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The Florida governor ‘put politics aside’ to ask Joe Biden for federal – unlike when he voted against help for Hurricane Sandy victims
Martin Pengelly in New York

As Hurricane Ian has devastated parts of Florida, the national political spotlight in America has shone brighter than ever on Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor, rising star of the hard right and probable presidential contender in 2024. Since his election in 2018, DeSantis has made his name as a ruthless culture-warrior as he has become an ally to Trump and perhaps his most serious rival in any presidential nomination contest. DeSantis has embraced an extremist agenda on everything from immigration to election integrity, positioning himself as Trumpist on policy but more mainstream on personality and temperament. He has championed “don’t say gay” legislation in Florida schools and this month used taxpayers’ money to send a planeload of migrants from the southern border in Texas to Massachusetts, a Democratic-run state.

That last move prompted a blizzard of anger and indignation. The transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, said DeSantis was “hurting people in order to get attention”. But such opprobrium did not deter a governor playing to a Trumpist base. For his next move, DeSantis suggested, he would send his next planeload of unsuspecting asylum seekers to Delaware, where Joe Biden has a weekend home. But then Hurricane Ian hit. And like ambitious Republicans before him – most famously Chris Christie of New Jersey, whose photo ops with Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were reckoned to have hurt him in the 2016 primary – DeSantis realised he needed to talk to the president.

By Katie Lobosco, CNN

Washington CNN — The Biden administration scaled back eligibility for its student loan forgiveness plan Thursday, the same day six Republican-led states sued President Joe Biden in an effort to block his student loan forgiveness plan from taking effect. Borrowers whose federal student loans are guaranteed by the government but held by private lenders will now be excluded from receiving debt relief. Around 770,000 people will be affected by the change, according to an administration official.

The Department of Education initially said these loans, many of which were made under the former Federal Family Education Loan program and Federal Perkins Loan program, would be eligible for the one-time forgiveness action as long as the borrower consolidated his or her debt into the federal Direct loan program.

On Thursday, the department reversed course. According to its website, privately held federal student loans must have been consolidated before September 29 in order to be eligible for the debt relief. Borrowers with privately held federal student loans who have not consolidated yet are currently out of luck, though the Department of Education said it “is assessing whether there are alternative pathways” to provide relief.

By Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney

The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s challenge to the FBI’s seizure of documents from his Florida estate again sided with the former president Thursday in the ongoing showdown with the Justice Department. U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon issued an order extending the timeline of an outside review Trump demanded of the documents and other materials the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach on Aug. 8 as part of an investigation into alleged unlawful retention of classified materials and other government records as well as obstruction of justice.

She also overruled some of the procedures proposed by the independent reviewer, senior U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Dearie, whom she appointed to the role at Trump’s request. Cannon, a Trump appointee based in Fort Pierce, Fla., essentially adopted a slower timeline proposed by Trump’s attorney for the document review to be conducted by Dearie, who is based in Brooklyn. Under Cannon’s new order, the review and her handling of any objections to Dearie’s rulings will almost certainly stretch into the new year.

Bart Jansen

WASHINGTON – Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, repeated claims the 2020 election was stolen, despite a lack of evidence, while testifying Thursday before the House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021. The committee wanted to interview Ginni Thomas about her advocacy for challenging the results of the 2020 election. The chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters after the session she repeated her opinion the election was stolen despite a lack of evidence. Her lawyer, Mark Paoletta, issued a statement saying she answered the committee's questions, voiced her concerns about election fraud and condemned the violence on Jan. 6.

"As she has said from the outset, Mrs. Thomas has significant concerns about fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election," Paoletta said. "Beyond that, she played no role in any events after the 2020 election results." Numerous public officials at federal and state levels investigated election results and found no widespread fraud, including Trump aides such as former Attorney General Bill Barr. Richard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney general, said Trump provided an "arsenal of allegations" about election fraud that were all shot down, including a baseless claim about Italian satellites altering votes. “The whole thing was very, very murky at best, and the video was absurd,” Donoghue told the House committee.

Eric Ting, SFGATE

"Very aggressive" individuals impersonating elections officials have reportedly been knocking on Shasta County residents' doors and questioning their voter registration status, Shasta County's elections office warned residents this week. "They’re wearing very distinctive neon vests and some kind of ID badge that says 'voter task force,'" County Clerk Cathy Darling Allen told SFGATE. "We are being told that these people are being very aggressive and intimating that they work in this office when they do not. We want voters to know this isn’t an official effort; we have a whole host of tools we use to verify info. Door knocking is not something we would ever do."

Allen said it is probably a safe assumption that members of the fake "voter task force" are individuals who believe, incorrectly, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. In the time since that election, her office has become a "dumping ground for frustrations" and has had to deal with things ranging from frivolous copy-pasted public records requests to demands that the office preserve records it is required to destroy by California state law.

AlterNet

A nonpartisan federal government watchdog has updated its list of “uncharged” criminal offenses it says Donald Trump stands “credibly accused” of committing, and is urging the Dept. of Justice to prosecute them, warning that “the rule of law is not self-enforcing.” “As of September 2022, Donald Trump has been credibly accused of committing at least 55 criminal offenses since he launched his campaign for president in 2015,” reports Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, better known as CREW. “That total only reflects allegations relating to his time in or running for office and omits, for instance, Trump’s criminal exposure for fraudulent business dealings.”

The lengthy list includes numerous allegations of campaign finance crimes and coverup, destruction of presidential records, obstruction of the Russia and Special Counsel Investigations, attempts to steal the 2020 election, false public financial disclosure reports, attempts to get Ukraine to interfere in 2020 election, profiting off of post-election lies, and unlawful post-presidency possession of government records. CREW says its update includes “seven offenses we have added since we published the first version of this table in March 2022,” including “three criminal offenses relating to the investigation of election fraud and related crimes in Fulton County, Georgia; one offense relating to potential wire fraud stemming from fraudulent representations made to solicit PAC contributions after the 2020 election; and three offenses relating to Trump’s unlawful possession of government records at Mar-a-Lago after leaving office.”

By Tierney Sneed and Katelyn Polantz, CNN

CNN — Former President Donald Trump is pushing back against a plan from the special master overseeing the review of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago that would require Trump to declare in court whether the Justice Department’s inventory from the search is accurate. The requested declaration would force the former President to go on the record in court about his suggestion that the FBI may have planted evidence during the search on August 8.

Trump’s objection to the request for the declaration was made public Wednesday night in a court filing from his lawyers, after the Justice Department discussed his opposition vaguely in a public submission to US District Judge Raymond Dearie, who is serving as special master, Tuesday evening.  Trump’s team argued the court order appointing Dearie made mention only of a declaration from a government official verifying the Justice Department’s search inventory, and that there was no such reference to a declaration from the Trump side. In the newly-public filing, which was a letter sent privately to Dearie Sunday, Trump said he had to object to the requirement “because the Special Master’s case management plan exceeds the grant of authority from the District Court on this issue.”

The GOP did not sue Trump when he gave away billions to farmers.

AP

Six Republican-led states are suing the Biden administration in an effort to halt its plan to forgive student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans, accusing it of overstepping its executive powers. It’s at least the second legal challenge this week to the sweeping proposal laid out by President Joe Biden in late August, when he said his administration would cancel up to $20,000 in education debt for huge numbers of borrowers. The announcement, after months of internal deliberations and pressure from liberal activists, became immediate political fodder ahead of the November midterms while fueling arguments from conservatives about legality.

In the lawsuit, being filed Thursday in a federal court in Missouri, the Republican states argue that Biden’s cancellation plan is “not remotely tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers,” as required by the 2003 federal law that the administration is using as legal justification. They point out that Biden, in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” this month, declared the Covid-19 pandemic over, yet is still using the ongoing health emergency to justify the wide-scale debt relief.

By Sarah K. Burris | Raw Story

Questions surfaced after Justice Clarence Thomas was the only member of the U.S. Supreme Court to oppose the release of Mark Meadows' texts and information to the Jan. 6 committee. It turned out that in those text messages that the justice didn't want revealed were communications with his wife. Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA), wrote in his new book that he thinks Justice Thomas is far more involved in his wife Ginni Thomas' 2020 election overthrow attempts.

Riggleman, who left the committee in April, included many of the text messages that had previously been released from Ginni Thomas, along with the note that he had a difficult time trying to get the House Select Committee to sound the alarm on her actions. "Supreme Court spouses are typically low profile. Ginni’s involvement with political groups had already led to questions about whether Clarence would need to recuse himself in cases with a political component," wrote Riggleman. If Clarence had been in the logs, it would be a much bigger deal than all that. When I began to suspect Ginni and Clarence had texted with Meadows, I put together a technical brief outlining how we might be able to cement the identifications."

By Alex Henderson | AlterNet

On Wednesday, September 28, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) published the results of a study of White Americans and racial attitudes. The report is titled “Creating More Inclusive Public Spaces: Structural Racism, Confederate Memorials, and Building for the Future.” Washington Post opinion columnist Jennifer Rubin analyzes the report’s findings in a September 28 column, arguing that they show how deep racism runs in the MAGA movement. “It has long been understood that the MAGA movement is heavily dependent on White grievance and straight-up racism,” Rubin explains. “Hence Donald Trump’s refusal to disavow racist groups and his statement that there were ‘very fine people on both sides’ in the violent clashes at the White supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Now, we have numbers to prove it.”

Rubin continues, “The connection between racism and the right-wing movement is apparent in a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute. The survey asked respondents about 11 statements designed to probe views on racism…. The pollsters then used their answers to quantify a ‘structural racism index,’ which provides a general score from zero to 1 measuring a person’s attitudes on ‘White supremacy and racial inequality, the impact of discrimination on African-American economic mobility, the treatment of African- Americans in the criminal justice system, general perceptions of race, and whether racism is still significant problem today.’ Higher scores indicate a more receptive attitude to racist beliefs.” According to PRRI’s study, the “the median value on the structural racism index is 0.45, near the center of the scale.” And PRRI found that “the median score on the structural racism index for Republicans is 0.67, compared with 0.45 for independents and 0.27 for Democrats.” One of the things the surveyed “captures,” Rubin observes, is efforts “to rewrite the history of the Civil War and downplay or ignore the evil of slavery is on the right.”

By Bob Brigham | Raw Story

Florida governor Ron DeSantis campaigning for president by pushing Christian nationalism was the focus of a new editorial published online by the Miami Herald on Saturday afternoon. "Is America a Christian nation? The United States is a secular nation with no official religion, so the answer is No," the editorial board wrote. "But to Republicans such as Florida Gov. DeSantis, simplifying the answer to a Yes is a powerful tool. They’ve found a political gold mine in pitting Christians against the so-called evils of the left, gay and transgender people and teachers accused of pushing a 'woke' agenda."

"DeSantis’ flirting with Christian nationalism — the belief that America is in God’s plan and was intended to be a Christian nation — as the Herald recently reported, is not new in GOP politics," the editorial board wrote. "But it shows where the governor’s mind is. Elected in 2018 by a razor-thin margin in a state long considered purple — Florida has become redder, but it isn’t Mississippi, yet — he appears more concerned with 2024 GOP presidential primary voters. He’s not losing any sleep over alienating middle-of-the-road voters in his state." The newspaper warned of the dangers of white supremacy.

By Meaghan Ellis | AlterNet

Multiple historians have accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) of misconstruing facts due to his recent controversial remarks about early American history. According to a new analysis from Newsweek, DeSantis' seemingly controversial remarks were made on Tuesday, September 20. At the time, he argued that it was the "American revolution that caused people to question slavery." He added, "Nobody had questioned it before we decided as Americans that we are endowered by our creator with inalienable rights and that we are all created equal. Then that birthed abolition movements."

After making his speech, DeSantis posted a portion of it via Twitter and it quickly surpassed 900,000 views. However, it also attracted criticism. Speaking to Newsweek, historians weighed in with critical assessments of the Florida governor's remarks. Professor Karin Wulf, who focuses on the study of eighteenth-century British American history at Brown University, said, "On at least three levels this is wrong. The idea of natural rights didn't originate with the American revolutionaries; they were reflecting ideas that were widespread among political thinkers, perhaps most obviously the 17th-century English political philosopher John Locke.

She added, The United States as a government did not act against slavery in any form until 1807 (prohibition of the Atlantic slave trade) and acted in key ways to protect it right up to the Civil War (the fugitive slave act). "Most egregiously, the idea that 'no one' questioned slavery erases enslaved people themselves who were active in resisting slavery both as individuals and collectively and in refusing the logic and legality of their enslavement."

Thomas Kika

Representative Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican, on Friday had harsh words for the "alt-right" wing of his own party. Crenshaw is a congressman for Texas' 2nd Congressional District, which is predominantly made of the northern parts of the Houston metropolitan area. On Friday, The Texas Tribune published an interview with the lawmaker in which he criticized the conspiratorial, far-right elements of the Republican Party, comparing them to the so-called "far-left" and accusing them of only wanting "to wear a jersey and just scream at the other side."

"They remind me of the far left more than anything," Crenshaw said. "If the first words out of their mouths are 'RINO' and 'establishment' and 'globalist,' rest assured they are not very thoughtful and they are probably about to lie to you. I'm just sick of it." Interviewer Johnathan Martin suggested controversial Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, as one of the specific GOP lawmakers that he was referring to, though Crenshaw himself stopped short of naming anyone. Greene and Crenshaw have come to blows in the past, with the congresswoman in May criticizing Crenshaw for voting in favor of a bipartisan $40 billion aid package for Ukraine.

In some cases, Trump’s fake electors could influence elections in midterm swing states, while others are running for office themselves.
By Natasha Korecki and Kaitlyn Francis

They were part of an effort across battleground states to upend the 2020 presidential election results, signing documents asserting they were their states’ rightful electors and Donald Trump — not Joe Biden — was the victor. Today, the U.S. Justice Department is circling these “fake electors.” The FBI has visited many of their homes delivering grand jury subpoenas and, in at least one case, seizing a cellphone, a source familiar with the investigation confirmed to NBC News. And the Jan. 6 Select Committee has compelled many of them to testify, arguing they were an integral part of a broader scheme cooked up by some of Trump’s closest confidants to overturn the election.

Law enforcement activity has not pushed these false electors from their political perches. Instead, with just two months until the midterms, more than two dozen of the individuals who served as phony electors still hold some of the highest-ranking political posts in their state parties. They’re also interwoven into the GOP infrastructure across seven battleground states that will determine the balance of Congress in November and the next presidential race two years later, according to a review by NBC News.

At issue is the attempt by Republicans in seven battleground states that Biden won in 2020 — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — to offer phony slates of 84 Republicans most of whom signed certificates declaring themselves the “duly elected electors” from their states. The problem: There were official, state-certified electors for Biden whose votes were sent to Congress to be counted as part of the verification of presidential election results.

By Justin Klawans | Raw Story

A new report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) described an "extensive, interconnected" network of radical groups within Florida, including white supremacists, neo-Nazi groups, and far-right movements. According to the ADL's report, the Sunshine State keeps is continuing to fill up with individuals that are less than sunny. This includes, according to the report, "a significant increase in extremist-related incidents both nationwide and in the state of Florida." In particular, the ADL highlighted one group called NatSoc Florida, based in Duval County. Described as a Neo-Nazi group, NatSoc Florida participates in numerous racist demonstrations, the ADL said, and also distributes hateful literature. The report included a picture of the group in which they were holding an antisemitic and anti-LGBT rally.

Election watchdogs say Koch’s about face after pledging change following January 6 is disturbing given the threats to democracy
Peter Stone

Fossil fuel giant Koch Industries has poured over $1m into backing – directly and indirectly – dozens of House and Senate candidates who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s win on 6 January 2021. Koch, which is controlled by multibillionaire Charles Koch, boasts a corporate Pac that has donated $607,000 to the campaigns or leadership Pacs of 52 election deniers since January 2021, making Koch’s Pac the top corporate funder of members who opposed the election results, according to OpenSecrets, which tracks campaign spending. In addition, the Super Pac Americans for Prosperity Action to which Koch Industries has given over $6m since January 2021, has backed some election deniers with advertising and other communications support, as well as a few candidates Donald Trump has endorsed who tried to help him overturn the 2020 election, or raised doubts about the final results.

Matt Wilstein

New York Attorney General Letitia James had been speaking live for about 10 minutes on Wednesday morning about the state’s massive fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump, his adult children, and their business organization when Fox News made the abrupt decision to cut away. James was just starting to lay out the specifics of the Trump family’s alleged crimes when “straight news” anchor Harris Faulker broke in to tell viewers the news likely did not concern them.

Julia Conley

Government watchdogs are warning that the Republican takeover of state legislatures in recent years could imminently have major implications for the United States, as a right-wing effort to hold a new constitutional convention appears closer than ever to being realized. On Monday, former Democratic U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold wrote in an op-ed at The Guardian that Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution allows the document to be amended, either with amendments being proposed by two-thirds of Congress and ratified by three-quarters of the states, or through a method that has never been tested: the establishment of a new constitutional convention.

To hold a new convention, two-thirds of all state legislatures—34 total—must apply to hold the gathering, where lawmakers would have broad freedom to change the Constitution however they saw fit. Three-quarters of states would have to ratify their proposed amendments. "The right has already packed the Supreme Court and is reaping the rewards, with decisions from Dobbs to Bruen that radically reinterpret the Constitution in defiance of precedent and sound legal reasoning," wrote Feingold, referencing recent rulings on abortion rights and gun control. "But factions of the right are not satisfied to wait for the court to reinterpret the constitution. Instead, they have set their sights on literally rewriting our foundational document."

By Brad Reed | Raw Story

A supporter of former President Donald Trump found himself being confronted by an acquaintance during a CNN interview in an Ohio diner. CNN went to the diner to take the temperature of voters in a key swing district ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. During the segment, an Ohio man named Joe Clements told the network that he would be supporting Republican and one-time QAnon promoter J.R. Majewski due to his endorsement from former President Donald Trump.

However, a man named Steve Santo, who was siting across the table from Clements, didn't have such a favorable opinion about the former president, and he didn't hold back in slamming him over the January 6th Capitol riots. "He tried to overthrow our government!" Santo said. "That's the bottom line -- and you guys can't see it!"

By Sarah K. Burris | Raw Story

The New York attorney general on Wednesday accused Donald Trump and his family members of lying to lenders and insurers about assets under the real estate holdings of the Trump Organization. Letitia James said that with the help of his children and others at the Trump organization, the former president gave fraudulent statements of his net worth "to obtain and satisfy loans, get insurance benefits, and pay lower taxes." "Claiming money you do not have does not amount to the Art of the Deal, it's the Art of the Steal," James said at one point.

"That's gonna hurt, Donny," snarked legal analyst Marcy Wheeler. "I really can't understand how this fella was such an easy mark for Vladimir Putin." Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general, agreed, noting " Trumpland is no doubt spittin' mad!" He also said that Trump has tried to settle with New York, but the attorney general rebuffed him. "She really holds all the cards at this point. Trumps can't go to trial. They will need to appeal to her sense of tempered justice."

Dan Mangan, Kevin Breuninger

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday sued former President Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, three of his adult children, and others for allegedly widespread fraud involving false financial statements related to the company. The civil lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court seeks at least $250 million in damages, to permanently bar Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump from serving as an officer of a company in New York, and permanently prohibit the Trump companies named in the suit from doing business in New York state.

James also said that she was referring evidence obtained in the course of a three-year investigation to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, as well as to the Internal Revenue Service, saying she believed it showed violations of federal criminal laws. “Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars,” James said at a press conference. James said Trump massively overstated the values of his assets to obtain more favorable loan and insurance terms for his company, as well as to lower its tax obligations. “The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering, affecting most if not all of the real estate holdings in any given year,” the suit alleges. “All told, Mr. Trump, the Trump Organization, and the other Defendants, as part of a repeated pattern and common scheme, derived more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets included in the 11 Statements covering 2011 through 2021.”

By Kara Scannell

CNN — The New York state attorney general filed a sweeping lawsuit Wednesday against former President Donald Trump, three of his adult children and the Trump Organization, alleging they were involved in an expansive fraud lasting over a decade that the former President used to enrich himself. In the more than 200-page lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, alleges the fraud touched all aspects of the Trump business, including its properties and golf courses. According to the lawsuit, the Trump Organization deceived lenders, insurers and tax authorities by inflating the value of his properties using misleading appraisals.

“These acts of fraud and misrepresentation were similar in nature, were committed by upper management at the Trump Organization as part of a common endeavor for each annual Statement, and were approved at the highest levels of the Trump Organization – including by Mr. Trump himself,” the lawsuit states.  Trump and his children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Allen Weisselberg, former CFO for the Trump Organization, and Jeff McConney, another longtime company executive, are also named.

James said she believes state and criminal laws may have been violated and referred the matter to the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service. James is seeking $250 million in allegedly ill-gotten funds and to permanently bar Trump and the children named in the lawsuit from serving as the director of a business registered in New York state. She is also seeking to cancel the Trump Organization’s corporate certificate, which, if granted by a judge, could effectively force the company to cease operations in New York state.

Kevin Breuninger

Attorneys for Donald Trump have repeatedly failed to show that the former president declassified government records that were taken from his Florida home as part of a criminal investigation, the Department of Justice told a federal appeals court. The Justice Department made that argument late Tuesday as it sought to resume its review of records marked classified that were seized from Trump’s Palm Beach resort home Mar-a-Lago in an FBI raid last month.

The DOJ’s filing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit swung back at Trump’s lawyers, who earlier Tuesday asked the court to preserve a ruling from a lower federal judge that blocked the government from examining the seized documents. Trump again implies that he could have declassified the records before leaving office,” federal prosecutors wrote. “As before, however, Plaintiff conspicuously fails to represent, much less show, that he actually took that step,” they wrote, referring to Trump. The DOJ lawyers added that Trump “is now resisting” a request by a court-appointed special master for him to provide evidence that he declassified records that were seized.


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