Even Josh Hawley Has Had Enough of Republicans’ Shutdown Nonsense

Even Josh Hawley Has Had Enough of Republicans’ Shutdown Nonsense

While congressional leadership met with President Joe Biden Tuesday ahead of yet another government shutdown deadline, one Senate Republican couldn’t contain his discontent at the stupendous amount of time wasted by his own party on skirting one of Congress’s primary jobs: funding the U.S. government.

“This was supposed to be done in September. I mean this is now almost March? I mean, this is just ridiculous. They have agreement on the [budget] top line. They’ve had it since January,” Hawley told CNN’s Manu Raju.

Apart from the meeting at the White House, practically nothing has changed since Congress passed its last continuing resolution one month ago to extend the shutdown deadline. The new deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown is Friday.

A proper budget is still being held hostage to the aggressive demands of House Republicans, who claim to want more funding for the U.S.-Mexico border, but capitulated earlier this month when that became a possibility, all because President Donald Trump wanted to leverage the issue in the general election.

“This is why I voted against the last [continuing resolution],” Hawley continued. “They’ve just been kicking this can down the road. I can’t believe that they didn’t get work done over the weekend. They’ve had months to do this stuff, I mean my patience has run out.”

“They’re all to blame. And at this point it’s just absurd, I think,” he added, saying that includes Republican leadership but refusing to name names.

Meanwhile, Schumer described the communal meeting with Biden as “productive and intense,” particularly with regard to sending more military aid to Ukraine, which recently surrendered the city of Avdiivka to Russian forces.

Sen. Josh Hawley ahead of shutdown deadline.

“This was supposed to be done in September… They’ve just been kicking this can down the road… They’ve had months to do this stuff. … Leadership is to blame. …. All of them.” pic.twitter.com/P1XTZtWQ8C

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 27, 2024

A key witness who was supposed to testify against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis seemed unable to answer a single question on Tuesday.

Donald Trump and several of his co-defendants in their Georgia election interference case have accused Willis of an improper relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade. Trump’s team says that Willis and Wade began dating in 2019, while the couple says they didn’t start seeing each other until 2022, after Willis hired Wade for the Georgia case.

Trump’s lawyers have argued the romantic relationship provides a legal basis to disqualify Willis and throw out her case against Trump entirely. On Tuesday, lawyers Ashleigh Merchant and Steve Sadow questioned Terrence Bradley to try to establish a timeline of the couple’s relationship. Bradley is Wade’s former law partner and divorce attorney, and was meant to be a key witness in the case against Willis.

Merchant had multiple text messages from Bradley stating that the couple began dating in 2019. But when she began questioning him, suddenly, Bradley didn’t know a thing—including when they actually began dating, how the relationship began, and the trips they took together.

When asked why he initially said Willis and Wade began dating in 2019, Bradley said he was just “speculating.” He said he’d actually only had one conversation with Wade about the relationship, and Bradley couldn’t remember when that discussion had taken place. He repeated that he was only speculating so many times that many people on social media began to point out that Bradley seemed more like an office gossip than a credible witness.

Merchant: When did you first have knowledge of their relationship?

Bradley: I’ve said time and time again that I don’t have knowledge of when the relationship began. So I can’t answer that.

— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) February 27, 2024

Bradley also continually said he couldn’t remember telling Merchant certain details. Merchant kept asking him to confirm things he had previously told her, but Bradley only answered, “I don’t recall.” It got to the point that presiding Judge Scott McAfee told Merchant to move on, because the line of questioning was going nowhere.

Merchant: So when you told me that he had a garage door opener for Willis’s residence, you were lying?

Bradley: I don’t recall telling you that….

— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) February 27, 2024

Trump’s legal team allege that Willis and Wade had an “improper intimate personal relationship,” and accuse the couple of taking extravagant vacations that Wade paid for in part by billing Willis’s office.

Willis has denied the allegations. She says the relationship began in 2022, after Willis joined the case, and that they each paid their own share of the vacation bill. But the most important thing to remember, Willis has stressed, is that Trump and his co-defendants are currently on trial for “trying to steal an election.”

If Willis is removed from the case, that would deal a massive blow to one of the four criminal trials that Trump currently has scheduled ahead of the 2024 general election. The process to replace Willis, or even decide to completely drop the case, would significantly delay Trump’s day in Georgia court.

Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville, who apparently only learned what in vitro fertilization is last week, has a message for the people affected by the Alabama Supreme Court ruling: it’s all good.

The ruling is little more than a week old, but it has already wreaked havoc on Alabama’s IVF industry. Multiple fertility clinics have paused their IVF services, and at least one embryo shipping company has temporarily halted business in Alabama, as well.

When asked Tuesday about the ruling, Tuberville (who, again, has had more than a week to prepare some answers) looked visibly flustered.

“I support that people wanna have IVF,” he told ABC reporter Rachel Scott. His voice rose a bit at the end of his sentence, as if he were asking Scott to confirm that he was even talking about the correct topic.

“The state’s getting ready to pass a law,” he continued haltingly. “It’s gonna be ok. They’re gonna pass it, then it’s, then it’s, then it’s gonna be positive.”

After contradicting himself, Sen. Tuberville says Alabama will pass a bill to protect IVF saying “it’s gonna be ok”

But for some women it’s far from ok.

We asked about Kimberly, a woman I spoke to —she had her fourth & final embryo transfer scheduled for today.

It’s canceled. pic.twitter.com/jdJsggOZXi

— Rachel Scott (@rachelvscott) February 27, 2024

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled two weeks ago that embryos created through IVF can be considered children and are thus protected under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. Since it’s common for fertilized eggs not to survive the IVF process, the ruling puts doctors and clinics at risk of being charged for wrongful death of embryos.

When asked about it last week, Tuberville at one point referred to the ruling as a “bill” and said he was “all for it.”

“We need to have more kids, we need to have an opportunity to do that, and I thought this was the right thing to do,” he said of the ruling.

When a reporter pointed out that the ruling actually made it significantly harder for people to have kids, Tuberville became tongue-tied.

The Alabama state legislature is rushing to pass a bill that would explicitly state embryos, fertilized or not, cannot be classified as children. But even if the measure becomes law, it is already coming too late for many people.

Since the ruling, at least three fertility clinics have paused IVF treatment in Alabama. The CDC lists just eight clinics in the state that provide assisted reproductive technology services.

Patients can still ship their embryos out of state and continue seeking IVF treatment elsewhere, although this increases the already considerable amounts of time and money required to get IVF. But Cryoport, one of the leading embryo shippers, said Friday it would pause shipping in and out of Alabama to avoid legal prosecution. This makes it even harder for people to seek out-of-state care.

People who are preparing to undergo IVF will now have to stop their extensive medication routines, which are part of preparing their body for embryo transfer, until they can find a new clinic that will treat them.

Scott told Tuberville Tuesday that she had spoken to a woman named Kimberly in Alabama. Kimberly was supposed to get her fourth and final embryo transfer on Wednesday. But her clinic was one of the ones that has paused IVF treatment, and now Kimberly will have to start the entire process over again.

More on the Alabama ruling:

Donald Trump has an unexpected list of demands for his Manhattan criminal trial, including a plan to keep key witnesses away from the stand.

Trump is accused of using his former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. He’s facing 34 felony charges in the case for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime. Trump has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

But a list of proposed exclusions submitted by Trump’s legal team to the judge on Monday indicates that it wants Cohen and Daniels nowhere near the courthouse, despite their testimony being central to the entire case. The list also contains several other outrageous requests, including keeping prosecutors from showing the jury quotes from Rudy Giuliani from May 2018 regarding the payments, and excluding the infamous Access Hollywood tape in which Trump confessed to sexual assault by claiming he grabs women “by the pussy.” Trump defended those comments in his first E. Jean Carroll trial, and the video again made a reappearance in his second defamation lawsuit brought by Carroll. After both trials, Trump owes Carroll $88.5 million.

Trump also filed to prevent any mention of Playboy playmate Karen McDougal, with whom Trump had a covert affair beginning in 2006, and one of Trump World Tower’s former doormen, Dino Sajudin, who claimed that Trump fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a former housekeeper. On top of that, Trump’s team asked to ban the use of the phrase “catch and kill,” referring to plans uncovered by the Manhattan District Attorney to kill negative press on both those stories about Trump before the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, the district attorney’s office submitted their own motions in limine, asking that the court exclude a campaign finance expert proposed by Trump’s team, selective prosecution claims, and info stemming from a related case against Cohen in the Southern District of New York.

Speaking to reporters after attending his first criminal trial hearing in person on February 15, Trump claimed he “shouldn’t be in a courthouse.”

“Even if he was guilty of something, there is no crime,” Trump said, speaking in the third person, before demanding “delays,” which he will decidedly not get.

Unfortunatly More on Trump:

House Oversight Chair James Comer is frantically attempting to salvage his witness in the impeachment probe against President Joe Biden—even if that means undermining national intelligence agencies.

On Tuesday, the Kentucky Republican used a Fox Business interview to insist that Alexander Smirnov, whose self-admitted lies served as the only foundation for claims that Biden pocketed millions from a Ukrainian oligarch, was still credible, and that it was in fact the FBI that was “suspicious.”

“If you look, they’ve indicted, even more is coming out, about the informant—what role he played for the FBI,” Comer stumbled. “The FBI paid him to be a spy in Russia. They indicted him because he was communicating with Russia but that’s what they paid him for over 10 years to do.”

“I don’t know anything about Smirnov,” Comer continued about his probe’s supposedly star witness, “but the circumstances around his indictment and his re-arrest and the changing of the original indictment by [special counsel David] Weiss is very concerning, because everything that I’ve had to do with the FBI has been very suspicious throughout this investigation.”

“The trust level that I have with the FBI is zero,” he added.

now that his star witness has been indicted for lying for the FBI, Comer says “everything that I’ve had to do with the FBI is suspicious” & “the trust level I have with the FBI is zero.”

(Both the FBI director & special counsel who investigated Comer’s witness are Republicans!) pic.twitter.com/q7OCo1pD5I

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2024

Comer also used the interview to introduce a man that he framed as Smirnov’s replacement in the impeachment inquiry: convicted felon and current federal prison inmate Jason Galanis, two degrees removed from Hunter Biden by way of the junior Biden’s former business partner and fellow convicted inmate Devon Archer. On Monday, Galanis was reported to have also thrown cold water on the committee’s baseless claims, pledging under oath that Biden never held any role with any business entity in connection to his son.

Two weeks ago, Smirnov was indicted by the Department of Justice for lying to the FBI, effectively killing the probe. Since then, Smirnov has reportedly admitted to law enforcement that top Russian intelligence officials were involved in the smear campaign against the sitting president.

The Tennessee House of Representatives has passed a bill prohibiting local governments from reappointing lawmakers who were expelled for “disorderly behavior,” a clear jab at two Democratic representatives in particular.

House Bill 2716 passed the Republican-dominated chamber Monday by a vote of 69-22. The measure, which now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate, states that if a local legislature needs to elect a successor for a vacant seat in the state General Assembly, “and the vacancy was created due to the expulsion of a member for disorderly behavior, then the local legislative body shall not elect the expelled legislator to be the successor to fill the vacant seat.”

The bill is a blatant attempt by Republicans to kick out any Democrats they don’t like—and make sure they don’t find a way back into the state legislature. After all, Tennessee Republicans have tried to kick out Democratic lawmakers once before.

If the bill becomes law, it is guaranteed to be held up in the courts. The Tennessee constitution and current state law both give local governing bodies full power to appoint anyone they choose to fill vacant seats, so long as that person is legally qualified to hold office.

The General Assembly’s legal staff warned lawmakers just last week that the bill is not backed by either constitutional language or historical precedent. But Republicans forged ahead anyway.

The bill is an obvious response to the reappointment of Democratic Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson last year. The two men are part of the Tennessee Three, three Democratic lawmakers who gained national attention last March when they joined thousands of pro–gun control protesters in the state Capitol in the wake of a school shooting in Nashville.

Republicans accused Jones, Pearson, and Gloria Johnson of violating House decorum rules and voted to expel the two men, both of whom are Black. The GOP fell one vote short of expelling Johnson, who is white.

Jones and Pearson were unanimously reinstated by their district councils until a special election could be held. When that special election was held in August, both men swept handily to victory.

“It’s real interesting when my colleagues on the other side talk about, ‘We need less government, we need less government overreach in our lives,’” Pearson told The Tennessean about Monday’s measure. “This exact bill, this very legislation, overreaches the Constitution of Tennessee.”

Since their return to the state Capitol, tensions between Republicans and Jones and Pearson have remained high. The two lawmakers have made gun control a key issue, despite Republican rejection. On Thursday, Jones called House Speaker Cameron Sexton “drunk with power” after the Republican posted state troopers outside a press conference, barring entry.

Things started to boil over Monday night when the House debated a separate bill about immigration. Sexton ruled Jones out of order and refused to recognize him again to speak on the measure. Pearson then said he was “tired of racist” and retaliatory measures, prompting Sexton to threaten to call him out of order, too.

Newly obtained audio of a Texas Supreme Court justice has unearthed some unexpected opinions from a member of the typically reserved and insular judiciary—including that he believes he’s a singular cure to the “Big Law” backgrounds of his “brainwashed” conservative colleagues.

Speaking to a group of East Texas voters in September, Supreme Court Justice John Devine—a former anti-abortion demonstrator—was recorded bemoaning his colleagues’ deference to procedure over their moral and legal responsibility to the U.S. Constitution, according to audio obtained by The Texas Tribune.

“At times I feel like they would sacrifice the Republic for the sake of the process,” Devine said in the recording. “My concern is that they all bow down to the altar of process rather than to fidelity to the Constitution. And when I say that, it’s not meant to be malice towards my colleagues. I think it’s how they were trained—how they were brainwashed.”

Elsewhere in his speech, Devine attacked several Texas officials, decried the “RINOs” and “trans-Republicans” occupying the state’s all-GOP Court of Criminal Appeals, and claimed that Democratic leaders in Harris County were using “Democrat dirty tricks” in an effort to “bastardize our election code.”

Devine also used the event to vent his frustrations over his bench’s ruling against Jeff Younger, a former Texas House candidate who asked the high court to prevent his ex-wife from moving to California with their child on the basis that the state had recently passed a refuge law that shielded parents escaping states with restrictive transgender care statutes. The court refused to hear the lawsuit, arguing that it was founded on “tenuous speculation” that Younger’s ex-wife would violate a standing order to avoid gender-transition therapy for their child, according to the Tribune.

“I’m not going to stand here sanctimoniously and say, ‘Well he didn’t cross a T or dot an I,’” Devine said of Younger at the September event. “We are talking about great constitutional issues here that will determine whether we survive as a representative republic or not. Are we going to just have it stolen from us? Over process, for crying out loud?”

Devine will face off against his Republican primary opponent, Brian Walker, a judge on the Texas Second District Court of Appeals, on March 5.

Joe Biden is expected to win Michigan’s Democratic primary on Tuesday, but those around him are reportedly “freaking out” about a growing call to vote “uncommitted.” And they have every right to be nervous.

An increasing number of voters throughout the country, but particularly in Michigan, are expressing their intent to vote “uncommitted” in the Democratic primaries. Many may even sit out the general election entirely. Their frustration with Biden is due to policies in Gaza, including his refusal to demand a cease-fire and his support of Israel amid its relentless bombing campaign.

While the Biden campaign is outwardly acting calm about it, “they are freaking out about the uncommitted vote,” a Democrat close to Biden, speaking anonymously, told Politico.

Biden’s stance on Gaza has alienated many Muslim and Arab Americans, who make up a large portion of Michigan’s Democratic voters. But it’s also costing him support among young voters, progressives, and other voters of color. These are crucial voting demographics that helped deliver multiple swing states—including Michigan—for Biden in 2020.

There are two main uncommitted vote campaigns. One is called “Listen to Michigan,” whose supporters hope that voting “uncommitted” will send a strong enough message to Biden that he will change his stance. Another campaign, “Abandon Biden,” is similarly urging voters to check the “uncommitted” box.

It has been nearly five months since the war broke out in Gaza, and in that time, nearly 29,900 Palestinian civilians have been killed. The vast majority of Americans support a cease-fire, which they have repeatedly made clear through huge protests.

But it appears that Biden has only just begun to listen. During a Monday night appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Biden said that he hoped there would be a cease-fire, at least a temporary one, by Monday.

But by Tuesday morning, both Israel and Hamas had said that they weren’t close to a breakthrough.

Representative Ro Khanna, who often works as a liaison between the White House and the progressive caucus, confirmed that Biden’s shift was because “the president is hearing that a large part of his coalition wants this war to end.”

Khanna said he warned Biden ahead of the South Carolina primary over the weekend that he was losing the progressive vote.

“He said, ‘Ro, I hear you. I understand. I understand that people are upset and I am pushing Bibi,’” Khanna said, using the nickname for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But the White House continues to push for billions of dollars in military aid to Israel, and Biden has yet to explicitly call for a cease-fire.

Even if he were to demand a cease-fire tomorrow, that wouldn’t be enough to swing the full support of Arab Americans back to him, warned Abdullah Hammoud, the mayor of Dearborn, Michigan. Hammoud is the first Arab mayor of the majority-Arab city, and he is one of more than 40 Michigan Democratic elected officials who have pledged to vote “uncommitted.”

Hammoud told NPR that calling for a cease-fire would get Biden “another conversation at the table,” but the president has to earn voters’ support back. Hammoud said he hopes that Arab and Muslim Americans’ “uncommitted” vote is a big enough rebuke to make Biden start listening.

“We’re not sizable enough to make a candidate win,” Hammoud said. “But we’re sizable enough to make a candidate lose.”

Donald Trump is arguing that he shouldn’t have to post the massive bond in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against him … because he’s simply too rich.

Trump owes Carroll $83.3 million for defaming her in 2019 when she first accused him of sexual assault. The former president had 30 days to either pay the damages or post a bond required by New York state law to appeal the decision. But Trump’s legal team filed a motion on Friday to delay payment.

“Having argued to the jury that President Trump has great financial resources, Plaintiff is in no position to contradict herself now and contend that she requires the protection of a bond during the brief period while post-trial motions are pending,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

They argued that Trump’s extreme wealth was security enough that he would eventually pay. The lawyers also suggested that the court project that the total judgment would be reduced on appeal to $22.25 million, requiring a bond of about $24.48 million.

Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan on Monday declined to grant Trump a stay until Carroll’s lawyers had a chance to reply. Carroll’s legal team has until Thursday to respond, and then Trump’s team has until March 2 to reply to them. Kaplan also noted that Trump’s team had waited almost until the end of his payment window to file the request for a stay.

Under New York law, if a person wants to appeal a civil case ruling, they must first post a bond equal to 110 percent of the judgment. In this case, Trump would have to pay $91.63 million in order to appeal the Carroll ruling.

While Trump claims to have plenty of financial assets, the bond would definitely eat significantly into his cash coffers. Trump reportedly holds only about $600 million in liquid assets, not nearly enough to pay the millions he owes in this and other legal penalties.

Trump currently owes Carroll a total of $88.3 million. In addition to the $83.3 million from January, a jury determined last spring that he owes her $5 million for sexually abusing her in the mid-1990s and then defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault.

He was also fined $354 million two weeks ago for real estate–related financial fraud in New York state and temporarily banned from doing business in the state. The presiding judge in that case, Arthur Engoron, gave Trump 30 days to pay the fine. But Engoron also ordered Trump to pay prejudgment interest dating back to March 2019, when New York Attorney General Letitia James first began investigating the Trump Organization.

James’s office has calculated that, including interest, Trump owes more than $450 million. And as Trump tries to delay paying that fine, interest keeps increasing the total amount he owes. According to a penalty calculator created by Associated Press journalist Mike Sislak, as of Tuesday, Trump owes the state of New York $454,604,719.

And all of that still doesn’t cover the thousands of dollars in fines that Trump racked up during his recent trials for attacking courtroom staff, or the $400,000 he owes to The New York Times.

Representative Ken Buck is getting increasingly frustrated with his party’s endless impeachment inquiries.

On Newsmax’s Rob Schmitt Tonight on Thursday, the Colorado Republican pushed back on emerging theories regarding Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, whom the GOP spent the better part of January attempting to unseat.

“I don’t understand how that doesn’t meet the bar of impeachment for Mayorkas,” Schmitt prompted, suggesting that murders caused by immigrants around the country constituted a basis to strip Mayorkas of his title.

“What’s the crime?” Buck responded, frankly. “You tell me, Rob, what is the crime?”

“I think lying to the public over and over again, telling them that the border is secure, I think that should be a crime,” Schmitt wavered. “I think it should be a crime to take a job and exploit it for just the opposite, is it not?”

“Well it’s not a crime to take a job and exploit it for the opposite,” Buck continued. “But in terms of lying to Congress, that is a crime, and in his opinion the border was secure. In my opinion it’s not secure, in your opinion it’s not secure, but when you start getting into opinions, and charging people under 18 U.S. Code 1001 with a false statement, that gets very specific and he would not be convicted by a jury.”

“I believe that it’s a crime to lie, I don’t believe that he had a specific enough statement that it is a lie,” he added.

Elsewhere in the interview, Buck pushed back against the idea that he was duped into telling CNN’s Kaitlan Collins last week that House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and House Oversight Chair James Comer had both been warned ahead of time that the story sold by their primary Biden impeachment witness, Alexander Smirnov, was full of holes.

“Well, Rob, I didn’t play into anything. She asked about a particular allegation that was made, that Smirnov made, that Joe Biden received $5 million. That particular allegation is not credible at this point in time,” Buck said.

“So, there is no evidence that Joe Biden received money,” he continued. “When Senator [Ron] Johnson talks about the Biden crime family and talks about the ‘don’ of the ‘Biden crime family,’ you have to have evidence that Joe Biden received money or took some act, specifically, as a result of Hunter Biden receiving money from these various countries.”

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