If it’s WEDNESDAY… Fox News and Dominion settle for $787.5 million in defamation lawsuit… President Biden, in a speech from Maryland, contrasts his economic vision with the GOP’s at 2:30 pm ET… Donald Trump runs up the score in endorsement battle with Ron DeSantis… And Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., isn’t on the Trump train — at least not officially.
But FIRST... Fox News just became the latest example of individuals or organizations who have paid a real price for Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential contest.
All while the former president has escaped consequence — at least so far — and has only gotten stronger inside the Republican Party as the 2024 presidential contest picks up speed.
Scores of Republican candidates who denied or actively questioned the legitimacy of President Biden’s 2020 victory lost their contests for the House, Senate, governor and secretary of state in the 2022 midterms.
And now this: Fox News settled a defamation lawsuit — for $787.5 million — filed by a voting-machine company that claimed it was harmed by the proliferation of baseless lies that its machines rigged the 2020 election against Trump.
“This alone can’t do it, right? But this shows that there is accountability, that we showed that if you are caught lying, you will be held responsible,” Dominion Voting System’s lead attorney said, per NBC’s Jane Timm.
But accountability for the main person who communicated the mistruths about 2020?
Headline of the day
Data Download: The number of the day is ... 7
That’s how many House members from Florida have endorsed, or plan to endorse, former President Donald Trump’s campaign, despite GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ team urging members of the delegation to hold off on backing Trump as DeSantis weighs his own run for president.
NBC News’ Matt Dixon, Jonathan Allen and Henry J. Gomez report that DeSantis is not expected to announce a presidential run until May or June, and meanwhile Trump continues to rack up endorsements from DeSantis’ home state.
Four of those House endorsements — John Rutherford, Greg Steube, Cory Mills and Byron Donalds — came just this month. Trump’s other Florida backers include Matt Gaetz and Anna Paulina Luna. Florida Rep. Brian Mast also plans to endorse Trump, per a Mast aide, although he will formally announce his endorsement at a later time, Dixon, Allen and Gomez report. (MAGA Inc., a pro-Trump super PAC, said in a Tuesday press release that Mast has endorsed Trump, citing comments to CNN.)
DeSantis huddled with several GOP lawmakers during an event in D.C. Wednesday night, but it’s not clear how many he swayed to support his expected bid. Texas GOP Rep. Lance Gooden announced he was backing Trump despite having a “positive meeting” with DeSantis earlier.
Trump has more congressional endorsements than any current or potential GOP candidate, with at least 44 House members — nearly 20% of the conference — and nine senators backing his campaign. Three GOP House members — Florida’s Laurel Lee, Texas’ Chip Roy and Kentucky’s Thomas Massie — have endorsed DeSantis.
And only one member of Congress, South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman, has endorsed former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Other numbers you need to know today
$692,000: That’s how much Republicans in “toss up” House districts raised on average in the first quarter of 2023, compared to Democrats in “toss up” districts, who raised an average of $387,000 in the first three months of the year.
69%: The portion of Americans who hold negative views about the economy, according to a CNBC poll.
$580,000: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden’s gross income from 2022, according to their tax documents.
5.5 inches: The width between fence posts around the White House, through which a toddler slipped through onto White House grounds on Tuesday.
Less than 42%: The portion of Southwest flights that were taking off on time on Tuesday morning, as the airline suffered more delays due to tech issues.
20 years old: The age of a woman who was shot and killed in New York after her friends mistakenly pulled into the driveway of a man who later shot at them.
Eyes on 2024: Santos isn’t on the Trump train — not officially
Amid the endorsement hubbub, there’s one lawmaker who apparently hasn’t yet endorsed Trump, despite some signaling otherwise — New York Republican Rep. George Santos.
While Santos tweeted supportively about Trump’s chances of winning the 2024 presidential campaign (“Donald J. Trump will be the 47th POTUS”), his campaign tells NBC News that they don’t consider that an endorsement.
“The congressman has always been a supporter, but he’s not in the business of giving endorsements,” Santos’ campaign replied when asked by NBC News whether the tweet, or any other comments, mean the embattled congressman has endorsed Trump’s 2024 bid.
Santos is clearly a supporter — he briefly showed up to the pro-Trump protest earlier this month outside Trump’s arraignment, he regularly speaks fawningly of Trump, and he’s spoken about attending speeches at the Capitol preceding the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
But he’s not officially in Trump’s corner, per his campaign. That might make his road to re-election even lonelier — the congressman announced this week he’d run again, but had just $25,000 left in his campaign account at the end of March.
In other campaign news …
Asa’s pitch: NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard caught up with former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson as he campaigned in Iowa after launching his presidential run, where they discussed how Hutchinson plans to take on Trump, as well as his views on abortion, the role of government, and the war in Ukraine.
Sununu’s pitch: New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu has not jumped into the presidential race, but he’s sounding more like a candidate. During an appearance on CNN Tuesday, Sununu knocked Trump, saying he “got very little done” even when Republicans controlled Congress, adding, “I think I could do the job.”
DeSantis hits the road: DeSantis is making his first public trip to South Carolina Wednesday, crossing off another early primary state.
Behind the scenes: The New York Times profiles Susie Wiles, who used to lead DeSantis’ political operation but is now “perhaps the most significant voice inside Mr. Trump’s third presidential campaign.” (Who else knew she’s Pat Summerall’s daughter?)
Book report: Former Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney is releasing a memoir in November titled “Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning” as she weighs a run for president, per NBC’s Hillyard.
Vote for me, maybe?: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez visited New Hampshire on Monday as he weighs a run for president, giving out his personal cell phone number, per WMUR.
On the air: Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry placed his first TV ad buy of the governor’s race, reserving $98,000 on the airwaves, per AdImpact. Landry, who has been endorsed by the state Republican Party, is also the most well-funded candidate in the race, according to new campaign finance reports analyzed by the Associated Press.
Self-funding success: Politico reports on how former U.N. Ambassador turned Kentucky GOP gubernatorial hopeful Kelly Craft has transformed the primary race due to millions in self-funding.
Staffer saga: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has let go of a campaign staffer after Fox News reported that the staffer wrote on social media that Trump should be hanged.
He’s running: Former Biden aide Gabe Amo is running in the special election in Rhode Island’s 1st District.
Guess who’s back: Former GOP Rep. Marlin Stutzman is launching a run for his old House seat, now that GOP Rep Jim Banks is vacating the seat to run for Senate, per the AP.
ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world?
Adults over 65 are now eligible for a second updated Covid booster, the FDA announced Tuesday.
Senate Democrats are considering holding a hearing about Supreme Court ethics, after revelations in recent weeks about luxury gifts and vacations Justice Clarence Thomas has received during his time on the court.
An anti-abortion group is asking the Supreme Court to uphold a decision made by lower courts to restrict access the medication abortion pills.