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THE BIG NEWS
Sidney Powell Flipped Before Team Trump Could Throw Her Under the Bus
Lunatic lawyer Sidney Powell, best known for vowing to "release the Kraken" with frivolous lawsuits challenging Joe Biden's presidential victory in support of Donald Trump's 2021 coup attempt, may have been among the last members of his inner circle whom Trump expected to flip on him. Which makes yesterday's news all the more hilarious: Powell, 68, has pleaded guilty to election interference charges in the Fulton County, Georgia racketeering case against Trump and 17 other cronies. In exchange for a promise to testify truthfully against Trump and the gang, she scored a sweet deal from prosecutors: six years probation with no jail time, $8,700 in fines and restitution, and a requirement that she write a letter of apology to the citizens of Georgia for trying to overthrow their democracy.
Powell took part in a deranged Dec. 18, 2020, Oval Office meeting in which Trump's inner circle, including the dangerously tipsy Rudy Giuliani and disgraced general Mike Flynn, screamed about "seizing voting machines, having the National Guard rerun the election and even appointing Powell as a special counsel to investigate [imaginary] voter fraud." Per the Washington Post, she might be asked to testify about little-known details of that meeting, as well as other discussions "that would be of interest in the broader alleged conspiracy" to overturn the election. Legal experts tell the Guardian that "Powell's cooperation marks a significant moment in the case because the threat of Powell testifying against Giuliani could compel him to take a deal in turn to testify against someone such as Trump himself."
Trump was reportedly stunned by Powell's plea deal. "Crazy as she was, she really believed what she was pushing," one Trump lawyer tells Rolling Stone, which reports that prior to her cooperation agreement with prosecutors, "some of Trump's legal and political counselors had been working to cast Powell as a 'fall guy' in the election-related cases against him." Maybe she figured that out, hm? Jury selection begins today in the trial of Powell's former Kraken colleague Kenneth Chesebro, whose lawyer says he "still need[s] to process" the news of Powell's defection. Yeah, fair.
In related news, Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith's team argued yesterday that Trump "is not above the law" and urged U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to reject Trump's spurious claim of "absolute immunity" from prosecution for his Jan. 6 crimes. Per Politico:
"'The implications of the defendant's unbounded immunity theory are startling,' prosecutor James Pearce and other lawyers from Smith's team argued. 'It would grant absolute immunity from criminal prosecution to a president who accepts a bribe in exchange for a lucrative government contract for a family member; a president who instructs his FBI Director to plant incriminating evidence on a political enemy; a president who orders the National Guard to murder his most prominent critics; or a president who sells nuclear secrets to a foreign adversary.'"
Sounds like someone got ahold of the Trump 2024 platform!
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Israel-Gaza War: UN Calls for Immediate Cease-Fire
- WHO Official on Gaza Aid: 'It Shouldn't Be 20 Trucks. It Should Be 2,000 Trucks' Doctors dealing with the wounded in Gaza say the war has set them back 100 years, forcing them to use a month's worth of supplies every day and to make painful rush triage decisions about which patients should get the chance to live and which should be left to die. via the Associated Press, BBC News and the Los Angeles Times.
- Israel Rallies Troops to Enter Quagmire as Experts Warn Hamas May Be Well-Prepared for Invasion "If Hamas follows the same playbook as its ally Hezbollah...it may seek to draw in Israeli forces and then strike unexpectedly, perhaps against targets far from the front line." via the Washington Post, the Guardian, and NBC News.
- Biden Calls War Funding 'a Smart Investment That's Going to Pay Dividends' A group of progressive senators including Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith want Biden to add child care funding to next week's $105 billion request for military aid to Israel and Ukraine. via the Associated Press and Politico.
- 'Mutiny Brewing' in State Department as 400-Plus Captiol Hill Staffers Push for Cease-Fire Some State staffers blame "Tom Sullivan ― a powerful figure who is the brother of Biden's top national security adviser, Jake Sullivan" ― for "the bubbling discontent" around unrestricted U.S. support for Israel. via HuffPost and Politico.
Acting GOP House Speaker Threatens to Quit
Yeesh, where to start? Knowing he would lose, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan decided against holding a third floor vote on his House Speaker bid yesterday. Supposedly he'll try again this morning, the New York Times reports, even though he is "bleeding support." Even less popular than Jordan, however, is creepy Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who was booed and cursed at in yesterday's private GOP caucus meeting, and had a shouting match with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. "If you don't sit down, I'll put you down," Illinois Rep. Mike Bost hollered at Gaetz, according to Politico. Gaetz responded by making "a motion with his finger...as if to say, 'Bring it on,'" although, per NBC News, the brave boy was standing about 15 feet from Bost. Anyway... Jordan briefly endorsed a half-baked plan to grant additional powers to acting Speaker Patrick McHenry, thinking it would ease his own path to power, but that idea fell apart due to opposition from Jordan's Trumpist allies. There was another small problem: McHenry yesterday threatened to resign if his fellow Republicans pushed him to advance legislation without formalizing his leadership. This is going to end with a brawl, doncha think?
- Democrats on FCC Vote to Restore Net Neutrality "The move will ultimately enable the agency to categorize high-speed internet as a utility, like water or electricity." via the New York Times.
- Laphonza Butler Decides Against 2024 Senate Run Sen. Butler, appointed to fill the seat of the late California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, says she could have won an election to complete the term, but she faced low name recognition and a fundraising disadvantage. via the Los Angeles Times.
- Cornel West Defends $3,300 Donation from 'Brother Harlan Crow' "As an independent candidate and a free Black man, I accept donations within the limits of no PACs or corporate interest groups that have strings attached," the "non-Marxist socialist" presidential candidate says of the maximum allowed contribution he accepted from the Republican megadonor. via NBC News and Rolling Stone.
- Bankruptcy Won't Let Alex Jones Off the Hook for $1 Billion Debt to Sandy Hook Families Yesterday's ruling by Judge Christopher Lopez in a Houston bankruptcy court means the Infowars host "will likely be working the rest of his life to pay his debt to the families." via the NY Times.
- Nazi Mayoral Candidate in Wealthy Nashville Suburb Doubles Down Franklin, Tennessee alderman and mayoral candidate Gabrielle Hanson wore a Patriot Front T-shirt in a video she recorded with Sean Kauffmann, head of the fascist Tennessee Active Club. via NewsChannel5.
- Too Much Bunga: Berlusconi Estate Saddled with 25,000 Worthless Paintings, Many Nudes He Bought from TV Auctions "There are perhaps six or seven paintings out of 25,000 with any artistic value," an Italian art critic who surveyed the estate estimates. via BBC News.
That's how many kids the Labor Department found to be working in violation of child labor laws in the last fiscal year, an 88 percent increase since 2019, the Washington Post reports. "This year lawmakers from both parties have introduced legislation to boost penalties for child labor violations" – currently capped at $15,138 per child – "though these efforts have stalled as companies have lobbied to thwart the efforts," the paper says.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
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The generational divide is real.
"Because it's a federal caucus, it could be a place for Hindu nationalists to organize lawmakers against holding the Indian government accountable for human rights concerns that the broader Indian community has. ... There's this effort by Hindu nationalists to say, 'These other Dharmic religions are just other iterations of Hinduism.' We don't want a caucus that is treating all of these different religious groups as the same."
-- Ria Chakrabarty, policy director at Hindus for Human Rights, speaking to the Washington Post about Michigan Democratic Rep. Shri Thanedar's effort to build a bipartisan Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh congressional caucus without input from those communities. Thanedar, described as "ignorant, self-centered, and uninformed" by his former communications director, has hosted events with Hindu nationalist groups, and escorted India's far-right Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his address to Congress this year.
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