Trump Ally Offers Grotesque Defense for Sexual Abuse Accusation – The New Republic

A chronicle of Donald Trump's Crimes or Allegations

Trump Ally Offers Grotesque Defense for Sexual Abuse Accusation – The New Republic

A lawyer working for a megachurch pastor, whom Donald Trump once lauded as a “spiritual adviser,” has accused a 12-year-old girl of initiating “inappropriate” sexual conduct with his client.
Last month, Robert Morris, who until recently led the Gateway Church in Dallas, was publicly accused of sexual assault by Cindy Clemishire. Clemishire claimed that the pastor began abusing her when she was only 12, starting in 1982 and continuing for five years. At the time, Morris was a traveling evangelist and a friend of her family’s.
Twenty-five years later, Clemishire realized that what had happened to her was a crime and hired attorney Gentner Drummond to sue Morris for $50,000, according to NBC.
In January 2007, Drummond wrote a letter to Morris’s attorney, J. Shelby Sharpe, that contained a draft lawsuit, explaining that the pastor had convinced Clemishire that “they were having a special relationship that had to remain secret” and that she was “responsible for what he did to her.”
In a response letter from February 2007, obtained by NBC Tuesday, Sharpe defended the pastor by repeating Morris’s claim that Clemishire was responsible for what had happened.
“It was your client who initiated inappropriate behavior by coming into my client’s bedroom and getting in bed with him, which my client should not have allowed to happen,” Sharpe wrote.
Sharpe also claimed Clemishire “acted inappropriately with two other men” who stayed at her home during the same time period. Clemishire has denied that accusation and said that she was also sexually assaulted by those two men. In one instance, Morris had allegedly instructed her to go into the bedroom of one of the men.
Morris offered Clemishire $25,000 if she would sign a nondisclosure agreement. When she refused, the talks fell apart, and she walked away with nothing.
When contacted by NBC, Sharpe denied knowing that Clemishire was a child, although her age was clearly stated in the letter from Drummond, who is now Oklahoma’s attorney general. When the reporter offered to send Sharpe a copy of the email from Drummond, he said he didn’t have time to read it and declined to provide his email address.
Drummond confirmed Clemishire’s description of the 2007 negotiations but did not give a comment.
Since the allegations were made public, Morris has resigned from leading the megachurch, which Trump visited in 2020. The former president had also named the pastor to his spiritual advisory board.
The far-right House Freedom Caucus may be teetering on the brink of collapse.

Politico reports that the group is divided after a vote to expel Representative Warren Davidson, who was removed from the caucus by a 16–13 vote Monday night. The move was not taken well by the congressman’s supporters, as it took place when some of them were not present and may have violated its bylaws. Some members, such as Representative Troy Nehls, said they would leave the group as a result.

“I’m sure we’ll have some,” Representative Ralph Norman said about more members resigning from the group. “We’ve got a lot of issues to address.”
The move was pushed by allies of caucus chair Representative Bob Good after Davidson endorsed his opponent in the primaries, John McGuire. Good’s move, coming after he lost the Virginia Republican primary to McGuire, seems to have exposed a fault line within the group.

Usually, members of the Freedom Caucus are tight-lipped, but the Davidson decision has caused members to complain publicly and privately, according to Politico. According to caucus bylaws, members fall out of good standing only if they don’t pay their dues or attend meetings. Davidson hadn’t had any issues with either requirement, but Good’s allies were upset about the endorsement and retaliated against him. With Good on the verge of losing his House seat barring a recount in his primary race, the caucus could soon have a leadership crisis, with some members angling to push him out early.
The crises seem to be compounding for the caucus, which has been divided at least since some of its members took part in the effort to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last year. The group was also conflicted over whether to support removing Speaker Mike Johnson earlier this year.
Last year, the caucus kicked out Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the first time they had ever removed a member. In that case, the reason given was that Greene’s feud with fellow caucus member Lauren Boebert had gone too far. Looking back, though, that event might have signaled bigger divisions on the horizon that may now seal its fate.

Florida Representative Byron Donalds has found a broad cast of critics in his race to become Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick—but one name in particular stands out from the crowd: his ex-wife Bisa Hall, who believes that his far-right bid is “super dangerous.”
In an interview with the Florida Trident, Hall described her former husband as an “opportunistic” person and as someone unafraid to create elaborate lies in order to achieve his end goals, such as pretending to be from Jamaica in order to score a date with her during their freshman year at Florida A&M University.
“He was trying to fill a void and get what he didn’t have,” Hall told the publication.
According to Hall, Donalds wasn’t politically active whatsoever during their eight-year on-again, off-again relationship—except when he registered to vote as a Democrat in Tallahassee.
Hall also contested Donalds’s account of his run-ins with the law. According to the congressman, he was arrested in 1998 for possession of marijuana, and then the following year for bank fraud. He served no jail time for either offense, and the second charge was expunged, meaning no details of the case are publicly available.
But according to Hall, Donalds was arrested the first time for marijuana possession with intent to distribute, and the second time for stealing while working at his campus bookstore.
Hall was reportedly reluctant to go on the record about her time with Donalds but became willing to make a statement after she saw her former partner grandstanding for Trump, a politician that she believes is, fundamentally, a “bad person.” Trump has, after all, bragged about sexually assaulting women and was found by a jury to have raped E. Jean Carroll; fueled and refused to stop the January 6 insurrection; and faced 91 criminal charges after his presidency ended for supplying hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, stealing droves of classified documents and national security secrets from the National Archives, and for his efforts related to attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in his favor.
“To see [Trump and Donalds] in collusion together, it was like, ‘If [Donalds] were a good human, would this very bad person be pushing him as a poster child?’” Hall asked the Trident rhetorically. “They’re both very opportunistic. You trot him out there and it makes some people feel better about Trump. I think what he’s doing is super dangerous and I think morally he and I have no crossover at all.”
After a failed campaign buoyed by the Never Trump movement, Nikki Haley’s pathetic caving to Donald Trump stooped to a final, new low on Tuesday: Politico reported Haley will be releasing her 97 delegates and telling them to back Trump at the Republican National Convention next week. Adding salt to the wound, Haley was allegedly not invited to attend the RNC, according to Politico.
Haley spokesperson Chaney Denton told Politico that Haley won’t be attending the RNC next week because she wasn’t invited, “and she’s fine with that,” Denton said. “Trump deserves the convention he wants. She’s made it clear she’s voting for him and wishes him the best.”
“The nominating convention is a time for Republican unity,” Haley will announce in a statement, according to Politico. “Joe Biden is not competent to serve a second term, and Kamala Harris would be a disaster for America. We need a president who will hold our enemies to account, secure our border, cut our debt, and get our economy back on track. I encourage my delegates to support Donald Trump next week in Milwaukee.”
Haley built a campaign as a moderate conservative alternative to Trump’s extreme agenda, and was boosted by Republicans disinterested in a second Trump term. After grim primary results, Haley ultimately suspended her campaign in March, the last Trump contender to do so. However, her lifeless campaign continued eating into Trump’s lead through the remainder of the primaries. Haley’s zombie campaign picked up 6.4 percent of Republican voters in Kentucky’s primary in May and an eye-popping 21 percent in Indiana’s primary, and pulled 8.6 percent away from Trump in New Mexico’s June primary—three months after she suspended it. In May, Haley stated she would be voting for Trump in November but stopped short of explicitly directing voters to support the man she once described as “totally unhinged,” whose presidency would be “suicide for our country.”
Trump raised racist birther conspiracies about Haley while she was running for president, alleging that she couldn’t be president because her parents were not U.S. citizens when she was born, and mocking her legal first name, Nimrata. Trump also called her a “birdbrain” in September 2023, saying she “doesn’t have the TALENT or TEMPERAMENT to do the job.” Haley interpreted Trump’s remarks as a compliment, a sign that her campaign was gaining momentum, responding, “Love this. It means we are in 2nd and moving up fast.” After she suspended her campaign, Trump suggested Haley may have a place on his team, calling her a “capable person” and noting “we have a lot of the same ideas, the same thoughts.”

Ahead of a private House Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday, a smaller group of Democratic lawmakers from swing districts met to discuss President Joe Biden’s candidacy—and were apparently more than a little depressed.
“There were actual tears from people, and not for Biden,” one anonymous lawmaker told Axios, who explained that the group of lawmakers was “pretty much unanimous” that Biden has “got to step down.”
Biden has repeatedly insisted that he will not drop out of the presidential race, despite criticism from his party. While only six lawmakers have outright asked him to drop out, it seems the dissatisfaction has spread throughout the party.
Another lawmaker simply called the meeting “intense,” according to Axios.
Democrats at the morning’s main meeting seemed far less in agreement about what the president ought to do, but the vibe was reportedly also disconsolate and frustrating. One lawmaker said it “felt like a funeral,” while another said that notion was “an insult to funerals.”
Speaker Mike Johnson doesn’t like where the contempt resolution against Attorney General Merrick Garland is going, and is trying to get the MAGA representative behind the effort, Anna Paulina Luna, to back down.

Johnson reportedly told Luna in the Republican conference Tuesday to back off of introducing a resolution this week, but she’s refusing.
Earlier, Luna told the conference that she would introduce the contempt resolution on the House floor Wednesday, with an amendment that it wouldn’t be to arrest Garland but to fire him. Johnson said he is also concerned about the attorney general, but the House’s lawsuit to enforce the congressional subpoena against Garland is enough, sources told Politico’s Olivia Beavers.

Last month, the House voted along party lines, with only one Republican against, to hold Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over audio of a privileged interview between President Biden and special counsel Robert Hur about the classified documents found in his former office. Despite an obvious double standard, Johnson claimed last month that Garland’s refusal to answer a congressional subpoena is not comparable to the House Republicans who ignored subpoenas from the House January 6 committee, saying, “There couldn’t be a more clear contrast.”

It’s clear that Republican attempts to target Garland are a politicized attempt to take revenge against the Justice Department for pursuing criminal cases against Donald Trump. The convicted felon and his GOP allies, like the now-imprisoned Steve Bannon, have made no secret of their desire to enact retribution against Trump’s enemies. Trump was reportedly upset at a lack of action on his behalf from Republicans after his conviction.
With Trump now effectively above the law after the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling, he will be able to target whoever he wants if he wins in November. His team is already creating an enemies list of federal employees, and Trump himself has already suggested throwing his political opponents in jail. He has an army of right-wing lawyers waiting in the wings as soon as he enters the Oval Office.

Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Ron Wyden are asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to assign a special prosecutor to investigate complaints of potential ethics and tax law violations against conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The Democratic senators sent a letter to the Justice Department last week demanding action and detailing various gifts Thomas received from Republican billionaires that Thomas failed to disclose until after they were made public by ProPublica and other news outlets.
“The scale of the potential ethics violations by Justice Thomas, and the willful pattern of disregard for ethics laws, exceeds the conduct of other government officials investigated by the Department of Justice for similar violations,” the letter, dated July 3, reads. “The breadth of the omissions uncovered to date, and the serious possibility of additional tax fraud and false statement violations by Justice Thomas and his associates, warrant the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate this misconduct.”
Whitehouse is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, while Wyden is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Their letter argues that Thomas’s pattern of failing to disclose luxurious gifts from conservative billionaires is a violation of the Ethics in Government Act and raises concerns that neither Thomas nor his billionaire benefactors are in compliance with federal tax-reporting requirements.
The letter points to an investigation led by the Senate Finance Committee and Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts into a loan given to Thomas by Anthony Welters to purchase a luxury motor coach. According to Whitehouse and Wyden’s letter, Thomas never repaid the principal on that loan and only paid interest until collections on the loan stopped in 2008. Welters told The New York Times in August 2023 that “the loan was satisfied” without detailing whether that meant it was paid in full or forgiven.
“The evidence assembled thus far plainly suggests that Justice Thomas has committed numerous willful violations of federal ethics and false-statement laws and raises significant questions about whether he and his wealthy benefactors have complied with their federal tax obligations,” the letter continues.
A ProPublica investigation in April 2023 revealed Thomas received luxury vacations from billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow, which had not been disclosed by Thomas in accordance with mandatory financial disclosure rules. Soon after ProPublica’s April reveal, Thomas submitted amended disclosure forms to include the gifts from Crow exposed by ProPublica. In August 2023, ProPublica revealed even more undisclosed gifts—at least 38 vacations and 26 private jet flights given to Thomas from an array of right-wing billionaires—which ProPublica described as “certainly an undercount.” In September 2023, Thomas submitted more disclosure forms to acknowledge some gifts he received in 2022, which he used to explain failing to disclose gifts he received in previous years. According to NPR, the use of the 2022 form to justify previous lapses in disclosure suggested Thomas wouldn’t be retroactively submitting disclosures for the past 20 years of luxurious treatment from his billionaire friends. Last month, Thomas acknowledged that he should have reported luxury vacations, travel, and hotel stays paid for by Crow.
“Appointment of a Special Counsel would serve the public interest. The public must have confidence that the judiciary and the Department of Justice execute their responsibilities fairly, impartially, and without respect to political expedience or partisan interests,” Whitehouse and Wyden wrote in their letter requesting an investigation into Thomas’s lavish gifts, which they estimate to be “potentially worth millions of dollars.”
The request follows similar promises by congressional Democrats ahead of the Fourth of July holiday break to hit back at the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently stated her intention to file unspecified articles of impeachment following the Supreme Court’s ruling that vastly expanded Trump’s presidential immunity.
Donald Trump is expected to take a hatchet to any potential “mini-trials” shooting off of the effectively dead D.C. trial, using the legal system to block any potential ramifications from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The sudden move to suppress any potentially damaging efforts would be the final nail in the coffin for special counsel Jack Smith’s case against the former president, after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trump’s presidential immunity argument last week.
That decision opened the door for U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to hold evidentiary hearings to determine which acts in the indictment can survive the high court’s new legal parameters for the case.
But those expanded powers could challenge a sizable portion of the witness pool, according to The Guardian, which noted that if Smith attempted to call former Vice President Mike Pence or White House officials to testify during the hearings, Trump’s legal team could potentially claim executive privilege and shut it down. That would radically limit the scope of who could challenge the former president—and what they might be allowed to say.
A Trump campaign spokesman declined to comment on the potential legal strategy to The Guardian, but in a statement commented that “the entire January 6th case has always been just a desperate, un-constitutional attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their weaponized Department of Justice to interfere with the 2024 Presidential Election. The only thing imploding faster than the Biden campaign is Deranged Jack Smith’s partisan hoaxes.”
Smith’s case has already been kneecapped by the Supreme Court ruling. The case hinges on the allegation that Trump knew he had lost the election but still tried to subvert the results, as proven by conversations he had with Pence and his lawyers. But the court ruled that those conversations could be considered official acts and are therefore inadmissible as evidence.
One of Donald Trump’s appointed judges is stepping down after lying about engaging in an inappropriate relationship, as well as creating a hostile work environment.

U.S. District Judge Joshua M. Kindred was asked to resign by the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit in Alaska over misconduct allegations that he had an “inappropriately sexualized relationship” with a law clerk, even after she became an assistant U.S. attorney in the state.
“We conclude that Judge Kindred’s misconduct was pervasive and abusive, constituted sexual harassment, and fostered a hostile work environment that took a personal and professional toll on multiple clerks,” the council wrote, citing an incident in October 2022 where Kindred kissed the U.S. attorney and groped her after asking her out for drinks. The council made its recommendation after interviewing clerks and judicial employees and reviewing hundreds of pages of text messages.

Kindred was also accused of “putting his hands on me” by the law clerk, and he urged her to join him at an associate’s apartment and then performed oral sex on her, the council’s report stated. The allegations get worse from there. The judge is alleged to have lied to investigators when questioned about his actions, despite speaking openly about his “romantic preferences,” his sex life, the sex lives of his clerks, and numerous other inappropriate subjects in a professional environment.

Kindred was appointed by Trump at age 41 despite a low rating from the Alaska Bar Association, and was confirmed by the Senate 54–41 in a party line vote in 2020. After he abruptly submitted his resignation letter to President Biden last week, observers wondered why a young federal judge with a lifetime appointment would resign after only four years. It quickly became clear on Monday after the Judicial Council released its report.

Biden now has another judicial vacancy to fill, the second one in Alaska’s Ninth Circuit. He started his administration appointing and confirming judges on a faster pace than Trump and has continued that pace this year. However, Trump still had the more consequential appointments, placing three conservative justices on the Supreme Court who may have just saved him from legal prosecution. With Biden facing a Democratic Party divided on whether he should be on the ballot for a second term, he might help himself by pointing out his ability to get new federal judges who aren’t in the mold of Trump.

Ex–Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis is part of a chorus of conservative Christian Republicans who are not happy with the GOP, after it abandoned its push for a federal ban on abortion in favor of Donald Trump’s pitch to toss the decision back to the states.

The new platform, which will be voted on at the upcoming Republican National Convention next week, also takes a more moderate position on same-sex marriage. While the Trump campaign’s senior advisers have insisted that the new policies are “concise and digestible,” they’re proving to be unpopular among some of the party’s more religious members.

Ex–Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis was among those who were left disappointed by the new policy, and Ellis took to X (formerly Twitter) to share her furious reaction across several tweets.

“The RNC is trading Lila Rose for Amber Rose. Pro-life for pro-abortion. Live Action for Slut Walk. That’s a reflection of Trumpworld over God’s truth,” she wrote, referring to Amber Rose organizing a 2015 SlutWalk protest in Los Angeles to raise public awareness of gender inequality. Rose is reportedly scheduled to speak at the upcoming Republican National Convention. “Christians and conservatives should not support this,” Ellis added.
Ellis, who pleaded guilty to charges that she attempted to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, was recently barred from practicing law in the state of Colorado for three years. Ellis struck a plea deal with Fulton County prosecutors in October and testified that while Trump knew he lost in 2020, he was adamant on staying in the White House.

The ex–Trump lawyer’s name popped up in a new court filing last week, as another former Trump staffer shared text messages where Ellis allegedly claimed that Trump’s 2016 campaign paid to bury complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination.

While Ellis was already decidedly off the Trump train, her RNC complaints seem to be spreading across Trump’s Christian conservative base.
Chad Connelly, the former chair of the South Carolina GOP, expressed disappointment felt by his Christian constituents. “It is fair to say that over 1,000 pastors have emailed, texted and called me about their disappointment over where they saw the platform going,” he said, according to NBC, claiming that he’d been kept out of the platform committee after being “labeled ‘too pro-life.’”
Connelly is also the president and founder of Faith Wins, a supposedly nonpartisan group that mobilizes faith leaders to “leverage” their influence in government and politics. In the past, Connelly used his religious ties to round up voters for Trump, and now it seems he’s beginning to defect.

“The words I am hearing are shocked, betrayed, trampled, depressed, deflated,” Connelly said. “Most pastors I know don’t want Biden and will still probably vote for Trump, but this hurts the energy needed for those folks to do the things it takes to help elect a president.”
Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action, also released a statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the voting committee’s voting procedure and a staunch rejection of the platform’s more moderate abortion stance.

“The right to life transcends other political debates and the interests of any and all political parties and candidates,” he wrote. The FRCA, which Perkins runs, is the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council, a Southern Poverty Law Center–designated hate group that is included on the advisory board of Project 2025. Perkins said that members of the platform committee hadn’t been given the opportunity to draft and amend the platform.

Perkins and Connelly are staunch Trump allies and were among several signatories of a letter from religious advocacy groups criticizing the FBI’s investigation into the former president’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. Perkins’s statement was shared by Ellis, as well as Walker Wildmon, the vice president of the American Family Association, another rabidly anti-gay SPLC-designated hate group.

It’s worth noting that in 2020 the Republican Party did not release a new platform, amid rumors that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was hoping to change the platform drafting process and shorten the final product down to a “single card that fits in people’s pockets.” At the time, Trump requested a “short form” platform from the party, which ultimately opted to reuse its 2016 policy slate. Kushner’s plan also reportedly involved shirking incendiary language and policies that catered to far-right activists, pulling Republican policy closer to the center right, likely to widen the platform’s appeal.
It’s not likely that Trump would altogether abandon the conservative Christian base that he’s been courting for years, but it appears that he may have been making moves to knock them out of the party’s decision-making process, starting as far back as 2020.

In any case, they seem more than a little unnerved, and Trump may have to scramble to stay in their good graces.

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