Special

Matt Gaetz Scandal

Republican snorted cocaine with escort who had ‘No Show’ government job

When Matt Gaetz attended a 2019 GOP fundraiser in Orlando, his date that night was someone he knew well: a paid escort and amateur Instagram model who led a cocaine-fueled party after the event. The Florida congressman’s one-time wingman, Joel Greenberg, will identify that escort to investigators as one of more than 15 young women Gaetz paid for sex. But what distinguishes this woman, Megan Zalonka, is that she turned her relationship with Greenberg into a taxpayer-funded no-show job that earned her an estimated $7,000 to $17,500.

Liz Cheney

Kevin McCarthy should testify about Trump’s views on Capitol attack

The Republican House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, should testify before the commission to investigate the 6 January Capitol attack, the Wyoming representative Liz Cheney said on Friday, because he has “said publicly that he’s got information about the president’s state of mind that day”.

Merrick Garland

Senate Democrats urge not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo

A group of Senate Democrats are urging Attorney General Merrick Garland not to fight a court order demanding the release of a 2019 Justice Department (DOJ) memo that essentially cleared former President Trump of criminal wrongdoing following the special counsel's investigation.

Liz Cheney

Elise Stefanik eventually voted in as House Republican's new No. 3 leader

Elise Stefanik cruised to victory in a vote to replace Liz Cheney as House Republicans' third-ranked leader, capping off a tumultuous month in the GOP conference sparked by its bitter divisions over Donald Trump. Stefanik won in a 134-46 secret-ballot vote, defeating her sole challenger Rep. Chip Roy of Texas — an unsurprising outcome after she aggressively campaigned for the No. 3 spot, scooping up endorsements from top party leaders and Trump. The 36-year-old New Yorker, known as a moderate turned Trump ally who's used her fundraising skills to help elect a new class of GOP women.

The Quick Vote

Republicans removed Cheney from leadership role over Trump ‘big lie’ criticism

House Republicans voted quickly on Wednesday to remove Liz Cheney as their No. 3 leader over her repeated criticism of Donald Trump, a massive shakeup that ties the party tighter to Trump and threatens to create a new litmus test in the GOP. The fast-moving campaign to dump Cheney, Congress' highest-ranking Republican woman, and replace her with a Trump loyalist was orchestrated by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his top deputies. The California Republican and his allies complained that Cheney’s constant readiness to call out Trump’s lies.

“The Battle For Britney”

Bombshell Claim: Does Britney Spears have dementia?

Last week, Britney Spears posted a video of herself dancing on Instagram, accompanied by an uncharacteristically long, emoji-filled caption. While the post covered an eclectic array of topics—her love of travel, her desire to install a koi pond in her backyard, her pride in her garden—it was her blunt reaction to the recent spate of documentaries about her life and controversial conservatorship that made headlines.

Colonial Pipeline

Gasoline demand spikes in several states after pipeline hack

A growing number of gas stations along the East Coast are without fuel as nervous drivers aggressively fill up their tanks following a ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline, a critical artery for gasoline. The panic-buying threatens to exacerbate the supply shock."Panicked buying" is "running stations in the region dry," Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNN Business.

National Rifle Association

Judge dismisses NRA bankruptcy case

A federal bankruptcy judge dismissed an effort by the National Rifle Association to declare bankruptcy on Tuesday, ruling that the gun rights group had not filed the case in good faith. The ruling slams the door on the NRA's attempt to use bankruptcy laws to evade New York officials seeking to dissolve the organization. In his decision, the federal judge said that "using this bankruptcy case to address a regulatory enforcement problem" was not a permitted use of bankruptcy.

Vanessa & Tiffany Trump

‘Inappropriately close’ to Secret Service agents

Two Trump family members got “inappropriately – and perhaps dangerously – close” to agents protecting them while Donald Trump was president, according to a new book on the US Secret Service. Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service, by the Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig, is published next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

anti-vaxxers

Anti-Maskers ready to start masking — to protect themselves from the vaccinated

A conspiracy ripping through the anti-vax world may finally drive some anti-maskers to do the unthinkable: wear a mask and keep their distance. The conspiracy — which comes in several shapes and sizes — more or less says the vaccinated will “shed” certain proteins onto the unvaccinated who will then suffer adverse effects. The main worry is the “shedding” will cause irregular menstruation, infertility, and miscarriages. The entirely baseless idea is a key cog in a larger conspiracy that COVID-19 was a ploy to depopulate the world, and the vaccine is what will cull the masses.

From the Desk of Donald J. Trump

Trump's blog isn't lighting up the internet

Four months after former President Donald Trump was banished from most mainstream social media platforms, he returned to the web last Tuesday with “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” essentially a blog for his musings. A week since the unveiling, social media data suggests things are not going well. The ex-president’s blog has drawn a considerably smaller audience than his once-powerful social media accounts.

Wuhan

Rand Paul clashes with Dr. Anthony Fauci over coronavirus origins

Anthony Fauci on Tuesday clashed with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) over the role of the Wuhan, China, virology lab in the origins of COVID-19. During a Senate hearing on the pandemic response, Paul alleged that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had been sending funding to the Wuhan lab, which then "juiced up" a virus that was originally found in bats to create a supervirus that can infect human cells.

The Washington Post

Sally Buzbee new executive editor

Sally Buzbee, executive editor and senior vice president of The Associated Press, has been named the new executive editor of The Washington Post, the paper reported on Tuesday. Buzbee will become the first woman to lead the Post’s newsroom when she begins work next month, replacing former executive editor Martin Baron, who retired in February.

Matt Gaetz Scandal

Federal investigators seeking cooperation from former Gaetz girlfriend, second key witness

Federal investigators scrutinizing Rep. Matt Gaetz are seeking the cooperation of a former Capitol Hill intern who was once a girlfriend of the Florida Republican, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. Investigators could also soon gain the formal cooperation of a second key witness, former Florida county tax collector Joel Greenberg, who is approaching a deadline this week to strike a plea agreement with the government on more than two dozen charges he's facing. The pursuit of the cooperation comes as investigators are nearly finished collecting evidence, one source said.

USA

New study estimates more than 900,000 people have died of COVID-19

A new study estimates that the number of people who have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. is more than 900,000, a number 57% higher than official figures. Worldwide, the study's authors say, the COVID-19 death count is nearing 7 million, more than double the reported number of 3.24 million.

The far right conspiracy

New York AG sues Jacob Wohl for $2.75 million over robocalls

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that her office has filed a lawsuit against bumbling right-wing conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman over robocalls the pair allegedly made to suppress the Black vote ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Ex-wife Judith gets $42,000 a month

Money problems: Rudy Giuliani cuts down his entourage

Rudy Giuliani, the former personal lawyer for ex-president Donald Trump, has reduced the size of his personal entourage. Giuliani laid off several staffers and independent contractors in the last few weeks, according to one of the people, who said the ousted employees had been told that the former New York mayor was seeking to cut costs.

FOX NEWS

Tucker Carlson makes BS claim ‘30 people every day’ are dying from vaccines

Fox News host Tucker Carlson continued his reckless mission to mainstream vaccine skepticism on Wednesday night by dangerously speculating that thousands of Americans have died from COVID-19 vaccinations, citing a faulty open-sourced database that has become a haven for misinformation.

Kenneth Braithwaite

Donald Trump’s Navy Chief blew $2M on eight-month traveling spree

Former Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite traversed the globe in his brief tenure under the Trump administration, spending about $2.4 million in air travel, according to figures and documents obtained by USA TODAY. Braithwaite spent $232,000 the week before President Joe Biden's inauguration to fly to Wake Island, a tiny Pacific atoll, where, according to Navy spokesman Capt. Jereal Dorsey, no sailors or Marines are stationed.

Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)

Judge's decision on Bill Barr memo puts spotlight on secretive DOJ office

A small but powerful section of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is under renewed scrutiny after a federal judge tore into former Attorney General William Barr and ordered the DOJ to release a memo that let former President Trump claim he was exonerated by the Mueller probe. Critics of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which provides legal advice to the White House and Cabinet agencies, have long argued it acts as a rubber stamp for the president and essentially drafts laws behind closed doors.

Election 2022

Liz Cheney faces the boot in Washington - Wyoming isn’t looking much better

Rep. Liz Cheney’s colleagues are set to boot her from House GOP leadership this month. Now Republicans back in her home state of Wyoming are plotting how to remove her from Congress entirely. There is no shortage of Republicans eager to take on Cheney in a 2022 primary since her vote to impeach President Donald Trump and her subsequent criticism of him tanked her popularity in Wyoming. But the crowded field is also a risk for the anti-Cheney forces, making it more possible for her to win with a plurality.

Frank Luntz

Donald Trump's 'Big Lie' is working, may cost GOP votes

Veteran GOP pollster Frank Luntz warned that former President Trump’s repeated assertions that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him could hurt Republican efforts to take back the House in 2022. Luntz noted in an interview on the New York Times podcast “Sway” released Thursday that “more than two-thirds of Republicans believe that the election was stolen,” warning that a widespread and unproven belief that there was rampant fraud last November could turn Republicans off from voting in the midterm elections.

Shortnews

Colonial Pipeline

Gasoline demand spikes in several states after pipeline hack

A growing number of gas stations along the East Coast are without fuel as nervous drivers aggressively fill up their tanks following a ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline, a critical artery for gasoline. The panic-buying threatens to exacerbate the supply shock."Panicked buying" is "running stations in the region dry," Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNN Business.

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Colonial Pipeline

Gasoline demand spikes in several states after pipeline hack

A growing number of gas stations along the East Coast are without fuel as nervous drivers aggressively fill up their tanks following a ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline, a critical artery for gasoline. The panic-buying threatens to exacerbate the supply shock.

As of 4 pm ET Tuesday, 8.5% of gas stations in North Carolina and 7.7% in Virginia didn't have gasoline, according to outage figures reported by GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices and demand. The Virginia figure was flat from 11 am ET, while North Carolina was up from 5.8% previously.

Rising outages are also being reported at gas stations in Georgia (5.8%), Florida (2.8%) and South Carolina (3.5%), according to GasBuddy, which collects user reports and shares the information with the government during emergencies.

"Panicked buying" is "running stations in the region dry," Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNN Business.
He warned that the "irrational behavior" could prolong supply issues "for weeks."

Tiffany Wright of AAA Carolinas criticized what she described as "irresponsible behavior at the pump."

The far right conspiracy

New York AG sues Jacob Wohl for $2.75 million over robocalls

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that her office has filed a lawsuit against bumbling right-wing conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman over robocalls the pair allegedly made to suppress the Black vote ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Read More
The far right conspiracy

New York AG sues Jacob Wohl for $2.75 million over robocalls

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that her office has filed a lawsuit against bumbling right-wing conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman over robocalls the pair allegedly made to suppress the Black vote ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

“Hi, this is Tamika Taylor from Project 1599, the civil rights organization founded by Jack Burman and Jacob Wohl,” the automated recordings told the targeted voters.

“Mail-in voting sounds great, but did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts? The CDC is even pushing to use records for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines. Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man, stay home safe and beware of vote by mail.”

James says 5,500 New Yorkers were affected; she’s asking for Wohl and Burkman to pay $500 for each violation and forfeit all profits. If successful, they will be on the hook for $2.75 million, in addition to the felony charges they face in other states for the alleged scheme.

Wohl and Burkman have a history of failed schemes, including an attempt to pin false sexual assault allegations on now-U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, former special counsel Robert Mueller, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Caron Nazario

Police Chief: No apology needed for pepper-spraying

After a video of Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario being pepper-sprayed by Windsor, Virginia cops during a traffic stop went viral last week, Police Chief Rodney D. Riddle said he didn’t feel Nazario was owed an official apology. “My guys missed opportunities to verbally de-escalate,” Riddle admitted of the incident late last year that saw two officers with guns drawn barking at Nazario to get out of his car for allegedly not having a rear license tag.

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Caron Nazario

Police Chief: No apology needed for pepper-spraying

After a video of Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario being pepper-sprayed by Windsor, Virginia cops during a traffic stop went viral last week, Police Chief Rodney D. Riddle said he didn’t feel Nazario was owed an official apology. “My guys missed opportunities to verbally de-escalate,” Riddle admitted of the incident late last year that saw two officers with guns drawn barking at Nazario to get out of his car for allegedly not having a rear license tag.

They pepper-spraying Nazario in the face, before realizing he did in fact have his license tag taped to the rear window of the new car. Riddle went so far as to partially blame Nazario, saying that he wished he’d “complied a whole lot earlier.” The incident is now the subject of a $1 million lawsuit against the officers involved, one of whom was fired earlier this week after an internal investigation.

Fox & Friends

Harry and Meghan cause for Prince Philip's death

Minutes after the British royal family announced that Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, had died at the age of 99, the sleuths at Fox & Friends blamed their inevitable culprits: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Host Brian Kilmeade immediately linked the death of the extremely old and sickly Duke of Edinburgh to Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired last month and contained shocking claims of racism and cruel treatment against Meghan by royal family members.

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Fox & Friends

Harry and Meghan cause for Prince Philip's death

Minutes after the British royal family announced that Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, had died at the age of 99, the sleuths at Fox & Friends blamed their inevitable culprits: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Host Brian Kilmeade immediately linked the death of the extremely old and sickly Duke of Edinburgh to Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired last month and contained shocking claims of racism and cruel treatment against Meghan by royal family members.

Kilmeade said on Friday’s show: “There are reports that [Philip] was enraged after the interview and the fallout from the interview with Oprah Winfrey, so here he is trying to recover and he’s hit with that.”

Kilmeade then went on to cite Piers Morgan, of all people, as evidence that Philip’s health was hit by the Oprah interview. Morgan resigned in disgrace from his show, Good Morning Britain, after thousands of people complained about his repeated attacks on Meghan. The low point came when he said didn’t believe her admission that she felt suicidal.

The Fox & Friends host said: “Piers Morgan was saying on his morning show, which he famously walked off of, is like ‘Really? Your grandfather is in the hospital, you know he’s not doing well, is this really the time you have to put out this interview?’ Evidently, it definitely added to his stress.”

Philip left his London hospital after a month-long stay for treatment of an unspecified infection. He also underwent a procedure for a pre-existing heart condition in that time. He was also 99 years old.

Ghislaine Maxwell

New charges as US prosecutors expand criminal case

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of aiding in her former partner Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of minor girls, faces two more charges, a new Manhattan federal court indictment filed on Monday reveals. This indictment also identified a new accuser in the case, referred to as “minor victim-4” in court papers, and expanded the timeframe of Maxwell’s alleged participation in Epstein’s abuse by seven years – from 1994 to 2004, rather than from 1994 to 1997. Maxwell now faces a total of eight counts.

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Ghislaine Maxwell

New charges as US prosecutors expand criminal case

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of aiding in her former partner Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of minor girls, faces two more charges, a new Manhattan federal court indictment filed on Monday reveals. This indictment also identified a new accuser in the case, referred to as “minor victim-4” in court papers, and expanded the timeframe of Maxwell’s alleged participation in Epstein’s abuse by seven years – from 1994 to 2004, rather than from 1994 to 1997. Maxwell now faces a total of eight counts.

The new charges, sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor, involve “minor victim-4”.

The indictment alleges that “minor victim-4” was “recruited to provide Epstein with sexualized massages” that he or his associates – including Maxwell – paid for.

Maxwell allegedly met “minor victim-4” at Epstein’s south Florida home around 2001, when the girl was around 14-years-old, and “interacted with [her] on multiple occasions”, according to court papers.

During their interactions, which happened from 2001 to 2004, Maxwell allegedly “groomed minor victim – 4 to engage in sexual acts with Epstein through multiple means.”

Maxwell did so by asking “minor victim-4” about her family and life. She “also sought to normalize inappropriate and abusive conduct by, among other things, discussing sexual topics in front of minor victim-4 and being present when minor victim-4 was nude in the massage room of the Palm Beach residence,” according to the court documents.

On multiple occasions from 2001 to 2004, this victim gave Epstein nude massages, during which he “engaged in multiple sex acts” with her. Maxwell would sometimes call this victim to schedule these massages, court papers allege.

During this timeframe, Epstein and Maxwell invited her to travel with him, and said they would help her get a passport. She declined their offer.

The court papers also allege that during this period, Epstein’s staff, including Maxwell, sent the victim gifts – such as lingerie – at her Florida home.

Maxwell and Epstein were both accused of encouraging this girl “to recruit other young females to provide sexualized massages to Epstein”.

She did so, the indictment claims, by bringing “multiple females, including girls under the age of 18” to Epstein’s south Florida home.

“On such occasions, both minor victim-4 and the girl she brought were paid hundreds of dollars in cash,” court papers state.

Maxwell has maintained her innocence since her arrest last summer at a secluded luxury home in New Hampshire.

When Maxwell was arrested, she faced six counts, including conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and perjury.

Her attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new charges.

She is being held in federal detention in Brooklyn.

Epstein, a convicted sex offender, was found dead in his cell in federal custody in New York in August 2019, where he was awaiting trial on serious charges just over a month after his arrest on charges of sex trafficking girls as young as 14.

Epstein and Maxwell’s arrests have spurred intense scrutiny of Prince Andrew, who was a friend of both purported sex traffickers.

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s many accusers, alleged in a civil lawsuit that Maxwell lured her into Epstein’s circle under the false pretense of massage work.

After being pulled into their orbit, Maxwell forced her to have sex with powerful men, including Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, when she was just 17, Giuffre claimed. Maxwell denies the claims. Andrew directly and via statements from Buckingham Palace has vehemently and repeatedly denied all of Giuffre’s claims.