Posts tagged with "The Daily Beast"

Powerful Koch network endorses Nikki Haley over Ron DeSantis for president

November 29, 2023

The influential political network founded by the billionaire Koch brothers announced on Tuesday, November 28, that it is endorsing Nikki Haley  for president—providing a major lift to her Republican primary campaign as she attempts to catch up with runaway frontrunner  and former President Donald Trump, reports The Daily Beast.

Americans for Prosperity Action said it would give its “full support” to the former South Carolina governor with just seven weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses. The endorsement means that the network will now throw its considerable resources into supporting Haley—believing her to be the candidate most capable of a GOP victory in 2024.

“Our internal polling confirms what our activists are hearing and seeing from voters in the early primary states: Nikki Haley is in the best position to defeat Donald Trump in the primaries,” read a Tuesday memo from Emily Seidel, senior adviser to Americans for Prosperity Action.

“In sharp contrast to recent elections that were dominated by the negative baggage of Donald Trump and in which good candidates lost races that should have been won, Nikki Haley, at the top of the ticket, would boost candidates up and down the ballot, winning the key independent and moderate voters that Trump has no chance to win,” the memo adds.

It also argues that the United States is “being ripped apart by extremes on both sides” and that the country now needs a “tested leader with the governing judgment and policy experience to pull our nation back from the brink. Nikki Haley is that leader.”

The memo explains that the network’s parent group, Americans for Prosperity, has already been “targeting a unique universe of voters who vote reliably in general elections but not in the primaries or caucuses.” “AFP Action has now acquired that data and will encourage a significant number of these general election voters to vote in this primary,” the memo says. “So far, enthusiasm to participate is far beyond what we expected.”

In addition, memo offered “thanks and appreciation” to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is currently Haley’s closest competitor for second place in Iowa. The network said it understands some of DeSantis’ supporters “will be disappointed” with the decision to endorse Haley.

“However, as the 2024 primary season heats up, we are entering a time period that demands choices,” the memo says. “Donald Trump won the nomination in 2016 largely because of a divided primary field, and we must not allow that to happen again, particularly when the stakes are even higher in 2024.”

News of the endorsement going to Haley has apparently not gone down well with the DeSantis campaign.

“Congratulations to Donald Trump on securing the Koch endorsement,” DeSantis campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo wrote on X. He went on to argue: “Every dollar spent on Nikki Haley’s candidacy should be reported as an in-kind to the Trump campaign. No one has a stronger record of beating the establishment than Ron DeSantis, and this time will be no different.”

Research contact: @dailybeast

It’s official: Joe Biden announces 2024 re-election campaign

April 26, 2023

On Tuesday, April 25, President Joe Biden formally announced that he is running for a second term—and launched his 2024 campaign for the White House, reports The Daily Beast.

In a video accompanying his long-awaited announcement, Biden asked Americans to let him “finish this job” and painted the upcoming race as a continuation of the same struggles he sought to address with his previous campaign. “When I ran for president four years ago, I said we are in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are.”

Biden’s pitch for a second term begins with a single word: “freedom.” “Personal freedom is fundamental to who we are as Americans,” Biden says, explaining that his first term has been a fight to defend American democracy. “But you know around the country, MAGA extremists are lining up to take on those bedrock freedoms,” Biden says over images of Marjorie Taylor Greene; the January 6 attack on the Capitol; and his 2024 rivals, Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump.

The president also attacked Republican policies of cuts to Social Security and taxes for the wealthy while also “dictating what health-care decisions women can make” and banning books. “This is not a time to be complacent,” Biden adds. “That’s why I’m running for re-election.”

His announcement comes exactly four years on from the declaration of his 2020 campaign, and Biden now appears set to use the historic chaos that marked the end of that race as ammunition as he takes on Trump for the second time. “Every generation of Americans has faced a moment when they have to defend democracy,” Biden says. “Stand up for our personal freedom, stand up for the right to vote and our civil rights. And this is our moment.”

His video ends by encouraging viewers to sign up on his campaign website. “Let’s finish this job, I know we can,” Biden says. “because this is the United States of America, and there’s nothing, simply nothing, we cannot do if we do it together.”

Separately on Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris confirmed that she would once again be Biden’s running mate. “As Americans, we believe in freedom and liberty—and we believe that our democracy will only be as strong as our willingness to fight for it,” Harris tweeted alongside Biden’s campaign video. “That’s why Joe Biden and I are running for re-election.”

The campaign launch comes after Biden—already the oldest president in U.S. history at age 80—has repeatedly said publicly that he intended to run again, although he would be 86 by the end of his theoretical second term.

He now faces long-shot challenges for the Democratic nomination from 2020 candidate Marianne Williamson and anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

His announcement comes after months of anticipation and questions on whether he would be fit for another term. Polling has repeatedly shown that Democrats are wary of Biden as the 2024 nominee. Two Democratic members of Congress, Representative Dean Phillips (Minnesota) and former Representative Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), have even publicly insisted the president should not run again.

Both Trump and Biden seem uniquely fit to go against the other—Trump because he’s likely the only Republican capable of turning out his voters, and Biden because he consistently polls the best of any Democrat against Trump.

In recent weeks, however, the president’s re-election campaign began to materialize. Reports this week announced Julie Chavez Rodriguez, a senior White House official, is set to run Biden’s re-election campaign. Politico reported Monday night that Quentin Fulks, an alumnus of Senator Raphael Warnock’s (D-Georgia) campaign, will be deputy campaign manager.

And buzz around Tuesday’s announcement video spread through political circles the weekend prior, hyping Democrats up in advance.

Some Republicans have wasted no time in attacking Biden following his announcement. “Biden is so out-of-touch that after creating crisis after crisis, he thinks he deserves another four years,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “If voters let Biden ‘finish the job,’ inflation will continue to skyrocket, crime rates will rise, more fentanyl will cross our open borders, children will continue to be left behind, and American families will be worse off.”

In his own statement published late Monday before Biden even launched his campaign, Trump savaged Biden’s record while talking up his own time in office. “Under my leadership, we had the most secure border in U.S. history, by far. Never had a border like this,” Trump wrote. He added that “illegal aliens” are “coming in from mental institutions and prisons” and claimed America’s children are being “indoctrinated and mutilated by left-wing freaks and zealots.” “You know what happened in the last election: they cheated,” Trump said of his Democrat opponents, “and they rigged the election.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Carlson is ousted by Fox News

April 25, 2023


Tucker Carlson and Fox News are parting ways, the network confirmed on Monday, April 24. The right-wing host’s final show was this past Friday, April 21, reports The Daily Beast.

According to a concurrent post by the The New York Times, the network made the announcement less than a week after it agreed to pay $787.5 million in a defamation lawsuit in which Carlson’s show, one of the highest-rated on Fox, figured prominently for its role in spreading misinformation after the 2020 election.

“FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor. Mr. Carlson’s last program was Friday April 21st,” the network wrote in a statement. “Fox News Tonight will air live at 8 PM/ET starting this evening as an interim show helmed by rotating FOX News personalities until a new host is named.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Fox ‘cries uncle,’ will pay $787 million to end Dominion trial

April 20, 2023

Fox News waved the white flag on Tuesday, settling with Dominion Voting Systems just hours into the first day of the bombshell trial over whether the conservative cable giant showed “actual malice” when it peddled election fraud lies about the voting software firm, reports The Daily Beast.

At a press conference shortly after the trial was halted, lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems said they’d settled for $787.5 million—roughly half of what they’d initially sought.

“The truth matters, lies have consequences,” Dominion co-lead counsel Justin Nelson said. “Over two years ago, a torrent of lies swept Dominion and election officials across America into an alternative universe of conspiracy theories, causing grievous harm to Dominion and the country.”

Dominion CEO John Polous called the result an “historic settlement,” adding that Fox “admitted to telling lies about Dominion” that greatly damaged his company and employees.

“Nothing can ever make up for that,” he said. “Throughout this process, we have sought accountability and believe the evidence brought to light through this case underscores the consequences of spreading and endorsing lies. Truthful reporting in the media is essential to our democracy. Dominion, our employees, and our partners are grateful to the court for allowing the process for the truth to come out.”

Fox will not have to provide an on-air apology for its false claims regarding Dominion, according to CNN.

Fox said in a statement: “We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.

“This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward.”

Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis first announced to jurors on Tuesday afternoon, April 18, that the parties had “resolved the case.” He commended both sides, noting he had never seen such quality work from lawyers in his 13 years on the bench.

“The quality of the briefing, the ability of attorneys to answer questions, the amount of workload that you’ve done in the case—and I just want to say, I would be proud to be your judge in the future,” Davis said.

The settlement may be the largest in a defamation case involving the media. According to a March 2022 Media Law Resource Center report. The largest known settlement in a defamation suit against a media outlet was in 2012, when ABC settled for $177 million over an investigation involving allegations of “pink slime.”

Rumors of a settlement began circulating on the eve of the trial after Davis announced that the start of the proceedings would be delayed by one day. The Wall Street Journal, owned by Fox News founder and Chairman Rupert Murdoch, reported on Sunday that the network was making a late push to settle.

In a Sunday legal filing, Fox News lawyers also disputed the damages it would pay if found liable by a jury in the $1.6 billion suit, stating that Dominion had recently softened its claims for alleged lost profits totaling upwards of $600 million.

Dominion, however, disputed that, stating that the “damages claim remains” and that the network was well aware that “our damages exceed $1.6 billion.”

“This does not seem unusual to me,” Davis said on Monday morning while delaying the start of the trial. “I am continuing the matter until tomorrow.”

The lawsuit was spurred after various Fox News segments propagated the idea that voting machines made by Dominion were used to rig the 2020 election in favor of Democrats. That and countless conspiracies, including that Dominion was controlled by Venezuela, prompted the company to sue in March 2021 for $1.6 billion.

The case was dragged in court through years of procedural motions before exploding in February—when countless texts, statements, and depositions provided an unprecedented look into Fox News’ operations during the election period.

The texts included Fox stars like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, along with various producers, labeling Donald Trump acolytes such as Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell as “dangerous as hell” and “on the crazy train with no brakes.”

Smartmatic, another voting software company suing Fox News for billions over its 2020 election lies, applauded Dominion’s handling of its case.

“Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest,” the firm’s lawyer Erik Connoly said in a statement. “Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recouping the significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.”

Research contact: @TheDailyBeast

A Harvard physicist is racing to prove this meteorite is an alien probe

March 24, 2023

The world’s top alien hunter is about to embark on his most ambitious—and potentially, historical—mission yet, reports The Daily Beast.

Harvard physicist Avi Loeb is organizing a $1.5-million expedition to Papua New Guinea to search for fragments of a very strange meteorite that impacted just off the coast of the Pacific nation in 2014.

There is compelling evidence that the half-meter-wide meteorite, called CNEOS1 2014-01-08, traveled from outside our solar system. And that it’s made of extremely hard rock or metal—a material that’s hard and tough enough to prove the meteorite isn’t a meteorite at all. Maybe it’s an alien probe.

It’s a long-shot effort. After years of work, Loeb and his team have, with a big assist from the U.S. military, narrowed down CNEOS1 2014-01-08’s likely impact zone to a square kilometer of the ocean floor, nearly two kilometers underwater. But the fragments themselves are probably just a few millimeters in size. It’s worse than looking for a needle in a haystack. Loeb is basically preparing to look for big sand in a square-kilometer patch of small sand.

It’s worth the risk, Loeb told The Daily Beast. Any fragments the team recovers could turn out to be “technological”—that is, clearly manufactured and thus strong evidence of the existence of aliens. Or maybe they’re not artificial, but are made of some super-strong material that we’ve never observed until now. A rare metal forged in the hearts of neutron stars, for example.

In any event, “we will learn something new,” Loeb said.

The expedition is almost ready to depart for Papua New Guinea. “We have a boat,” Loeb wrote in on a post on Medium on January 27. “We have a dream team, including some of the most experienced and qualified professionals in ocean expeditions. We have complete design and manufacturing plans for the required sled, magnets, collection nets and mass spectrometer.

“And most importantly,” he wrote, “today we received the green light to go ahead,” referring to the approval of Papua New Guinea’s for the mission.

The plan, Loeb said, is to deploy a variety of custom sand-sifters—some with magnets, others like huge sieves—and methodically search the seafloor for two weeks. The main reason it’s taken eight years to organize the mission is that, first, Loeb and his team had to figure out where the meteorite’s fragments came down to Earth.

It was easier said than done, since no single instrument precisely captured CNEOS1 2014-01-08’s journey to the seafloor. But if anyone was motivated to try, it was Loeb. While these days more and more scientists are coming around to the idea that we’re probably not alone in the universe, Loeb was banging that drum even when it was unpopular.

When a very odd, shiny, football-field-size object streaked across then out of the solar system in 2017, Loeb was among the first scientists to say out loud what others may only have been thinking: This object, which scientists later named ’Oumuamua ( Hawaiian for “scout”), might be an alien probe.

And Loeb isn’t afraid to put his money—well, his donors’ money—where his mouth is. In addition to studying strange interstellar objects such as ’Oumuamua, Loeb through his Galileo Project is painstakingly building humanity’s first global network of small telescopes , which will scan the sky for alien craft, or at least the remains of alien craft.

To narrow down CNEOS1 2014-01-08’s impact zone, Loeb needed data from two sets of instruments. The first set was from U.S. military missile-warning satellites that, thanks to their sensitive infrared sensors, tend to also detect meteorites while scanning for missile-launches.

These satellites can not only provide at least a vague indication of where a meteorite is heading; they also capture images of the fireball that results from a meteorite’s fast, hot trip through Earth’s atmosphere. The timing and intensity of a fireball can tell us a lot about a meteorite’s composition. Basically, the longer it takes for the atmosphere to ignite a meteor, the tougher the meteor is.

After much wheedling, Loeb convinced the Pentagon to release the full fireball data for CNEOS1 2014-01-08. They indicated the 2014 meteorite might be the hardest meteorite on record.

The second set of data Loeb needed was much more precise telemetry for the meteorite’s path than the military could provide. So, he checked on nearby earthquake sensors. “We found that the blast wave from the meteor explosion generated a high-quality signal in a seismometer located at Manus Island,” which is part of Papua New Guinea, Loeb wrote at Medium.

Armed with the two data sets, Loeb and his team were able to narrow the likely impact zone from 100 square kilometers to just one square kilometer. “This reduction in the geographic uncertainty of the … fireball improves the search efficiency in the forthcoming ocean expedition to recover its fragments,” Loeb and company wrote in a study, not yet peer-reviewed, that appeared online on March 13.

After having arranged funding and manpower, narrowing the search zone, and getting the Papua New Guinean government’s approval, Loeb and his team are now putting the finishing touches on their special sand-sifting equipment for recovering magnetic meteoritic debris from the seafloor.

Once it’s all ready, hopefully this summer, Loeb and his team will set sail.

Expectations are running high. But Loeb said he’s bracing for disappointment. “There is a chance it will fail,” he said of his expedition. Even success could be something of a letdown, if the team recovers fragments, but those fragments turn out to be natural in origin rather than artificial.

It’s important to frame even that secondary discovery as a major advancement, Ravi Kopparapu, an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, told The Daily Beast. “This could give us more confidence on the nature of the interstellar meteor—and could point to whether this meteor is unique or a new class of meteorites.”

Maybe Loeb and his team will go to all that trouble to find the remains of CNEOS1 2014-01-08, only to confirm it isn’t an alien probe. But don’t expect a setback like that to cause Loeb to give up his search for evidence of extraterrestrials. He said he understands how convincing the proof needs to be, and how hard it might be to find it. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” he said.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Biden’s trip to Kyiv becomes ‘the ultimate humiliation’ for Putin—and Trump

February 21, 2023

Kennedy, and then Reagan, in Berlin. Now Biden in Kyiv. Periodically, during the past sixty years, American presidents have stood up at the Eastern edge of Europe and looked to Russia to say, “We stand with our allies. Our resolve is unshakeable.”

Kennedy said, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Reagan said, “Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall.”

And Biden, on his surprise President’s Day visit to Kyiv said, “One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” reports David Rothkopf in an opinion piece for The Daily Beast.

Stirringly, Rothkopf noted, just days ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal offensive against Ukraine, Biden walked through the streets of Kyiv, paid his respects to those who had fallen in defense of Ukraine, and said, “Freedom is priceless. It’s worth fighting for, for as long as it takes.”

Biden also invoked the conversation he had with Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelensky last February, as Russia’s massive escalation of its nine-year-old war of unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. He recalled with Zelensky at his side, “You said you didn’t know when we’d be able to speak again. That dark night … the world was literally bracing for the fall of Kyiv … perhaps even the end of Ukraine.”

Of course, the symbolism of the American president standing alongside Zelensky, walking through the Ukrainian capital even as air raid sirens sounded, carried many other messages as well.

To those fighting for Ukraine, it was a vitally important message of solidarity that came with further commitments from Biden of military support for Ukraine.

To Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, it was Biden’s way of saying, “I am here in Kyiv and you are not. You not only did not take Kyiv in days as some predicted, but your attack was rebuffed. Your army suffered a humiliating defeat from which it has not recovered.”

“We cannot know. But what we know today is that, thanks to the resolve of Biden and the West, and the inspiring courage and resilience of the people of Ukraine … Russia’s army has been weakened, depleted and revealed to be profoundly dysfunctional,” wrote Rothkopf.

“We also cannot know what challenges the next phases of this war are likely to present. But thanks to Biden’s visit today, it is crystal clear that Ukraine will not be facing them alone and that Ukraine’s enemies and their current and potential allies should never again underestimate the resolve of the United States and NATO to do what they have been doing for decades, since Kennedy’s trip and Reagan’s, to defend with whatever it takes our values, our democracies and the security provided by an international order based on the rule of law.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

James Cameron says he commissioned a study on whether Jack could have survived in ‘Titanic’

December 29, 2022

Twenty-five years since its first release, director James Cameron‘s swooning epic, ‘Titanic,’ is still the third-highest-grossing movie of all time. Besides its storied legacy, it also has spawned an endless debate among fans on its ending: whether Jack, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, could have survived the freezing ocean if he’d climbed onto the floating door with Rose, played by Kate Winslet.


And now, Cameron — renowned for his obsession with minute cinematic details—says he’s finally put an end to the debate with an actual scientific study, reports Futurism.


“We have done a scientific study to put this whole thing to rest and drive a stake through its heart once and for all,” Cameron told The Toronto Sun while promoting his latest blockbuster sensation ‘Avatar: The Way of Water.’


He revealed, “We have since done a thorough forensic analysis with a hypothermia expert who reproduced the raft from the movie and we’re going to do a little special on it that comes out in February.”


“We took two stunt people who were the same body mass [as] Kate and Leo,” the acclaimed director explained, “and we put sensors all over them and inside them and we put them in ice water and we tested to see whether they could have survived through a variety of methods and the answer was, there was no way they both could have survived. Only one could survive.”


  For now, that’s all the details we have on the study, but this isn’t the first time Cameron has addressed the perennial, nagging question. In 2017, he debunked a theory posited on the TV show, ‘Mythbusters,’ that Jack could have survived by tying Rose’s life vest to the door for buoyancy.

“You’re underwater tying this thing on in 28-degree water, and that’s going to take you five to ten minutes, so by the time you come back up you’re already dead,” Cameron told The Daily Beast at the time. “So that wouldn’t work.”


And science aside, Cameron thinks Jack’s death was thematically integral to the story—so there’s no point getting hooked up on something he’s not going to change his mind on anyway.


“No, he needed to die,” Cameron explained during the recent press tour. “It’s like Romeo and Juliet. It’s a movie about love and sacrifice and mortality. The love is measured by the sacrifice.”


Research contact: @futurism

Experts warn of grim consequences of new cosmetic surgery trend

December 20, 2022

After actress Lea Michele dropped a couple photos on Instagram of her face looking suspiciously hollower than what people expected, social media—Twitter especially —became rife with speculation that she’d had the surgery known as “buccal fat removal,” which removes a pad of fat from the lower face, reports Futurism.

“What the fu*k is buccal fat,” quipped Internet funny person Trash Jones, and “how are they still inventing new flaws for us?”

Buccal fat removal isn’t anything new, but it has quietly gained favor among actors and influencers. And now, it’s getting an unexpected spotlight, too.

“The surgery has been around for many years, but with the advent of social media, I think it’s really seen a resurgence and popularity,” plastic surgeon and buccal fat expert Ira Savetsky recently told The Daily Beast. “The reason why buccal fat pad removal is so popular is because the jawline has become really popular. Everyone wants a snatched jawline, that’s what the kids are saying these days.”

Richard Swift, also a plastic surgeon, believes that Michele and fellow actress Zoë Kravitz have both gone through with the procedure.

“I think Lea and Zoë have much more definition than they had before,” Swift told the Beast. “Zoë Kravitz had more of a baby face, and if you look at the submalar area, that’s really well defined now.”

Buccal fat removal is also relatively cheap, quick, and easy—only taking 20 minutes and $5,000 in New York City, according to Savetsky— making it all the more enticing for influencers to give it a try, as well as their susceptibly insecure followers.

While it may give you those Robert Pattinson-worthy sunken cheeks you always desired in the short term, though, there can be some major downsides as time goes by.

For one thing, you’ll probably be happier if you make peace with how you already look. For another, the procedure may well actually backfire. “The drawback is that from an aesthetic standpoint, facial fat is very precious, and we learned from anatomy studies and studying how people age that as we get older we lose fat in the face,” Savetsky explained. If a patient goes through with the procedure even though they don’t have “excess” buccal fat, “you’re going to look overly hollow as you get older, he said, adding, “Out of every five people that walk into my office that want it, probably only one is a good candidate for it,” he added.

Furthermore, reversing the procedure by adding some healthy fat to the face is difficult and costly. “When I’m doing a facelift for an older woman I am putting fat back into her face,” Savetsky told the Beast, “but adding fat back into that space is very, very difficult, because it’s a deeper area. It’s almost irreversible.”

Unfortunately, that kind of forward thinking hasn’t stopped the surgery from latching on, primarily among young women. There’s even a whole corner of TikTok spotted by the Beast that’s dedicated to the practice of traveling to Mexico, where the procedure is even cheaper, to get buccal pads removed.

“I had mine done in Mexico, Mexicali specifically, and for both surgeries it was $1,735,” one 25-year-old woman told the outlet. “It was $1,400 for the neck/chin lipo and the buccal fat removal cost $300 to add on. $35 for a face garment.”

It’s cheap to buy in, but expensive to back out—so maybe buck this latest buccal trend.

Research contact: @futurism

Same-sex marriage finally will be written into law

December 12, 2022

After decades of inaction and months of back-and-forths between the House and Senate, lawmakers finally sent a bill to the President Joe Biden’s desk on Thursday, December 8, that would, for the first time ever, codify national same-sex marriage rights into law, reports The Daily Beast.

The House passed a final version of the Marriage Equality Bill (Bill 258-169) by a vote of 258-169,  with all Democrats and 39 House Republicans voting in favor of the legislation.

Before this summer, same-sex marriage wasn’t really on Congress’ radar. But after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a decision that sent shockwaves across the nation, things changed.

Many pointed out how Justice Clarence Thomas seemed to be targeting other rights, like gay marriage, in his abortion opinion. With Democrats unable to cobble together the numbers to codify abortion rights, they moved on to protecting same-sex marriage. And they were met with some surprising levels of support—at least at first.

In the House, the original bill passed with the support of 47 Republicans. Democrats rejoiced at the moment of bipartisan agreement. But as the bill went to the Senate, prospects changed.

Led by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), who is gay, Senate Democrats struggled to assure that ten Senate Republicans would join them in supporting the proposal and averting a filibuster. Some early supporters emerged, like Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), whose son is gay. But others hemmed and hawed, voicing concerns about religious liberties and protections they felt weren’t concrete in the bill text. Some senators swore they wouldn’t unveil their position until Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) put it to a vote.

Ultimately, Schumer kicked back the vote on the bill until after the midterms in an apparent bid to give Republicans some breathing room.

The bill would ensure that the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages, even if a couple is in a state that does not. Some changes to the bill were made in the Senate to ensure religious liberties were intact, like ensuring religious non-profit groups would not have to perform same-sex marriages.

Last week, the Senate passed the proposal, 61-36. It got tossed back to the House for this final vote before heading to President Joe Biden, who’s sure to sign it into law.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) gaveled the vote as Democratic members on the floor cheered.

“Americans have grown accustomed knowing that they have a constitutional right to equal marriage. Those living in same sex and interracial marriages should not have to live with the fear that their government could rescind legal recognition of their families at any moment,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) said on the floor, adding, “That’s not America. That’s not content of character.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Trump Organization tax fraud verdict: Guilty on all counts

December 8, 2022

The Trump Organization’s two affiliate companies on trial in New York City were found guilty of all nine counts of tax fraud and related crimes on Monday, December 5, as jurors ended a long trial with a swift verdict against the former U.S. president’s corporate empire, reports The Daily Beast.

The Manhattan jury concluded that former President Donald Trump’s eponymous companies dodged taxes by playing accounting games: showering their executives with benefits, reducing their official salary, and paying them at times as if they were “independent contractors.”

As the court clerk read the list of nine criminal counts—tax fraud, falsifying business records, engaging in a conspiracy—the jury foreperson kept repeating the same word, “Guilty.” At times, she even got ahead of herself, saying the word before the clerk finished describing the charge. Afterward, each juror nodded and asserted out loud that they agreed.

The company now faces what prosecutors expect to be more than $1 million in fines—a paltry sum for a multi-billion dollar global marketing operation but a mark of shame nonetheless, just as Trump launches a re-election campaign. This is also the first successful legal action against the Trumps in years.

The tax accounting hacks were all a ruse—one that even the company acknowledged but placed all the blame on a rogue employee.

Defense lawyer Michael van der Veen tried to win over jurors with a mantra straight out of the O.J. Simpson trial: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” The Trump Organization motto was, “Weisselberg did it for Weisselberg.

But the jurors weren’t convinced. After all, those swindling staffers were Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg and company Controller Jeffrey McConney, as well as half a dozen other executives who were never charged.

Weisselberg eventually confessed to reducing his on-the-books salary—enabling him to avoid city, state, and federal taxes—and instead to get a ton of perks: a fake $6,000 no-show job for his wife, corporate Mercedes sedans for them both, a luxury Manhattan apartment, and more than $360,000 in private school tuition for their grandkids paid by Donald Trump himself.

Weisselberg and several other executives, including Chief Operating Officer Matthew Calamari Sr., also diverted some of their salary to make it seem as if they were outside contractors, claiming a status that allowed them to pay even fewer taxes.

The ploy enabled the company to reduce the overall size of its payroll, allowing it to pay less in payroll taxes, Medicare, and related expenses.

Two hours after the verdict, Trump issued a statement titled, “MANHATTAN WITCH HUNT!” In it, he reiterated the same arguments that failed to convince the jury: claiming that the company’s CFO acted on his own and misquoting his testimony, which in reality revealed that the company benefited from the fraud as well.

“Disappointed with the verdict in Manhattan, but will appeal,” Trump’s statement said. “New York City is a hard place to be ‘Trump.’”

Research contact: @thedailybeast