Donald Trump October 2023-

Written by  //  May 20, 2024  //  Justice & Law, Politics, U.S.  //  No comments

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Donald Trump -The big picture (Axios)

Four Opinion Writers on Trump’s Indictment and ‘the Borderlands of Illegality
(NYT) …the broad contours are what we thought. There were 34 felony counts that all tied to falsifying business records. So basically bookkeeping fraud. Now, the problem is, in order for those to be charged as felonies rather than misdemeanors, they have to be in service of another crime.
And this is where things get complicated. It looks like one of the possibilities is that they’re gonna try and tie it to election violations of federal and state election law, and also possibly, maybe, falsifying state tax statements.
So it’s not a straightforward case. It’s not a slam dunk. It is extremely complicated. (5 April 2023)
Keeping Track of the Trump Investigations
(NYT) State and federal prosecutors are pursuing multiple investigations into Donald J. Trump’s business and political activities, with the cases expected to play out over the coming months. Here is a guide to the major criminal cases involving the former president. (1 August Update)
The Atlantic, January/February 2024 Issue: If Trump Wins
A Warning – America survived the first Trump term, though not without sustaining serious damage. A second term, if there is one, will be much worse.
By Jeffrey Goldberg
It is not a sure thing that Trump will win the Republican nomination again, but as I write this, he’s the prohibitive front-runner.
Which is why we felt it necessary to share with our readers our collective understanding of what could take place in a second Trump term. I encourage you to read all of the articles in this special issue carefully (though perhaps not in one sitting, for reasons of mental hygiene). Our team of brilliant writers makes a convincingly dispositive case that both Trump and Trumpism pose an existential threat to America and to the ideas that animate it.
The staff of The Atlantic on the threat a second term poses to American democracy.
For The Atlantic’s January/February 2024 issue, 24 contributors consider what Donald Trump could do if he were to return to the White House. Trump’s second term, they conclude, would be much worse.
Contributors include:
David Frum on autocracy
Anne Applebaum on NATO
McKay Coppins on the loyalists
Caitlin Dickerson on immigration
Barton Gellman on the Justice Department
Sophie Gilbert on misogyny
Zoë Schlanger on climate
George Packer on journalism
Sarah Zhang on science
Franklin Foer on corruption
Michael Schuman on China
Adam Serwer on the courts

Heather Cox Richardson May 20, 2024
There is a curious dynamic at work in politics these days. Trump does not appear to be trying to court voters to his standard. If he were, he would be reaching out to Nikki Haley voters and trying to moderate his stances. Instead, he is rejecting her voters and doubling down on extreme positions. Rather than trying to appeal to swing voters, he seems to be trying to whip up his right-wing base to engage in violence on his behalf. …
It is not clear to me how anyone can any longer deny that Trump is promising to destroy our democracy and usher in authoritarianism.
But it is also not clear that he is still a figure that any but the extremes of his base will follow to that end. Hence his emphasis on turning them to violence.

12 May
The Trump Trials: Waiting for Cohen
The most anticipated witness in the Trump hush money trial — Michael Cohen — is expected to take the stand on Monday
(WaPo) We are closely following that ongoing criminal trial in Manhattan where we have seen a record-falsification case against Donald Trump yield salacious testimony about sex, the sleazy tabloid world and the paranormal, and keeping an eye on the three other Trump criminal cases that have no set trial dates and are not expected to get them anytime soon.
Michael Cohen Was Paid to Fix Trump’s Problems. Now He’s One of Them.
Mr. Cohen once called himself Donald J. Trump’s “designated thug.” Will he help bring about the ex-president’s downfall?

9 May
What Trump promised oil CEOs as he asked them to steer $1 billion to his campaign
Donald Trump has pledged to scrap President Biden’s policies on electric vehicles and wind energy, as well as other initiatives opposed by the fossil fuel industry.
(WaPo) As Donald Trump sat with some of the country’s top oil executives at his Mar-a-Lago Club last month, one executive complained about how they continued to face burdensome environmental regulations despite spending $400 million to lobby the Biden administration in the last year
Trump’s response stunned several of the executives in the room overlooking the ocean: You all are wealthy enough, he said, that you should raise $1 billion to return me to the White House. At the dinner, he vowed to immediately reverse dozens of President Biden’s environmental rules and policies and stop new ones from being enacted, according to people with knowledge of the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private conversation.

3 May
Hope Hicks tells hush-money jury of Trump’s control over 2016 campaign
Ex-president’s former communications director says Access Hollywood tape ‘was a crisis’ for his campaign
Trump faces counts for allegedly falsifying business records, by describing repayments to Cohen as legal expenses on his company’s documents. Prosecutors contended that Trump, Cohen and Pecker hatched their catch-and-kill scheme during that summer 2015 meeting at Trump Tower.

Heather Cox Richardson April 30, 2024
This morning, Time magazine published a cover story by Eric Cortellessa How Far Trump Would Go about what Trump is planning for a second term. Based on two interviews with Trump and conversations with more than a dozen of his closest advisors, the story lays out Trump’s conviction that he was “too nice” in his first term and that he would not make such a mistake again.
Cortellessa writes that Trump intends to establish “an imperial presidency that would reshape America and its role in the world.”
He plans to use the military to round up, put in camps, and deport more than 11 million people. He is willing to permit Republican-dominated states to monitor pregnancies and prosecute people who violate abortion bans. He will shape the laws by refusing to release funds appropriated by Congress (as he did in 2019 to try to get Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to smear Hunter Biden). He would like to bring the Department of Justice under his own control, pardoning those convicted of attacking the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and ending the U.S. system of an independent judiciary. In a second Trump presidency, the U.S. might not come to the aid of a European or Asian ally that Trump thinks isn’t paying enough for its own defense. Trump would, Cortelessa wrote, “gut the U.S. civil service, deploy the National Guard to American cities as he sees fit, close the White House pandemic-preparedness office, and staff his Administration with acolytes who back his false assertion that the 2020 election was stolen.”

25-26 April
The Trump trial takes a turn
(Politico Nightly) The prosecution in the Trump trial got what they wanted from former American Media CEO David Pecker this week — a concession that the hush money payments he made on behalf of Trump were done in order to help Donald Trump’s campaign for president.
Legal observers have likened this trial, largely about falsifying business records, to getting Al Capone on tax evasion. But the events of the week revealed that it’s suddenly more important than originally thought — it’s the only case that will conclude before the presidential election. If the pressure wasn’t ratcheted all the way up before, it certainly is now.

25 March
The Cases Against Trump: A Guide
(The Atlantic) Fraud. Hush money. Election subversion. Mar-a-Lago documents. One place to keep track of the presidential candidate’s legal troubles.
By David A. Graham

Supreme Court seems skeptical of Trump’s claim of absolute immunity but decision’s timing is unclear
(AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday appeared likely to reject former President Donald Trump’s claim of absolute immunity from prosecution over election interference….

24 April
Meadows, Giuliani and other Trump allies charged in Arizona 2020 election probe
An Arizona grand jury on Wednesday indicted seven attorneys or aides affiliated with Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign as well as 11 Arizona Republicans on felony charges related to their alleged efforts to subvert Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, according to an announcement by the state attorney general.

23-24 April
Has Trump’s family abandoned him? I’m answering your questions.
By Jennifer Rubin
…Never seen a criminal defendant with not a single family member in the courtroom.
…Mary Trump said a few days ago “They’d be there if it were in their self-interest. That’s how my family rolls.”
Trump was going to dominate the courtroom. Instead, he is shrinking.
By Jennifer Rubin
Rather than dominate the proceedings or leverage his court appearance to appear in control and demonstrate no court could corral him, Trump day by day has become smaller, more decrepit and, frankly, somewhat pathetic.
The judge is in control, not Trump. New York Justice Juan Merchan last week lectured the former president about intimidating an excused witness. Merchan barked at Trump for “audibly” commenting and “gesticulating” toward a dismissed juror. “I won’t tolerate it. I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom,” Merchan said. “I want to make that crystal clear.”
Trump whines that the judge makes him show up every day — even on days his son is graduating from high school or the Supreme Court is hearing his immunity appeal. He is incensed that someone else controls his calendar. It must be a rude awakening to him that in a criminal trial the judge runs the proceedings, not the defendant.
23 April
Ex-publisher details ‘catch and kill’ at Trump’s hush money trial
(WaPo) Donald Trump’s trial on allegations of business fraud related to hush money payments featured former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, who was back on the stand Tuesday to detail how he offered to deploy the publication’s “catch and kill” strategy to intercept negative stories about the former president.
Since before the trial’s April 15 start, Trump has posted on social media or reposted items about his former lawyer Michael Cohen and adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, two key witnesses, as well as about Merchan’s adult daughter, who has professional ties to Democratic politicians.
Merchan has ruled two times in a year that there was no need for him to step down from the cases and that his daughter’s job did not amount to a conflict of interest. Trump’s side has insisted that Merchan recuse himself, and Trump, since the gag order was imposed, has continued reposting conservative media pieces involving the judge’s daughter. The judge scheduled the Tuesday hearing after prosecutors requested that Trump be found in contempt for at least 10 alleged instances of violating a gag order.
Trump had been ordered not to publicly criticize jurors, court staff, witnesses, prosecutors or the family members of the judge or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

19 April
Politico Nightly refers to it as The Manhattan Project
The first week of former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial has concluded and a full jury has been chosen — twelve jurors and six alternates.
At the end of this first week, Politico authors ask -on our behalf-
How much do we really know about the Trump jury? and answer their question with broad brushstrokes, respecting the stringent requirements to protect the identity of all jury  members
(Politico) What we’ve learned after a week filled almost entirely with the process of jury selection is that the jurors appear to represent a reasonable cross section of the kind of people you generally find in Manhattan.
There’s a salesperson from West Harlem, an engineer from the Upper West Side, a businessman from Murray Hill, two lawyers, two people who work in education and two people who work in finance. That’s in addition to a health care worker, a product manager, and a tech worker. Many of them get their news from their hometown paper, The New York Times. Three are married without kids (who can afford them in New York these days)? And many of them come from elsewhere: Ohio, Oregon, California, even Ireland.
Beginning next week, they’ll put to the test Trump’s contention that he can’t get a fair trial in liberal Manhattan
Trump is making it extremely difficult as he alienates just about everyone:
… Every single day this week, Trump has suggested the trial is rigged, the judge has conflicts of interest, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is corrupt and more. He hasn’t provided evidence to back up any of these claims, but that’s not the point. The posts are there to dismiss the trial as unserious and signal to his supporters that he’s being tried solely as a political tactic. While Trump’s legal team will be forced to win in court, Trump is fighting a bigger political war on the trial.
Trump spent the day listening to strangers insult him. And he couldn’t say a single thing back.
The former president now has a 12-person jury — and prosecutors renewed their bid to hold him in contempt.

17 April
And on the third day, Trump rested. Why the hush money trial goes dark on Wednesdays.
The former president gets a midweek respite from the courtroom.
Trump’s first criminal trial, which began Monday in Manhattan criminal court, typically won’t take place on Wednesdays for the duration of the proceedings, which are expected to last around six weeks.
Justice Juan Merchan, the judge presiding over the trial, uses Wednesdays to attend to the business of other cases he is handling, and said he won’t hold proceedings those days unless there are “excessive delays” in the Trump case.
Judges often set aside one day of the week during trials to work on other matters.

26 March-1 April
The Church of Trump: How He’s Infusing Christianity Into His Movement
By Michael C. Bender
(NYT) Ending many of his rallies with a churchlike ritual and casting his prosecutions as persecution, the former president is demanding — and receiving — new levels of devotion from Republicans.
Long known for his improvised and volatile stage performances, former President Donald J. Trump now tends to finish his rallies on a solemn note.
Soft, reflective music fills the venue as a hush falls over the crowd. Mr. Trump’s tone turns reverent and somber, prompting some supporters to bow their heads or close their eyes. Others raise open palms in the air or murmur as if in prayer.
In this moment, Mr. Trump’s audience is his congregation, and the former president their pastor as he delivers a roughly 15-minute finale that evokes an evangelical altar call, the emotional tradition that concludes some Christian services in which attendees come forward to commit to their savior.
‘The Bible does not need Donald Trump’s endorsement’
Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock slammed Trump’s move to market scripture during a Christian holy week.
Heather Cox Richardson: March 30, 2024
On Tuesday morning, on his social media outlet, former president Trump encouraged his supporters to buy a “God Bless The USA” Bible for $59.99. The Bible is my “favorite book,” he said in a promotional video, and said he owns “many.” This Bible includes the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Pledge of Allegiance. It also includes the chorus of country music singer Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA,” likely because it is a retread of a 2021 Bible Greenwood pushed to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 9-11.
That story meant less coverage for the news from last Monday, March 25, in which Trump shared on his social media platform a message comparing him to Jesus Christ, with a reference to Psalm 109, which calls on God to destroy one’s enemies
Trump is selling ‘God Bless the USA’ Bibles for $59.99 as he faces mounting legal bills
(AP) — Former President Donald Trump released a video on his Truth Social platform on Tuesday urging his supporters to buy the “God Bless the USA Bible,” which is inspired by country singer Lee Greenwood’s patriotic ballad. Trump takes the stage to the song at each of his rallies and has appeared with Greenwood at events.
“Happy Holy Week! Let’s Make America Pray Again. As we lead into Good Friday and Easter, I encourage you to get a copy of the God Bless the USA Bible,” Trump wrote, directing his supporters to a website selling the book for $59.99.

28 March
Trump attacks daughter of judge overseeing hush money case
New York State Justice Juan Merchan issued a gag order earlier in the week barring Trump from attacking potential witnesses and others involved in the case.

25 March
A busy day for DJT.
Donald Trump’s Nine Lives
The former president got his latest reprieve when a court reduced the $464 million bond in his fraud case.
By David A. Graham
(The Atlantic) Today, in the face of yet another near-death financial experience, Trump got his latest reprieve. An appeals-court panel in New York State reduced the bond he must post in a civil fraud case from more than $464 million to just $175 million.
Given that the past few months have seen Trump repeatedly use legal procedures to his advantage, drawing out the cases against him in the hope of eventually escaping them, this decision may look like yet another infuriating case of Trump extracting injustice from the justice system. But in fact it is not such an instance, and the reduction is actually quite appropriate.
Trump Criminal Trial Is Set for April 15 as His Attempt at Delay Fails
Donald Trump is poised to become the first ex-president to go on trial on criminal charges, in a case related to hush money paid to a porn star.
Trump’s social media venture set for Wall Street debut Tuesday
Trump Media & Technology Group is slated to debut on Nasdaq under the ticker “DJT,” according to a securities filing released Monday.
Trump Media & Technology Group is slated to debut on Nasdaq under the ticker “DJT,” according to a securities filing released Monday. The company, which operates Truth Social, will take over the listing of Digital World Acquisition Corp., a blank-check entity that has been scrambling for much of the past two years to complete a $300 million merger with Trump Media. Shareholders approved the deal Friday.

24 March
Trump Will Face His Greatest Fears as Two Legal Threats Coincide Monday
Donald J. Trump could receive a trial date for his criminal hush-money case on the same day that he must provide a half-billion bond for a civil fraud judgment.
G.O.P. senator says she won’t vote for Trump and declines to rule out leaving the party.
Lisa Murkowski won’t vote for Trump and doesn’t rule out leaving the G.O.P.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, said in an interview released on Sunday that she would not vote for former President Donald J. Trump. She also did not rule out the possibility of leaving the Republican Party.

20 March
Bankruptcy is one way out of Trump’s financial jam. He doesn’t want to take it.
People close to the presumptive 2024 Republican nominee say he is not considering bankruptcy, even though it could ease his immediate cash crunch
Trump lags behind Biden in campaign cash reserves while legal bills mount

15 March
Pence won’t endorse Trump
“It should come as no surprise that I will not be endorsing Donald Trump this year,” Pence told Fox News.
Asked about his decision, Pence said it was driven by more than just anger over the riots at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, during which Trump-backing protestors called for his hanging.
“I’m incredibly proud of the record of our administration,” said Pence. “But that being said, during my presidential campaign, I made it clear there were profound differences between me and President Trump on a range of issues. And not just our differences on our constitutional duties that I exercised on Jan. 6.”

14 March
Trump’s Court Delays Pile Up While the Presidential Race Gathers Speed
All four criminal cases against Donald Trump have become mired in issues that have pushed back the start of trials.
By Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman
Donald Trump’s New York hush money case — the only one of his four criminal cases that looked as if it would soon go to trial — suddenly faced the likelihood of delay on Thursday when a big batch of potential new evidence abruptly became available.
The news of the likely postponement arrived as the former president was in federal court in Florida for a separate hearing in a different case — the one in which he stands accused of mishandling classified documents, which even now has no solid start date. The judge there rejected one of a multitude of motions from Mr. Trump to dismiss the case.
On Friday, a judge in Georgia is expected to rule in yet another of the four cases on whether to disqualify the district attorney who charged Mr. Trump and a group of his allies with tampering with that state’s election results in 2020 — a decision that could be pivotal in determining whether the case goes to trial this year, or at all.

12 March
Trump’s love for Viktor Orbán hints at what another Trump term will look like
The ex-president recently hosted the Hungarian kleptocrat, whom he’s called a ‘strong man’ and a real ‘boss’, at Mar-a-Lago

28-29 February
Liz Cheney: supreme court delay will deny voters ‘crucial evidence’ on Trump
Republican demands that justices come to a speedy verdict after supreme court decision to hear Trump election interference case
(The Guardian) A Republican member of the January 6 committee has said the supreme court’s decision to wade into Donald Trump’s immunity case will deny Americans crucial information about the former president’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
Liz Cheney, a former Wyoming congresswoman who was ousted by primary voters angry at her participation in the hearings that followed the insurrection, also demanded the justices come to a speedy decision.
In a message posted to X, formerly Twitter, Cheney, a vocal Trump critic, said voters needed to have a verdict on the presumed Republican presidential nominee before they go to the polls in November.
“Delaying the January 6 trial suppresses critical evidence that Americans deserve to hear,” she wrote.

In Taking Up Trump’s Immunity Claim, Supreme Court Bolstered His Delay Strategy
By scheduling a hearing for late April on the former president’s assertion that he cannot be prosecuted for his actions in office, the justices increased the chances that he will not face trial by Election Day.
Alan Feuer, My focus is on the criminal cases involving the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and against former President Donald J. Trump.
(NYT) With each delay, the odds increase that voters will not get a chance to hear the evidence that Donald J. Trump sought to subvert the last election before they decide whether to back him in the current one
By deciding to take up Mr. Trump’s claim that presidents enjoy almost total immunity from prosecution for any official action while in office — a legal theory rejected by two lower courts and one that few experts think has any basis in the Constitution — the justices bought the former president at least several months before a trial on the election interference charges can start.
It is not out of the question that Mr. Trump could still face a jury in the case, in Federal District Court in Washington, before Election Day. At this point, the legal calendar suggests that if the justices issue a ruling by the end of the Supreme Court’s term in June and find that Mr. Trump is not immune from prosecution, the trial could still start by late September or October.

25-26 February
Three Theories for Why Trump’s Primary Results Are Not Matching Expectations
He has underperformed the polls in each of the first three contests.
(NYT)… with Mr. Trump faring well in early general election polls against President Biden, even a modest Trump underperformance in the polls is worth some attention. … We can’t say anything definitive based on the data at our disposal, but three theories are worth considering.
Theory No. 1: Undecided voters
One simple explanation is that undecided voters ultimately backed Ms. Haley, the former South Carolina governor.
Theory No. 2: The electorate
Another possibility is that the polls simply got the makeup of the electorate wrong. In this theory, pollsters did a good job of measuring the people they intended to measure, but they were measuring the wrong electorate
Theory No. 3: A hidden Biden vote?
In this theory, the polls did well in modeling the electorate while undecided voters split between the candidates, but anti-Trump voters simply weren’t as likely to take surveys as pro-Trump voters. If this theory were true, then the general election polls might be underestimating Mr. Biden by just as much as they’ve underestimated Ms. Haley.
Trouble in Trumpland?
A deeper dive indicates where and how Trump is vulnerable
Dan Rather and Team Steady
The part of the story missing from many news reports is that Trump is slipping from his 2020 numbers. His support is strongest among his MAGA base, which pollsters put at no more than 33% of the electorate. Clearly, he will need more than MAGA to win the White House again.
President Biden won the South Carolina Democratic primary with 96.2% of the vote. Trump, who is essentially an incumbent up against a novice at running for national office, could not muster even 60% of his party’s vote. Exit polls from Saturday night should have GOP leaders nervous.
The makeup of South Carolina’s Republican voters does not mirror the country. They are heavily weighted with hard-right “conservatives,” older, white, male, evangelical election deniers. Trump won overwhelmingly among them. But Haley won among independents, moderates, and those who care about foreign policy. And that’s the crux of it.

16-17 February
A $450 Million Blow to Trump’s Finances, and His Identity
A huge penalty for deceiving lenders about the value of his properties and his own net worth, if upheld, leaves Donald J. Trump in a perilous financial position.
Combined judgments against Donald Trump from two civil cases now appear to total more than half a billion dollars.
On Friday, the judge overseeing Mr. Trump’s civil fraud case issued a final ruling that inflicted a staggering financial penalty. With interest, the former president has been ordered to pay New York State about $450 million, a sum that threatens to wipe out a stockpile of cash, stocks and bonds that he amassed since leaving the White House, according to a New York Times review of Mr. Trump’s financial records. He will have only 30 days or so to either come up with the money or persuade an outside company to post a bond.
‘A lack of contrition that borders on pathological’: what the Trump fraud verdict says
Judge Arthur Engoron gave prosecutors the fine they asked for and admonished the former president for showing no remorse
(The Guardian) New York judge Arthur Engoron passed a searing judgment on Donald Trump and his real-estate company on Friday, fining the former president over $350m and banning him and his adult sons from leading companies in New York for the next few years. The fraud case ruling is a stunning blow to a man who sees himself as a successful real estate mogul and built a political career off of that reputation.
Engoron did not permanently ban Trump from the New York real estate industry
Prosecutors had asked Engoron to permanently ban Trump from the real estate industry in New York, similar to how entrepreneur and “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli was banned from the pharmaceutical industry in 2022.
Engoron ultimately banned Trump from leading his company – or any company based in New York – for three years, saving him from a permanent ban. Trump’s sons, Eric and Don Jr, were banned from running the company for two years.
Trump and the Trump Organization have also been instructed not to apply for loans from any New York-registered financial firm for three years.
After the ruling, Trump remained defiant. Describing the verdict as a “Complete and Total SHAM,” the former president erroneously claimed his $354.9m fine “based on nothing other than having built a GREAT COMPANY”.

6 February
Donald Trump’s failed immunity appeal is still a win for his delay strategy
Anthony Zurcher & Matt Murphy
(BBC) Donald Trump has been handed a defeat in court – but one that comes with a generous helping of victory.
An appeals court ruled that Mr Trump is not immune from criminal prosecution for acts committed while he was president. The time it took to issue that decision, however, has indefinitely delayed Mr Trump’s federal trial related to the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
The Supreme Court should say ‘no’ to Trump’s immunity case, quick
(WaPo Editorial Board) The Supreme Court should also decline to take up the case because doing so would curb the possibility that Mr. Trump, because of his statuses as a presidential candidate and former president, and because of his determination to use every pretext for delay, might dodge a trial until after the next presidential election. The D.C. Circuit’s ruling was accompanied by an order to let Judge Chutkan’s pretrial proceedings, suspended thanks to the appeal, resume posthaste. But if the Supreme Court agrees to halt that mandate, all progress will remain suspended until July. This is, of course, precisely what Mr. Trump wants: The former president’s apparent master plan is to win reelection before a jury can convict him, then instruct his Justice Department to drop its cases. Unlike in any other criminal prosecution of any other defendant, the question of delay in a case that so deeply implicates the peaceful transition of power presents a unique challenge to the justice system.
If the Supreme Court does take the case, to prevent this same perversion of the rule of law, it should do so on the expedited basis special counsel Jack Smith has requested. Coming to a conclusion shouldn’t be difficult in a case as obvious on the merits as this one is. The justices wouldn’t display bias against Mr. Trump by denying to take the case, or by hearing his appeal and then deciding against him. On the contrary, the court’s conservative members would defang accusations from liberals that they’re in thrall to the Republican Party — just as its liberal members might do to charges from conservatives that they are implacably opposed to the former president, should they rule in his favor in the case they’re hearing this week on whether the 14th Amendment disqualifies Mr. Trump from appearing on the ballot.
The Supreme Court, in both cases, has an opportunity to prove it is neither pro-Trump nor anti-Trump, and that it is willing neither to abrogate its responsibilities nor to stretch its powers to achieve political ends some on the bench might find desirable.) The Supreme Court should also decline to take up the case because doing so would curb the possibility that Mr. Trump, because of his statuses as a presidential candidate and former president, and because of his determination to use every pretext for delay, might dodge a trial until after the next presidential election. The D.C. Circuit’s ruling was accompanied by an order to let Judge Chutkan’s pretrial proceedings, suspended thanks to the appeal, resume posthaste. But if the Supreme Court agrees to halt that mandate, all progress will remain suspended until July. This is, of course, precisely what Mr. Trump wants: The former president’s apparent master plan is to win reelection before a jury can convict him, then instruct his Justice Department to drop its cases. Unlike in any other criminal prosecution of any other defendant, the question of delay in a case that so deeply implicates the peaceful transition of power presents a unique challenge to the justice system.
If the Supreme Court does take the case, to prevent this same perversion of the rule of law, it should do so on the expedited basis special counsel Jack Smith has requested. Coming to a conclusion shouldn’t be difficult in a case as obvious on the merits as this one is. The justices wouldn’t display bias against Mr. Trump by denying to take the case, or by hearing his appeal and then deciding against him. On the contrary, the court’s conservative members would defang accusations from liberals that they’re in thrall to the Republican Party — just as its liberal members might do to charges from conservatives that they are implacably opposed to the former president, should they rule in his favor in the case they’re hearing this week on whether the 14th Amendment disqualifies Mr. Trump from appearing on the ballot.
The Supreme Court, in both cases, has an opportunity to prove it is neither pro-Trump nor anti-Trump, and that it is willing neither to abrogate its responsibilities nor to stretch its powers to achieve political ends some on the bench might find desirable.
Trump has no immunity from Jan. 6 prosecution, appeals court rules
The ruling is one of several expected this spring that could determine whether Trump will campaign for president this fall from behind bars — and whether he is able to compete for reelection at all. It comes days before the Supreme Court considers another untested question raised by Trump’s candidacy: whether the former president is an insurrectionist prohibited by the Constitution from returning to the White House because of his actions around Jan. 6, 2021.
4 takeaways from Trump’s loss in his immunity case
The unanimous decision, from two Democratic-nominated judges and one Republican-nominated one, sets the stage for a potential appeal to the Supreme Court. If Trump ultimately were to succeed, his federal indictment for an allegedly illegal effort to overturn the 2020 election — one of four indictments he faces — would be undercut severely.

22 January
Polls Show Trump Could Be Doomed If He’s Convicted. Will a Trial Happen in Time?
Here’s the real timeline for Trump’s criminal trials.
The results in Iowa last week were a win for Donald Trump, but they also underscored that the former president’s ongoing legal troubles are among his biggest liabilities in a rematch with Joe Biden.
essential electoral questions as well: When will Trump’s myriad trials take place? And can any jury deliver a verdict before this November?
The answers are crucial to understanding how the 2024 campaign could ultimately unfold. Over the coming year, federal and state prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges — including the Supreme Court — will have to maneuver amid an inflexible political calendar. Here’s the timeline for how it’s likely to go.

21 January
Haley questions Trump’s mental fitness after he appears to confuse her for Pelosi
(AP) — Nikki Haley on Saturday questioned whether Donald Trump is mentally capable of serving as president again after he repeatedly seemed to confuse her with former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a campaign speech.
As she campaigned in Keene, New Hampshire, Haley referenced Trump’s speech the night before, in which he mistakenly asserted that Haley was in charge of Capitol security on January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building seeking to stop the certification of his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

16 January
What (Axios) Trump’s Iowa win reveals about the Republican Party
Beneath the top lines of the Iowa caucuses are a stack of insights about a Republican Party whose transformation under Donald Trump seems bound to end in two ways come November: coronation or self-immolation.
Why it matters: There are limits to what we can glean from a low-turnout, snowy contest in one of the least diverse states in the country. But what we did learn will shape expectations for both the general election and a GOP primary that may end in historically short order.

10-11 January
Trump’s Fraud Trial Draws to an End With Closing Arguments
The former president unexpectedly spoke in his own defense, directly attacking New York’s attorney general and the judge overseeing the case.
(NYT) Mr. Trump’s brief remarks came near the end of a months-long trial that has enraged the former president and threatened his family business.
Donald J. Trump’s civil fraud trial concluded on Thursday much as it unfolded over the past three months: in chaos, with the former president insulting the judge to his face, lashing out at the New York attorney general who brought the case and declaring himself “an innocent man.”
Inside a packed Manhattan courtroom where each side presented its closing arguments, Mr. Trump delivered surprise remarks in his own defense with the judge staring stone-faced from the bench and the attorney general, Letitia James, sitting just feet away as the defendant accused her of pursuing a political vendetta.
Mr. Trump’s airing of grievances…also amplified a broader strategy of painting himself as the victim of a grand conspiracy. As Mr. Trump mounts another run for the White House while facing the civil trial and four criminal indictments, he has sought to turn the cases on their head, accusing his accusers of the same conduct that landed him in legal jeopardy.
One of Trump’s Oldest Tactics in Business and Politics: I’m Rubber. You’re Glue.
Whenever Donald Trump is accused of something, he responds by accusing his opponent of that exact thing. The idea is less to argue that Mr. Trump is clean than to suggest that everyone else is dirty.
Days before the Iowa caucuses, former President Donald J. Trump is appearing twice in court this week — on Tuesday in Washington and Thursday in New York.
He was not required to attend either hearing. But advisers say he believes the court appearances dramatize what is fast becoming a central theme of his campaign: that President Biden — who is describing the likely Republican nominee as a peril to the country — is the true threat to American democracy.
Mr. Trump’s claim is the most outlandish and baseless version of a tactic he has used throughout his life in business and politics. Whenever he is accused of something — no matter what that something is — he responds by accusing his opponent of that exact thing. The idea is less to argue that Mr. Trump is clean than to suggest that everyone else is dirty.

2023

19-20 December
The Constitution’s insurrection clause threatens Trump’s campaign. Here is how that is playing out
(AP) — Former President Donald Trump’s bid to win back the White House is now threatened by two sentences added to the U.S. Constitution 155 years ago.
The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday barred Trump from the state’s ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits anyone who swore an oath to support the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” against it from holding office. It’s the first time in history the provision has been used to prohibit someone from running for the presidency, and the U..S. Supreme Court is likely to have the final say over whether the ruling will stand.
If it does — which many legal experts say is a longshot — it’s the end of Trump’s campaign because a Supreme Court decision would apply not just in Colorado, but to all states. It also could open a new world of political combat, as politicians in the future fish for judicial rulings to disqualify their rivals under the same provision.
The Colorado Supreme Court Just Gave Republicans a Chance to Save ThemselvesThey should take it.
By David Frum
(The Atlantic) “The experience of being disastrously wrong is salutary,” John Kenneth Galbraith wrote. “No economist should be denied it, and not many are.”
I’m not an economist. But I was wrong about the litigation to bar Donald Trump from the ballot as an insurrectionist. I wrote in August that the project was a “fantasy.” Now, by a 4–3 vote, the Colorado Supreme Court has converted fantasy into at least temporary reality.
However, the BBC differs:
Trump’s legal defeat in Colorado may turn into political gold
One of the court challenges to Donald Trump’s eligibility to run for president in 2024 has finally struck gold.
The Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling to disqualify the former president from the Republican Party’s upcoming primary ballot is yet another unprecedented moment in US politics.
It’s a decision that further blurs the lines between America’s political and judicial systems, setting up a fresh collision between the election campaign and the courts.
However, this latest legal setback is unlikely to seriously damage Mr Trump’s bid to return to the White House – and he is already using it to his political advantage.

17-18 December
Robert Reich: What about Trump’s dementia?
The media should be reporting on his growing paranoia, persecution complex, and cognitive impairment
On Saturday, during a campaign speech in Durham, New Hampshire, Donald Trump invoked Vladimir Putin (of all people) as proof that he’s being persecuted:
“Putin says that Biden’s — and this is a quote — politically motivated persecution of his political rival is very good for Russia, because it shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others about democracy.”
Some commentators see this and other Trump assertions about being persecuted as calculated efforts to fuel his base.
But what if Trump really thinks he’s being persecuted? What if he has a persecution complex? What if he believes his paranoid fantasies?
Trump is not facing nearly the same scrutiny for his age as is Joe Biden, yet Trump should be — especially as to increasing signs of dementia.
Politico Playbook:
MEANWHILE, YOUR REPUBLICAN FRONTRUNNER …
Reuters: “Donald Trump … said on Saturday that undocumented immigrants were ‘poisoning the blood of our country,’ repeating language that has previously drawn criticism as xenophobic and echoing of Nazi rhetoric.”
WaPo: “Trump quotes Putin condemning American democracy, praises autocrat Orban
Trump also called Jan. 6 defendants ‘hostages’ and again demonized immigrants as ‘poisoning the blood of our country 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol.”
POLITICO: “Later on he touted his relationship with North Korean dictator KIM JONG UN, ‘who is very nice.’”
NBC: Trump “promised, in a relatively new proposal, to ‘indemnify all police officers’ against ‘being destroyed by the radical left for taking strong actions against crime.’” Trump’s MAGA force swamps the competition in New Hampshire
New slogan alert, via NYT: “At the rally on Saturday, a relatively new slogan for his campaign — ‘Better Off With Trump’ — was displayed on a screen over Mr. Trump’s head as he stood onstage.” Trump, Quoting Putin, Declares Indictments ‘Politically Motivated Persecution’

8 December
Kevin McCarthy endorses Donald Trump for president, would consider serving in his cabinet
(AP via CTV) Retiring U.S. Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the ousted former House speaker, said he is endorsing Donald Trump for president and would consider serving in his Cabinet if the GOP front-runner were to win back the White House.
McCarthy had a rocky relationship with the former president, notably when he declined to publicly support Trump’s bid for a second term, despite being one of his earliest and most loyal allies. But they always seem to patch things up, and as McCarthy prepares to leave Congress he gave his nod.

6 December
Trump ‘dictator’ comment reignites criticism his camp has tried to curb
(WaPo) Donald Trump’s campaign asked allies on Capitol Hill in recent days to publicly counter criticism that the former president would govern like a dictator in a second term, according to people familiar with the matter.
Yet on Tuesday, Trump reignited that criticism. Pressed twice on the topic during a televised town hall with Fox News host Sean Hannity, including on whether he “would never abuse power as retribution against anybody,” Trump replied: “Except for Day 1,” before going on to talk about drilling for oil and closing the border.
The conflicting messages underscored what some experts and lawmakers see as Trump’s continued embrace of authoritarian rhetoric and ideas, and his refusal to fully rebuke some dire warnings about how he’d govern in a second term, even as his campaign is anticipating more attacks on this theme.

4 December
Liz Cheney warns Trump will never leave office if he’s elected president again
Cheney said she would “do whatever it takes to make sure that Donald Trump is defeated in 2024,” including potentially voting for Biden.
(NBC) Asked if she believes Trump would try to stay in power forever, Cheney said, “Absolutely. He’s already done it once,” referring to his efforts after the 2020 presidential election to overturn Joe Biden’s victory and to stop its certification on Jan. 6, 2021.
The U.S. could become a dictatorship if Trump is re-elected, Cheney warned. “I think it’s a very, very real threat and concern. And I don’t say any of that lightly and frankly, it’s painful for me as someone who has spent her whole life in Republican politics, who grew up as a Republican to watch what’s happening to my party and to watch the extent to which Donald Trump himself has basically determined that the only thing that matters is him, his power and his success.”

2 December
The GOP primary campaign could be over just as Trump’s trials are getting underway
March is shaping up to be a big month for the Republican presidential field.
(NPR) It’s when the GOP nominee will be essentially locked down in terms of delegate votes — according to a Republican National Committee planning document released this week — just as the first criminal case against former President Donald Trump is getting underway.

21 November
Has Anyone Noticed That Trump Is Really Old?
He’s younger than Biden, but not by much.
By David A. Graham
(The Atlantic) … Finally, detecting a decline in Trump may be challenging because his language and reasoning skills started at such a low place. His pronouncements in the 2016 campaign and throughout his presidency could be baffling or nonsensical. Asked at a recent event whether Trump was losing it, former Attorney General Bill Barr said, “His verbal skills are limited.” The audience chuckled, but Barr seemed entirely serious.
But what Barr didn’t say was that Trump was slipping, perhaps because this is who Trump has long been. In that sense, a discussion of time’s ravages on Trump seems misplaced.

Heather Cox Richardson November 13, 2023
In a speech Saturday in Claremont, New Hampshire, and then in his Veterans Day greeting yesterday on social media, former president Trump echoed German Nazis.
For a long time, Trump’s increasingly fascist language hasn’t drawn much attention from the press, perhaps because the frequency of his outrageous statements has normalized them
The use of language referring to enemies as bugs or rodents has a long history in genocide because it dehumanizes opponents, making it easier to kill them. In the U.S. this concept is most commonly associated with Hitler and the Nazis, who often spoke of Jews as “vermin” and vowed to exterminate them.
The parallel between MAGA Republicans’ plans and the Nazis had other echoes this weekend, as Trump’s speech came the same day that Charlie Savage, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Swan of the New York Times reported that Trump and his people are planning to revive his travel ban, more popularly known as the “Muslim ban,” which refused entry to the U.S. by people from some majority-Muslim nations, and to reimpose the pandemic-era restrictions he used during the coronavirus pandemic to refuse asylum claims—it is not only legal to apply for asylum in the United States, but it is a guaranteed right under the Refugee Act of 1980—by claiming that immigrants bring infectious diseases like tuberculosis.
Analysis Exposes Trumpian Project 2025 as ‘Far-Right Playbook for American Authoritarianism’
“Our plea to political leaders and to the media is to accurately describe Project 2025 as a dangerous and unconstitutional attempt to move us towards an authoritarianism guided by Christian nationalism.”
(Common Dreams) As former Republican U.S. President Donald Trump campaigns with openly fascist rhetoric, a research and advocacy group on Monday published an exposé of the Heritage Foundation-led 2025 Presidential Transition Project.
… Across 13 sections, the GPAHE report introduces the project, explains the role of Christian nationalism, and details efforts to gut the civil service, reverse progress on racial equality, eviscerate LGBTQ+ rights, restrict reproductive freedom, impose hardline immigration rules, roll back climate action, end “woke” military policies, overhaul public education, and curb human rights.
The analysis also features a full list of organizational supporters and profiles of key backers, including the Family Research Council, Heartland Institute, Moms for Liberty, and Turning Point USA.
9 November
FED UP MSNBC hosts DROP THE HAMMER on Trump’s SECRET Plot (YouTube)
New reports are sounding the alarm about Project 2025, an effort by Trump and allies that would essential turn the United States into a dictatorship. Fred Wellman reports.

Trump Isn’t Merely Unhinged
Many of his recent statements illustrate a profoundly un-American set of ideas.
By David A. Graham
(The Atlantic) …many of Donald Trump’s most dangerous statements hide in the plain light of day.
The problem is not that they don’t get reported on—they do—but even so, they are easy to tune out, perhaps because he’s been saying outlandish things for so long that people simply can’t bring themselves to parse the new ones; or perhaps because they’ve become accustomed, or at least numb, to his utterances; or perhaps because they don’t want to let him occupy their headspace; or perhaps because he got kicked off Twitter (now X) and they had no interest in joining Truth Social. Or maybe it’s because the more sinister material gets mixed up with his strange elocutions (“We’re gonna have a great country—it’s gonna be called the United States of America”), contrarian hot takes (“You know, Hezbollah is very smart. They’re all very smart”), and gibberish (“All of these indictments that you see—I was never indicted. Practically never heard the word. It wasn’t a word that registered”).
… much of what Trump is discussing is un-American, not merely in the sense of being antithetical to some imagined national set of mores, but in that his ideas contravene basic principles of the Constitution or other bedrock bases of American government.
They are the sorts of ideas that would have been shocking to hear from any mainstream politician just a decade ago. And yet, today, Trump—arguably the single most influential figure in the United States—says these things, and they hardly register.

3-6 November
A Judge Tries to Do What Few Have Accomplished: Rein in Trump
At one point early in the day, an exasperated Justice Engoron suggested that he might wield some of the considerable power he has over witnesses in order to rein in Mr. Trump — including booting the former president from the stand entirely.
Such a move would have been deeply damaging to Mr. Trump’s case; it would have permitted the judge to make negative assumptions about questions that the former president did not answer.
Trump trial nears end as prosecutors confident he ‘didn’t have the goods’
On Monday, the fraud trial enters its final, fateful leg. Trump himself will take the stand. The stakes are high. Although Trump will not go to jail, regardless of the outcome, because this is a civil case, he is fighting for the future of his corporate empire.
The case against Trump, although inextricably linked to his political rise, is focused on his business dealings. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake as the ex-real estate tycoon prepares to take the stand.
Trump boys show less than total recall at family fraud trial
In Manhattan court, Don Jr couldn’t remember much about the company he works for – and brother Eric had trouble, too

3 November
A novel defense in Trump’s Georgia case: The 2020 election really was stolen
(WaPo) The argument serves as a major test of the breadth of the Fulton indictment. Because prosecutors have alleged that Floyd and the other defendants “knowingly” lied, his lawyers say they have the right to try to prove it wasn’t a lie at all.
The issue could also test Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the case and has shown a tendency for discipline and tight deadlines. Floyd’s defense strategy gives McAfee a potential opportunity to rule from a courtroom that the 2020 election was not stolen — or, in the alternative, to give election deniers space to make their preferred defense, but in the process potentially giving them a new platform to disseminate false claims and further complicate an already sprawling case.

1 November
Donald Trump Jr. Denies Responsibility for Company Business Statements
The former president’s son began the Trump family’s parade to the witness stand in the civil fraud case.

Trial to determine if Trump can be barred from offices reaches far back in history for answers
(AP) — The effort to ban former President Donald Trump from the ballot under the Constitution’s “insurrection clause” turned to distant history on Wednesday, when a law professor testified about how the post-Civil War provision was indeed intended to apply to presidential candidates.
30 October
Colorado Trial Considers Whether the 14th Amendment Disqualifies Trump
(NYT) Some constitutional experts argue that a clause in the amendment should bar Donald J. Trump from becoming president again, but that view is far from universal among legal scholars.

31 October
Transformed Trump family will take center stage in New York courtroom
Once Trump’s right hand, daughter Ivanka has stepped back, while Trump sons Eric and Don Jr. defend his business and political legacy
(WaPo) Trump’s four-year presidency — and the tumultuous period of investigations and criminal and civil litigation since he left office — have reshaped much of the Trump family’s wealth, business and dynamics with one another, according to court filings, financial records, emails and interviews with people close to the family.
The relationships between Trump and his three eldest children are likely to be on display over the next two weeks, as Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka are all scheduled to take the witness stand in the civil fraud trial in New York over the Trump Organization’s business practices.  …
The four criminal trials Trump separately faces potentially threaten his freedom and could affect next year’s elections, as Trump is the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. They involve allegations that he tried to overturn a presidential election, mishandled classified documents, obstructed justice and directed a hush money payment to an adult-film actress.

16 October
Trump has narrow gag order imposed on him by federal judge overseeing 2020 election subversion case
(AP) — The federal judge overseeing the 2020 election interference case against Donald Trump in Washington imposed a narrow gag order on him on Monday, barring the Republican former president from making statements targeting prosecutors, possible witnesses and court staff.
The order from U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan marks a milestone moment in the federal case that accuses Trump of illegally conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. It’s the most serious restriction a court has placed on Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, which has become a centerpiece of his grievance-filled campaign to return to the White House while fighting criminal charges in four cases.
The order may end a line of attack that Trump has made central to his campaign for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. But it may be only the beginning of an unprecedented fight over what limits can be a placed on the speech of a defendant who is also campaigning for America’s highest public office.

12 October
Republicans slam Trump’s comments on Netanyahu and Hezbollah
(Politico) Some prominent Republicans are distancing themselves from former President Donald Trump, after the current GOP frontrunner repeatedly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and offered unexpected praise for Hezbollah militants.
The rebukes of Trump from members of his own party come after the former president and frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary began unexpectedly criticizing Netanyahu on Wednesday in light of Israel’s ongoing war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

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