• Who Is Laphonza Butler?

    Chip Somodevilla/Getty

    Two days after Dianne Feinstein’s death, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) has chosen her replacement. On Sunday, Newsom announced that Laphonza Butler, president of the pro-choice political action committee EMILY’s List, will fill the seat of the late California senator. Butler will be the second Black woman and the first openly LGBTQ member to serve as California’s senator.

    “As we mourn the enormous loss of Senator Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for—reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence—have never been under greater assault,” wrote Newsom in a statement. “Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington DC.”

    As my colleague, Abby Vesoulis, wrote ahead of Newsom’s announcement, the selection of Butler makes good on his 2021 promise to appoint a Black woman to replace Feinstein should she leave the Senate early.

    In September 2021, Butler became the first Black president of EMILY’s List. Her political roots are thoroughly in California, having served as a member of the University of California Board of Regents and Democratic strategist for Vice President Kamala Harris in the 2020 election. Newsom credited Butler’s work fighting for labor rights with playing a key role in his decision to appoint her. Some have criticized Butler’s history of working for tech giants, specifically as Airbnb’s director for public policy, and her work representing Uber.

    Vice President Harris is expected to perform the swearing-in.

  • Biden Flips the Script on Republicans in New Pro-Union Ad

    Kyle Mazza/AP

    In an effort to tout his support for unions, President Biden doesn’t appear to have to do much talking. In fact, a new campaign ad is relying on the real words of his Republican opponents to do just that.

    “When you have a president that’s constantly saying, ‘Go union, go union,’ this is what you get,” Nikki Haley says in one of the clips featured in Biden’s latest campaign video. Also included is Tim Scott complaining about Biden’s push to include $86 million in the American Rescue Plan in order to help troubled union pensions.

    As my colleague Noah Lanard noted, Haley and Scott have been on an anti-labor streak in recent days. It’s a strange position considering that 2023 has seen the launch of several historic strikes, many of which are widely supported among Americans. That includes auto workers at the Big Three and Hollywood writers and actors. Biden, who frequently claims to be the “most pro-union president” in US history, has openly supported the ongoing strikes, prompting Republicans to pounce.

    Of course, Biden’s union record isn’t without scrutiny either. Some speculate that Biden’s loyalty and repeated claims of being the “most pro-union president” in US history will be tested once the economic effects of the UAW strike become more pressing. Still, it’s pretty striking to see the glaring dissonance between Democrats and Republicans. In the case of Haley and Scott, all Biden really had to do was flip the script on them.

  • Pennsylvania Is Making it Easier to Register to Vote

    Markus Schreiber/AP

    On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) announced that the state will join more than 20 others and adopt automatic voter registration. It is a small change that could have a big impact.

    Now, those eligible will be automatically prompted to enroll to vote when they fill out their personal information for other government bodies, like the Department of Motor Vehicles. Before, voters were asked by DMV computers whether or not they wanted to register. The new program will instead immediately take them to a form to sign up.

    Shapiro hopes the change will “break down barriers” for Pennsylvanians. “Now more than ever, we need an engaged citizenry to move our country and our Commonwealth forward,” the governor said in a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

    While most states have their own unique form of automatic voter registration, studies show that introducing automatic registration does lead to an overall growth in registered voters. A 2019 report from the Brennan Center for Justice found that eight states that adopted the method had an increase in the number of registrants, regardless of state size or political affiliation. Georgia had the highest jump with a 93.7 percent uptick in voters compared to three years prior after adopting automatic registration.

    Beyond increasing voter participation, Shapiro hopes this can lead to more integrity in the state’s elections. Pennsylvania has been overrun with conspiracists who believe that former president Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election. According to reporting from Spotlight PA, at least 18 people election deniers are slated to oversee local elections in November. 

    Shapiro stated that streamlining the registration process is a “key step” to securing elections and strengthening the country’s democracy, according to ABC. Still, many conservatives have railed against Pennsylvania’s decision. 

    “If you want to increase the likelihood of fraud, multiple or duplicate registrations, and participation of ineligible voters—such as non-citizens and illegal aliens, temporary residents, and convicted felons—look no further than the process of dumping government data onto the voter rolls,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the founder of DeSantis Super PAC, “Never Back Down,” to Roll Call(We’ve written plenty about Cuccinelli in the past and his role in changing immigration rules during the Trump admin.)

    “Residents of our Commonwealth already provide proof of identity, residency, age, and citizenship at the DMV—all the information required to register to vote—so it makes good sense to streamline that process with voter registration,” Shapiro said in a statement.

  • Mike Pence Is Really Bad at Comebacks

    Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

    In a recent interview in The Atlantic, retiring Sen. Mitt Romney unloaded on former Vice President Mike Pence, who has attempted to distance himself from Donald Trump since the January 6 insurrection.

    No one has been “more loyal, more willing to smile when he saw absurdities, more willing to ascribe God’s will to things that were ungodly than Mike Pence,” Romney said.

    Pence responded to Romney in a decidedly Penceian way during an interview with CNN on Sunday.

    “Look, Mitt Romney has no idea what I was doing in the administration,” Pence said. “I haven’t talked to Mitt Romney for years. He can go off into retirement.”

    As The Daily Beast notes, Pence didn’t always feel that way about Romney. He praised him in a book last year as “good, public-spirited man with a servant’s heart.”

    Pence has attempted a difficult balancing act with Trump, criticizing his boss for pressuring him to overturn the 2020 election while saying he was “incredibly proud” of the Trump administration’s record. That strategy hasn’t been successful so far. Pence is currently polling at 7 percent in the GOP race for president.

  • Dog Culture Must End

    Mother Jones illustration; Ospan Ali/Unsplash; Ruby Schmank/Unsplash

    When I say that I hate dogs, I don’t mean that I hate your dog. I mean that I dislike ill-behaved dogs. I mean that I’m actually a little bit scared of them, and they can sense my nervousness, and so we tend not to get along. I mean that I hate dog culture—the relentless prioritization of dogs’ needs over humans’, and the suggestion that anyone who doesn’t want their face licked by some oversized mutt is a monster.

    This issue of our societal permissiveness toward dangerous dogs recently came up at work. During his tenure, President Joe Biden has brought two violent dogs into the White House, where thousands of people go to work every day. Last month, a conservative watchdog group released records showing that Biden’s German shepherd Commander attacked Secret Service members 10 times between October 2022 and January. And in 2021, Major Biden, another German shepherd, was exiled to Delaware after his own biting spree. When my colleague Inae Oh surveyed Mother Jones readers about how the Bidens should handle the situation, I was baffled by the responses.

    Several respondents suggested that Commander must be able to sniff out Trump allies, as if those people deserve to be savaged by an untrained dog. The notion that a dog is a reliable judge of character is symptomatic of a dog-obsessed society; a subset of our population genuinely believes that the dog is always right.

    I think the president should take a stand against this. Biden should set an example for the rest of the country by getting his animals under control or getting them out of the White House, away from an active workplace where they’ve been known to hurt people. He should make it clear that no one needs to tolerate an unruly dog. He should give a grand speech—I’ll write it, don’t worry—on how this country’s canine-first attitude is, although not a top legislative issue, extremely annoying.

    I am allowing Biden to take the moderate position here, as usual. He does not need to say he hates dogs. He can simply state the obvious: It’s a dog’s world, and we’re just living in it, no matter how dangerous, dirty, or disrespectful it may be. (Hating dogs, by the way, is just another thing Trump ruined.)

    Some will read this and pretend they don’t know what I’m talking about. Come on. You’ve experienced dogs’ indiscretions. You’ve stepped on their shit in the street. And it’s not their fault: Behind every misbehaving dog is a human victim of dog culture, an individual whose mind is too warped by dog-love to consider the well-being of their fellow humans or the dog itself. In a world of doggy day care, dog parades, and dog spas, can you really blame some people for starting to believe that dogs are a little better than the rest of us?

    Some of us act like dogs rule the world. Often, when I’m out with a friend, strolling down the street or sitting down at a restaurant, a dog walks by, and the friend interrupts our conversation to freak out about the dog. They might exclaim what a cute dog it is, or go up to the owner asking to pet it, initiating a protracted conversation about the animal’s age, sex, weight, breed, temperament, and grooming requirements. What I want to say to my friend, but never manage to spit out, is, “Have you never seen a fucking dog before?” Calm down. Why are you so excited? It’s a dog.

    I think, if I were a dog owner, that I would be annoyed by people stopping me every two blocks to fawn over my pet. But I’m not a dog owner, so I’m unable to comprehend the sense of superiority and entitlement that governs their day-to-day. Imagine going through a life with a rambunctious dog and insisting to every stranger she attacks that “She’s really sweet!” Imagine dragging your dog into restaurants with a fake “service animal” vest, thereby making it harder for people who actually do need service animals to prove that they’re not just pets. Imagine bringing your dog into a wilderness area, ignoring the leash requirements, and acting surprised when your dog won’t stop chasing birds or digging up plants.

    We allow dogs to act like assholes. Enough. End dog culture now.

    (This is my last day after many years of blogging at Mother Jones. I’ll miss you all. And if you disagree with this post, you and your dog can bite me.)

  • In the News this Week: Our Legislators Are Old

    Drew Angerer/ Getty

    It happened again. For the second time in about a month, Mitch McConnell suddenly froze in public on Wednesday, appearing to stare blankly and motionless for 30 seconds during a news conference. The 81-year-old senate minority leader, who suffered a concussion after a fall last year, had been attempting to answer a question from a reporter about his reelection plans.

    McConnell’s spokesman told CNN that the Kentucky Republican had been feeling “momentarily lightheaded and paused during the press conference.” They added that McConnell “will be consulting a physician” before his next event. 

    McConnell is just one of several high-profile aging lawmakers who have made a new round of headlines this week. NPR on Thursday reported that President Biden, the country’s first octogenarian-in-chief, is regularly taking the shorter staircase of Air Force One in order not to repeat stumbles he’s made while climbing the 18-foot staircase at the front of the plane. And the unflattering stories continue for Dianne Feinstein, now the oldest serving member of the Senate, with Politico reporting more on the intense legal disputes between Feinstein’s daughter and her stepsisters over Feinstein’s estate. Since returning to the Senate after a nearly three-month-long medical leave in May, during which several of Biden’s judicial nominations were stalled because of Feinstein’s absence, Feinstein has appeared confused on numerous occasions, including last month’s vote on a defense appropriations bill. “Just say aye,” committee chair Patty Murray was seen telling Feinstein after she launched into a speech instead of saying “aye” or “nay.”  

    These stories renew a now familiar question: How old is too old for someone to stay in office? The issue is especially confounding considering Feinstein’s saga reflects a wider, deeply American crisis. As my colleague Stephanie Mencimer wrote:

    The Feinstein saga is a very public example of innumerable private crises currently taking place in millions of American households. With their pathological obsession with personal freedom, Americans are both collectively and individually failing to address the growing problem of impaired elderly people. Consider how hard it is to take away someone’s driver’s license or move a senior who’s become a hoarder into a safer living situation. It’s only going to get worse. There are millions of baby boomers who are about to join Feinstein in the ranks of dementia patients. 

    These very public episodes from McConnell, Feinstein, and Biden, all of which have acutely underscored just how old our government is, have played a key role in the growing push for term limits and even mental competency tests. But the problems of gerontocracy extend beyond physical and mental capacity. As many have argued, lawmakers who have stuck around for decades threaten to keep in place outdated ideologies out of touch with the wider electorate. 

  • Why Ron DeSantis Was Booed at a Vigil for Jacksonville Shooting Victims

    John Raoux/AP

    “Black history matters!” “Your policies caused this!” “These deaths are on your hands!”

    These were just some of the remarks that were shouted at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis when he appeared at a Sunday vigil dedicated to the three victims of the racist shooting at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida. As my colleague Julia Lurie wrote, the white gunman, who killed himself after the attack, had been armed with a handgun and an assault-style rifle with swastika markings when he opened fire, fatally shooting three Black people: Angela Michelle Carr, Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr., and Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion. It was later revealed that on the same day, the shooter had also driven to Edward Waters University, a historically Black university near the Dollar General, where campus security asked him to leave. 

    In a statement on Saturday, DeSantis condemned the shooter, calling him a “scumbag” who “took the coward’s way out.” He also directed $1.1 million to help EWU ramp up security on campus. But many in the Black community have rejected DeSantis’ overtures, pointing to his near-obsessive work as governor to eliminate diversity and inclusion efforts from Florida’s public school system, something he frequently brags about as he attempts to win the Republican presidential nomination. Those efforts include implementing policies to defund DEI efforts at Florida’s state colleges, and defending the state’s new Board of Education provision that implied Black people benefitted from slavery. The racist shooting has also renewed scrutiny of DeSantis’ push to loosen gun restrictions in the state, which includes signing a bill into law that allows gun owners to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. 

    It’s this record that prompted the NAACP in May, alongside several other social justice organizations, to issue a formal travel advisory warning Black people against traveling to Florida because of what they blasted as the DeSantis administration’s all-out attack on Black Americans.” 

    “We cannot sit idly by as our history is being erased, as our lives are being devalued, as wokeness is being attacked,” said Florida state Rep. Angie Nixon at a separate vigil. “Because let’s be clear: that is red meat to a base of voters. That is a dog whistle. That wokeness that they want to die is Black people and it was evident yesterday by what happened.”

  • Trump Trial Set to Begin Day Before Super Tuesday

    Alex Brandon/AP

    Former President Donald Trump’s trial for attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election is set to begin the day before voters in more than a dozen states will decide whether he should have another shot at the White House.

    Depending on how Trump plays it, this could either be a catastrophic scheduling conflict or a major boon to the former president’s campaign. But Trump had requested that the trial begin in April 2026, suggesting that he isn’t pleased about having to juggle his legal obligations with his professional ones. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors, led by special counsel Jack Smith, had requested that the trial begin in January 2024.

    Trump has already set the expectation that he’ll take on the 2024 campaign from the sidelines. Last week, he chose not to attend the first Republican presidential debate. Instead, he spoke with Tucker Carlson in an interview broadcast on Twitter. In spite of everything, he remains the GOP presidential frontrunner.

  • Vivek Ramaswamy’s Campaign Slogan Is a Reverse “In This House, We Believe” Yard Sign

    Mother Jones illustration; Win McNamee/Getty; Kirby Lee/AP

    In his closing statement at last night’s GOP presidential debate, Vivek Ramaswamy rattled off a list of his “10 campaign commandments”:

    1. God is real.
    2. There are two genders.
    3. Human flourishing requires fossil fuels.
    4. Reverse racism is racism.
    5. An open border is no border.
    6. Parents determine the education of their children.
    7. The nuclear family is the greatest form of governance known to mankind.
    8. Capitalism lifts people up from poverty.
    9. There are three branches of the U.S. government, not four.
    10. The U.S. Constitution is the strongest guarantor of freedoms in history.

    Sound familiar?

    It appears, at least to me, that Ramaswamy decided to proclaim the opposite of each of the statements that are displayed on the most common “In This House, We Believe” yard signs commonly found in Democratic neighborhoods. “I just wrote down things that are true,” Ramaswamy told the Atlantic. “It took me about 15 minutes.” Maybe. But I’m convinced that this was a deliberate mockery. (I tried calling Ramaswamy’s press secretary for comment, but her voicemail was full.)

    Some of these are stretches, but bear with me. In Ramaswamy’s world, “Science is real” becomes “God is real.” Commandment number 4 is the inverse of “Black Lives Matter”; number 5 is the response to “No human is illegal”; the supremacy of the nuclear family counters “Love is love”; “There are two genders” responds to “women’s rights are human rights”; “Human flourishing requires fossil fuels” answers “Water is life”; and the Constitution’s protection of freedoms negates the assertion that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Commandments 6, 8, and 9 round out the list to a healthy 10.

    Even if they don’t all fit perfectly, the overall tone matches too well to be a coincidence, right?

    Kirby Lee/AP

    The Biblical bent of Ramaswamy’s commandments is interesting, given that he is a monotheistic Hindu attempting to court Christian voters. But Ramaswamy’s make him seem less like Moses than like a suburban homeowner—and no less cringe. 

    For ease, here are the two lists beside one another, lined up to show the pairings:

    We Believe poster: Science is real. Ramaswamy commandment: God is real. 

     We Believe poster: Black Lives Matter. Ramaswamy commandment: Reverse racism is racism.

    We Believe posterNo human is illegal. Ramaswamy commandment: An open border is no border. 

    We Believe posterWater is life. Ramaswamy commandment: Human flourishing requires fossil fuels.

    We Believe posterWomen’s rights are human rights. Ramaswamy commandment: There are two genders.

    We Believe posterLove is love. Ramaswamy commandment: The nuclear family is the greatest form of governance known to mankind. 

    We Believe poster: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Ramaswamy commandment: The U.S. Constitution is the strongest guarantor of freedoms in history.

  • Trump’s Co-Defendants Kick Off the Surrender Parade in Georgia

    Arvin Temkar/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP

    Another Trump arrest is upon us this week. For those just tuning in, here’s a rundown of some key updates.

    Two of Donald Trump’s 18 co-defendants kicked off the surrender parade on Tuesday, with Scott Hall and John Eastman appearing before Fulton County authorities to get booked on charges related to Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s results in the 2020 presidential election. The bail bondsman and former attorney for Trump, respectively, face a combined total of sixteen charges.

    “My legal team and I will vigorously contest every count of the indictment in which I am named, and also every count in which others are named, for which my knowledge of the relevant facts, law, and constitutional provisions may prove helpful,” Eastman wrote in a statement posted on his legal team’s website. “I am confident that, when the law is faithfully applied in this proceeding, all of my co-defendants and I will be fully vindicated.”

    Eastman, according to the indictment, was allegedly behind the plan to appoint fake Trump-supporting electors and faces racketeering and conspiracy charges. Eastman was also allegedly involved in the pressure campaign to convince former Vice President Mike Pence not to certify Georgia’s election results. Meanwhile, Fulton County prosecutors have accused Hall, an Atlanta-area bondsman, of participating in the Coffee County voting systems breach. Both men had their bails set at $100,000 and $10,000, respectively. 

    The remaining defendants are expected to surrender before noon on Friday, August 25. As for the main defendant, Donald J. Trump, the former president announced shortly before his bail was set to $200,000 that he would be turning himself in on Thursday. The bail terms include the provision prohibiting Trump from contacting the case’s witnesses and co-defendants, including on social media.

    Trump on Monday predictably took his complaints straight to the internet, attacking prosecutor Fani Willis as a part of the “radical left.” He then appeared to mock the seriousness of the bail terms by joking that he would flee for “Russia, Russia, Russia,” to hang out in a “gold domed suite” with Vladimir Putin.

  • “What Have You Been Doing?” and the Brutal Adultification of Black Girls

    ClassicStock/ Getty

    The devastating impacts on reproductive rights and individual lives after the fall of Roe continue apace.

    The latest high-profile account to detail the gut-wrenching effects arrived in Time this week. The story—”She Wasn’t Able to Get an Abortion. Now She’s a Mom. Soon She’ll Start 7th Grade”—centers on Ashley, a 13-year-old girl from Mississippi who in the fall of 2022, according to her mother, was raped by a stranger in her yard. The assault resulted in a pregnancy that she was unable to terminate because of the strict abortion bans in Mississippi and its bordering states, each enacted after the overturning of Roe. Ashley’s mother, Regina, told Time that she didn’t have the resources to take her daughter to the nearest clinic hundreds of miles away in Chicago.

    This story, recounting Ashley’s trauma and highlighting the many systems that failed her, is an incredibly difficult read. But one line has especially stayed with me:

    “One nurse came in and asked Ashley, “What have you been doing?” Regina recalls. That’s when they found out Ashley was pregnant.”

    This is the question a nurse chose to ask when confronted with a Black child in clear distress, who had shown up to the emergency room unable to stop vomiting.  Not “What happened to you?” or “Are you okay?” The nurse reportedly asked a 13-year-old child, “What have you been doing?” It’s hard not to see the suspicion and implicit blame in the question. That culpability, deployed with equal amounts of derision and judgment, is something that I and many other Black women and girls are all too familiar with. 

    Victim blaming reaches people of all races. But Black girls stand at a uniquely horrifying intersection where both gender and skin color are weaponized against them. One study showed that as early as five years old, society perceives Black girls as “less innocent” and “more adult-like” than their non-Black counterparts, placing an unfair expectation on them to act more maturely. In 2017, Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality reported that participants in a study perceived Black girls as needing less nurturing, protection, and comfort than white girls. These virulent misconceptions, of course, can be traced back to historically racist stereotypes about Black femininity. GLCPI wrote:

    “These images and historical stereotypes of Black women have real-life consequences for Black girls today. According to [Jamila] Blake and colleagues, “these stereotypes underlie the implicit bias that shapes many [adult’s] view of Black females [as] … sexually promiscuous, hedonistic, and in need of socialization.”

    The results of this adultification are pervasive. Black girls are often punished more severely in schools and the criminal justice system than their white peers. The ripple effects can be found all over popular culture. Huff Post’s Taryn Finley attributed this societal perception as a key reason why R. Kelly, whose accusers were primarily Black women and girls, was able to remain successful despite allegations of child sexual abuse surrounding him for several decades. And they can be found in questions like, “What have you been doing?”

    Girlhood is a delicate period. It should be a time for crushes and school dances, not confronting the dark realities of misogyny and racism. It’s time for society to allow young Black girls to be girls, instead of forcing them into becoming women. Not ask, like the nurse in this story, “What have you been doing?”

  • Read the Georgia Indictment Against Donald Trump

    Mother Jones; Justin Sullivan/Getty

    In Georgia, a grand jury handed in criminal charges against Donald Trump for the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. The investigation was conducted by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Trump was charged with 13 felonies, including a violation of Georgia’s RICO law.

    Charges were also unveiled against 18 others, including Rudy Giuliani, former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, and lawyer John Eastman, for their roles in attempting to subvert election results.

    Read the full indictment against Trump below.

  • The Elon Musk vs. Mark Zuckerberg Cage Match Is Not Happening

    Jakub Porzycki/AP

    The summer of 2023 could be remembered in several ways. Taylor Swift,  apocalyptic smoke, record-shattering heat, Trump indictments. But it was also a time when, for a few short weeks starting in July, the world was forced to consider the possibility of a literal cage match between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. 

    It began after the latter billionaire boy suggested that he wanted to create a competitor to Twitter. (We know it’s called X or something now. But for the sake of sanity and clarity, I will refer to the company by its original name.) Musk, replying to a random user who brought up Zuckerberg’s newfound ju-jitsu hobbies, then tweeted, “I’m up for a cage match if he is,” kicking off weeks of back-and-forth, ever-escalating taunts. Somewhere in between, Zuckerberg followed up and created Meta’s Twitter competitor, Threads. Musk promised to donate any money generated by the fight to veterans. Zuckerberg trained with MMA fighters.

    Now, the cage fight news cycle appears to have landed at its only inevitable conclusion: It’s not happening.

    Post from "Zuck" that says, "I think we can all agree Elon isn't serious and it's time to move on. I offered a real date. Dana White offered to make this a legit competition for charity. Elon won't confirm a date, then says he needs surgery, and now asks to do a practice round in my backyard instead. If Elon ever gets serious about a real date and official event, he knows how to reach me. Otherwise, time to move on. I'm going to focus on competing with people who take the sport seriously."


    Zuckerberg’s acknowledgment that it’s “time to move on,” fortunately puts an end to the speculation. It’s particularly funny that it comes only days after Musk appeared to tease that the Colosseum was being seriously considered to host this mess. But why couldn’t the Meta CEO have moved on instead of engaging with the chaos of a man who had just paid billions to destroy a company? No, that would have required the self-knowledge to accept the fact that you’re even less popular than Donald Trump.

    In any case,  as summer draws to a close, I’m happy to report that the possibility of a cage fight between two billionaires is definitely—maybe— not happening. For now.

  • Report: Georgia Prosecutors Have Texts Directly Connecting Trump to Voting Breach

    Katelyn Myrick/ZUMA

    As Fulton County DA Fani Willis prepares to present the findings of the investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election this week, CNN reports on text messages directly connecting the former president’s lawyers to a January 2021 voting systems breach. From CNN:

    Investigators in the Georgia criminal probe have long suspected the breach was not an organic effort sprung from sympathetic Trump supporters in rural and heavily Republican Coffee County—a county Trump won by nearly 70% of the vote. They have gathered evidence indicating it was a top-down push by Trump’s team to access sensitive voting software, according to people familiar with the situation.

    The breach came as the Trump campaign aggressively hunted for nonexistent election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. The effort, which laid the groundwork for the violence on January 6, featured Trump calling Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger demanding that he find nonexistent votes to back the unfounded claims. The former president appeared to refer to that very phone call, which he previously referred to as “perfect,” in his response to the CNN report on Sunday:

    Last month, a Georgia state judge rejected Trump’s request to throw out the grand jury report and disqualify Willis from investigating him. As I wrote at the time, the nine-page order demonstrated the judge had little patience for Trump’s efforts to “perplexingly, prematurely, and with the standard pugnacity”—derail the justice system.

  • Ron DeSantis Did Not Have a Good Weekend

    Jeff Roberson/AP

    I did not attend the Iowa State Fair this weekend. But even a thousand miles away from pig pens and Republican presidential candidates, I could feel the utter humiliation of a certain Florida man.

    That’s the big takeaway from the fairgrounds where Ron DeSantis was repeatedly heckled with pro-Trump chants as he attempted to play the role of an everyday, just-one-of-the-guys Republican. How does a notoriously charmless presidential hopeful achieve this? Flipping burgers and mutilating fresh farm eggs with sticks:

    I would never eat an egg on a stick, and the sight of a man offering one would genuinely shock me. But participating in traditions like “food on a stick” while engaging in requisite small talk with “real people,” something DeSantis reportedly finds painful, is apparently what a candidate whose campaign is in free fall must endure. Were Iowans seduced? Did Iowans succumb to acts of forced intimacy: 

    It appears not.

    In fact, those attending the fair were reportedly rapt with excitement over Donald Trump. As the New York Times reports, Trump’s appearance this weekend was a rare moment in the 2024 campaign that featured the two men in the same place—and Trump did not waste the opportunity to make DeSantis’ life hell. Here’s Matt Gaetz, one of several Florida congressmen Trump brought to taunt DeSantis, at the fair: 

    I’ll admit to enjoying these clips of odious grown men psychologically pummeling each other. But any small joy in watching a humiliating weekend for Ron DeSantis vanishes when you remember that a twice-impeached former president facing criminal charges is now all but certain to win the Republican presidential nomination. 

  • DeSantis and Newsom: A Debate No One Asked For Is Happening


    For nearly a year, Gavin Newsom, the California governor who swears he has “subzero interest” in running for president, has asked to debate Ron DeSantis. Finally, the struggling Republican presidential candidate has accepted.

    “Absolutely, I’m game,” DeSantis told Sean Hannity on Thursday. “Let’s get this done. Just tell me when and where.”

    Newsom, through a spokesperson, responded, “Nov. 8 or 10,” before quickly returning to a fighting performance: “DeSantis should put up or shut up. Anything else is just games.”

    No one wants this debate. Well, except for Dan Rather, but he said that a year ago. Now, it’s even less needed.

    One man is a stand-in for the party’s steady autocratic drift and represents a clear extension of Trump-era policies; the other is the product of hair gel, Resistance Twitter (at best), and a demonstrated inability to sit still. Both share a common affliction: a white-hot ambition that compels them to force their personalities onto civilians now left wondering why we’d want to watch a man whose presidential campaign is in freefall argue on stage with a man who literally has to explain his actions in an email titled, “I am writing today to explain why I am debating Ron DeSantis.” (The same email included Newsom’s claim that he is selfless, a mere servant of Joe Biden seeking to defend the president’s agenda.) Each has an unmistakable thirst for the White House, and for very different reasons, neither is likely to get there, at least in 2024. 

    It’s far from coincidence that DeSantis has surrendered to Newsom’s taunting as his presidential campaign is very publicly collapsing. And with Donald Trump essentially ignoring his calls to debate, DeSantis isn’t left with many options. Yet one has to wonder how the image of DeSantis debating a man who is neither Trump nor Biden helps him here. I imagine it’ll only add to his awkward, rizz-less reputation. As for Newsom, it looks like he’s really leaning into that refusal to sit still. 

  • Somehow Being Named a Co-Conspirator in the Trump Indictment Was Not the Worst Part of Giuliani’s Week

    Matias J. Ocner/TNS/Zuma

    For the third time this year, former President Trump has been indicted, this time on federal charges related to his attempts to subvert the 2020 presidential election. He faces three different conspiracy counts. And he didn’t act alone.

    Prosecutors say that Trump worked with at least six co-conspirators, five of whom are attorneys. My colleague Dan Friedman pieced together the presumptive identities of the lawyers based on information in the charging documents. The alleged co-conspirators include “Kraken” lawyer Sidney Powell, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, and Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference host Rudy Giuliani.

    And yet, somehow, Giuliani’s attempts to subvert American democracy may not be the most damning thing he’s in the news for this week. Transcripts of Giuliani’s private comments have come to light as part of a lawsuit from a woman accusing the Trump lawyer of rape and sexual abuse. They include him making lewd comments about the size of Jewish men’s genitalia and telling a woman he wants to “claim” her breasts.

    Some of the comments seem too absurd to be true. They’re real. At one point, he says that Jews need to “get over” Passover. “OK, the Red Sea parted,” he says. “Big deal. Not the first time that happened.” At another point, Giuliani calls Matt Damon a homophobic slur and then launches into song: “Matt Damon is also 5’2. Eyes are blue. Coochie-coochie-coochie-coo.

    “It’s disappointing to see some so-called ‘journalists’ stoop so low with these smears and attacks against a man who has dedicated his life to serving others,” a spokesperson for the former mayor told Rolling Stone. “Mayor Giuliani cleaned up the streets of New York City, took down the Mafia and comforted the nation following September 11th.”

    But you know the old question. What have you done for me lately?

    This article first appeared in the Mother Jones Daily, our newsletter that cuts through the noise to help you make sense of the most important stories of the day. Sign up for free here!

  • The US’s Credit Rating Just Got Downgraded. You Can Thank Trump’s Coup Attempt.

    Sue Ogrocki/ AP

    On Tuesday, the credit agency Fitch Ratings downgraded its debt rating for the United States from the highest AAA rating to AA+.

    The demotion, as some economists including Paul Krugman have argued, is strange and ultimately a bit meaningless. But the apparent reasons behind the decision are worth reviewing. Here’s Richard Francis, Fitch’s senior director, telling Reuters: 

    “It was something that we highlighted because it just is a reflection of the deterioration in governance, it’s one of many,” he said.

    “You have the debt ceiling, you have Jan. 6. Clearly, if you look at polarization with both parties … the Democrats have gone further left and Republicans further right, so the middle is kind of falling apart basically,” Francis said, adding “we don’t fault one party or the other for the fiscal situation.”

    Francis may believe he sounds fair, even smart with that analysis. But lumping debt ceiling negotiations—in which Biden successfully averted a government default—with a violent attack on the US Capitol as examples of politicization feels unserious, an entry into the absurd whataboutism of these times. Economists and White House officials have since responded with disappointment.

    “Arbitrary and based on outdated data.” is how US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen put it. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the move “defies reality,” claiming in a statement that President Joe Biden has delivered “the strongest recovery of any major economy in the world.” 

    “It’s clear that extremism by Republican officials—from cheerleading default, to undermining governance and democracy, to seeking to extend deficit-busting tax giveaways for the wealthy and corporations—is a continued threat to our economy,” she added.

    On the same day that Fitch downgraded its US rating, Donald Trump was handed his third indictment of the year for his starring role on January 6. 

  • Read the Trump Jan. 6 Indictment

    Mother Jones; Chip Somodevilla/Getty

    For the third time this year, former President Trump has been indicted. Potentially the most serious case, this federal indictment deals with Trump’s alleged role in the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

    The four new charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted.

    “Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to stay in power,” prosecutors wrote in the charging document. “So for more than two months following Election Day on November 3, 2020, the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won. These claims were false, and the Defendant knew that they were false. But the Defendant repeated and widely disseminated them anyway—to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

    Read the charges here:

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

  • Not Everyone Is Happy About E-Bikes in National Parks

    Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

    Touring Yellowstone on an e-bike seems preferable to using a car. But can e-bikes actually hurt the environments they allow us to explore?

    In 2019, near the end of the Trump administration, then–Interior Secretary David Bernhardt instructed national parks to allow e-bikes wherever traditional bikes were allowed. The nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) sued, arguing that NPS needed to undertake an environmental assessment before it finalized its e-bike policy, and a US district judge agreed. In June of this year, the NPS finally came out with its assessment, and it has people on both sides of the debate riled up.

    The gist of the assessment is that riding an e-bike on a trail isn’t much more harmful to soil, vegetation, and wildlife than hiking, horseback riding, or traditional bicycle riding. National cycling advocacy group People for Bikes agrees.

    But PEER, the organization that brought the lawsuit, has found fault with the NPS’s assessment. PEER says that the NPS has not adequately addressed the potential for e-bikes to disturb wildlife and that the vehicles create conflicts between e-bike riders and other people on the trail.

    Balancing climate goals and local conservation can be complex. As we’ve written before, e-bikes, and subsidies to purchase them, could limit car dependence—an important step for staving off climate change. But local environments, especially in national parks, need to be protected, too. We’ve written before about idiots who deface our most precious wilderness areas, and the NPS assessment raises the question of whether to rank e-bike riders among them.

    You can read the full review here.