CNN Announces Rules for First Presidential Debate – Muted Mics and No Notes

CNN announced the rules and additional details for its June 27 presidential debate, setting the stage for the event less than two weeks away.

Notable details include the absence of a studio audience, muted microphones except when a candidate is given time to speak, and each candidate’s presence at a uniform podium. No props or pre-written notes will be allowed on the stage, though candidates will be given a pen, a pad of paper, and a bottle of water.

The moderators, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, “will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion,” according to the network.

The network also mused about who will qualify for the debates, saying it is unlikely for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the independent presidential candidate, to qualify for the debate, saying “Though not impossible in Kennedy’s case, it is less likely that candidates other than Biden and Trump will meet those requirements.”

The network says RFK Jr. has three of the four required qualifying polls and has ballot access equivalent to 89 of the 270 electoral votes requirement.

He has until June 20 to add another poll showing him at 15% or higher and an additional 181 electoral votes through ballot access in those states.

The most notable requirement is the absence of a studio audience, which is unusual for presidential debates in the general or party primaries.

The detail was the Biden camp’s idea, with campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon saying they wanted to avoid raucous crowds for viewers’ benefit.

“The debates should be conducted for the benefit of the American voters, watching on television and at home — not as entertainment for an in-person audience with raucous or disruptive partisans and donors, who consume valuable debate time with noisy spectacles of approval or jeering,” Dillon wrote in a May letter.

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have already agreed to the 90-minute debate rules, and will be allowed two breaks amid their likely verbal combat. As for the other details, muted mics was a stipulation included in a 2020 debate, and Trump has pushed for the candidates to stand at podiums, in a likely assumption Biden will be more uncomfortable, against the Biden campaign’s suggestion to sit.

There will be at least one more presidential debate as ABC is hosting a debate on Sept. 10, not long before early voting begins in the general election. Trump leads by 1.1% in 538’s national polling average.

Source: CF

DOJ Requests Judge Order Steve Bannon to Begin Prison Sentence

U.S. officials on May 14 asked a federal judge to order Steve Bannon, an ex-adviser to former President Donald Trump, to prison.

Mr. Bannon was convicted of contempt of Congress in 2022 and sentenced to four months in prison, but his sentence has been on hold due to his appeal of the conviction.

A U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit panel on Friday upheld the conviction, ruling against Mr. Bannon.

A lawyer representing Mr. Bannon said that he would be asking the full appeals court to consider the case, but U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers said Tuesday that “there is no legal basis” to keep Mr. Bannon’s sentence on pause.

“There is no longer a ‘substantial question of law that is likely to result in a reversal or an order for a new trial,’” they said, noting that the panel rejected all of Mr. Bannon’s arguments.

The request was submitted to U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, who stayed the sentence in 2022 because he found that Mr. Bannon was raising “a substantial question of law that is likely to result in a reversal or an order for a new trial.”

The substantial question centers on how to determine if a defendant intentionally defies a congressional subpoena and what evidence the defendant should be able to introduce, Judge Nichols, an appointee of President Trump, said at sentencing. “This case also raises substantial questions about the effect of the congressional subpoena recipients, invocation of the Speech or Debate Clause, and questions regarding whether and to what extent the Committee was formed and operate[s] in compliance with its rules,” he said at the time.

Mr. Bannon was subpoenaed by the since-disbanded U.S. House of Representatives panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol but declined to provide documents or testimony because he was directed by his lawyer not to comply. The lawyer said that President Trump invoked executive privilege, and the matter of privilege would have to be worked out before Mr. Bannon cooperated.

“Long-standing constitutional principles, exhaustively recognized and identified by the Department of Justice for decades in binding opinions, make clear that any such definition when executive privilege has been invoked, violates the fundamental doctrine of separation of powers. It is the president’s or a former president’s prerogative to determine when and over what to invoke executive privilege and only a court, not a committee issuing the subpoena, can be the arbiter of whether executive privilege applies and how far its breadth extends,” David Schoen, who is representing Mr. Bannon, told The Epoch Times in an email.

“It is unconscionable to hold a private citizen criminally liable for responding to a subpoena in the manner his lawyer told him is the only manner the law permits and especially when a constitutional principle like executive privilege is involved,” Mr. Schoen added.

The appeals court panel said that the defense of citing legal counsel “is no defense at all.”

“As both this court and the Supreme Court have repeatedly explained, a contrary rule would contravene the text of the contempt statute and hamstring Congress’s investigatory authority. Because we have no basis to depart from that binding precedent, and because none of Bannon’s other challenges to his convictions have merit, we affirm” the conviction, U.S. Circuit Judge Bradley Garcia, an appointee of President Joe Biden, wrote for the unanimous panel.

There are two steps that Mr. Bannon can take following the rejection. He can ask the full appeals court to consider the case or hold an en banc session. He can also take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Schoen said that Mr. Bannon and his representatives planned to ask the full appeals court to consider the case.

The DOJ officials said that, regardless of which steps Mr. Bannon takes, he should be ordered to report to prison.

They noted that federal law requires a person found guilty and sentenced to a term of imprisonment to be detained as an appeal is considered unless “the appeal is not for the purpose of delay and raises a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in reversal.”

Officials did not challenge Judge Nichols’ initial finding that Mr. Bannon raised “a substantial question of law,” but stated that, in light of the new ruling, there is no longer such a question.

“The D.C. Circuit rejected defendant’s appeal on all grounds, including the primary argument on appeal: the requisite mental state required for a contempt of Congress violation,” DOJ lawyers wrote. “Consequently, there is no longer a ‘substantial question of law that is likely to result in a reversal or an order for a new trial.’ Under these circumstances, the court ‘shall order’ defendant ‘be detained,’ so the stay of sentence must be lifted.”

Judge Nichols has not yet reacted to the request.

The appeals court panel stayed the issuance of its mandate until seven days after the disposition of a petition for rehearing or for rehearing by the full court. The DOJ acknowledged that stay but said it “does not divest” Judge Nichols of his authority to lift the stay of the sentence.

Peter Navarro, another former adviser to President Trump, started serving his contempt of Congress sentence in March after U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, denied his request to postpone the sentence pending appeal.

The decision was upheld by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

Source: CF

REPORT: Trump May Face $100 Million-Plus Tax Bill If He Loses IRS Audit Fight

Former President Donald Trump may face an IRS bill in excess of $100 million after a government audit indicates he double-dipped on tax losses tied to a Chicago skyscraper, according to a report by The New York Times and ProPublica that drew on a yearslong audit and public filings.

The tax filings that the public does know about have come from past reporting by the Times and a public release of records by Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee in 2022.

Trump’s presidential campaign provided a statement in son Eric Trump’s name saying the IRS inquiry “was settled years ago, only to be brought back to life once my father ran for office. We are confident in our position.”

The tax records cited by the report indicate that Trump twice deducted losses on the Trump International Hotel and Tower, which opened in 2009 near the banks of the Chicago River that cuts through that city’s downtown.

The report said Trump initially reported losses of $658 million in his 2008 filings under the premise that the property fit the IRS definition of being “worthless” because condominium sales were disappointing and retail space went unfilled amid a deep U.S. recession.

But in 2010, the published report said, Trump transferred the ownership of the property to a different holding company that he also controlled, using the move to save money on taxes by reporting an additional $168 million in losses over the next decade on the same property.

The report did not have any updates on the status of the IRS inquiry since December 2022, but said Trump could owe more than $100 million, including penalties, if he were to lose the audit battle.

Trump, meanwhile, is appealing a New York judge’s ruling from February after a civil trial that Trump, his company and top executives lied about his wealth on financial statements, conning bankers and insurers who did business with him.

In early April, Trump posted a $175 million bond, halting collection of the more than $454 million he owes from the judgment and preventing the state from seizing his assets to satisfy the debt while he appeals.

Source: CF

Trump Kills Rumors About Considering Haley for VP

Donald Trump on Saturday made it clear that former Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is not on his running mate shortlist, quieting rumors that his campaign had been considering her as an option.

“Nikki Haley is not under consideration for the V.P. slot, but I wish her well!” the presumptive GOP presidential nominee wrote in a Truth Social post, signing the message “DJT.”

The comment came several hours after Axios reported that Haley was in the Trump campaign’s vice president conversation, citing two anonymous sources. Several media reports later echoed the rumors.

The political calculus behind a Trump-Haley ticket is plain to see.

Haley’s wealthy donor base could help Trump make up his fundraising problems, which are compounded by legal fees related to several ongoing lawsuits.

Plus, Haley, who has not yet endorsed the former president, could help win over Trump-skeptical Republican voters, whom President Joe Biden’s campaign has been vying for since Haley dropped out of the race.

Haley suspended her presidential campaign in March but is still racking up votes, including in Indiana’s Thursday primary, where she won almost 22% of the votes.

Despite the apparent political advantages, the bitter fight between Trump and Haley during the Republican primary ruled out her vice presidential chances.

“She is not presidential timber,” Trump said of Haley at a New Hampshire rally in January. “Now when I say that, that probably means that she’s not going to be chosen as the vice president.”

For her part, Haley repeatedly said she had no interest in the vice presidential seat while she was still on the campaign trail.

Trump’s veepstakes have been gathering more attention over the past several weeks, including from high-dollar donors looking to push their own recommendations.

Some names on the list include House Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., former GOP presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl. and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem had also appeared to be a VP frontrunner, though her chances seem to have weakened due to backlash about her new memoir, which contains anecdotes about her shooting and killing several of her family’s farm pets and an unverified story about meeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

“I liked her a lot,” Trump said in a Tuesday interview with Spectrum 1 News Wisconsin. “I don’t want to comment on anybody on the list. But she had a rough couple of days. I will say that.”

As all the VP hopefuls help Trump’s campaign, the former president has dragged out making a final call on his would-be running mate.

Source: CF

Biden Leads Trump in NBC News National Poll with All 5 Candidates Included

The share of voters who say they have high interest in the 2024 election has hit a nearly 20-year low at this point in a presidential race, according to the latest national NBC News poll, with majorities holding negative views of both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

The poll also shows Biden trimming Trump’s previous lead to just 2 points in a head-to-head contest, an improvement within the margin of error compared to the previous survey, as Biden bests Trump on the issues of abortion and uniting the country, while Trump is ahead on competency and dealing with inflation.

And it finds inflation and immigration topping the list of most important issues facing the country, as just one-third of voters give Biden credit for an improving economy.

But what also stands out in the survey is how the low voter interest and the independent candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. could scramble what has been a stable presidential contest with more than six months until Election Day. While Trump holds a 2-point edge over Biden head to head, Biden leads Trump by 2 points in a five-way ballot test including Kennedy and other third-party candidates.

“I don’t think Biden has done much as a president. And if Trump gets elected, I just feel like it’s going to be the same thing as it was before Biden got elected,” said poll respondent Devin Fletcher, 37, of Wayne, Michigan, a Democrat who said he’s still voting for Biden.

“I just don’t feel like I have a candidate that I’m excited to vote for,” Fletcher added.

Another poll respondent from New Jersey, who declined to provide her name and voted for Biden in 2020, said she wouldn’t be voting in November.

“Our candidates are horrible. I have no interest in voting for Biden. He did nothing. And I absolutely will not vote for Trump,” she said.

Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, said, “Americans don’t agree on much these days, but nothing unites the country more than voters’ desire to tune this election out.”

The poll was conducted April 12-16, during yet another turbulent time in American politics, including the beginning of Trump’s criminal trial in New York and new attacks and heightened tensions in the Middle East.

According to the poll, 64% of registered voters say they have high levels of interest in November’s election — registering either a “9” or a 10” on a 10-point scale of interest.

That’s lower than what the NBC News poll showed at this time in the 2008 (74%), 2012 (67%), 2016 (69%) and 2020 (77%) presidential contests.

The question dates to the 2008 election cycle. The lowest level of high election interest in the poll during a presidential cycle was in March 2012 — at 59%. But it quickly ticked up in the next survey.

This election cycle, high interest has been both low and relatively flat for months, according to the poll.

McInturff, the Republican pollster, says the high level of interest in the poll has “always been a signal for the level of turnout” for a presidential contest.

“It makes it very hard for us to predict turnout this far in advance of November, but every signal is turnout will be a lower percentage of eligible voters than in 2020,” he said.

By party, the current poll shows 70% of self-identified Republicans saying they have high interest in the coming election, compared with 65% of Democrats who say so.

Independents are at 48%, while only 36% of voters ages 18 to 34 rate themselves as highly interested in the election.

“They just aren’t low interest,” McInturff said of young voters. “They are off-the-charts low.”

Source: CF

Trump Rally Cancelled in North Carolina Due to Severe Weather

Donald Trump had to cancel his first planned rally since the start of his criminal hush money trial because of a storm Saturday evening in North Carolina, an added complication that highlights the difficulty the former president faces in juggling his legal troubles with his rematch against President Joe Biden.

Trump called into the rally site near the Wilmington airport less than an hour before he was scheduled to take the stage and apologized to a few thousand supporters who had gathered throughout the afternoon under initially sunny skies that later darkened with storm clouds.

Speaking from his private plane, Trump cited lightning and the incoming storm in explaining that he would not be landing. He pledged to reschedule a “bigger and better” event at the same location “as quick as possible.”

The planned rally in the critical battleground of North Carolina was to cap a week in which Trump spent four days in a Manhattan courtroom sitting silent during jury selection while Biden was able to hold multiple campaign events in Pennsylvania, another key state in the November election.

The cancellation denied Trump a fresh chance to amplify claims that his multiple pending indictments are an establishment conspiracy to take him down — and, by extension, squelch the voters who first elected him eight years ago.

Now, instead of commanding attention on his own terms at one of his signature mass rallies, his next public appearance is almost certainly going to be Monday, back at the defendant’s table for opening arguments in the first felony trial ever for an American president. And his campaign is left to decide when he next can be Trump the candidate instead of Trump the defendant.

“I’m devastated that this could happen but we want to keep everybody safe,” Trump said.

The assembled voters expressed frustrations with the turn of events but made clear they understood. Many of them had spent hours ahead of the rally holding prime seats, patronizing food trucks and perusing a row of tents selling Trump memorabilia, including T-shirts featuring the former president’s mug shot taken in Atlanta after his indictment on charges that he led a criminal conspiracy to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory.

“I’ve been with Donald Trump and I’m still with Donald Trump, but I’m disappointed he didn’t show up,” said Cheryl Lynn Johnson, who drove about two hours from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to attend what would have been her fourth Trump rally. “I’m mad at Mother Nature, but I stand behind Trump.”

Indeed, the audience was primed to validate Trump’s strategy to use his mandated court time to his advantage by folding the proceedings into the same populist, anti-establishment arguments that first fueled his rise eight years ago.

“It’s political persecution, and if it were anybody else he wouldn’t have to be dealing with it,” said Christian Armstrong, a 28-year-old firefighter who lives in Wilmington and was attending his first Trump rally.

LeeAnn Coleman, a 42-year-old who is in a family restaurant business, said, “It’s ludicrous that he’s having to do this at all,” rather than spend time focusing on “all the problems he wants to fix.”

Those arguments could have come from Trump himself.

“They want to keep me off the campaign trail,” the candidate-turned-defendant insisted earlier this week in Harlem, where he visited a neighborhood convenience store and addressed a throng of media outside after spending the day at his own jury selection. Rather than pursue violent criminals, he alleged, “They go after Trump.”

It is not clear when Trump’s next campaign appearance will be. His New York trial could last more than a month, severely curtailing his freedom to see voters, fundraise and make calls, and additional court proceedings could follow later in the year. Trump aides have promised weekend rallies and events on Wednesdays, the one weekday that Trump’s hush money trial is expected to be in recess. The former president’s campaign also has promised additional weeknight appearances around New York, like his trip to Harlem.

But there is no accounting for weather. The closest Trump came to assigning responsibility for the cancellation was to mention “weather officials,” but he did not question the decision during his brief remarks.

Even with the cancellation, Trump’s choice of venue underscored the importance of North Carolina as a presidential battleground. Trump won here by less than 1.5 percentage points over Biden in 2020, the closest margin of any state Trump won. Saturday would have been the second time in as many months that Trump visited the state. Biden has traveled to North Carolina twice this year; Vice President Kamala Harris has been four times.

“The presidential race is going to run through North Carolina,” said Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, in a recent interview.

North Carolina is one of seven states that both the Trump and Biden campaigns have said they will dedicate significant campaign resources to winning. Trump has insisted he will widen the map, even into his native New York, which is heavily Democratic. Most Republicans, though, agree that Trump will have a difficult path to an Electoral College majority if Biden were to win North Carolina’s 16 electoral votes. Trump tacitly acknowledged North Carolina’s status by tapping then-state Republican Chairman Michael Whatley to lead his effective takeover of the Republican National Committee.

Biden’s campaign has hired statewide North Carolina leadership and field organizers for offices across the state. That’s on top of state party staff that began an organizing program last year ahead of municipal races and looking to this year’s statewide contests, which include an open governor’s race. Cooper is legally barred from seeking a third term.

“We needed to build energy on the ground early,” said state Democratic Chairwoman Anderson Clayton, noting that the last Democratic presidential nominee to win North Carolina — Barack Obama in 2008 — had organized the state in a hotly contested primary campaign that ramped up the previous year.

Matt Mercer, spokesman for the North Carolina Republican Party, countered that Republicans have had veteran staffers on the ground since 2020, and now have a ticket with Trump and Mark Robinson, the Republican nominee for governor, that excites the GOP base. Trump has endorsed Robinson, the state’s first Black lieutenant governor, calling him “Martin Luther King on steroids.”

Robinson was set to be on stage with Trump in Wilmington.

Ahead of the scheduled rally, Democrats hammered the pairing for their opposition to abortion rights, calling them too extreme for North Carolina.

Cooper predicted Biden’s record — low unemployment, rising wages, stabilized inflation, infrastructure and green energy investments — and his support for abortion rights will resonate with a geographically and demographically diverse state.

“Joe Biden did more in his first two years than most presidents hope to do in two terms,” Cooper argued.

Mercer said Republicans will answer with a family-first message around the economy and public safety.

“Whether it’s with sky-high inflation, the open southern border or the migrant crime crisis,” he said, voters are “fed up” with Biden.

Trump lost an opportunity Saturday to make that case himself. But for voters like Matt Mazak, a 32-year-old who described himself as an independent, the verdict already is in.

“I want someone who is not going to go with the flow of D.C.,” Mazak said. “I’m not even saying Trump is the right answer. But he’s the best we’ve got.”

Source: CF

Dems Move to Strip Secret Service Protection from Trump If He’s Convicted

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) introduced legislation on Friday that targets former President Donald Trump and would take away his Secret Service protection if he is convicted in his trial.

In a post on X, the House Homeland Security Committee Democrats revealed that Thompson, the top member of the committee and the former chairman of the now-defunct January 6 Select Committee, had introduced legislation that would ensure “convicted felons sentenced to prison” would have no Secret Service protection.

In a statement, Thompson said:

Unfortunately, current law doesn’t anticipate how Secret Service protection would impact the felony prison sentence of a protectee-even a former President. It is regrettable that it has come to this, but this previously unthought-of scenario could become our reality. Therefore, it is necessary for us to be prepared and update the law so the American people can be assured that protective status does not translate into special treatment-and that those who are sentenced to prison will indeed serve the time required of them.

The Denying Infinite Security and Government Resources Allocated toward Convicted and Extremely Dishonorable (DISGRACED) Former Protectees Act says that protection will “terminate for any person upon sentencing following conviction for a Federal or State offense that is punishable for a term of imprisonment of at least one year.”

Thompson argues in a fact sheet for the DISGRACED Former Protectees Act, that the bill “would remove the potential for conflicting lines of authority within prisons and allow judges to weigh the sentencing of individuals without having to factor in the logistical concerns of convicts with Secret Service protection.”

Although Trump’s name is not mentioned in the bill’s text, the fact sheet points out that “former President Donald J. Trump’s unprecedented 91 felony charges in Federal and State courts across the country have created a new exigency that Congress must address to ensure Secret Service protection does not interfere with the criminal judicial process and the administration of justice.”

The fact sheet also points out that the bill proposed by Thompson will “apply to former President Trump.”

Byron York, Chief Political Correspondent with the Washington Examiner, pointed out in a post on X that the underlying “obvious subtext” was that taking away Trump’s Secret Service would make it “easier for someone to kill Trump.”

York wrote:

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson ran the January 6 committee, which mixed elements of show trial and reality series. Focused solely on Trump, of course. Now, Thompson wants to take away Trump’s Secret Service protection if Trump is convicted on any of the 88 felony charges levelled against him by elected Democratic prosecutors and a Biden Justice Department appointee. Obvious subtext here is that removing USSS would make it easier for someone to kill Trump, which is arguably the goal of Thompson’s bill, H.R. 8081: The DISGRACED Former Protectees Act.

Trump’s hush money trial, which began on Monday, saw more than 50 potential jurors out of 96 dismissed on the first day after they indicated they were unable to be impartial. On Thursday, 48 more potential jurors were dismissed after indicating they could not be fair.

Bragg charged Trump in April 2023 with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree in relation to hush money payments made to adult entertainment star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election.

Source: CF

Speaker Johnson Moves on Foreign Aid. Possibly Triggering Vote to Oust Him.

House Speaker Mike Johnson is moving ahead on a foreign aid plan that has roiled his conference and prompted two Republicans to push an effort to oust him from the chamber’s top job.

But instead of the complex four-part plan he floated this week, Johnson now intends to try to pass five bills — one each for aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Indo-Pacific allies — as well as a GOP wish list of foreign policy priorities and a fifth stand-alone bill to address widespread Republican demands to strengthen the southern U.S. border.

The new approach is risky and could blow up on the speaker, whose six-month-old hold on the gavel is being threatened by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (Ga.) promise to move a motion to topple Johnson (R-La.) if he puts Ukraine aid on the floor, something many Republicans object to.

Johnson told Republicans in a text to colleagues Wednesday morning: “After significant Member feedback and discussion” this week, the House will move ahead with his plan, with some significant changes. He intends to release bill text on Ukraine, Israel and for Indo-Pacific allies earlier Wednesday, and language for the GOP wish list and border later Wednesday.

The three separate bills that fund military aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan largely mirror the $95 billion Senate-passed supplemental. It turns a portion of the aid, the money sent directly to Ukraine, into a loan, which attempts to satisfy Republicans. It also includes just over $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza, the West Bank, Ukraine and other places in need, which was a demand of Democrats.

Success is anything but guaranteed for Johnson, both on the foreign aid package and keeping his job. Timing on the votes, also, is up in the air — even as members were slated to head home for a one-week recess Thursday.

“The congressman has the flexibility to stay and support the aid package on Saturday,” his office said Wednesday.

The House Freedom Caucus has already panned the proposal. Johnson is “surrendering” on the border, the group tweeted in response to Johnson’s plan. “This flies in the face of every promise Republicans have told you” and they care more about “funding Ukraine than they do securing our own borders.”

Yet Johnson is moving the separate border package in an attempt to appease his unruly conference, many of whom have demanded that the border be secure before funding is sent to Ukraine and other allies.

Keeping border security separate from the foreign aid package is an attempt by Johnson to give both pieces of legislation a greater chance of passing. The national security bill will likely need Democratic support because of the large number of Republicans who don’t want to fund Ukraine — while Johnson aims to pass the border security bill with just Republican support, hoping to satisfy demands from all corners of his conference and send all bills to the Senate.

But in an almost four-hour meeting between Johnson and his allies Tuesday night — before this latest plan was released — Republicans left demoralized after failing to concoct a plan that would ensure enough of them support sending the package to the floor without having to rely on Democrats. Multiple people familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal dynamics, said the meeting enlightened them and Johnson about what moving on his plan would mean for his future: It could al lead to his ouster.

“The battle lines were very clear at the end,” one Republican said. “It was very clear [the motion to vacate] will be brought if the speaker’s plan proceeds.”

Greene and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) are supporting the motion to remove Johnson from the speakership after he relied on Democrats to pass several bills that failed to unite Republicans. If the motion were to be considered under special rules, the House would have 48 hours to vote on the question to oust the speaker.

Source: CF

Trump Questions Impartiality of Judge Merchan on the Eve of Hush Money Trial

Former President Donald Trump recently expressed concerns about the impartiality of the judge presiding over his upcoming “hush-money” trial in New York, attacking the legal official only a day before the beginning of the ex-president’s court date.

“Judge Juan Merchan, perhaps the most highly conflicted Judge in New York State history, only gave us a short period of time to read and study hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that D.A. Alvin Bragg illegally hid, disguised, and held back from us. Of course, and as the Judge knows, we need far more time than that,” Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social on Sunday.

“They could have started this Fake Biden Trial many years ago, not right in the middle of my campaign for President, and time would not be a problem,” the former President added. “This is a blatant and unprecedented attack on Crooked Joe Biden’s Political Opponent (who is leading in every poll!), done in close coordination with the White House, that cannot be allowed to go forward!”

Former President Trump followed up with another post lamenting his legal tribulations, characterizing these cases as politically motivated and carried out at the behest of the Biden administration.

“I’ve got 8 Biden cases (lawsuits!) going on at one time,” Trump wrote. “They want to take money I would use for the campaign, and my time. Never been done before in our Country. Crooked politicians and corrupt prosecutors and Judges. November 5th is the most important day in the history of our Country. WE WILL WIN! MAGA2024”

The case, which is set to begin with jury selection on April 15, has been a focal point of contention, especially concerning the volume of evidence.

Prosecutors under Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg reportedly provided Trump’s legal team with over 10 million pages of documents, including witness statements and financial records, between May and July of the previous year.

Trump’s lawyers, seeking additional time to review these documents, requested a 90-day extension, which Judge Merchan denied. Amidst this backdrop, Trump’s legal team has repeatedly highlighted the challenges posed by what they perceive as prejudicial media coverage influencing potential jurors’ perceptions.

Trump’s critique extends beyond the trial’s timing and document disclosure issues. His legal team has also accused Judge Merchan of bias, citing his daughter’s professional connections to Democrats, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Source: Resistthemainstream

Iran Threatens to Hit US Bases If Washington Backs Israeli Counterattack

Top Iranian commanders warned Israel on Sunday that the country would face a bigger attack if it retaliates against overnight drone and missile strikes, adding that Washington has been told not to back any military action from its ally.

“Our response will be much larger than tonight’s military action if Israel retaliates against Iran,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri told state TV, adding that Tehran warned Washington that any backing of Israeli retaliation would result in US bases being targeted.

“If the Zionist regime (Israel) or its supporters demonstrate reckless behavior, they will receive a decisive and much stronger response,” Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi said in a statement.

The commander of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hossein Salami, also warned that Tehran would retaliate against any Israeli attack on its interests, officials or citizens. He said Tehran had created a “new equation” in which any Israeli attack on its interests, assets, officials or citizens would be reciprocated from its own territory. Salami also said the operation was a success “beyond expectations.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said in a meeting with foreign ambassadors in Tehran on Sunday that his country had informed the US that its attacks against Israel will be “limited” and for self-defense.

Meanwhile, the Hamas terror group, one of Iran’s proxies in the region, jumped to Tehran’s defense after the attack.

“We in Hamas regard the military operation conducted by the Islamic Republic of Iran a natural right and a deserved response on the crime of targeting the Iranian consulate in Damascus and the assassination of several leaders of the Revolutionary Guards,” the Palestinian group said in a statement. Israel is engaged in a war, now in its seventh month, with Hamas after the Gazan terror group killed nearly 1,200 people and abducted 253 in a shock onslaught on October 7.

Israel reported modest damage and reopened its airspace after Iran launched a large wave of around 300 attack drones and missiles in the first-ever direct attack on the Jewish state by the Islamic republic, while the United States said it would discuss a diplomatic response with major powers on Sunday.

Tehran’s attacks late on Saturday — launched after a alleged Israeli airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 that killed officers of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US-designated terror group — raised the threat of a wider regional conflict.

Iran had previously relied on its proxies across the region to attack Israeli and US targets in a show of support for Hamas in the ongoing war in Gaza, which shows no sign of easing despite numerous mediation efforts.

“We intercepted, we repelled, together we shall win,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on X, formerly Twitter, after the Iranian attack.

The Israel Defense Forces said more than 99 percent of the Iranian drones and missiles had been shot down by its air force and by allied countries, and it was discussing follow-up options.

Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying there would be a “significant response” to the attack.

The war in Gaza has ratcheted up tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire at Israeli targets from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.

Iran’s most powerful ally in the region, the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah — which has been exchanging fire with Israel since October 8 — said early on Sunday it had fired dozens of rockets at an IDF base in the north.

Drones were also reportedly launched against Israel by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, which has attacked shipping lanes in and around the Red Sea to show solidarity with Hamas, British maritime security company Ambrey said in a statement.

Those clashes now threaten to devolve into a direct open conflict pitting Iran and its regional allies against Israel and its main supporter, the United States. Regional power Egypt urged “utmost restraint.”

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari called Iran’s actions “very grave,” saying during a televised briefing that they “push the region toward escalation.”

The Iranian salvo caused light damage to an Israel Air Force base in the south, Hagari said.

Iran had vowed retaliation for what it called the Israeli strike on its embassy compound that killed seven IRGC officers, including two senior commanders. Tehran said its strike was punishment for “Israeli crimes.” Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.

“Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe,” the Iranian mission to the United Nations said, warning the US to “stay away.” However, it also said Iran now “deemed the matter concluded.”

US President Joe Biden, who spoke by phone with Netanyahu after the Iranian attack, said he would convene a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven major economies on Sunday to coordinate a diplomatic response to what he called Tehran’s “brazen” attack.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said America did not seek conflict with Iran but would not hesitate to act to protect US forces and support the defense of Israel.

The UN Security Council was set to meet at 4 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) on Sunday after Israel requested it condemn Iran’s attack and designate the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.

Iran’s Fars news agency quoted a source as saying Tehran was closely watching Jordan, which might become the next target in case of any moves in support of Israel.

Source: CF