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OPINION

‘Sick and Disturbing’: Critics Slam ‘Family Values’ GOP Governor Over Alleged Affair With Former Top Trump Aide

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South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem has been engaged in a “years-long clandestine” extra-marital relationship with former top Trump aide Corey Lewandowski, according to the Daily Mail. Governor Noem, who celebrated her 30th wedding anniversary last year, is 51 and has three children. Now she is the target of critics who are blasting what they see as her “hypocrisy.”

“Married South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, 51 – who stresses her belief in ‘family values’ – and Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski, who is also married, began carrying on in 2019, if not before,” the Daily Mail reported.

Noem is rumored to be a possible top Trump vice presidential pick. She endorsed the ex-president, currently facing 91 criminal felony charges, in his re-election bid just last week.

Governor Noem has been at the forefront of anti-LGBTQ legislation and attacks, including on transgender children and same-sex marriage.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples constitutionally have the same rights and responsibilities as different-sex couples, Noem’s spokesperson said she “believes marriage is a special bond between a man and a woman.”

READ MORE: Trump Says He’s ‘Wired Differently’ and Doesn’t Worry About Going to Jail: NBC News

During her 2018 run for governor Noem told South Dakota Public Broadcasting, “My relationship with the Lord is my foundation in all things. As a result, the values I hold according to biblical principles impact my decisions: we are called to love, but we’re also instructed to stand for truth. I’m hopeful my leadership reflects that.”

She has supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In 2021 she signed into law legislation allowing South Dakotans to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

In February, Noem signed into law a ban on gender-affirming health care for transgender minors. Last year she signed a law “restricting transgender women and girls from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity in public schools and post-secondary institutions,” according to ABC News.

The Daily Mail on Friday, citing “multiple sources,” reported it had “uncovered evidence of Lewandowski and Noem’s fling: Dozens of trips that mixed business with pleasure, private flights and luxury resort stays.”

“Neither denied the affair when asked by DailyMail.com. The Governor issued a statement attacking us for the timing of the article, while Lewandowski did not respond to a request for comment.”

“The pair met up Friday for a Trump campaign rally in Rapid City, South Dakota, but were careful to have no public interaction – despite being close for years,” the Daily Mail also reported, adding they “were made aware of a pending story about their relationship.”

“The two were first suspected of being romantically involved in 2021, but Noem scornfully dismissed the story as ‘total garbage and a disgusting lie’ at the time.”

Noem “won the governorship in 2018 promising to uphold the wholesome family values that she said South Dakotans have ‘long embraced’,” according to the Daily Mail. “Defending ‘traditional marriage’, which she defined as ‘a special, God-given union between one man and one woman’, was particularly important to her,” and “was the foundation for her beliefs, policy priorities and the ideals she lives by, said Noem, who has a son and two daughters with her husband Bryon who she married in 1992.”

Critics blast Noem’s family values claims.

Republican former U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger, now a CNN Senior Political Commentator pointed to the Daily Mail story and wrote: “Sick and disturbing.”

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Civil rights attorney, Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic clinical instructor, and transgender rights activist Alejandra Caraballo pointed to the Daily Mail’s article and wrote on social media, “The family values people are at it again.”

“Governor Kristi Noem, who is against same-sex marriage, has received awards in the past for championing ‘family values,'” notes journalist Yashar Ali. “She can’t remain faithful in her own marriage but thinks same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to get married.”

Michael Musto, longtime journalist and commentator, wrote on social media: “Hey, @GovKristiNoem. Will you still be promoting ‘family values’, praising God, and demonizing queer people?”

“Listen,” said Charlotte Clymer, the activist, writer, and former Human Rights Campaign press secretary. “I don’t care what other folks consensually do in their relationships because it’s none of my business. The problem is when conservatives like Kristi Noem and Corey Lewandowski make the private lives of others, like LGBTQ people, their business. The hypocrisy is nasty.”

“My, apparently, highly controversial view is that ‘family values’ — that is, recognizing the value of family is in its necessary foundation for a healthy society — is nowhere better expressed, and finds no greater advocacy, than in the LGBTQ community,” she added.

The Daily Mail’s exclusive also includes this anecdote.

“In the months leading up to the 2020 election, Noem and Lewandowski became virtually inseparable companions on the Trump campaign trail,” the Mai reported. “By then, their relationship was an open secret at the White House and among high-level GOP lobbyists and political consultants.”

“‘It became a joke,’ says the Trump Administration employee who had first seen them at AMPFest.”

“‘Every time someone said something about how Kristi would be a savior to the conservative movement, someone else would say, ‘Right, the savior that’s f**king Corey Lewandowski’.'”

See the social media posts and video above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘I’m Not Going to Answer That’: Trump Loses It When Asked Questions About Classified Documents in Heated Interview

 

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OPINION

Pence Defense of Alito’s Insurrectionist Flag Highlights Its Ties to Violent Government Overthrow

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Mike Pence is defending far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, whose ethics and ability to serve on the nation’s highest court are being questioned after The New York Times revealed he had been flying a highly-controversial flag used by the January 6 insurrectionists, neo-Nazis, and a far-right neo-fascist hate group. Democrats are demanding the justice recuse himself from all cases involving Donald Trump and the 2020 presidential election, and some are also demanding his resignation or impeachment.

The former Trump Vice President, in defending Alito, may have made the situation even worse for the 74-year old jurist by highlighting the flag’s ties to revolution and the overthrow of government. In his defense Pence also encourages all Americans to fly the flag: “The ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag is part or our proud heritage of Faith and Freedom and every American should be proud to fly it,” he writes.

“The Appeal to Heaven Flag” dates back centuries, to the American Revolution, but in recent years was very clearly co-opted by the radical religious right and was seen being carried by the insurrectionists during the assault on the U.S. Capitol, some of whom who chanted, “hang Mike Pence,” as he and his family were being whisked away by Secret Service on January 6:

MSNBC columnist Sarah Posner, who for years has been writing about religion and politics, on Thursday noted, “the more one knows about the background of the flag, the more chilling its presence at [Alito’s] house becomes.”

READ MORE: ‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

Posner says the flag is “an unmistakable emblem for an influential segment of Christian nationalists who claim the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, contrary to God’s will, and that believers’ spiritual warfare is essential to restoring God’s anointed leader to his rightful office.”

“It was one of numerous Christian nationalist flags and other iconography carried by Trump supporters Jan. 6 and at the Jericho March, a series of prayer rallies that were like jet fuel for the insurrection,” Posner explains. “The Jericho March featured right-wing evangelical and Catholic speakers alongside militants such as conspiracist Alex Jones, Trump’s disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Oathkeepers founder Stewart Rhodes, now serving an 18-year prison sentence for seditious conspiracy and other crimes.”

Posner adds the flag “originated in Revolutionary times as a call to take up arms against unjust rulers who ignored the pleas of their citizens.”

Pence also refers to the Revolutionary War in his defense of Justice Alito, ignoring that the Revolutionary War was won several hundred years ago, and ignoring that a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice promoting the very concept of taking up arms against rulers, unjust or otherwise, is, as constitutional scholar and University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, Laurence Tribe wrote, “close to treason.”

Pence calls the “controversy” of Justice Alito’s flag-flying “absurd and anti-historical.” He quotes English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke, promoting his idea of the right to revolution, to replace a government.

In its Bombshell report Wednesday announcing the existence of a second Alito flag tied to the insurrectionists, The New York Times explains the Locke tie to the “Appeal to Heaven” flag.

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

“Since its creation during the American Revolution, the flag has carried a message of defiance: The phrase ‘appeal to heaven’ comes from the 17th-century philosopher John Locke, who wrote of a responsibility to rebel, even use violence, to overthrow unjust rule. ‘It’s a paraphrase for trial by arms,’ Anthony Grafton, a historian at Princeton University, said in an interview. ‘The main point is that there’s no appeal, there’s no one else you can ask for help or a judgment.'”

Coincidentally or not, Grafton’s “trial by arms” seems to echo Trump acolyte Rudy Giuliani’s January 6 speech in which he specifically called for “trial by combat.”

Religious studies scholar Matthew Taylor, quoted in The New York Times’ report on Alito’s “Appeal to Heaven” flag, told CBS News (video below) Christian nationalist leader Dutch Sheets “was given one of these flags and he believed that he received a prophecy when he received this flag, that it was a symbol of a revolution that would take place in America, a spiritual revolution that would reconstitute the United States as a truly Christian nation.”

He adds the “Appeal to Heaven” flag has become a “very potent symbol of Christian nationalism, Christian Trumpism, opposition to abortion, opposition to gay marriage, and the desire for a more Christian America.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Trump’s Bronx Rally Attendance Claim Fuels Mockery as Aerial Images Show a Different Story

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OPINION

‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

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A senior U.S. district judge is denouncing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito‘s flying of two insurrection-related flags at his homes in Virginia and New Jersey, declaring the actions “improper. And dumb.”

Judge Michael Ponsor, 77, who has served on the federal bench since 1984, writes in a Friday New York Times op-ed that he has “known scores, possibly hundreds, of federal trial and appellate judges pretty well,” and “can’t think of a single one, no matter who appointed her or him, who has engaged or would engage in conduct like that.”

“You just don’t do that sort of thing, whether it may be considered over the line, or just edging up to the margin. Flying those flags was tantamount to sticking a ‘Stop the steal’ bumper sticker on your car. You just don’t do it.”

Justice Alito’s first flag scandal came late last week, when The New York Times reported an upside down U.S. flag had flown at his Virginia home jut days before Joe Biden was sworn in as President. That flag is associated with the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. As of January, more than 1200 who were there that day have been arrested and charged with crimes.

Alito blamed his wife, claiming she made the decision to fly the flag upside down, which according to the U.S. flag code should only be done to signal distress. Martha-Ann Alito, her husband claimed, had gotten into an argument with a neighbor and manifested her anger by flying the “Stop the Steal” flag.

READ MORE: ‘Investigate Now’: As Alito Scandal Grows Pressure Mounts on ‘MIA’ and ‘AWOL’ Judiciary Chair

The second flag scandal came on Wednesday, when The Times again revealed an Alito insurrection-related flag, this time at his New Jersey home, where the Alitos were flying the “Appeal to Heaven” flag which has ties both to the insurrectionists, and to extreme right Christian nationalists.

Justice Alito has not made any public comment defending his second flag.

Judge Ponsor offered up a hypothetical to counter Justice Alito’s claim his wife was to blame, in this case, an example of him presiding over a death penalty case.

“Let’s say my wife was strongly opposed to the death penalty and wished to speak out publicly against it. I’m not saying this is true, but let’s imagine it. The primary emotional current in our marriage is, of course, deep and passionate love, but right next to that is equally deep and passionate respect. We would have had a problem, and we would have needed to talk,” Ponsor explained.

“In this hypothetical situation, I hope that my wife would have held off making any public statements about capital punishment, and restrained herself from talking about the issue with me, while the trial unfolded. On the other hand, if my wife had felt strongly that she needed to espouse her viewpoint publicly, I would have had to recuse myself from presiding over the case, based on the appearance of partiality.”

READ MORE: ‘Going for the Jugular’: Legal Scholar Warns ‘Trumpers’ Want to End Major Civil Right

Note he mentions as a sitting federal judge he would have applied the same standards that jurors are expected to observe: to not discuss the case with anyone, including their spouses.

And should there have been a discussion, or if she were to air her views publicly, he would be forced to recuse himself from the case.

Justice Alito has not recused from any 2020 presidential election cases, any Trump-related cases, any insurrection-related cases.

That includes the Trump “absolute immunity” case the Supreme Court heard in April, for which they have yet to rule.

The Supreme Court “recently adopted an ethics code to ‘guide the conduct’ of the justices,” Ponsor observes. “One of its canons states that a justice should ‘act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.’ That’s all very well. But basic ethical behavior should not rely on laws or regulations. It should be folded into a judge’s DNA. That didn’t happen here.”

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

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OPINION

Trump’s Bronx Rally Attendance Claim Fuels Mockery as Aerial Images Show a Different Story

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Once again the Trump campaign is claiming massive attendance at his latest rally, and once again internet users are making a mockery of those claims – as a local ABC reporter reveals a few facts about attendance and the attendees.

“Trump vows to ‘save’ deep-blue New York City in massive, historic Bronx rally,” Fox News‘s Brandon Gillespie, Paul Steinhauser, and Michael Ruiz reported Thursday evening. “25,000 supporters of the former president descended on Crotona Park, Trump’s campaign said.”

The Associated Press offered a different take.

“Former President Donald Trump campaigned Thursday in one of the most Democratic counties in the nation, holding a rally in the South Bronx as he tries to woo minority voters days before a Manhattan jury will begin deliberations on whether to convict him of felony charges in his criminal hush money trial.”

ABC 7 New York’s Jim Dolan, reporting from the Trump rally in the South Bronx Thursday, served up a reality check (video below).

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

“Donald Trump can now say he held a rally in the South Bronx, home to immigrants and minority communities, and that it was well attended. It’s just not clear that the people who attended were from the Bronx. The campaign controlled who got in and the campaign of course, picked only supporters,” Dolan revealed. “Trump’s motorcade arrived in Crotona Park tonight. The crowd surged to get a look at him, more like a pop star than a politician. Not everyone wants a pop star for President.”

One person in the park told ABC 7, Trump is “a big fat bigot. And he just doesn’t have any love in his heart, for anyone, anyone of color. Anyone who’s in the LGBTQ plus community.”

Another called Trump, “a crook, a liar, and he tries to make money off people. And that’s what he’s doing right now,” and claimed the attendees are “all from out of state.”

“Go out there and look at all them cars that are parked and check where they came from? Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas.”

U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), who represents the South Bronx, was also at the park and told ABC 7, “If you did a poll about who’s more popular, Donald Trump or lead paint. I suspect lead is more popular than Donald Trump in the Bronx.”

READ MORE: ‘Not an Accident’: Trump’s ‘Unified Reich’ Video Alarms Historians and Fascism Experts

Congressman Torres also posted this commentary to social media:

The Trump campaign’s claim of 25,000 in attendance was belied by ABC 7’s aerial photography (screenshot, above), which was from Dolan’s report:

Meanwhile, some internet users had a good time mocking the Trump campaign’s claims by posting images clearly not of Trump’s Bronx rally.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Contemptuous’: Justice Alito’s Actions ‘Close to Treason’ Suggests Constitutional Scholar

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