Nicole Lafond

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Nicole Lafond is TPM’s associate editor, based in New York. She has also worked as the special projects editor and as a senior newswriter for TPM. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously covered education in central Illinois.

Where Things Stand: Florida GOPer Takes DeSantis’ Agenda To An Even More Absurd Place
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Republicans in Florida’s GOP-dominated state legislature are using the next legislative session that starts March 7 to do their Republican governor’s 2024 bidding on a number of fronts.

State lawmakers plan to propose a bunch of bills that will not only further DeSantis’ ongoing “anti-woke” agenda, but also score him the kind of headlines he needs to continue pulling Trump supporters into his corner ahead of a 2024 campaign launch, which is expected to happen once the state legislature wraps up this new legislative session in May. DeSantis has remained rather coy about the timing of the whole thing, telling “Fox and Friends” last month that he’ll make up his mind about a bid after the session ends. It’s all pretty convenient.

The degree to which the legislature is beholden to DeSantis’ political objectives was apparent several times in the last year, as it passed bills that attack “wokeness” and diversity and voting rights and Florida’s LGBTQ community. The bills sparked outrage, and DeSantis made the kinds of national headlines he can use to cast himself as a suitably aggressive successor to Trump. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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Where Things Stand: The Only One Of DeSantis’ Stunt Voter Fraud Cases To Make It To Trial Ends In Probation
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While it’s been clear ever since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the creation of his political-stunt election-crimes task force almost a year ago that the entire endeavor was designed to curry favor with voters who are all-in on election denialism, we’ve been tracking what’s come out of each of the “voter fraud” cases rather closely.

Nearly every single one of the cases tried thus far have gone nowhere, adding to the rather solid hypothesis that the arrests and creation of the task force were all done in service of DeSantis and his 2024 bid — which he hasn’t yet announced.

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Where Things Stand: Ivanka And Jared Subpoenaed By Special Counsel
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Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law have been subpoenaed by special counsel Jack Smith to appear before a federal grand jury for testimony. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt have the latest here.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were reportedly both compelled to share testimony on Trump’s various schemes to stay in the White House after he lost the election to President Biden in 2020 and his role in siccing a mob of his supporters attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

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Where Things Stand: Of Course Alex Jones Is ‘Holding Firearms’ For Jan 6 Insurrectionists
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The Washington Post obtained a copy of a new bankruptcy filing that reveals some bizarre information about conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ personal finances, but this nugget takes the cake.

In the disclosures, which you can read in full here, Jones declared that he is “holding firearms” for some of the people who participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

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Where Things Stand: Trump Joins Rest Of GOP In Dropping His Beef With Mail-In Voting
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Shortly after the midterm elections, when Republicans barely seized a majority in the House and lost the Senate, GOPers started making noises about reversing course on the party’s years-long battle with mail-in voting. The about-face seemed specifically tied to Herschel Walker’s Senate defeat in Georgia, where just a year prior Republicans passed a handful of voting restrictions post-2020, one of which was focused on making it harder to vote by mail.

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Where Things Stand: DeSantis Is Using His GOP State Legislature To Fix Problems He’s Creating
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Alternate headline: Florida State GOPers Are Legislating DeSantis’ 2024 Bid Into Existence

As I was editing my colleague Kaila Philo’s piece here today on the College Board’s biting response to the DeSantis administration’s “PR stunt,” this bit struck me:

“They provided these AP courses for a long time, but you know, there are probably some other vendors who may be able to do that job as good or even a lot better,” the governor said at a news conference in Naples, Florida. He also said that he’s spoken with Florida House Speaker Paul Renner about potential legislation to “re-evaluate how Florida’s doing that.”

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Where Things Stand: Abbott Follows In DeSantis’ 2024 Messaging Wake
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It’s been clear for some time that Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is using his constituents as pawns and his gubernatorial powers as props to prep his national image for a 2024 bid.

While each of his various policy proposals and attacks on public education, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, the media, etc. have been projected as the hardline governor’s humble war on woke-ism in his state, he knows quite well how to appeal to the MAGA crowd. And he’s been using his tenure as governor to boost his national relevance ahead of what is shaping up to be a nasty GOP primary.

And Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is following his lead.

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Where Things Stand: Can’t Even Set Up Their Bogus Subcommittee Right
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I will preface this by saying that it appears the issue has been resolved BUT for at least a few of the last 24 hours, Democrats held a supermajority on the subcommittee that Jim Jordan created to, essentially, find out what dirt the DOJ has on him.

That’s a bit reductive but not untrue. Here’s what happened:

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Where Things Stand: More Signs That Bragg Is Going Somewhere With Hush Payments Case
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Late last year we reported on a few surprising developments in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s inquiry into Donald Trump — developments that signaled Bragg was breathing new life into his office’s criminal probe of Trump that, up until that point, appeared to have stalled out.

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Where Things Stand: One Attention Seeker Meets With Another Attention Seeker
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Would love to be a fly on the wall for this bro-fest.

The one attention-seeker who debased himself on the House floor for an entire week in order to get his new job wanted to show the other attention-seeker, who pretended to want to buy Twitter to own the libs and then actually had to buy it, his new office.

According to several reports from the Hill it seems that Elon Musk met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) today. McCarthy claims that the meeting was just a couple of old pals broing out on his birthday.

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