Trump news – live: Ex-president says Musk won’t buy Twitter at ‘ridiculous price’ as Pence backs Gov Kemp

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·45-min read
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As Donald Trump’s chosen candidate David Perdue struggles to gain momentum in Georgia’s gubernatorial primary, Mike Pence has announced he will visit the state to get out the vote for incumbent Brian Kemp – a Republican who refused to bow to Mr Trump’s insistence that the state was stolen from Joe Biden in 2020.

Meanwhile, the select committee investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol has issued subpoenas to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other GOP lawmakers who are close allies of Donald Trump: Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Mo Brooks of Alabama. Each was given the opportunity to voluntarily give evidence.

And the Department of Justice is now investigating whether former President Trump or any of his aides violated federal law by mishandling classified documents that ended up at Mar-a-Lago instead of at the national archives at the end of his term.

On Friday, the former president shared some thoughts on Elon Musk’s plan to buy Twitter, saying the billionaire would not pay a ‘ridiculous price’ for the platform as it is mostly “BOTS or spam accounts”.

Key Points

Esper: ‘Very possible’ Trump would have pulled US from Nato in second term

20:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Donald Trump’s secretary of defense Mark Esper says he was “very concerned” about the possibility of the former president pulling the US out of Nato if he had won a second term.

Mr Esper, who has been promoting his book, replete with shocking stories from the Trump presidency, made the remarks in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Pence to rally with Kemp in Georgia in break with Trump

19:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Former Vice President Mike Pence will campaign with Georgia’s incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp the day before this month’s GOP primary in his most significant political beak with former President Donald Trump to date.

Kemp’s campaign announced Friday morning that Pence will headline a get-out-the-vote rally for Kemp on Monday, May 23rd, the day before the vote. That puts Pence in direct conflict with Trump-endorsed candidate David Perdue, who has been trailing in the polls. Kemp is one of Trump’s top targets this election cycle because of his refusal to cooperate with Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Pence to rally with Kemp in Georgia in break with Trump

Amid nationwide shortage, House Oversight Committee launches probe into baby formula manufacturers

19:30 , Oliver O'Connell

The chairwoman of the powerful House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform is demanding answers from the heads of the four largest baby formula producers in the United States on what their companies are doing to alleviate a formula shortage that has left parents scrambling to feed their children across the country.

Andrew Feinberg reports from Washington, DC.

House Oversight Committee launches probe into baby formula makers amid shortage

19:17 , Oliver O'Connell

19:12 , Oliver O'Connell

Psaki fights back tears as she says she tried to restore ‘respect and integrity’ to White House press role

19:08 , Oliver O'Connell

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she had promised herself not to “get emotional” at her final appearance behind the James Brady Briefing Room lectern, but that promise was quickly broken as she fought back tears just before taking questions from reporters for the 244th and final time.

Ms Psaki, who is reportedly decamping for a role with the MSNBC cable news network, thanked President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for giving her the honour of serving as the top White House spokesperson during the first 15 months of Mr Biden’s term.

Recalling her first meeting with Mr and Ms Biden after the 2020 election, she said they discussed “the importance of returning integrity, respect and civility to the White House” when engaging with the press.

Andrew Feinberg reports from Washington, DC.

Psaki fights back tears in her final appearance as White House press secretary

Philadelphia Inquirer declines to endorse GOP PA senate primary candidate

18:52 , Oliver O'Connell

In an editorial board op-ed, The Philadelphia Inquirer has declined to endorse any of the candidates running in the Republican Party primary to run in Pennsylvania’s upcoming Senate election.

Headlined “We wanted to endorse in Republican primaries this year. We can’t”, the op-ed states that while the board leans Democrat, in previous years they have endorsed in Republican races and have always found: “points of agreement, sustained moments of mutual respect, and an appreciation of the kind of apolitical qualifications that are objectively deserving of praise”.

“Most fundamentally: We were all operating in the same reality,” the board writes. “That can’t be said in 2022.”

The op-ed continues:

When we sent a survey to Republican candidates in the Senate race to ascertain their positions on a range of issues, we learned that nearly everyone in the field felt our questions were biased and unfair.

In their view, among the most problematic queries that we asked was: Who won the 2020 presidential election? The only two options in the multiple-choice format were Joe Biden or Donald Trump. Only one candidate — Jeff Bartos — agreed to acknowledge reality.

If one of these Republicans wins the general election, they will represent Pennsylvania at the next State of the Union address. We guarantee that it will not be Donald Trump who walks into the U.S. Capitol to deliver the speech. The 2020 election is over. A candidate won, he lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and his name is Joe Biden.

How do you find points of agreement when you can’t reach common ground on facts so basic that they could be used in a field sobriety test?

Read the full piece here.

Don Jr says Pompeo ‘smart enough’ to know he shouldn’t run against Trump in 2024

18:34 , Oliver O'Connell

Donald Trump Jr has said in an interview that Mike Pompeo should be “smart enough” to know whether to run against his father Donald Trump, if the former president was to run again in the elections in 2024.

Mr Trump has not formally stated whether he will contest the next presidential elections.

Read more:

Donald Trump Jr says Mike Pompeo ‘smart enough’ not to run against his father

Jen Psaki gives last briefing as White House press secretary

18:22 , Oliver O'Connell

White House press secretary Jen Psaki is currently giving her final briefing before stepping down from the role. It is her 224th briefing.

Here’s our compilation of clips of her key moments behind the lectern in the briefing room.

Hannity keeps up attack on “ultra-Maga” PA candidate

18:15 , Andrew Naughtie

As hardcore right-winger Kathy Barnette surges in the Pennsylvania Senate primary, supporters of Donald Trump and his chosen candidate, Dr Mehmet Oz, are starting to turn on her. Among the most visibly incensed is Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has blasted out a remarkably bilious thread attacking Ms Barnette head-on:

Trump says Elon Musk will not buy Twitter at such a ‘ridiculous price’

17:55 , Oliver O'Connell

Donald Trump says Elon Musk will not buy Twitter at “such a ridiculous price” after the billionaire announced he had paused his $44bn purchase of the platform.

The Tesla boss says he is “still committed” to buying Twitter but that the deal is on hold until he had gathered more information about the spam and fake accounts on the platform.

Mr Musk has vowed to let Mr Trump back onto the platform once he has taken control of it, but the one-term president cast doubt on that ever happening in a post on his own Truth Social platform.

Graeme Massie reports:

Donald Trump says Elon Musk will not buy Twitter at such a ‘ridiculous price’

ICYMI: A pro-Trump Netflix could be coming your way

17:37 , Oliver O'Connell

A bespoke social media platform (albeit a beleagured one) is all very well, but Donald Trump now seems to be pursuing another venture to provide a “refuge” for the president’s fans: a right-wing alternative to Netflix.

The Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) is recruiting staff for the new venture. In an ad posted on Wednesday, the group announced that the streaming service, named TMTG+, will be “a ‘Big Tent’ platform offering broad-based entertainment rooted in free speech”.

It added that “in addition to the Social Media platform Truth Social, our SVOD [Subscription Video on Demand] platform TMTG+ will be the home for a wide variety of non-scripted, scripted, and original content”.

Sravasti Dasgupta has more.

Trump media company hiring producers for ‘Maga version of Netflix’

Trump has thoughts on Elon Musk’s intention to buy Twitter

17:26 , Oliver O'Connell

Former President Donald Trump has taken to his own social media site, Truth Social, to share some thoughts on Elon Musk’s intention to buy Twitter.

He wrote (truthed?): “There is no way Elon Musk is going to buy Twitter at such a ridiculous price, especially since realizing it is a company largely based on BOTS or Spam Accounts. Fake anyone?”

The former president continued: “By the time you get rid of them, if that can even be done, what do you have? Not much? If it weren’t for the ridiculous Billion Dollar breakup fee, Elon would have already been long gone. Just my opinion, but Truth Social is MUCH better than Twitter and is absolutely exploding, incredible engagement!”

Mr Musk had previously said he would allow Mr Trump back on Twitter, from which he has been banned since 6 January 2021. Earlier today Mr Musk said his purchase of the micro-blogging social media site was “on hold” while a review was conducted into how many bots and spam accounts existed on the platform.

Kevin McCarthy clams up...

17:15 , Andrew Naughtie

Having been subpoenaed by the 6 January select committee, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appears to be keeping a lower-than-usual profile as he goes about his day on Capitol Hill:

Musk insists Twitter sale is still on

16:45 , Andrew Naughtie

Elon Musk sent Twitter shares into a dive with an overnight tweet saying he was putting a pause on his plans to buy out the company while he evaluated its estimates of how many accounts are fake or spam.

Since then, however, he has sought to calm things down:

Mr Musk has reiterated that he would like to see Donald Trump’s Twitter account restored, though the former president has said (for now) that he intends to remain on his own platform, the problem-stricken Truth Social.

Andrew Griffin has more.

Musk says he is ‘still committed’ to buying Twitter amid speculation over deal

Lindsey Graham says he was “wrong” to suggest Biden should be president on Jan 6

16:16 , Andrew Naughtie

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was not flattered by the recent release of audio recordings from after the 6 January riot on which he said Donald Trump bore responsibility for the events of the day and said Joe Biden would be “maybe the best person to have” in the White House.

Now, Mr Graham has gone back on his comments, telling Fox News host Jesse Watters that he was “wrong” about Mr Biden.

“I’ve known Joe for 30 years. He’s a nice guy, but he’s been a disaster as president,” he said. “Nobody fears Joe Biden abroad, and at home his policies are failing.”

Eric Garcia has the story.

Lindsey Graham now says he was ‘wrong’ for praising Biden after Capitol riot

Pence breaks with Trump in Georgia governor’s race

15:29 , Andrew Naughtie

Donald Trump’s endorsee in the Georgia governor’s race, David Perdue, has failed dismally to catch up with the Republican incumbent, Brian Kemp. And with the vote set for 24 May, Mr Kemp has attracted a high-profile supporter of his own: Mike Pence.

While Mr Pence has not explicitly condemned Mr Trump for his actions after the 2020 election, Mr Trump has essentially ruled out including him on a future presidential ticket. For his part, Mr Pence has continued a schedule of speaking engagements and campaign-style appearances around the country, raising some speculation that he might make a tilt at the presidency if Mr Trump does not or cannot run.

Report: DoJ under Trump subpoenaed reporter’s phone records

15:00 , Andrew Naughtie

It has emerged that during the Trump administration, the Department of Justice issued a subpoena for the phone records of an investigative reporter looking into its family separations policy at the US border.

The journalist in question was The Guardian’s Stephanie Kirchgaessner – and the paper itself was apparently not made aware of the subpoena at the time it was issued.

Gino Spocchia has the news.

DoJ under Trump issued subpoena to obtain reporter’s phone records

Hillbilly Elegy director “surprised” by JD Vance’s far-right turn

14:30 , Andrew Naughtie

Ron Howard, who directed the widely panned movie adaptation of JD Vance’s memoir of Appalaichan cultural dysfunction, Hillbilly Elegy, says he is surprised by the now-candidate’s embrace of Donald Trump and hardcore right-wing politics.

“I always knew he was conservative, but [he] struck me as a very center-right, a kind of a moderate thinker,” the director said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, reflecting also that the movie he directed “wasn’t ever meant to suggest that he was headed in the direction of politics.”

Around the time his well-received book elevated him to national prominence, Mr Vance was an unsparing critic of Donald Trump, whom he warned could become “America’s Hitler” and described as the political equivalent of the ferociously addictive opiates that had ruined lives in the region where he grew up. But by the time of this year’s Ohio Senate primary, Mr Vance had transformed himself into an ardent Trumpist and belligerent culture warrior.

Read more from Abe Asher below.

‘Hillbilly Elegy’ director Ron Howard ‘surprised’ by JD Vance’s far-right politics

ICYMI: Prosecutors probing Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents

14:00 , Andrew Naughtie

The Department of Justice has begun its investigation into how several boxes of official Trump administration documents, some of them classified, found their way to Mar-a-Lago instead of being turned over to the National Archives as required by law.

Under federal law, all records created during Mr Trump’s term were the property of the United States and should have been transferred to the archives by the time he left office on 20 January, 2021.

The investigation is aimed at determining how the boxes of documents were transported to Florida, who was responsible for boxing them up, if anyone was aware that classified material was taken out of the White House in a way that was improper, and how they were stored in Florida, according to The New YorkTimes.

Andrew Feinberg and Gustaf Kilander have the story.

Prosecutors begin probe into secret official documents Trump took to Mar-a-Lago

Laura Ingraham defends extreme candidate Kathy Barnette

13:25 , Andrew Naughtie

After Sean Hannity spent a remarkable portion of his show laying into Pennsylvania candidate Kathy Barnette, his Fox News colleague Laura Ingraham followed up with a hearty defence of the surging right-wing candidate.

Ms Ingraham not only criticised Dr Mehmet Oz, who has been endorsed by Donald Trump for the seat, but hosted a guest to speak out in Ms Barnette’s favour – and warn that tearing her down could alienate Black voters whose votes the GOP currently struggles to win.

Sign up to The Independent’s US Morning Headlines newsletter

12:55 , Andrew Naughtie

As the Biden administration scrambles to punish Russia for its assault on Ukraine, Congress fights over abortion and the 6 January investigations steadily heat up, The Independent has launched a new US Morning Headlines newsletter to keep you in the know.

As the day begins, our roundup will bring you up to date with the biggest stories, exclusives, explainers, and the big questions of the day. Sign up below:

How to sign up for The Independent’s US morning headlines newsletter

Elon Musk’s Twitter deal “on hold"

12:18 , Andrew Naughtie

Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk appears to be rethinking his decision to buy Twitter, if a tweet sent early this morning is anything to go by.

In his post, Mr Musk said the deal would be postponed until he could see the reasoning for the company’s claim that only a tiny proportion of accounts are fake or exist to pump out spam.

“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” he wrote.

The prospect of Mr Musk going back on the deal will be an unpleasant one for many right-wingers who hoped to see Donald Trump and others restored to what used to be their platform of choice.

Andrew Griffin has more.

Elon Musk says Twitter deal is on hold

The astonishing cost of the Cyber Ninjas’ Arizona vote audit

11:45 , Andrew Naughtie

The self-styled “Cyber Ninjas” who conducted an “audit” of Arizona’s 2020 election result reportedly spent $8.8m on their futile effort to uncover nonexistent voter fraud in the key swing state. That towering sum represents $2.1m more than the group had on hand.

More gallingly still, much of the money seems to have been spent on high fees for individual contractors, among them inventor and conspiracy theorist Jovan Pulitzer, who offered the use what he described as a technology that could detect “kinematic artifacts” – or folds in paper ballots.

The Cyber Ninjas, whose effort was mandated by Republican state senators, ultimately filed for bankruptcy last year.

Andrew Feinberg has the story.

Arizona Republican election audit contractor Cyber Ninjas spent $8.8m, documents show

Would you watch a ‘Maga version of Netflix’?

11:10 , Andrew Naughtie

The pro-Trump right has for years been angry at large tech companies for supposedly censoring conservatives’ “free speech”, and since the end of the Trump presidency, its focus has widened to include the wider business world and the culture industries.

Disney is for now the top target, but also on the list are other entertainment giants who are viewed as insufficiently hospitable to hardcore right-wing thought. In the latest attempt to create a new ecosystem for that tendency, Donald Trump’s media company is recruiting for its upcoming streaming service in hopes that it will become the right wing’s answer to existing streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu.

The Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) made the announcement in an ad posted on Wednesday that described the streaming service, named TMTG+, as “a ‘Big Tent’ platform offering broad-based entertainment rooted in free speech”.

Sravasti Dasgupta has the story.

Trump media company hiring producers for ‘Maga version of Netflix’

Poll: Should Trump be allowed back on Twitter?

10:35 , Andrew Naughtie

Donald Trump could soon be back on Twitter, after Elon Musk said he plans to end the former US president’s ban. And we want to know your views.

Mr Musk, who is in the process of buying the social media network, said the decision to block Trump in January 2021 was “morally bad” and “a mistake”.

“I think it was a morally bad decision, to be clear, and foolish in the extreme,” he said at a Future of the Car event hosted in London by the Financial Times.

We want to know what you think. Do you think Trump should be allowed to return to Twitter? Vote in the poll below and feel free to let us know what answer you chose and why in the comments.

Should Donald Trump be allowed back on Twitter? Have your say

Rising “ultra-Maga” candidate challenges Hannity and Oz to debate

10:00 , Andrew Naughtie

Kathy Barnette, the extreme right-wing Pennsylvania Senate candidate whose last-minute surge in the polls has alarmed many in the pro-Trump establishment, has pushed back on a torrent of negative coverage coming from Fox News’s Sean Hannity, who is openly supporting her rival, the Trump-backed Dr Mehmet Oz.

Ms Barnette was last night the subject of extended negative coverage on Mr Hannity’s show – and she has even been attacked by Mr Trump himself, with the ex-president declaring in a statement that she “will never be able to win the General Election against the Radical Left Democrats.”

Fading pro-Trump candidate loses 2020 election challenge

09:15 , Andrew Naughtie

David Perdue, the former Georgia senator who has Donald Trump’s backing in this year’s gubernatorial primary, has suffered a humiliating setback in his attempts to challenge the 2020 election outcome in the state., with a judge throwing out a lawsuit that he dismissed as a product of “speculation, conjecture and paranoia”.

Mr Perdue has failed to rise in the polls despite Mr Trump’s endorsement, and despite taking an increasingly aggressive stance in public. He has remained squarely focused on the 2020 result and the supposed illegitimacy of Joe Biden’s presidency, but Georgia’s Republican voters appear unmoved despite their support for Mr Trump.

The lawsuit, filed alongside a Republican voter, sought a declaration from the judge that 16 former county election officials violated the Georgia constitution in their oversight of the vote.

Read more from Law & Crime below.

Donald Trump Jr says Pompeo is 'smart enough' not run against his father in 2024

08:39 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Donald Trump Jr has said that Mike Pompeo is smart enough not to run against the former president in 2024.

In an interview with Newsmax Mr Trump was asked if Mr Pompeo wants to run in 2024 and if this is “testing the waters on his part.”

Mr Trump responded and said that there are “a bunch of people out there who are testing the waters out there.”

“He’s a smart enough guy to probably know he shouldn’t or wouldn’t run against Donald Trump,” he added.

Musk says he prefers 'less divisive' candidate than Trump in 2024

07:20 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that he prefers a “less divisive” candidate than Donald Trump for 2024, even though he wants Twitter to lift its ban on the former president.

“Even though I think a less divisive candidate would be better in 2024, I still think Trump should be restored to Twitter,” he said on Twitter on Thursday.

Earlier on Tuesday Mr Musk had said at a Financial Times conference that Twitter’s decision to ban Mr Trump was “morally bad.”

On Thursday Mr Musk also said on Twitter that president Joe Biden beat Mr Trump in the 2020 presidential elections because “everyone just wanted less drama.”

Graeme Massie reports:

Elon Musk says Biden beat Trump because US ‘just wanted less drama’

House majority leader signals possible action against Republicans subpoenaed by 6 Jan panel

06:55 , Sravasti Dasgupta

House majority leader Steny Hoyer has suggested that there may be action against Republicans if they fail to comply with subpoenas issued by the 6 January panel.

The January 6 riot committee investigating the 2021 attack has issued subpoenas to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other GOP lawmakers who are close allies of Donald Trump: Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Mo Brooks of Alabama.

“Nobody’s above the law,” Mr Hoyer was quoted as saying to Fox News Digital on Thursday.

“We’ll pursue the same actions we’d pursue with anybody else who’d refuse,” he added.

When asked about the possibility of non compliance to the subpoenas, Mr Hoyer said: “If you’re prepared to tell the truth, why would you care? If you’re not prepared to tell the truth, it may be a concern to you.”

House January 6 committee subpoenas Kevin McCarthy and four other GOP representatives

Trump media company hiring producers for 'MAGA version of Netflix'

06:30 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Donald Trump’s media company is hiring for its upcoming streaming television service, hoping to be a rival to existing streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu.

The Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) announced in an ad posted on Wednesday that it was looking to hire a content development manager to create programming for its new streaming service TMTG+.

The content development manager will “generate and develop internal concepts for original unscripted content, short form series episodes and specials,” remain “current on developing trends at networks,” and “stay aware of emerging talent and upcoming non-scripted programming,” the ad said.

The ad said that the streaming service will be “a ‘Big Tent’ platform offering broad-based entertainment rooted in free speech”.

In another ad the company posted a requirement for a content acquisition professional “to oversee content licensing and acquisition”.

According to TMTG’s vision statement on the company website, the conglomerate is an answer to “liberal bias” in the media.

(FILE) A slide deck showing TMTG’s competitors as, supposedly, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, Disney+, CNN, iHeart Media (Trump Media and Technology Group)
(FILE) A slide deck showing TMTG’s competitors as, supposedly, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, Disney+, CNN, iHeart Media (Trump Media and Technology Group)

Anti-abortion groups urge states to reject legislation criminalising abortions

06:10 , Sravasti Dasgupta

More than 70 leading national and state anti-abortion groups have urged state lawmakers to reject legislation that would criminalise women for having abortions.

“We state unequivocally that any measure seeking to criminalise or punish women is not pro-life and we stand firmly opposed to such efforts,” the groups wrote in an open letter on Thursday.

The letter’s signatories include National Right to Life, Susan B Anthony List, Americans United for Life, March for Life Action and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, reported CNN.

The letter added that if Roe vs Wade is overturned, “this will be a tremendous opportunity for states to create durable policy that can stand the test of time”.

“Victims of abortion and require our compassion and support as well as ready access to counselling and social services in the days, weeks, months and years following an abortion,” they said.

Pro-choice demonstrators are seen through police barricades in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on May 11, 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)
Pro-choice demonstrators are seen through police barricades in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on May 11, 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

Yellen calls for new regulation after crypto meltdown

05:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, responding to the recent sharp decline in the value of cryptocurrencies, said Thursday that additional federal regulation was needed to respond to the wave of speculative investment in the currency whose secrecy is an essential part of its appeal.

“We really need a regulatory framework to guard against the risks,” Yellen said of cryptocurrencies called stable coins, during a House committee hearing Thursday. Citing the rapid rise in use of digital assets, she added, “Really, we need a comprehensive framework so that there are no gaps in the regulation.”

Stable coins are a type of cryptocurrency pegged to a specific value, usually the dollar, another currency or gold. Its parity with the dollar is what, in theory, makes it stable. However, volatility in the cryptocurrency market this week challenged that premise.

Crypto meltdown prompts Yellen to call for new regulation

Psaki says she’ll miss her daily confrontations with Fox News reporter Peter Doocy

05:22 , Oliver O'Connell

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says she will miss her briefing room sparring with Peter Doocy of Fox News when she leaves the job this week.

Ms Psaki has been involved in a string of combative confrontations with Mr Doocy during her time as the lead messenger in the Biden administration.

She told a Christian Science Monitor event on Thursday that she “will” miss Mr Doocy’s questioning and insisted that the pair have “a very good professional relationship”.

Graeme Massie reports.

Jen Psaki says she’ll miss her daily confrontations with Peter Doocy of Fox News

Baked Alaska Capitol riot plea deal falls apart

04:59 , Oliver O'Connell

White supremacist internet personality Tim Gionet, who is popularly known as Baked Alaska, has derailed his plea deal with federal prosecutors by declaring himself innocent in a last-minute turn of events in a case linked to the 6 January riots at the US Capitol.

Mr Gionet was set to plead guilty in a Washington DC federal court on Wednesday to a count of misdemeanor for willfully and knowingly parading, demonstrating, and picketing inside the Capitol.

Shweta Sharma reports:

Capitol riot plea hearing for rioter Baked Alaska falls apart as he claims innocence

Judge rules research firm hired by Hillary Clinton must turn over emails to Durham

04:45 , Andrew Naughtie

A federal judge on Thursday has ruled that GPS Fusion, the research firm hired by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign to dig up dirt on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia must turn over 22 internal emails.

The emails will need to be turned over to special counsel John Durham who is probing the FBI’s Russia ties, reported CNN.

They are a part of 38 emails that were subpoenaed last year.

“Fusion did more in connection with the Alfa Bank allegations than simply provide information and analysis to (Clinton campaign lawyer Marc) Elias so that he could better advise the Campaign on defamation risk,” federal Judge Christopher Cooper wrote in the ruling.

The emails are largely among Fusion employees and pertain to their efforts to plant news coverage about Mr Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.

“It is clear that Fusion employees also interacted with the press as part of an affirmative media relations effort by the Clinton Campaign. That effort included pitching certain stories, providing information on background, and answering reporters’ questions,” the judge added in the ruling.

(FILE) Glenn R. Simpson, co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, arrives for a scheduled appearance before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP)
(FILE) Glenn R. Simpson, co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, arrives for a scheduled appearance before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP)

White House waves off Fox News question on crack pipes in safe smoking kits

04:26 , Oliver O'Connell

White House press secretary Jen Psaki shot down a question from Fox News’s Jacqui Heinrich on Thursday after the reporter asked about a federal program long targeted by the right aimed at helping drug addicts avoid overdose deaths.

John Bowden has the story.

White House waves off Fox News ‘conspiracy theory’ on crack pipes in smoking kits

‘I had just hit my limit’: Psaki says she regrets comment about sending Covid tests to every American

04:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Outgoing White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said that she had hit her “limit” in terms of questions about Covid tests when she previously asked, “should we just send one to every American?” in response to a reporter’s question.

In December of last year, Ms Psaki was repeatedly asked about the availability of Covid tests in the US, leading to her eventually responding in a tone some considered sarcastic or mocking.

Almost two weeks later, the government bought 500 million tests to send to Americans.

Gustaf Kilander reports:

Psaki says she regrets comment about sending Covid tests to every American

Biden marks 1 million Americans dead from Covid as White House hosts global summit

03:50 , Oliver O'Connell

The White will host world leaders for another global Covid-19 summit to urge preparedness for the next pandemic, as the US passed the grim milestone of 1 million American deaths from the coronavirus.

In a statement on Thursday, President Joe Biden said each of the million dead represented “an irreplaceable loss ... leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed”.

“As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before,” he said, adding that it is “critical” for Congress to “sustain” such resources by passing a supplemental Covid-19 funding bill.

Andrew Feinberg reports from Washington, DC.

White House hosts global Covid summit as Biden marks 1 million Americans dead

Jen Psaki says she and her children were target of ‘threats’

03:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki has detailed some of the tougher aspects of the job, including threats she received from angry critics of the Biden administration, in an interview with members of the press corps this week.

Speaking at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Thursday, Ms Psaki explained that throughout her time at the White House she received threatening messages mentioning both her and her children, with some even containing mentions of her home address.

“The thing that has been hardest, personally, is I have had threats, I have had nasty letters, texts to me with my personal address, the names of my children,” she said.

John Bowden has the story.

Psaki says she and her children were target of ‘threats’ for White House work

GOP governors ask DoJ to block protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes

02:45 , Oliver O'Connell

The governors of Virginia and Maryland have sent a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland asking his Department of Justice to clamp down on protests outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices on the precipce of voting to restrict abortion rights.

Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and Larry Hogan of Maryland, both Republicans, wrote in the letter on Wednesday that the federal government must “take the lead and provide sustained resources to protect the justices and ensure these residential areas are secure in the weeks and months ahead”.

Abe Asher reports:

Governors ask DoJ to block protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes

Biden ‘cutting red tape’ to ease baby formula shortage

02:22 , Oliver O'Connell

President Joe Biden is directing federal agencies to take actions towards easing the baby formula shortages that have left many store shelves bare in the wake of a manufacturing shutdown and recall from the nation’s largest formula maker.

“We have been working on this issue since since the very beginning in the days leading up to to the recall,” said a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the actions late Thursday. “We absolutely recognize the frustration that American families are feeling right now, and that’s why the President has acted to direct the administration to pull additional levers and take additional action to make more supply available as quickly as possible”.

Andrew Feinberg reports from Washington, DC.

Biden administration ‘cutting red tape’ to ease baby formula shortage

How the ‘pro-life’ movement killed Roe v Wade

02:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Powerful legal groups, conservative Christian activists and right-wing figures shaped an anti-abortion agenda in the hands of the US Supreme Court, Alex Woodward reports.

Inside the ‘pro-life’ movement that killed Roe v Wade

Biden warns GOP plans to reverse same-sex marriage rights next

01:15 , Oliver O'Connell

President Joe Biden had a stark warning for his Democratic supporters and colleagues: Republicans are coming for gay marriage next.

That was the message he delivered to donors at a fundraiser on Wednesday hosted by the Democratic National Committee as the White House and Democrats nationally face questions about whether they have a strategy to see abortion rights protected at the federal level in the event that the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade.

“Mark my words: They’re going to go after the right of the — Supreme Court decision on the right of same-sex marriage,” he warned.

Biden warns Republicans plan to reverse gay marriage rights next

Sign up for The Independent’s US morning headlines newsletter

01:00 , Oliver O'Connell

As the Biden administration scrambles to punish Russia for its assault on Ukraine, Congress confirms a new Supreme Court justice and the 6 January investigations steadily heat up, The Independent is launching a new US morning headlines newsletter to keep you in the know.

As the day begins US morning headlines will bring you up to date with the biggest stories, exclusives, explainers, and the big questions of the day.

How to sign up for The Independent’s US morning headlines newsletter

Ukraine aid: Dan Crenshaw says Marjorie Taylor Greene is ‘going after that Russia Today slot’

Friday 13 May 2022 00:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Representatives Dan Crenshaw and Marjorie Taylor Greene feuded on Twitter after the two Republican members of Congress took different votes on an aid package to Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the House passed a $40bn aid package to Ukraine. Every Democrat present voted for the legislation, while 57 Republicans voted against the package, including Ms Greene.

Other Republicans who voted against the legislation included Representatives Paul Gosar of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

Eric Garcia reports from Capitol Hill.

Rep Dan Crenshaw says Marjorie Taylor Greene is ‘going after that Russia Today slot’

Voices: What Alito hasn’t considered — Forced pregnancies will lead to job discrimination

Friday 13 May 2022 00:22 , Oliver O'Connell

Pregnant women already face a host of challenges at work – curbing women’s right to bodily autonomy will make things worse, writes Mariah Schug.

Alito should realize that forced pregnancies will mean job discrimination

Florida judge rejects Ron DeSantis congressional map

Thursday 12 May 2022 23:45 , Oliver O'Connell

A Florida circuit court judge has blocked the state’s congressional redistricting plan drawn by Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration that would likely eliminate two of the state’s four districts represented by Black Democrats and create four more districts that lean Republican.

Judge Layne Smith, who issued a ruling from the bench on 11 May, said the map violates the state’s constitutional provisions governing the redistricting process because it “diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect candidates of their choice” in Florida’s 5th District, which spans Jacksonville to Tallahassee.

Alex Woodward reports.

Florida judge rejects Ron DeSantis congressional map that ‘diminishes’ Black voters

Trump attacks Pennsylvania candidate amid Republican voter backlash over Dr Oz endorsement

Thursday 12 May 2022 23:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Former president Donald Trump half-heartedly criticised Republican Senate candidate Kathy Barnette as unelectable, as his preferred candidate in Pennsylvania’s Senate primary continues to have troubles.

Many conservatives criticised Mr Trump for endorsing former television host and physician Dr Mehmet Oz in the primary, despite conservative dissatisfaction. A recent Fox News poll showed that Dr Oz shot up seven points, from 15 per cent in March to 22 per cent in May, but also found that 46 per cent of Republican primary voters had a negative opinion of former television host.

Conversely, the same poll showed that Ms Barnette, a Black woman veteran and conservative commentator, surged from nine per cent in March to 19 per cent, putting her within the margin of error and right behind Mr Trump’s preferred candidate. The Club for Growth released an ad supporting her this week.

Eric Garcia has the full story.

Trump attacks senate candidate amid Republican backlash over his Dr Oz endorsement

January 6 probe subpoenas Kevin McCarthy and four other GOP lawmakers

Thursday 12 May 2022 23:00 , Oliver O'Connell

The House select committee investigating the 6 January 2021 attack on the Capitol has issued subpoenas to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other Republicans who are close allies of former president Donald Trump: Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Mo Brooks of Alabama.

Representative Bennie Thompson, the select committee’s chairman, said the panel had “learned that several of our colleagues have information relevant to our investigation into the attack on January 6th and the events leading up to it” and had provided each of the GOP members now under subpoena an opportunity to give evidence voluntarily before the committee presents findings in public hearings.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

House January 6 committee subpoenas Kevin McCarthy and four other GOP representatives

Yellen calls for new regulation after crypto meltdown

Thursday 12 May 2022 22:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, responding to the recent sharp decline in the value of cryptocurrencies, said Thursday that additional federal regulation was needed to respond to the wave of speculative investment in the currency whose secrecy is an essential part of its appeal.

“We really need a regulatory framework to guard against the risks,” Yellen said of cryptocurrencies called stable coins, during a House committee hearing Thursday. Citing the rapid rise in use of digital assets, she added, “Really, we need a comprehensive framework so that there are no gaps in the regulation.”

Stable coins are a type of cryptocurrency pegged to a specific value, usually the dollar, another currency or gold. Its parity with the dollar is what, in theory, makes it stable. However, volatility in the cryptocurrency market this week challenged that premise.

Crypto meltdown prompts Yellen to call for new regulation

JD Vance’s far-right politics surprised ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ director Ron Howard

Thursday 12 May 2022 22:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Ron Howard, the man who directed the widely panned film adaptation of JD Vance’s bestselling memior ”Hillbilly Elegy“, said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he is ‘surprised’ by Mr Vance’s newfound far-right politics.

“I always knew he was conservative, but [he] struck me as a very center-right, a kind of a moderate thinker,” Mr Howard said.

Abe Asher has the story.

‘Hillbilly Elegy’ director Ron Howard ‘surprised’ by JD Vance’s far-right politics

Pelosi leads minute of silence for 1 million American Covid deaths

Thursday 12 May 2022 22:25 , Oliver O'Connell

Psaki says she’ll miss her daily confrontations with Fox News reporter Peter Doocy

Thursday 12 May 2022 22:23 , Oliver O'Connell

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says she will miss her briefing room sparring with Peter Doocy of Fox News when she leaves the job this week.

Ms Psaki has been involved in a string of combative confrontations with Mr Doocy during her time as the lead messenger in the Biden administration.

She told a Christian Science Monitor event on Thursday that she “will” miss Mr Doocy’s questioning and insisted that the pair have “a very good professional relationship”.

Graeme Massie reports.

Jen Psaki says she’ll miss her daily confrontations with Peter Doocy of Fox News

Biden marks 1 million Americans dead from Covid as White House hosts global summit

Thursday 12 May 2022 22:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The White will host world leaders for another global Covid-19 summit to urge preparedness for the next pandemic, as the US passed the grim milestone of 1 million American deaths from the coronavirus.

In a statement on Thursday, President Joe Biden said each of the million dead represented “an irreplaceable loss ... leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed”.

“As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before,” he said, adding that it is “critical” for Congress to “sustain” such resources by passing a supplemental Covid-19 funding bill.

Andrew Feinberg reports from Washington, DC.

White House hosts global Covid summit as Biden marks 1 million Americans dead

Prosecutors begin probe into secret official documents Trump took to Mar-a-Lago

Thursday 12 May 2022 22:08 , Oliver O'Connell

The Department of Justice is now investigating whether former President Donald Trump or any of his aides violated federal law by mishandling classified documents which ended up at his Florida home instead of being returned to the National Archives at the end of his term.

According to the New York Times, prosecutors have issued a subpoena to obtain the documents from the archives and have requested interviews with several people who worked in the White House during the waning days of Mr Trump’s presidency.

Read more:

Prosecutors begin probe into secret official documents Trump took to Mar-a-Lago

White House waves off Fox News question on crack pipes in safe smoking kits

Thursday 12 May 2022 22:00 , Oliver O'Connell

White House press secretary Jen Psaki shot down a question from Fox News’s Jacqui Heinrich on Thursday after the reporter asked about a federal program long targeted by the right aimed at helping drug addicts avoid overdose deaths.

John Bowden has the story.

White House waves off Fox News ‘conspiracy theory’ on crack pipes in smoking kits

Report says Trump officials and meat companies knew workers at risk in pandemic

Thursday 12 May 2022 21:49 , Oliver O'Connell

At the height of the pandemic, the meat processing industry worked closely with political appointees in the Trump administration to stave off health restrictions and keep slaughterhouses open even as COVID-19 spread rapidly among workers, according to a Congressional report released Thursday.

The report by the House’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said meat companies pushed to keep their plants open even though they knew workers were at high risk of catching the virus. The lobbying led to health and labor officials watering down their recommendations for the industry and culminated in an executive order President Donald Trump issued in the spring of 2020 designating meat plants as critical infrastructure that needed to remain open.

Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn, who leads the subcommittee, said USDA officials and the industry prioritized production and profits over the health of workers and communities as at least 59,000 workers caught the virus and 269 workers died.

Report criticizes meat industry, USDA response to pandemic

Pelosi laments failure of Roe legislation while still supporting anti-abortion Democrat

Thursday 12 May 2022 21:30 , Oliver O'Connell

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lamented the demise of Democrats’ legislation to protect abortion rights while at the same time defending her support for one of the last members of her caucus who opposes abortion rights.

Senate Democrats failed to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have codified the protections within Roe v Wade, on Wednesday after Democratic Senator Joe Manchin opposed it.

Eric Garcia reports from Washington, DC.

Pelosi stands by anti-abortion Democrat as Roe legislation fails

Rep Andy Biggs responds to Jan 6 probe subpoena

Thursday 12 May 2022 21:23 , Oliver O'Connell

Arizona Republican Representative Andy Biggs has responded to his subpoena by the House Capitol riot committee with a tweet thread.

He says:

Today’s actions by the illegitimate January 6 Committee are pure political theater. The subpoenas and news of their issuance were leaked to the media before the impacted Members.

The January 6 Committee’s ongoing, baseless witch hunt is nothing more than an effort to distract the American people from the Democrats’ and Biden’s disastrous leadership.

The border is in crisis, inflation is skyrocketing, crime is rampant, and Democrats are focused on fabricating their own facts to take down Republican leaders.

Rep Scott Perry responds to Jan 6 subpoena

Thursday 12 May 2022 21:12 , Oliver O'Connell

Pennsylvania GOP lawmaker has responded to the subpoena issued to to him by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot of 6 January 2021.

The congressman tweeted: “That this illegitimate body leaked their latest charade to the media ahead of contacting targeted Members is proof once again that this political witch hunt is about fabricating headlines and distracting Americans from their abysmal record of running America into the ground.”

Biden ‘cutting red tape’ to ease baby formula shortage

Thursday 12 May 2022 21:00 , Oliver O'Connell

President Joe Biden is directing federal agencies to take actions towards easing the baby formula shortages that have left many store shelves bare in the wake of a manufacturing shutdown and recall from the nation’s largest formula maker.

“We have been working on this issue since since the very beginning in the days leading up to to the recall,” said a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the actions late Thursday. “We absolutely recognize the frustration that American families are feeling right now, and that’s why the President has acted to direct the administration to pull additional levers and take additional action to make more supply available as quickly as possible”.

Andrew Feinberg reports from Washington, DC.

Biden administration ‘cutting red tape’ to ease baby formula shortage

Jen Psaki says she and her children were target of ‘threats’ for White House work

Thursday 12 May 2022 20:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki has detailed some of the tougher aspects of the job, including threats she received from angry critics of the Biden administration, in an interview with members of the press corps this week.

Speaking at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Thursday, Ms Psaki explained that throughout her time at the White House she received threatening messages mentioning both her and her children, with some even containing mentions of her home address.

John Bowden reports.

Psaki says she and her children were target of ‘threats’ for White House work

New poll has abortion tied with economy as most important issue of midterms

Thursday 12 May 2022 20:41 , Oliver O'Connell

A new poll by Monmouth University has the economy and abortion tied as the most important issue of the midterm elections at 26 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

Both are far ahead of healthcare (16 per cent), immigration (14 per cent), gun control (9 per cent), and taxes (8 per cent).

About 1 in 3 Democrats (32%) and 1 in 4 independents (26%) say agreeing with a candidate on abortion policy is the top consideration in their congressional vote. Four years ago, fewer than 1 in 10 in either group said the same. On the other hand, the number of Republicans who name abortion as their most important issue (17%) is about the same as in 2018. Among women, abortion as the most important midterm issue has increased from 10% to 30%, while among men it has increased from 9% to 19%.

“Many Democrats are clearly focused on abortion as a driving factor in the midterm elections. However, what is not clear from this one poll is whether this issue is actually motivating voters who would not otherwise come out to vote this year,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Report: ‘Fake electors’ co-operating with Georgia investigation into Trump efforts to overturn election

Thursday 12 May 2022 20:31 , Oliver O'Connell

Some of the 16 GeorgiaRepublicans who signed a fake electoral vote certificate that was sent to the National Archives are cooperating with a criminal investigation into former president Donald Trump’s effort to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.

According to CNN, “several individuals” who served as fake electors on a document submitted to the archives by Georgia Republican Party Chair David Shafer have spoken to prosecutors with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ office as part of a probe into whether Mr Trump broke Georgia election law during his push to install himself in the White House for a second term against the wishes of American voters.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

‘Fake electors’ co-operating with Georgia probe into Trump scheme to overturn loss

Republican governors ask DoJ to block protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes

Thursday 12 May 2022 20:12 , Oliver O'Connell

The governors of Virginia and Maryland have sent a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland asking his Department of Justice to clamp down on protests outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices on the precipice of voting to restrict abortion rights.

Abe Asher reports.

Governors ask DoJ to block protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes

Biden thanks Senate for Fed confirmations

Thursday 12 May 2022 20:05 , Oliver O'Connell

Statement from President Biden:

I have made it clear that tackling inflation is my top domestic priority. So I am pleased to see the Senate take a step forward on my agenda to get inflation under control by confirming my nominees to the Fed. I want to thank the Senate for confirming Jerome Powell, Dr. Lisa Cook, and Dr. Philip Jefferson this week, joining the recent confirmation of Dr. Lael Brainard. The Federal Reserve plays a primary role in fighting inflation, and these well-qualified members of the Board will bring the skill and knowledge needed at this critical time for our economy and families across the country. We still have more work to do to finish filling the Fed Board, which is why I call on the Senate to swiftly confirm Michael Barr, my nominee for Vice Chair for Supervision.

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