Donald Trump, the former president who is testing his political capital by endorsing large numbers of GOP candidates to bolster his own personal brand, is expected to endorse J.D. Vance, a far right Christian conservative who last year was accused of antisemitism. Vance, a venture capitalist, is running to replace retiring Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman.
Some are suggesting financial gain.
A Trump endorsement in the tight six-way GOP primary could shake up the race. Despite tremendous name recognition Vance has been lagging way behind, currently in third place with just 11%. That’s about half the share of the leading candidate, businessman Mike Gibbons who is averaging 20 percent, according to Real Clear Politics. Far right extremist Josh Mandel, the state’s former Treasurer, is in second place with 18.7 percent.
NBC News broke the story, reporting that the “Mandel people hit the roof,” citing “one Republican with knowledge of the discussions.” That Republican told NBC News U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan “tried to dissuade Trump on behalf of Mandel, whom the congressman supports.”
Before Trump was elected President, Vance, the author of the once-popular but now often derided memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” attacked him as “reprehensible.” He apologized in 2021 as he launched his Senate campaign.
Vance has endorsed Trump’s “Big Lie.” Last year CNN reported that “Vance, the most well-known of the candidates, blatantly lied about 2020, claiming that the tech industry had worked with Democrats to rig the election.”
“That’s why we have the disaster we have instead of a second term of Donald Trump,” he said.
Vance, or a pro-Vance super PAC, is being bankrolled by Peter Thiel, the Big Tech billionaire conservative libertarian political activist and PayPal co-founder.
Thiel, as The Washington Post reported earlier this year, “invested $10 million in a political action committee in March [of 2021] to bolster Vance’s candidacy should he run. A few months later, Vance, a former employee of Thiel’s, made it official.”
Former federal prosecutor and former Republican turned Democratic activist, Ron Filipkowski, did not mince words in his opinion of what’s behind the anticipated Trump endorsement.
“Trump held out for a while to get a bigger check out of Peter Thiel,” says Filipkowski. “This means Blake Masters (AZ) will get the endorsement soon, and it wasn’t buy one, get one free either.”
Masters, who is president of the Thiel Foundation, is running for the U.S. Senate from Arizona.
It’s not the first time Filipkowski has suggested Trump is being paid by Thiel an endorsement. This from February:
I’m putting the over/under for Peter Thiel’s check to Trump for the JD Vance and Blake Masters endorsements at $2 million.
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 11, 2022
In February The New York Times reported that “Thiel, one of Donald J. Trump’s biggest donors in 2016, has re-emerged as a prime financier of the Make America Great Again movement.”
Professor Donald Moynihan, the Chair at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, last year offered an opinion on why Thiel is getting so political.
“As Thiel accumulates massive wealth, he reinvests some of it into the political system, backing people like Trump and JD Vance, culture warriors who will keep you distracted while expanding a system that allows Thiel to accrue massive wealth w/o taxes.”
As some have also noted, in 2009 Thiel wrote: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”
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Trump Spent 2020 Attacking Ballot Drop Boxes – but Now He’s Demanding They Be Deployed in Churches
Donald Trump laid the groundwork early in the 2020 election for his possible defeat by attacking voting by mail and ballot drop boxes, insisting they should be illegal while making clear if he lost the White House those proven safe and effective means of voting would be to blame.
But now, with a flailing 2024 campaign the failed ex-president who is under multiple investigations is demanding ballot drop boxes be deployed – but only in churches.
“Some states use ‘drop boxes’ for the collection of Universal Mail-In Ballots,” Trump tweeted in August of 2020. “So who is going to ‘collect’ the Ballots, and what might be done to them prior to tabulation? A Rigged Election? So bad for our Country. Only Absentee Ballots acceptable!”
That was just one of his many attacks on drop boxes.
“So now the Democrats are using Mail Drop Boxes, which are a voter security disaster,” Trump tweeted just days later. “Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times. Also, who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas? They are not Covid sanitized. A big fraud!”
The tweet was so false Twitter appended a warning label to it that reads: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity.”
Fast forward to now.
On his social media platform Trump reposted a “truth” (the word Truth Social uses instead of “tweet”) from far-right activist, conspiracy theorist, and provocateur Jack Posobiec. Posobiec was “one of the most prominent promoters of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, that held that the Washington D.C. pizzeria Comet Ping Pong was really a front for a child sex dungeon run by Hillary Clinton. He even went to the restaurant to find out ‘what’s really going on’ there,” according to The Daily Beast.
“In 2017, BuzzFeed reported text messages suggesting that Posobiec held a ‘Rape Melania’ sign during an anti-Trump protest in an apparent attempt to discredit the protesters as insidious and deranged.”
Thursday, on Trump’s Truth Social platform, Posobiec wrote: “I don’t know who needs to hear this but Republicans should put ballot drop boxes in the back of churches in every state where it’s legal.”
Hours later Trump was all over the idea, demanding the Republican National Committee implement it.
“Best idea I’ve heard in a long time,” Trump wrote in all-caps, “put them all over the place. RNC, every Republican, get to work on this now!!!”
Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias’ Democracy Docket platform just last week reported that in 2020, “Trump first attacked mail-in voting itself, then tried to undermine the postal service’s ability to handle the volume of ballots. Soon after, he began to target drop boxes as well.”
As Trump learned, making it more difficult to vote is not a winning strategy, unless you’re highly unpopular and can block a significant number of your opponents’ votes while retaining your own, which he did not.
But the GOP sure tried.
“Republicans in many states soon followed Trump’s lead and began restricting the deployment of drop boxes even if the state had previously used them without controversy. [Ohio] Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) limited each county to a single drop box no matter how populous. Similarly, the Texas Supreme Court upheld Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) order limiting every county to a single ballot drop-off location — from Loving County (population of 64 people) to Harris County (population of 4.7 million people). In other states, Republicans moved to ban drop boxes entirely, and Missouri officials decided against deploying 80 boxes the state had already purchased,” Democrat Docket adds.
Meanwhile, Trump’s – or rather, Posobiec’s – strategy is clear: “Republicans should put ballot drop boxes in the back of churches,” because Trump thinks he still owns the Christian vote, despite attacking “disloyal” evangelical leaders just weeks ago.
But drop boxes are largely the purview of state election officials, and there would be a strong case to make again putting drop boxes only in churches. What about other houses of worship? And why just houses of worship – are they more secure than other areas?
Some might think it’s difficult to flip-flop on such a basic idea as drop boxes, especially if you went to court to void voters’ ballots that were deposited in them.
“In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign sued to invalidate the use of drop boxes in the primary election and prevent their use in the general election,” Democracy Docket adds. “Then after the election, Republicans pointed to drop boxes as a reason to question the results in a lawsuit filed in Michigan.”
Now that Trump has succeeded in ensuring Ronna McDaniel remains head of the RNC, this will be a test of his strength, or lack thereof.
Trump Vows to Use DOJ and Congress to Make Being Transgender Illegal While Promoting the ‘Nuclear Family’
As part of his 2024 campaign, Donald Trump is now declaring war against transgender people – especially transgender children – even vowing to use DOJ and Congress to make being transgender illegal under federal law, if elected President. He also promised to promote the “nuclear family,” an attack on same-sex couples and families. And he pledged to use the Dept. of Education to file federal civil rights charges against local school teachers who support transgender children – or even the very concept of being transgender.
In 2015, as his first presidential campaign took shape, Trump was falsely hailed by some LGBTQ Republicans as being “pro-gay.” In 2016, for a short while, Trump said transgender people should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate,” although less than 24 hours later he reversed course. But that same year he merged two powerful culture war issues, LGBTQ rights and illegal immigration, into a combined wedge issue to attack his Democratic opponent.
“Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs,” he tweeted.
It was a lie.
Fast forward to 2023.
Trump’s promise on Tuesday afternoon to attack transgender Americans, despite medical evidence and expert opinions to the contrary. go much further than any other national Republican’s, and it’s clear he had help creating these new anti-LGBTQ policies. Right-wing extremist media promoted the ex-president’s assault on this highly-vulnerable population almost immediately.
In his video he calls gender-affirming care “child sexual mutilation” and “left wing gender insanity,” suggesting transgender people did not exist throughout history, which is false.
“The left wing gender insanity being pushed in our children is an act of child abuse very simple,” Trump, in his unique oratorical style, begins in a nearly four-minute video posted on Rumble and on his Truth Social platform. “Here’s my plan to stop the chemical, physical and emotional mutilation of our youth.”
Nearly every major medical organization recognizes and supports gender-affirming care for children.
Just last August Dr. Moira Szilagyi, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the largest professional organization of its kind, said: “There is strong consensus among the most prominent medical organizations worldwide that evidence-based, gender-affirming care for transgender children and adolescents is medically necessary and appropriate. It can even be lifesaving. The decision of whether and when to start gender-affirming treatment, which does not necessarily lead to hormone therapy or surgery, is personal and involves careful consideration by each patient and their family.”
Trump is promising to make that care illegal, and to sign a federal law “establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female, and they are assigned at birth,” and one “prohibiting child sexual mutilation.”
“On day one,” Trump declared, “I will revoke Joe Biden’s cruel policies on so called gender affirming care. Ridiculous, a process that includes giving puberty blockers, mutating their physical appearance and ultimately performing surgery on minor children. Can you believe this?”
Dr. Szilagyi spoke to that falsehood last year, writing: “Critics of our gender-affirming care policy mischaracterize it as pushing medical or surgical treatments on youth; in fact, the policy calls for the opposite: a holistic, collaborative, compassionate approach to care with no end goal or agenda.”
Trump also promised to “sign a new executive order instructing every federal agency to cease all programs that promote the concept of sex and gender transition at any age. I will then ask Congress to permanently stop federal taxpayer dollars from being used to promote or pay for these procedures and pass a law prohibiting child sexual mutilation.”
“In all 50 states it’ll go very quickly. I will declare that any hospital or health care provider that participates in the chemical or physical mutilation of minor youth will no longer meet federal health and safety standards for Medicaid and Medicare and will be terminated from the program immediately.”
Trump also promised to turn the executive branch into an anti-transgender machine for his personal political ends.
“The Department of Justice will investigate Big Pharma and the big hospital networks to determine whether they have deliberately covered up horrific long term side effects of sex transitions in order to get rich at the expense of vulnerable patients, in this case, very vulnerable. We will also investigate whether Big Pharma or others have illegally marketed hormones and puberty blockers which are in no way licensed or approved for this use.”
He also promised his “Department of Education will inform states and school districts that if any teacher or school official suggests to a child that they could be trapped in the wrong body, they will be faced with severe consequences including potential civil rights violations for sex discrimination, and the elimination of federal funding.”
Trump did not waver in using the full power of the federal government to target and attack transgender children and LGBTQ families, while using local school teachers to carry out his pogrom.
“As part of our new credentialing body for teachers, we will promote positive education about the nuclear family, the roles of mothers and fathers and celebrating rather than erasing the things that make men and women different and unique.”
“I will ask Congress to pass a bill establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female, and they are assigned at birth. The bill will also make clear that Title IX prohibits men from participating in women’s sports and we will protect the rights of parents from being forced to allow their minor child to assume a gender which is new and an identity without the parents’ consent,” he said, appearing to correct himself by adding: “The identity will not be new, and it will not be without parental consent.”
“No serious countries should be telling its children that they were born with the wrong gender, a concept that was never heard of in all of human history, he declared, which is false. “Nobody’s ever heard of this, what’s happening today. It was all when the radical left invented just a few years ago, under my leadership this madness will end.”
Nearly every anti-LGBTQ claim Trump made in under four minutes is false or contrary to accepted medical and scientific studies and practice.
Another SCOTUS Scandal: Chief Justice’s Spouse Makes Millions Placing Attorneys at Top Law Firms That Argue Before the Court
The highly controversial and highly unpopular U.S. Supreme Court isn’t just facing a historic loss of confidence, it’s now facing yet another ethics scandal that is likely to lower even further public opinion of the far-right institution that in under two decades has seen its approval rating slashed.
Although it will not hear arguments, the issue before the Supreme Court and the American people’s view of it, is, should a Justice’s spouse – in this case the spouse of Chief Justice John Roberts – be able to make millions of dollars recruiting attorneys who are placed into top law firms that argue cases before it?
That’s the latest allegation, and already a spokesperson for the Court has issued a statement denying any ethical violations.
The New York Times reports that “a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice. Seeking an inquiry, the ex-colleague has provided records to the Justice Department and Congress indicating Mrs. Roberts has been paid millions of dollars in commissions for placing lawyers at firms — some of which have business before the Supreme Court, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.”
Jane Sullivan Roberts left a law firm where she was a partner after her spouse was confirmed as Chief Justice.
“Mrs. Roberts, according to a 2015 deposition,” The Times reports, “said that a significant portion of her practice was devoted to helping senior government lawyers land jobs at law firms and that the candidates’ names were almost never disclosed.”
Documents in that case “list six-figure fees credited to Mrs. Roberts for placing partners at law firms — including $690,000 in 2012 for one such match. The documents do not name clients, but Mr. Price recalled her recruitment of one prominent candidate, Ken Salazar, then interior secretary under President Barack Obama, to WilmerHale, a global firm that boasts of arguing more than 125 times before the Supreme Court.”
That case involves “a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts,” Kendal Price, a 66-year-old Boston lawyer, who “has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice.”
“According to the letter,” sent by Price to DOJ and Congress, which the Times reports it obtained, “Mr. Price was fired in 2013 and sued the firm, as well as Mrs. Roberts and another executive, over his dismissal.”
The Times cites two legal experts, one who sees no ethical concerns with the situation, and one who does.
But critics are expressing great concern over this latest ethics issue, as they have been for years.
Doug Lindner, Advocacy Director for Judiciary & Democracy for the League of Conservation Voters, pointing to the Times’ report, remarked: “Another day, another ethics concern about another life-tenured conservative justice on the most powerful court in the world, which has no binding ethics rules.”
Indeed, the lack of a Supreme Court code of ethics has been repeatedly condemned for years, including by some of the nation’s top critics.
On Sept. 1, 2022, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin tweeted out her opinion piece: “Ginni Thomas pressed Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory .. just another insurrectionist.”
Norman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor for the Atlantic, responded:
“Another reminder of how unethical is Justice Clarence Thomas, while Chief Justice Roberts turns a blind eye and continues to resist a code of ethics for a Supreme Court now distrusted by a majority of Americans. This defines the Roberts Court.”
The following month Ornstein slammed the Roberts Court once again.
“It is a stain on the Supreme Court that Chief Justice Roberts refuses to support a Judicial Code of Ethics, and stands by silently while Clarence Thomas flouts ethical standards over and over and over,” Ornstein charged.
Less than one month later he again unleashed on Roberts.
“Roberts is culpable,” he tweeted. “He has resisted over and over applying the Judicial Code of Ethics to the Supreme Court. This is Alito’s court, and it is partisan and corrupt.”
Ornstein is far from the Court’s only critic.
“If Chief Justice Roberts really wanted to address Supreme Court ethics, he would have immediately worked to implement a Code of Conduct after Clarence Thomas failed to recuse from cases involving January 6th despite having a clear conflict of interest,” the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington tweeted a year ago in May. The following month CREW published an analysis titled: “Chief Justice John Roberts is wrong: the American judicial system is facing a major ethics crisis.”
Meanwhile, in late November Politico reported that Democrats in Congress were outraged at the Roberts Court.
“Two senior Democrats in Congress are demanding that Chief Justice John Roberts detail what, if anything, the Supreme Court has done to respond to recent allegations of a leak of the outcome of a major case the high court considered several years ago,” PoliticoJosh Bernstein reported, referring to the leak of the Dobbs decision that overturned the Roe v. Wade decision – itself a massive ethics crisis for the Court.
“Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) are also interested in examining claims about a concerted effort by religious conservatives to woo the justices through meals and social engagements. They wrote to Roberts on Sunday, making clear that if the court won’t investigate the alleged ethical breaches, lawmakers are likely to launch their own probe.”
Whitehouse and Johnson “also criticized the high court’s response to a letter they sent Roberts in September, seeking information about the court’s reaction to reports in POLITICO and Rolling Stone about a yearslong campaign to encourage favorable decisions from the justices by bolstering their religiosity.”
Nothing has changed.
When the Roberts Court earlier this month announced its lengthy investigation did not find the draft Dobbs decision leaker but also did not include the Justices themselves, Stokes Prof. of Law at NYU Law School Melissa Murray, an MSNBC host, tweeted, “This is a Roberts Court leitmotif–The Chief loves to handle things–even big things–in-house. Ethics issues? No need to get involved, Congress. We’ll sort it out ourselves. Leak needs investigating? No need to call in an actual investigative body, the Marshal will handle it.”
Pulitzer prize winning New York Times investigative reporter Jodi Kantor, pointing to how the Justices were not thoroughly investigated during the leak probe, in earlier this month said: “Last week the court released statements that confirmed the gap between how the justices and everyone else were treated.”
“The whole situation amplifies a major question about the court: are these nine people, making decisions that affect all of us, accountable to anyone?”
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