April 15, 2024

Monday: Below the Fold

“Hush money” trial kicks off, Key Bridge criminal investigation, NPR’s new nutcake CEO, two-tiered abortion justice, and more.


  • Bragg’s Trumped-up “hush money” trial kicks off: Judge Juan Merchan is deeply conflicted, but he’s got a conviction to secure, so the New York City trial of Donald Trump began as scheduled today for his nondisclosure agreement with porn actress Stormy Daniels, with whom he apparently had a brief sexual encounter. Never mind the well-documented fact that this hush-money case is only being brought because the defendant is Donald Trump, and despite Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg having initially declined to prosecute the case. These people, these partisan Democrats, hate Donald Trump’s guts, and nothing else matters. Never mind the fact that the jury in this case will be selected from a Manhattan pool whose vote went 10% for Trump in 2016, then a whopping 12% in 2020. The jury will no doubt be every bit as fair and impartial as the one that awarded E. Jean Carroll a mind-boggling $83 million for a decades-old department store encounter of deeply dubious credibility. And never mind the fact that two major clients of the daughter of Judge Merchan have raised at least $93 million in campaign donations by using the Trump case in their solicitation emails. Surely, this judge will be an impartial decider, an objective gatekeeper of evidence and objections in the fate of Donald Trump. And finally, never mind the fact that the star witness in this weak-on-the-merits case, Michael Cohen, is a convicted felon and inveterate liar. Never mind all those things. “This is an assault on America,” said Trump just before entering Judge Merchan’s courtroom this morning. “Nothing like this has ever happened before. There’s never been anything like it. Every legal scholar said this case is nonsense. … This is political persecution, this is a persecution like never before.”

  • Tax Day: It’s everyone’s favorite day: Tax Day! The day Uncle Sam comes collecting. Of course, the truth is it may be the federal government’s favorite day, but few others’. For those who have yet to file their taxes, they have until 11:59 PM tonight to get them filed, unless they live in Maine and Massachusetts, where April 17 is the final filing day. Meanwhile, Joe Biden has been touting a new “free, secure, simple way to file your taxes.” It’s the IRS’s “independent” filing system, a product of the Inflation Reduction Act. Dubbed “Direct File,” the IRS test pilot program went live in March with some 19 million taxpayers in 12 states. However, Direct File was only able to accept roughly 60,000 returns. The reason is that the IRS failed to include users’ ability to provide important details to validate their returns until last week. The fact of the matter is that there are already a number of free tax preparation and filing programs out there that have been providing this service for as many as 20 years. So, why is the IRS motivated to come up with its own filing system that, as Barack Obama’s former chief information officer Tony Scott predicted, was “virtually guaranteed to fail”? The answer is greater government access to Americans’ financial information. Meanwhile, 13 Republican attorneys general are challenging the legality of Direct File and have sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen calling for it to be shut down.

  • Key Bridge criminal investigation: The FBI seems to have launched a criminal investigation into the Singapore-flagged ship — the Dali — that caused the catastrophic collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge last month. After FBI agents were seen on board the ship early this morning, the agency released the following statement: “The FBI is present aboard the cargo ship Dali conducting court authorized law enforcement activity.” U.S. Attorney for Maryland Erek L. Barron refused to confirm whether or not a criminal investigation is being conducted. At issue is whether or not the crew of the Dali left the port knowing that the ship was suffering serious system problems. This investigation is separate from the one being conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is seeking to determine the cause of the crash.

  • Open-border terrorism: When it comes to the Biden administration’s counterterrorism efforts, it’s probably not an alarmist analysis to say that we should be afraid — very afraid. We say this in the wake of an NBC News report revealing that an Afghan migrant on the terrorist watchlist spent nearly a year here in the U.S. after he’d been caught and released by Border Patrol agents last year. “The man was arrested in February and then released last month again by an immigration judge who was not told he was a national security threat,” according to the NBC report, which adds that he’s “a member of Hezb-e-Islami, a U.S. designated terrorist group responsible for the deaths of at least nine American soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan.” One can only imagine how many other such characters are among the nine million or so illegals who have made their way into the U.S. via Joe Biden’s open-borders policy. This is an impeachable offense if ever there was one, and it’s to the discredit of House Republicans that they failed to bring such a case.

  • Buckle up for higher gas prices: The summer months bring with them greater opportunities for travel and — supply and demand being what they are — a greater likelihood of higher gas prices. And Joe Biden didn’t help the outlook any on Friday when he issued a host of new regulations designed to make drilling for oil on public lands more expensive. As The Washington Free Beacon reports: “The new rules follow years of criticism from green and taxpayer groups of federal oil and gas development. Many of the changes formalize provisions in Biden’s landmark climate change law, the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Under the new policy, oil and gas companies will pay higher bonding rates to cover the cost of plugging abandoned oil and gas wells as well as increased lease rents, minimum auction bids, and royalty rates for the fuels they extract. The rules also limit drilling in sensitive wildlife and cultural areas.” It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effect this decision has on the mood of the electorate, especially as we move closer to the November election. Perhaps by then, the Biden administration will undo the regulations to make it appear that he feels our pain.

  • NPR’s new CEO is a nutcake: She’s been on the job for three weeks, but that didn’t stop National Public Radio’s new CEO Katherine Maher from blasting 25-year NPR veteran Uri Berliner’s assessment of the Leftmedia outlet as “deeply simplistic” and “profoundly disrespectful, hurtful, and demeaning.” Berliner, NPR’s senior editor, had just published an article exposing the blatant leftist bias of taxpayer-funded NPR. Underpinning Berliner’s charge was his statement that he “found 87 registered Democrats working in editorial positions and zero Republicans. None.” In an apparent effort to run damage control, Maher responded, “It is deeply simplistic to assert that the diversity of America can be reduced to any particular set of beliefs, and faulty reasoning to infer that identity is determinative of one’s thoughts or political leanings.” At NPR, “diversity” means having the same political ideology but with different shades of skin color. Then, after noting the NPR employee’s professionalism, she obtusely added, “We fulfill our mission best when we look and sound like the country we serve.” Following Maher’s excoriation of Berliner for daring to tell the truth, some of her past social media posts came to light, displaying her own hard-left bias. For example, during the summer of violence following the death of George Floyd, Maher became critical of CNN’s coverage of the rioting associated with BLM protests, posting: “I mean, sure, looting is counterproductive. But it’s hard to be mad about protests not prioritizing the private property of a system of oppression founded on treating people’s ancestors as private property.” In several other posts, from pushing climate alarmism to masking mandates, Maher shows herself to be ideologically committed to the hard Left. In short, Maher is about as open to a diversity of views as a cockroach is to light.

  • The two tiers of abortion justice: The Democrats have a seemingly unquenchable thirst for two-tiered justice, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the struggle for life against the Left’s catechism of abortion on demand. The latest example of this comes in the case of Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, a pro-abortion terrorist who firebombed a pro-life facility in Wisconsin on Mother’s Day 2022 and who got a mere seven and a half years in prison, minus time served. Compare Roychowdhury’s unquestionably deadly violence to that of the six peaceful pro-life activists who, in January, were convicted of violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act for ostensibly blocking the entrance to a Tennessee abortion facility in 2021. And how did they “block” access to this murderous abortion mill? Why, with hymns and prayer. As The Federalist points out, “The FACE Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, punishes ‘violent, threatening damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide’ abortions.” Talk about a grotesque abuse of the spirit of the law.

  • Kansas GOP vows override of Dem governor’s gender-bending veto: Last Friday, Kansas Democrat Governor Laura Kelly vetoed a bill banning gender-bending medical interventions such as puberty-blocking hormones and gender-mutilation surgeries on minors. Bill 233 was passed by Kansas’s Republican-led legislature to protect children from becoming victims of the toxic gender-bending ideology of “transgenderism” plaguing the nation. Following Kelly’s veto, Kansas House Speaker Dan Hawkins said, “House Republicans stand ready to override [the] veto to protect vulnerable Kansas kids.” For the Republicans to successfully override Kelly’s veto, the House will need to get two more Republicans to vote in favor, and the Senate GOP cannot lose any votes. Kelly claimed she vetoed the bill because it “tramples parental rights.” That is a dubious claim, given the fact that Democrats have no problem dictating to parents on a wide variety of other issues related to their children. Hawkins observed, “As we watch other states, nations, and organizations reverse course on these experimental procedures on children, Laura Kelly will most surely find herself on the wrong side of history with her reckless veto of this common-sense protection for Kansas minors.” Indeed.


  • Iran launches attack on Israel (National Review) | Iran targeted “major civilian areas”; Biden admin told Iran attack had to be “within certain limits” (Washington Free Beacon) | Israel vows “unprecedented response” (Daily Wire) | Biden to Netanyahu: U.S. will not back counterstrike (Daily Wire)

  • White House ripped over sanctions waiver that critics say put billions of dollars in Iran’s hands (NY Post)

  • House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will push for aid to Israel and Ukraine this week (CNBC)

  • House approves surveillance authority reauthorization bill (Roll Call)

  • Judge denies Hunter Biden’s motions to dismiss federal gun charges (National Review)

  • Trump and Mike Johnson zero in on noncitizen voting (NBC News)

  • Credit card delinquencies hit all-time high, so Biden caps late fees (PJ Media)

  • Embattled senior Fauci advisor used private email account to discuss COVID-19 origins (National Review)

  • Dartmouth refuses to bargain with unionized basketball team (Bloomberg Law)

  • Memphis Officer Joseph McKinney killed in a shootout with a man who had been released without bail … after being caught with a machine gun in a stolen car (Not the Bee)

  • Sydney is rocked by another stabbing rampage (Daily Mail)

  • Policy: Biden’s failed policies have led to higher Tax Day bills (RNC)

  • Satire: World in shock as murderous terrorist state ignores warning from impotent old man (Babylon Bee)

For more editors’ choice headlines, click here.

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