Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Just Took His War With the Feds to the Next Level
Even a ruling from the nation’s highest court doesn’t seem to be enough to deter Texas’s governor from fooling around at the border.
On Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott amped the situation up a notch, declaring the influx of immigrants over the border an “invasion”—a status that Abbott claimed supersedes federal mandates—while shipping more members of the Texas National Guard to erect more concertina wire along the Rio Grande section of the U.S.-Mexico border.
That move appeared to openly defy a Supreme Court ruling made on Monday, which sided with the Biden administration that Texas had overstepped its authority by placing the wire in such a way that federal agents could no longer access the border.
“Texas’ razor wire is an effective deterrent against the illegal border crossings encouraged by Biden’s open border policies,” Abbott said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “We continue to deploy this razor wire to repel illegal immigration.”
The online defiance came part and parcel with an eyebrow-raising interview on Fox News on Thursday, in which Abbott dodged a point-blank question about the state’s standoff with federal agents.
“Will you instruct your officers to physically prevent federal officers from accessing that part of the border?” asked host Bill Hemmer.
“So, what Texas is doing is just very simple. And that is because the Biden administration has really, truly, abdicated this responsibility to secure the border and enforce the laws, Texas very simply is securing the border,” Abbott responded, remarkably not saying no. “So we put up the razor wire that you were talking about, Bill, and put up all these barricades that have denied illegal entry.”
But then Abbott seemed to imply that his state wasn’t done attempting to litigate its case, suggesting that it would return in new form to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The case that was presented to the United States Supreme Court actually did not have very much of a record upon which an appellate could make a decision,” Abbott continued. “So, those who may not have voted in favor of Texas, or those who voted to send it back to the Fifth Circuit, they may have thought in their mind that there’s not enough record to make a decision.”
“There were no sentences or paragraphs or pages of an opinion written by the Supreme Court. So no one knows at all what they were thinking. All we know is they wanted to send it back to the Fifth Circuit,” he added.
“Texas has a constitutional right to defend and protect itself,” Abbott posted on X after the interview. “We will continue to hold the line.”
The 5–4 decision, which was issued on Monday without an opinion, as is the norm in cases of emergency applications, was initially believed to be the cap on a monthslong spar between Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the federal government over elements of the state’s anti-immigration effort, dubbed “Operation Lone Star.” In October, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced his initial lawsuit against the Biden administration, claiming that federal agents were unlawfully destroying elements of the state’s border deterrence efforts and “damaging Texas’s ability to effectively deter illegal entry into Texas.”
The case was granted an emergency request filed by the Biden administration, which argued that the wire was preventing federal agents from accessing the border and from reaching migrants who had already crossed the border.
Donald Trump’s former adviser and top loyalist Peter Navarro was sentenced Thursday to four months in prison for contempt of Congress, after he failed to comply with a subpoena from the congressional January 6 investigative committee.
Navarro spent years avoiding the congressional subpoena, and was finally convicted in September of two counts of contempt of Congress. He had tried to claim executive privilege before the trial, arguing that Trump had directed him to assert privilege so he could avoid the charges. Presiding Judge Amit Mehta rejected Navarro’s request.
When Mehta issued Navarro’s sentence Thursday, the judge said he wanted to show “respect for the law” and the need for “general deterrence” against similar behavior.
“This was a significant effort by Congress to get to the bottom of a terrible day in American history,” he said.
Just before his sentence was issued, Navarro tried to argue that he was the victim of a two-tiered justice system, a popular claim for Trump and his allies. Mehta shut him down immediately.
“Sitting here with four lawyers at his table who are extremely competent and have done an outstanding job, a real head-scratcher,” Mehta said. “There is, some would say, a two-tiered system of justice. This is not it.”
Navarro was indicted in June 2022 for failing to provide testimony and failing to provide documents to the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. He said he didn’t comply with the subpoenas because Trump had told him to claim executive privilege—except Trump failed to tell the January 6 committee about this, nor did he submit anything to back up Navarro’s claim.
The former economic adviser is the second Trump ally to be found guilty of defying a subpoena related to January 6. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was similarly found guilty of contempt of Congress last year for refusing to comply with a January 6 committee subpoena. He was sentenced to just four months in prison and a $6,500 fine. Bannon appealed his case and has yet to serve his sentence.
Navarro can appeal his sentence. Mehta has not yet said whether the sentence would be stayed pending appeal.
Trump collected another slew of endorsements from a cautious GOP leadership following his double-digit win in New Hampshire on Tuesday, with some members, like Senator John Cornyn, making the jump mere minutes after the race was called.
But some of the biggest names were missing from the deck, suggesting that not every Republican is giddy to fall back in line behind Donald Trump. Perhaps most notably, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator John Thune—the number two Republican in the upper chamber—have yet to raise their glass to the GOP front-runner.
At the moment, neither McConnell nor Thune has backed either contender in the race. Thune had previously tossed his hat in behind Senator Tim Scott, though he dropped out of the race in November. McConnell has yet to indicate who he prefers, emphasizing to a USA Today reporter on Tuesday that he has “stayed essentially out of it.”
It’s not the first time the duo has been mum on Trump’s bid to return to the White House. In December, McConnell and Thune stayed silent after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump would not be allowed on the state’s primary ballot, on the basis that Trump violated the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment when he spawned an insurrection on January 6, 2021.
The pair’s silence suggests that the Republican anti-Trumpers foresee a better Republican Party without the wannabe despot, who beat his primary rival Nikki Haley by 11 percent during the first primary of the season.
But the pressure is mounting as more and more Republicans demand that Haley exit the race in favor of turning toward a grueling general election rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden.
“I’m looking at the math and the path going forward, and I don’t see it for Nikki Haley,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News’s Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum on Tuesday. “I think she’s run a great campaign, but I do think there is a message that’s coming out from the voters, which is very clear.”
“We need to unite around our eventual nominee, which is going to be Donald Trump, and we need to make sure we beat Joe Biden,” McDaniel added.
Donald Trump is probably kicking his past self, after E. Jean Carroll’s lawyers on Thursday used his previous testimony from a totally different legal trial to make their case for damages.
The Carroll trial is just to set damages, because presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan has already ruled that Trump defamed Carroll. Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in damages.
Her lawyers played a clip of Trump’s video deposition that he sat for last year, ahead of his bank fraud trial in New York. In the clip, Trump brags that his Doral resort in Miami “could be worth $2.5 billion by itself.”
In another clip, Trump claims that his value has only increased since becoming president. “Probably my most valuable asset … that’s the brand,” he said. “I became president because of the brand. I think it’s the hottest brand in the world.”
“I did an NFT deal the other day.… It sold out in less than a day,” he added, referring to some truly wild digital art of himself that he sold in late 2022.
These boasts could drive up the amount he will ultimately owe Carroll in damages. Legal analyst Lisa Rubin explained on MSNBC last week that the jury “is allowed to consider how much Donald Trump is worth.”
“If you’re trying to punish someone, if they only have $10 in their pocket, that’s very different than punishing someone who has hundreds of millions—if not billions—of dollars in their pocket.”
This latest exhibit is proof that Trump’s multiple legal trials are intertwined and what he says in one case can quickly doom him in another.
New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Trump, his sons Don Jr. and Eric, the Trump Organization, and other company executives of fraudulently inflating the value of various real estate assets to get more favorable terms on bank loans. The judge presiding over that trial, Arthur Engoron, determined in September that Trump indeed committed fraud and ordered that all Trump’s New York business certificates be canceled, making it nearly impossible to do business in the state and effectively killing the Trump Organization.
But even though Trump isn’t worth as much as he claims, because his sworn statements put his value so high, he could end up owing Carroll a massive amount in damages. Her minimum of $10 million is already on the low end. Carroll’s expert witness Ashlee Humphreys, a Northwestern University marketing professor who analyzes social media trends, testified last week that the price to repair the harm caused by Trump’s defamatory comments could be as high as $12.1 million. And that doesn’t even include punitive damages.
Trump already owes Carroll $5 million in damages after a jury in May unanimously found him liable for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault.
The Republican representative who sent the now-infamous text urging former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to use “Marshall law” to overturn the 2020 election has just one regret: the typo.
South Carolina Representative Ralph Norman was one of at least 34 Republican members of Congress who texted Meadows about overturning the presidential election. Norman defended his message during a Wednesday night interview on CNN.
When host Kaitlan Collins asked him if he regretted sending the text, Norman replied, “The only thing I regret, I misspelled ‘martial law.’”
“Look, everything happened so quick in that election, the time that was given to see if the ballots were real,” Norman said.
He then proceeded to spout multiple conspiracies, including that false ballots had been cast and that “questions” remain about the validity of the 2020 election. He also cited the movie 2000 Mules, a right-wing purported “documentary” that just spreads more falsehoods about the election.
Collins pointed out that everything Norman mentioned has been disproven multiple times. No evidence of election fraud has been found, including by people that former President Donald Trump hired.
Just three days before President Joe Biden was inaugurated, Norman texted Meadows that “our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!!”
“PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO,” Norman wrote.
Donald Trump’s plan to threaten Nikki Haley’s financial backers immediately backfired on him on Wednesday, as several prominent people in the MAGA camp proceeded to donate to the GOP front-runner’s primary opponent, launching a spontaneous fundraising drive for the South Carolina governor.
“When I ran for office and won, I noticed that the losing candidate’s ‘donors’ would immediately come to me, and want to ‘help out.’ This is standard in politics, but no longer with me,” Trump posted during a late-night social media tantrum.
“Anybody that makes a ‘contribution’ to Birdbrain, from this moment forth, will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp,” he added, derogatorily referring to Haley, whom he put in his own presidential Cabinet as ambassador to the U.N.
But then several of Trump’s former staffers chimed in on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, apparently hard-withdrawing their MAGA cards in favor of sending some money to the ambassador.
“Done,” posted Trump’s former deputy press secretary, Sarah Matthews.
Haley caught on quickly, posting a link to her donation page.
That set the stage for other voters to gleefully join in the fundraising fray.
Others noted that the mob boss–style threat seemed particularly on edge for a candidate who just won the New Hampshire primary by double digits, and questioned the legitimacy of the financial threat from a man facing several pricy upcoming criminal trials and a potential $370 million fine for committing bank fraud to expand his real estate empire.
Despite the local drive’s overnight popularity, it will hardly replace some of Haley’s biggest backers—like venture capitalist Reid Hoffman—who began pausing donations to the campaign after Haley’s lackluster results on Tuesday.
Donald Trump posted at least 37 times about E. Jean Carroll, the night before her second defamation trial against him was set to resume. Trump will take the stand on Thursday to try to defend himself, and it clearly caused him to freak out.
Trump made the 37 posts between 9:22 p.m. and 11:43 p.m. Wednesday night. He mixed in some attacks on his Republican primary opponent, Nikki Haley, and some brags about his winning the New Hampshire primary. He also complained bitterly that he should have total immunity from legal proceedings and that unspecified lawsuits were just “election interference.”
The former president shared media interview clips and social media posts that appear to come from Carroll, all stripped of context so as to paint her as some sort of sexual deviant. He also falsely claimed that the co-founder of LinkedIn is paying Carroll’s legal fees.
Trump has made these exact claims about Carroll multiple times before. He has posted many of the same clips and claims during previous social media rants, and he often shares the same post more than once during his anti-Carroll posting sprees.
This is the fourth time during this trial that Trump has gone on such an unhinged social media rant. The first time was just before the trial began, and the second was—inexplicably—as he sat in the courtroom for the first day of the trial. Trump set a personal record during the third, after his trial was delayed earlier this week (per his own lawyer’s request). That last time, Trump made 42 posts about Carroll on Truth Social in the span of 13 minutes.
It’s possible that Trump is getting these complaints out of his system now because he won’t be allowed to bring them up when he actually takes the stand.
Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled two weeks ago that Trump and his lawyers cannot say certain things about Carroll during the trial—including many of the things Trump has been posting. The posts may still come back to haunt Trump, as Carroll’s lawyer has already said she’ll use his words as evidence against him.
Kaplan has a history of allowing no nonsense or rule-breaking in his courtroom, and he has made it abundantly clear that Trump is no exception. Kaplan and Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba have repeatedly butted heads throughout the trial, as Habba attempted to bend the rules and Kaplan repeatedly shut her down.
A top Republican official in Arizona threw in the towel on Wednesday, resigning from his position amid a public feud with Kari Lake, who he claims is “on a mission to destroy” him.
Jeff DeWit, chair of the state’s Republican Party, accused Lake of blackmailing him, after she released a recording of a private phone conversation between the two, in which he can be heard attempting to bribe the Senate candidate. Lake also allegedly threatened DeWit with a “more damaging” recording if he refused to step down.
“Since our conversation where I advised Lake to postpone her campaign and aim for the governor’s position in two years, she has been on a mission to destroy me,” DeWit said in a statement on Wednesday. “It was a suggestion made in good faith, believing it could benefit both her future prospects and the party’s overall strategy.”
“The release of our conversation by Lake confirms a disturbing tendency to exploit private interactions for personal gain and increases concerns about her habit of secretly recording personal and private conversations,” DeWit continued. “This is obviously a concern given how much interaction she has with high profile people including President Donald Trump.”
In the original, 10-minute audio clip published by The Daily Mail, DeWit—who served as chief operating officer on Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign—can be heard asking Lake to name her price to stay out of politics for the next two years, insisting that the GOP needed to make way for another candidate as Trump would not win the 2024 race and that there were “very powerful people who want to keep you out.”
“I said things I regret,” DeWit said, “but I realize when hearing Lake’s recording that I was set up. I believe she orchestrated this entire situation to have control over the state party, and it is obvious from the recording that she crafted her performance responses with the knowledge that she was recording it, intending to use this recording later to portray herself as a hero in her own story.”
Representative Dean Phillips thought he’d made a pretty good point Wednesday about the political division in the United States, but the internet was quick to show him just how badly he’d messed up.
Phillips is running a long-shot campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination against President Biden. If you’re wondering how that’s going for him, Phillips won just 19.6 percent of votes during New Hampshire’s unofficial Democratic primary on Tuesday. Biden won 55.8 percent—as a write-in candidate.
Following his New Hampshire loss, Phillips revealed Wednesday morning on Fox & Friends that he had attended one of Donald Trump’s rallies to try to connect with far-right voters. When his actions prompted backlash, Phillips spoke out against political divisions.
Phillips accompanied his tweet with what appeared to be an electoral map, which was indeed primarily red. But internet users were quick to point out that the map was massively misleading for two main reasons.
First, while the map makes it look like most people vote Republican, the areas that are blue actually have higher population numbers.
Second, the map isn’t even from the most recent election.
“There was probably a lane for someone to do reasonably well against Biden,” tweeted Osita Nwanevu, a columnist for The Guardian and contributing editor for The New Republic, “but being maximally annoying to every constituency in the Democratic Party at once wasn’t it, obviously.”
Ohio’s Republican-controlled General Assembly has voted to override Governor Mike DeWine’s veto of a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors. The measure will now become law, a further blow to LGBTQ Ohioans.
The state Senate voted 23–9 on Wednesday in favor of the override, primarily along party lines. The state House of Representatives passed the measure two weeks ago with a vote of 65–28.
Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio, a Democrat, urged her colleagues not to pass the bill. She pointed out that state residents had already rejected government intervention in health care when they voted in November to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.
“The voters spoke when they voted in the last election that the government should not be in charge of their health care decisions,” Antonio said.
“If what we all agree on today is that this is a complicated issue that none of us have all the answers for, I don’t understand why we would just close the door,” she continued. “We don’t know what their lives are like, but the parents do. The families do.”
House Bill 68 bans gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary teenagers. The measure applies to treatments including puberty blockers, hormones, and medical procedures; it also prohibits trans high school and college students from participating on sports teams that match their gender identity.
DeWine shocked everyone when he vetoed the bill in late December, a rare bright spot in the current onslaught of measures restricting access to gender-affirming care. DeWine cited the medical community’s support for gender-affirming care as a factor in his decision, as well as conversations he had with trans teens and their parents.
“Parents have looked me in the eye and told me that but for this treatment, their child would be dead,” he said. “And youth who are transgender have told me they are thriving today because of their transition.”
But just a week later, DeWine undid everything when he signed an executive order banning gender-affirming surgeries for minors in Ohio and even restricting access to care for adults. Under the new rules, people of any age seeking gender-affirming care must get permission from multidisciplinary teams. Those teams could include an endocrinologist, a bioethicist, a psychiatrist, and more.
Ohio is now one of the few states to mandate these extra steps, which will add an undue burden for patients. The requirements will likely rack up significant medical expenses and dramatically extend how long people must wait to access what is widely viewed as lifesaving care.