NEW YORK– Tucker Carlson’s wildly successful evening news show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” is no more effective immediately, according to a press release issued Monday by the Fox News Network.
“FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor,” the statement reads.
“Mr. Carlson’s last program was Friday April 21st,” the statement continues. “Fox News Tonight will air live at 8 PM/ET starting this evening as an interim show helmed by rotating FOX News personalities until a new host is named.”
The announcement came just days after the network announced it had parted ways with conservative commentator Dan Bongino and spurned an immediate backlash from loyal Carlson fans, many of whom say they will no longer watch the network.
“Tucker Carlson is out at Fox News. This is the biggest mistake Fox has ever made,” political commentator Robby Starbuck wrote on Twitter. “I don’t know the reason for the exit but the timing couldn’t be worse for Fox.”
The sentiment was echoed by former Fox News associate producer Kyle Becker who tweeted, “Dan Bongino & Tucker Carlson are out at Fox News. Fox News just got rid of two of its most-watched conservative commentators. It is hard to believe this is about business and not about politics. This strikes me as the beginning of a purge of conservatives on cable news.”
NEW YORK (AP)– A Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Donald Trump on charges involving payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of an extramarital sexual encounter, the first ever criminal case against a former U.S. president and a jolt to Trump’s bid to retake the White House in 2024.
The indictment, confirmed Thursday by Joe Tacopina, a lawyer for Trump, and other people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to discuss sealed criminal charges, is an extraordinary development after years of investigations into his business, political and personal dealings. It is likely to galvanize critics who say Trump lied and cheated his way to the top and embolden supporters who feel the Republican is being unfairly targeted by a Democratic prosecutor.
Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly attacked the investigation as politically motivated, was expected to surrender to authorities next week, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss a matter that remained under seal.
In bringing the charges, the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is embracing an unusual case that had been investigated by two previous sets of prosecutors, both of which declined to take the politically explosive step of seeking Trump’s indictment.
In the weeks leading up to the indictment, Trump railed about the investigation on social media and urged supporters to protest on his behalf, prompting tighter security around the Manhattan criminal courthouse.
Trump faces other potential legal perils as he seeks to reassert control of the Republican Party and stave off a slew of one-time allies who are seeking or are likely to oppose him for the presidential nomination.
The district attorney in Atlanta has for two years been investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to meddle in Georgia’s 2020 vote count. And a U.S. Justice Department special counsel is investigating Trump’s storage of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida and his efforts to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election.
WASHINGTON– The Department of Justice announced Wednesday they will not charge Rep. Matt Gaetz following a probe into allegations of ties to sex trafficking.
DOJ officials notified lawyers for at least one witness in the investigation Wednesday that charges will not be brought against the Florida Republican.
“We have just spoken with the DOJ and have been informed that they have concluded their investigation into Congressman Gaetz and allegations related to sex trafficking and obstruction of justice and they have determined not to bring any charges against him,” Gaetz’s lawyers Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner said in a statement to CNBC.
The announcement follows a year-long investigation of Gates over alleged connections to Seminole County, Florida, tax collector Joel Greenberg, who pleaded guilty to sex trafficking a minor, identity theft and fraud in May 2021.
Greenberg had previously alleged that Gaetz paid him to arrange sexual encounters with young women though Venmo, but those allegations were found to be without merit according to DOJ sources.
In September, prosecutors at the DOJ reportedly doubted Gaetz would be convicted based on credibility issues uncovered regarding many of the witnesses who testified against him.
“Those who told lies about Congressman Matt Gaetz are going to prison, and Congressman Matt Gaetz is going back to Congress to continue fighting for America,” a spokesman for Gaetz’s office said last year.
Calls for comment to the Department of Justice were not immediately returned.
WASHINGTON– Dr. Anthony Fauci was chastised online on Sunday after critics discovered that the retired NIAID director, who was once the highest-paid federal U.S. government employee, is charging up to $100,000 for speaking engagements.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ rapid response director Christina Pushaw on Sunday tweeted a screenshot from the Leading Motivational Speaker’s Agency’s website, which lists Fauci as a “motivational” and “health care” keynote speaker with a price tag that ranges from $50,000 to $100,000.
The website describes Fauci as someone “who’s career warrants execution under immense pressure that can alter the course of human existence. His work on domestic as well as global health issues has saved millions of lives. This high level of research, discovery and execution is amazing given the grave challenges he faces on a daily basis,” the agency writes.
Outraged Fauci critics pounced on the former White House coronavirus task force member, accusing him of inflating his self-worth while emphasizing his role as one of the most controversial figures of the pandemic.
“Follow The Science Starting at 50k an hour,” Substack writer Jordan Schachtel wrote.
“Gotta replace the 400K federal salary…,” NewsBusters’ Tim Graham replied.
“The grift that keeps on gifting,” Kingsley Cortes, a conservative influencer and Trump 2020 campaign staffer, quipped.
Bitcoin and finance expert Saifedean Ammous tweeted, “Motivational? WTF is he motivating them to do? Triple mask? Gain of function?”
Fauci is slated to give the 2023 Yale Medical School commencement speech in May. Last year alone, Fauci reportedly delivered keynote speeches at the commencement ceremonies for University of Maryland, Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and The City College of New York.
The chief Biden medical adviser was once considered the highest-paid employee of the U.S. government – surpassing even the president, a Freedom of Information Act request revealed. In 2019, Fauci pulled in $417,608.00 – his largest haul ever—and in the previous two years earned $384,625.00. Forbes reported that from 2010 to 2019, Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, earned $3.6 million.
The Faucis saw their net worth expand from $7.5 million in 2019 to $12.6 million at the end of 2021, watchdog group OpenTheBooks discovered and shared with Fox News Digital. The increase came from the likes of investment gains, awards, compensation and royalties.
Fauci has been embraced by many in the media and Hollywood who portrayed him as a calming presence during a tumultuous Trump administration. But he also has his share of detractors who say he was inconsistent with his messaging at the beginning of the pandemic and see him as a career bureaucrat relishing in his newfound stardom.
WASHINGTON —Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she will step down as Speaker of the House after Democrats lost control of the House to Republicans in the midterm elections.
Pelosi announced her decision Thursday during a speech on the House floor.
“Now we must move boldly into the future,” the California Democrat said. “The hour has come for a new generation.”
Pelosi’s resignation comes amid revelations that Marjorie Taylor Greene has secured a promise from House leadership to investigate Nancy Pelosi and the Department of Justice regarding the treatment of Jan. 6 defendants, according to a report from the The New York Times.
“For me the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect,” Pelosi said Thursday. “And I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.”
Pelosi has led the House Democrats since 2003, marking the longest leadership run in either party since the tenure of Sam Rayburn, a Texas Democrat, who died in office in 1961. At 82, Pelosi has been a member of Congress for 35 years.
“I have enjoyed working with three presidents, achieving historic investments in clean energy with President George Bush; transformative health care reform with President Barack Obama, and forging the future — from infrastructure to health care to climate action — with President Joe Biden,” Pelosi stated.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is eyeing the speaker’s job after his party captured the majority, did not attend Pelosi’s resignation speech.
WASHINGTON– A growing number of establishment Republicans are warning former president Donald Trump not to run again for president and that if he does, he will not be the GOP nominee.
Responding to disappointing midterm results former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and former Vice President Mike Pencehave each said they would not support Trump should he run again in 2024.
“Some people like Trump and some people don’t like Trump,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). “He’s the most dominant single figure in the party. That’s a fact.”
One of the most outspoken against Trump’s impending formal declaration is Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence.
“Well, there might be somebody else I’d prefer more,” Pence said last week when asked if he would vote for Trump if he was on the ballot in 2024.
Paul Ryan, who retired from the House in 2019 after multiple high profile disagreements with Trump, says a Trump 2024 run could cost Republicans the White House if he’s on the ballot.
“I think Trump’s unelectability will be palpable by then,” Ryan said. “We all know he will lose. Or let me put it this way: We all know he’s much more likely to lose the White House than anybody else running for president on our side of the aisle. So why would we want to go with that?”
Bush, who unsuccessfully ran against Trump for the GOP nomination in 2016, says he believes its time for “new blood.”
“I believe there will be a yearning for, A, a new generation of leadership in our country in 2024 and, B, candidates that are focused on the future, not necessarily the grievances of the past,” Bush told CNN.
Joe O’Dea, the GOP Senate candidate in Colorado who has seemingly found favor with red voters in a very blue state by distancing himself from Trump also says Trump should not be on the 2024 ballot.
“I don’t think Donald Trump should run again,” O’Dea said on CNN. “I’m going to actively campaign against Donald Trump and make sure that we have got four or five really great Republicans right now. Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, they could run and serve for eight years.”
AUSTIN (AP)— A Texas jury on Thursday ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay more than $4 million in compensatory damages to the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, marking the first time the Infowars host has been held financially liable for repeatedly claiming the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history was a hoax.
The Austin jury must still decide how much the Infowars host must pay in punitive damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators who were killed in the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut.
The parents had sought at least $150 million in compensation for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Jones’ attorney asked the jury to limit damages to $8 — one dollar for each of the compensation charges they are considering — and Jones himself said any award over $2 million “would sink us.”
It likely won’t be the last judgment against Jones — who was not in the courtroom — over his claims that the attack was staged in the interests of increasing gun controls. A Connecticut judge has ruled against him in a similar lawsuit brought by other victims’ families and an FBI agent who worked on the case.
Outside the courthouse Thursday, the plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Bankston insisted that the $4.11 million amount wasn’t a disappointment, noting it was only part of the damages Jones will have to pay.
The jury returns Friday to hear more evidence about Jones and his company’s finances.
“We aren’t done folks,” Bankston said. “We knew coming into this case it was necessary to shoot for the moon to get to understand we were serious and passionate. After tomorrow, he’s going to owe a lot more.”
The total amount awarded in this case could set a marker for the other lawsuits against Jones and underlines the financial threat he’s facing. It also raises new questions about the ability of Infowars — which has been banned from YouTube, Spotify and Twitter for hate speech — to continue operating, although the company’s finances remain unclear.
Jones, who has portrayed the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights, conceded during the trial that the attack was “100% real” and that he was wrong to have lied about it. But Heslin and Lewis told jurors that an apology wouldn’t suffice and called on them to make Jones pay for the years of suffering he has put them and other Sandy Hook families through.
The parents testified Tuesday about how they’ve endured a decade of trauma, inflicted first by the murder of their son and what followed: gun shots fired at a home, online and phone threats, and harassment on the street by strangers. They said the threats and harassment were all fueled by Jones and his conspiracy theory spread to his followers via his website Infowars.
A forensic psychiatrist testified that the parents suffer from “complex post-traumatic stress disorder” inflicted by ongoing trauma, similar to what might be experienced by a soldier at war or a child abuse victim.
At one point in her testimony, Lewis looked directly at Jones, who was sitting barely 10 feet away.
“It seems so incredible to me that we have to do this — that we have to implore you, to punish you — to get you to stop lying,” Lewis told Jones.
Jones was the only witness to testify in his defense. And he came under withering attack from the plaintiffs attorneys under cross-examination, as they reviewed Jones’ own video claims about Sandy Hook over the years, and accused him of lying and trying to hide evidence, including text messages and emails about the attack. It also included internal emails sent by an Infowars employee that said “this Sandy Hook stuff is killing us.”
At one point, Jones was told that his attorneys had mistakenly sent Bankston the last two years’ worth of texts from Jones’ cellphone. Bankston said in court Thursday that the U.S. House Jan. 6 committee investigating the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol has requested the records and that he intends to comply.
And shortly after Jones declared “I don’t use email,” Jones was shown one that came from his address, and another one from an Infowars business officer telling Jones that the company had earned $800,000 gross in selling its products in a single day, which would amount to nearly $300 million in a year.
Jones’ media company Free Speech Systems, which is Infowars’ parent company, filed for bankruptcy during the two-week trial.
The Associated Press’s Jim Vertuno contributed to the contents of this report.
SAN FRANCISCO (The Hill)– Twitter has hired a large New York-based law firm as it prepares to sue Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after he scrapped a deal to purchase the social media company last week.
Twitter will file its lawsuit in Delaware next week, according to Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the matter. Musk is being represented by the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
The Hill has reached out to Twitter as well as both law firms for comment.
Musk, who bought up a roughly nine percent stake in Twitter before moving to purchase the company earlier this year, abandoned the deal ostensibly because company officials failed to provide accurate and comprehensive information on “fake or spam” accounts.
After news of the deal was reported, Twitter shares fell five percent while Tesla shares climbed more than two percent. Twitter board chair Bret Taylor said the company would take Musk to court in order to force the completion of the sale.
Musk, with his more than 100 million followers, initially expressed excitement about championing free speech on the platform when news of his takeover bid first emerged, but he quickly pivoted to raising concern over how many bots are on the platform.
But his motives have been called into question by some experts who have pointed out the proliferation of spam accounts on Twitter have been public knowledge for years, well before his takeover bid.
Twitter also said it provided detailed information to Musk on the bots; removes around 1 million spam accounts a day; and insists that the number of active bot accounts on the platform remains below five percent.
In Delaware, the corporate home for many public companies, the Chancery Court often rules on mergers and other business disputes without a jury.
The Hill’s Brad Dress Contributed to the Contents of this Report.