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May 17, 2024

Friday: Below the Fold

Cohen clobbered in cross-examination, Garland held in contempt, fired California teacher wins settlement, and more.


  • Cohen gets clobbered in cross-examination: A day that promised to be disastrous for Donald Trump’s persecutors actually exceeded expectations thanks to the worst prosecution witness in the history of prosecutions. Pathological liar and former Trump fixer Michael Cohen was eviscerated by defense counsel yesterday. As for the “Perry Mason Moment,” as it were, the New York Post reports, “Michael Cohen was actually whining about a 14-year-old prank caller when he claimed to have had a key conversation with Donald Trump about the hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, the ex-president’s attorney argued during a fiery moment in court Thursday.” Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, masterfully exposed this most consequential of Cohen’s lies and, in doing so, destroyed Cohen’s credibility regarding a key component of the prosecution’s argument: that Trump ordered the hush-money payment to hide the scandal from voters. No less a Trump-hater than CNN’s Anderson Cooper understood the gravity of the moment: “I think it’s devastating for Michael Cohen’s credibility on this one particular topic,” he said. On this one particular topic?

  • AG Garland held in contempt by committees: On Thursday, in party-line votes of 18-15 and 24-20, two Republican-led House committees, Judiciary and Oversight, voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt over his refusal to turn over the audio recordings of Joe Biden’s interviews with Special Counsel Robert Hur related to his classified document investigation. While the committees had been given the transcripts of those interviews, Republicans wanted the audio recordings, contending they would provide a more comprehensive view of the interviews. Clearly loathe to hand over the tapes, Biden dubiously invoked executive privilege and therefore claimed that Garland cannot be prosecuted for contempt of Congress. Republicans had subpoenaed the DOJ, but Garland refused to comply. “Transcripts do not capture demeanor evidence,” argued Dan Bishop (R-NC). “Transcripts are often imperfect, especially to convey the timing of question and answer and disfluencies of a witness, or hesitations, among other things. All of that is demeanor evidence.” Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has not yet committed to bringing the contempt referral to the full House floor.

  • Border crossings up nationwide … except in Texas: The number of illegal border crossings into the U.S. has risen over the first three months of this year in every southern border state except one. Texas saw a 37% drop in 2024, which followed a 51% drop in 2023. Meanwhile, illegal border crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border are up 10% overall, primarily due to increases in Arizona and California. What makes Texas different is due to the actions Republican Governor Greg Abbott has taken to tackle the border crisis. Since launching Operation Lone Star back in 2021, Abbott has sought to use all the tools at his disposal to control and close down Joe Biden’s open border. It has been a battle, but Texas is seeing results. For example, illegal crossings at Eagle Pass, which once numbered 5,000 a day, have dwindled to just a handful now. It turns out that hardening Texas’s southern border with walls and razor wire, as well as arresting people who enter the country illegally, actually serves to dissuade people from coming.

  • Are EVs making people sick? As the number of Americans driving and riding in EVs has increased, many are reporting having experienced motion sickness, which they did not have trouble with in gas-powered cars. The reason is twofold. One culprit is regenerative braking. EVs, especially Teslas, use one-pedal driving, where a throttle release slows the vehicle. The car’s immediate slowing or braking can produce a jerking action for the driver and passengers, resulting in a sickening effect. The other issue has to do with sound. Due to EVs having no internal combustion engine, the noise associated with acceleration and deceleration are nearly nonexistent. That lack of auditory input can cause people to experience motion sickness. A recent study from Vrije University in the Netherlands found that “being able to anticipate upcoming motion is known to potentially mitigate sickness resulting from provocative motion” and that the “average illness ratings were significantly lower for the condition that contained informative auditory cues, as compared to the condition without informative cues.”

  • Squadster Ayanna Pressley is “so tired of white men failing up”: What should’ve been celebrated as a rare bipartisan House grilling of an incompetent bureaucrat instead was overshadowed by the racist comments of one of the committee members. Republicans called on FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg to resign over his stewardship of “widespread sexual misconduct and harassment at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.” That’s when hard-left Massachusetts Democrat and “Squad” member Ayanna Pressley went on an unhinged racist tirade. “I am so tired of white men failing up,” she ranted. “This lack of accountability is shameful, inadequate, and deeply unsatisfactory, and it is retraumatizing.” It’s indeed traumatic to hear about Pressley’s retraumatization, but we wonder: What would’ve happened if a white Republican congresswoman had said the exact same thing about black men?

  • Good news: Fired CA teacher wins settlement: In 2022, the Jurupa Unified School District of California fired gym teacher Jessica Tapia after she refused to use a student’s “preferred pronouns.” Tapia cited her religious beliefs as the reason for her refusal to lie to students and their parents. Following her firing, Tapia, represented by Advocates for Faith and Freedom, sued the school district for religious discrimination. On Tuesday, the school district agreed to a $360,000 settlement with Tapia. While the settlement let the school district avoid any admission of wrongdoing, Tapia’s attorney, Julianne Fleischer, contends that the “settlement serves as a reminder that religious freedom is protected, no matter your career.” She added: “Jessica’s story is one of faithful courage. She fought back to ensure her school district was held accountable and that no other teacher has to succumb to this type of discrimination.”

  • More good news: Folks keep voting with their feet for limited government: It’s been said that people vote with their pocketbooks, but they also vote with their feet. Such has been the case lately as residents of red states and blue states continue to sort themselves out. As The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman writes, “Another round of census data shows more movement toward limited government.” Freeman was referring to a Census Bureau press release whose headline reads, “South Continues to Lead the Way With Largest and Fastest Growth.” The Palmetto State is, of course, a red state, and this news was part of a trend. The report added, “Thirteen of the 15 fastest-growing cities were in the South, with eight in Texas alone.” Freeman then notes something of a reciprocal arrangement: “On the flip side,” he writes, “a report from a coastal metropolis that has had its share of progressive policy misadventures reckons with a population that used to be booming but is not anymore. Seattle Times columnist Gene Balk writes: ‘Seattle was the nation’s fastest-growing big city of the 2010s. New data shows we’re not even in the Top 10 anymore.’”

  • Still more good news: Texas Governor Abbott pardons soldier who shot BLM thug: We wish this story were entirely good news, but it isn’t. As Breitbart reports: “Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a pardon to U.S. Army Sergeant Daniel Perry, citing the state’s Stand Your Ground laws and the right of self-defense. Perry was convicted by a Travis County court in April 2023 for shooting and killing Garret Foster during a Black Lives Matter protest.” Where, you ask, is the bad news in all this? As the Daily Mail reports, “Perry faced up to 99 years behind bars as prosecutors painted him as a racist unhinged army soldier who planned to kill rioters, including bringing up text messages where he told a friend he ‘might go to Dallas to shoot looters.’” The bad news, then, is that a Texas jury — albeit a “progressive” Austin jury — saw fit to discount the fact that Foster had pointed his AK-47 at Perry before being shot. Ultimately, Perry got a life-wrecking 25 years in prison, which prompted Abbott to ask the state parole board to review the Perry case. So justice prevailed, but just barely. And not before putting a soldier through hell.


  • Supreme Court upholds Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Daily Signal)

  • An illegal border crosser — probably Jordanian — tried to force his way onto a U.S. Marine base. Why isn’t this a bigger story? (NY Post)

  • Trump will see son Barron graduate high school today after judge approved request (Fox News)

  • Harvard was unresponsive to anti-Semitism, House committee finds (WSJ)

  • Pro-Palestinian “anarchists and communists” claim responsibility for vandalism at University of California president’s office (National Review)

  • Sonoma State president put on leave for “insubordination” for supporting Israel academic boycott, divestment (LA Times)

  • Columbia faculty back “no confidence” motion against President Minouche Shafik (National Review)

  • Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker’s jersey sales soar after leftists melt down over his commencement speech (Daily Wire) | Missouri AG vows to hold Kansas City leaders accountable for doxxing Butker (Just the News)

  • Households earning $300K+ a year are biggest beneficiaries of new student debt “cancellation” plan (FEE)

  • Almost 50% of small businesses say they likely won’t survive a second Biden term (Just the News)

  • Former NIH director admits lab-leak theory of COVID origin is not conspiracy theory (Washington Examiner)

  • NBC to promote “LGBTQI+ tolerance” by bombarding audiences with gay animal sex (Daily Wire)

  • UK tells schools not to teach “gender identity,” set to enforce new sex-ed guidelines (Fox News)

  • Satire: “Harrison Butker does not reflect our values,” says league of woman beaters (Babylon Bee)

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