Welcome back to the week. This is where we run (not walk) through the news.
→ Congressional Republicans in chaos: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is out after Republican hard-liners sided with Democrats to oust him. Matt Gaetz led the charge, accusing McCarthy of being too soft for voting with Dems on the budget bill to avoid a government shutdown. Now, as The New Republic puts it: “Republicans Are So Mad They’re Airing All of Matt Gaetz’s Dirty Laundry.” (The laundry is that he was bragging about sex stuff to colleagues.) Is there a broader plan? Of course not.
→ The Haley bounce: Nikki Haley is rising! A New Hampshire poll this week shows her in second place, behind Trump and ahead of Ron DeSantis. She has defined herself with elevated and polite policy points alongside absolute brutal violence toward Vivek Ramaswamy. Clearly, that is what America wants.
→ One of 500 Trump trials begins: Meanwhile, former President Trump sat for the start of his civil fraud trial. This is the one where he’s accused of a crime that truly destroys democracy: overstating his net worth to get better loan terms. Trump-o would never do such a thing!
John Kelly, Trump’s onetime chief of staff, tore into him this week, confirming that Trump did indeed call POWs suckers: “A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all ‘suckers’ because ‘there is nothing in it for them.’ A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because ‘it doesn’t look good for me.’ . . . There is nothing more that can be said. God help us.” Between this and the self-beheadings, the Republicans may finally be appropriately panicked about their party.
→ Lawyer up: The trial of alleged crypto fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried also started this week. The SBF defense is going to be hard, given that all his customers’ money seems to have gone missing.
But SBF got a little help in the court of public opinion from walking nonfiction hit machine Michael Lewis. The author of Moneyball, The Big Short, and The Blind Side was shadowing SBF for a book before the whole operation went south. He had a front-row seat to the collapse and—if the early reviews and interviews are anything to go by—is much more sympathetic to SBF than you might have expected. The heroes of Lewis’s books zig when everyone else zags—which looks to be exactly what the author has done here. If someone wants to be really contrarian and come out in favor of SBF, please give it a shot in the comments.
Now the paywall. I’ve been told that some of you hit the paywall each week and think this thing ends, that my column is a paltry few hundred words. No. This is my marathon. This column hits dozens of items, spanning thousands of words. I’m not saying to subscribe. I’m just explaining myself.