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Story by bgriffiths@insider.com (Brent D. Griffiths)

In 2019, then-Attorney General Bill Barr sought to look into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation in hopes of proving it was a "witch hunt," but his efforts took an unexpected turn, The New York Times reported on Thursday. Instead, a tip from Italian officials led the Justice Department to quietly open a probe into shady financial deals linked to then-President Donald Trump.

According to the Times, special counsel John Durham pressed Italian and British officials about any tips they could have shared that may have set off the Russian collusion investigation. The US allies were outraged by the insinuation that they would have conspired against a major political candidate. But, according to the Times, Italian officials responded by telling Durham's team about allegations of financial crimes that were serious enough that the DOJ opened a criminal investigation.

Story by Michael Luciano

After demanding the FBI search properties President Joe Biden has access to in order to search for classified documents, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said there is no need to do the same to former Vice President Mike Pence. Cruz also called on the FBI to search the home and business of the president’s son Hunter Biden.

On Tuesday, CNN reported classified material had been found at Pence’s home in Indiana. The revelation came as Biden is dealing with backlash from his own mishandling of classified material at multiple locations, including his home. The material dates from Biden’s time as vice president and senator. Appearing on Tuesday’s installment of Kudlow on Fox Business, Cruz called for the FBI to search the home and offices of Biden’s son, as well as the University of Delaware’s archives. He suggested the bureau may find evidence of corrupt business dealings by the Biden family:

Story by Ewan Palmer

Several Fox News hosts were quick to downplay the significance appearance of classified documents at the home of former vice president Mike Pence, in stark contrast to their reaction when news broke that classified materials had been discovered at Joe Biden's home and former office. Pence's lawyers confirmed that a "small number of documents" were found inside boxes at his Indiana home last week, which have since been returned to the National Archives.

The discovery of the boxes coincides with former President Donald Trump being under criminal investigation for failing to hand over hundreds of classified and top secret documents found at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Biden is also under scrutiny after sensitive materials were discovered at his Delaware home and a Washington D.C. office the president previously used. Rather than openly criticize Pence for having classified materials at an insecure location, something conservative figures have frequently condemned Biden for, Fox News hosts suggested there are key differences in how Pence handled the materials.

Story by Giulia Carbonaro

Newly elected Republican congressman George Santos continues to be a headache for his own party, as the representative finally confirmed he has performed in drag on at least one occasion. The admission, made in an interview with ABC 7 on Saturday as the congressman returned home to New York over the weekend, came after Santos had repeatedly denied ever dressing in drag despite evidence to the contrary.

Several images and videos showing Santos in drag have recently resurfaced online and have been widely circulated on social media. But the New York congressman claimed he only ever dressed in drag once at a festival in Brazil. "I was young and I had fun at a festival—sue me for having a life," he told ABC 7 on Saturday. Last week, he described claims he had performed in drag as "outrageous" and "categorically false."


Officials in the United States have discovered six more classified documents during a new search of President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, according to a lawyer. Some of the classified documents and “surrounding materials” dated from Biden’s tenure in the US Senate, where he represented Delaware from 1973 to 2009, the president’s personal lawyer, Bob Bauer, said in a statement on Saturday.

Story by Samaa Khullar

Iowa House Republicans introduced a bill that would place restrictions on the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, limiting who qualifies for food assistance and what foods they can buy. The new bill, House File 3, dictates what the more than 250,000 Iowans who rely on SNAP can or cannot buy at grocery stores, Luke Elzinga, spokesperson for local food nonprofit DMARC told Axios Des Moines.

HF3 also targets several other public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, and reduces the income level Iowans need to qualify for the program. Nearly 40 House Republicans have co-sponsored the bill led by House Speaker Pat Grassley — one that would limit SNAP food purchases (formerly known as food stamps) to only what is on the state's approved WIC list, a supplemental nutritional aid for women, infants, and children.

Story by Kelly Jones

On Jan. 10, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) introduced a bill, called the FairTax Act, that proposed major changes to the U.S. federal tax system. But people on social media say the bill’s proposed 30% national sales tax, also referred to as a “consumption tax,” would be detrimental to the middle class and would abolish the IRS. Google Trends data shows people were searching for what the consumption tax would do. VERIFY viewer Michael emailed us asking whether a national sales tax bill has really been proposed.

THE QUESTION
Did House Republicans introduce a bill to create a national sales tax and eliminate the need for the IRS?

THE ANSWER
Yes, House Republicans introduced a bill to create a national sales tax that they think would eliminate the need for the IRS. The FairTax Act of 2023 was introduced in the House on Jan. 9 by Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.). If passed, it would repeal all federal taxes, including the federal income tax, abolish the Internal Revenue Service and enact a national sales tax. The bill says federal income taxes, payroll taxes, as well as estate and gift taxes would be repealed. It would also eliminate taxes on corporate income and capital gains. In place of those taxes, a 23% national sales tax would be collected.

Opinion by Mike Freeman, USA TODAY

The NHL recently had what seemed like a sensible idea. It was a job fair that was scheduled to be held on Feb. 2 called "Pathway to Hockey Summit." "Participants must be 18 years of age or older, based in the U.S., and identify as female, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and/or a person with a disability. Veterans are also welcome and encouraged to attend," the event description said. The NHL, a majority white league, was trying to take small steps to diversify itself. It's a noble cause and good business.

However the press secretary for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Bryan Griffin, didn't think so, saying in a statement: "Discrimination of any sort is not welcome in the state of Florida, and we do not abide by the woke notion that discrimination should be overlooked if applied in a politically popular manner or against a politically unpopular demographic. We are fighting all discrimination in our schools and our workplaces, and we will fight it in publicly accessible places of meeting or activity."

Another Republican lie debunked tax cuts do not pay for themselves. The reasons Republicans give tax cuts is to help the rich (the 1%) and to force cuts to programs that help Americans (99%) like Social Security, Medicare.

Story by Alex Henderson

Over the years, one of the GOP’s favorite economic talking points has been that “tax cuts pay for themselves.” The argument is that when the wealthy are given tax cuts, they create new jobs and stimulate growth — and the growth makes up for a decrease in tax revenue. That argument was used when Republicans passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 during Donald Trump’s presidency. But Washington Post opinion writer Catherine Rampell, in her recent column, argues that some House Republicans have unintentionally “admitted” that “tax cuts don’t pay for themselves.”

“The House rules package recently passed by the newly GOP-controlled House included some notable, occasionally troubling things,” Rampell explains. “For example, one set of measures would kneecap congressional ethics probes. Another provision would make it harder to swiftly raise the debt ceiling. But also tucked into the rules package, and attracting somewhat less attention, was a change to how lawmakers treat changes to tax law.”

Story by Abené Clayton

Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Republican governor, has rejected a new advanced placement course in African American studies from being taught on high school campuses. He argues that the course violates state law and “lacks educational value”. This move is the latest in a series of actions to keep conversations and lessons about race, sexuality and gender identity off the state’s school campuses.

DeSantis officially banned the course in a letter from the state education department to the College Board, the organization that administers college readiness exams like the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). They also oversee advanced placement (AP) courses, which allow students to earn college credits in subjects like English and chemistry. In a 12 January letter to the College Board, the Florida education department said the course is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value”.

In the summer of 2022, the College Board announced a pilot program to “offer high school students an evidence-based introduction to African American studies” would be launching in 60 high schools across the country during the 2022-23 school year and will be set to expand to other campuses the following year.

Story by Queerty

Gay, New York Rep. Ritchie Torres saw one of his tweets go viral yesterday. Torres’ target was Florida’s Ron DeSantis. Torres claims DeSantis has followed up ‘Don’t Say Gay’ with a ‘Don’t Say Black’ schools policy. The tweet comes after Florida rejected proposals for a new Advanced Placement (AP) African-American studies course. The course has been devised by the College Board. The organization sets SAT tests and other programs. A pilot of the course is running in 60 schools nationwide. The College Board wrote to officials in Florida seeking approval to run the course in the state. However, a letter sent by the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation to the College Board on January 12 said “as presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”

Ouch.
According to Time, it’s the first new AP course since 2014. It spans 400 years of African American history. On hearing the news, Torres tweeted, “SHOCKING: Ron DeSantis has BANNED the teaching of AP African American Studies in Florida. Florida has gone from Don’t Say Gay to Don’t Say Black.”

The party of hypocrites is at it again.

Eric Dolan

A political analyst suggested Monday on CNN that Republicans were acting hypocritically by vowing to investigate President Joe Biden's handling of classified documents after defending former President Donald Trump. Secret documents have been found both at an office Biden used after he ended his service as Barack Obama's vice president in 2017 and in the garage of his Delaware home. Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, has demanded to see visitor logs for Biden's home.

“Congressman Comer himself never asked for the visitor logs from Mar-a-Lago while he's asked for the visiting logs for President Biden’s Delaware home, and a lot of Republicans -- including Representative Comer and Speaker Kevin McCarthy -- all rallied behind former President Trump,” noted Laura Barrón-López, the White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour. She noted that Republicans are planning to investigate the FBI, arguing that the agency has been “weaponized because of the fact that they conducted that search of Mar-a-Lago.

The party of hypocrites is at it again.

Tom Boggioni

A "Meet the Press " interview with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) turned combative on Sunday morning after the Republican lawmaker isn't calling for an investigation into the money former White House adviser Jared Kushner is raking in from the Middle East. Sitting down with host Chuck Todd, Johnson was asked why he is so interested in the foreign business dealings of Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden while turning a blind eye to the billions the husband of Ivanka Trump received from Qatar when he was still working for Donald Trump.

That, in turn, led Johnson to launch a diatribe against the NBC host and complain about how he is treated when he is invited to appear. "Were you at all concerned -- your Senate Democrats want to investigate Jared Kushner's loan from the Qatari government when he was working in the government, negotiating many things in the Middle East? Are you not concerned about that?" Todd prompted.

Story by Marisa Sarnoff

Two of former President Donald Trump‘s business entities will have to pay more than $1.6 million in fines for their years-long tax fraud scheme, the maximum fine amounts available. Former President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd as he prepares to speak a campaign rally for Republican candidates on October 9, 2022 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.)

New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced the sentence from Justice Juan Manuel Merchan on Friday. The businesses — the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation — were convicted in December of six criminal charges relating to a years-long tax fraud plot. According to the indictment, the companies and former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg “devised and operated a scheme to defraud federal, New York State, and New York City tax authorities” for some 15 years. Bragg said it was the first criminal convictions of Trump companies. The prosecutor’s office had sought the highest fines available.

Story by cdavis@insider.com (Charles R. Davis)

The wife of an Iowa Republican who ran for Congress in 2020 was arrested Thursday and accused of casting 23 fraudulent votes on behalf of her husband. In an 11-page indictment, prosecutors allege that Kim Phuong Taylor "visited numerous households within the Vietnamese community in Woodbury County," where she collected absentee ballots for people who were not present at the time. Taylor, who was born in Vietnam, then filled out and cast those ballots herself, the indictment alleges, "causing the casting of votes in the names of residents who had no knowledge of and had not consented to the casting of their ballots."

Taylor is also accused of signing voter registration forms on behalf of residents who were not present. In all, prosecutors allege, she engaged in 26 counts of providing false information and voting, three counts of fraudulent registration, and 23 counts of fraudulent voting. Each charge carries a maximum 5-year prison sentence. The aim, prosecutors allege, was to get her husband, Republican politician Jeremy Taylor, elected to public office.

Story by Tiffany Muller

Kevin McCarthy's fight to become speaker of the House of Representatives was full of drama, name-calling, and major internal disagreements about how Congress should be run. While the full details of everything McCarthy capitulated on are not yet known, there's one issue no Republican seemed to have any problems with: weakening a key office that oversees the ethical behavior of members of Congress and their staffs. The rules package passed on Monday night has two key provisions that good government advocates fear will significantly weaken the little-known Office of Congressional Ethics, a stand-alone oversight body separate from the member-run House Ethics Committee.

Pledging to take on a "culture of corruption," House Democrats created the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) in 2008, following a series of Republican scandals that led the majority leader to resign in disgrace, members of Congress to be indicted and eventually plead guilty to corruption charges. Superlobbyist Jack Abramoff exposed the world to how badly the system had been corrupted by corporate lobbyists and big money.

Lawyers found the Obama-Biden administration records during a search completed Wednesday night.
By Kelly Hooper

Lawyers for President Joe Biden have discovered additional documents with classified markings in a storage space in the garage of his Wilmington, Del., residence, the special counsel to the president announced Thursday. The lawyers found the Obama-Biden administration records during a search completed Wednesday night of Biden’s residences in both Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Del. All but one of the documents were found in a storage space in Biden’s Wilmington garage, with one other record found in an adjacent room, Special Counsel to the President Richard Sauber said in a statement.

Story by Travis Gettys

John Kelly didn't have high expectations about Donald Trump when he joined the White House as chief of staff, but he was still shocked by what he found after joining the administration. The retired U.S. Marine Corps general joined the White House halfway through Trump's first year, and New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" about what Kelly learned about the former president and his abilities.


Discovery of More Classified Records Raises Questions Over Biden’s Handling of Documents. The revelation is sure to intensify Republican attacks on the president, who has called former President Donald J. Trump irresponsible for hoarding sensitive documents at his estate in Florida.

Story by Amanda Marcotte

Tradition dictates that the political party in charge of Congress signals its priorities to the American people in the very first bills it passes after convening. After the "blue wave" of 2018, the Democrats gained control of the House and immediately passed the For the People Act, meant to protect voting rights. In 2021, with a narrower majority, Democrats passed the bill again. Sadly, both times the legislation collapsed in the Senate, a victim of the filibuster and the GOP's sweeping rejection of voting rights. Still, the message was sent and received: Democrats believe in extending and safeguarding the right to vote, unlike other parties that back a certain fascist-flavored, orange-hued pseudo-billionaire.

After last week's protracted and frankly hilarious intra-GOP battle over the speakership, Republicans got straight to work passing their first big messaging bill: Allowing rich tax cheats to evade legal consequences for defrauding the government. The bill would rescind an $8 billion-a-year expansion of the IRS budget that was signed into law by President Biden last year. That money is meant to address numerous issues, such as improving customer service (which everyone ought to want), but Republicans haven't tried to hide what truly offends them her: Money earmarked for pursuing criminal prosecutions of wealthy tax evaders.

Opinion by Zeeshan Aleem

After a bruising battle over the speakership, House Republicans kicked off their legislative agenda on Monday. It was a farce. The GOP’s first policy bill would defund President Joe Biden’s efforts to help the Internal Revenue Service crack down on tax cheats. It’s a bill that’s predicated on disinformation, whose only real constituency is wealthy people who don’t want to pay their fair share. And it underscores how the Republican Party’s so-called populism isn’t about empowering the working class — it’s about exploiting them.

After a bruising battle over the speakership, House Republicans kicked off their legislative agenda on Monday. It was a farce. The GOP’s first policy bill would defund President Joe Biden’s efforts to help the Internal Revenue Service crack down on tax cheats. It’s a bill that’s predicated on disinformation, whose only real constituency is wealthy people who don’t want to pay their fair share. And it underscores how the Republican Party’s so-called populism isn’t about empowering the working class — it’s about exploiting them.

This narrative is a work of fiction. In reality, the funding is going toward an understaffed federal agency in desperate need of personnel to perform its basic functions. The IRS’s staff size today is the same as in 1970, and there are a lot more tax returns to deal with today. The 87,000 figure refers to the total number of employees that would be hired by the Treasury Department, and a majority will not be agents involved with enforcement. According to the Treasury, just 1 percent of new employees would be agents assigned to details that require carrying firearms.

by Jared Gans

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said on Sunday that he blamed House Minority Leader (R-Calif.) for what he called the “crazy elements” in Congress and for the reason former President Trump is “still a factor” in politics. Kinzinger said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that if he had a one-on-one conversation with McCarthy, he would tell his fellow Republican that he was “disappointed” in his leadership. Kinzinger said McCarthy had an opportunity to tell “the truth” to the American people as a leader in Congress, but he instead went to Mar-a-Lago a few weeks after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and “resurrected” Trump’s relevance in politics.

“He is the reason Donald Trump is still a factor,” Kinzinger said. “He is the reason that some of the crazy elements of the House still exist.”  McCarthy reportedly begged Trump to call off the rioters during the Capitol attack, and audio from a phone call McCarthy made revealed that he criticized Trump in the aftermath the insurrection. But he soon after increased his ties to the former president, as did much of the Republican Party.

By HOPE YEN

WASHINGTON (AP) — Even as the House GOP leadership keeps silent, a veteran Republican lawmaker said Sunday that George Santos should consider resigning after the congressman-elect from New York admitted to lying about his heritage, education and professional career. Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, a former House Ways and Means chairman who has served in Congress for 25 years, told “Fox News Sunday” that Santos would have “to take some huge steps” to regain trust and respect in his district. Santos is set to be sworn in Tuesday when the new Congress begins. “This is troubling in so many ways. Certainly, he’s lied repeatedly,” said Brady, who is retiring from the House. “He certainly is going to have to consider resigning.” Brady said a decision about whether Santos steps down is one “to be made between he and the voters who elected him.”

Law enforcement sources tell ABC News the 19-year-old traveled to New York from Maine

Law enforcement sources have confirmed to ABC News that the man who allegedly attacked and wounded three New York City police officers with a machete is a Maine teenager. Sources identified the suspect as 19-year-old Trevor Bickford, of Wells. According to the NYPD, Bickford allegedly struck two of the officers in the head with the machete, lacerating one of their heads and breaking the other's skull. All three officers were taken to a hospital and are expected to recover.

By Dakin Andone, Elizabeth Wolfe and Jean Casarez, CNN

CNN — The suspect in the killings of four University of Idaho college students plans to waive his extradition hearing this week, his attorney said, to expedite his return to the Gem State, where he faces four counts of first-degree murder. Bryan Christopher Kohberger is “shocked a little bit,” Jason LaBar, the chief public defender for Monroe County, Pennsylvania, told CNN Saturday, a day after the 28-year-old’s arrest in his home state on charges related to the fatal stabbings of Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20. He also faces a charge of felony burglary, according to Latah County, Idaho, Prosecutor Bill Thompson. LaBar released a statement on behalf of Kohberger’s family Sunday, saying “there are no words that can adequately express the sadness we feel.” This is the first time the family has issued a public statement since Kohberger’s arrest Friday.

Sacramento area residents were warned of ‘imminent levee failure’ as snow in the Sierra Nevada made driving hazardous
The Guardian

Flash flood warnings were issued on Sunday in parts of northern California after a powerful storm brought drenching rain and heavy snowfall overnight, snarling traffic and closing highways as the state ushered in the new year. Residents in the area of Wilton in Sacramento county were urged to seek higher ground by emergency officials amid the threat of “imminent levee failure” on a portion of the local Cosumnes River, the Sacramento Bee reported. Many roads were under water on Sunday and rivers were above flood level.


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