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The man who bludgeoned former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer last year consumed a steady diet of right-wing conspiracy theories before an attack that took place with the midterm elections less than two weeks away.

As the 2024 presidential campaign heats up, experts on extremism fear the threat of politically motivated violence will intensify. From “Pizzagate” to QAnon and to “Stop the Steal,” conspiracy theories that demonized Donald Trump’s enemies are morphing and spreading as the front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination aims for a return to the White House.

“No longer are these conspiracy theories and very divisive and vicious ideologies separated at the fringes,” said Jacob Ware, a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who focuses on domestic terrorism. “They’re now infiltrating American society on a massive scale.”

A federal jury on Thursday convicted David DePape of attacking Paul Pelosi at his San Francisco home on Oct. 28, 2022. Before the verdict, DePape testified that he had intended to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage and “break her kneecaps” if the Democratic lawmaker lied to him while he questioned her about what he viewed as government corruption. She was in Washington at the time of the assault.

In online rants before the attack, DePape echoed tenets of QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiracy theory that has been linked to killings and other crimes. A core belief for QAnon adherents is that Trump has tried to expose a Satan-worshipping, child sex trafficking cabal of prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.

Trump has amplified social media accounts that promote QAnon, which grew from the far-right fringes of the internet to become a fixture of mainstream Republican politics.

Many rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, espoused QAnon’s apocalyptic beliefs online before traveling to the nation’s capital for Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally that day. A message board formerly known as TheDonald.win was buzzing with plans for violence days before the siege.



The U.S. Supreme Court issued a code of ethics earlier today following months of financial scandals tied to Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

The nonbinding code of conduct, undersigned by all nine justices, “represents a codification of principles that we have long regarded as governing our conduct,” according to the Court.

The code outlines five canons that justices should abide by. According to the document released, justices should (1) “uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary,” (2) “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities,” (3) “perform the duties of office fairly, impartially and diligently,” they (4) “may engage in extrajudicial activities that are consistent with the obligations of the judicial office” and (5) should “refrain from political activity.”

Given the milieu of the Court, the multiple sections guiding financial and fiduciary activities are of particular note. Since the start of the year, public polling has shown falling approval of the Supreme Court amidst repeated controversies surrounding transparency and ethics, including multiple ProPublica reports detailing undisclosed gifts from Republican billionaire Harlan Crow to Thomas and his family, which have spurred calls for change and reform at the nation’s highest court.

However, immediately apparent is the lack of an enforcement mechanism in this new code of conduct. As Take Back the Court’s President Sarah Lipton-Lubet pointed out in a statement, there are “53 uses of the word ‘should’ and only 6 of the word ‘must,’” and emphasized that “the Court cannot police itself.”

Professor Leah Litman, who teaches constitutional law and federal courts at the University of Michigan, criticized the financial guidelines, which allow justices to fundraise for law-related nonprofits, calling it “a hall pass for the Federalist Society galas and Koch Network 501c3 and 501c4 [organizations] ”

At the beginning of the month, 66 organizations led by the Alliance for Justice called for Thomas to resign from the Court immediately, citing the justice’s “egregious” conduct that “undermines the ordinary citizen’s faith in the rule of law, further destabilizing our democracy.”

It remains to be seen if an enforcement mechanism will be rolled out.



Donald Trump’s lawyers were thwarted Thursday in their longshot bid to immediately end the New York civil fraud trial that threatens the former president’s real estate empire.

Judge Arthur Engoron didn’t rule on the request, but indicated the trial will go on as scheduled Monday with Donald Trump Jr. returning to the stand as the first defense witness.

Trump’s lawyers had asked Engoron to cut the trial short and issue a verdict clearing Trump, his company and top executives including Trump Jr. of wrongdoing.

They made the request halfway through the trial of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit, arguing the state had failed to prove its case. James alleges Trump and other defendants duped banks, insurers and others by inflating his wealth on financial statements.

Engoron said the defense’s arguments seeking what’s known as a directed verdict were “taken under advisement.” He did not address them further when he returned to court Thursday afternoon to rule on another matter.

In that ruling, Engoron gave Trump’s lawyers a victory, allowing them to call several expert witnesses in an attempt to refute testimony that Trump’s financial statements afforded him better loan terms, insurance premiums and were a factor in dealmaking.

The judge, who’s had a history of ruling against Trump, has signaled interest in seeing the trial through to its conclusion, asking defense lawyers for witness schedules and pegging closing arguments close to Christmas.



Former President Donald Trump vigorously defended his wealth and business on Monday, tangling from the witness stand with the judge overseeing his civil fraud trial and denouncing as a “political witch hunt” a lawsuit accusing him of dramatically inflating his net worth.

Trump’s long-awaited testimony about property valuations and financial statements was punctuated by personal jabs at a judge he said was biased against him and at the New York attorney general, whom he derided as a “political hack.” He proudly boasted of his real estate business — “I’m worth billions of dollars more than the financial statements” — and disputed claims that he had deceived banks and insurers.

“This is the opposite of fraud,” he declared. Referring to New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat whose office brought the lawsuit, he said, “The fraud is her.”

The testy exchanges, and frequent rebukes from the judge, underscored Trump’s unwillingness to adapt his famously freewheeling rhetorical style to a formal courtroom setting governed by rules of evidence and legal protocol. But while his presence on the stand was a vivid reminder of the legal troubles he faces as he vies to reclaim the White House in 2024, it also functioned as a campaign platform for the former president and leading Republican presidential candidate to raise anew to supporters his claims of political persecution at the hands of government lawyers and judges.

“People are sick and tired of what’s happening. I think it is a very sad say for America,” Trump told reporters outside the courtroom after roughly three-and-a-half hours on the stand.

Trump’s testimony got off to a contentious start Monday, with state Judge Arthur Engoron admonishing him to keep his answers concise and reminding him that “this is not a political rally.”

Turning to Trump’s attorney at one point, the judge said, “I beseech you to control him if you can. If you can’t, I will.” The civil trial is one of numerous legal proceedings Trump is confronting, including federal and state charges accusing him of crimes including illegally hoarding classified documents and scheming to overturn the 2020 presidential election. His legal and political strategies have now become completely intertwined as he hopscotches between campaign events and court hearings, a schedule that will only intensify once his criminal trials begin.

Though the fraud case doesn’t carry the prospect of prison as the criminal prosecutions do, its allegations of financial impropriety cut to the heart of the brand he spent decades crafting. The suggestion that Trump is worth less than he’s claimed has been interpreted by him as a cutting insult.



Donald Trump Jr. testified Wednesday that he never worked on his father’s financial statements, the documents now at the heart of the civil fraud trial that threatens former President Donald Trump’s real estate empire.

The ex-president’s eldest son is an executive vice president of the family’s Trump Organization and has been a trustee of a trust set up to hold its assets when his father was in the White House.

At least one of the annual financial statements bore language saying the trustees “are responsible” for the document. But Donald Trump Jr. said he didn’t recall ever working on any of the financial statements and had “no specific knowledge” of them.

The lawsuit centers on whether the former president and his business misled banks and insurers by inflating his net worth on the financial statements. He and other defendants, including sons Donald Jr. and Eric, deny wrongdoing.

Trump Jr. said he signed off on statements as a trustee, but had left the work to outside accountants and the company’s then-finance chief, Allen Weisselberg.

“As a trustee, I have an obligation to listen those who are expert — who have an expertise of these things,” he said.

“I wasn’t working on the document, but if they tell me that it’s accurate, based on their accounting assessment of all of the materials,” he said, “these people had an incredible intimate knowledge, and I relied on them.”

The first family member to testify, he is due to return to the stand Thursday. Next up will be his brother and fellow Trump Organization Executive Vice President Eric Trump and, on Monday, their father — the family patriarch, company founder, former president and 2024 Republican front-runner.

Daughter Ivanka, a former Trump Organization executive and White House adviser, is scheduled to take the stand Nov. 8. But her lawyers on Wednesday appealed Judge Arthur Engoron ‘s decision to require her testimony.

New York Attorney General Letitia James brought the lawsuit, alleging that Donald Trump, his company and top executives, including Eric and Donald Jr., conspired to exaggerate his wealth by billions of dollars on his financial statements. The documents were given to banks, insurers and others to secure loans and make deals.

The former president has called the case a “sham,” a “scam,” and “a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time.”



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