US News

'Crazy cuckoo MAGA people' could sink debt ceiling deal: Dem strategist

After news broke on Saturday that President Joe Biden and United States House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) struck an agreement to avert an unprecedented default, Democratic strategist Kurt Bardella explained how Biden outmaneuvered McCarthy.

Biden said in a statement late Saturday night that "the agreement represents a compromise, which means not everyone gets what they want. That's the responsibility of governing. And, this agreement is good news for the American people, because it prevents what could have been a catastrophic default and would have led to an economic recession, retirement accounts devastated, and millions of jobs lost."

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'I'm here to watch history': Texans marvel at Paxton impeachment spectacle

Kathie Glass traveled from Houston to the Texas Capitol on Saturday, eager to catch a landmark moment in Texas history firsthand. She plans to tell her granddaughter, Katie, about witnessing the first-ever impeachment of a state attorney general.

But she’s not happy with the outcome.

“It is an attempt to overthrow an election. I look at it as an attempted coup to disenfranchise voters like me who just four months ago voted for Ken Paxton knowing all these allegations were out there,” Glass said outside the House gallery immediately after the vote.

When Glass, who ran for governor as a libertarian in 2014, watched the House meet Friday, she thought impeachment was imminent. But throughout Saturday’s proceedings, she became hopeful Paxton would emerge unscathed after listening to state Reps. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, and Harold Dutton, D-Houston, cast doubt on the impeachment’s process.

Despite the vocal pushback, members voted 121-23 to impeach Paxton and suspend him from office until the Senate trial over accusations of bribery, dereliction of duty, disregard of official duty and obstruction of justice.

“It was a civic lesson, but I was very displeased with the evidence,” Glass said.

When the vote board on the back wall of the House chamber that shows how members vote lit up with 121 green lights — well above the number needed to suspend the attorney general and force a trial — several people sitting in the gallery above turned to one another in surprise before slowly emptying out of the House. Many had waited in line for more than an hour to witness the proceedings.

Out in the hallway, Bruce Kravitz, a longtime Austin resident dressed in all blue to show his Democratic allegiance, was elated with the result of the vote.

“I’m very concerned about the integrity of our government officials, and it seems to me for a long time that Attorney General Paxton has been doing a lot of things that are not in keeping with what I expect an elected official to do,” he said. “So I wanted to come in person and see how our legislators would deal with this issue, and I was pleasantly surprised.”

Sixty Republicans, including House Speaker Dade Phelan, voted in favor of impeachment.

Paxton is accused of repeatedly abusing the powers of his office to help a political donor and friend, Austin real estate developer Nate Paul. Investigators allege Paxton diverted staff time to help Paul at a labor cost of at least $72,000; misused official information by possibly helping Paul gain access to investigative documents; and retaliated against employees who complained of Paxton’s actions to the FBI.

At one point Saturday, investigating committee Vice Chair Ann Johnson, D-Houston, said a “distraught” Paxton disclosed an extramarital affair to members of his staff. She also said Paxton got Paul to hire the woman he allegedly had an affair with.

Kravitz said he wasn’t sure what to expect in an impeachment vote given how strong an influence Republicans have in Texas politics.

“Obviously, Ken Paxton must have really upset somebody,” he said. “So the adventure continues for the trial of the year in the Senate.”

The overwhelming opposition to Paxton came as a surprise to some who came hoping to see Paxton impeached. Some said this result was a long time in the making.

“The various ways that he has abused his power, they go into so many different spheres,” said Krista Laine, visibly relieved the day’s action was resolved. “It ranges from supporting his mistress through his office to the developer that he was constantly breaking the law on behalf of, issuing false subpoenas,” she said, laughing at the laundry list of allegations.

Laine said she came in part to see how her representative, Rep. Caroline Harris, R-Round Rock, would vote. She said she wasn’t surprised Harris voted against impeaching Paxton, but she didn’t think so few Republicans would vote in favor of the attorney general.

After the vote, the Capitol remained calm. No protests erupted outside, and the many tourists and visitors who filled the halls on a Saturday afternoon, taking selfies and wandering around, seemed to have no idea of the historic vote that had just taken place.

Two women walked out of the Capitol into the sunshine, one of them expressing surprise that the building remained open after 5 p.m. on a Saturday.

“They’re voting on something today,” the other one said, but she couldn’t remember what.

Earlier in the morning, before the impeachment hearings began, Texans lined up outside the House chamber for the rare chance to watch impeachment proceedings against a state attorney general — an unprecedented event that came at the tail end of the regular legislative session.

“I’m here to watch history in the making and stand for our Attorney General Ken Paxton,” said Marcia Watson, 60, with Citizens Defending Freedom, a political nonprofit.

Watson said none of the information revealed by the House General Investigating Committee, which has been secretly investigating Paxton since March, is new to voters and that voters reelected him despite the accusations and indictments against him.

She called the impeachment proceedings “political theater” and a “distraction” from the other bills that have yet to be voted on before the session ends in two days.

After the vote, Watson said she wasn’t surprised at the outcome but that it identified the lawmakers who had voted against their party.

“We’re separating the wheat from the chaff,” she said. “Now we know the 23 people we want to work hard to keep in office and the others we want to work hard to replace in the primary.”

She said she expects the Senate, which will now hold a trial over the charges, to exonerate Paxton. Then she walked back into the House chamber to watch as it returned to debating bills relating to the state budget and other matters it must complete before the end of the session Monday.

“It could be a late night,” she said.

Lucy Tompkins works for the Tribune as a housing and homelessness reporting fellow through The New York Times’ Headway Initiative, which is funded through grants from the Ford Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors serving as a fiscal sponsor.

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Rick Wilson: Trump would have to be 'dead or in jail' for a GOP candidate to ​have a chance​

Rick Wilson — Lincoln Project co-founder and vocal Trump critic — is sharing his prediction for the 2024 primary and, by his projection, it doesn't look good for the Republican Party.

According to Wilson, former President Donald Trump would have to be "dead or in jail" for another Republican candidate to have a viable chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

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Metropolitan Opera data breach compromised personal info of 45,000 employees and patrons, lawsuit says

The Metropolitan Opera failed to properly safeguard the credit card numbers and other personal information of more than 45,000 patrons and employees compromised in a massive computer hack during 2022, says a class action lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court. Former Met employee Anthony Viti, the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed last week, claims that his Social Security number, his driver’s license number, his date of birth and financial account information were all accessed by hackers. “For approximately two months, The Met failed to detect an intruder with access to and pos...

Marjorie Taylor Greene hails tentative debt deal for money it claws back from 'overseas'

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) said Saturday night that the tentative debt ceiling deal that's been reached between the White House and House Republicans includes clawing back $400 million from a CDC fund "that sends money overseas to countries like China."

Greene, who also celebrated her 49th birthday on Saturday, has previously accused President Joe Biden (D) of being "held hostage by the radical left mob" in spending talks. But her tune was more positive after reports that Biden and Speaker McCarthy had reached a deal in principle that would extend the debt ceiling and skirt default.

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White House and Republicans reach tentative deal to avoid default: reports

The White House and House Republicans have reportedly reached a deal in principle that would raise the debt ceiling and avoid default.

The deal was reported by Reuters Saturday night, citing sources familiar with negotiations. The outlet reported:

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Donald Trump says DeSantis fired his top campaign official 'like on The Apprentice'

Donald Trump on Saturday said his biggest opponent in the 2024 race for the Republican nomination for President, Ron DeSantis, fired his friend and top campaign official, just like on Trump's former show, "The Apprentice."

The former president, who earlier in the day attacked the conservative advocacy group called "Club for Growth" on social media for its support of DeSantis, posted on his Truth Social platform that DeSantis fired Phil Cox, a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association. He also had some words for Cox, who was reportedly chosen for the RGA post based on "close relationships with a number of Republican governors."

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US Virgin Islands say JP Morgan Chase helped Jeffrey Epstein traffic girls; here’s what you need to know about the case

The planned deposition of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon May 26 in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Virgin Islands alleging the bank aided notorious sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein marked a milestone in the complicated litigation. The case, filed in Manhattan Federal Court, makes sweeping claims, with a U.S. territory pitted against the biggest bank in America. At the center of the case is notorious sexual predator and financier Jeffery Epstein. After his arrest in 2019, the full extent of Epstein’s activities became widely known. He’d built a reputation for his lavish lifestyle as a financier for...

'Club for No Growth': Trump slams conservative advocacy group for supporting DeSantis

Donald Trump late Saturday leveled an attack against the "Club for Growth," a conservative advocacy group that recently criticized the former president in an ad, for supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Trump posted on Truth Social, his own social media platform that he created after being banned from most other platforms in the wake of his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection attempt, that the group is attempting to counter DeSantis' own policy decisions.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene uses her birthday to celebrate 'brave new whistleblower' in Biden probe

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's birthday is Saturday, but on Twitter she chose to celebrate a "brave new whistleblower" who she said might link President Joe Biden to a pay-to-play scandal.

Greene, who turned 49 years old on Saturday, claimed in a tweet that she personally read reports on the Biden family from the Treasury Department.

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Man who opened airplane exit door mid-flight ‘felt suffocated’ inside cabin and ‘wanted out’: police

A man who opened the emergency exit door of an Asiana Airlines plane during a flight in South Korea earlier this week felt “suffocated” inside the cabin and “wanted out quickly,” local authorities said Saturday. The passenger, described by the Yoonhap News Agency as a 33-year-old male who was traveling alone, was arrested Friday afternoon shortly after the Airbus A321 landed at an airport in the city of Daegu, about 150 miles south of Seoul. On Saturday, police said the still-unnamed suspect told investigators he had recently lost his job and was under a lot of stress. “He felt the flight was ...

Texas AG Paxton impeached, suspended from duties: report

Embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) on Saturday was reportedly impeached and suspended from his duties pending the results of a trial.

Paxton, who recently got 11th-hour support from former president Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, and more, was first recommended for impeachment by a GOP-led panel reviewing the allegations against him. Thursday, he called for a protest at the state capitol in response to the recommendation.

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'We're all at blame': GOP rep. sidesteps question over Republican credibility on debt debate

A Republican congressman on Saturday avoided directly answering a question on the GOP's credibility when it comes to the debt ceiling.

Rep. Tim Burchett, of Tennessee, appeared on CNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta, and was asked about issues surrounding the debt ceiling. While Burchett said the debt ceiling debate was plagued by "rumors" about what might be in the final deal, he noted that he does believe negotiators are "close" to reaching one.

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