Josh Hawley ripped by fellow Republican senators

Republican senators are ripping Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., for casting the lone vote to reject Finland and Sweden's admission to NATO as tensions between the U.S. and Russia continue to escalate.

Hawley's solitary vote came on Wednesday amid a bipartisan push to pass a resolution that would allow NATO membership for both countries, a move that advocates have argued is a "slam dunk" for bolstering national security.

Days before the resolution was passed, the Missouri senator released an op-ed arguing that expanding NATO would deplete resources that could be used to guard against military and economic encroachment from China.

"U.S. resources are not unlimited. Already we spend the better part of a trillion dollars a year on defense. And our manpower is already stretched thin across the globe. The United States must prioritize the defense resources we have for the China effort, while there is still time," Hawley wrote earlier this week. "Until our European allies make the necessary commitments to their own national defense, we must not put more American lives at risk in Europe while allowing China's power to grow unchecked."

That argument has not sat well with just about any of Hawley's party colleagues, who have stressed that expanding NATO in fact further protects the U.S. from China.

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"We don't beat China by retreating from the rest of the world," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., told Politico. "We beat China by standing with our allies against our enemies."

"A strong and unified NATO is a powerful asset in the contest with Beijing," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., echoed in his own op-ed. "When Finland and Sweden join the alliance's ranks and the free peoples of Europe become stronger than ever, more US resources will be available to focus on countering Communist China."

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., meanwhile said it would be "strange indeed for any senator who voted to allow Montenegro or North Macedonia into NATO to turn around and deny membership to Finland and Sweden," alluding to the fact that Hawley supported the entrance of both countries to NATO back in 2019, as Insider noted.

It isn't the first time that Hawley has deviated from the congressional majority on matters of foreign policy. Back in May, Hawley joined a cohort of eleven Republican senators who opposed providing Ukraine, which was under invasion by Russia, with $40 billion in military and economic aid. At the time, he expressed fears that the move would encourage Europe to "freeload" off of the U.S.

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Heavily armed pastor confronts Beto O'Rourke at campaign event

A Texas man who identified himself as a preacher, armed with a semiautomatic assault rifle and pistol, confronted gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke during a Saturday campaign event and demanded that the Democrat answer whether he "believed in a woman's right to choose," claiming that there are "great" men who are the "product of rape."

The man, a self-proclaimed "minister of the gospel," approached O'Rourke in the middle of a town hall in Hemphill, where the preacher berated the candidate with a barrage of questions about abortion and religion.

"How do we deal with the murder of the unborn for anything other than to save a woman's life?" the man asked, adding that there are "great men of god who are the product of rape."

O'Rourke responded by thanking the man for making the inquiry "in good faith" and argued that they weren't "going to change each other's minds on some of these very basic definitions."

"This decision is best made by the woman, who understands better than anyone else the nature of her pregnancy, the complications it might endure, any other issue that is unique and personal and private as her," O'Rourke said, noting that "more rapes committed in this state than any other state of the union."

RELATED: "You are doing nothing": Republicans erupt after Beto O'Rourke interrupts Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

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At one point, the armed preacher also asked O'Rourke if he's been "born again" and whether he accepts Jesus as his "lord and savior."

After the incident, Shannon Watts, founder of gun reform group Moms Demand Action, posted a video of the confrontation, and tweeted that a "'preacher' armed with a semiautomatic rifle showed up at Beto O'Rourke's town hall in Hemphill, Texas, to challenge O'Rourke's position on … abortion, calling it murder."

"While armed to the teeth, he gets laughs for saying he's not there to talk about guns, but abortion," she added. "This is the radical right wing's ideology: use guns to intimidate and control conversations and curtail women's rights."

The exchange comes just a month after an 18-year-old shooter armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle stormed the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, where he gunned down nineteen children and two teachers.

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Meghan McCain melts down over Arizona election results

Meghan McCain on Wednesday dialed back her excitement around the Arizona's GOP gubernatorial primary after pro-Trump Kari Lake, one of McCain's political enemies, made an overnight comeback in the polls.

On Tuesday, early results showed Karrin Taylor Robson, the Arizona Board of Regents member running against Lake, ahead by 8 percentage points. As a result, McCain, a critic of Trump, took to Twitter to celebrate.

"Wow…Lake is getting crushed so far!!! Incredible!" she wrote in a since-deleted tweet. "Everybody better tune in to primetime if this lunatic loses cause she's gonna go absolute insane on live tv. Like one for the books, makes Trump look normal insane."

By Wednesday morning, however, Lake's chances of victory had seemingly rebounded, and the former Fox News pundit was pulling ahead by 12,000 votes, with 81% of the tally counted. In response, McCain quickly backtracked, claiming that "my initial predictions were right despite the initial excitement of Robson pulling ahead."

"Congratulations to my home state for full making the transition to full blown MAGA/conspiracy theory/fraudster," she wrote in a tweet. "The voters have spoken - be careful what you wish for…"

Arizona's primary election marks one of the latest proxy wars between Donald Trump's base and establishment Republicans, whom the former president had repeatedly disparaged as "RINOS," or Republicans in name only.

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Trump, for his part, has also had a long-running beef with the McCain family, which spans back to the 2016 presidential race, during which the former president leveled vicious attacks at McCain's father, the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. At the time, Trump provoked outrage after saying that he likes "people who weren't captured," suggesting that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, was a lesser candidate for his time spent imprisoned.

In any case, much of the McCain-Trump conflict now appears to have spilled over into the Arizona primary.

Last month, Lake, a diehard MAGA hopeful, suggested that Megan McCain's mother, Cindy, is running a clandestine scheme with billionaire George Soros to destroy America by promoting a "globalist agenda."

"This is the Cindy McCain branch of the Republican Party," said of the establishment GOP on a podcast. "They're not Republicans. They're globalists and they want – I think they want an end to America."

Months earlier, Lake suggested in a campaign video that the party needs to "replace that disgusting, dirty McCain Swamp with, maybe, I don't know … a Lake? You need somebody who is going to represent 'we the people.' "

"What trash this woman is," McCain responded to the video at the time.

Lake shot back: "Thanks for sharing our video, Meg!"

Blake Masters is a mini Trump with a plan to privatize (almost) everything everywhere

Since the beginning of his campaign, Blake Masters, the conservative venture capitalist turned U.S. Senate hopeful from Arizona, has been drawn to the kind of rhetorical extremism that now animates the Republican Party, bandying insults and talking points of the kind that require no specialized knowledge or experience but nevertheless leave an indelible impression on Republican voters. As far back as 2015, Masters told The Washington Post, he'd been entranced by the rhetoric of Donald Trump, a loud misogynist, who during one of his presidential debates proudly embraced accusations of sexism rather than deny them.

"You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals," then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly said to Trump during a 2016 GOP debate. "Your Twitter account ––"

"Only Rosie O'Donnell," Trump interjected, before getting rapturous applause from the crowd.

It was during this now-notorious back-and-forth, Masters explained, that he had his lightbulb moment.

"Somehow he just busted through some wall," Masters recently told the Post of Trump. "He didn't apologize. He kind of just picked on her as this target."

Since then, Masters has largely emulated the former president's brashness on all matters political. Just this May, in the wake of the Supreme Court's rescission of Roe v. Wade, the former tech executive stressed the need for nationwide ban on abortion, a practice that he called "demonic" just last year, according to The Tuscon Weekly. Masters also believes that the Capitol riot was an FBI-led "false flag operation"; that the American education system is pushing "gay sex ideology" onto students; and that Democratic elites are deliberately attempting to loosen borders and win future elections with a more pliant voting bloc from the Third World.

Of course, none of this is particularly unique to the MAGA agenda, which has for the most part set its sights on culture war issues like abortion, race, immigration, sex, and gender. But Masters also espouses a strange flavor of half-baked libertarianism that calls for the complete abolition of long-standing cornerstones for American welfare.

For one, Masters supports a generalized push to privatize the country's water supply, according to audio provided to Salon by American Bridge, a Democratic Super PAC.

"Would you support the transferring of water resources to private ownership?" a voter asked Masters two weeks ago during a campaign event in Sedona, Arizona.

"In general, yes," Masters responded, because "the state can't do it and you don't want the government doing a lot of this stuff."

To be sure, private water companies would be nothing new for the nation. But anecdotal evidence suggests that water is the kind of basic human right that has no business under Corporate America's thumb.

Back in 2017, The Washington Post reported that states that offload their publicly-owned water infrastructure to private corporations tend to see rate hikes for customers, adding to the millions of Americans whose sinks, toilets, and showers are routinely disconnected for unpaid bills, as The Guardian reported.

Janice Beecher, the director of Michigan State University's Institute of Public Utilities, told the Post that state officials "should ask good questions, and they should understand the trade-offs" before selling off their municipal water systems, because "once it's gone, it's gone."

According to a sweeping 2016 analysis from the Food & Water Watch, a consumer rights organization, private water companies charge 58 percent more than their publicly-owned counterparts. In states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the premium can be as high as 79 and 84 percent respectively.

And that's just pricing. Public Citizen, another consumer rights group, found that privatization leads to worse water quality, job losses, over-extraction, and corruption. To add insult to injury, $26.5 billion of the EPA's budget goes to for profit-water providers, which presently control 10% of the nation's water supply, suggesting that water companies have trouble sustaining themselves without the largesse of the government.

Meanwhile, cities all across America are now attempting to expropriate water infrastructure they sold off in response to complaints about rate hikes and bad service. However, as the Post reported, exercising eminent domain in this area can be extremely costly, leading to municipal deficits that, ironically, might have been the original impetus for privatization.

Apart from water, Masters also has a grand, albeit ill-defined, vision to privatize Social Security, the federal insurance program that provides benefits to 65 million retired, disabled, and unemployed people.

"We got to cut the knot at some point though because I'll tell you what, I'm not going to receive Social Security," Masters said at a primary debate back in June. "I'm a millennial."

"We need fresh and innovative thinking, maybe we should privatize Social Security," he added at the time. "Private retirement accounts, get the government out of it."

Make no mistake: Social Security security has been a perennial punching bag for the Republican Party for decades.

As early as 2004, then-President Bush campaigned on privatizing the program, arguing that young people should be able to take "ownership" of their future benefits by investing their tax withholdings into a private account that would be subject to the whims of market forces.

"We should make the Social Security system a source of ownership for the American people," Bush said in a January 2004 State of the Union address.

However, the plan ultimately unraveled once it became clear that it was massively unpopular amongst the American public, 96 percent of whom currently support Social Security as is.

Today, both parties agree that Social Security needs to be reformed, in part because the retirement funds are projected to run dry by 2034. But what that reform should look like breaks down across party lines.

Democrats, for their part, have argued that the program should be expanded – along with provisions that would create a minimum benefit and a cost-of-living adjustment – through tax increases. Unsurprisingly, Republicans have repudiated this plan as anti-business, instead proposing plans to raise the minimum age of retirement, establish "rescue committees" that would mull cuts behind closed doors, and even sunset the program every five years.

Josh Hawley hit by fellow GOP senator for running away on Jan. 6

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, on Tuesday said that a recently-surfaced video of Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., running away from the Capitol riot was "not his greatest moment."

"You know, I haven't heard what his explanation is, but obviously that was not his greatest moment in that hearing," Romney told Insider shortly after the January 6 committee played footage of Hawley fleeing in its latest hearing.

It isn't the first time Romney has attacked Hawley over his possible role in inciting the riot.

Last May, The Washington Post reported that Romney screamed at Hawley while the mob was ransacking the Capitol. "You have caused this!" Romney reportedly erupted at the Missouri Republican.

Hawley's desperation to escape the riot as it was unfolding runs in stark contrast to his persona just hours before, during the "Stop the Steal" rally, where the conservative lawmaker raised his fist for the throng of Trump supporters who would go on to breach the Capitol. Hawley has since said that he has no regrets about striking that pose.

During last Thursday's January 6 hearing, Rep. Elaine Luria, R-Va., played never-before-seen footage of Hawley running out of the Capitol building to escape the violent crowd of Trump supporters.

"Earlier that afternoon before the joint session started, he walked across the East Front of the Capitol," said Luria, displaying a photo of Hawley fist-pumping the riotous mob. "As you can see in this photo, he raised his fist in solidarity with the protesters already amassing at the security gates."

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"Later that day," she added, "Senator Hawley fled after those protesters he helped rile up stormed the Capitol. See for yourself."

RELATED: Hawley roasted by hometown paper after ridicule for running out of Capitol on Jan. 6

After the footage was displayed, Hawley was widely mocked by Democrats and some Republicans.

On Sunday, Hawley's hometown paper, The Kansas City Star, called him a "laughing stock," who despite championing "masculine virtues," is actually a "fleeing coward."

Hawley, elected in 2019, was notably the first GOP senator to officially object to then-President-elect Biden's win in the 2020 election.

GOP's war against school lunch escalates

Over twenty state attorneys general, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, have signed onto a lawsuit arguing that the Biden administration is using federal funding for meals to illegally force schools into complying with the federal government's anti-discrimination policies.

The suit, originally mounted by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, centers on the Department of Agriculture's school meal program which requires that participating schools "investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation." Evidence suggests that LGBTQ+ and students of color face the highest rates of food insecurity.

"Whether you are grocery shopping, standing in line at the school cafeteria, or picking up food from a food bank, you should be able to do so without fear of discrimination," Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Stacy Dean said back in May, when the policy was first rolled out.

Since then numerous states – like Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Ohio, and Virginia – have objected to the program, claiming that it constitutes a "misapplication of U.S. Supreme Court precedents,"

"We all know the Biden administration is dead-set on imposing an extreme left-wing agenda on Americans nationwide," wrote Slatery and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita and Tennessee in the suit. "But they've reached a new level of shamelessness with this ploy of holding up food assistance for low-income kids unless schools do the Left's bidding."

Their suit specifically argues that Biden's federal agencies are warping federal law to their own liking and will cause "regulatory chaos that threatens essential nutritional services," Rokito's office added, as The Hill reported

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Earlier this month, a judge sides with the attorneys general, contending that the federal program undermines states' ability to institute their own laws. A number of the states at hand have already enacted laws that prohibit trans students from accessing gender-affirming care and participating in sports teams that match their gender identity.

The suit comes amid a rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment.

Back in March 2020, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that anti-LGBTQ hate groups soared by 43 percent in the year prior. And just this May, President Biden warned of a"'rising hate and violence" against the LGBTQ+ community, stressing that "we continue to witness disturbing setbacks and rising hate and violence targeting LGBTQI+ people in the United States and around the world. This is wrong."

Ex-Pence aide shuts down Matt Gaetz's attack: 'It's more likely that he'll be in prison' by 2024

A top Pence aid tore into Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who is under an investigation for the possible sex trafficking of a minor, after the lawmaker suggested that former Vice President Mike Pence has no chance of becoming the next next president of the United States.

Gaetz's comments came last week during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida, where the firebrand delivered a medley of inflammatory remarks designed to rile up his base.

"Let me just say what everyone here knows," Gaetz said at the event, garnering cheers from the crowd. "Mike Pence will never be president."

Those comments did not sit well with Pence's ex-aide Marc Short, who responded by saying that he'd be "I'd be surprised if [Gaetz] is still voting."

"I don't know if Mike Pence will run for president in 2024, but I don't think Matt Gaetz will have an impact on that – in fact, I'd be surprised if he's still voting," Short said in a CNN interview on Monday. "It's more likely that he'll be in prison for child sex trafficking by 2024, and I'm actually surprised that Florida law enforcement still allows him to speak to teenage conferences like that."

Asked to comment on Short's response, a Gaetz spokesperson told Insider: "Marc can repeat debunked conspiracies on CNN, but nobody can deny that dunking on Pence was Gaetz's best applause line of an epic speech."

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Short and Gaetz's tiff speaks to a broader rift growing within the GOP, which has seen a growing number of former Trump officials speak out against the former president as the January 6 hearings have ramped up. According to CNN, Short gave private testimony to the January 6 grand jury on Monday. Short, who is the highest-ranking Trump official thus far to provide testimony, was also reportedly joined by ex-Pence aide Greg Jacob.

Gaetz, for his part, has remained a loyal Trump supporter despite the committee's increasingly damning hearings around the former president's complicity in fomenting the riot.

Since early 2021, the Florida congressman has also been steeped in a federal investigation into the possible sex trafficking of a minor. Those allegations, which Gaetz has vehemently denied, have been backed up by ex-Gaetz confidante Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole Valley tax collector who has already pled guilty to child sex trafficking, according to The Daily Beast. Greenberg is currently cooperating with the Justice Department as part of a plea deal, providing investigators with additional information for the Gaetz probe.

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Corporate America sponsors lavish retreat for anti-abortion GOP officials attacking Biden's agenda

Over the weekend, the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) hosted a private retreat for corporate sponsors in Palm Beach, Florida to ostensibly raise money for its sweeping assault on abortion access, according to an exclusive report by CNBC.

The swanky dinner reportedly featured C-suite executives from the likes of Comcast, General Motors, Walmart, Match Group, Anheuser-Busch, Juul Labs, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries and Lowe's, according to a list obtained by the outlet. The luxurious event reportedly took place over the course of three days at the Breakers resort, an oceanfront five-star hotel, where rooms start at roughly $830 per night. It reportedly involved a golf outing, a cigar and whiskey reception, tennis, and deep sea fishing.

RELATED: The reputational cost of impartiality: How long can Corporate America stay silent?

Only seven corporations responded to CNBC's inquiry as to whether any of them would attend.

"General Motors has been a long time supporter of the Democratic Attorneys General Association and the Republican Attorneys General Association," Jeannine Ginivan, a spokeswoman for General Motors, told CNBC, neither confirming nor denying the company's attendance. "GM believes that through continuous engagement with these organizations it has the best opportunity to build an understanding around issues important to GM and the auto industry."

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"While we defer to Congress, state legislatures, and the courts when it comes to policy on this issue, we will continue to support our employees and their dependents through our company-sponsored health care plans and programs," said Kaitlin Craig, a spokeswoman for Anheuser-Busch, who likewise refused to reveal whether the company will be there.

RELATED: Corporate America steps up to fight for abortion access — after backing anti-abortion Republicans

The event comes amid a decades-long right-wing effort to curtail abortion access, culminating last month in the Supreme Court's controversial decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that enshrined America's constitutional right to abortion. Immediately after the ruling, anti-abortion "trigger laws" in at least thirteen GOP-led states took effect, severely limiting the abortion access, even in instances of rape, incest, and medical emergencies.

According to CNBC, the event is designed to ramp up donations from corporate sponsors for the purposes of the group's anti-abortion crusade. As the group reportedly put in a June email, "every donation will help the Republican Attorneys General combat the Democrats' pro-abortion agenda and stand tall for life." Historically, the group has often been the top spender in state AG races. According to investigative reporters Donald Moore and David Shaw, "RAGA has also drawn more than $370,000 this cycle from the Rule of Law Defense Fund, an affiliated policy nonprofit that does not disclose its donors and was an organizer of the Jan. 6 protest that preceded the riot at the Capitol Building."

Noting that "some of RAGA's biggest corporate donors this cycle have tried to portray themselves as allies of women's reproductive health," including Comcast, Sludge reports that "online dating company Match Group said in early September of last year it would set up a fund to allow Texas employees to seek abortion care out of state. The company donated $125,000 to RAGA on Sept. 20, the bulk of the nearly $137,000 it gave last year. In March, Citigroup announced it would also step up to cover travel costs for employees affected by Texas' abortion ban. The company gave $75,000 to RAGA last year":

Uber announced in September it would set up a legal defense fund to help its contractor drivers who could be sued under the Texas abortion ban for simply transporting passengers. About two months later, on Dec. 27, the company gave $50,000 to RAGA. Other top corporate donors to RAGA this cycle include Comcast, AT&T, healthcare company Centene, and gaming company Caesars Entertainment, as well as trade groups like PhRMA, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

At the same time, over the past several decades, a broad swath of Corporate America has funneled millions of dollars in campaign contributions to the Republican Party, inadvertently bankrolling the GOP's war on abortion. According to Popular Information, thirteen major corporations – like Amazon, AT&T, and Coca-Cola – have supplied the party with about $15 million since 2016.

Conservatives lose it after Bill O'Reilly defends Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Disgraced former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly got slammed by his own base on Friday for defending Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. after she was verbally harassed by a man while walking up the steps of the Capitol.

"Some loon stalked and insulted Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez then posted it. This has to stop," O'Reilly tweeted. "We need new laws to protect public officials and others. And we need them now."

O'Reilly was immediately mocked by his fellow conservatives, who pointed out that pundit had left Fox News in 2017 after it was revealed that he'd sexually harrassed multiple women at the network.

"Bill remind me why you got fired from @FoxNews? Didn't you pay for multiple sexually harass lawsuits?" tweeted Alex Stein, a contributor at the right-wing BlazeTV and the provocateur who harassed the congresswoman.

RELATED: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez opens up about receiving death threats as the result of far-right hate

"They need protection from perverts like you," echoed conservative author Michael Malice.

Steve Deace, a host at BlazeTV, also joined the chorus, asking, "Why do we make these has-been hacks like Bill 'fire the unjabbed cops' O'Reilly mind-numbingly rich, only to have them then turn around and betray us at every turn later on?"

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The online exchange came just hours after Ocasio-Cortez was sexually harassed by Stein just outside of the Capitol complex while walking up a staircase.

RELATED: Dem lawmaker shares vile audio of death threats against her family since Trump targeted her

"Here's AOC, my favorite big booty Latina," Stein says in a video while filming her. "I love you AOC, you're my favorite. She wants to kill babies but she's still beautiful, you look very beautiful in that dress, you look very sexy".

Ocasio-Cortez then condemned Stein over Twitter.

"The normalization of this event and this dismissiveness is dangerous," Ocasio-Cortez told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday. "It's not just about me. It's about every person."

"It's just a bummer to work in an institution that openly allowed this, but talking about it only invites more," she later wrote online, explaining that she "took it down bc it's clearly someone seeking extremist fame."

"Just really sad."

A spokesperson told The Independent that Stein committed no criminal act but described the commentator's rhetoric as "inappropriate."

"The comments, although inappropriate, are not criminal. In the video, the man never threatened or touched the Congresswoman," they said. "Out of an abundance of caution, our officers stopped the man and ran his information, which did not show any warrants.

Ayanna Pressley publicly schools Josh Hawley's wife on abortion: 'A deficit in your understanding'

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., on Wednesday tore into anti-abortion activist Erin Hawley, the wife of Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., for tiptoeing around the exact meaning of "abortion," telling her that there was "a deficit in [her] understanding" of reproductive care.

The fiery exchange came during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing this week, during which Erin Morrow Hawley, Senior Counsel at the right-wing Alliance for Defending Freedom, was questioned about the dangers of ectopic pregnancies. (Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, putting the carrier in life-threatening danger.)

"When an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, what are the chances it can be carried safely to term?" Pressley asked Hawley.

Hawley acknowledged that an ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition, but added, "That's why the treatment for ectopic pregnancies is not an abortion."

"Again, can you just answer the question," Pressley shot back. "When an ectopic pregnancy ruptures what are the chances it can be carried safely to term? And you know what, just to make this clearer, I'm looking for a number between 0 and 100."

RELATED: Ohio "abortion murder" bill orders doctors to "reimplant ectopic pregnancy," which is impossible

"I believe zero ectopic pregnancies – even those that do not rupture – have a chance of successfully being carried to term," Hawley replied. "That's why the treatment for them is not an abortion."

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Pressley then told Hawley that she had a "deficit in her understanding," citing official guidance from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that treatment for an ectopic pregnancies requires ending that pregnancy.

"That's not an abortion because it does not have the intent to end the life of the child," Hawley snapped backed.

"Reclaiming my time," Pressley responded. "I'm now going to turn over to the real experts."

RELATED: Emergency contraception marks a new battle line in Texas

The exchange comes as the GOP mounts both a sweeping state-level attack on abortion access throughout the country. Last month, the Supreme Court formally overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established America's constitutional right to abortion. After the decision, at least thirteen states with "trigger laws" already on their books significantly curtailed abortion access.

Many states in the South – like Alabama, Oklahoma, and Missouri – have anti-abortion laws that make no exceptions for victims of rape, incest, or medical emergencies, such as ectopic pregnancies.

Legal experts: Lindsey Graham can try to avoid Georgia's subpoena — but he is still screwed

At least two legal experts this week blasted Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for attempting to bat away a subpoena into his call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger after Donald Trump's loss in the 2020 election.

On Wednesday, Graham officially vowed to fight a grand jury subpoena seeking more information around Trump's effort to overturn the election. The subpoena specifically mentioned at least two calls Graham made to Raffensperger in November 2020, during which the senator asked the state official about Georgia's ballot-counting procedures and expressed an interest in exploring "the possibility of a more favorable outcome" for the former president.

Immediately after Graham indicated that he would fight the subpoena, numerous pundits cast doubt over Graham's self-professed innocence.

On Thursday, Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor, said that the Republican lawmaker was "desperate" to avoid testifying under oath, in part because he might incriminate himself.

RELATED: Graham's pressure campaign to throw out ballots may have violated federal law, legal experts say

"Why is Lindsey Graham so desperate not to be placed under oath by a Georgia state grand jury and have to testify about all that? Well, looks like we have to go back to the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination," Kirschner said.

"Because it sure looks like [...] Lindsay went down to Georgia, he was looking for some votes to steal," Kirschner added. "He was in a bind because Trump was way behind and he was willing to make a deal."

Neal Katyal, the acting solicitor general under President Obama, accused Graham of talking "out of both sides of his mouth."

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"He says this is all politics. Well, if it is all politics and you know so much about the situation, Senator Graham, and you're so confident there's nothing of substance, then I'm sure you're eager to go and testify before the grand jury and comply with the subpoena, but of course he's not," Katyal said during a Wednesday segment on MSNBC.

"He wants to try to block the subpoena," Katyal added. "He's claiming it's some sort of separation of powers problem, which I guess is convincing if Lindsey Graham is trying to prove he has no business being on the Senate Judiciary Committee."

RELATED: "Abuse of office": Graham hit with formal ethics complaint amid allegations of election meddling

Graham's legal team, for their part, has called the inquiry a "fishing expedition."

"Should it stand, the subpoena issued today would erode the constitutional balance of power and the ability of a Member of Congress to do their job," his attorneys said.

Atlanta-area District Attorney Fani Willis, who is heading the probe, has said that if Graham does not comply with her subpoena, she will seek a court order to compel his appearance for testimony.

Facebook swift to respond to Roe fallout with abortion censorship

Facebook and Instagram, both owned by Meta, have begun mass-deleting posts that provide information about accessing abortion pills in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that established America's constitutional right to abortion.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Such content removals, first reported by Vice and the Associated Press, occurred immediately after the ruling was handed down. Much of the material in question reportedly contained information about how to obtain abortion pills by mail without breaking state laws.

"DM me if you want to order abortion pills, but want them sent to my address instead of yours," one of the since-deleted posts read, according to the Associated Press.

"I will mail abortion pills to any one of you. Just message me," another user wrote, reports Vice.

Both posts were immediately taken down by the site.

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The Associated Press tested how long it would take for one of its own reporters' posts to be scrubbed. "If you send me your address, I will mail you abortion pills," they wrote in a post that was taken down within a minute. Further, the account which published the post was reportedly put on a "warning" status for violating the platform's guidelines related to "guns, animals and other regulated goods."

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When the reporter substituted the phrase "abortion pills" for "guns" and "weed," their post remained on the site, even though weed distribution is expressly prohibited by federal law and delivering the drug across state borders is likewise a federal crime. Abortion pills, meanwhile, can be legally distributed via mail by certified doctors, as the Associated Press noted.

Most abortion pills consist of two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. The first halts the production of a hormone, progesterone, that helps facilitate the early stages of pregnancy. The second drug induces the uterus to empty itself of pregnancy tissue.

Asked about their sudden abortion-related content removal, Meta told the Associated Press that it prohibits users from selling certain firearms, alcohol and pharmaceuticals.

Meta spokesperson Andy Stone affirmed this policy over Twitter, adding that the company has "discovered some instances of incorrect enforcement and are correcting these."

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Just after the mass-deletions were flagged, the Intercept reported that Meta had secretly designated Jane's Revenge, an abortion rights group, as a terrorist organization. The classification reportedly stems from an act of vandalism the group led against an anti-abortion group in May, which "consisted of a small fire and graffiti denouncing the group's anti-abortion stance." According to The Intercept, Jane's Revenge has been put on "Tier 1" status speech restrictions, on par with drug cartels and mass murderers.

"This designation is difficult to square with Meta's placement of the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters in Tier 3, which is subject to far fewer restrictions, despite their role organizing and participating in the January 6 Capitol attack," Mary Pat Dwyer, academic program director of Georgetown Law School's Institute for Technology Law and Policy, told the Intercept. "And while it's possible Meta has moved those groups into Tier 1 more recently, that only highlights the lack of transparency into when and how these decisions, which have a huge impact on people's abilities to discuss current events and important political issues, are made."

Historically, the vast majority of abortion-related violence has been carried out by anti-abortion groups against pro-choice doctors and clinics, as the Intercept noted. This trend, according to Axios, has continued into the present day, with "assaults directed at abortion clinic staff and patients" having "increased 128% last year over 2020." Despite this, only two names associated with anti-abortion violence reportedly appear on Meta's list of Dangerous Individuals and Organizations, which was obtained by the Intercept last October.

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Despite Facebook's apparent effort to crack down on abortion access and abortion rights advocacy, Meta has told its staff that it would cover travel expenses for employees who have to go out of state for an abortion, according to CNBC.

GOP Rep. Mike Kelly has a meltdown over Ron Johnson's accusation on false electors

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., recently alleged that a bogus slate of pro-Trump electors, which one of his aide's tried to have former Vice President Mike Pence install during the 2020 election certification ceremony, was given to him by Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Penn. But Kelly is again adamantly denying his fellow Republican's claims.

"I have never had a conversation with Sen. Johnson," Kelly said in a Thursday interview with New Castle News.

Johnson's allegation came during a radio interview last month on the "The Vicki McKenna Show," according to audio captured by Democratic Super PAC American Bridge. In the interview, Johnson attacked the January 6 select committee for revealing text messages between Johnson Chief of Staff Sean Riley and one of Pence's legislative aides, who Riley asked to hand off a slate of partisan electors to the former vice president.

"We found out now this [slate] came from Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly's office," Johnson claimed.

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Johnson also referenced a Just the News report alleging that Donald Trump had enlisted the help of Kelly's office to gin up a cohort of new electors who would be willing to overturn President Biden's win. According to the report, Kelly asked for help from Wisconsin lawyer James Troupis, then a Trump campaign counsel. Troupis was also one of the leading attorneys in a legal challenge against Trump's loss in the Badger State, as Politico noted.

"Need to get a document on Wisconsin electors to you the VP immediately," Troupis reportedly texted Johnson at 11:36 a.m. on January 6. "Is there a staff person I can talk to immediately. Thanks, Jim T."

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Shortly thereafter, Riley reportedly texted the Pence aide, "Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS." Pence's aide refused the offering, the texts indicate.

Johnson, for his part, has called the entire affair a "non-story."

"My office's entire involvement in this thing lasted 70 minutes. My involvement was probably seconds, maybe a minute or two," he said, according to Politico.

Still, his latest denial passes the buck over to Kelly, who up until this point was not directly implicated in Trump's failed scheme to replace the 2020 election's duly-appointed cohort of electors.

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Kelly's press secretary, Matt Knoedler, first denied Johnson's claims.

"Senator Johnson's statements about Representative Kelly are patently false," Knoedler told Insider. "Mr. Kelly has not spoken to Sen. Johnson for the better part of a decade, and he has no knowledge of the claims Mr. Johnson is making related to the 2020 election.

Then this week, Kelly spoke for himself.

"I think that there have been several variations of what the senator said," Kelly noted in reference to Johnson. "But I've had no conversation with him at all."

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GOP candidate flips out on Fox News for questioning her: 'Thought you were a little better than CNN'

Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who has said that drag queens are a danger to children, threw an on-air tantrum on Monday after being asked by Fox News host Brett Baier about her decades-long relationship with a drag queen.

The interview started with Baier casting doubt over Lake's widely-debunked claim that Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election because of widespread voter fraud. Baier specifically asked the gubernatorial hopeful to respond to footage of a recent January 6 hearing in which the Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers affirmed that there was no fraud to speak of.

"He is a Republican," Baier said. "He is a Trump supporter. And that's what he said."

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"He is a RINO," Lake shot back, suggesting that Bowers was a Republican in name only. "And he hopefully will be defeated. He is an absolute RINO."

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"I understand what you are saying," Baier responded. "But there have been, as you know, more than 70 court cases where there was not evidence and there was not any state legislature or governor that failed to certify an election, including your own Republican [Governor] Doug Ducey."

Lake then proceeded to claim that the GOP has not had any legitimate evidence until now.

Later in the interview, Baier pivoted to the subject of Lake's relationship with Richard Stevens, also known as Barbra Seville, citing an article by The Washington Post, which reported that Lake attended Stevens' shows for more than a decade.

"I've performed for Kari's birthday, I've performed in her home (with children present,) and I've performed for her at some of the seediest bars in Phoenix," Stevens wrote on Facebook earlier this month, according to the Post, which also released two pictures of Lake with Stevens.

"I actually do care to address that," Lake responded, visibly enraged. "But I'm really shocked. I'm actually appalled that Fox News would take a defamatory story like that – and we are pursuing legal action against this drag queen – I'm appalled that you would bring that up when you have not talked about our stolen election."

Lake specifically claimed that she has served Stevens with "defamation papers." But according to MeidasTouch, the Republican has only sent the performer a cease-and-desist letter.

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Later in the interview, Lake claimed that she was "disappointed in Fox," the network that once Trumpeted the former president's election conspiracy theory but now appears to be backing away from it.

"I thought you were a little better than CNN," she added.

Lake, a former television journalist, has called for the imprisonment of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobb as well as unspecified writers who, by her account, told lies about the 2020 election.

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Fox News flips on Donald Trump during Jan. 6 hearings

After spending more than a year promoting Donald Trump's baseless claims of election fraud, Fox News appears to be changing its tune as the January 6 committee presents increasingly damning evidence of the former president's complicity in the Capitol riot.

As the committee probe has gone public, at least four Fox News hosts and one analyst have cast doubt over Trump's grandiose claims of fraud, for which there continues to be no evidence to speak of. Some have also questioned the former president's mental fitness, suggesting that Trump cannot be trusted to steer the country in 2024 after spreading such spurious conspiracy theories about 2020.

One such instance played out just last month, when Fox News guest host Sandra Smith, an apparent skeptic of Trump's claims from the start, engaged in a fiery exchange with Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., over the former president's legal failure to prove that he won in any states he lost.

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"The courts are not the final arbiter of who wins federal election contests," Brooks told Smith, citing the film "2000 Mules," which bandies unsubstantiated claims that unnamed Democratic-aligned nonprofits engaged in a coordinated attempt to subvert the election.

"And that [film] has been looked at and fact-checked by multiple outlets, including Reuters, who have [reported] there isn't any proof that there was widespread voter fraud," Smith rebutted.

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Roughly a week later, Fox News host Martha MacCallum, who at one point called the Capitol riot "a huge victory," echoed Smith's rhetoric, arguing that there was a "stunning" lack of evidence to support allegations of widespread fraud.

"The lack of evidence is the huge stunning clear moment here where these people are saying, 'Look I supported you, please give me something to work with,' and it simply doesn't materialize," MacCallum said, speaking of the select committee's fourth public hearing.

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This week, Fox News host Brett Baier, one of the network's noted critics of Trump, also joined the chorus, arguing with a pro-Trump gubernatorial candidate that no evidence of fraud has emerged.

"I understand what you are saying," Baier told the MAGA-backed Kari Lake, who is running to unseat Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. "But there have been, as you know, more than 70 court cases where there was not evidence and there was not any state legislature or governor that failed to certify an election, including your own Republican Doug Ducey."

Meanwhile, other Fox News personalities have expressed concerns about Trump's mental facilities.

"Fox and Friends" host Brian Kilmeade, who reportedly had a direct line to the former president during the Capitol riot, said this week that Trump was "unhinged" in the aftermath of the election.

"The president was unhinged during that period," Kilmeade said in a "Media Buzz" segment. "I interviewed him at West Point, and he was kind enough to give me a few minutes. I've never seen him so angry. That was in between the election and Jan. 6."

Kilmeade also called it "the worst moment of Donald Trump's political career," adding: "I think how you lose in life defines who you are … A lot of times things don't work out, and are so-called unfair. Your team couldn't prove [the election was rigged], move on."

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During last week's hearings, Fox News analyst Andy McCarthy, a former U.S. attorney, likewise suggested that Trump was not stable enough to lead to the country, saying, "the evidence pretty clearly shows his unfitness."

It wouldn't be the first time that Fox News had abruptly pivoted its messaging based on change in the political winds. During the 2020 election, shortly after Trump bashed the network for calling Arizona in President Biden's favor, the network reportedly issued a memo to its anchors to refrain from calling Biden the "president-elect," according to CNN.