front-runner on Thursday night.

“The president of the United States, and I’m not talking about myself, I’m talking about any president, has to have immunity. Because if you take immunity away from the president—so important—you will have a president that’s not going to be able to do anything. Because when he leaves office, the opposing party, president, if it’s the opposing party, will indict the president for doing something that should have been good,” Trump said, after a brief rant about Colorado’s and Maine’s decisions to keep him off their primary ballots.

Hannity: What is your closing message to the people of New Hampshire?

Trump: … You take immunity from the president, so important, you will have a president that’s not going to be able to do anything. pic.twitter.com/oMbBudzlFu

— Acyn (@Acyn) January 19, 2024

No other president in the history of the country has faced criminal charges. Trump, however, is staring down the barrel at 91 charges across four separate criminal cases, for his behavior related to the January 6 insurrection, his attempt to undermine the election results in Georgia, his alleged theft of thousands of classified documents, and the Stormy Daniels hush-money case, in the last of which Trump is accused of using his former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with the porn actress under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s messaging on Thursday is an interesting indication of not just where his mind is at—but where he would prefer voters’ minds to be, as well, as he enters a period of extreme legal uncertainty in tandem with his race to reclaim the White House.

More on the immunity argument:

Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley continues to insist that America isn’t a racist country, this time by arguing … well, we’re really not sure what she’s arguing.

Haley made her bizarre, word-salady case during a CNN town hall on Thursday night. At one point, host Jake Tapper asked her if she really believed that the United States “has never been a racist country?”

“I was a brown girl that grew up in a small, rural town. We had plenty of racism that we had to deal with. But my parents never said we lived in a racist country, and I’m so thankful they didn’t,” Haley said.

“My parents would always say, you may have challenges. And yes, there will be people who are racist, but that doesn’t define what you can do in this country.”

Haley then listed all of her career accomplishments and said, “I want every brown and Black child to see that and say, no, I don’t live in a country that was formed on racism. I live in a country where they wanted all people to be equal and to make sure that they have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Tapper: You really think as a historical matter America has never been a racist country? pic.twitter.com/pY1mr9d2cc

— Acyn (@Acyn) January 19, 2024

Tapper pushed back, noting that the U.S. was “founded institutionally on many racist precepts, including slavery.” But Haley doubled down and insisted the Founding Fathers’ “intent was to do the right thing.”

“I don’t think the intent was ever that we were going to be a racist country. The intent was everybody was going to be created equally,” she said. “And as we went through time, they fixed the things that were not ‘all men are created equal.’ They made sure women became equal too; all of these things happened over time.”

It’s unclear if Haley is saying that there are racist people in the U.S. but that racism isn’t a major issue; that her parents knew the U.S. was a racist country but tried not to let that affect her; or that the Founding Fathers weren’t racist.

But Haley’s confusing argument is undercut by the fact that she herself acknowledges that not all people were treated equally under the Constitution when it was first written. Black people were seen as property and counted as three-fifths of a person, while women weren’t even mentioned.

Haley has previously received criticism for her refusal to address the topic of racism. Earlier this week, she tried to claim that the U.S. has never been a racist country. And at the end of December, she said the Civil War was not about slavery.

But the clearest sign that racism is an ongoing issue in the U.S. comes from within Haley’s own party. Donald Trump has recently begun pushing a birther conspiracy about his Republican primary opponent. Instead of referring to her as “Nikki” (a name Haley presumably chose so white people wouldn’t have to deal with her Indian name), Trump has begun to refer to Haley as “Nimrata,” her birth name, as well as “Nimrada,” “Nimbra,” and other deliberate and offensive bastardizations of her name.

Trump is by far the front-runner in the GOP primary race. RealClearPolitics’ rolling average national poll has him more than 50 points ahead of Haley.

Out of office and almost out of sight, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has started to wage war against the clan of far-right Republicans who booted him from his high-flying position, all from behind the curtain.

First on the list: Nancy Mace.

On Wednesday, Politico reported that the South Carolina representative’s former chief of staff, Dan Hanlon, is courting donors as he weighs a potential run against his former boss, just weeks after he left her staff.

“Hanlon has been pleased with how well the idea has been received and how many people are looking for a Mace alternative, both money people in D.C. and movers and shakers in S.C.,” one anonymous Republican familiar with the decision told the outlet.

It’s now increasingly clear, however, that a huge part of that initial push was thanks to McCarthy, who allegedly encouraged Hanlon to run against Mace in the aftermath of her vote to oust him from the speakership, per The Washington Post.

McCarthy and his allies have been digging for ways to unseat the Trumpian acolyte since she locked hands with seven other Republicans, including Matt Gaetz and Ken Buck, in voting to oust the former speaker.

Though there may be more proof in the pudding—another former staffer said that Hanlon started pursuing the bid once colleagues and constituents began to take note that Mace was “increasingly difficult to work with,” and after negative reports in the press about Mace’s conduct and office culture began circulating, according to the outlet.

And Hanlon’s new chapter—which started with a bang when Mace’s incoming chief of staff called the Capitol Police to the office when Hanlon returned to give back his keys—may see some old players emerge. One of the Republicans who spoke with the Post predicted that the race may spur a walk-off, with other former Mace staffers joining the Hanlon campaign against her.

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer “cherry-picked” the testimony of Kevin Morris, a friend of Hunter Biden who sat for a deposition as part of the Republican impeachment inquiry into the president, Morris’s lawyer said.

Morris is a high-powered entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles who met Hunter at a 2019 presidential fundraiser for his father, Joe Biden. Morris has loaned Hunter nearly $5 million in the years since. He testified about his relationship with the embattled first son in a closed-door committee hearing Thursday.

“Not two hours after we left Mr. Morris’ transcribed interview, you issued a press statement with cherry‐picked, out of context and totally misleading descriptions of what Mr. Morris said,” Morris’s lawyer Bryan Sullivan said in a letter to Comer, which was obtained by The New Republic. “I demand you now release the entire transcript of Mr. Morris’ interview.”

Comer, who has led the charge against the president, released a list of paraphrased highlights from Morris’s testimony. Comer claimed that Morris informally loaned Hunter the money and does not expect to be repaid until after the 2024 election—or possibly ever. Comer also said that Morris has enjoyed unfettered access to the president and the White House in exchange for his ongoing financial support.

None of this could be further from the truth, Sullivan said in his late Thursday letter. Morris has only been to the White House or met the president a few times, and all of them were as Hunter’s guest. And the loans are just that: loans, not gifts, that must be repaid.

“Mr. Morris repeatedly testified he actually loaned the money to Mr. Hunter Biden, that these loans were reviewed by lawyers for each of them, that they have proper loan terms such as interest and a term, and that he expected Mr. Hunter Biden to repay these loans,” Sullivan wrote.

“Just release the full transcript. Why would you be reluctant or afraid to do that, other than it will disprove your spin? Let the public see the truth,” Sullivan concluded.

Oversight Committee Democrats have previously accused Comer of misrepresenting witness testimony in his quest to prove the Biden family is guilty of criminal wrongdoing. Comer has for months accused the president of corruption and influence peddling, but he has yet to produce any actual evidence.

Jamie Raskin, the ranking Oversight member, demanded in July that Comer release the complete transcript of a committee interview with a former FBI supervisory special agent. Raskin accused Comer of a “troubling pattern of concealing key evidence in order to advance a false and distorted narrative.”

But it’s clear why Comer is hesitant to release full transcripts. In August, he released the transcript of testimony from Devon Archer, Hunter’s former business partner. Archer undercut every claim Comer has made about the Bidens. Comer has since refused to allow Archer’s testimony to be introduced as evidence.

More on James Comer’s “investigation”:

Florida Representative Matt Gaetz is expanding his horizons for how many people he can piss off with one line, apparently abbreviating the amount of time he can provoke women and minorities to the same breath.

On Wednesday, the MAGA bootlicker argued that even if white women leave the Republican Party as it capitulates to Donald Trump, conservatives actually have no use for women in their elections. Instead, the GOP can fall back on minority support to fill the gap, claimed Gaetz, all the while referring to ethnic groups by racially stereotyped names.

“This is the blue collar realignment of the Republican Party and what I can tell you is for every Karen we lose, there’s a Julio and a Jamal ready to sign up for the MAGA movement,” Gaetz told Newsmax’s Carl Higbie.

Gaetz explains why Republicans don’t need women voters: “For every Karen we lose, there’s a Julio and a Jamaal ready to sign up for the MAGA movement.” pic.twitter.com/IqZcSYQGbg

— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) January 18, 2024

“There is a relentlessness and a persistence in the Trump campaign that I think really emerges out of the candidate himself,” Gaetz said, referring to Trump’s landslide win in Iowa despite the terrible weather conditions.

“Well also, you know, when Trump was president, it was better for all people, not just people of certain races,” Higbie responded, to which Gaetz agreed.

After months of stalled negotiations and short-term funding resolutions, the House of Representatives finally passed a measure on Thursday to keep the federal government funded. The effort received minimal support from Republicans—nearly half of whom, 106 members, actually voted against the initiative.

It passed in a 314–108 vote with near-unanimous support from Democrats, some 207 of whom voted for the measure, compared to just 107 Republicans. The bill is now on its way to President Joe Biden’s desk.

The short-term spending bill was voted on by the House just two hours after the Senate passed it, narrowly bucking a looming two-part shutdown that was set to begin on Friday. The continuing resolution has granted Congress an extra six weeks to coordinate a full spending measure before its next two-part shutdown deadline, slated for March 1 and March 8, when funding for agencies ranging from the Department of Defense to the Food and Drug Administration will finally run dry.

The passage of the stopgap resolution is a win for House Speaker Mike Johnson, who pulled off a bipartisan deal that his predecessor, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, failed to. Facing a momentous countdown on the clock, Johnson cut a deal with other congressional leaders in order to avert the shutdown, despite outsize pressure against it stemming from the House Freedom Caucus.

Johnson has struggled in recent weeks to keep hold of his newfound power since he won the House’s highest seat in a shocking election in October, enduring calls by far-right hard-liners in the House to kick him out just three months into his tenure.

On Wednesday, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene said she would personally force a vote to oust Johnson if he cut a deal to fund Ukraine, regardless of bipartisan negotiating.

“We can’t fund Ukraine,” she told NBC News, calling it “an absolute no-go—that would be a reason to vacate.”

But Johnson appeared nonplussed by the threat, pointing out that he had “a job to do.”

“We all have to do our jobs,” Johnson said on CNN’s The Source. “Marjorie Taylor Greene is very upset about the lack of oversight over the funding and over the lack of an articulation of a plan, as am I.”

“I’ve talked with her about it personally at great length, and she’s made her position very clear,” he continued. “We have to do our job. We have to continue to ensure that we’re covering all these bases, and we’ll see how this all shakes out. I’m not worried about that. I got a job to do here. And we have to make sure we get the answers that we demanded.”

This story has been updated.

Trump lawyer Alina Habba was reprimanded a whopping 12 times during the former president’s defamation trial on Thursday for her combative and bizarre behavior.

Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan has already ruled that Donald Trump defamed E. Jean Carroll after she revealed he sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s. The current trial is just to determine how much Trump owes her in damages. Carroll is seeking at least $10 million.

Habba spent her cross-examination trying to prove that the bulk of Carroll’s emotional harm—in the form of death threats and intimidation—happened in the hours before Trump weighed in, so he shouldn’t be on the hook to financially compensate her. But things started on the wrong foot immediately when Habba referred to the window between when Carroll’s accusation was released and when Trump responded.

“I was asking you about the five-hour gap—” Habba began.

Kaplan cut her off, saying, “Five hours have not been established. You might be well advised to refer to ‘the gap.’”

Soon after, Kaplan admonished Habba multiple times in a row, first for questioning the very premise of the case and then for being “argumentative” with her questions.

As part of her strategy, Habba began reading abusive tweets about Carroll aloud. Kaplan tried to stop her, and when Habba refused, Kaplan had to tell her twice to “move on.” He then said it again when Habba tried to argue that the people who attacked Carroll before Trump’s statement couldn’t have been emulating the former president.

Things got extra testy when Habba asked if Carroll made a “good amount of money” from her writing now. Kaplan pointed out that Habba’s descriptor was vague and subjective.

“This is Evidence 101,” he said.

Habba and Kaplan continued to lock horns for the rest of the morning, including when Habba again questioned established facts. She asked Carroll how many subscribers she had on the subscription-based publication platform Substack, which Kaplan reminded her Carroll had already answered on Wednesday.

When Habba tried to argue that a video Trump made might not really have been about Carroll, Kaplan shut her down again. “He said, ‘Whole thing is made up.’ That’s not about her?” Kaplan said. “We’ll pass over this for now.”

Kaplan also admonished Habba for raising objections that were of “dubious value,” for not listening when he sustained objections against her, and for still trying to read more tweets out loud.

Habba has irritated Kaplan every day of the trial thus far. The two repeatedly butted heads on Wednesday over Habba’s disruptive behavior in the courtroom, resulting in Kaplan admonishing her 14 times. And during opening statements on Tuesday, Habba almost immediately violated the rules Kaplan had set about what Trump’s team can and cannot say.

More on the E. Jean Carroll case:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday rejected the premise of a Palestinian state and promised that Israel will take over the entire region it currently occupies, “from the river to the sea,” according to an English translation on the Israeli news channel i24NEWS.

According to other translations, Netanyahu said that Israel “must have security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River,” which is basically the same thing.

The prime minister vowed to oppose the creation of any Palestinian state, as Israel continues its horrific military bombardment of Gaza. Israel has killed at least 24,000 Palestinians in Gaza in the last three months, under Netanyahu’s leadership—and the prime minister made it clear that Israel won’t be stopping its war anytime soon.

“For 30 years, I am very consistent and I am saying something very simple: this conflict is not on the lack of a state of Palestinians, but the existence of a state, the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said, according to a translation on i24NEWS. “Every area that we evacuate we receive terrible terror against us. It happened in South Lebanon, in Gaza, and also in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] which we did it.”

“And therefore I clarify that in any other arrangement, in the future, the state of Israel has to control the entire area from the river to the sea.”

Netanyahu: “In the future, Israel has to control the entire area from the river to the sea” pic.twitter.com/Jc1lO6GL06

— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) January 18, 2024

The use of the phrase “from the river to the sea” has come under particular scrutiny in the last three months. When Palestinians, or anyone on the left, has used the phrase to demand a free Palestine—as in the popular chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”—those on the right have disingenuously argued that it is calling for the death of all Jewish people in Israel.

Representative Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American member of Congress, was censured by Congress last year for her use of the phrase. Many Democrats joined Republicans in condemning her, minutes after she used a floor speech to condemn both rising Islamophobia and antisemitism in the wake of Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza.

“From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate,” Tlaib wrote in an effort to clarify her language as the bad-faith critics amassed against her. “My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity.”

The use of the phrase “from the river to the sea” also became the center of a monthslong news cycle focused on what college kids are saying in campus protests. Fomented by so called “anti-woke” activists and Republicans in Congress, it ultimately ended with the resignations of several university presidents.

Netanyahu, for his part, clearly stated on Thursday that he is not using the phrase “from the river to the sea” in a peaceful manner.

After claiming Israel would take over the entire area from the river to the sea—which would presumably include the West Bank and Gaza, areas recognized as Palestinian territory under international law—Netanyahu went on to directly challenge the Biden administration and its support for the two-state solution.

“This truth I say to our American friends,” Netanyahu said Thursday. “And I also stopped the attempt to impose on us a reality that will jeopardize us. A prime minister in Israel has to be able to say no, even to the best of friends. To say no when you need to and to say yes when you can.”

When people tell you who they are, believe them.

This article has been updated.

A convicted felon with alleged neo-Nazi ties has been unanimously cleared to remain on the GOP ballot in North Carolina, per the state’s Board of Elections.

Joseph Gibson III is running to represent District 65—which includes Rockingham County along North Carolina’s northern border with Virginia—in the state’s House of Representatives.

It’s the second time Gibson has appeared on the district’s ballot and proved a legitimate challenger. In 2022, the Connecticut native carried more than 20 percent in the North Carolina GOP primary, shortly before he was put on blast by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism for his neo-Nazi ties. The ADL found that Gibson had promoted a rally by the National Socialist Movement, or NSM, one of the largest white supremacist groups in the country, had simulcasted his podcast on the group’s network, and had shared the group’s manifesto to his social media accounts.

“I’ve never been to an NSM rally,” Gibson told WRAL News last week, denying any relationship with the racist group. “I’ve never supported them. But I think that’s coming from my podcast because I have had them call in. But I’ve had Black Panthers call in. I have all sorts of people call in. I believe in the First Amendment.”

Still, despite wiping some of the more egregious evidence documented by the Anti-Defamation League from his social media accounts, Gibson retains some eyebrow-raising posts. In one post made in 2021, Gibson used a racial slur against Black people while complaining about an interracial family, per Vice News. In other comments, Gibson agreed with posts by a self-proclaimed former member of the KKK and the NSM, and shared a propaganda video titled, “Aryan: Our Purpose.”

And yet, Gibson expects apologies, after Republican officials challenged his candidacy. On Tuesday, Gibson told WRAL News that he expects the state’s GOP to say sorry for his “character assassination” and “political assassination” as he returns to challenge state Representative Reece Pyrtle.

Ultimately, the decision is a foreboding omen for those fighting to keep Donald Trump off the presidential ballot, even as he faces the possibility of conviction in any one of his several criminal trials.

The outcome of Trump’s criminal trials has proven to be one of the few issues that sways some of his raucous supporters. More than a quarter of Republicans said that the real estate mogul should not be a presidential candidate if he’s convicted of a crime, according to a December New York Times/Siena College poll—that could be enough to swing the general election in a matchup against President Joe Biden.

“It will be up to voters as to whether they want an insurrectionist in the White House,” said Andrew Weissman, a New York University law professor and former lead prosecutor in Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, during The New Republic’s “America in Crisis” event on Wednesday evening.

Trump is on the line for 91 charges across four separate criminal cases, for his behavior related to the January 6 insurrection, his attempt to undermine the election results in Georgia, his alleged theft of thousands of classified documents, and the Stormy Daniels hush-money case, in the last of which Trump is accused of using his former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with the porn actress under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Police officials “demonstrated no urgency” in their response to the deadly elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and the response that did happen was plagued by “cascading failures,” according to a scathing Department of Justice report released Thursday.

A gunman opened fire in the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24, 2022. He barricaded himself in a classroom and shot dead 19 students and two teachers, wounding 17 others, before police finally stopped him.

It took officers more than 70 minutes before they engaged the shooter, and law enforcement officials at all levels have come under intense scrutiny over the response to the attack.

“The victims and survivors of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School deserved better,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The law enforcement response at Robb Elementary on May 24, 2022—and the response by officials in the hours and days after—was a failure.”

The nearly 600-page report found that even though officers arrived just minutes after the shooter, they did not engage him because he shot at them from inside the classroom. There were 376 officers at the scene before a Border Patrol tactical team finally breached the classroom.

“An active shooter with access to victims should never be considered and treated as a barricaded subject,” the report said.

Police failed to set up a centralized command post, which caused confusion among officers and first responders, the report found. There were issues with technology resources and training protocols. There were also multiple communication issues, including some caused by then–school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo.

Arredondo discarded his radios when he arrived at the school because he thought they were unnecessary. He then told officers by phone not to enter the classroom with the shooter until the other classrooms had been emptied of students and staff. One sheriff’s deputy tried to breach the classroom when he realized his 10-year-old daughter was inside. Other officers restrained him, as per Arredondo’s orders.

The report also included quotes from a 27-minute-long 911 call that children made from inside the classroom. They included multiple cries of “Help!” and one child saying, “I don’t want to die. My teacher is dead.”

At least five officers, including Arredondo, lost their jobs over the shooting response. The Uvalde community is still reeling over the shooting years later, and families of the victims are unsure how the Justice Department report helps.

Velma Lisa Duran, whose sister Irma Garcia was one of the teachers killed, told the AP she was grateful for the agency’s work. But “a report doesn’t matter when there are no consequences for actions that are so vile and murderous and evil.”

“What do you want us to do with another report?” she said. “Bring it to court.”

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