Jean Carnahan, the first woman to represent the state of Missouri in the U.S. Senate, has died. She was 90.

Carnahan, a Democrat, was appointed to the role after her husband, then-governor Mel Carnahan, died in a plane crash just weeks before winning his Senate election posthumously.

Senator served with grace

The couple's son, Roger, and an aide also died in the October 2000 crash.

Jean Carnahan, then known to Missourians as their First Lady, had barely time to grieve before she was appointed to honor her husband's legacy in Washington.

"My name has never been on a ballot. On election night there was no victory celebration. You are here because of your win; I am here because of my loss," she told Senate colleagues at the time. "But we are all here to do the work of this great nation."

Carnahan focused on bolstering national security and supporting the troops during her brief time in Washington, which came to an end when she narrowly lost a special election to Republican Jim Talent in 2002.

She was just months on the job when the United States suffered its worst-ever terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. Then came the anthrax attacks, which targeted U.S. senators and left five people dead.

As the country spiraled, Carnahan suffered another personal tragedy when she lost her home in a fire.

“It was an extraordinary and stressful time and she did the job well and with great dignity,” her chief of staff, Roy Temple, said. “It was a privilege to work with her.”

Missouri mourning

Carnahan was born Jean Anne Carpenter in Washington, D.C, the daughter of a plumber father and a hairdresser mother. She and her future husband sat next to each other in the same high school class.

They married in 1954 and a year later, Carnahan graduated from George Washington University with a bachelor's degree in business and public administration. She later moved with her new husband to Missouri, where they raised four kids on a farm.

"Mom passed peacefully after a long and rich life. She was a fearless trailblazer. She was brilliant, creative, compassionate and dedicated to her family and her fellow Missourians,” her family said in a statement.

Public figures in Missouri, including Governor Mike Parson (R), sent their condolences to the Carnahan family.

Teresa and I are saddened to hear of the passing of Jean Carnahan.

A former U.S. Senator and Missouri First Lady, Jean Carnahan will be remembered for her deep, abundant love for the people of this great state.

— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) January 31, 2024

The former bookkeeper for Joe Biden testified about his knowledge of the Biden family's finances in a closed-door interview with House investigators on Tuesday.

So-called "Money guy" Eric Schwerin is seen as a key witness in House Republicans' impeachment inquiry because of his central role in the tangled financial web linking Biden and his son Hunter.

Schwerin was the financial adviser to Biden during his vice presidency and a frequent visitor at the Obama White House, as well as a founding partner of Hunter Biden's firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners.

Key Biden witness testifies

Republicans have described Schwerin as the mastermind behind the Bidens' shady shell companies.

In particular, they have zeroed in on e-mail exchanges between Vice President Biden and Schwerin in which Biden used pseudonyms.

Many of the e-mails coincided with Biden's travels to Ukraine, where his son had a lucrative position on the board of energy company Burisma Holdings. At the time, Schwerin shared input with Vice President Biden's staff about how to respond to media inquiries concerning Hunter's position.

Biden's staff confirmed the then-vice president "signed off" on a statement on the same day that Hunter dined with Burisma executives, who pressed Hunter to tap his connections to help with "government pressure" in Ukraine.

But in a prepared opening statement, Schwerin defended former vice president Biden's dealings as strictly "ethical" and said he never saw any evidence of wrongdoing.

"Given my awareness of his finances and the explicit directions he gave to his financial advisers, the allegation that he would engage in any improper conduct to benefit himself or his family is preposterous to me," Schwerin said.

Testimony riddled with caveats...

The testimony is likely to be battled over by Republicans and Democrats, who have gone back-and-forth over the substance of closed-door depositions from Biden associates like Devon Archer, who previously confirmed that Joe Biden spoke with Burisma executives on the phone.

A former business partner of Schwerin's told Fox News that his prepared testimony was full of caveats that left out "the vast majority of questions about his knowledge and participation in the Biden family’s business schemes."

In a carefully worded statement, Schwerin told investigators he is "not aware of any financial transactions or compensation that Vice President Biden received related to business conducted by any of his family members."

Schwerin's claim appears to be at least partially contradicted by his own e-mails with Hunter, in which he discussed using Hunter's money to pay his father's bills. In a 2010 exchange, Schwerin told Hunter he would be reimbursed with his dad's tax refund.

“I am depositing it in his [Joe Biden's] account and writing a check in that amount back to you since he owes it to you. Don’t think I need to run it by him, but if you want to go ahead,” Schwerin wrote.

Embattled Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis shrugged off questions from House Republicans about the work of her alleged lover, Nathan Wade, on Willis' prosecution of President Trump. 

The inquiry from House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) was directed at Wade, but Willis answered on his behalf.

Willis stonewalls

Willis and Wade have been accused of profiting off the Trump case and coordinating with the Biden administration. Wade was allegedly paid over $600,000 for his work.

In a recent letter to Wade, Jordan asked for "all invoices, including credit card statements and individualized reimbursement requests, submitted by you or your law partners to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office relating to its investigation of President Trump."

Willis has not denied the relationship, and she has publicly defended Wade as a "great friend and a great lawyer" with "impeccable credentials" despite his lack of experience, which has raised questions about his appointment to such a significant, high-profile case.

In a letter to Jordan on behalf of Wade, Willis ignored newly public evidence of her relationship with Wade and accused Jordan of pestering her with meritless demands.

“Your letter is simply a restatement of demands that you have made in past correspondence for access to evidence in a pending Georgia criminal prosecution," she wrote.

Case in jeopardy

In a similarly feisty September letter, Willis blasted Jordan's investigation as "offensive" and accused him of overreach into a state matter.

Her answer hasn't changed, in spite of the newly public evidence of her affair.

“As I said previously, your requests implicate significant, well-recognized confidentiality interests related to an ongoing criminal matter," she wrote.

"Your requests violate principles of separation of powers and federalism, as well as respect for the legal protections provided to attorney work product in ongoing litigation. I refer you to my previous responses to your inquiry for more detailed analysis.”

Wade's invoices show that he met with White House officials and the January 6th committee. Jordan is seeking more information about Wade's relationship with Willis and any contacts Wade had with the White House.

Willis is separately fighting a subpoena from Wade's wife, who submitted credit card statements in divorce court showing that Wade paid for Willis' airplane tickets.

The scandal has thrown the entire trial into doubt.

The judge overseeing the case has set a hearing for next month to consider the misconduct claims against Willis.

Maine's Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal initiated by Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, who had sought the court's review of her prior decision barring former President Donald Trump from the state's primary ballot under the 14th Amendment.

Just days earlier, Maine's highest trial court had deferred a ruling on Bellows' consequential decision, which Trump's legal team had appealed.

Maine's top court refuses to decide 14th Amendment case ahead of Supreme Court's decision on whether former Pres. Trump is barred from Colorado's state primary ballot.

— ABC News (@ABC) January 25, 2024

The decision

This delay was contingent on the U.S. Supreme Court's resolution of a similar 14th Amendment case originating from Colorado.

The directive was clear: the challenge would be remanded back to Bellows for reconsideration in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.

In an effort to expedite the judicial process ahead of the state's primary, Bellows filed an appeal with the Maine Supreme Court.

Maine's ruling

On Wednesday, the Court declined to entertain the challenge, citing the Maine Superior Court's decision as non-final. The Court characterized it as a deferral rather than a definitive judgment.

The seven-justice Court elucidated its decision in a 19-page statement, declaring, "Because the appeal is not from a final judgment, we dismiss the appeal as interlocutory and not justiciable."

The decision underscored the importance of requiring a final judgment in this context, emphasizing its alignment with principles of justice, enhancement of administrative and judicial efficiency, prevention of potentially advisory opinions, and facilitation of effective decision-making when the matter reaches full maturity.

Trump's response

Trump's campaign promptly seized upon the dismissal as a triumph, framing it as a rejection of an alleged "disenfranchisement effort" by Maine's Supreme Court.

They asserted that the court decisively rebuffed attempts to exclude Trump from participation in the state's primary.

This legal development underscores the continued legal skirmishes surrounding Trump's eligibility for the primary ballot.

The Maine Supreme Court's decision underscores procedural considerations, highlighting the necessity of a final judgment before the appeal can be addressed.

The intricate legal maneuvers and the emphasis on due process serve as a backdrop to the broader context of election-related disputes, further emphasizing the intricate interplay between state and federal legal systems. As Maine's primary approaches, the legal landscape surrounding Trump's candidacy remains subject to ongoing scrutiny and interpretation.

Newsweek reports that some Republicans are calling upon Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's recent border-related ruling. 

In case you missed it, the Supreme Court rendered the ruling last Monday.

The ruling

The issue before the justices of the Supreme Court was the razor wire fencing that Texas has installed at the U.S.-Mexico border.

This, actually, is one of several legal disputes regarding the U.S.-Mexico border that is currently taking place between Texas and the administration of President Joe Biden. Texas, in general, has been arguing that it has to take matters into its own hands because the Biden administration refuses to secure the border. The razor wire fencing is one example of Texas taking matters into its own hands.

Regarding the razor wire, the justices of the Supreme Court have sided with the Biden administration.

ABC News reports:

A narrowly divided Supreme Court on Monday sided with the Biden administration in a tense, ongoing dispute over the Texas-Mexico border and razor wire fencing installed by the state that had prohibited federal border agents from performing their duties. The court, by a vote of 5-4, cleared the way for federal agents to remove the wire, which administration officials and immigration advocates had called dangerous and inhumane.

The outlet goes on to report that "the Supreme Court's order did not elaborate on the decision."

What now?

Newsweek highlights an important fact about the Supreme Court's ruling, writing, "Notably, the ruling does not bar Texas from constructing more razor wire and only says that the federal government must be able to take it down when deemed necessary."

Since the ruling, reports indicate that Texas has continued to erect razor-wire fencing. It has also been reported that the state has not engaged in efforts to prevent the federal government from removing some of the fencing. It is unclear whether the federal government has removed any of the fencing.

Fox News reports, "Border Patrol has 'no plans' to remove razor wire placed by Texas along the southern border, a senior Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official told Fox News on Friday, stressing a 'strong' relationship with Texas despite an ongoing legal battle between the state and the administration."

The fight is "not over"

Abbott has released a statement in response to the Supreme Court's ruling in which he insisted that the legal battle over the souther border "is not over."

"This is not over. Texas' razor wire is an effective deterrent to the illegal crossings Biden encourages," Abbott wrote.

He added, "I will continue to defend Texas' constitutional authority to secure the border and prevent the Biden Admin from destroying our property."

This all comes as illegal immigration continues to occur at record numbers under the Biden administration. December 2023 set a monthly record with 371,000 illegal immigrant encounters at the southern border.

Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) suffered a brain freeze just moments after knocking Donald Trump's mental acuity in a media interview. 

"Crazy Nancy" seized the opportunity to raise questions about Trump's health after he appeared to briefly confuse the former House Speaker with Nikki Haley at a rally.

Pelosi mix up...

Trump was campaigning against Haley in New Hampshire when he brought up the theory that Pelosi intentionally left the Capitol unguarded on January 6th in order to blame Trump for the attack.

However, Trump appeared to get Pelosi confused with his Republican rival, Nikki Haley.

“Nikki Haley is in charge of security — we offered her 10,000 people, soldiers, National Guards, whatever they want. They turned it down. They don’t want to talk about that. These are very dishonest people," Trump said.

Democrats welcomed the opportunity to deflect from President Biden's almost daily episodes, which have cast a dark cloud over his re-election bid.

In an interview with Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show - a notorious hotbed of anti-Trump conspiracy theories - Pelosi mocked Trump's "cognitive disorders" before mixing up Trump and President Biden.

"I am not going to spend too much time on Donald Trump's cognitive disorders," Pelosi said.

"He tried to say that Nikki Haley did not allow the National Guard to come but it was Nancy Pelosi. It was nobody. It was Joe...," Pelosi said.

"It was Donald Trump," she added.

Democrat spin falls flat...

Trump and Pelosi traded blows frequently during Trump's four years in the White House.

"Crazy Nancy," as Trump called her, notoriously shredded Trump's State of the Union speech in an infamously unhinged episode.

Nikki Haley is Trump's last remaining challenger for the GOP presidential nomination, although her path forward is unclear after she lost to Trump by double digits in New Hampshire. Trump has labeled Haley "Birdbrain" and a profiteering "globalist."

At a recent rally in New Hampshire, Trump said he "aced" a mental exam.

“I took a physical and I passed with flying colors,” he said. “And I took a cognitive exam. I said ‘Doctor, give me anything you want, I want to take it.’”

Biden has never taken a cognitive exam since entering the White House, despite widespread doubts about his mental fitness.

Polls show that voters are far more concerned about Biden's mental acuity than Trump's, despite the attempts of Democrats to equate the two.

House Republicans have filed legislation that would protect hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest from being destroyed by President Biden.

In December, Biden reached a tentative agreement with tribes and environmentalists to study breaching four dams in the Lower Snake River that are key to the economy of the Northwest region.

Opponents of Biden's plan say it would hurt commerce and energy, while supporters say it is a long overdue measure to restore decimated salmon populations.

Biden blocked...

Biden's blueprint calls for new clean energy installations, operated by local tribes, to offset the hydroelectric power that would be lost in the event the dams are destroyed.

The Lower Snake River dams provide an estimated 8% of Washington's electricity and are key for transporting crops in the region.

Biden's preliminary framework fell short of calling for the dams' removal, which requires approval from Congress, but critics and advocates alike say the plan is a significant trial balloon.

The Defending Against Manipulative Negotiators (DAMN) act would block Biden from using any federal funds to breach the dams. Republican Dan Newhouse (Wa.), the lead sponsor of the DAMN Act, said Biden went behind the backs of major stakeholders in the region.

"The Biden Administration has crossed the line with its blatant, hypocritical assault on the Lower Snake River Dams," he said.

"Historic" upheaval...

Industry groups threatened by Biden's plans are supporting Newhouse's bill, including Inland Power, Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, Northwest River Partners, National Association of Wheat Growers, Washington Association of Wheat Growers, and Washington State Potato Commission.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said Biden's "deeply misguided" plan would "devastate communities" in the region and "forever change the way our river system operates."

White House adviser John Podesta did not downplay the impacts of Biden's plan, calling it a "historic agreement" that heralds "a new direction for the Pacific Northwest."

“Today, the Biden-Harris Administration and state and Tribal governments are agreeing to work together to protect salmon and other native fish, honor our obligations to Tribal nations, and recognize the important services the Columbia River System provides to the economy of the Pacific Northwest,” Podesta said.

But some Democrats are pumping the brakes. Washington state's Democrat governor, Jay Inslee, has said the dams cannot be destroyed until the hydroelectric power they provide has been replaced with new clean energy.

Sofia Vergara is opening up about her divorce, revealing for the first time that a disagreement over kids is what broke up her marriage to actor Joe Manganiello. 

The 51-year-old Modern Family star said her ex-husband, who is four years younger, wanted children but she did not, citing her age.

Vergara shared the comments in an interview with El Pais about her career.

“My marriage broke up because my husband was younger; he wanted to have kids and I didn’t want to be an old mom,” Vergara said. “I feel it’s not fair to the baby. I respect whoever does it, but that’s not for me anymore.”

Sofia Vergara divorce...

The Colombian actor has one child from a previous marriage, Manolo, who is 32 years old.

“I had a son at 19, who is now 32, and I’m ready to be a grandmother, not a mother," she said. “So, if love comes along, he has to come with [his own] children.”

"I’m almost in menopause; it’s the natural way of things," she added. "When my son becomes a dad, let him bring the baby to me for a while and then I’ll give it back to him and go on with my life; that’s what I have to do."

Vergara and Manganiello announced their separation in July after seven years of marriage.

Vergara stars in a new Netflix series about a female drug lord, Griselda - a new direction for the star known for light-hearted roles.

The show is based on the life of Griselda Blanco, a prominent cocaine trafficker operating in Miami from the 1970s to the early 2000s.

"Empowered" woman

In her interview with El Pais, Vergara discussed playing an "empowered woman."

"She degenerated [as a result of] power, fear, ambition and insecurities. Just like a man. No more, no less."

Vergara has been wrapped up in a years-long court battle with her ex-fiancé Nick Loeb over frozen embryos that Vergara wants destroyed.

Loeb, a Catholic, says he was led to believe that he and Vergara were on the same page about when life begins.

"Throughout the course of our relationship, I expressed these views to Sofia, who similarly expressed to me that she was a devout Catholic and therefore also believed that life begins at conception. She told me that she regarded embryos as 'lives,'" he said.

A former lawyer on Donald Trump's legal team warned that there is "absolutely" a possibility that he will be convicted in one of his criminal cases. 

Until recently, Joe Tacopina represented Trump in New York in his "hush money" case and the E. Jean Carroll saga. The lawyer left Trump's legal team for "personal reasons," he told Al Sharpton on MSNBC.

Trump lawyer warns...

Tacopina said he believes there is politics involved in Trump's cases but prosecutors like Jack Smith should not be underestimated.

"Look, do I think there’s a political bent to some of this, some of the the way this was gone about? Yes, I do," Tacopina said. "Do I think these cases are invalid cases? Look, a grand jury voted to indict."

Trump is facing 91 criminal counts in four separate cases, all brought by Democrat prosecutors.

With the exception of the classified document case in Miami, all of the trials are deep in hostile territory, so the odds of Trump receiving an impartial jury aren't good.

“So that’s going to be something to really have to grapple with there,” Tacopina said. “And you can’t say, ‘There’s no way he’ll get convicted.'”

Biden's last hope?

Jack Smith's January 6th case is the most dramatic and potentially damaging of the four, as it ties Trump to an attack on "democracy."

While Smith denies any political motives, a conviction in the case may very well be the key to securing Biden's shaky hold on the White House.

Trump has been running neck-and-neck with Biden in the polls, but a criminal conviction could finally turn public opinion against Trump.

The news isn't without bright spots for Trump. The prosecutor driving his Georgia case, Fani Willis, has been wrapped up in a scandal that could derail the trial.

And Smith is facing some serious obstacles. The biggest, right now, is Trump's appeal of district court judge Tanya Chutkan's ruling on presidential immunity.

An appeals court in D.C. is weighing the question and, in the likely event Trump is denied, he could appeal to the Supreme Court, delaying the trial further.

The Supreme Court has already agreed to weigh a separate case involving a January 6th defendant that could jeopardize some of the charges against Trump.

President Biden has set himself up for embarrassment in New Hampshire's Democratic primary on Tuesday by taking his name off the ballot, in a dramatic snub to the state's mostly white population. 

It all goes back to Biden's controversial decision to wrest from New Hampshire voters their traditional first-primary status.

It's a story that pits regional pride against raw political ambition.

Biden off the ballot...

The state's residents take great pride in being first in the nation to hold a primary, but Biden - in a bit of unsavory racial politics - decided South Carolina should go first.

Biden's 2020 primary bid was flatlined before South Carolina's mostly black Democratic primary voters came to the rescue - as Biden received the secret blessing of party elites scheming behind the scenes to consolidate support for him.

And so, Biden decided that New Hampshire's primary should fall on February 6, three days after South Carolina starts things off.

"Too often over the past fifty years, candidates have dropped out or had their candidacies marginalized by the press and pundits because of poor performances in small states early in the process before voters of color cast a vote," he said.

With New Hampshire forging ahead with its primary as planned on Tuesday, Biden will not appear on the ballot, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has no plans to recognize the state's delegates at the convention.

Biden's desperate write-in

Although Biden orchestrated the calendar switch, he told New Hampshire Democrats that his decision to abstain from the state's ballot was forced by the Democratic National Committee.

“The president looks forward to having his name on New Hampshire’s general election ballot as the nominee of the Democratic Party after officially securing the nomination at the 2024 Democratic National Convention, where he will tirelessly campaign to earn every single vote in the Granite State next November,” his campaign said.

While Biden won't be on the ballot, Democrats are organizing a write-in effort to avoid any bad publicity, with doubts already crowding around Biden's embattled re-election bid.

Biden is facing longshot primary challenges from Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson.

On the Republican side, New Hampshire's primary has become a two-way between President Trump and Nikki Haley, after Ron DeSantis ended his campaign Sunday.

While Trump appears poised to win the primary, he is facing criminal prosecution and an effort to have him removed from the ballot in different states. The Supreme Court is expected to weigh the ballot controversy next month.

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