Ex- NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and ten others plead not guilty to felony charges in Arizona election interference case

From left, Mark Meadows, Boris Epshteyn and Rudy Giuliani.

Dear Commons Community,

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty yesterday to nine felony charges stemming from his role in an effort to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss in Arizona to Joe Biden.

Ten others, including former Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, forgery and fraud charges related to the case. Giuliani appeared remotely for the arraignment that was held in a Phoenix courtroom. His and Ward’s trials are scheduled for Oct. 17, about three weeks before the U.S. election.

The indictment alleged Giuliani spread false claims of election fraud in Arizona after the 2020 election and presided over a downtown Phoenix gathering where he claimed officials made no effort to determine the accuracy of presidential election results.

It also accused him of pressuring Maricopa County officials and state legislators to change the outcome of Arizona’s results and encouraging Republican electors in the state to vote for Trump in mid-December 2020. As reported by The Associated Press.

During his remote appearance, Giuliani said he did not have an attorney, and that he felt capable of handling the arraignment himself.

Giuliani said he received a summons but did not have a copy of the indictment. He said he is familiar with the charges, though, by reading about them.

Arizona authorities tried unsuccessfully over several weeks to serve Giuliani notice of the indictment against him. He was finally served Friday night as he was walking to a car after his 80th birthday celebration in Florida.

On Tuesday, prosecutors requested a $10,000 cash bond after outlining efforts by Arizona authorities since April 23 and the difficulties they faced. The judge instead required Giuliani to post a secured appearance bond of $10,000 as well as appear in Arizona within the next 30 days for booking procedures. A cash bond would have meant Giuliani would have to pay the court $10,000, while a secured appearance instead lets him offer up a security worth $10,000 to post bond. “He has shown no intent to comply with the legal process in Arizona,” prosecutor Nicholas Klingerman said in asking for the bond.

Investigators weren’t allowed to go up to Giuliani’s New York residence, a doorman at the building refused to accept the documents and voicemails left for Giuliani weren’t returned, Klingerman said.

The prosecutor said before the notice was delivered, Giuliani mentioned the Arizona case on a podcast, telling listeners he found it hilarious that Arizona investigators were having difficulty finding him. “This is perfect evidence that if they’re so incompetent (that) they can’t find me, they also can’t count votes correctly,” he said, according to Klingerman.

Giuliani responded that he hadn’t been hiding from Arizona authorities, saying he has strict rules about who can walk up to his residence given he’s been the target of death threats and doesn’t have security personnel. He also called the indictment political.

“I do consider the indictment to be a complete embarrassment to the American legal system,” Giuliani said. Moments later Court Commissioner Shellie Smith, who was presiding over the hearing, tried to interrupt Giuliani but he kept talking.

After Tuesday’s arraignments, Giuliani spokesperson Ted Goodman said the former New York City mayor looks forward to being vindicated.

“These charges are essentially a cut and paste version of what they’re attempting to use to interfere with the 2024 Election and to take down President Trump and anyone willing to take on the permanent Washington political class,” Goodman said.

Arizona authorities unveiled the felony charges last month against Republicans who submitted a document to Congress falsely declaring Trump, a Republican, had won Arizona. The defendants include five lawyers connected to the former president and two former Trump aides. Biden, a Democrat, won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes.

The indictment alleges Ward, a former state senator who led the GOP in Arizona from 2019 until early 2023, organized the fake electors and urged then-Vice President Mike Pence to declare them to be the state’s true electors. It says Ward failed to withdraw her vote as a fake elector even though no legal challenges changed the outcome of the presidential race in Arizona.

Last week, attorney John Eastman, who devised a strategy to try to persuade Congress not to certify the election, was the first defendant in the case to be arraigned, pleading not guilty to the charges.

Trump himself was not charged in the Arizona case but was referred to as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Arizona is the fourth state where allies of the former president have been charged with using false or unproven claims about voter fraud related to the election.

The 11 people who claimed to be Arizona’s Republican electors met in Phoenix on Dec. 14, 2020, to sign a certificate saying they were “duly elected and qualified” electors and asserting that Trump carried the state. A one-minute video of the signing ceremony was posted on social media by the Arizona Republican Party at the time. The document was later sent to Congress and the National Archives, where it was ignored

The other people who pleaded not guilty Tuesday included Tyler Bowyer, an executive of the conservative youth organization Turning Point USA; state Sen. Anthony Kern; Trump attorney Boris Epshteyn; Greg Safsten, a former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party; Robert Montgomery, a former chairman of the Cochise County Republican Committee; Samuel Moorhead, a Republican precinct committee member in Gila County; Nancy Cottle, who in 2020 was the first vice president of the Arizona Federation of Republican Women; Loraine Pellegrino, past president of the Ahwatukee Republican Women; Michael Ward, an osteopathic physician who is married to Ward; and attorney Christina Bobb.

Two other defendants — attorney Jenna Ellis and and Michael Roman, who was Trump’s 2020 director of Election Day operations — were scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, but ultimately didn’t appear at the hearing. Their lawyers had requested postponements. It’s unclear from the court record whether the judge had ruled on that request.

Arraignments are scheduled for June 6 for state Sen. Jake Hoffman; on June 7 for former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows; and on June 18 for Boris Epshteyn and for James Lamon, another Republican who claimed Trump carried the state.

What a collection of  would-be destroyers of our democracy!

Tony

Truth-Challenged Trump Refuses to Testify in His Hush Money Trial

Dear Commons Community,

Donald Trump refused to testify in his own defense yesterday in his hush-money trial.  This was no surprise given that Trump is incapable of telling the truth about anything. Here is an analysis of his decision courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Making Mexico pay for a border wall, creating a “big, beautiful healthcare plan” to replace Obamacare, balancing the federal budget and avoiding Minnesota if he lost the 2020 election have new company on the lengthy list of broken Donald Trump promises: his vow to testify in his New York City hush money trial.

Despite repeated pledges to take the witness stand to proclaim his innocence, Trump had his lawyers rest their case yesterday after calling only two witnesses, neither of them the coup-attempting former president.

Trump refused to answer shouted questions as to why he didn’t testify as he left the lower Manhattan courtroom after the brief morning session. In recent months, he has on many occasions said he was eager to tell his side of the story in the business records falsification case that could send him to prison for as long as four years.

“Yeah, I would testify, absolutely,” he told reporters just three days before the trial began five weeks ago. “I’m testifying. I tell the truth, I mean, all I can do is tell the truth.”

Even his lawyers suggested it was possible Trump could testify — last week, Todd Blanche told Judge Juan Merchan it was a decision that had not yet been made — before essentially admitting Monday in open court that it would not happen.

Legal experts and observers, of course, said they were not in the least surprised that testimony ended without hearing from Trump.

“He was never going to testify,” said Ty Cobb, a former top lawyer in the White House when it was under Trump and who is now a Trump critic.

“If he had taken the stand, they would have cross-examined him for three days with every lie he has told about E. Jean Carroll, maybe January 6th, the classified documents, Stormy ― does Stormy, a … porn star, pole dancer really remind you of your own daughter ― McDougal, his real estate tax fraud cases, his taxes and more to show he is a darker version of Michael Cohen.”

Cohen is Trump’s former lawyer and fixer who ended up in prison in part because of his involvement in a payoff to Stormy Daniels. Daniels is the adult film actor and director who testified she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 and received $130,000 from Cohen to remain quiet about it in the days leading up to the 2016 election. McDougal is the former Playboy model who received $150,000 from American Media Inc. not to reveal the affair she claimed she had with Trump. Carroll is the writer whom Trump owes $88 million to after a federal jury found he sexually abused her and then defamed her.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all 34 counts against him and denied having had sex with either Daniels or McDougal.

Cobb said that had he been the prosecutor doing Trump’s cross-examination, he would not only have poked holes in Trump’s version of what happened but also made sure the jury understood what a prodigious liar Trump is.

“Credibility is always relevant and no one is more exposed on that point than Trump,” Cobb said.

“It would have been glorious. Alternating gusts of incoherence, egoism, anger, insolence and prevarication,” said Mac Stipanovich, a lawyer and longtime Republican political consultant in Florida. He added that he would have had a field day as the prosecutor doing Trump’s cross-examination.

“I would have goaded him about the tawdry details of the Stormy Daniels encounter, his business practices, his relationship with Cohen, and then just stepped back and let him go,” Stipanovich said. “Whenever he slowed down, I would goad him again.”

An informal adviser to Trump said the feeling that Cohen did poorly under cross-examination last week led to Trump’s ultimate decision not to take the stand.

“I think he really wanted to until Cohen crashed,” the adviser said on condition of anonymity.

The adviser also conceded it would not have been in Trump’s best interests, saying, “It would have been crazy for him to.”

One former Trump White House lawyer with experience practicing criminal law who remains sympathetic to Trump agreed that having a defendant testify is always risky — particularly one as undisciplined as Trump.

“A big risk,” he said on condition of anonymity, explaining that even a small misstep can lead to answering all kinds of damaging questions on cross-examination. “You say the wrong thing or say it in the wrong way, and the prosecution can say, ‘Judge, he opened the door.’”

The prosecution in Trump’s case wrapped up on Monday afternoon. Trump’s defense finished Tuesday morning, and Merchan spent the afternoon working with both sides to hash out what instructions he would give to the jury. Closing arguments are scheduled to take place on May 28, the day after the long Memorial Day weekend.

If Trump winds up regretting his decision not to testify, though, he may have at least three more chances to do so in other trials.

Trump is facing federal charges in Washington, D.C., based on his actions leading up to his Jan. 6 coup attempt and in South Florida for his refusal to turn over top secret documents he took with him to his Palm Beach country club upon leaving the White House.

He also faces felony charges in Georgia for his attempts to overturn his election loss there.

If convicted in any of the other jurisdictions on these charges, he could receive decades in prison.

Tony

Trump Media lost $327.6 million in the first quarter of the year on revenue of just $770,500.

Courtesy of The Associated Press.

Dear Commons Community,

Trump Media & Technology Group (DJT), the parent company of Donald Trump’s Truth Social platform, disclosed a net loss of $327.6 million in the first quarter of the year, with total revenue at $770,500, according to its earnings report, filed Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  As reported by NBC News, The Associated Press  and the New York Post.

The report is one of the first measures of company’s true financial health since it debuted as a public company on the Nasdaq stock exchange in March, after completing a merger with a shell company, Digital World Acquisition Corp.

DJT shares were relatively flat in post-market trading following the release of the earnings report, which had not been highly publicized prior. The stock was down 5% at market close, with a share price of $48, giving it a total value of about $6.6 billion.

Since going public, the DJT stock has whipsawed on what experts say is a meme stock trajectory, sometimes rising or falling dramatically, without any significant news to account for the swing.

TMTG CEO Devin Nunes said that the company is exploring “a wide array of initiatives and innovations to build out the Truth Social platform including potential mergers and acquisitions activities” in a statement on Monday.

“We are particularly excited to move forward with live TV streaming by developing our own content delivery network, which we believe will be a major enhancement of the platform,” Nunes added.

In April, the company announced that Truth Social would launch a TV streaming platform in three phases, the first for Android, iOS, and Web. The second would roll out as stand-alone apps for phones, tablets and other devices. The last phase would launch for home television.

In its Q1 report, TMTG said it has signed contracts with its first data center partner, which would host the TV platform, and a hardware vendor to provide equipment.

The company told the SEC last week that it would delay its quarterly filing, after the agency charged its former auditor, BF Borgers CPA, with “massive fraud” of hundreds of companies, raising red flags about the accuracy of the financial information that the firm had audited.

Another failed Trump venture!

Tony

David Leonhardt: Bipartisanship and Neopopulism in Washington!

Sources: U.S. House of Representatives; U.S. Senate.  By Ashley Wu.

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times senior writer, David Leonhardt, yesterday recapped evidence of bipartisanship in Washington, D.C., which in recent years has been characterized as a place so polarized that our leaders can barely get anything done. But that notion is not exactly consistent with several major bipartisan developments.  

  • President Biden — who had already maintained many of Donald Trump’s trade policies — announced last week that he was expanding tariffs on Chinese-made goods.
  • House Democrats this month rescued the House speaker, a Republican whom far-right members of his party wanted to topple after he helped pass a bipartisan foreign aid package.

 

  • Senator Elizabeth Warren, a progressive leader, has worked on legislation with several conservative Senate Republicans, including Josh Hawley and J.D. Vance.
  • Vance, for his part, recently praised Lina Khan — the chair of the Federal Trade Commission who is one of the most progressive members of the Biden administration — for “doing a pretty good job.”

 

  • Biden has signed a more significant set of bipartisan bills — on infrastructure, semiconductors, gun violence, the electoral process and more — than any president in decades.

My editors recently asked me to make sense of this conundrum: A polarized country in which bipartisanship has somehow become normal. To do so, I spoke with Congress members from both parties, as well as Biden administration officials and outside experts. I emerged from the project believing that the U.S. was indeed a polarized country in many ways — but less polarized than people sometimes think.On many high-profile issues, especially connected to economics, most Americans share a basic set of views. They favor both capitalism and government intervention to address the free market’s shortcomings. Most Americans worry that big business has become too powerful. Most are skeptical of both free trade and high levels of immigration. Most are worried about China’s rise and its increasing assertiveness.

I describe this emerging consensus as neopopulism. For a quarter-century after the end of the Cold War, policymakers operated under a different consensus, known alternately as neoliberalism or the Washington Consensus. It held that market capitalism, left largely to its own devices, would bring prosperity to the U.S. and freedom to the rest of the world.

Most Americans were always skeptical of the core components of the Washington Consensus. They worried about a world in which national borders meant less, and goods, capital and people could all move more freely. As it turned out, they were right to worry: Neoliberalism failed to deliver on many of its promises. Incomes for most Americans have grown slowly, and China and Russia have moved away from liberal democracy.

Neopopulism is a response to these developments and to public opinion. To different degrees, both Democrats and Republicans — both Biden and Donald Trump — have adopted it.

“There are new problems in the world, and a consensus is emerging about what those problems are,” Oren Cass, who runs a conservative think tank, told me. Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, has put it this way: “The center of gravity itself is moving, and this is a good thing.” The title of a recent book by the historian Gary Gerstle also captures the change: “The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order.”

In the essay that I’ve written, I trace the history of these ideas and describe where neopopulism may go from here. I also talk about the potential excesses of populism and some threats to the recent period of bipartisanship.

You can find the entire article here.

Tony

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Dies in Helicopter Crash

Ebrahim Raisi

Dear Commons Community,

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died yesterday in a helicopter accident after the craft crashed in the mountains. He was 63. The country’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, a provincial governor and other officials were also on board during the crash and are presumed dead. The news shocked Iran and the world as officials said a massive search and rescue operation was underway. Raisi had been traveling with an entourage to the country’s border with Azerbaijan, where he jointly inaugurated a new dam with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. As reported by The Huffington Post and other media.

The helicopter crashed near the border around 1 p.m. local time, and officials said earlier there was bad weather and heavy fog in the area. An official cause of the accident has not yet been determined. Rescue teams had searched through dense forest for more than 12 hours, at times calling off the search due to the fierce weather.

Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, is expected to assume the presidency. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country’s operation “will carry on smoothly and orderly” during the crisis.“There will be no disruption in the country’s operation,” the supreme leader said in an address shortly after the crash was reported.

Raisi had widely been seen as a potential successor to the ayatollah. He previously led the country’s judiciary and was known as a hard-line leader. Under his tenure, Iran began enriching uranium at near-weapon-grade levels, and the country has supported Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Iran has also seen years of large-scale protests against the government and ruling theocracy.

Tensions between Israel and Iran have also flared in recent months amid the ongoing conflict with Hamas. Iran launched its first direct attack on Israel last month in retaliation for the killing of an Iranian military leader, sending 300 drones and missiles towards the country, most of which were shot down.

New elections must be organized within 50 days, although those plans could be complicated with the ongoing war.

Tony

Elise Stefanik goes ballistic with Fox News Host for noting she called Trump a “Whack Job”

Shannon Bream and Elise Stefanik.  Courtesy of Fox News.

Dear Commons Community,

Representative  Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) bashed Fox News’ Shannon Bream yesterday for asking about her reported change of tone toward former President Donald Trump.

Stefanik, who is reportedly on Trump’s vice presidential shortlist, was asked about the “veep-stakes” to be his 2024 running mate before Bream pointed to a 2022 report by The New York Times regarding her “revisionism” toward the former president.

The New York Republican once described Trump as “whack job,” according to The Times, while criticizing him for being “insulting to women” in an August 2015 interview.

The report also cited Stefanik’s former friends who described the Republican as having “thought Mr. Trump was too awful and ridiculous to be taken seriously.”

“So the question is when, more importantly why, did you change your mind about President Trump?” Bream asked Stefanik, who has since become a staunch supporter of the former president.

“Well, Shannon, it’s a disgrace that you would quote The New York Times with nameless, faceless false sources –,” Stefanik replied.

“But they’re quoting your friends so I’m giving you a chance to respond to that,” Bream said.

“No, no, no, no, Shannon. Shannon, Shannon, they’re not quoting my friends. Those names are not included because they are false smears,” Stefanik said.

The two tried to speak over each other before Bream invited viewers to read the article “for themselves.”

She later returned to Stefanik’s reported 2015 comment that Trump was “insulting to women,” remarks which CNN cited in an earlier report.

“Is that a misquote? Did you not say that?” Bream asked.

“I said the statement that the Democrats leaked out in 2016, that that was insulting, however, Shannon, I stood by in support of him and I strongly support him,” said Stefanik, who talked up Trump’s support for women.

Stefanik is another Trump toadie!

Tony

Trump’s hush money trial makes big money for professional line-standers!

People standing in line for Trump’s Hush money trial.  Photo courtesy of Adam Gray/Getty Images.

Dear Commons Community,

Below is a story published yesterday by NBC News.  I must confess that I know very little about the professional line-stander business.

Tony

—————————————————————-

NBC News

Trump’s hush money trial makes big money for professional line-standers!

Alex Seitz-Wald and Katherine Doyle and Adam Reiss and Alec Hernández and Gary Grumbach

Updated May 18, 2024 at 4:44 PM

Some moms get flowers for Mother’s Day; Paige Singh got to see Donald Trump on trial.

The Bay Area mom, in town from California to accompany her husband on business, snagged a spot on Tuesday for what has quickly become one of the hottest tickets in New York City, thanks to her husband and the professional line-stander he hired as a Mother’s Day gift to hold a spot for her in the queue outside the courthouse.

“My husband? He thinks it’s crazy,” she said. And her kids “just laugh.”

But for Singh, the hundreds of dollars she sent via Zelle to a stranger holding her place outside the Manhattan criminal courthouse was well worth the chance to see the former president of the United States on trial.

The paid place-holding went so well that Singh, who also attended part of E. Jean Carroll’s defamation trial against Trump, changed her travel plans to squeeze in an extra day at the court.

“It was so easy, so I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll go Tuesday.’ So I changed my flight,” she said.

Professional line-standers are a growing part of the gig economy. But the criminal trial of a former president accused of illegally covering up hush money payments to a porn star has translated into a windfall for people who get paid to wait — and who, as the trial goes on, have increasingly been hired by members of the general public with no stake in the trial other than curiosity.

“We’ve definitely had to staff up,” said Robert Samuel, who runs Same Ole Line Dudes, which bills itself as “New York’s Premier Professional Line Sitting Company.”

For the Trump trial, Samuel doubled his prices, expanded his stable of standers from 26 to 32, and has been too busy to watch the “Bridgerton” episodes he loaded on his iPad to pass the time during waits.

Admission to the court is free, of course, but it is first come, first served, and seating is limited. The first person in line Wednesday morning had paid $1,800 to have someone else hold that spot. A little further back in line, a woman was offering up her spot for $450.

“This is a unique experience that you can only see here,” Samuel said.

In New York, professional line-standers are more familiar working the queues of restaurants that don’t take reservations, ticket booths, sample sales, book signings, pop-up events and new product launches — anywhere that someone with more money than time might want to pay someone to wait.

“Skip the queues and enjoy your time in the big city!” reads the page advertising line-standing services on TaskRabbit, the gig work platform. “Even the DMV can be conquered with help from Taskers!”

In Washington, line-standers have long been a quiet but essential cog of the influence economy, where lobbyists and lawyers who charge their clients hundreds of dollars an hour hire others for $60 an hour (for a three-hour minimum) to wait in line and secure spots for them at congressional hearings and major court cases.

One legal courier company touts its “high quality line standing services for Congressional hearings or other events” while another boasts they’ve “helped our clients get very difficult to obtain seats for hearings on Energy, Telecommunications, Broadcasting, Health Care, Banking, Congressional Ethics, and more.”

Elsewhere, line-standers, like their ride-share-driving brethren, convene on big events, like billionaire Warren Buffett’s annual meeting in Omaha, which can attract twice as many people as there are seats. Hiring someone to wait in line is “probably what I would do” to get in, Buffett himself said in 2017, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Aside from lawyers, media outlets are also a bread-and-butter client of those who wait in lines, given the limited space at high-profile trials and the imperative for reporters to be in the room for proceedings that are not televised.

But the Trump trial, especially during this past week’s star witness testimony from Trump’s former “fixer” Michael Cohen, has led ordinary Americans to hire professional line-sitters like never before.

One woman — a lawyer and self-described “political junkie” who declined to give her name — ended up paying $750 for someone to hold a spot in line for her overnight after trying to get in line herself the previous day. When she showed up the first time, she realized she was already too late and would not make it inside. It was 4 a.m.

On TaskRabbit, several New York City line-standers specifically advertise the Trump trial in their bios, while several others have posted photos from the trail or show work histories suggestive of working the Foley Square courthouse as well. (They’ve been booked most days for weeks, except Wednesdays, when the trial breaks.)

“We’ve done other trials, but nothing compares to what this has been,” said Samuel, whose “line dudes” can be spotted outside the courthouse in their signature black-and-yellow baseball caps. “Now, we have the whole general public contingent that we’ve never done with other trials.”

He’s worked on plenty of high-profile trials before. But no one who didn’t have a professional need to was paying to see Jeffry Epstein accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell, fraudster crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried, or disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

For the Trump trial, Samuel doubled his typical trial rate, from $25 to $50 an hour, given heightened demand and the potential security risks that are not present when waiting for limited-edition Nikes or primo “Hamilton” tickets.

There have been reports of scuffles and disputes between paid line-standers and civilians during the dark overnights, which Samuel blamed on wildcat line-standers who get in line without specific clients or try to buy spots from others who are already there, hoping to flip them for profit.

He frowns on that kind of wheeling and dealing and thinks it calls negative attention to an industry that is already viewed negatively by many.

“It’s like if you’re a plastic surgeon and you go by the book and have all the licenses and then there’s somebody doing botched butt implants in their basement. You’re going to look down on that,” he said.

Professional line-standing has been controversial, especially in Washington, where critics argue that the wealthy and powerful should have to wait in line like everyone else.

The Supreme Court’s visitor policy explicitly states that “‘line standers’ are not permitted” in the queue for members of the Supreme Court Bar, and it asks the general public to “not hold a space for others who have not yet arrived.”

But those policies are frequently flouted. SCOTUSBlog spotted at least a dozen “suits” switching places with line-standers one morning in 2020 just after sunrise — and just before the Supreme Court’s police officers came around to start distributing tickets.

Then-Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, even once tried to outlaw paid line-standing on Capitol Hill, saying in 2007: “We need to make sure this place is available to the people who own it and that’s the people of this country, not the lobbyists.” But the “Get in Line Act” went nowhere.

Outside the Manhattan courthouse, while the professional line-standers appear to comprise a sizable portion of the queue any given morning during the Trump trial, there are also some brave citizens doing it themselves.

Jim Neely, a 70-year-old retiree from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, said he got in line at 10 p.m. to secure a spot for the next day.

“I wanted to be part of history, see it in the making right before my eyes and try to remember the visceral as well as the intellectual bits and pieces that don’t come through from the airwaves,” said Neely, who said he used to be a “dyed-in-the-wool Republican” before Trump.

He said the overnight was “not a bad experience,” even though the plastic sheet he brought proved to be less waterproof than expected when it started to rain. He’s already planning to come back for the trial’s closing arguments — and he won’t be paying anyone else to wait for him.

“I’m going to do it again,” he said.

 

U.S Congress Oversight Committee and “The Jerry Springer Show”

U.S. Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jasmine Crockett, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photos courtesy of Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images via Shutterstock ; Michael Brochstein/Sipa via AP Images; Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images

Dear Commons Community,

Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jasmine Crockett, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez do not appear to get along is an understatement such that Thursday’s House Oversight Committee Meeting floor proceedings looked more like trashy reality TV and started when Republican lawmaker Greene from Georgia leveled a personal insult against fellow congresswoman Crockett of Texas.

The fireworks began after Crockett asked Greene to clarify how claims she made connecting the judge presiding over Donald Trump’s hush-money trial in New York City to Democratic officials in the House were relevant to Thursday’s itinerary.

“I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you’re reading,” Greene replied to Crockett.

The fight — which erupted during a House Oversight Committee meeting meant to review resolutions to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress — was quickly joined by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who angrily demanded Greene’s comments be struck from the record.

“That is absolutely unacceptable,” Ocasio-Cortez snapped. “How dare you attack the physical appearance of another person?”

Greene then mockingly asked Ocasio-Cortez if her feelings were hurt, which struck another nerve.

“Oh girl, baby girl, don’t even play with me,” Ocasio-Cortez from New York’s 14th district shot back.

Top committee Democrat Jamie Rankin smirked as his Republican counterpart, Rep. James Comer, ruled Greene’s comments didn’t constitute a personal attack and tried to continue the hearing as intended.

But Crockett wasn’t having it.

“I’m just curious, just to better understand your ruling,” she interjected before making an obvious reference to Greene. “If someone on this committee then starts talking about somebody’s bleach blond, bad-built, butch body, that would not be engaging in personalities. Correct?”

On Friday, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson — whom Greene unsuccessfully attempted to remove from his post last week — said Thursday’s debacle was “not a good look for Congress,” according to MSNBC. Democrat Jaime Raskin, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, says it’s “worth investigating” whether lawmakers were drinking during Thursday’s explosive hearing, after rumors circulated that noncommittee members were intoxicated.

Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman wrote on social media on Friday.  “In the past, I’ve described the U.S. House as ‘The Jerry Springer Show.’ Today, I’m apologizing to ‘The Jerry Springer Show.’ ”

Tony

World No. 1 PGA golfer Scottie Scheffler arrested, charged with felony for traffic incident in Louisville, Kentucky!

Scottie Scheffler at the 2024 PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Dear Commons Community,

PGA golfer Scottie Scheffler was arrested yesterday morning on his way to the PGA Championship, with stunning images showing him handcuffed as he was taken to jail for not following police orders during a pedestrian fatality investigation.  As reported by The Associated Press.

In a span of four hours, the top-ranked golfer in the world was arrested wearing gym shorts and a T-shirt, dressed in an orange jail shirt for his mug shot, returned to Valhalla Golf Club in golf clothes and made his 10:08 a.m. second-round tee time.

Louisville Metro Police Department said Scheffler was booked on four charges, including second-degree assault of a police officer after his vehicle dragged an officer to the ground.

Scheffler said the incident was a “big misunderstanding.”

“This morning, I was proceeding as directed by police officers,” he said in a statement released as he was warming up on the range. “It was a very chaotic situation, understandably so considering the tragic accident that had occurred earlier, and there was a big misunderstanding of what I thought I was being asked to do.

“I never intended to disregard any of the instructions,” he said. “I’m hopeful to put this to the side and focus on golf today. Of course, all of us involved in the tournament express our deepest sympathies to the family of the man who passed away in the earlier accident this morning. It truly puts everything in perspective.”

His attorney, Steve Romines in Louisville, also described it as a misunderstanding and told The Associated Press, “We will litigate the case as it goes.”

Louisville mayor Craig Greenberg said tournament vendor John Mills was the pedestrian killed and offered sympathies to his family. Greenberg also said the incident involving Scheffler and LMPD was “unfortunate” and that the police department was investigating.

Traffic was backed up for about a mile in both directions on the only road that leads to Valhalla in the morning darkness with light rain, with dozens of police vehicles flashing red-and-blue lights near the entrance.

Police said a pedestrian had been struck by a bus while crossing the road in a lane that was dedicated to tournament traffic and was pronounced dead at the scene about 5:09 a.m.

ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington said Scheffler, the No. 1 player in the world who was to start the second round at 8:48 a.m., drove past a police officer a little after 6 a.m. in his SUV with markings on the door indicating it was a PGA Championship vehicle.

The officer screamed at him to stop and then grabbed onto the car until Scheffler stopped about 10 yards later, Darlington said. The officer, identified in the arrest report as Det. Gillis, was dragged “to the ground” and suffered “pain, swelling, and abrasions to his left wrist” after the car “accelerated forward,” according to Louisville police.

Scheffler was booked at 7:28 a.m. — about 2 1/2 hours before his updated tee time after the second round was delayed because of the fatality. In addition to the assault charge, he was booked on charges of third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

“The main thing is he was proceeding exactly as he was directed in a marked vehicle with credentials,” Romines said. “He didn’t do anything intentionally wrong.”

The officer was dressed in a high visibility reflective jacket when he stopped Scheffler’s car to give instructions, the arrest sheet said. Gillis was taken to the hospital for his injuries.

Darlington watched it unfold. He said police pulled Scheffler out of the car, pushed him up against the car and immediately placed him in handcuffs.

“Scheffler was then walked over to the police car, placed in the back, in handcuffs, very stunned about what was happening, looked toward me as he was in those handcuffs and said, ‘Please help me,’” Darlington said. “He very clearly did not know what was happening in the situation. It moved very quickly, very rapidly, very aggressively.”

Mitchell told Louisville radio station WHAS the man was crossing Shelbyville Road about 5 a.m. and the bus didn’t see him. Mitchell said the man was pronounced dead on the scene.

Scheffler was released by police and returned to the course at 9:12 a.m. He made his way to the practice area around 9:30 a.m. and was welcomed by fans — one shouted “free Scottie!”

Scheffler seemed like his normal, relaxed self, sharing a few laughs on the driving range. Then he went out and made a birdie on his first hole of the day after sticking his approach shot to three feet.

With cars backed up in the morning darkness, other PGA-marked vehicles tried to move slowly toward the entrance. Traffic finally began to move gradually a little before 7 a.m.

Darlington said police were not sure who Scheffler was. He said an officer asked him to leave and when he identified himself being with the media, he was told, “There’s nothing you can do. He’s going to jail.”

Darlington said another police officer later approached with a notepad and asked if he knew the name of the person they put in handcuffs.

PGA of America, which runs the PGA Championship, offered sympathies for Mills’ family and said in a statement, “As it relates to the incident involving Scottie Scheffler, we are fully cooperating as local authorities review what took place.”

Scheffler is coming off four victories in his last five tournaments, including his second Masters title. He was home in Dallas the last three weeks waiting on the birth of his first child, a son that was born May 8.

Scheffler opened with a 4-under 67 and was five shots out of the lead as he tries to become only the fifth player since 1960 to win the first two majors of the year.

Incredible development!

Tony

Discovery of long-lost river may solve mystery of Egyptian pyramids!

Giza Pyramids. / Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

Dear Commons Community,

Scientists have discovered a long-buried branch of the Nile river that once flowed alongside more than 30 pyramids in Egypt, potentially solving the mystery of how ancient Egyptians transported the massive stone blocks to build the famous monuments.

The 40-mile-long river branch, which ran by the Giza pyramid, was hidden under desert and farmland for millennia, according to a study puyblished on Thursday.

The existence of the river would explain why the 31 pyramids were built in a chain along a now inhospitable desert strip in the Nile Valley between 4,700 and 3,700 years ago.

The strip near the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis includes the Great Pyramid of Giza — the only surviving structure of the seven wonders of the ancient world — as well as the Khafre, Cheops and Mykerinos pyramids.

Archaeologists had long thought that ancient Egyptians must have used a nearby waterway to move the giant materials used to build the pyramids.

“But nobody was certain of the location, the shape, the size or proximity of this mega waterway to the actual pyramids site,” lead study author Eman Ghoneim of the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the United States told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The international team of researchers used radar satellite imagery to map the river branch, which they called Ahramat — “pyramids” in Arabic.

Radar gave them the “unique ability to penetrate the sand surface and produce images of hidden features including buried rivers and ancient structures,” Ghoneim said.

Surveys in the field and cores of sediment from the site confirmed the presence of the river, according to the study in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.

The once mighty river was increasingly covered in sand, potentially starting during a major drought around 4,200 years ago, the scientists suggested.

The Giza pyramids stood on a plateau roughly a kilometer from the banks of the river.

Many of the pyramids had a “ceremonial raised walkway” which ran alongside the river before ending at the Valley Temples which served as harbors, Ghoneim said.

This indicates that the river played “a key role in the transportation of the enormous building materials and workmen needed for the pyramid’s construction,” she added.

Exactly how ancient Egyptians managed to build such huge and long-standing structures has been one of history’s great mysteries.

These heavy materials, most of which were from the south, “would have been much easier to float down the river” than transport over land, study co-author Suzanne Onstine of the University of Memphis told AFP.

The banks of the rivers could have been where the funeral entourages of pharaohs were received before their bodies were moved to their “final burial place within the pyramid,” she suggested.

The river may also indicate why the pyramids were built in different spots.

“The water’s course and its volume changed over time, so fourth dynasty kings had to make different choices than 12th dynasty kings,” she said.

“The discovery reminded me about the intimate connection between geography, climate, environment and human behavior.”

Most interesting!

Tony