Day 854: "Very substantial."
1/ The Texas billionaire and Republican megadonor with close ties to Clarence Thomas refused to answer questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee about his gifts to the Supreme Court justice. Harlan Crow told chairman Dick Durbin that the Senate Judiciary Committee did not have “the authority to investigate Mr. Crow’s personal friendship with Justice Clarence Thomas.” In response, Durbin said Crow “did not provide a credible justification” for refusing to cooperate, saying “Harlan Crow believes the secrecy of his lavish gifts to Justice Thomas is more important than the reputation of the highest court of law in this land.” Recent reporting revealed that Thomas received lavish gifts and luxury travel from Crow, plus favorable real estate transactions and gifts that Thomas never included in his annual financial disclosures. (CNN / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post)
2/ E. Jean Carroll is seeking “very substantial” monetary damages of no less than $10 million from Trump in response to his insults made about her at a CNN town hall. A day after Carroll won her $5 million sexual abuse and defamation case against him, Trump appeared on CNN and “falsely stated that he did not sexually abuse Carroll, that he has no idea who Carroll was, and that Carroll’s now-proven accusation was a ‘fake’ and ‘made up story’ created by a ‘whack job.’” The amended lawsuit said Trump “doubled down” on his derogatory remarks about Carroll, “undeterred by the jury’s verdict, persisted in maliciously defaming Carroll yet again” at the CNN event. “It is hard to imagine defamatory conduct that could possibly be more motivated by hatred, ill will, or spite,” Carroll’s lawyers said. (New York Times / CNN / CNBC / Associated Press)
3/ Trump’s criminal trial on charges of falsifying business records related to a hush money payoff to Stormy Daniels is set to begin less than eight months before the 2024 presidential election. Trump’s New York trial starts March 25 – during the Republican primary schedule – and makes him the first American president, former or otherwise, to face criminal charges. Judge Juan Merchan warned Trump that he could be found in contempt if he shared evidence provided to his lawyers in the criminal case. Following the hearing, Trump complained about the protective order and the trial date on his personal social network, saying “I believe my First Amendment Rights, ‘Freedom of Speech,’ have been violated, and they forced upon us a trial date […] right in the middle of Primary season. Very unfair, but this is exactly what the Radical Left Democrats wanted. It’s called ELECTION INTERFERENCE.” Trump was indicted in March by a grand jury, which accused him of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / CNN / CNBC)
4/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will announce his 2024 presidential campaign in a Twitter Spaces livestream with Elon Musk on Wednesday. The event will be moderated by David Sacks, a Republican donor who is openly supportive of DeSantis and is considered to be part of Musk’s inner circle on decisions about Twitter. Last year, Musk said he would support the governor if he were to run for president, though Musk said at an event Tuesday that he was not formally throwing his support behind DeSantis, or any other Republican. A Trump advisor, meanwhile, said “Announcing on Twitter is perfect for Ron DeSantis. This way he doesn’t have to interact with people and the media can’t ask him any questions.” Since acquiring Twitter, Musk has drawn criticism for his promise to return “free speech” to the social media site, including reducing content moderation and reinstating banned accounts — including Trump’s. Tucker Carlson, who remains one of the most popular figures in conservative media even after being fired by Fox News, recently announced that he would relaunch his program on Twitter. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg)
poll/ 62% of Americans say they believe Biden’s mental fitness is a real concern, while 36% say it is not. 51% said Trump’s mental fitness was a real concern. 43% said it was not. (NPR)
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