Ariana Grande Marries Dalton Gomez in Montecito

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Photo courtesy of Vogue (Stefan Kohli)

By Terrance Turner

May 17, 2021 (Updated May 26)

Ariana Grande is married!

The singer wed her fiance, real estate agent Dalton Gomez, over the weekend in Montecito, California. The ceremony reportedly took place in the couple’s house. Like many other couples in this pandemic, the couple had a small, intimate ceremony.

“They got married,” Grande’s rep confirms to PEOPLE exclusively. “It was tiny and intimate — less than 20 people. The room was so happy and full of love. The couple and both families couldn’t be happier.” 

UPDATE (May 26, 2021): Vogue magazine has obtained exclusive pictures of the ceremony. Writer Alexandra Macon notes that Gomez wore a black Tom Ford suit. Designer Vera Wang made Grande’s dress — a custom, lily-white column gown with a sweetheart neckline and a plunging back. Pearl and diamond earrings by Lorraine Schwartz were chosen to compliment the gown; Grande wore one earring upside down. As Macon explains, “The meaning behind this is significant to Ariana, as it represents appreciating the lowest or the ‘upside down’ moments in her life and how they have contributed to where and who she is now.”

Ariana’s mother Joan Grande and father Edward Butera gave the bride away. They walked her down the aisle to meet Dalton, who wore a black Tom Ford suit. Dalton and Ariana said their vows in a room lit by candlelight; flowers were suspended from the ceiling.

Photo courtesy of Vogue.

Grande, 27, started dating Gomez, 25, in January 2020. Their relationship got serious while quarantining in New York City amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Gomez eventually headed back to Los Angeles for his real estate job, and Grande took a big leap by joining him on the West Coast. 

“It was getting tricky for them to see each other, so she decided to take her chance,” a source previously told PEOPLE. “She purchased a house in the Hollywood Hills in June and never looked back. They are incredibly happy.”

The duo went public with their relationship in May 2020 when they both appeared in Grande’s “Stuck With U” music video with Justin Bieber. Grande announced the news of their engagement in December. She unveiled her diamond-and-pearl engagement ring via Instagram (where she is the most followed woman) on December 20:

Photo from Buzzfeed.

According to his bio on the company’s website, Gomez serves as the sole buyers agent for the Aaron Kirman Group. He also served as Director of Operations for Aaron Kirman Group during his first three years with the company, running all day-to-day operations of the top luxury real estate team in LA. Grande, meanwhile, scored her fifth number-one album in November with Positions. According to Billboard, it’s her third number-one in just over two years, making her the fastest woman ever to achieve three No. 1 albums.

On March 14, Grande and Lady Gaga won the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Collaboration for their duet “Rain on Me.” It is the first all-female collaboration to win that award. In June 2020, “Rain on Me” became the first female musical collab to debut at number one on the Billboard charts.

Aaron Rodgers Returns To Green Bay Packers, Addresses Issues With Team (UPDATED)

Photo from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

By Terrance Turner

April 28, 2021 (Updated July 28)

This story depicts a fluid situation and will be frequently updated.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reportedly wants out of Green Bay.

NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported the bombshell development: “Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers is so disgruntled with the Green Bay Packers that he has told some within the organization that he does not want to return to the team, league and team sources told ESPN on Thursday.

The Packers are aware of his feelings, concerned about them and have had team president Mark Murphy, general manager Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur each fly out on separate trips to meet with Rodgers at various points this offseason, sources told ESPN.”

But the writing may already be on the proverbial wall. Former ESPN host Trey Wingo tweeted today that the two parties have been engaged in a “bleep show” for days. According to Wingo, Rodgers has already informed the team that he’s headed out the door:

Over the past week (and even before that), teams have been calling, ESPN says. “The San Francisco 49ers called the Packers on Wednesday night, a source told ESPN, and the Los Angeles Rams inquired about Rodgers in January before they traded for Matthew Stafford.The Packers quickly dismissed the Rams’ overtures, the source said.” (The 49ers part is especially interesting: Rodgers, who was born in California, had originally wanted to play for San Francisco when he began his career.)

But reporter Tom Pelissero put the brakes on these headlines, saying that there’s “zero” chance of the Packers trading Rodgers. While teams have inquired about Rodgers this offseason, no team has made a trade offer for the three-time MVP, a source told ESPN. The Packers have even offered to extend Rodgers’ contract, sources told ESPN. But veteran NFL reporter Ian Rapoport says that negotiations have broken down:

Why is Rodgers unhappy? Schefter says: “Rodgers is unhappy for a variety of reasons, with some of it dating to last year’s draft when the Packers didn’t inform him before trading up to draft a quarterback with their first-round pick. (The Packers selected Jordan Love.) Some took this as a sign that his days in Green Bay could be numbered.” But after Rodgers’ sensational performance in the 2020 season, today’s news comes as a shock.

No NFL player has ever been traded after winning the MVP award in the previous season. The only MVPs to not return to their team in the season after winning the award were Norm Van Brocklin (retired after winning in 1960) and Jim Brown (retired after winning in 1965), per ESPN. Rodgers won the NFL MVP Award in February, after a stellar season in which he threw 48 touchdowns.

During his acceptance speech, Rodgers casually mentioned that he’d gotten engaged. It was later revealed that his bride-to-be is actress Shailene Woodley, whom he’d been quietly dating for all of six months. The two visited Disney World in Florida weeks ago, while Rodgers was doing a guest hosting stint on the show “Jeopardy!” Rapoport adds:

UPDATE (May 1, 2021): Rodgers broke his silence today. In an off-camera conversation with Mike Tirico, Rodgers confirmed that he is discontented with the organization. The two spoke at the Kentucky Derby; Rodgers didn’t want to speak on camera. But Tirico relayed his sentiments via Twitter today, saying that Rodgers was “disappointed” about how the matter had become public.

UPDATE (MAY 6, 2021): When Adam Schefter “broke” the news about Aaron Rodgers wanting out of Green Bay — one week ago today — I went into a frenzy. I brought together data and alternate sources to form the bulk of my story, which was based partly on Schefter’s reporting. I quickly crafted this story (and took time away from packing for an upcoming trip) because I believed this to be a breaking story. It in fact was not.

Today, Schefter admitted that he had been sitting on the story for weeks, only releasing it on the day of the NFL Draft. In an interview with host Dan Patrick, Schefter conceded that he had written and released the story without new info. Schefter cited an interview Rodgers had given after the Packers lost the AFC Championship Game to the Buccaneers. That interview gave the impression that Rodgers had “unhappiness” or “uncertainty” about his future, Schefter said. Schefter eventually admitted that he had released the story with no new information. But that revelation came only after some direct questioning by Patrick.

“So you chose to release the news on Draft Day?” Patrick asked.

“That is absolutely accurate, yes,” Schefter replied.

“So it wasn’t something that you got information about…?” Patrick asked.

“No,” Schefter answered. “And it was nothing that morning that came in.”

Patrick noted that, according to Schefter, his information “didn’t come from Rodgers, didn’t come from the Packers, I was wondering: OK, you’re not gonna tell me your source–“

“Dan!” Schefter insisted. “There’s not a source.

Interesting. Schefter wrote in his article that “league and team sources told ESPN on Thursday.” But now he’s revealing that the story wasn’t based on anything that “came in” that Thursday morning. And that “there’s not a source”. Does that mean sources didn’t tell ESPN anything on Thursday? Or that there was no “source” at all? Because that would be a lie.

Schefter claimed that “it just happened to be draft day” when he released the story. Unclear how truthful that is. Updates will be made public as they become available.

UPDATE (MAY 26, 2021): While voluntary offseason workouts begin in Green Bay, Rodgers is in Hawaii with his fiancee. The two were photographed on vacation with Miles Teller and his wife Keleigh, who shared the photos on Instagram:

UPDATE (July 15, 2021): Last week, Rodgers took part in a round of golf with Tom Brady. While he was on a golf cart, broadcaster Brian Anderson (B.A.) asked Rodgers about his future with the Packers. Would he be QB in their game against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 17?

Yeah, I don’t know, BA. We’ll see,” Rodgers said.

Charles Barkley, supplying commentary from the Turner studios, pressed Rodgers. “Hey Aaron, we go way back. You can just tell me, I’ll keep it a secret. I promise I will not put it anywhere.”

Rodgers’ elegant non-answer referenced the annual American Century Championship celebrity tournament in Nevada. “Charles, I’ll tell you this week in Tahoe,” he said.

UPDATE (July 26, 2021): It appears that there may be progress on the Aaron Rodgers front. NFL Insider Ian Rapoport says that Rodgers has indicated to those close to him that he will return to Green Bay for the upcoming season:

UPDATE (3:28 PM): Rapoport is now saying that Rodgers and the Packers are now close to agreement on a reworked deal that would bring him back to Green Bay for this upcoming season.

Schefter is claiming that the deal includes a number of concessions:

Schefter is claiming that the deal involves some concessions:

  • The 2023 year in Rodgers’ contract — the last one in his current deal — would be voided, with no tags allowed in the future.
  • The Packers would agree to review Rodgers’ situation at the end of this season.
  • Rodgers’ contract would be adjusted with no loss of income to give the Packers more cap room now.
  • Mechanisms will be put in place to address Rodgers’ issues with the team.

UPDATE (July 28, 2021): Today, Rodgers reported to Packers training camp and practiced with the team. Then, in a surprisingly candid press conference, he opened up about his issues with the team. NFL reporter Tom Pelissero began the presser by asking directly: “What was all this about for you?”

“Well, that’s kind of a loaded question,” Rodgers answered. “I think it was a lot of things that transpired. This wasn’t a draft day thing. Started the conversation in February, after the season ended, and I just expressed my desire to be more involved in conversations that directly affected my job. Also, I wanted to help the organization maybe learn from some of the mistakes in the past — in my opinion — about the way some of the outgoing veterans were treated and just the fact that we didn’t retain a number of players that I feel were core players to our foundation, our locker room. High character guys.”

“I’m talking about Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson, Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, James Jones,” Rodgers said. “Guys who were exceptional players for us, great locker room guys. High character guys. Many of them who weren’t offered a contract at all or were extremely low-balled or were maybe, in my opinion, not given the respect on the way out that guys of their status and stature and high character deserve.

And then it kind of progressed from there into a commitment for the 2021 season, and beyond, that really wasn’t given at any time. So, for me, I had to assess the situation — not necessarily wanting to be a lame duck quarterback especially after an MVP season, as I think you can understand. And then the other part in February was wanting to be a part of conversations involving free agents which has never happened in my career.”

Fox Host Tucker Carlson Continues Sexist, Racist, Anti-Mask Comments

By Terrance Turner

March 12, 2021

On Monday, International Women’s Day, President Joe Biden introduced the nominees who would be the second and third women to ever lead combatant commands. He spoke about the measures the military is taking: updating grooming standards, like allowing short ponytails, to make the environment for all forces more inclusive. He also appointed two female service members — Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson of the Army — to become four-star generals.

At that event, Biden said the military was undertaking “relatively straightforward work” to better reflect gender diversity within its ranks and retain female recruits, including “designing body armor that fits women properly, tailoring combat uniforms for women, creating maternity flight suits [and] updating requirements for their hairstyles.” That includes the efforts of Senior Master Sgt. Genevieve, superintendent of the 13th Reconnaissance Squadron, 926th Wing. According to the Air Force Times, Genevieve, whose last name has been omitted due to security concerns related to her job and mission, helped make maternity flight uniforms more available for pregnant Airmen members.

Instead of celebrating this change, Fox News host Tucker Carlson chose to mock it. “So, we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits. Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the U.S. military,” he said. He added an anti-trans dig as he continued his monologue.

“While China’s military becomes more masculine as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military, as Joe Biden says, needs to become more feminine — whatever feminine means anymore since men and women no longer exist,” Carlson said. “The bottom line is it’s out of control and the Pentagon is going along with it. Again, this is a mockery of the U.S. military and its core mission, which is winning wars.”

Carlson’s sexist comments drew a flurry of negative attention. One notable example was Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who lost both of her legs during a deployment in Iraq. (She became the first member of Congress to give birth while in office in 2018.)

“F-ck Tucker Carlson. While he was practicing his two-step, America’s female warriors were hunting down Al Qaeda and proving the strength of America’s women,” Duckworth tweeted. “Happy Belated Women’s Appreciation Day to everyone but Tucker Carlson, who even I can dance better than.”

In one viral clip, U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Scott Stalker, the Senior Enlisted Leader of United States Space Command, said that Carlson’s opinion is “based off actually of zero days in the armed services.” He also called on the military to “get back to work” and said “let’s remember those opinions were made by an individual who has never served a day in his life.” 

Rep. Mikie Sherill, a former Navy pilot who is also a mom of four, also noted that Carlson’s comments aren’t informed by one second of military experience. She was joined by a number of other female military veterans:

Now, #CancelFox is trending amid blowback from Tucker Carlson’s comments, which he refuses to apologize for. (But then again, he also didn’t apologize for falsely claiming that Black people “didn’t build this country”. Or for defending Kyle Rittenhouse when he shot Kenosha protesters. Or for claiming that immigration “makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided.” Or for continuing to work for a network that helped spread the “big lie” that fueled January’s deadly Capitol riot.)

It is a sharp irony that the same right-wing commentators who thought Colin Kaepernick’s protests were “disrespectful” to the military stood by a president who called soldiers “losers” and “suckers” and moved a warship because John McCain’s name was on it. Or that they include and fund a man who clearly has nothing but contempt for female veterans.

Interesting.

UPDATE (April 9, 2021): Tucker Carlson is under new scrutiny after a week of inflammatory comments — this time regarding the Capitol riot and a bizarre “replacement” theory.

On Tuesday, Jan. 6, Carlson opened his show by marking three months since the deadly Capitol riot. But his comments obscured the truth of the event. “A mob of older peole from unfashionable zip codes somehow made it all the way to Washington, D.C.,” he said. “They wandered freely through the Capitol, like it was their building or something. They didn’t have guns, but a lot of them had extremely dangerous ideas. They talked about the Constitution, and something called ‘their rights’. Some of them made openly seditious claims. They insisted, for example, that the last election wasn’t entirely fair. The whole thing was terrifying, and then, as you’ve been told so very often, they committed unspeakable acts of violence.”

FACT CHECK: The rioters did have guns. According to NPR, “Federal prosecutors say that Christopher Michael Alberts of Maryland was arrested on Capitol grounds on the evening of Jan. 6 while carrying a Taurus G2c 9 mm handgun with one round in the chamber and a full 12-round magazine. He also allegedly had an extra magazine in his pocket and was carrying a gas mask, pocket knife and first-aid kit[…]

Lonnie Leroy Coffman of Alabama was also arrested that evening after law enforcement found two firearms on his person, as well as what a federal judge referred to as a “small armory” in his truck, which was parked near the Capitol. According to the court, the government found “a loaded handgun,” “a loaded rifle,” “a loaded shotgun,” “a crossbow with bolts,” “several machetes,” “a stun gun” and “11 mason jars containing a flammable liquid, with a hole punched in the top of each jar.”

Today, the Anti-Defamation League is calling for Carlson to go. In a letter to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott, the league blasted Carlson for comments he made last night in a segment on his show. The offending comments (this time) concerned immigration and voting rights.

“I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World. But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening actually. Let’s just say it: That’s true,” Carlson claimed.

Insisting that he wasn’t voicing the “replacement” theory that he is now accused of invoking, Carlson said that “this is a voting rights question. I have less political power because they’re importing a brand new electorate. Why should I sit back and take that? The power that I have as an American guaranteed at birth is one man, one vote, and they’re diluting it. No, they are not allowed to do that. Why are we putting up with this?”

The ADL called out Carlson in its letter to Scott: “Last night, in a segment on his program dealing with voting rights and allegations of voter disenfranchisement, Tucker Carlson disgustingly gave an impassioned defense of the white supremacist “great replacement theory,” the hateful notion that the white race is in danger of being “replaced” by a rising tide of non-whites.”

“In short, this is not legitimate political discourse. It is dangerous race-baiting, extreme rhetoric. And yet, unfortunately, it is the culmination of a pattern of increasingly divisive rhetoric used by Carlson over the past few years. His anti-immigrant rhetoric has embraced subtle appeals to racism […] Furthermore, Carlson has suggested that the very idea of white supremacy in the U.S. is a hoax, earning him plaudits from former Klansman David Duke and white supremacist Richard Spencer,” the ADL wrote.

“Make no mistake: this is dangerous stuff. The ‘great replacement theory’ is a classic white supremacist trope that undergirds the modern white supremacist movement in America,” the ADL said, charging that this same sentiment underpinned the deadly 2017 Charlottesville protest chants of “Jews will not replace us!” And the ADL highlighted a slew of other xenophobic and racially charged comments Carlson has made over the years.  

“Given his long record of race-baiting, we believe it is time for Carlson to go,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt says.

UPDATE (April 26): Carlson is at it again, this time focusing on masks. “Masks have always been incompatible with a free society,” he fumed. “We used to know that. Masks strip people of their identity as individuals, transform people from citizens into drones. They isolate us and alienate us to shut us off from one another, they prevent intimacy and human contact. If I can’t see your face, I can’t know you.”

“Not even Tony Fauci pretends that masks are medically necessary. Instead, masks are purely a sign of political obedience,” Carlson lied. “We wear them because we have to. The only people who voluntarily wear masks outside are zealots or neurotics.” He insisted that a number of liberal voters who wear masks outdoors have a verifiable mental condition.

He then went even further: “Your response to children wearing masks as they play should be no different than your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart. Call the police immediately. Contact Child Protective Services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you’re looking at is abuse — it’s child abuse, and you are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.”

Carlson’s words were roundly criticized on Twitter and beyond, and MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid eviscerated him on her MSNBC program tonight:

Inside Aaron Rodgers’ Shocking Engagement

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 23, 2021

Aaron Rodgers shocked the world on Feb. 6.

During his acceptance speech for the MVP award at the NFL Honors, Rodgers reflected on 2020 and casually dropped a bombshell: “I got engaged, and I played some of the best football of my career.” He later thanked his fiancée in his acknowledgements, though he did not name her.

Now, we know who the lucky lady is: Big Little Lies actress Shailene Woodley. She confirmed the news last night, during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. When Fallon asked her directly, Woodley answered affirmatively: “Yes. We are engaged.”

The world was shocked by the announcement of their betrothal — after a whirlwind six-month romance. But Woodley doesn’t get why everyone is so surprised. “But for us it’s not new news. So it’s kind of funny. Everybody right now is freaking out over it and we’re like, ‘Yeah, we’ve been engaged for awhile,’” said Woodley. (Maybe people are “freaking out” because of the breakneck escalation of their relationship? Rodgers broke up with racecar driver Danica Patrick in July but got engaged to Woodley by February.)

But if Woodley’s comments are any indication, this betrothal may have been official for some time: “Yeah, we got engaged awhile ago and it’s been … he’s, first off, a wonderful, incredible human being. But I never thought I’d be engaged to somebody who threw balls for a living. But I never thought as a little girl, ‘Yeah, when I grow up I’m going to marry someone who throws balls, yeah!’ But he’s really just so good at it,” she said. “He can throw fast balls, he can throw slow balls, high balls, low balls.” (Indeed: Rodgers had a 70.7% completion percentage in 2020, throwing 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions. So he throws balls very well indeed.)

Fallon then asked her if she’s spent much time in Green Bay and if she is a football fan. “I didn’t really grow up with sports, especially American sports. It was never really on my radar,” she explained. “When we met, also, I knew he was a football guy, but I didn’t know like what kind of a football guy he was. And I’m still constantly learning.”

Despite Rodgers’ legendary career — he took Green Bay to the NFC Championship this year and led Green Bay to a Super Bowl in 2010 — Woodley doesn’t know much about football. “I still have never been to a football game,” Woodley said. That includes this past season: because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Packers stadium was closed. And before she met Rodgers, she hadn’t even watched a game on TV. “Before I met him, I’d never seen one football game,” she said.

“When we met, I knew he was a football guy, but I didn’t know what kind of a football guy he was,” said Woodley. “I am still constantly learning. I don’t get it. He’s good. He’s great. But, like, I don’t understand. Because I don’t know him as the football guy! I know him as like, the nerd who wants to host Jeopardy! That’s the dude I know. He just happens to also be very good at sports.”

The engagement took many by surprise, but E! Online quoted a source who echoed Woodley’s nonchalance. “It’s a quick engagement, but for those that know them, it didn’t come as a surprise.” The source added:  “They had a very intense connection from the beginning. They both knew early on that it was something special and different from what they had experienced in other relationships.” The source also revealed: “They have spent the entire fall together and lived together throughout.”

The engagement is remarkable not just for its rapid pace but for the unusually private way that it unfolded. The two have yet to even be photographed together! Elle magazine described their relationship as “private and low-key” in an article earlier this month. Also remarkable: the sudden shift in Rodgers’ closely guarded personal life. Rodgers, who turned 37 last year, has never married and has no children. For viewers like me, who thought of him as a career-centered, eternal bachelor, the news comes as a shock.

Until now, Rodgers was something of a statistical anomaly. According to the 2015 American Community Survey, 72% of men will marry by age 37. And 76% of men are married by 40. According to a 2009 data brief by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The probability that men will marry by age 40 is 81%; for women, it is 86%.”

UPDATE (April 26): Rodgers recently finished a two-week stint as host of the show “Jeopardy!”, which he’s been a fan of since childhood. During the trip, Rodgers and Woodley visited Disney World in Florida, where they were photographed at the Grand Floridian Resort. While there, they took part in a brief interview. Asked “What is one thing that makes you smile?” the two instantly pointed at each other. Rodgers added: “You always make me smile.”

Rodgers’ first week at “Jeopardy!” led to a 14% spike in the Nielsen ratings. The figures were quoted by tvnewscheck.com: “In fact, Jeopardy, with Rodgers at the podium, rocketed 14% from the week before to a 5.6 live-plus-same-day national Nielsen rating, its best performance in a month.” Rodgers has expressed interest in the job. And he told host Pat McAfee that he thinks he can balance “Jeopardy!” and football.

“I don’t think I’d need to give up football to do it,” he said. “They film 46 days a year. I worked 187 this year in Green Bay. That gives me 178 days to do Jeopardy! So I feel like I could fit 46 into that 178 and make it work. It would be a dream job for sure, and I’m not shy at all about saying I want the job. That’s how I went into it. I want an opportunity to be in the mix.”

Sen. Ted Cruz Flies To Cancun As Texas Freezes (UPDATED)

Photo courtesy of Reuters.

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 18, 2021

On Monday, a historic winter storm blanketed the state of Texas. A mix of rain, snow and sleet fell on the ground in Texas as temperatures reached historic lows. By Tuesday morning, the temperature was 9 degrees, as opposed to the normal low of 47 degrees. Texas had 4.3 million power outages that morning — more than any other state, according to ABC 13. (By 12:15 pm Tuesday, 4.5 million Texans — 35% of state residents — had lost power, according to the New York Times.)

The extreme weather disrupted water service for more than 12 million residents, per MSN, forcing many of the more than 680 water systems in Texas to issue boil water notices. Pipes began to burst, flooding the homes of Texas residents. That further exacerbated the situation for Texans, already without wifi, lights or heating. Without power or heat, some Texans posted videos on social media of them burning old furniture to stay warm. Others shared images of flooding caused by burst pipes and collapsed ceilings.

The New York Times revealed that burst pipes even extended to a Dallas domestic violence center. “The power had been out for two days when the waterlogged ceiling caved in at the Family Place, a domestic violence shelter in Dallas, unleashing a freezing waterfall onto the 120 women and children seeking refuge there on Tuesday,” the Times reported. The clothes of vulnerable women and children were soaked, their important legal documents ruined.

“They lost basically everything,” said Shelbi Driver, a resident advocate at the shelter. The Times added that three other shelters in the area had to be evacuated due to burst pipes. Here in Houston, pipe-bursting cold was a problem for residents, too. I know this problem all too well.

On Tuesday morning, I noticed dripping water coming from a light fixture in my laundry room. The dripping rapidly intensified into a heavy downpour. Though I tried to absorb the water by placing laundry baskets under the leak, the leak became a deluge. Within minutes, the roof had collapsed, destroying the layers of sheet rock that used to be my roof.

My pipes burst. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

While water flooded the homes of Texas residents, the drinking water remained unsafe to drink or even cook with. According to the Associated Press, “Texas officials ordered 7 million people — one-quarter of the population of the nation’s second-largest state — to boil tap water before drinking the water, after days of record low temperatures that damaged infrastructure and froze pipes.”

While his city froze, Texas Senator Ted Cruz hopped on a flight to Cancun.

Sen. Cruz flew to Cancun, Mexico for a family vacation on Wednesday, as thousands of his constituents were literally freezing in their homes. Photos emerged of Cruz at Bush Intercontinental Airport (which canceled flights earlier this week, due to ice on the roads. The airport was also under a boil water notice, per ABC 13). Then cameras caught him on board a flight to Mexico. (The CDC has advised that individuals “should avoid all travel to Mexico” due to the coronavirus pandemic.)

Yet there Cruz was, on a flight to Mexico. His staff reached out to the Houston Police Department to confirm the senator’s arrival at the airport, according to HPD spokeswoman Jodi Silva. She said that the officers were present to “monitor” Cruz’s movements as he prepared to fly away. (By the time pictures of Cruz surfaced on Wednesday night, blackouts in Texas had affected 1.8 million customers Wednesday night, according to tracking website poweroutage.us. That number was down to just over 511,000 as of 11:28 a.m. local time, the site said.)

In Houston, more than 1 million people remained without power Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner said, adding that service would not be restored fully for another couple of days. The city has been under a boil water notice since Wednesday morning. It is not clear whether Cruz knew (or cared) about any of this when he jet-setted to Cancun.

As Microsoft News noted, “Mr. Cruz had been acutely aware of the possible crisis in advance. In a radio interview on Monday, he said the state could see 100 or more deaths this week. ‘So don’t risk it. Keep your family safe and just stay home and hug your kids,’ he said. More recently, in December, Mr. Cruz had attacked a Democrat, Mayor Stephen Adler of Austin, for taking a trip to Cabo while telling constituents to “stay home” during the pandemic.

“Hypocrites,” Mr. Cruz wrote on Twitter. “Complete and utter hypocrites.”

As one might expect, Cruz’s actions were met with opprobrium:

Sen. Cruz issued a statement in response to the reports, claiming that he took the trip per a request from his daughters. The statement reads, in part:

With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas. We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.

Sen. Ted Cruz

UPDATE (4:11 pm): Sen. Cruz has now returned to Houston. He was spotted in Bush IAH just minutes ago:

Meanwhile, part of Texas is still under a boil water notice. ABC reporter Steve Campion noted that it is not safe to drink, eat with or cook with the water at this point. The Houston Chronicle noted: “A boil water notice is still in effect for the city of Houston, which means that all water consumed by residents and pets should be boiled to kill potential bacteria. This includes water used for cooking, brushing your teeth, preparing baby formula, preparing food or given to pets for drinking. Even water used for hot beverages, like coffee made with a coffee maker, should be boiled beforehand. It’s also a good idea to throw away any ice that may have been contaminated.”

The Chronicle added: “Once boil water notices are lifted, flush home plumbing systems by running cold water through all faucets for at least five minutes. Residents should also flush out all appliances connected to the water line, such as refrigerators and dishwaters.” 

According to the New York Times, the boil water notices aren’t just limited to Houston. “About 13 million Texans remain under a boil-water advisory, and 797 water providers are reporting problems, Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said at a news briefing on Thursday.” The Times added that the state capital of Austin is also under a “boil water” notice.

Houston and Galveston remain under a “hard freeze” warning from midnight through 9 am on Friday. Lows are broadcast in the mid-20s for at least the next two days, KTRK says.

At least 25 deaths have been attributed to the storm. 11 of the victims were from Texas, according to CBS News. Widespread outages left over 3 million without power this week, although most had been restored. More than 500,000 residents were still without power as of Thursday afternoon. As the sun goes down and the struggles continue, Cruz tried to do damage control today with some inelegant spin.

“I certainly regret that this has become a distraction,” Cruz said today, about a distraction that he created. “I started having second thoughts almost the moment I sat down on the plane.” He stressed that “leaving when so many Texans were hurting didn’t feel right,” which prompted his return to Houston today.

In his statement issued earlier today, Cruz said his daughters wanted to take a trip; he said he and his wife flew to Cancun, dropped them off, and flew back to Texas. In an interview with KTRK, he admitted that he had, in fact, planned to stay through the weekend. Beyond that obvious contradiction lay a seamy report. Cruz said his intention wasn’t to abandon constituents: “My intention was to take care of my family,” he insisted. But that explanation rang especially hollow after some bombshell reporting by the Times.

“Text messages sent from Ms. Cruz to friends and Houston neighbors on Wednesday revealed a hastily planned trip. Their house was ‘FREEZING,’ as Ms. Cruz put it — and she proposed a getaway until Sunday,” wrote Times reporters Shane Goldmacher and Nicholas Fandos. “Ms. Cruz invited others to join them at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancún, where they had stayed ‘many times,’ noting the room price this week ($309 per night) and its good security. The text messages were provided to The New York Times and confirmed by a second person on the thread, who declined to be identified because of the private nature of the texts.”

Goldmacher appeared on CNN’s AC360 to detail the report further. He claimed that Mrs. Cruz’s texts did not mention their daughters’ wishes. “This is a multilayered issue for Ted Cruz,” Goldmacher said, noting the obvious issue with Cruz leaving in the middle of this crisis in Texas and the additional issue that we are still in a pandemic. He echoed Cooper’s sentiment about the CDC’s warning against travel to Mexico.

UPDATE (Feb, 19, 2021): There are now 22 confirmed deaths from the winter storm in Texas. One of them was a local Vietnam War vet with COPD. He relied on an electric oxygen tank to live. But the lack of electricity — then a water main break — led to Mr. Anderson going to his truck in search of power. He died from hypothermia. “He’s gonna be missed terribly,” sobbed his widow in an interview with KTRK.

UPDATE (Feb. 26): While President Joe Biden is heading to Houston to survey the damage, Ted Cruz is in Orlando, Florida, speaking at the CPAC conference. Cruz made light of his trip to Cancun before the crowd. “I gotta say, Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice,” Cruz quipped in his speech, titled “Bill of Rights, Liberty, and Cancel Culture.”

Cruz also criticized physicians who recommend mask-wearing: “This is just dumb,” Cruz said, downplaying the importance of wearing a mask to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “We’re gonna wear masks for the next 300 years. And by the way, not just one mask—two, three, four—you can’t have too many masks! How much virtue do you wanna signal?”

As if that weren’t enough, Cruz also took aim at Black Lives Matter, a favorite target of conservatives: “In Houston where I live, I have to tell you: there weren’t any rioters because let’s be very clear, if there had been, they would discover what the state of Texas thinks about the 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms.” Cruz appeared not to remember the 60,000 protesters who gathered in Houston (peacefully) to march for George Floyd.

He also conveniently forgot to mention that 93% of Black Lives Matter demonstrations were peaceful — yet Black people were still assailed as “violent thugs” on the right and met with tear gas and hand-to-hand combat by police officers. A report by the Armed Conflict Location and Data Project found that police “disproportionately used force while intervening in demonstrations associated with the BLM movement, relative to other types of demonstrations.” That seems not to matter to Cruz or Rand Paul or Jim Jordan — all of whom took special care to cast aspersions on Black Lives Matter during (and after) the impeachment trial.

J.J. Watt Leaving Texans

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 12, 2021

Defensive end J.J. Watt has asked for (and received) a release from the Houston Texans. Watt announced the news in a video posted to his Twitter account, explaining that he personally met with the McNair family to request a release from the team. “I have sat down with the McNair family, and I have asked them for my release, and we have mutually agreed to part ways.”

Watt reflected on his time in Houston, which was memorable on both professional and personal levels. “I can’t imagine my life without Texas in it,” he said. “The city of Houston’s been unbelievable to me; it’s where I met my wife. It’s where I’ve met lifelong friends, and my teammates. I’ve had incredible coaches and training staff, and equipment staff and cafeteria workers […] the connection is special, and I will never, ever take it for granted,” Watt said. “I just want you guys to now that I love you, I appreciate you, I appreciate the McNair family for drafting me and giving me my first opportunity in the NFL. Thank you, Houston. I love you.”

After ten tumultuous seasons, Watt’s time in Houston is over.

The release comes after a memorable career (so far). Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks, with 101. (Since 2011, only Broncos defender Von Miller has had more sacks, according to ESPN.. He won a Super Bowl with the Broncos in 2016). Watt is a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time Defensive Player of the Year. (Only Lawrence Taylor and Aaron Donald have achieved that.) He was also voted the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year, after raising over $37 million for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Watt’s time in Houston, though stellar, was marked by injuries — and in recent months by frustration with the franchise. After trading away its best receiver (DeAndre Hopkins), the Texans franchsie came under fire by pundits and fans. And after firing head coach Bill O’Brien (after a disastrous 1-4 start), the Texans lost. And lost. And lost some more.

Weeks ago, the Texans lost in a blowout: 36-7, to the Chicago Bears. That loss officially eliminated them from playoff contention. The week before, the Texans lost to the Indianapolis Colts. With less than 30 seconds left, Texans wide receiver Keke Coutee fumbled at the two-yard line. It was the second time this season the team has lost to Indianapolis after a goal-line fumble. The Texans lost to the Colts, 27-20.

Later, they lost again, to the Cincinnati Bengals. Quarterback Deshaun Watson had his shoulder grabbed by Bengal Sam Hubbard, causing a strip-sack with 1:28 left. Cincinnati sealed their historic road win with a field goal. Despite Watson’s three touchdowns, the Texans lost, 37-31. It was their fourth straight loss. They went 4-11.

Defensive end J.J. Watt was visibly frustrated after the loss. In a postgame press conference, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year delivered an angry, emotional rant peppered with curses. He expressed recognition of his privileged position and sympathy for Texans fans. But Watt also called out his teammates for a lack of professionalism.

“We’re professional athletes getting paid a whole lot of money,” Watt said. “If you can’t come in, put in work in the building, go out to the practice field, work hard, do your lifts and do what you’re supposed to do, you should not  be here. This is a job. We’re getting paid a whole lot of money. There are a whole lot of people that watch us and invest their time and money into buying our jerseys and buying a whole bunch of s–t. And they care about it; they care every single week. We’re in Week 16, and we’re 4-11, and there’s fans that watch this game, that show up to the stadium, that put in time and energy and effort and care about this. So if you can’t go out there and you can’t work out, you can’t show up on time, you can’t practice, you can’t want to go out there to win, you shouldn’t be here.

Because this is a privilege. It’s the greatest job in the world. You get to go out and play a game. If you can’t care enough, even when you’re in week 17 — even when you’re trash, when you’re 4-11 — if you can’t go out there and give it everything you have and try your hardest, that’s bulls–t,” he said. “There are people every week that still Tweet you, that still come up to you and say, ‘Hey, we’re still rooting for you, we’re still behind you.’ They have no reason whatsoever to. We stink. But they care, and they still want to win and they still want you to be great. That’s why. Those people aren’t getting paid. We’re being paid handsomely. That’s why. That’s who I feel the most bad for, are our fans, the people who care so deeply in this city, and love it and who truly want it to be great. And it’s not. And that sucks as a player, to know we’re not giving them what they deserve.”

UPDATE (March 2, 2021): J.J. Watt has signed a two-year, $31 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals. News of the signing broke yesterday, reported by outlets including ESPN and the NFL Network. This move reunites him with former teammate DeAndre Hopkins, who was a wide receiver for the Texans before a controversial trade last year. Today, in an introductory press conference, Watt was asked about Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who remains in a standoff with the team after informing them he no longer wants to play for them.

“”I love Deshaun. We speak often… He’s a special human being. The one thing I want for Deshaun Watson is for him to be happy,” Watt said. “He deserves it, and I want him to be happy. Whatever that looks like for him, that’s what I want for him.”

Trump Banned From Twitter; House Dems Prepare to Impeach Him (Again)

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 8, 2021

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, holds her weekly press conference at the US Capitol on January 7, 2021, in Washington, DC. Pelosi called for the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to be invoked, following the attack on the US Capitol. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

“In calling for this seditious act, the President has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people. I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the Vice President to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment. If the Vice President and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment.”

With these words, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made clear her intention to hold the President accountable for inciting a deadly, seditious riot on Wednesday afternoon. But Democratic Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California and Jamie Raskin of Maryland have already distributed a draft article of impeachment titled “Incitement of Insurrection,” according to NBC News. The article, which at present is singular, begins: “Resolved, that Donald John Trump, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Article I: “Incitement of Insurrection,” reminds the reader that the House of Representatives has the sole power to impeach a President, based on the rather nebulous “high crimes and misdemeanors”. It continues as follows: “In his conduct of the office of President to the United States — and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States,” they write, “Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, Trump addressed his supporters at a rally, ahead of a congressional vote that would cement the victory of his opponent. During that rally, he repeated a variety of false claims. “We won this election, and we won it by a landslide,” he lied. “They rigged it like they’ve never rigged an election before.” He encouraged the crowds to march on the Capitol in protest of what he insisted was a “stolen” election: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He spoke to the misplaced anger and victimhood the supporters felt, inflaming it further: “Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore […] You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

While Congress was meeting to certify Biden’s win as President-Elect,, the mob of Trump supporters showed their strength — by swarming the Capitol building and bursting inside. The House members credit Trump with emboldening the mob, writing that he “willfully made statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol.”

“Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol, injured law enforcement, menaced members of Congress and the Vice President [and] engaged in violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts,” the Article of Insurrection reads. Indeed, the mob stormed the steps, forced their way into the building, and even scuffled with law enforcement (on video!). They climbed the walls and broke glass windows. They trespassed into government offices and put their feet up on desks. They vandalized doors and even stole furniture. In the end, five people died in the melee yesterday, including a Capitol Police officer.

But far from being upset by the fracas, Trump seemed to relish it. A video has emerged of him and his family watching the carnage onscreen, with son Don, Jr. live-streaming the event; his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle is seen dancing to the ’80s hit “Gloria”. And CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins said the President was “enthusiastic” about it: “He did not come out outright and condemn it. Actually, they had to convince him to send in the National Guard. He was very resistant to that at the beginning. And I’m told by one person that he was borderline enthusiastic over watching people wearing his sweatshirts, waving his flags going up to Capitol Hill and derailing the certification process, which is what the president wanted,” she told Don Lemon.

One Republican senator backed up Collins’ account. “As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt in an interview. “That was happening. He was delighted.”

House Reps. Lieu, Raskin and Cicilline write that Trump’s actions were part of a pattern of behavior intended to subvert the election. “Those efforts include, but are not limited to, a phone call on Jan. 2, 2021, in which the President of the United States urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn the Georgia presidential election results and threatened Mr. Raffensperger if he failed to do so.” Now, a bombshell CNN report reveals that Trump made other calls to achieve his goal.

CNN says that while riots raged at the Capitol, Trump was calling senators in yet another attempt to overturn the election. Trump called Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) Wednesday afternoon, thinking he was calling Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama). “Trump first called the personal cell phone of Lee, a Utah Republican, shortly after 2 p.m. ET. At that time the senators had been evacuated from the Senate floor and were in a temporary holding room, as a pro-Trump mob began breaching the Capitol. Lee picked up the phone and Trump identified himself, and it became clear he was looking for Tuberville and had been given the wrong number. Lee, keeping the President on hold, went to find his colleague and handed Tuberville his phone, telling him the President was on the line and had been trying to reach him.”

Tuberville spoke with Trump for less than 10 minutes, CNN says. Trump tried to convince him to object further to the Electoral College vote, in a futile effort to block Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win, according to a source familiar with the call. The call was cut off because senators were asked to move to a secure location.

In the wake of this seditious activity, social media platforms are taking action. After temporarily suspending him, Twitter announced today that it is banning Donald Trump from posting on the platform. “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said. “In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action.” The ban does not apply, however, to the @POTUS account.

But it’s the latest in a series of blows to Trump on social media. After Trump recorded a video urging protesters to go home — saying, “We love you. You are very special” — Facebook and YouTube took down the video, with Facebook also banning Trump from posting for 24 hours. Snapchat and Instagram locked Trump’s account.

UPDATE: Trump has begun tweeting from the @POTUS account, insisting that “We will not be SILENCED!!!” He added that he would “also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future.” Twitter has taken the tweets down.

UPDATE (Jan. 11, 2021): The representatives have introduced an updated version of the impeachment resolution. The language is largely reminiscent of the earlier draft. As in the previous version, this version alleges that Trump’s incitement of the riot is part of a pattern of behavior: “President Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, 2021, followed his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election. Those prior efforts included a phone call on Jan. 2, 2021, during which President Trump urged the secretary of state of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, to ‘find’ enough votes to overturn the Georgia Presidential election results and threatened Secretary Raffensperger if he failed to do so.”

UPDATE (Jan. 12, 2021): A bombshell new report from the New York Times alleges that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is actually pleased with House Democrats’ impeachment of President Trump. “Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking. The House is voting on Wednesday to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country,” the Times reports.

At the same time, House Minority Leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California), has asked other Republicans whether he should call on Mr. Trump to resign after the riot at the Capitol last week, according to three Republican officials briefed on the conversations. Despite being one of Trump’s most steadfast allies in Congress, McCarthy is considering joining fellow Republicans like Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger in requesting the President’s resignation. While Mr. McCarthy has said he is personally opposed to impeachment, he and other party leaders have decided not to formally lobby Republicans to vote “no,” the Times added. An aide to Mr. McCarthy said he was open to a measure censuring Mr. Trump for his conduct.

And one House Republican says he will even vote for impeachment. According to syracuse.com, U.S. Rep. John Katko said today he will vote to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting a riot last week at the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Katko is the first House Republican to acknowledge that he will join at least 218 House Democrats who signed onto an impeachment resolution. “To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said in a statement. 

BREAKING: Republican Rep. Liz Cheney (of Wyoming) says that she will vote to impeach the President. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President,” Cheney said in a statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

JUST IN (7:11 pm): In a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Mike Pence says he will not invoke the 25th Amendment to have Trump removed from office: “Every American was shocked and saddened by the attack on our Nation’s Capitol last week, and I am grateful for the leadership that you and other congressional leaders provided in reconvening Congress to complete the people’s business on the very same day,” Pence writes. “But now, with just eight days left in the President’s term, you and the Democratic Caucus are demanding that the Cabinet and I invoke the 25th Amendment.”

“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence declares. “I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation.” Pence argues that invoking the 25th now would “set a terrible precedent”. He concludes:

“I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment. Work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.”

This move sets up a showdown in Congress, as the House is set to vote on impeachment tomorrow. Today, Rep. Adam Kinzinger joined fellow Republicans Liz Cheney and John Katko in saying that he would vote for impeachment. They join over 100 House Republicans who have pledged to do the same.

Tonight, in a statement on her website, Speaker Nancy Pelosi named Impeachment Managers. “Tonight, I have the solemn privilege of naming the Managers of the impeachment trial of Donald Trump,” said Speaker Pelosi.  “It is their constitutional and patriotic duty to present the case for the President’s impeachment and removal.  They will do so guided by their great love of country, determination to protect our democracy and loyalty to our oath to the Constitution.  Our Managers will honor their duty to defend democracy For The People with great solemnity, prayerfulness and urgency.”

The Impeachment Managers include:

Congressman Jamie Raskin, Lead Manager: Congressman Jamie Raskin is a member of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, where he serves as Chair of Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and on the Judiciary Committee, where he serves as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution. Before his time in Congress, Raskin was a three-term State Senator in Maryland and a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law for more than 25 years.

Congressman David Cicilline: Congressman Cicilline is a member of the Judiciary Committee. He also serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee.  He is serving his sixth term in Congress.  Early in his career, Cicilline served as a public defender in D.C. He served two terms as Mayor of Providence and four terms in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

Congressman Ted Lieu: Congressman Lieu serves on the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Foreign Affairs.  He is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force who served as a prosecutor in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and currently serves as a Colonel in the Reserves.  He is serving his fourth term in Congress.

Congressman Joaquin Castro: Congressman Castro serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and on the Foreign Affairs Committee, where he is also Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.  He is serving his fifth term in Congress.  Prior to his election to Congress, he served five terms in the Texas Legislature and served as a litigator in private practice.

Congressman Eric Swalwell: Congressman Swalwell serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and on the Judiciary Committee.  He is a former prosecutor and is the son and brother of law enforcement officers.  He is serving his fifth term in Congress.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette: Congresswoman DeGette serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee as Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.  She is serving her 13th term in office. Before serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, DeGette was an attorney focusing on civil rights.

UPDATE: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will transmit the article of impeachment on Monday. The House still plans to deliver its impeachment charge at 7 p.m. Monday evening, per the New York Times, and senators will be sworn in for the trial the following day. But the trial will not begin for some time.

Newly installed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the chamber will pause until the week of Feb. 8 to give the prosecution and defense time to draft and exchange written legal briefs. “During that period, the Senate will continue to do other business for the American people, such as cabinet nominations and the COVID-19 relief bill, which would provide relief for millions of Americans who are suffering during this pandemic,” Mr. Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.

Please watch this space for any continuing updates.

Cardi B Files for Divorce from Offset, Then Reconciles With Him

By Terrance Turner

Sept. 16, 2020 (updated Nov. 24)

Rapper Cardi B has filed for divorce.

Cardi (born Belcalis Almanzar) filed papers today in Fulton County Court to dissolve her three-year marriage to Offset (born Kiari Kembrell Cephus), per People magazine. People reported that the filing came after yet another incident of infidelity by Offset. USA Today adds that Cardi is seeking full custody of the couple’s two-hear old daughter Kulture. She is also asking Offset to pay both legal fees and child support.

A court date is set for Nov. 4. According to People, Cardi’s divorce filing says the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and that “there are no prospects of a reconciliation”. The pair have reconciled before — just last year, in fact — but this latest break appears permanent. The sudden breakup caps a dramatic roller-coaster ride of a relationship.

Things started with a bang: Cardi and Offset’s first date was at the Super Bowl (in Houston!) on Feb. 6, 2017. At that game, the Patriots ended up defeating the Atlanta Falcons in rather memorable fashion (Offset is from Atlanta). Offset later said that making the Super Bowl their first date was a “power move”.

It appears to have worked. The two enjoyed a whirlwind six-month romance before secretly marrying on Sept. 20, 2017. It was far from a traditional ceremony: the wedding took place in a bedroom. Cardi later revealed: “I said I do, with no dress, no makeup, and no ring!”

She got the ring. A month later, on Oct. 27, Offset got down on one knee and proposed during a Power 99 concert in Philadelphia. (with an engagement ring that cost $500,000, according to Elite Daily.) Cardi happily accepted. “I can’t wait to spend FOREVAAA with you,” Cardi wrote on social media. “I loveee you so much […] Thank you for seeing the potential in me,” she wrote on Instagram.

But by December, it became clear that trouble was already brewing. That month, Offset became embroiled in a cheating scandal. Newsweek reported that “video surfaced online of him engaging in a sex act with another woman.” The publication added that although the record date of the video was unclear, “it was reportedly recorded while Cardi and Offset were technically together.” Cardi referenced the fracas onstage at a show, fittingly quoting Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”. Cardi told the crowd: “I let him know though. You try this s–t again, you gon’ lose your wife.” Nevertheless, they remained together.

In April 2018, Cardi confirmed that she was pregnant. It wasn’t until June, however, that the public learned she and Offset were already married. By that point, Cardi was almost ready to deliver; she gave birth to daughter Kulture on July 10, 2018. Nine days later, she tweeted that Kulture was melting her heart:

But by August, more trouble had begun. That month, Cardi was involved in an altercation at Angels Strip Club in Flushing, New York on August 29. She reportedly ordered an attack on two bartenders there, believing one of them had an affair with Offset. A police spokesman told CNN that Cardi B was “throwing chairs, bottles and hookahs [smoking pipes] in the club at 3 a.m.” In October, Cardi turned herself in to the authorities. She was arrested, fingerprinted, and charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of assault, per People. No verdict has been issued yet as of press time.

In December 2018, Cardi shocked fans with a video announcement. “I’ve been trying to work things out with my baby father for a hot minute now, and we’re really good friends — and, you know, we’re really good business partners, [and] we got a lot of love for each other, but…things just haven’t been working out between us for a long time,” she said in an Instagram video. “It’s nobody fault — and I guess we just grew out of love — but we’re not together anymore. I don’t know; it might take time to get a divorce, [but] I’m always gonna have a lot of love for him, because he is my daughter’s father,” she said.

Offset begged Cardi to take him back. In December, he apologized (via Instagram, of course): “I want to apologize to you Cardi. I embarrassed you. I made you go crazy, doing things I ain’t have no business,” he said. “I was partaking in activity that I shouldn’t have been partaking in, and I apologize […] For breaking your heart, for breaking our promise, for breaking God’s promise and being a selfish, messed-up husband.”

He even showed up during her set at the Rolling Loud music festival that month. Offset crashed his wife’s performance onstage, bringing her an elaborate flower arrangement and signs that said “TAKE ME BACK CARDI”. Cardi shook her head no and confronted him off-mic before having the display removed. She told Harper’s Bazaar that Offset asked her to see a marriage counselor; she refused. “I didn’t want to go to marriage counseling. He suggested it, but it’s like, ‘I don’t want to go.’ There’s no counselor or nothing that could make me change my mind.”

By the beginning of the year, however, things had begun to improve. In early 2019, Cardi told an Entertainment Tonight reporter, “We’re working it out…taking it slow.” On Feb. 10, Offset accompanied Cardi on the red carpet at the Grammys. In fact, Cardi even brought him onstage with her after her surprise win for Best Rap Album. (She is the first solo female rapper to win that award, per Elle.) Shocked and emotional, Cardi thanked both her husband and daughter during her acceptance speech.

Cardi later opened up to Vogue about her decision to stay. “Everybody has issues,” Cardi said. “I believe in forgiveness. I prayed on it. Me and my husband, we prayed on it. We had priests come to us. And we just came to an understanding like: Bro, it’s really us against the world. He has my back for everything, I have his back for everything, so when you cheat, you’re betraying the person that has your back the most,” she continued. “Why would you do that? We have come to a clear understanding. For me, monogamy is the only way. I’ll beat your ass if you cheat on me.”

In the September issue of Elle — evidently conducted before the divorce filing — Cardi said:  “I do know that my relationship has a lot of drama and everything. But there’s a lot of love there’s a lot of passion, there’s a lot of trust, there’s a big friendship. It’s always us against the world.” She also revealed that she will address the relationship on her upcoming sophomore album.

UPDATE (Nov. 24): The divorce is off.

In an Instagram Live last month, Cardi addressed reports that the two were back together. “It’s hard not to talk to your best friend,” Cardi said. “It’s really hard not to talk to your best friend. And it’s really hard to have no d–k,” she told viewers.

Just days earlier, Cardi was photographed kissing Offset at her birthday celebration in Las Vegas. On Nov. 2, Offset’s attorney confirmed the reconciliation in a statement to Billboard. “I can confirm that the divorce filed by Cardi B has been dismissed. My firm and I have always been an advocate for helping fathers protect what’s most important to them — their families and their children,” said Atlanta attorney Onyema Anene Farrey, of Anene Farrey & Associates, LLC. “That was no different here. We remain in Offset’s corner and in support of him and his future. He thanks his fans for their continued love and support.”

Kim Kardashian West Files for Divorce

Featured

By Terrance Turner

July 23, 2020 (Updated Jan. 5, 2021; Feb. 19, 2021)

Photo from Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

Kim Kardashian West has filed for divorce from husband Kanye West, according to her spokeswoman Christy Welder. Mrs. West, 40, and Mr. West, 43, have four children: North, Saint, Chicago and Psalm. (The children range in age from seven years to 21 months.) Mrs. West’s filing comes after months of reports and speculation about marital troubles. It also ends a nearly seven-year marriage. The couple wed in May 2014.

This split was a long time coming. Last month, multiple sources told Page Six that “divorce is imminent” for the couple, as Kardashian hired divorce attorney Laura Wasser. “They are keeping it low-key but they are done,” says a source. “Kim has hired Laura Wasser and they are in settlement talks.” People magazine quotes a source who says Kanye West is aware of the looming decision: “He knows that she’s done. She has had enough, and she told him that she wants some space to figure out her future,” the source tells People, adding that West, 43, is bracing for a filing but doesn’t know when it will take place.

NBC News adds a more nuanced view, quoting a source that says the two have been in counseling. “They have been going to therapy. They are working on their marriage,” the source said. They are “100% aligned when it comes to the kids,” per the source. The couple is dealing with “regular relationship issues,” and there is “no one else involved.”

“Divorce has been discussed off and on,” the source said, but Kardashian West has not filed for divorce. “They are working through it … (and) trying to work through things.”

Kim, 40, hasn’t been seen wearing her wedding ring, and Kanye, 43, remained at his $14 million Wyoming ranch over the holidays instead of spending it with the Kardashian family, who drew criticism for their extravagant celebrations. While Mr. West has remained in Wyoming over the past few months, Mrs. West has stayed in Los Angeles, along with the couple’s four children. People magazine article last month described the pair as “living separate lives”.

The writing has been on the wall for months now. I wrote about this imminent split in July of last year. The original content is below:

After breaking down at a campaign rally on Sunday, West said he and his wife had considered abortion when expecting their daughter North. “I almost killed my daughter!” he sobbed, breaking down in tears before revealing that he and his wife had considered terminating the pregnancy. The revelation made headlines and reportedly caught Mrs. West off guard. But between late Monday night and Tuesday morning, West upped the ante with some explosive tweets.

“Kim was trying to fly out to Wyoming with a doctor to get me locked up like in the movie Get Out,” the rapper tweeted late Monday, before claiming that the movie is actually about him. “Kim tried to bring a doctor to lock me up with a doctor,” he tweeted. (Mrs. West has been consulting with doctors and has been trying to get Kanye help “for weeks”, per People.)

Late Tuesday night, he went even further: “I’ve been trying to get divorced since Kim met with Meek at the Waldorff [sic] for ‘prison reform’.” He praised Meek — “Meek was respectful. That’s my dog” — but claimed, “Kim was out of line”. She was out of line, he said — a day after he told the world that he and his wife had considered aborting their firstborn child. (Editor’s note: Kim K and Meek Mill met publicly at a restaurant in November 2018. They were joined by philanthropist Clara Wu Tsai, according to Complex. Mrs. West left the restaurant immediately after the meeting.)

The tweets are the latest in a string of provocative (and sometimes nonsensical) comments Mr. West has made in recent days. They include a suggestion on Sunday that every woman who has a baby should be awarded $1 million. Among the statements are some baldly untrue claims. “Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves,” West claimed on Sunday night. (She freed hundreds.) West also claimed that rapper Lil’ Baby was his favorite rapper, but he “won’t do a song with me”. Lil’ Baby responded by saying he had never heard of such a thing.

Today, Kim addressed the issue(s) head-on in a series of posts on Instagram Stories. “As many of you know, Kanye has bi-polar disorder,” she wrote. “I’ve never spoken publicly about this because I am very protective of our children and Kanye’s right to privacy when it comes to his health. But today, I feel like I should comment on it because of the stigma and misconceptions about mental health.”

“Those who understand mental illness or even compulsive behavior know that the family is powerless unless the member is a minor,” she continued. “People who are unaware or far removed from this experience can be judgmental and not understand that the individual[s] themselves have to engage in the process of getting help, no matter how hard family and friends try.”

“I understand Kanye is subject to criticism because he is a public figure,” she wrote, adding that West can be polarizing. But she also painted a nuanced, loving picture of a man in pain: “He is a brilliant but complicated person who, on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, [also] experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that [are] heightened by his bi-polar disorder.”

“I kindly ask that the media and public give us the compassion and empathy that is needed so that we can get through this,” she added. 

The Wests have been married since May 2014 and have four children: North, 7, Saint, 4, Chicago, 2, and Psalm, 14 months. But it appears that their six-year marriage is in serious trouble. Two sources contributed to People magazine’s stunning report today about the state of their marriage. One source said that the two have been mulling a split “for several weeks”, even before West’s outburst on Sunday. A second source added: “There has been enough communication, both in the past few days and in the weeks prior, to establish that both sides feel the marriage is over.”

UPDATE: People reported last week that the pair are doing well, quoting a source who said Kim is quietly supporting her husband: “She just wants to get through the next few months peacefully. She is kind of standing back while Kanye does whatever makes him happy.”

While Mrs. West is freezing her Facebook & Instagram acccounts in protest of Facebook’s practices, her husband is tweeting up a storm. Within an hour, Mr. West posted a video of himself urinating on a Grammy, tweeted out pages of his record contract, AND posted the phone number of a Forbes magazine editor whom he calls a “white supremacist”. (Where was all this energy when his friend Donald Trump was defending white supremacists and Nazis as “very fine people”?)

The Forbes post violated Twitter’s private information policy, which carries a first-time penalty of having to remove the tweet and having the user temporarily unable to tweet.