Aftermath of the Trump Administration, March 2024

 

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Friday, 1 March 2024:

 

Judge Aileen Cannon Makes No Immediate Decision on Timing of Trump Classified Documents Trial. Cannon previously indicated that she would push back the start of the proceeding from the initially planned date in May. Prosecutors want to begin in July, and the former president in August. The New York Times, Anan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, and Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 1 March 2024: “A federal judge in Florida held a hearing on Friday to consider a new date for former President Donald J. Trump’s trial on charges of mishandling classified documents, but made no immediate decision about a choice that could have major consequences for both his legal and political future. Four months ago, the judge, Aileen M. Cannon, declared she was inclined to make some “reasonable adjustments” to the timing of the classified documents trial, which was originally scheduled to start on May 20 in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla. But by holding off on making a decision at the hearing on Friday, Judge Cannon further delayed resolving the question of how long the trial would be postponed. In all of Mr. Trump’s criminal cases, the issue of timing has been paramount in a way that is unusual for most prosecutions. He is facing four separate indictments in four different cities, and proceedings have to be scheduled in relation to each other and against the busy backdrop of his presidential campaign.” 

 

Saturday, 2 March 2024:

 

Times/Siena Poll Finds Voters Doubt Biden’s Leadership and Favor Trump. The share of voters who strongly disapprove of President Biden’s handling of his job has reached 47 percent, higher than in Times/Siena polls at any point in his presidency. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Saturday, 2 March 2024: “President Biden is struggling to overcome doubts about his leadership inside his own party and broad dissatisfaction over the nation’s direction, leaving him trailing behind Donald J. Trump just as their general-election contest is about to begin, a new poll by The New York Times and Siena College has found. With eight months left until the November election, Mr. Biden’s 43 percent support lags behind Mr. Trump’s 48 percent in the national survey of registered voters. Only one in four voters thinks the country is moving in the right direction. More than twice as many voters believe Mr. Biden’s policies have personally hurt them as believe his policies have helped them. A majority of voters think the economy is in poor condition. And the share of voters who strongly disapprove of Mr. Biden’s handling of his job has reached 47 percent, higher than in Times/Siena polls at any point in his presidency. The poll offers an array of warning signs for the president about weaknesses within the Democratic coalition, including among women, Black and Latino voters. So far, it is Mr. Trump who has better unified his party, even amid an ongoing primary contest.”

 

Monday, 4 March 2024:

 

Trump Prevails in Supreme Court Challenge to His Eligibility. The justices ruled that the 14th Amendment did not allow Colorado to bar the former president from the state’s primary ballot. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 4 March 2024: “The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that states may not bar former President Donald J. Trump from running for another term, rejecting a challenge from Colorado to his eligibility that threatened to upend the presidential race by taking him off ballots around the nation. Though the justices provided different reasons, the decision’s bottom line was unanimous. All the opinions focused on legal issues, and none took a position on whether Mr. Trump had engaged in insurrection, as Colorado courts had found. All the justices agreed that individual states may not bar candidates for the presidency under a constitutional provision, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, that prohibits insurrectionists from holding office. Four justices would have left it at that, with the court’s three liberal members expressing dismay at what they said was the stunning sweep of the majority’s approach. But the five-justice majority, in an unsigned opinion answering questions not directly before the court, ruled that Congress must act to give Section 3 force. ‘The Constitution makes Congress, rather than the states, responsible for enforcing Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates,’ the majority wrote, adding that detailed federal legislation was required to determine who was disqualified under the provision. The decision was produced on a rushed schedule, landing the day before the Super Tuesday primaries in Colorado and around the nation. In a series of unusual moves, the court did not announce that it would issue an opinion until Sunday and did not take the bench to do so on Monday, instead simply posting the decision on its website. The decision was the court’s most important ruling concerning a presidential election since George W. Bush prevailed in Bush v. Gore in 2000.” See also, Highlights of the Supreme Court’s Opinions on Trump’s Ballot Eligibility. The main opinion was a joint ruling that was not signed by any particular justice. None of the opinions addressed whether Donald Trump engaged in insurrection. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Monday, 4 March 2024. See also, Supreme Court rejects Colorado ruling and keeps Trump on the ballot nationwide. While the decision was unanimous, the liberal justices wrote a sharp concurrence that accused the conservative majority of going further  than needed. The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow, Monday, 4 March 2024: “The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously sided with former president Donald Trump, allowing the 2024 Republican presidential front-runner to remain on the election ballot and reversing a Colorado ruling that disqualified him from returning to office because of his conduct around the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The justices said the Constitution does not permit a single state to disqualify a presidential candidate from national office. The court warned of disruption and a chaotic state-by-state patchwork if a candidate for nationwide office could be declared ineligible in some states, but not others, based on the same conduct…. The court’s decision to keep Trump on the ballot applies to other states with similar challenges to his candidacy and, for now, removes the Supreme Court from directly determining the path of the 2024 presidential election. While the decision was unanimous, the court’s three liberal justices also wrote separately, saying the conservative majority went too far and decided an issue that was not before the court in an attempt to ‘insulate all alleged insurrectionists from future challenges to their holding office.’… The justices drew a clear distinction between state and national elections, writing that ‘States may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office. But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency.’ Five of the six conservative justices then went further, writing that the disqualification clause can be enforced for national office only through federal legislation — not a federal court challenge or nonlegislative action by Congress. ‘Responsibility for enforcing Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates rests with Congress and not the States,”’the majority said.” See also, 4 takeaways from the Supreme Court’s ruling on Trump and the 14th Amendment, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 4 March 2024. See also, Supreme Court restores Trump to ballot, rejecting state attempts to ban him over Capitol attack, Associated Press, Mark Sherman, Monday, 4 March 2024: “The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously restored Donald Trump to 2024 presidential primary ballots, rejecting state attempts to ban the Republican former president over the Capitol riot. The justices ruled a day before the Super Tuesday primaries that states cannot invoke a post-Civil War constitutional provision to keep presidential candidates from appearing on ballots. That power resides with Congress, the court wrote in an unsigned opinion.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, March 2024:

Allen H. Weisselberg, the Former Trump Organization Finance Chief, Pleads Guilty to Felony Perjury. Weisselberg has already spent time at the Rikers Island jail complex. The perjury plea will send him back. The New York Times, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Jesse McKinley, and Kate Christobek, Monday, 4 March 2024: “Allen H. Weisselberg, former President Donald J. Trump’s longtime financial gatekeeper, pleaded guilty to felony perjury charges in a Manhattan courtroom on Monday, the latest twist in a tortured legal odyssey. Yet Mr. Weisselberg, who for years has remained steadfastly loyal to Mr. Trump in the face of intense prosecutorial pressure, did not implicate his former boss. That unbroken streak of loyalty has frustrated prosecutors and now, at the age of 76, will cost Mr. Weisselberg his freedom a second time. The plea agreement with the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, comes weeks before the former president will stand trial on unrelated criminal charges. That case, also brought by Mr. Bragg, stems from a hush-money payment made on Mr. Trump’s behalf to a porn star during the 2016 presidential campaign.” See also, Former Trump Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty to perjury in deal that doesn’t require cooperation, Associated Press, Jake Offenhartz and Michael R. Sisak, Monday, 4 March 2024: “Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of Donald Trump’s company, pleaded guilty Monday to lying under oath during his testimony in the ex-president’s New York civil fraud case. His plea deal will send him back to jail but does not require that he testify at Trump’s hush-money criminal trial. Weisselberg, 76, pleaded guilty in state court in Manhattan to two counts of perjury and will be sentenced in April to five months in jail — his second stint behind bars after serving 100 days last year for dodging taxes on company perks. In pleading guilty, Weisselberg found himself caught again between the law and his loyalty to Trump, whose family employed him for nearly 50 years, sent him into retirement with a $2 million severance and has continued to pay his legal bills. His plea to perjury is further evidence that, rather than testify truthfully in a way that might harm his old boss, he was willing to again spend a chunk of his golden years in jail. ‘It is a crime to lie in depositions and at trial — plain and simple,’ Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said in a statement.”

Newly Released Messages Detail Roots of the ‘Fake Electors’ Scheme. Emails and texts unearthed in a lawsuit show how key figures intended their plan to create a ‘cloud of confusion’ to help keep Donald Trump in office after his 2020 election loss. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman, Monday, 4 March 2024: “Just five days after Election Day in 2020, a conservative lawyer named Kenneth Chesebro emailed a former judge who was working for the Trump campaign in Wisconsin, James R. Troupis, pitching an idea for how to overturn the results. Through litigation, Mr. Chesebro said, the Trump campaign could allege ‘various systemic abuses’ and, with court proceedings pending, encourage legislatures to appoint ‘alternative’ pro-Trump electors that could be certified instead of the Biden electors chosen by the voters. ‘At minimum, with such a cloud of confusion, no votes from WI (and perhaps also MI and PA) should be counted, perhaps enough to throw the election to the House,’ Mr. Chesebro wrote to Mr. Troupis, referring to the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Mr. Troupis quickly brought Mr. Chesebro into the Trump legal team, directed him to lay out the plans in a series of memos now central to the indictment of Donald J. Trump and a month later — with the help of Reince Priebus, the former White House chief of staff — secured a meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House. The email is the earliest known evidence of Mr. Chesebro’s involvement in what would become known as the false elector plot. It was released Monday along with a trove of more than 1,400 pages of text messages and emails belonging to Mr. Troupis and Mr. Chesebro as they settled a lawsuit against them filed in Wisconsin. Taken together, the documents show in new detail how the Trump campaign’s litigation strategy was not designed to win in court as much as it was designed to give cover for their political efforts. And they underscore the central role that Mr. Troupis — previously a little-known figure in the effort to overturn the election — played in furthering the plans.”  See also, Pro-Trump lawyers central to alternate-elector plot settle Wisconsin lawsuit, The Washington Post, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Monday, 4 March 2024: Two attorneys who advanced a strategy to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election by organizing rosters of Republicans to falsely portray Donald Trump as the winner of several states have reached a legal settlement in Wisconsin with two of the state’s rightful electors and a Democratic voter, ending a lawsuit. As part of the settlement, the two lawyers — James Troupis, a former Dane County judge who oversaw Trump’s legal efforts in Wisconsin, and Kenneth Chesebro, an architect of the plan to try to invalidate Joe Biden’s win by convening Republican electors in seven states — released on Monday a trove of their communications about their work after the 2020 election. The attorneys also agreed to not facilitate or send documents on behalf of future presidential electors who are not certified as true electors — unless there is explicit language that the electoral votes would be counted if legal challenges resulted in changes to electoral outcomes.” See also, Wisconsin fake elector settlement offers new details on the strategy by Trump lawyers, Associated Press, Sophia Tareen, Monday, 4 March 2024: “Two attorneys for then-President Donald Trump orchestrated a plan for fake electors to file paperwork falsely saying the Republican won Wisconsin in a strategy to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory there and in other swing states, according to a lawsuit settlement reached Monday that makes public months of texts and emails. Under their agreements, Kenneth Chesebro and Jim Troupis turned over more than 1,400 pages of documents, emails and text messages, along with photos and video, offering a detailed account of the scheme’s origins in Wisconsin. The communications show how they, with coordination from Trump campaign officials, replicated the strategy in six other states including Georgia, where Chesebro has already pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the 2020 election. The agreements settle a civil lawsuit brought by Democrats in 2022 against the two attorneys and 10 Republicans in Wisconsin who posed as fake electors. The Republicans settled in December.”

Joe Biden’s Last Campaign. Trailing Trump in polls and facing doubts about his age, Biden voices defiant confidence in his prospects for reëlection. The New Yorker, Evan Osnos, Monday, 4 March 2024: “Not long ago, most Americans found it inconceivable that they might once again face the choice between Trump and Biden. In the years since Trump lost the 2020 election and refused to concede, he has been found liable for sexual assault and financial fraud, and indicted for attempting to overturn the election and refusing to return classified documents; as his legal challenges mounted, he embarked on a campaign focussed on ‘retribution’ against his enemies. Yet Republicans have become steadily less likely to hold Trump responsible for the violence on January 6th—and less likely to believe that Biden actually won the White House.”

 

Tuesday, 5 March 2024:

 

Do Americans Have a ‘Collective Amnesia’ About Donald Trump? It has only been three years, but memories of Mr. Trump’s presidency have faded and changed fast. The New York Times, Jennifer Medina and Reid J. Epstein, Tuesday, 5 March 2024: “Not all that long ago, many Americans committed hours a day to tracking then-President Donald J. Trump’s every move. And then, sometime after the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and before his first indictment, they largely stopped. They are having trouble remembering it all again. More than three years of distance from the daily onslaught has faded, changed — and in some cases, warped — Americans’ memories of events that at the time felt searing. Polling suggests voters’ views on Mr. Trump’s policies and his presidency have improved in the rearview mirror. In interviews, voters often have a hazy recall of one of the most tumultuous periods in modern politics. Social scientists say that’s unsurprising. In an era of hyper-partisanship, there’s little agreed-upon collective memory, even about events that played out in public.”

New Federal Rule Caps Most Credit Card Late Fees at $8.00. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said its new restriction would save households $10 billion a year in ‘junk fees.’ The New York Times, Stacy Cowley, Tuesday, 5 March 2024: “Millions of Americans could soon see lower credit card bills after a federal rule that caps late fees at $8 a month was finalized on Tuesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which estimates that the change will save households $10 billion a year. Late fees have become a major profit source for credit card issuers, generating more than $14 billion in 2022, according to bureau data. A 2010 rule imposed by the Federal Reserve aimed to cap the charges, but allowed adjustments for inflation — a provision card issuers have used to raise their fees far beyond the actual costs they incur when payments arrive late, the bureau said…. The new restriction limits issuers to an $8 fee, unless they can prove they need to charge more to cover their actual collection costs. It applies only to large issuers that have more than one million open accounts, but the agency estimates that the rule will cover 95 percent of outstanding credit card balances…. Banking trade groups fiercely oppose the rule and are likely to sue to try to block it.” See also, U.S. caps credit card late charges in new Biden crackdown on junk fees. The administration also plans to announce a ‘strike team’ targeting predatory pricing and other proposed rules meant to increase competition and lower costs. The Washington Post, Tony Romm, Tuesday, 5 March 2024: “The U.S. government announced Tuesday it would sharply limit the fees that credit card companies can charge customers who fall behind on their bills, aiming to cap the penalties at $8 in a move that immediately drew fierce resistance from financial giants. The rules arrived as part of a suite of fresh federal efforts to promote competition and crack down on unfair or illegal pricing across the economy, which President Biden has blasted as one of the primary sources of rising costs facing American families over the past year. Under the new regulations, credit card issuers, including Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase, cannot charge more than $8 for a late payment unless they can explicitly point to data showing they must impose higher fees to make up for losses.” See also, Biden administration announces rule that will cap credit card late fees at $8.00, part of campaign against junk fees, Associated Press, Ken Sweet and Josh Boak, Tuesday, 5 March 2024: “The Biden administration announced a rule Tuesday to cap all credit card late fees, the latest effort in the White House push to end what it has called junk fees and a move that regulators say will save Americans up to $10 billion a year. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new regulations will set a ceiling of $8 for most credit card late fees or require banks to show why they should charge more than $8 for such a fee. The rule would bring the average credit card late fee down from $32. The bureau estimates banks brought in roughly $14 billion in credit card late fees a year.”

 

Wednesday, 6 March 2024:

 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorses Trump, Whom He Once Denounced. McConnell, who plans to step down as Senate minority leader at the end of the year, had blamed Trump’s lies about the 2020 election for the January 6 riot. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 6 March 2024: “Three years after delivering a scorching denouncement of Donald J. Trump after the Jan. 6 riot, Senator Mitch McConnell endorsed him for president on Wednesday, illustrating Mr. Trump’s power to bend the Republican Party to his will as he marches to the G.O.P. nomination. Mr. McConnell, the Senate Republican minority leader, and Mr. Trump had not said a word to each other since December 2020. But people close to both men had been working behind the scenes for weeks to pave the way for the endorsement. The Kentucky Republican had been the highest-ranking member of the party to withhold an endorsement for Mr. Trump. And for the former president, Mr. McConnell’s backing could be important as he tries to corral some Republican donors who have been leery of him. It was shortly after the 2021 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob that Mr. McConnell publicly blamed the riot on Mr. Trump’s incessant lies that the 2020 election had been stolen. But he also declined to vote to convict Mr. Trump during the former president’s second impeachment trial, indicating that the criminal justice system was the place to deal with him. ‘Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty,’ Mr. McConnell said in a speech after the trial had ended. There was no question that Mr. Trump was ‘practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,’ he added. ‘The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,’ Mr. McConnell said. In return, Mr. Trump continuously mocked Mr. McConnell and smeared him.” See also, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorses Trump after years of acrimony between them. McConnell is the highest-ranking Republican to back Trump, and the move could help the former president with major donors. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 6 March 2024: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) endorsed Donald Trump for president Wednesday after years of acrimony between them, cementing Trump’s continued hold on the Republican Party. ‘It is abundantly clear that former President Trump has earned the requisite support of Republican voters to be our nominee for President of the United States,’ McConnell said in a statement to The Washington Post. ‘It should come as no surprise that as nominee, he will have my support. During his presidency, we worked together to accomplish great things for the American people including tax reform that supercharged our economy and a generational change of our federal judiciary — most importantly, the Supreme Court. I look forward to the opportunity of switching from playing defense against the terrible policies the Biden administration has pursued to a sustained offense geared towards making a real difference in improving the lives of the American people.'” See also, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorses Trump for president. He once blamed Trump for ‘disgraceful’ January 6, 2021 attack on the US capitol. Associated Press, Lisa Mascard, Wednesday, 6 March 2024: “Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell endorsed Donald Trump for president on Wednesday, a remarkable turnaround from the onetime critic who blamed the then-president for ‘disgraceful’ acts in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack but now supports his bid to return to the White House. McConnell, who was the last top GOP leader in Congress to fall in line with Trump, declared his support in a short statement after Super Tuesday wins pushed the GOP front-runner closer to the party nomination. The two men have not spoken since 2020 when McConnell declared Democrat Joe Biden the winner of that year’s presidential election. But more recently, their teams had reopened talks about an endorsement.”

Nikki Haley’s exit sets up a Trump-Biden rematch, The New York Times,  Jazmine Ulloa, Jonathan Weisman, and Shane Goldmacher, Wednesday, 6 March 2024: “Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, ended her presidential campaign on Wednesday, and pointedly declined to endorse her rival, former President Donald J. Trump. Instead, she told supporters in Charleston, S.C., that the effective Republican nominee must earn the backing of her voters. ‘It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party who did not support him, and I hope he does,’ she said in brief remarks to her campaign staff, core backers and the gathered news media. ‘This is now his time for choosing.’ Ms. Haley’s announcement effectively ended the Republican primary season, less than two months into it, remarkably early for a contest without an incumbent. It came after she lost 14 of the 15 primaries held on Super Tuesday, making her quest for the White House all but out of reach mathematically. In increasingly personal terms, Ms. Haley, who was Mr. Trump’s first ambassador to the United Nations, had painted her former boss as an aging, mentally unsound agent of chaos, unable to respect veterans or service members and unwilling to be faithful to the Constitution.” See also, Trump’s Super Tuesday Speech: Assessing 10 False and Misleading Claims. After racking up a series of wins that cleared the field, former President Donald Trump moved to a general election message. Here’s a fact check. The New York Times, Angelo Fichera, Wednesday, 6 March 2024: “Former President Donald J. Trump moved another step closer to becoming the 2024 Republican nominee for president Tuesday, sweeping up delegates and prompting his last remaining rival, Nikki Haley, to suspend her campaign. The results all but guarantee a November rematch against President Biden. But in his 20-minute victory remarks, which offered a grim view of the United States under his successor, Mr. Trump resorted to a string of false and misleading claims — on immigration, economics, energy and more — some of which were variations on familiar assertions.”

Trump’s Conquest of the Republican Party Matters to Every American, The New York Times, Editorial Board, Wednesday, 6 March 2024: “With Donald Trump’s victories on Tuesday, he has moved to the cusp of securing the 1,215 delegates necessary to win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. The rest is a formality. The party has become a vessel for the fulfillment of Mr. Trump’s ambitions, and he will almost certainly be its standard-bearer for a third time. This is a tragedy for the Republican Party and for the country it purports to serve. In a healthy democracy, political parties are organizations devoted to electing politicians who share a set of values and policy goals. They operate part of the machinery of politics, working with elected officials and civil servants to make elections happen. Members air their differences within the party to strengthen and sharpen its positions. In America’s two-party democracy, Republicans and Democrats have regularly traded places in the White House and shared power in Congress in a system that has been stable for more than a century. The Republican Party is forsaking all of those responsibilities and instead has become an organization whose goal is the election of one person at the expense of anything else, including integrity, principle, policy and patriotism. As an individual, Mr. Trump has demonstrated a contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law that makes him unfit to hold office. But when an entire political party, particularly one of the two main parties in a country as powerful as the United States, turns into an instrument of that person and his most dangerous ideas, the damage affects everyone. Mr. Trump’s ability to solidify control of the Republican Party and to quickly defeat his challengers for the nomination owes partly to the fervor of a bedrock of supporters who have delivered substantial victories for him in nearly every primary contest so far. Perhaps his most important advantage, however, is that there are few remaining leaders in the Republican Party who seem willing to stand up for an alternative vision of the party’s future. Those who continue to openly oppose him are, overwhelmingly, those who have left office. Some have said they feared speaking out because they faced threats of violence and retribution.”

Supreme Court sets Trump immunity claim in D.C. trial for April 25, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow, Wednesday, 6 March 2024: “The Supreme Court has scheduled argument for April 25 to review Donald Trump’s claim that he is immune from criminal prosecution on charges of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The case will be heard on the final day of the court’s argument calendar and will determine whether and how quickly Trump faces trial in D.C. for allegedly trying to block Joe Biden’s election victory. The high court’s decision to consider Trump’s claims, rather than letting stand a lower court decision that he can be prosecuted, drew criticism for further delaying the election obstruction trial. It was originally scheduled to begin this week.”

The constitution Turned Upside Down. Any account of Trump v. Anderson should lead with the fact that the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that an insurrectionist will remain on the presidential ballot. The New York Review of Books, Sean Wilentz, Wednesday, 6 March 2024: “In one of the Supreme Court’s most sweeping rulings in modern times, a five-man majority has effectively nullified a critical provision of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The ‘oathbreaking insurrectionist”’Donald Trump—a designation unchallenged by either the Supreme Court majority, the Colorado courts, or even his attorneys—will never be disqualified from the presidency. Nor will any other insurrectionist whose partisans control a majority in Congress. A trio of more liberal justices, in a concurring judgment, eviscerated the historical and constitutional basis for the majority’s nullification, but joined in the result only, based on erroneous jurisprudence of their own. The ninth justice, a conservative, clung to the same reasoning as the liberal trio, but because she objected to their ‘stridency’ she issued a separate opinion that tries to conceal the majority’s disgrace. The lead of any story about the decision in Trump v. Anderson should be that the Court has unanimously ruled that an insurrectionist who attempted to overthrow a presidential election will remain on the presidential ballot. As far as it goes, that statement is accurate. But the brazenness with which the majority exercised its power to reach a decision in flagrant contradiction of the Constitution’s plain meaning has deeper significance. It offers final proof, if any more were needed, that textualism and originalism, the doctrines on which conservatives have long based their judicial philosophy, are nothing but instruments of right-wing activism to produce prearranged outcomes. On Monday, the Court severely weakened an essential constitutional barrier to violent despotism that had been erected in the aftermath of the Civil War. That the minority decided to issue what might be called a dissenting concurrence—quickly agreeing on a particular point while demolishing the majority’s main argument—only underscores how corrupt the Court’s majority has become.”

 

Thursday, 7 March 2024:

 

Offering a Choice of ‘Revenge’ vs. ‘Decency,’ Biden Strikes a Contrast With Trump. The president made it clear in a State of the Union address that he sees the election as an existential struggle between democracy and extremism. The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Thursday, 7 March 2024: “President Biden used his State of the Union address on Thursday to launch a series of fiery attacks against former President Donald Trump, a competitor whom he did not mention by name but made clear was a dire threat to American democracy and stability in the world. In a televised speech to a joint session of Congress, Mr. Biden brought the energy his allies and aides had hoped he would display to warn of what could happen should Ukraine continue to lose ground to Russia. Invoking an overseas war at the top of his address was an unusual introduction to a speech that was in many ways a political argument for his re-election. ‘Not since President Lincoln and the Civil War have freedom and democracy been under assault at home as they are today,’ Mr. Biden said, raising his voice to a shout. ‘What makes our moment rare is the freedom of democracy, under attack both at home and overseas.’ Mr. Biden’s speech had to accomplish several goals at once, including taking credit for an economy that has outperformed expectations but whose effects many Americans say they cannot feel. In a speech that ran for over an hour, he ran through a lengthy list of issues, including immigration, abortion, prescription drug costs and the war in Gaza.” See also, In-Your-Face Biden Takes on Trump and His Own Doubters. In a raucous State of the Union address, the president’s goal was to reassure Americans that at 81 he is ready for a second term. He made his case, loudly and forcefully. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Thursday, 7 March 2024: “This was not Old Man Joe. This was Forceful Joe. This was Angry Joe. This was Loud Joe. This was Game-On Joe. In an in-your-face election-year State of the Union address, President Biden delivered one of the most confrontational speeches that any president has offered from the House rostrum, met by equally fractious heckling from his Republican opponents. It was an extraordinary spectacle that exemplified the raucous nature of modern American politics, one that made clear how far Washington has traveled from the days of decorous presidential addresses aimed at the history books. Mr. Biden again and again assailed his opponent in the fall election and the opposition lawmakers sitting in front of him. Republicans jeered and booed. Democrats chanted, ‘Four more years,’ as if it were a campaign rally. But that was the point. Frustrated by all the talk about his age and determined to dispel voter doubts, Mr. Biden, 81, used the most prominent platform of this election year, with what is likely the largest television and internet audience he will address before November, to exhibit his stamina, his vitality, his capacity and, yes, his umbrage. Defiant and feisty, he dispensed with the conventions of the format to directly take on former President Donald J. Trump and attempted to make the election a referendum on his predecessor rather than himself.” See also, 5 Takeaways From the State of the Union, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Shane Goldmacher, Thursday, 7 March 2024.  See also, Biden delivers State of the Union with fiery political tone. Facing scrutiny of his age and memory, Biden engaged in several exchanges with Republican lawmakers. The Washington Post, Tyler Pager and Touluse Olorunnipa, Thursday, 7 March 2024: “President Biden delivered a fiery State of the Union address Thursday night, making a forceful case for a second term while attacking former president Donald Trump as a threat to individual rights, freedom and democracy. Biden engaged in repeated exchanges with Republican lawmakers in the House chamber, at times turning the address into a form of political theater as he seemingly taunted his opponents in an attempt to spotlight policy disagreements on the economy, immigration and abortion. Unlike a traditional State of the Union address consisting of a laundry list of policy goals, Biden started assailing Trump less than four minutes into his speech, blasting him for suggesting that he would encourage Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO allies that did not spend enough on defense.” See also, The biggest moments from Biden’s 2024 State of the Union address, The Washington Post, Patrick Svitek, Thursday, 7 March 2024.

Judge’s Order Will Prevent Trump From Revealing Names of Jurors. Donald Trump’s legal team agreed with the restrictions regarding his hush-money trial. The judge also ruled that only the lawyers in the case will know the jurors’ addresses. The New York Times, Ben Protess and Kate Christobek, Thursday, 7 March 2024: “A New York judge on Thursday effectively barred former President Donald J. Trump from exposing the identities of potential jurors at his first criminal trial later this month, emphasizing a need to protect those who might decide the highly sensitive case. The judge presiding over the trial, Juan M. Merchan, granted a request from the Manhattan district attorney’s office to withhold the names of jurors from the public. The judge also ordered that their addresses be kept from everyone except the lawyers in the case. Mr. Trump’s legal team, which is defending the former president from accusations of covering up a potential sex scandal during the 2016 election, agreed that it was appropriate to keep the jury’s information private.” See also, Donald Trump will get juror names at New York election interference (hush-money) criminal trial, but they will be anonymous to the public, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak, Thursday, 7 March 2024: “Donald Trump will be allowed to know the names of jurors at his upcoming New York hush-money criminal trial. The public will not. Manhattan Judge Juan Manuel Merchan ruled Thursday to keep the yet-to-be-picked jury anonymous, with limited exceptions for the former president, his defense lawyers, prosecutors, jury consultants and legal staffs. Only Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors will be allowed to know the addresses of the jurors’ homes and workplaces, Merchan said. Trump could risk forfeiting access to the names if he were to disclose them publicly.”

Shocking Online Manifesto Reveals Project 2025’s Link to a Coordinated ‘Christian Nationalism Project.’ ‘The Statement on Christian Nationalism’ seeks to implement a Scripture-based system of government whereby Christ-ordained ‘civil magistrates’ exercise authority over the American public. Bucks County Beacon, Jennifer Cohn, Thursday, 7 March 2024: “Approximately 100 right-wing organizations have signed onto Project 2025, an expansive plan for controlling (and in some cases dismantling) federal agencies in the event that Trump or another Republican wins the presidential election this year. Many of these organizations are led by Christian fundamentalist political operatives, suggesting that they may use the plan to force all Americans to submit to their extreme religious beliefs. The Bucks County Beacon has just found explosive new evidence that seems to validate this concern. The Beacon’s discovery follows an earlier report by Politico journalist Heidi Przybyla, which tied the Center for Renewing America (CFRA), an official Project 2025 partner, to an internal memo expressly listing ‘Christian Nationalism’ as a priority for a second Trump term.” 

 

Friday, 8 March 2024:

 

Trump Posts $91.6 Million Bond for Defamation Judgment in Carroll Case. Donald Trump is contending with civil penalties that are together worth more than half a billion dollars. The New York Times, Benjamin Weiser and Ben Protess, Friday, 8 March 2024: “Donald J. Trump on Friday posted a $91.6 million bond in a defamation case he recently lost to the writer E. Jean Carroll, staving off a potential legal and financial disaster just days before a deadline to secure the deal. The bond, provided by an outside insurance company, will prevent Ms. Carroll from collecting the judgment while Mr. Trump appeals. A federal jury awarded Ms. Carroll $83.3 million in January, and Mr. Trump recently asked that the judgment be paused. The judge presiding over the case, Lewis A. Kaplan, denied Mr. Trump’s request for a preliminary reprieve, putting pressure on Mr. Trump to either come up with the money himself or secure the bond. With a Monday deadline looming, Mr. Trump posted the bond, which is higher than the $83.3 million judgment because the former president is also responsible for interest. The bond is a promise from the company offering it — Federal Insurance Company, an arm of the insurance giant Chubb — to cover Mr. Trump’s judgment if he loses his appeal and fails to pay. In exchange, Mr. Trump must pay the company a premium and pledge collateral, including as much cash as possible. In a court filing Friday morning, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, asked Judge Kaplan to approve the bond as ‘adequate and sufficient’ to block Ms. Carroll from collecting the award before Mr. Trump’s appeal is decided.” See also, Trump posts $91M bond while appealing E. Jean Carroll defamation judgment, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell, Friday, 8 March 2024: “Donald Trump on Friday secured a bond for more than $91 million to cover the defamation judgment he owes writer E. Jean Carroll, clearing the way for him to appeal that verdict even as he tries to secure a much larger bond for a separate business fraud judgment due this month. A document was posted in federal court memorializing Trump’s agreement with Chubb, the insurance giant that underwrote the bond to cover the $83.3 million in damages that a jury awarded to Carroll in January for defaming her in 2019, when he was president, after she accused him of long-ago sexual assault. Trump also filed a notice saying he will appeal the judgment against him. Trump, who is seeking a second term in the White House and is the likely Republican nominee to challenge President Biden, had faced a Monday deadline to post the bond. He separately is expected to come up with more than $450 million later to cover the judgment in the fraud lawsuit against him and his namesake company, a staggering amount that Trump’s lawyers have said could force him to sell some properties. Trump is appealing the larger judgment, as well, and is seeking to delay the deadline for paying it. An appeals panel is expected to review his request for a delay and issue a decision on March 18.” See also, Trump attorneys post $92 million bond to support jury award to E. Jean Carroll in defamation suit, Associated Press, Larry Neumeister, Friday, 8 March 2024: “Donald Trump has secured a $91.6 million bond sufficient to cover the money he owes to writer E. Jean Carroll in a defamation lawsuit while he appeals the jury’s verdict, the former president’s lawyer told a court on Friday. Attorney Alina Habba filed papers with the New York judge to show that Trump had secured the bond from the Federal Insurance Co., a unit of the insurance giant Chubb. The bond would cover the $83.3 million judgement in the lawsuit, plus interest. Habba simultaneously filed a notice showing Trump, the likely 2024 Republican presidential nominee, is appealing the verdict. The posting of the bond was a necessary step to delay payment of the award until the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can rule on Trump’s legal challenge. The filings came a day after Judge Lewis A. Kaplan refused to delay a Monday deadline for posting a bond to ensure that Carroll, 80, can collect the judgement if it remains intact following appeals.”

Trump Ally Michael Whatley and Daughter-in-Law Lara Trump Officially Take Over the Republican National Committee Leadership. With the installation of Whatley and Lara Trump, Donald Trump tightened his already firm grip on the party apparatus. The New York Times, Michael Gold, Friday, 8 March 2024: “The Republican National Committee on Friday selected new leaders who were handpicked by former President Donald J. Trump, a move expected to tighten the expected nominee’s hold on the party’s machinery ahead of the general election. The committee unanimously elected Michael Whatley, who led the North Carolina Republican Party and was the R.N.C.’s general counsel, as its chair and Lara Trump, Mr. Trump’s daughter-in-law, as co-chair. Both Mr. Whatley and Ms. Trump were endorsed by Mr. Trump last month after Ronna McDaniel, the committee’s leader since 2017, privately told the former president she planned to leave the position. Ms. McDaniel was for months the focus of intense pressure from inside and outside the Trump campaign to step down over the committee’s lackluster fund-raising and criticism over Republicans’ performance in 2022. Many of Mr. Trump’s allies also criticized Ms. McDaniel, whom Mr. Trump originally picked for the position, for being insufficiently supportive of the former president. They cited her neutrality during the Republican primary and her resistance to his push to call off a series of debates that he refused to participate in.” See also, Republican National Committee: Trump coup complete with loyalist Michael Whatley as chair and daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chair, The Guardian/Associated Press, Friday, 8 March 2024: “The Republican National Committee voted on Friday to install Donald Trump’s handpicked leadership team, completing his takeover of the national party as the former president closes in on a third straight presidential nomination. Michael Whatley, a North Carolina Republican who has echoed Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, was elected as the party’s national chair in a vote Friday morning in Houston. Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law, was voted in as co-chair. Trump’s team is promising not to use the RNC to pay his mounting personal legal bills. But Trump and his lieutenants will have firm control of the party’s political and fundraising machinery with limited, if any, internal pushback.”

Trump meets with Hungary’s leader, Viktor Orbán, continuing his embrace of autocrats, Associated Press, Nicholas Riccardi and Justin Spike, Friday, 8 March 2024: “Former President Donald Trump met Friday with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, as the likely Republican presidential nominee continued his embrace of autocratic leaders who are part of a global pushback against democratic traditions. Orbán has become an icon to some conservative populists for championing what he calls ‘illiberal democracy,’ replete with restrictions on immigration and LGBTQ+ rights. But he’s also cracked down on the press and judiciary in his country and rejiggered the country’s political system to keep his party in power while maintaining the closest relationship with Russia among all European Union countries. In the U.S., Trump’s allies have embraced Orbán’s approach. On Thursday, as foreign dignitaries milled through Washington, D.C., ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, Orbán skipped the White House and instead spoke at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank overseeing the 2025 Project, the effort to create a governing blueprint for Trump’s next term.” See also, Trump praises ‘fantastic’ Viktor Orbán while hosting Hungarian autocrat at Mar-a-Lago for meeting and concert, CNN Politics, Kristen Holmes and Andrew Millman, Friday, 8 March 2024: “Donald Trump heaped praise on Viktor Orbán while hosting the Hungarian prime minister at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night. ‘There’s nobody that’s better, smarter or a better leader than Viktor Orbán. He’s fantastic,’ the former president told a crowd gathered for a concert at the Florida resort, as shown in a series of videos posted to Orbán’s Instagram account. Trump added that the European autocrat is ‘a noncontroversial figure because he said, “This is the way it’s going to be,” and that’s the end of it, right? He’s the boss and … he’s a great leader, fantastic leader. In Europe and around the world, they respect him.'”

Studies find immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than U.S.-born Americans, NPR, Jasmine Garsd, Friday, 8 March 2024: “The claim that immigration brings on a crime wave can be traced back to the first immigrants who arrived in the U.S. Ever since the 1980s and ’90s, this false narrative saw a resurgence. During the current presidential campaign, the vitriol has been intense. Just in the last few months, former President Donald Trump has spoken of immigrants as criminals and mentally ill people who are ‘poisoning the blood of our country.’ Florida Gov. (and former presidential candidate) Ron DeSantis said migrants suspected of carrying drugs across the border should be shot, without specifying how drug smugglers could be told apart from other migrants. However, research indicates that immigrants commit fewer crimes than U.S.-born people. Much of the available data focuses on incarceration rates because that’s where immigration status is recorded. Some of the most extensive research comes from Stanford University. Economist Ran Abramitzky found that since the 1960s, immigrants are 60% less likely to be incarcerated than U.S.-born people.” 

 

Saturday, 9 March 2024:

 

Republican Senator Katie Britt’s Lies About a Sex-Trafficking Case During Her Republican Response to Biden’s State of the Union Address, TikTok, Jonathan Katz, Saturday, 9 March 2024. See also, Republican Alabama Senator Katie Britt Tells Misleading Border Story in State of the Union Response. Britt used a story about sex trafficking to criticize the Biden administration’s border policies. But the events occurred in Mexico years ago. The New York Times, Ken Bensinger, Saturday, 9 March 2024: “The opposition party’s response to the State of the Union address is a golden opportunity for up-and-coming and lesser-known politicians to introduce themselves to the nation and boost their political profile. Such was the case for Katie Britt, a first-term Republican senator from Alabama who, despite being a newcomer to the national stage, has been mentioned as a possible choice to be Donald J. Trump’s running mate. But her big debut on Thursday night has been marred by intense scrutiny of an anecdote at the center of her speech, which was delivered from her kitchen in Montgomery, Ala. The story, about a Mexican who was a victim of sex trafficking at the age of 12, came in the context of an attack on President Biden’s border policies. In impassioned tones, Ms. Britt described a girl being raped multiple times a day in dire conditions at the hands of cartels before she was able to escape. ‘This is the United States of America, and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it,’ Ms. Britt said. ‘President Biden’s border policies are a disgrace.’ As a rhetorical device, it would be hard to conjure up a more powerful and resonant example. But the story was highly misleading and improperly contextualized. The woman referenced by Ms. Britt was, in fact, never trafficked across the border, nor has she sought asylum in this country. And her harrowing experience took place between 2004 and 2008, while a Republican, George W. Bush, was in the White House and President Biden was still a senator. In other words, it had nothing at all to do with the current administration’s border policy. But that didn’t stop Ms. Britt from inflaming public fears about immigration and placing blame at Mr. Biden’s feet.” See also, Republican Senator Katie Britt’s false linkage of a sex-trafficking case to Joe Biden, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Saturday, 9 March 2024: “If you were watching Britt’s speech on Thursday night, you likely would have thought she was talking about a recent victim of sex trafficking who was abused in the United States and suffered because of President Biden’s policies. If you did, you would have been wrong. Sean Ross, Britt’s communications director, confirmed that she was talking about Karla Jacinto Romero — who has testified before Congress about being forced to work in Mexican brothels from 2004 to 2008. (A viral TikTok by journalist Jonathan Katz first revealed that Britt was speaking about Romero.) In a phone conversation and a statement, Ross disputed that Britt’s language was misleading. We disagree. Let’s take a look.”

 

Sunday, 10 March 2024:

 

Trump Vilifies Migrants and Mocks Biden’s Stutter in Georgia Speech. The former president also attacked Mr. Biden in harsh terms in a combative speech. The New York Times, Michael Gold, Sunday, 10 March 2024: “Early in his remarks in Rome, Ga., at what was effectively his first campaign rally of the general election, former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday blasted President Biden’s State of the Union address as an ‘angry, dark, hate-filled rant’ that was more divisive than unifying. He then mocked Mr. Biden’s lifelong stutter, a jab that set the tone for the lengthy speech that followed. Over nearly two hours, Mr. Trump lobbed sharp personal attacks at Mr. Biden’s mental and physical health and revived a litany of grievances against political opponents, prosecutors and television executives. He used inflammatory language to stoke fears about immigration, called the press ‘criminals’ and repeated his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Mr. Trump told thousands of his supporters gathered at the rally that ‘everything Joe Biden touches’ turns to filth [shit], though he used an expletive to describe the result. ‘Everything. I tried finding a different word, but there are some words that cannot be duplicated.’ (He used the word, or a variant, at least four times in his speech.)… But his critiques moved toward personal insults. At one point, Mr. Trump slurred his words and pretended to stutter in a mocking imitation of the president, who has dealt with a stutter since childhood.” See also, Trump mocks Biden’s stutter again, drawing outrage, The Washington Post, Lauren Weber and Carolyn Y. Johnson, Sunday, 10 March 2024: “Former president Donald Trump mocked President Biden’s stutter at a campaign rally in Rome, Ga., on Saturday, the latest in a series of insults he has hurled at his rival but one that disability advocates regard as a demeaning form of bullying…. Trump’s mockery of Biden was denounced by critics who called out the contrast of the two candidates. On X, formerly Twitter, they compared Trump mocking Biden alongside a video in 2020 when Biden hugged Brayden Harrington, a child with a stutter whom Biden inspired. John Hendrickson, the Atlantic writer whose profile of Biden’s stutter earlier that year brought it to the national stage, wrote in a piece on Sunday that Trump’s ‘ugly taunt’ crossed a line. Hendrickson also stutters.”

 

Monday, 11 March 2024:

 

Brian Butler, ‘Trump Employee 5,’ who unknowingly helped move classified documents, speaks out, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Kaitlan Collins, and Jeremy Herb, Monday, 11 March 2024: “A longtime Mar-a-Lago employee who is a central witness in the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents is now speaking publicly because he believes that voters should hear the truth about his former boss and the case before the November election. Brian Butler, who is referenced as ‘Trump Employee 5’ in the classified documents indictment brought by special counsel Jack Smith, told CNN in an exclusive interview that he doesn’t believe the criminal case against Trump is a ‘witch hunt,’ as the former president has claimed. Butler gave testimony to federal investigators that informed crucial portions of last year’s criminal obstruction charges against Trump and his two co-defendants, Walt Nauta, a personal aide to Trump, and Carlos De Oliveira, a property manager at Mar-a-Lago who had been Butler’s closest friend until recently.” 

Former Trump advisers sound the alarm that Trump praises despots in private and on the campaign trail, CNN Politics, Jim Sciutto, Monday, 11 March 2024: “To Donald Trump, Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán is ‘fantastic,’ Chinese leader Xi Jinping is ‘brilliant,’ North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is ‘an OK guy,’ and, most alarmingly, he allegedly said Adolf Hitler ‘did some good things,’ a worldview that would reverse decades-old US foreign policy in a second term should he win November’s presidential election, multiple former senior advisers told CNN. ‘He thought Putin was an OK guy and Kim was an OK guy — that we had pushed North Korea into a corner,’ retired Gen. John Kelly, who served as Trump’s chief of staff, told me. ‘To him, it was like we were goading these guys. If we didn’t have NATO, then Putin wouldn’t be doing these things.’ Trump’s lavish praise for Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán while hosting him at Mar-a-Lago on Friday, just days after all but sealing the Republican nomination on Super Tuesday, shows it’s a worldview he’s doubling down on…. Trump allegedly reserved some of his most unnerving praise for Hitler, who led Nazi Germany during World War II.

‘He said, “Well, but Hitler did some good things.” I said, “Well, what?” And he said, “Well, [Hitler] rebuilt the economy.” But what did he do with that rebuilt economy? He turned it against his own people and against the world. And I said, “Sir, you can never say anything good about the guy. Nothing, I mean, Mussolini was a great guy in comparison.” ‘It’s pretty hard to believe he missed the Holocaust, though, and pretty hard to understand how he missed the 400,000 American GIs that were killed in the European theater,’ Kelly told me. ‘But I think it’s more, again, the tough guy thing.’ Trump’s admiration for Hitler went further than the German leader’s economic policies, according to Kelly. Trump also expressed admiration for Hitler’s hold on senior Nazi officers. Trump lamented that Hitler, as Kelly recounted, maintained his senior staff’s ‘loyalty,’ while Trump himself often did not. ‘He would ask about the loyalty issues and about how, when I pointed out to him the German generals as a group were not loyal to him, and in fact tried to assassinate him a few times, and he didn’t know that,’ Kelly recalled. ‘He truly believed, when he brought us generals in, that we would be loyal — that we would do anything he wanted us to do,’ Kelly told me.”

Donald Trump won’t give ‘a penny’ to Ukraine if elected, Orbán says, Politico, Claudia Chiappa, Monday, 11 March 2024: “Donald Trump will totally stop funding Ukraine if he wins the U.S. election in November, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said following a meeting between the right-wing figureheads. ‘He will not give a penny in the Ukraine-Russia war,’ Orbán told Hungarian state media Sunday. ‘Therefore, the war will end, because it is obvious that Ukraine can not stand on its own feet.’ The longtime allies met last Friday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, a summit which was lambasted by U.S. President Joe Biden.”

Trump Aides, Taking Over the Republican National Committee, Order Mass Layoffs. The Republican Party apparatus is undergoing a large cut with just eight months until the election. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Michael C. Bender, and Chris Cameron, Monday, 11 March 2024: “Days after allies took over the Republican National Committee, Donald J. Trump’s advisers are imposing mass layoffs on the party, with more than 60 officials, including senior staff members, laid off or asked to resign and then reapply for their jobs, according to two people familiar with the matter. The swift changes amount to a gutting of the party apparatus eight months before the November election, with one person familiar with the operations estimating that the R.N.C. had only about 200 people on payroll at the end of February, and about 120 at its headquarters near Capitol Hill. The heads of the communications, data and political departments were among those let go.” See also, Bloodbath at the Republican National Committee: Trump team slashes staff at the RNC, Politico, Alex Isenstadt, Monday, 11 March 2024: “Donald Trump’s newly installed leadership team at the Republican National Committee on Monday began the process of pushing out dozens of officials, according to two people close to the Trump campaign and the RNC. All told, the expectation is that more than 60 RNC staffers who work across the political, communications and data departments will be let go. Those being asked to resign include five members of the senior staff, though the names were not made public. Additionally, some vendor contracts are expected to be cut…. The overhaul is aimed at cutting, what one of the people described as, ‘bureaucracy’ at the RNC. But the move also underscores the swiftness with which Trump’s operation is moving to take over the Republican Party’s operations after the former president all but clinched the party’s presidential nomination last week.”

In His Budget, Biden Calls for Higher Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthy. The budget, which would cut the deficit by $3 trillion over the next decade, reinforces Biden’s efforts to counter Republican tax proposals that Democrats deride as giveaways to the wealthy. The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Monday, 11 March 2024: “The budget that President Biden released on Monday projects to cut deficits by $3 trillion over a decade, and it does so with an approach that has become familiar: tax increases for companies and the wealthy. The president previewed several of the proposals in his State of the Union speech last week and contrasted them with those of Republicans, who have called for extending most of the $2 trillion of tax cuts that former President Donald J. Trump signed into law in 2017. For Mr. Biden, tax policy has been at the center of his efforts to make the economy more equitable and to counter Republican tax proposals that Democrats deride as giveaways to the wealthy.” See also, In his budget, Biden calls for broad new social programs and higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy. The president’s 2025 budget is the strongest signal yet of his economic pitch to voters for a second term. The Washington Post, Jacob Bogage, Monday, 11 March 2024: “President Biden laid out an election-year blueprint Monday for sweeping new federal spending to lower consumer costs for health care, child care and housing — and enough new taxes on the wealthy and major corporations to pay for those proposals and still shave $3 trillion off the national debt over the next decade. Biden’s proposed $7.3 trillion budget for fiscal 2025 lays out the broad policy planks that many leading liberals have pushed him to embrace as he campaigns for another four years in the White House. With Republicans in control of the House, the proposals stand almost no chance of becoming law, but they set the stage for a likely rematch with former president Donald Trump this fall. Biden would have Congress offer universal prekindergarten education, provide 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, expand anti-poverty tax credits, and create a new tax break for first-time home buyers. The plan also reiterates U.S. support for Ukraine, with a $61 billion request to send arms and assistance to fight off Russia’s invasion. The vast majority of the budget would cover mandatory programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and veterans’ benefits, which are not subject to annual spending legislation. That spending would be more than offset by dramatically increasing taxes on the wealthiest individuals and corporations, the White House said. Biden’s budget would increase the minimum tax on billion-dollar corporations to 21 percent from 15 percent. It would raise taxes on U.S. multinationals’ foreign income to 21 percent from 10.5 percent, and eliminate some tax deductions for executive compensation.”

Donald Trump wants New York hush money trial delayed until Supreme Court rules on immunity claims, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak, Monday, 11 March 2024: “Donald Trump is seeking to delay his March 25 hush money trial until the Supreme Court rules on the presidential immunity claims he raised in another of his criminal cases. The Republican former president’s lawyers on Monday asked Manhattan Judge Juan Manuel Merchan to adjourn the New York criminal trial indefinitely until Trump’s immunity claim in his Washington, D.C., election interference case is resolved. Merchan did not immediately rule. In an order late Monday, he chided Trump’s lawyers for missing a filing deadline, waiting until 2½ weeks before jury selection to raise the immunity issue and failing to ‘explain the reason for the late filing.’ Going forward, the judge said, Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors must get his permission before making any other pretrial motions. Trump contends he is immune from prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office. His lawyers argue some of the evidence and alleged acts in the hush money case overlap with his time in the White House and constitute official acts.” 

 

Tuesday, 12 March 2024:

 

Trump Courts Black Voters Even as He Traffics in Stereotypes, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Michael Gold, and Shane Goldmacher, Tuesday, 12 March 2024: “He has repeatedly accused three Black prosecutors investigating him of ‘reverse racism.’ He told a gathering of Black Republicans that Black people like him because he, too, has been charged by the criminal justice system. And he has suggested that Black people relate to his mug shot. There’s a fundamental tension in Donald J. Trump’s attempts to woo Black voters. He repeatedly traffics in stereotypes about Black Americans, yet he is counting on them, and aggressively courting them, to help him win back the White House in November. His campaign is relying on achieving modest gains with Black voters — or peeling some away from President Biden and toward a third-party or independent candidate such as Cornel West or Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — and it is part of his math for 2024. Public polling shows him faring better with Black voters than any Republican presidential candidate has in decades.”

 

Wednesday, 13 March 2024:

 

Judge Quashes Six Charges in Georgia Election Case Against Trump. The ruling said charges that Donald Trump and allies solicited public officials to break the law were not specific enough; it left the rest of the case intact. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Wednesday, 13 March 2024: “In a surprise move on Wednesday, a judge in Atlanta quashed six of the charges against former President Donald J. Trump and his allies in the sprawling Georgia election interference case, including one related to a call that Mr. Trump made to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state in early January 2021. The judge, Scott McAfee of Fulton Superior Court, left intact the rest of the racketeering indictment, which initially included 41 counts against 19 co-defendants. Four of them have pleaded guilty since the indictment was handed up by a grand jury in August. While the ruling was certainly a setback for prosecutors, several legal observers said on Wednesday that it did not weaken the core of the case, the state racketeering charge that was brought against all of the defendants. That charge is based on ‘overt acts’ that the indictment says various defendants took in furtherance of the racketeering conspiracy. The judge was explicit in stating that Wednesday’s order does not apply to those acts. The ruling was not related to a defense effort to disqualify Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., who is leading the case. A ruling on that matter, which has made headlines for weeks after it was revealed that Ms. Willis had engaged in a romantic relationship with another prosecutor, is expected by the end of the week.” See also, Georgia judge dismisses six charges in Trump election interference case. Trump now faces 10 charges instead of 13. He is still accused of criminally conspiring to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Wednesday, 13 March 2024: “A Georgia judge dismissed three of the 13 charges against former president Donald Trump and some of the charges against his allies in the sweeping election interference case, but declined to dismiss the entire indictment. In a nine-page order issued Wednesday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee dismissed six of the 41 counts in the indictment against Trump and his allies, who are accused of conspiring to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. All of the dismissed charges are related to pressure that Trump or five of his co-defendants allegedly put on state officials to change the results. ‘As written, these six counts contain all the essential elements of the crimes but fail to allege sufficient detail regarding the nature of their commission, i.e., the underlying felony solicited,’ McAfee wrote. The judge added: ‘This does not mean the entire indictment is dismissed.’ McAfee pointedly declined a defense request challenging the overt acts tied to charges — meaning they are still part of the overall indictment. Prosecutors can still present evidence related to the dropped charges as they argue that Trump and his allies criminally conspired to try to overturn the election.”

 

Thursday, 14 March 2024:

 

As Trump Seeks Delay, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Offers a 30-Day Postponement. The proposal came in response to Donald Trump’s request for a 90-day delay to allow his lawyers time to review a new batch of records. The New York Times, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman, William K. Rashbaum, and Jonah E. Bromwich, Thursday, 14 March 2024: “Less than two weeks before Donald J. Trump is set to go on trial on criminal charges in Manhattan, the prosecutors who brought the case proposed a delay of up to 30 days, a startling development in the first prosecution of a former American president. The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which accused Mr. Trump of covering up a sex scandal during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, said the delay would give Mr. Trump’s lawyers time to review a new batch of records. The office sought the records more than a year ago, but only recently received them from federal prosecutors, who years ago investigated the hush-money payments at the center of the case. In response to the records — tens of thousands of pages of them — Mr. Trump’s lawyers requested that the trial be delayed 90 days. Although the former president frequently requests such delays, prosecutors consenting to any postponement makes one far more likely.” See also, Manhattan District Attorney suggests a one-month delay in Trump hush money trial. Trump attorneys are seeking a longer delay, dismissal of the case, and sanctions against prosecutors for what he claims are violations. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Shayna Jacobs, Thursday, 14 March 2024: “New York prosecutors preparing for the expected March 25 start of Donald Trump’s first criminal trial threw a wrench into that schedule Thursday by suggesting a 30-day delay, responding to complaints from the former president’s lawyers that evidence had been unfairly withheld until the 11th hour. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) notified the court that his office had just received ‘approximately 31,000′ pages of additional records from federal prosecutors in New York, who previously investigated the 2016 hush money payments that are the basis of Bragg’s charges against Trump.’In light of the distinctive circumstances described below, the People do not oppose a brief adjournment of up to 30 days to permit sufficient time for defendant to review’ the newly shared records, the filing said.” See also, Prosecutors say they’re open to delaying Donald Trump’s March 25 hush-money criminal trial for a month, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak, Jennifer Peltz, and Jake Offenhartz, Thursday, 14 March 2024: “New York prosecutors said Thursday they are open to delaying the start of Donald Trump’s hush-money criminal trial by a month ‘in an abundance of caution’ to give the former president’s lawyers time to review evidence they only recently obtained from a previous federal investigation into the matter. The Manhattan district attorney’s office said in a court filing that it does not oppose adjourning the trial for 30 days but would fight the defense’s push for a longer delay. Judge Juan Manuel Merchan did not immediately rule.”

Judge Aileen Cannon Denies One of Trump’s Efforts to Derail Documents Case. With the former president in attendance, Cannon held a hearing in federal court in Florida to weigh some of Donald Trump’s motions to have the classified documents case dismissed. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 14 March 2024: “The federal judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s prosecution on charges of mishandling classified documents on Thursday rejected one of his motions seeking to have the case dismissed, the first time she has denied a legal attack on the indictment. In a two-page order, the judge, Aileen M. Cannon, rebuffed arguments by Mr. Trump’s lawyers that the central statute in the indictment, the Espionage Act, was impermissibly vague and should be struck down entirely.” See also, Judge Aileen Cannon rejects Trump’s attack on the Espionage Act, The Washington Post, Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett, Thursday, 14 March 2024: “U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon on Thursday shot down one of Donald Trump’s bids to toss out the charges against him for allegedly mishandling classified documents, rejecting his claims that the Espionage Act was unfairly vague when used against a former president. In a brief written order, Cannon said some of Trump’s arguments warrant ‘serious consideration’ but added it was too early to dismiss charges based on disagreements over the definition of some terms used in the Espionage Act. She did say Trump could raise the issue later ‘in connection with jury-instruction briefing and/or other appropriate motions.'”

Trump has a bunch of new false claims. Here’s a guide. The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Thursday, 14 March 2024: “When a politician gives rally speeches lasting nearly two hours, it’s hard to decide what factually challenged statements should be examined. In the case of Donald Trump, it’s especially difficult because he frequently says so many things that are false or misleading…. Rather than repeat ourselves, we are going to focus on new false claims that Trump has introduced to his repertory in recent months. Many appeared in his Georgia speech but others came up in other recent speeches, a town hall and an interview.” See also, I Listened to Trump’s Rambling, Unhinged, Vituperative Georgia Rally, and So Should you. Trump is building a whole new edifice of lies for 2024. The New Yorker, Susan B. Glasser, Thursday, 14 March 2024.

Records reveal that US firm that paid indicted FBI informant Alexander Smirnov is tied to Trump business associates in Dubai. Smirnov was paid $600,000.00 in 2020–the same year he allegedly began lying to the FBI about Bidens’ role in Ukraine business. The Guardian, Jacqueline Sweet, Thursday, 14 March 2024: “An American company that paid the now indicted FBI informant Alexander Smirnov in 2020 is connected to a UK company owned by Trump business associates in Dubai, according to business filings and court documents. Smirnov is now accused of lying to the FBI about Hunter Biden and his father, President Joe Biden, alleging that they engaged in a bribery scheme with executives at the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Smirnov’s accounts to the FBI, beginning in 2020, that federal prosecutors now say are fabrications, served as a major justification of the House impeachment investigation into the Bidens. Republican lawmakers have repeatedly touted Smirnov as a reliable informant, and the chairman of the House oversight committee, James Comer, even threatened to hold the FBI director, Christopher Wray, in contempt unless he ‘handed over’ a June 2020 FBI form with Smirnov’s claims to the committee. Back in 2020, Smirnov was paid $600,000 by a company called Economic Transformation Technologies (ETT), prosecutors said. That same year, Smirnov began lying to the FBI about the Bidens, according to the indictment.”

 

Friday, 15 March 2024:

 

After Judge’s Ruling, Nathan J. Wade Resigned From His Post as Special Prosecutor in the Georgia Trump Investigation. The romance between District Attorney Fani T. Willis and Mr. Wade, the lawyer she hired to manage the Georgia election case, created an ‘appearance of impropriety,’ the judge said. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Friday, 15 March 2024: “Nathan J. Wade resigned from his post as special prosecutor in the Georgia Trump investigation on Friday, after an Atlanta judge gave his boss and former romantic partner, Fani T. Willis, an ultimatum, saying her office could only keep the case if Mr. Wade stepped down. The ruling by Judge Scott McAfee on accusations of a conflict of interest cut a middle path between removing Ms. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, and her full vindication. The judge sharply criticized her for dating Mr. Wade, whom she had hired to manage the election interference case, calling it a ‘tremendous lapse in judgment.’ With delays mounting, the case is now unlikely to come to trial before the 2024 presidential election, when Mr. Trump is almost certain to be the Republican nominee.” See also, Takeaways From the Ruling on Georgia Trump Prosecutor’s Conduct. Fani Willis faces an unusual decision after the much-anticipated ruling on whether she should be disqualified for having had a romantic relationship with a subordinate. The New York Times, Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset, Friday, 15 March 2024. See also, Fani Willis can stay on Trump Georgia case, judge rules, as Wade resigns, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey and Amy Gardner, Friday, 15 March 2024: “The judge overseeing the Georgia election interference case against former president Donald Trump and his allies ruled that Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) may continue with the prosecution but only if Nathan Wade, the lead prosecutor she appointed and had a romantic relationship with, exited the case. Hours later, Wade resigned, citing his commitment to ‘democracy’ and making sure the case moves forward ‘as quickly as possible.’ In a 23-page ruling issued Friday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee wrote that the defendants ‘failed to meet their burden’ in proving that Willis’s relationship with Wade — along with allegations that she was financially enriched through trips the two took together — was enough of a ‘conflict of interest’ to merit her removal from the case. But the judge also found a ‘significant appearance of impropriety that infects the current structure of the prosecution team’ and said either Willis and her office must fully leave the case or Wade must withdraw.” See also, Nathan Wade resigns after judge makes it a condition for Fani Willis to remain on Georgia Trump case, NPR, Sam Gringlas, Friday, 15 March 2024: “Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis accepted the resignation of Nathan Wade, her top special prosecutor in former President Donald Trump’s election interference case, after a Georgia judge made Wade’s stepping aside a condition of allowing Willis to remain on the case. The decision bolsters chances that 15 defendants including former President Donald Trump will face trial in Georgia for attempting to overturn the 2020 election result. In a 23-page ruling that followed hours of dramatic courtroom testimony last month, Fulton Superior Judge Scott McAfee ruled that Willis’ romantic relationship with Wade, the top special prosecutor she hired, created the appearance of a conflict of interest, but did not require her disqualification.”

Judge Delays Trump’s Manhattan Trial Until at Least Mid-April. The judge scheduled a hearing for March 25, the day the trial had been scheduled to begin, to consider Donald Trump’s request to further delay or dismiss the case. The New York Times, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum, Friday, 15 March 2024: “A New York judge on Friday delayed Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan until at least mid-April, postponing the only one of Mr. Trump’s four criminal cases that appeared set to begin. The delay — lasting 30 days from the judge’s Friday decision — stems from the recent disclosure of more than 100,000 pages of records that may have some bearing on the case. Citing the records, Mr. Trump’s lawyers sought a 90-day delay of the trial, while the Manhattan prosecutors that brought the case proposed a postponement of up to 30 days. The prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, who accused the former president of covering up a sex scandal during and after his 2016 campaign, had said the extra time would allow Mr. Trump’s lawyers to review the records that recently emerged. Mr. Trump, who recently clinched the Republican presidential nomination for the third time, was initially set to go on trial on March 25. Now, the judge in the case, Juan M. Merchan, will hold a hearing that day to determine whether the trial should be delayed further — and if so, for how long. ‘There are significant questions of fact which this court must resolve,’ the judge wrote, indicating that he wanted to clarify why it took so long for the records to emerge. Justice Merchan said he would ‘set the new trial date, if necessary,’ after that hearing.” See also, Judge orders delay in Trump hush money trial until at least mid-April. The delay is due to the release of thousands of documents from the defunct federal investigation, which could involve Michael Cohen or other witnesses. The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Devlin Barrett, Friday, 15 March 2024: “The judge overseeing the expected first criminal trial of Donald Trump, which was due to begin this month, has pushed it back until at least mid-April, saying that lawyers need more time to review a fresh set of potential evidence and that he wants to hear arguments about whether the material was handled properly. The trial had been scheduled to start March 25 and would … be the first criminal trial of a former president in U.S. history, given that Trump’s other criminal cases are mired in separate delays. But the timing was thrown into doubt this week as Trump’s lawyers accused prosecutors of dealing unfairly with them in the handling of more than 100,000 pages of material that could be evidence in the case. The surprise scheduling twist is an outgrowth of the strange legal path that led to Trump being indicted last year on state charges of business records fraud for hush money paid made to an adult-film actress, a journey that started in the office of federal prosecutors in downtown Manhattan but ended up with state-level prosecutors a few blocks away. The federal prosecutors wrested a guilty plea out of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen but chose not to pursue a criminal case against the former president. Now, records from that old case have come back to haunt the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who brought an indictment against Trump last year related to the hush money.”

How Viktor Orbán Conquered the Heritage Foundation. Once the redoubt of Reaganism, the think tank has taken to promoting Trump’s favorite strongman. The New Republic, Casey Michel, Friday, 15 March 2024: “Last week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made waves by flying to the United States to meet with Donald Trump—but not with sitting president Joe Biden. It was, at a minimum, a severe breach of diplomatic protocol, and one that threatens to unravel Budapest’s strained relations with Washington even further. Even Biden himself commented on the meeting, saying that Orbán—an authoritarian who has effectively unwound Hungarian democracy—was ‘looking for dictatorship.’ But there was one other meeting that Orbán took while in the U.S. that hasn’t received enough attention—and points directly to how Orbán has cultivated American conservatives to his cause and created a beachhead for Hungarian influence in Washington. On Friday, he spoke at a closed-door meeting at the Heritage Foundation’s headquarters in the nation’s capital. Joined by Heritage president Kevin Roberts and failed presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, Orbán spoke, according to a readout, in front of an audience that ‘included renowned U.S. right-wing politicians, analysts and public personalities.'”

 

Saturday, 16 March 2024:

 

Trump Says Some Migrants Are ‘Not People’ and Predicts a ‘Blood Bath’ if He Loses. In a caustic and discursive speech in Ohio, former President Donald Trump once again doubled down on a doomsday vision of the United States. The New York Times, Anjali Huynh and Michael Gold, Saturday, 16 March 2024: “Former President Donald J. Trump, at an event on Saturday ostensibly meant to boost his preferred candidate in Ohio’s Republican Senate primary race, gave a freewheeling speech in which he used dehumanizing language to describe immigrants, maintained a steady stream of insults and vulgarities and predicted that the United States would never have another election if he did not win in November. With his general-election matchup against President Biden in clear view, Mr. Trump once more doubled down on the doomsday vision of the country that has animated his third presidential campaign and energized his base during the Republican primary. The dark view resurfaced throughout his speech. While discussing the U.S. economy and its auto industry, Mr. Trump promised to place tariffs on cars manufactured abroad if he won in November. He added: ‘Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a blood bath for the whole — that’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a blood bath for the country.'” See also, Trump says some undocumented immigrants are ‘not people.’ The former president also warned of ‘a bloodbath’ if he does not defeat Joe Biden in November. The Washington Post, Marisa Iati, Saturday, 16 March 2024: “Former president Donald Trump ratcheted up his dehumanizing rhetoric against immigrants Saturday by saying that some who are accused of crimes are ‘not people.’ ‘I don’t know if you call them people,’ he said at a rally near Dayton, Ohio. ‘In some cases they’re not people, in my opinion. But I’m not allowed to say that because the radical left says that’s a terrible thing to say.’… Later in the rally, Trump warned it will be a ‘bloodbath for the country’ if he is not elected. The comment came as he was promising to hike tariffs on foreign-made cars, and it was not clear exactly what Trump was referring to with his admonition. ‘Now we’re going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across [the] line, and you’re not going to be able to sell those guys — if I get elected,’ he said. ‘Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole. That’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a bloodbath for the country.'” See also, Trump predicts ‘bloodbath’ if he loses election and claims ‘Biden beat Obama.’ Trump insists at Ohio rally that Biden had beaten ‘Barack Hussein Obama’ in elections that never took place. The Guardian, Richard Juscombe, Saturday, 16 March 2024: “Joe Biden tore into Donald Trump’s mental stability at a dinner in Washington DC on Saturday – just as the former president was making verbal gaffes at a campaign rally in Ohio as well as predicting a ‘bloodbath’ if he met defeat in November’s election. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, confused the crowd at an appearance in Vandalia by insisting that Biden had beaten ‘Barack Hussein Obama’ in elections nationally that never took place. Freewheeling during a speech in which his teleprompters were seemingly disabled by high winds, Trump – a frequent critic of the 81-year-old Biden’s age and mental acuity – struggled to pronounce the words ‘bite’ and ‘largest’. And he left the crowd scratching their heads over the reference to Obama, whom Biden served as vice-president from 2009 to 2017 before taking the Oval Office from Trump in 2020. ‘You know what’s interesting? Joe Biden won against Barack Hussein Obama. Has anyone ever heard of him? Every swing state, Biden beat Obama but in every other state, he got killed,’ Trump said. Biden joked about Trump’s mental fitness at Saturday night’s Gridiron club dinner, a traditional ‘roast’ attended by politicians and journalists dating to the 1880s. ‘One candidate is too old and mentally unfit to be president. The other one is me,’ the president said. ‘Don’t tell him. He thinks he’s running against Barack Obama, that’s what he said,’ Biden added, referring to several previous occasions when the 77-year-old Trump has confused the incumbent and presumptive 2024 opponent with his Democratic predecessor.”

 

Sunday, 17 March 2024:

 

How Trump’s Allies Are Winning the War Over Disinformation. Their claims of censorship have successfully stymied the effort to filter election lies online. The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg and Steven Lee Myers, Sunday, 17 March 2024: “In the wake of the riot on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2021, a groundswell built in Washington to rein in the onslaught of lies that had fueled the assault on the peaceful transfer of power. Social media companies suspended Donald J. Trump, then the president, and many of his allies from the platforms they had used to spread misinformation about his defeat and whip up the attempt to overturn it. The Biden administration, Democrats in Congress and even some Republicans sought to do more to hold the companies accountable. Academic researchers wrestled with how to strengthen efforts to monitor false posts. Mr. Trump and his allies embarked instead on a counteroffensive, a coordinated effort to block what they viewed as a dangerous effort to censor conservatives. They have unquestionably prevailed.” 

Trump Keeps Repeating That Migrants Are ‘Poisoning’ the Country. In an interview on Fox News, the former president said again that migrants crossing the southern border were criminals from prisons and mental institutions. Evidence does not support this assertion. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Sunday, 17 March 2024: “Former President Donald J. Trump, in an interview broadcast Sunday, doubled down on his description of immigrants as ‘poisoning the blood’ of the country, language that echoes Hitler. “Why do you use words like vermin and poisoning of the blood?’ Howard Kurtz, the media critic and interviewer, asked on Fox News. ‘The press, as you know, immediately reacts to that by saying, Well, that’s the kind of language that Hitler and Mussolini used.’ ‘Because our country is being poisoned,’ Mr. Trump responded. He also repeated a claim he has made many times: that the migrants crossing the southern border are criminals flooding in from prisons and mental institutions. Evidence does not support that. According to border officials, most migrants are families fleeing violence and poverty, and despite a few high-profile cases, data show no increase in crime attributable to immigration. Crime rates, including that of murder, declined last year.”

 

Monday, 18 March 2024:

 

Trump Spurned by 30 Companies as He Seeks Bond in $454 Million Judgment. Donald Trump’s lawyers said in a court filing that he faces ‘insurmountable difficulties’ as he tries to raise cash for the civil fraud penalty he faces in New York. The New York Times, Ben Protess, Maggie Haverman, and Kate Christobek, Monday, 18 March 2024: “Donald J. Trump’s lawyers disclosed on Monday that he had failed to secure a roughly half-billion dollar bond in his civil fraud case in New York, raising the prospect that the state could seek to freeze some of his bank accounts and seize some of his marquee properties. The court filing, coming one week before the bond is due, suggested that the former president might soon face a financial crisis unless an appeals court comes to his rescue. Mr. Trump has asked the appeals court to pause the $454 million judgment that a New York judge imposed on Mr. Trump in the fraud case last month, or accept a bond of only $100 million. Otherwise, the New York attorney general’s office, which brought the case, might soon move to collect from Mr. Trump. Still, even if the higher court rejects his appeal, Mr. Trump is not entirely out of options. He might appeal to the state’s highest court, quickly sell an asset or seek help from a wealthy supporter.” See also, Trump’s lawyers say he is unable to finance an appeal bond for at least $450 million. Trump and the Trump Organization have been unable to get an insurer that issues court bonds to accept property as collateral. The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell, Monday, 18 March 2024:  “Donald Trump has failed to finance an appeal bond for more than $450 million to cover a judgment in the New York attorney general’s business fraud case against him and is seeking a reprieve from an appellate court to keep the state from seizing assets, according to a court filing by his attorneys on Monday. The former president’s lawyers said in the filing that Trump and the Trump Organization, the real estate, hospitality and golf resort company he solely owns, have been unable to get a surety company, an insurer that issues court bonds, to accept property as collateral — stalling any efforts to obtain a bond with a week before the state might begin collecting. ‘Critical among these challenges is not just the inability and reluctance of the vast majority of sureties to underwrite a bond for this unprecedented sum, but, even more significantly, the unwillingness of every surety bond provider approached by Defendants to accept real estate as collateral,’ Alan Garten, the Trump company’s general counsel, wrote in a sworn submission.” See also, Trump’s lawyers tell New York appeals court that Trump can’t find an insurance company to underwrite his bond to cover the massive judgment against him in the New York attorney general’s civil fraud case, CNN, Kara Scannell and Jeremy Herb, Monday, 18 March 2024: “Trump’s attorneys said he has approached 30 underwriters to back the bond, which is due by the end of this month. ‘The amount of the judgment, with interest, exceeds $464 million, and very few bonding companies will consider a bond of anything approaching that magnitude,’ Trump’s lawyers wrote. (Trump himself was ordered to pay $454 million; the $464 million includes the disgorgement for his adult sons Don Jr. and Eric.)”

Trump may enlist his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was criticized for ties to Russia, as a campaign adviser. Manafort was pardoned by Trump for bank and tax fraud convictions and accusations that he hid millions he made consulting for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians. The Washington Post, Josy Dawsey, Monday, 18 March 2024: “Former president Donald Trump is expected to enlist Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager he pardoned, as a campaign adviser later this year, according to four people familiar with the talks. The job discussions have largely centered on the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in July and could include Manafort playing a role in fundraising for the presumptive GOP nominee’s campaign, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations. While no formal decision has been made, the four people described the hiring as expected and said Trump was determined to bring Manafort back into the fold.” See also, Paul Manafort Is in Talks to Return for the Republican National Convention. Manafort, who served as a top adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, was pardoned by Mr. Trump after being convicted of tax and bank fraud. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan, Monday, 18 March 2024: “Paul Manafort, a top adviser to Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign who was pardoned by the former president at the end of his White House term, is in discussions to return to help with the Republican National Convention, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. Mr. Manafort’s potential role at the party’s convention in Milwaukee has not been decided, and the discussions have gone on for several months. His possible involvement was first reported by The Washington Post. A Trump campaign spokesman and Mr. Manafort did not respond to requests for comment. One of the people familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations, downplayed the prospective hire. The person suggested that unlike in 2016, Mr. Manafort would have a limited role and it was not indicative of broader moves to reshape the current Trump campaign to look like the old one.”

Trump calls for Liz Cheney to be jailed for investigating him over Capitol attack, The Guardian, Adam Gabbatt, Monday, 18 March 2024: “Donald Trump has renewed calls for Liz Cheney – his most prominent Republican critic – to be jailed for her role in investigating his actions during the January 6 Capitol attack launched by his supporters in 2021, a move that is bound to raise further fears that the former president could persecute his political opponents if given another White House term. In posts on Sunday on his Truth Social platform, Trump said other members of the congressional committee that investigated the Capitol attack – and concluded he had plotted to overturn his 2020 electoral defeat to Joe Biden – should be imprisoned. Those statements followed Trump’s previous comments that he would act like a ‘dictator’ on the first day of a second presidency if given one by voters.”

Trump Sues ABC and Stephanopoulos, Saying They Defamed Him. The lawsuit stems from the anchor’s recent contentious interview with Representative Nancy Mace. The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum and Jim Rutenberg, Monday, 18 March 2024: “Former President Donald J. Trump filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC News on Monday, arguing that the anchor George Stephanopoulos had harmed his reputation by saying multiple times on-air that Mr. Trump had been found liable for raping the writer E. Jean Carroll. A jury in a Manhattan civil case last year found Mr. Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming Ms. Carroll, but did not find the former president liable for rape. The judge, however, later clarified that because of New York’s narrow legal definition of ‘rape,’ the jury’s finding did not mean that Ms. Carroll ‘failed to prove that Mr. Trump raped her as many people commonly understand the word rape.'”

 

Tuesday, 19 March 2024:

 

Trump Asks Supreme Court for Absolute Immunity on Election Charges. The court will hear arguments on April 25 over whether former presidents can be prosecuted for things they did while in office. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 19 March 2024: “Former President Donald J. Trump urged the Supreme Court on Tuesday to rule that he is absolutely immune from criminal charges stemming from his attempts to subvert the 2020 election. ‘The president cannot function, and the presidency itself cannot retain its vital independence,’ the brief said, ‘if the president faces criminal prosecution for official acts once he leaves office.’ The brief, Mr. Trump’s main submission to the justices before the case is argued on April 25, continued to press an expansive understanding of presidential immunity, one that it said was required by the very structure of the Constitution…. Legal experts said Mr. Trump was unlikely to prevail but added that how and when the court rejects his arguments will effectively determine whether and when Mr. Trump’s trial, which had been scheduled to start March 4, will proceed.” See also, Trump asks Supreme Court to dismiss case charging him with plotting to overturn 2020 election, Associated Press, Eric Tucker, Tuesday, 19 March 2024: “Lawyers for Donald Trump urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to dismiss an indictment charging the former president with conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election, renewing their arguments that he is immune from prosecution for official acts taken in the White House. Lower courts have already twice rejected the immunity claims, but Trump’s lawyers will get a fresh chance to press their case before the Supreme Court when the justices hear arguments on April 25. The high court’s decision to consider the matter has left the criminal case on hold pending the outcome of the appeal, making it unclear whether special counsel Jack Smith will be able to put the ex-president on trial before November’s election. In a brief filed Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers repeated many of the same arguments that judges have already turned aside, asserting that a president ‘cannot function, and the Presidency itself cannot retain its vital independence, if the President faces criminal prosecution for official acts once he leaves office.'”

Trump is making the January 6 attack on the US capitol a cornerstone of his bid for the White House, Associated Press, Lisa Mascaro, Mary Claire Jalonick, and Jill Colvin, Tuesday, 19 March 2024: “Republican Donald Trump has launched his general election campaign not merely rewriting the history of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, but positioning the violent siege and its failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election as a cornerstone of his bid to return to the White House. At a weekend rally in Ohio, his first as the presumed Republican Party presidential nominee, Trump stood onstage, his hand raised in salute to the brim of his red MAGA hat, as a recorded chorus of prisoners in jail for their roles in the Jan. 6 attack sang the national anthem. An announcer asked the crowd to please rise ‘for the horribly and unfairly treated January 6th hostages.’ And people did, and sang along. ‘They were unbelievable patriots,’ Trump said as the recording ended. Having previously vowed to pardon the rioters, he promised to help them ‘the first day we get into office.’ Initially relegated to a fringe theory on the edges of the Republican Party, the revisionist history of Jan. 6, which Trump amplified during the early days of the GOP primary campaign to rouse his most devoted voters, remains a rally centerpiece even as he must appeal more broadly to a general election audience.”

What We Know About Trump’s Failure to Arrange a Half-Billion-Dollar Bond. Trump’s lawyers told a judge that their client could not come up with collateral that would stave off efforts to collect a $454 million judgment. He has six days left. The New York Times, Kate Christobek and Ben Protess, Tuesday, 19 March 2024: “It’s crunchtime for Donald J. Trump. In six days, the former president must secure an appeal bond for roughly half a billion dollars in his civil fraud case in New York, a possibility that was called into question on Monday. In a court filing, Mr. Trump’s lawyers revealed that he had been unable to secure an appeal bond despite ‘diligent efforts’ that included approaching about 30 bond companies. While Mr. Trump this month managed to post a $91.6 million bond in his defamation case against the writer E. Jean Carroll, securing the deal at the 11th hour from a large insurance company, he lacks the assets needed to secure the far bigger guarantee for the fraud case. If he cannot produce the bond by March 25, Mr. Trump faces the possibility of financial disaster and humiliation. New York’s attorney general, who brought the fraud case, would be entitled to collect the $454 million and could seek to seize Mr. Trump’s New York properties or freeze his bank accounts.”

Peter Navarro Begins 4-Month Prison Sentence for Contempt of Congress. The former White House trade adviser is the first senior Trump aide to serve time over efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The New York Times, Zach Montague and David C. Adams, Tuesday, 19 March 2024: “Peter Navarro, a trade adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, reported to federal prison in Miami on Tuesday, becoming the first senior Trump administration official to serve time over his role in the effort to subvert the results of the 2020 election. Mr. Navarro, 74, who helped engineer Mr. Trump’s plans to stay in power after his electoral defeat in November 2020, was sentenced to four months in prison in January for contempt of Congress after defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.” See also, Peter Navarro reports to prison for contempt in January 6 investigation, The Washington Post, Mariana Alfaro and Rachel Weiner, Tuesday, 19 March 2024: “Peter Navarro, a former senior aide to President Donald Trump, turned himself in to a Miami jail Tuesday, a day after the Supreme Court declined to delay his prison time while he appeals his conviction for refusing to testify before Congress about his involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.” See also, Ex-Trump aide Peter Navarro begins serving prison sentence after historic contempt prosecution, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed and Katelyn Polantz, Tuesday, 19 March 2024: “Peter Navarro, an ex-White House aide to former President Donald Trump, has reported to a federal prison in Miami, making history as the first former White House official to be imprisoned for a contempt of Congress conviction. Navarro was sentenced to four months in prison for his refusal to comply with a subpoena from the House Select Committee that investigated the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack. Before reporting to jail, Navarro spoke for 30 minutes at a gas station and called the case against him an ‘unprecedented assault on the constitutional separation of powers.'”

Alabama Republicans Pass Expansive Legislation Targeting D.E.I. [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] Programs, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Tuesday, 19 March 2024: “Alabama Republicans pushed through a sprawling measure on Tuesday that would not only ban state funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public universities, local boards of education and government agencies, but also limit the teaching of ‘divisive concepts’ surrounding race, gender and identity. The bill passed with broad support in the State Legislature, but faced vehement opposition from student groups, civil rights advocates and Democrats who said it was a chilling attempt to undercut free speech and diversity efforts, especially given Alabama’s history of educational segregation and racism. The bill also forbids public universities and colleges from allowing transgender people to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.” See also, Alabama governor signs bill restricting DEI programs in public schools, The Washington Post, Praveena Somasundaram and Hannah Natanson, published on Wednesday, 20 March 2024: “Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a sweeping bill Wednesday that will restrict the teaching of ‘divisive concepts’ and limit diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at public schools, universities and state agencies. The legislation, which the state’s GOP-controlled legislature sent to Ivey’s desk Tuesday, stipulates that schools and agencies cannot sponsor any DEI programs or require their students or employees to participate in them. It also states that they cannot punish students or employees for their ‘refusal to support, believe, endorse, embrace, confess, or otherwise assent to a divisive concept or diversity statement.'” See also, Alabama governor signs ban on DEI funds that restricts ‘divisive concepts’ in schools, NPR, Bill Chappell, published on Wednesday, 20 March 2024: “Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill Wednesday that bans state funding of diversity, equity and inclusion programs in schools, public colleges and state agencies, joining a wave of Republican-led efforts to quash DEI initiatives. The new law will impose restrictions around what it calls eight ‘divisive concepts’ dealing with race and personal identity. It also requires public colleges to designate bathrooms ‘for use by individuals based on their biological sex.'”

Jared Kushner is under fire for calling Gaza waterfront property ‘valuable.’ Kushner remains an influential figure in former President Donald Trump’s orbit. Politico, Eric Bazail-Eimil, Tuesday, 19 March 2024: “Jared Kushner, former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, faced sharp criticism on Tuesday for comments describing waterfront property in the Gaza Strip as ‘valuable’ in the face of the Israel-Hamas war. In a March 8 event at Harvard University, Kushner, who served as a senior advisor to Trump during his term in the White House, said ‘Gaza’s waterfront property could be very valuable … if people would focus on building up livelihoods.’ ‘It’s a little bit of an unfortunate situation there, but from Israel’s perspective I would do my best to move the people out and then clean it up,’ Kushner said. He then added that Israel should move Palestinian civilians into the Negev desert in the country’s southern region.” See also, Jared Kushner says Gaza’s ‘waterfront property could be very valuable,’ Donald Trump’s son-in-law also says Israel should bulldoze an area of the Negev desert and move Palestinians there. The Guardian, Patrick Wintour, Tuesday, 19 March 2024: “Jared Kushner has praised the ‘very valuable’ potential of Gaza’s ‘waterfront property’ and suggested Israel should remove civilians while it ‘cleans up’ the strip. The former property dealer, married to Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, made the comments in an interview at Harvard University on 15 February. The interview was posted on the YouTube channel of the Middle East Initiative, a program of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, earlier this month…. ‘It’s a little bit of an unfortunate situation there, but from Israel’s perspective I would do my best to move the people out and then clean it up,’ Kushner said. ‘But I don’t think that Israel has stated that they don’t want the people to move back there afterwards.’… Kushner also said he thinks Israel should move civilians from Gaza to the Negev desert in southern Israel. He said that if he were in charge of Israel his number one priority would be getting civilians out of the southern city of Rafah, and that ‘with diplomacy’ it could be possible to get them into Egypt. ‘But in addition to that, I would just bulldoze something in the Negev, I would try to move people in there,’ he said. ‘I think that’s a better option, so you can go in and finish the job.'”

Revealed: documents shed light on the Society for American Civic Renewal, a shadowy US far-right fraternal order. The new documents detail the inner workings of SACR, a group with an emphasis on Christian nationalism. The Guardian, Jason Wilson, Tuesday, 19 March 2024: “New documents have shed light on the origins and inner workings of the shadowy Society for American Civic Renewal (SACR), including methods for judging the beliefs of potential members on topics such as Christian nationalism, and indications that its founders sought inspiration in an apartheid-era South African white men-only group, the Afrikaner-Broederbond. They also show that Boise State University Professor and Claremont thinktank scholar Scott Yenor tried to coordinate SACR’s activities with other initiatives, including an open letter on ‘Christian marriage’. One expert says that one of the new documents – some previously reported in Talking Points Memo – use biblical references that suggest a preparedness for violent struggle against the current ‘regime’. The SACR is a secretive far-right men-only organization with an emphasis on Christian nationalism and a desire to open branches across the US. The Guardian has previously reported on SACR’s close links to the Claremont Institute, an influential rightwing thinktank with fellows who have participated in attempts to overturn the 2020 election and promoted the idea that an authoritarian ‘Red Caesar’ might redeem a US republic they see as decadent.”

 

Wednesday, 20 March 2024:

 

Biden Administration Announces Rule Aimed at Expanding Electric Vehicles. The regulation would require automakers to sell more electric vehicles and hybrids by gradually tightening limits on tailpipe pollution. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Wednesday, 20 March 2024: “The Biden administration on Wednesday issued one of the most significant climate regulations in the nation’s history, a rule designed to ensure that the majority of new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States are all-electric or hybrids by 2032. Nearly three years in the making, the new tailpipe pollution limits from the Environmental Protection Agency would transform the American automobile market. A record 1.2 million electric vehicles rolled off dealers’ lots last year, but they made up just 7.6 percent of total U.S. car sales, far from the 56 percent target under the new regulation. An additional 16 percent of new cars sold would be hybrids. Cars and other forms of transportation are, together, the largest single source of carbon emissions generated by the United States, pollution that is driving climate change and that helped to make 2023 the hottest year in recorded history. Electric vehicles are central to President Biden’s strategy to confront global warming, which calls for cutting the nation’s emissions in half by the end of this decade. But E.V.s have also become politicized and are a flashpoint in the 2024 presidential campaign…. Former President Donald J. Trump, who is campaigning to retake the White House from Mr. Biden in November, has sought to weaponize electric vehicles, repeating false claims during campaign rallies about their performance and affordability and using increasingly heated rhetoric. Most recently, he warned of a ‘blood bath’ in the middle of remarks about electric vehicles.” See also, Biden seeks to accelerate the EV (electric vehicle) transition in biggest climate move yet. The EPA’s final rule follows a concession to labor unions worried about a rapic shift to electric vehicles, and a nod that EV sales are slowing. The Washington Post, Maxine Joselow, Wednesday, 20 March 2024: “The Biden administration finalized the United States’ toughest limits on planet-warming emissions from passenger cars and light trucks Wednesday, in a controversial bid to accelerate the nation’s halting transition to electric vehicles. The Environmental Protection Agency rule — President Biden’s most far-reaching climate regulation yet — will require automakers to ramp up sales of electric vehicles while slashing carbon emissions from gasoline-powered models, which account for about one-fifth of America’s contribution to global warming. But unlike last year’s proposed rule, automakers will not need to dramatically boost electric vehicle (EV) sales until after 2030. The delayed timeline reflects an election-year concession to labor unions, a key Democratic constituency that has raised concerns about a rapid shift to EVs. In another change from the proposal, automakers could comply by boosting sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles in addition to all-electric vehicles. Plug-in hybrids have recently proved more popular with U.S. consumers, in part because of concerns about a lack of public charging infrastructure.” See also, Biden announces new rule for gas car emissions that could boost EV (electric vehicle) sector. The rule, hailed as a historic step on climate crisis, will have slashed more than 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2055. The Guardian, Dharna Noor, Wednesday, 20 March 2024: “In a move being hailed as one of the most significant climate rules in US history, the Biden administration announced on Wednesday new regulations on tailpipe emissions. The rule, which calls for a 56% reduction in fleetwide average carbon emissions by 2032, constitutes the strictest-ever limit on pollution from the nation’s cars and light trucks…. EVs made up just 7.6% of new car sales last year. But by 2032, the standards will mean EVs make up 35% to 56% of sales, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The new standards form one of the most significant pieces of the White House’s efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation is the largest source of planet-warming emissions in the US, and passenger cars and trucks account for the majority of that pollution.”

Georgia Judge Allows Trump and Co-Defendants to Appeal Ruling on Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. An appeals court will now decide if it will weigh in on whether Willis should be disqualified. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Wednesday, 20 March 2024: “In a setback for Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, a judge on Wednesday allowed defense lawyers in the Georgia criminal case against former President Donald J. Trump and his allies to try to appeal his ruling allowing Ms. Willis to stay on the case. Defense lawyers needed permission from the judge, Scott McAfee of Fulton County Superior Court, to pursue an appeal, and he granted it in a two-paragraph order. Whether it slows down the election interference case against Mr. Trump and his 14 co-defendants remains unclear. The Georgia Court of Appeals must still decide if it will weigh in on whether Ms. Willis has an untenable conflict of interest stemming from a romantic relationship she had with a lawyer she hired to run the Trump case, and on other related matters. Judge McAfee wrote in his brief order that he ‘intends to continue addressing the many other unrelated pending pretrial motions’ while the higher court decides what to do. If the appeals court declines to take up the question, the matter will be resolved quickly. If it decides an appeal is warranted, the matter could take months to clear up.” 

Lawyers and former judges said they are baffled by an order issued this week by Aileen Cannon, the federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s pending trial on charges that he mishandled classified documents; they believe her instructions suggest the case will not go to trial anytime soon. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Wednesday, 20 March 2024: “‘In my 30 years as a trial judge, I have never seen an order like this,’ said Jeremy Fogel, who served on the federal bench in California and now runs the Berkeley Judicial Institute. On Monday evening, U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon ordered the defense lawyers and the prosecutors in the case to file submissions outlining proposed jury instructions based on two scenarios, each of which badly misstates the law and facts of the case, according to legal experts. She has given the sides two weeks to craft jury instructions around competing interpretations of the Presidential Records Act, often referred to as the PRA. While the law says presidential records belong to the public and are to be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration at the end of a presidency, Trump’s lawyers have argued the PRA gave Trump the right to keep classified materials as his personal property. ‘What she has asked the parties to do is very, very troubling,’ Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge in Massachusetts, said of Cannon. ‘She is giving credence to arguments that are on their face absurd. She is ignoring a raft of other motions, equally absurd, that are unreasonably delaying the case.'”

Trump Indicates He Would Back a 15-Week Federal Abortion Ban. The remarks on a radio show came after he had been privately expressing support for a similar ban, at 16 weeks. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Wednesday, 20 March 2024: “Former President Donald J. Trump indicated this week that he was likely to back a 15-week federal ban on abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest and life-threatening emergencies. The comments, which Mr. Trump made Tuesday on the WABC radio show ‘Sid & Friends in the Morning,’ are in line with previous reporting that he had privately expressed support for a 16-week ban. But saying it publicly ties him concretely to a position that has been toxic for many Republicans…. He said at the same time that he thought abortion should be a state issue, and added that anti-abortion activists who wanted a ban earlier in pregnancy should understand that ‘you have to win elections.’ But while Mr. Trump cast 15 weeks as a compromise, such bans are broadly unpopular, according to both surveys and election results.”

 

Thursday, 21 March 2024:

 

Trump’s White House Valet Testified That Trump Told Mike Pence That Certifying the 2020 Election Would Be “Career Killer.’ President Donald Trump warned his vice president against failing to overturn the 2020 election results, according to an account by the White House valet by his side on January 6. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 21 March 2024: “The threat from President Donald J. Trump to his vice president, Mike Pence, was clear and direct: If you defy my effort to overturn the 2020 election by certifying the results, your future in Republican politics is over. ‘Mike, this is a political career killer if you do this,’ Mr. Trump told Mr. Pence by phone on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, according to the White House valet who was with the president for much of the day and told Congress he had overheard the conversation. The testimony of Mr. Trump’s valet, provided to the now-defunct House Jan. 6 Committee in 2022 but not previously released publicly, offers a rare firsthand look into the former president’s behavior in the hours before, during and after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol seeking to halt the certification of President Biden’s victory. In the valet’s account, laid out in a transcript obtained by The New York Times, an agitated Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Pence to overturn the election and stewed about Mr. Pence’s refusal for hours after violence engulfed Congress. Told that a civilian had been shot outside the House chamber amid the mob attack, he recalled, Mr. Trump appeared unconcerned.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Says Newly Disclosed Papers in Trump Case Contain Little of Value. A week after agreeing to a brief delay, Bragg said his office’s criminal prosecution of Donald Trump should begin April 15 as scheduled. The New York Times, Jesse McKinley and Kate Christobek, Thursday, 21 March 2024: “The Manhattan district attorney’s office said in court papers Thursday that a large cache of newly disclosed documents contained little that might influence or delay the criminal trial of Donald J. Trump, which is scheduled to begin in mid-April. In a surprising move, the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, agreed last week to allow a short delay in the trial to give Mr. Trump’s lawyers time to review the records. The documents had been turned over by federal prosecutors who had previously investigated Michael Cohen, the former president’s longtime fixer who is expected to be a key witness in Mr. Bragg’s prosecution.” See also, Papers that delayed Trump’s New York trial involve key witness Michael Cohen. Prosecutor argues in court filing that the latest legal fight in New York should not delay Donald Trump’s hush money trial past mid-April. The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Devlin Barrett, Thursday, 21 March 2024: “Manhattan prosecutors on Thursday defended their handling of evidence in Donald Trump’s hush money case, saying there was nothing particularly important or problematic in a large batch of documents that was recently given to the former president’s lawyers, prompting a delay in the trial of at least 20 days. The new court filings from District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) come ahead of a Monday hearing in which Trump’s defense team will ask the judge overseeing the case to impose tough penalties on prosecutors for only recently turning over more than 100,000 pages of potential evidence — specifically, information gathered years earlier by federal agents and prosecutors about Michael Cohen, a former Trump lawyer and fixer who is a key witness in the case. Bragg told New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan there was nothing in the material that should push the start of the trial past mid-April.” See also, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg tells judge not to further delay Trump trial: ‘Enough is enough.’ Bragg’s office said only about 300 of the over 170,000 documents recently turned over to Trump’s lawyers have any relevance to the case. NBC News, Adam Reiss, Tom winter, Lisa Rubin, and Deareh Gregorian, Thursday, 21 March 2024: “State prosecutors in New York said Thursday that fewer than 300 of the over 170,000 documents recently turned over to lawyers for former President Donald Trump are potentially relevant to his criminal defense and that their case alleging falsified business records should proceed to trial on April 15. In a court filing, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said the vast majority of the evidence turned over by federal prosecutors that it considers new and relevant originated from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and has no bearing on the allegations against Trump. ‘Enough is enough. These tactics by defendant and defense counsel should be stopped,’ the DA’s filing said, referring to Trump’s attempts to further delay or derail the trial.”

 

Friday, 22 March 2024:

 

Inside Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Effort to Prosecute Trump. In trying to avoid even the smallest mistakes, Garland might have made one big one: ending up in a race against the clock. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Adam Goldman, Friday, 22 March 2024: “After being sworn in as attorney general in March 2021, Merrick B. Garland gathered his closest aides to discuss a topic too sensitive to broach in bigger groups: the possibility that evidence from the far-ranging Jan. 6 investigation could quickly lead to former President Donald J. Trump and his inner circle. At the time, some in the Justice Department were pushing for the chance to look at ties between pro-Trump rioters who assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, his allies who had camped out at the Willard Hotel, and possibly Mr. Trump himself. Mr. Garland said he would place no restrictions on their work, even if the ‘evidence leads to Trump,’ according to people with knowledge of several conversations held over his first months in office. ‘Follow the connective tissue upward,’ said Mr. Garland, adding a directive that would eventually lead to a dead end: ‘Follow the money.’ With that, he set the course of a determined and methodical, if at times dysfunctional and maddeningly slow, investigation that would yield the indictment of Mr. Trump on four counts of election interference in August 2023. The story of how it unfolded, based on dozens of interviews, is one that would pit Mr. Garland, a quintessential rule follower determined to restore the department’s morale and independence, against the ultimate rule breaker — Mr. Trump, who was intent on bending the legal system to his will.”

 

Saturday, 23 March 2024:

 

Trump escalates solidarity with January 6 rioters as his own trials close in. The presumptive Republican nominee is aligning himself with the rioters and intensifying his use of dark, graphic, and at times violent language. The Washington Post, Marianne Le Vine, Isaac Arnsdorf, and Clara Ence Morse, Saturday, 23 March 2024: “Shortly after Donald Trump walked onstage at a recent rally, the voice of an announcer instructed the crowd to rise ‘for the horribly and unfairly treated January 6th hostages.’ Trump saluted, and the loudspeakers blasted a rendition of the national anthem performed by people accused or convicted of crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Trump then kicked off the rally with a promise to help the defendants — a group that includes violent offenders he has glorified as ‘patriots’ and ‘hostages’ and pledged to pardon if he returns to power. ‘We’re going to be working on that the first day we get into office,’ Trump said at the rally this month in Dayton, Ohio. That vow is part of a broader renewed emphasis by Trump to align himself with Jan. 6 rioters, as he intensifies his use of dark, graphic and at times violent language as he has closed in on and secured the Republican nomination. Until November, he called the Jan. 6 defendants, some of whom have been detained by court order or are serving sentences, ‘political prisoners’ before introducing the term ‘hostages,’ according to a Washington Post analysis of his speeches this campaign cycle.”

 

Sunday, 24 March 2024:

 

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is done with Donald Trump and won’t rule out leaving the Republican Party, CNN, Manu Raju, Sunday, 24 March 2024: “Sen. Lisa Murkowski, aghast at Donald Trump’s candidacy and the direction of her party, won’t rule out bolting from the GOP. The veteran Alaska Republican, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial amid the aftermath of January 6, 2021, is done with the former president and said she ‘absolutely’ would not vote for him. ‘I wish that as Republicans, we had … a nominee that I could get behind,’ Murkowski told CNN. ‘I certainly can’t get behind Donald Trump.’ The party’s shift toward Trump has caused Murkowski to consider her future within the GOP. In the interview, she would not say if she would remain a Republican.” See also, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska Won’t Vote for Trump and Declines Ruling Out Leaving the Republican Party. In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Murkowski said, “I just regret that our party is seemingly becoming a party of Donald Trump.” The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Sunday, 24 March 2024: “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. In the interview, which Ms. Murkowski gave to CNN, she said that she would ‘absolutely’ not support Mr. Trump in the general election in November. She said that she wished Republicans had nominated someone whom she could vote for, but that she ‘certainly can’t get behind Donald Trump.’ Asked whether she might leave the party and become an independent, she said that she considered herself ‘very independent-minded’ and added, ‘I just regret that our party is seemingly becoming a party of Donald Trump.’ But she did not give a yes-or-no answer, saying: ‘I am navigating my way through some very interesting political times. Let’s just leave it at that.'”

Former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel on her previous RNC positions: ‘You kind of take one for the whole team.’ McDaniel addressed her decision not to speak out against Trump’s calls to free those imprisoned for their role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Politico, Kelly Garrity, Sunday, 24 March 2024: “Former RNC chair and recently appointed NBC political analyst Ronna McDaniel on Sunday explained why she’s only now saying that violent Jan. 6 rioters shouldn’t be freed — a stance directly opposed to former President Donald Trump’s position. ‘When you’re the RNC Chair, you kind of take one for the whole team,’ McDaniel said during an interview on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ her first appearance on the network since getting the job. ‘Now I get to be a little bit more myself.’ Trump has been calling for months for the rioters, who he describes as ‘hostages,’ to be freed. The former president’s first act, if reelected, would be to free them himself, he said earlier this month. The explanation didn’t satisfy some prominent critics, who blamed McDaniel enabling crime and putting election officials at risk. Former Rep. Liz Cheney blasted McDaniel following the comment, accusing her of enabling ‘criminality’ and ‘depravity’ during her time at the RNC. ‘Ronna facilitated Trump’s corrupt fake elector plot & his effort to pressure [Michigan] officials not to certify the legitimate election outcome. She spread his lies & called 1/6 “legitimate political discourse.” That’s not “taking one for the team.” It’s enabling criminality & depravity,’ the Wyoming Republican and outspoken Trump critic wrote on X.” See also, The Ronna McDaniel Firestorm Is Bigger than NBC. the revolving door between political operatives and the mainstream media has been spinning for decades. Politico, Jack Shafer, published on Monday, 25 March 2024: “As if responding to an alarm setting on a cosmic, biological clock, the press and its minders set to ringing and clanging bloody murder over the weekend as NBC News moved Ronna McDaniel — the recently sacked Republican National Committee chair — to a paid gig in its studio. The hottest criticism took place on NBC News’ own Sunday edition of Meet the Press after McDaniel made her first appearance, as Chuck Todd, Meet the Press’ former host, laid down a barrage of verbal spitfire. NBC News bosses owed the current host, Kristen Welker, an apology for foisting McDaniel on the show, Todd said.’I have no idea whether any answer she gave to you was because she didn’t want to mess up her contract,’ Todd said. It was a remarkable 2 minutes 21 seconds of television. First, because the first law of journalism was violated by allowing the program itself to become the story. And second, because it put a glaring spotlight on one of the fundamental flaws embedded in the modern news ecosystem, and cable news in particular: the toxic revolving door between political operatives and mainstream media.” See also, Ronna McDaniel faces sharp criticism after NBC hiring–including on NBC. On ‘Meet the Press,’ where McDaniel was interviewed, Chuck Todd and other journalists said hiring the former RNC chair raised credibility issues. More criticism followed Monday from the hosts of MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’ The Washington Post, Drew Harwell, Sunday, 24 March 2024 and updated on Monday, 25 March 2024: “Former Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel faced brutal criticism Sunday during her first NBC appearance since the network hired her as a political analyst, including tough questioning about her failure to push back against former president Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and visceral aggravation from journalists who said her hiring raised ‘credibility issues’ for NBC…. McDaniel, who as RNC chair had repeatedly said the election was ‘rigged,’ told Welker during the interview that she disagreed with Trump’s claims of election fraud and his calls to free the inmates jailed for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. ‘The reality is Joe Biden won,’ she said. ‘… He’s the legitimate president.’ But minutes later, a panel of journalists on the show questioned the credibility of her answers and laid into NBC executives for their decision to hire someone who had long attacked the network. ‘Our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this situation because I don’t know what to believe,’ Chuck Todd, NBC journalist and former ‘Meet the Press’ host, told Welker. ‘ … I have no idea whether any answer she gave to you was because she didn’t want to mess up her contract.’ The on-air criticism continued Monday on NBC’s cable cousin MSNBC, where ‘Morning Joe’ host Joe Scarborough said that he and his co-hosts ‘strongly objected’ to the hire. Scarborough — a former GOP congressman turned cable-news star — specifically cited ‘McDaniel’s role in Donald Trump’s fake elector scheme and her pressuring election officials to not certify election results.'” See also, NBC News Faces Rebellion Over Hiring of Former Republican Party Chair Ronna McDaniel. In extraordinary on-air remarks, Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough, and Nicolle Wallace questioned their own network’s decision to hire McDaniel as a political analyst. The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, published on Monday, 25 March 2024: “Leadership at NBC raced to contain an escalating revolt on Monday as some of the country’s best-known television anchors took the extraordinary step of criticizing their network on its own airwaves for hiring Ronna McDaniel, the former chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, as a political analyst. One day after Chuck Todd stunned executives by denouncing Ms. McDaniel’s appointment on ‘Meet the Press,’ Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski opened their MSNBC show, ‘Morning Joe,’ with a lengthy criticism of Ms. McDaniel, calling her ‘an anti-democracy election denier’ and urging their bosses to reconsider her employment. ‘We’ve been inundated with calls this weekend, as have most people connected with this network, about NBC’s decision to hire her,’ Mr. Scarborough said. ‘We weren’t asked our opinion of the hiring, but, if we were, we would have strongly objected to it for several reasons.’ Hours later, the star MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace all but accused her employer of enabling authoritarianism by granting Ms. McDaniel a platform. She told her viewers that NBC News, ‘wittingly or unwittingly,’ had signaled to ‘election deniers’ that they could spread falsehoods ‘as one of us, as badge-carrying employees of NBC News, as paid contributors to our sacred airwaves.'”

 

Monday, 25 March 2024:

 

Trump’s Bond in Civil Fraud Case Is Reduced to $175 Million. The former president was trying to secure a half-billion-dollar bond, but an appeals court lowered the amount. The surprise decision may help him stave off financial disaster. The New York Times, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum, Monday, 25 March 2024: “With Donald J. Trump on the clock to secure a nearly half-billion-dollar bond in his civil fraud case, a New York appeals court handed the former president a lifeline on Monday, saying it would accept a far smaller bond of $175 million. The ruling by a panel of five appellate court judges was a crucial and unexpected victory for Mr. Trump, potentially staving off a looming financial disaster. Had the court denied his request for a smaller bond in the fraud case, which was brought by the New York attorney general, Mr. Trump risked losing control over his bank accounts and even some of his marquee properties. For now, those dire outcomes might be on hold. If Mr. Trump obtains the smaller bond, it will prevent the attorney general from collecting while he appeals the $454 million judgment against him. The appeal in the case, in which a trial judge found that Mr. Trump fraudulently inflated his net worth, could take months or longer to resolve.” See also, Trump wins partial stay of fraud judgment and is allowed to post $175 million bond. Trump previously faced a requirement that he post a half-billion dollar bond to stop New York Attorney General Letitia James from taking his assets. The Washington Post, Mark Berman, Jonathan O’Connell, and Shayna Jacobs, Monday, 25 March 2024: “An appeals court panel in New York said Monday that former president Donald Trump would be allowed to post a $175 million bond to stave off enforcement of a nearly half-billion-dollar civil judgment against him and his business. The order was a significant win for Trump, who was otherwise facing a massive cash crunch and the prospect of New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) moving to seize some of his assets as soon as this week. However, while the five state judges on the panel eased the financial strain on Trump, they did not erase it entirely. They gave Trump 10 days to come up with the reduced bond of $175 million, saying they would only delay enforcement of the full amount if he put up that lower figure within this window — and it is not immediately clear how he will come up with the money.” See also, A New York appeals court agrees to pause collection of Trump’s massive civil fraud judgment if he puts up $175M, Associated Press, Jennifer Peltz and Michael R. Sisak, Monday, 25 March 2024: “A New York appeals court on Monday agreed to hold off collection of former President Donald Trump’s more than $454 million civil fraud judgment if he puts up $175 million within 10 days. If Trump does, it will stop the clock on collection and prevent the state from seizing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s assets while he appeals. The appeals court also halted other aspects of a trial judge’s ruling that had barred Trump and his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., the family company’s executive vice presidents, from serving in corporate leadership for several years. In all, the order was a significant victory for the Republican ex-president as he defends the real estate empire that vaulted him into public life. The development came just before New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, was expected to initiate efforts to collect the judgment.”

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 to cover up a simmering sex scandal during his 2016 presidential campaign. The New York Times, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, Jesse McKinley, and Kate Christobek, Monday, 25 March 2024: “Donald J. Trump is all but certain to become the first former American president to stand trial on criminal charges after a judge on Monday denied his effort to delay the proceeding and confirmed it would begin next month. The trial, in which Mr. Trump will be accused of orchestrating the cover-up of a simmering sex scandal surrounding his 2016 presidential campaign, had originally been scheduled to start this week. But the judge, Juan M. Merchan, had pushed the start date to April 15 to allow Mr. Trump’s lawyers to review newly disclosed documents from a related federal investigation. Mr. Trump’s lawyers had pushed for an even longer delay of 90 days and sought to have the case thrown out altogether. But in an hourlong hearing Monday, Justice Merchan slammed their arguments, rejecting them all.” See also, Trump’s New York trial involving allegations related to hush money paid during Trump’s 2016 campaign to cover up marital infidelity claims is set for April 15, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak, Jake Offenhartz, and Eric Tucker, Monday, 25 March 2024: “The first of Donald Trump’s four criminal trials will begin April 15, a Manhattan judge ruled Monday, tearing into the former president’s lawyers for what he said were unfounded claims that the hush-money case had been tainted by prosecutorial misconduct. Judge Juan M. Merchan scoffed at the defense’s calls to delay the case longer or throw it out entirely because of a last-minute document dump that had bumped the first-ever trial of a former president from its scheduled Monday start. Trump vowed to appeal the ruling. Barring another delay, the presumptive Republican nominee will be on trial as a criminal defendant in just three weeks — an inauspicious homecoming in the city where he grew up, built a real estate empire and gained wealth and celebrity that propelled him to the White House.” See also, How Trump’s Complex ‘Hush Money’ Payoffs Sparked 34 Election-Related Criminal Charges, Just Security, Adam Klasfeld, Monday, 25 March 2024: “Former President Trump is not facing a trial for making ‘hush-money’ payments, which is not a state or federal crime. The former president’s lawyers and handlers have characterized the payments as nothing more unusual than a confidential settlement entered into courts across the country every day. But Trump didn’t cut a simple check. And the backdrop of the transaction, set against more than two dozen women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct before voters went to the polls, made it anything but routine. For Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the grand jury’s indictment alleges something far more serious: an attempt to ‘corrupt’ a presidential election, giving Trump an illegal edge in a razor-thin race. ‘The core is not money for sex,’ Bragg told a local NPR affiliate late last year. ‘We would say it’s about conspiring to corrupt a presidential election and then lying in New York business records to cover it up.’ Since that time, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan issued multiple rulings reinforcing that framing. The judge called the charges ‘serious’ and refused every effort by Trump to keep federal and state election law out of the case. Though Trump is not technically charged with election interference — a federal statute distinct from the one he’s accused of violating — the main theories of the case behind all 34 counts ask jurors to find a plot to deceive voters in New York and nationally. The phrase ‘hush money’ obscures the byzantine system through which Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen transmitted the payments and the former president reimbursed him over the course of nearly a year. Obtaining a home equity loan from First Republic Bank, Cohen funneled $130,000 through his shell company Essential Consultants LLC to attorney Keith Davidson, Daniels’ lawyer at the time, who then compensated her. As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Cohen also hired the IT firm RedFinch Solutions to rig online polls in Trump’s favor: promising to pay $50,000, then ultimately stiffing the company.”

Federal officials say 20 have been charged for threatening election workers, The Washington Post, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Perry Stein, Monday, 25 March 2024: “Justice Department officials said reports of widespread threats against officials running the 2020 and 2022 elections have resulted in charges against roughly 20 people, with more than a half dozen receiving sentences between one and 3½ years. But the federal officials said at a news conference in Arizona on Monday that it remains to be seen if the stiff sentences will serve as an effective deterrent to would-be-criminals in future election cycles. ‘Let these cases be a lesson not to take or attempt to take the rule of law into one’s own hands,’ said U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino, Arizona’s top federal prosecutor. When Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election and falsely claimed that Joe Biden wasn’t the true winner because of widespread voter fraud, election workers across the country — from rank-and-file employees who helped process ballots to top state officials who certified or defended the results — came under attack. In June 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland launched the Election Threats Task Force to combat violent threats facing election workers.” See also, The head of a federal taskforce set up to protect the election community from violent threats said US election officials face ‘new era’ of violent threats, The Guardian, Ed Pilkington, Monday, 25 March 2024: “Election officials across the US are facing an onslaught of unfounded hostility for ‘dutifully and reliably doing their jobs’, the head of a federal taskforce set up to protect the election community from violent threats said on Monday. John Keller, who leads the day-to-day efforts of the election threats taskforce, based in Washington, told reporters that the wave of violent threats – unleashed by Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen – amounted to an attack ‘on the very foundation of our democracy – our elections’. He said that the US had entered a ‘new era’ in which the election community ‘is scapegoated, targeted and attacked’. On Monday, the taskforce, founded in June 2021, secured its 10th sentence of a perpetrator of violent threats against an election official.” 

 

Tuesday, 26 March 2024: 

 

Judge Juan Merchan Imposes Gag Order on Trump in Manhattan Criminal Trial, The New York Times, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum, Tuesday, 26 March 2024: “The New York judge presiding over one of Donald J. Trump’s criminal trials imposed a gag order on Tuesday that prohibits him from attacking witnesses, prosecutors and jurors, the latest effort to rein in the former president’s wrathful rhetoric about his legal opponents. The judge, Juan M. Merchan, imposed the order at the request of the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which brought the case against Mr. Trump. The district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, has accused Mr. Trump of covering up a potential sex scandal during and after his 2016 campaign. The ruling comes on the heels of Justice Merchan’s setting an April 15 trial date, rejecting Mr. Trump’s latest effort to delay the proceeding while he seeks to reclaim the White House. It will mark the first prosecution of a former American president, and it might be the only one of Mr. Trump’s criminal cases to go to trial before voters head to the polls in November. Under the judge’s order, Mr. Trump cannot make, or direct others to make, statements about witnesses’ roles in the case. Mr. Trump is also barred from commenting on prosecutors, court staff and their relatives if he intends to interfere with their work on the case. Any comments whatsoever about jurors are banned as well, the judge ruled, citing an array of hostile remarks Mr. Trump has made about grand jurors, prosecutors and others. ‘His statements were threatening, inflammatory, denigrating,’ Justice Merchan wrote in the Tuesday order.” See also, Judge Juan Merchan placed Trump under limited gag order ahead of New York criminal trial. Trump is charged with falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment during the 2016 election which prosecutors say was aimed at keeping information about an alleged affair from the voting public. The New York Times, Shayna Jacobs, Tuesday, 26 March 2024: “The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s upcoming hush money trial in Manhattan issued a limited gag order Tuesday barring the former president from discussing witnesses and other people involved in the case, a move that could curtail some of Trump’s public comments as he campaigns for president. Trump’s history of ‘prior extrajudicial statements establishes a sufficient risk to the administration of justice,’ wrote New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who ruled on Monday that the trial would begin with jury selection on April 15.” See also, Judge Juan Merchan issues gag order barring Donald Trump from commenting on witnesses and others in New York criminal case, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak, Tuesday, 26 March 2024: “A New York judge Tuesday issued a gag order barring Donald Trump from commenting publicly about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors in his upcoming hush-money criminal trial, citing the former president’s history of “threatening, inflammatory, denigrating” remarks about people involved in his legal cases. Judge Juan M. Merchan’s decision, echoing a gag order in Trump’s Washington, D.C., election interference criminal case, came a day after he rejected the defense’s push to delay the Manhattan trial until summer and ordered it to begin April 15. If the date holds, it will be the first criminal trial of a former president. ‘Given that the eve of trial is upon us, it is without question that the imminency of the risk of harm is now paramount,’ Merchan wrote in a four-page decision granting the prosecution’s request for what it deemed a ‘narrowly tailored’ gag order. The judge said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s statements have induced fear and necessitated added security measures to protect his targets and investigate threats…. Trump’s hush-money case centers on allegations that he falsely logged payments to Cohen, then his personal lawyer, as legal fees in his company’s books when they were for his work during the 2016 campaign covering up negative stories about Trump [to keep these stories from the voting public]. That included $130,000 he had paid Daniels on Trump’s behalf so she wouldn’t publicize her claim of a sexual encounter with him years earlier.”

NBC News Cuts Ties With Ronna McDaniel After Network Firestorm. A string of top stars had denounced the hiring of Ms McDaniel, the former chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, on their own airwaves. The New York Times, Michael M. Brynbaum and John Koblin, Tuesday, 26 March 2024: “The Ronna McDaniel era at NBC News has come to an abrupt and chaotic end. Facing an extraordinary on-air revolt by its leading stars, NBC’s top news executive said on Tuesday that he had decided to cut ties with Ms. McDaniel, the former chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, who was hired last week as an on-air political commentator. Her tenure at NBC lasted four days. Ms. McDaniel’s appointment, announced with fanfare on Friday, was immediately criticized by reporters at the network and viewers on social media. Fans of MSNBC, NBC’s left-leaning cable arm, were particularly outraged, citing Ms. McDaniel’s leadership of the Republican Party under former President Donald J. Trump and her handling of his false claims that the 2020 election was rigged. ‘After listening to the legitimate concerns of many of you, I have decided that Ronna McDaniel will not be an NBC News contributor,’ Cesar Conde, the chairman of the NBCUniversal News Group, wrote in a staff memo on Tuesday. ‘No organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned,’ Mr. Conde continued. ‘Over the last few days, it has become clear that this appointment undermines that goal.’… [M]ultiple star anchors viewed Ms. McDaniel’s involvement in Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election result as disqualifying, and they lined up one by one to denounce NBC’s decision on its own airwaves.” See also, How Ronna McDaniel Backed Trump’s Early Bid to Hold Power. During a very brief tenure at NBC News, the former Republican Party leader downplayed her role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election. A review of the record showed she was involved in some key episodes. The New York Times, Jum Rutenberg and Alexandra Berzon, Tuesday, 26 March 2024: “By the second week of December 2020, the presidential election was decided and heading to a formal vote at the Electoral College. Like President Trump, the Republican Party chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, wasn’t ready to concede. ‘Every illegal vote is stealing from a valid vote, and every state that conducted their election fraudulently is stealing from states that conducted their elections fairly,’ Ms. McDaniel told Sean Hannity of Fox News on Dec. 8. At the time, key campaign aides had already told Mr. Trump that he had lost. Advisers had found no credible evidence of fraud or irregularities that could have reversed the outcome. The Electoral College would confirm Joseph R. Biden was the winner six days later. Yet, Ms. McDaniel’s appearance on Mr. Hannity’s program was part of her concerted efforts to help Mr. Trump dispute his election loss. Of the major figures involved in Mr. Trump’s bid to keep power, Ms. McDaniel has received relatively scant attention. She is only now facing intense scrutiny after NBC journalists revolted over their network’s decision to hire her as an on-air contributor, leading to an abrupt end to her days-long relationship with the network. Ms. McDaniel had recently tried to downplay her role. But a review of her record shows she was, at times, closely involved in and supportive of Mr. Trump’s legal and political maneuvering ahead of the violent attempt to block Congress from certifying Mr. Biden’s victory on Jan. 6.” 

Trump’s Newest Venture? A $60 Bible. His Bible sales pitch comes as he appears to be confronting a significant financial squeeze, with his legal fees growing while he fights a number of criminal cases and lawsuits. The New York Times, Michael Gold and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 26 March 2024: “Before he turned to politics, former President Donald J. Trump lent his star power and celebrity endorsement to a slew of consumer products — steaks, vodka and even for-profit education, to name just a few. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, added a new item to the list: a $60 Bible. Days before Easter, Mr. Trump posted a video on his social media platform in which he encouraged his supporters to buy the ‘God Bless the USA Bible,’ named after the ballad by the country singer Lee Greenwood, which Mr. Trump plays as he takes the stage at his rallies…. Though Mr. Trump is not selling the Bible, he is getting royalties from purchases, according to a person familiar with the details of the business arrangement. Priced at $59.99, plus shipping and tax, the ‘God Bless the USA Bible’ includes a King James Bible and a handwritten version of the chorus of Mr. Greenwood’s song, and copies of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance.”

 

Wednesday, 27 March 2024:

 

Trump Spreads Apparent Hoax in Attacking Judge Juan Merchan’s Daughter. Donald Trump said a photo of him behind bars on Loren Merchan’s X account meant he could not get a fair trial, but a court official said someone had appropriated the account. The New York Times, Jesse McKinley and Ben Protess, Wednesday, 27 March 2024: “It was an explosive claim from Donald J. Trump, just weeks before his Manhattan criminal trial is set to begin: He assailed the judge’s daughter on Wednesday, saying she had used an image of the former president behind bars as a social media profile picture. The photo made it ‘completely impossible for me to get a fair trial,’ Mr. Trump wrote on Truth Social. He demanded that the judge, Juan M. Merchan, recuse himself. But there was a problem with his claim: The New York State Court system says the account on X is bogus. Although the handle once belonged to the judge’s daughter, Loren Merchan, she deleted it about a year ago, a court spokesman said. Someone else — it is unclear who — has since taken it over. Its profile picture is now a childhood portrait of Vice President Kamala Harris.” See also, Donald Trump assails Judge Juan Merchan and his daughter after gag order in New York hush-money criminal case, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak, Wednesday, 27 March 2024: “Donald Trump lashed out Wednesday at the New York judge who put him under a gag order ahead of his April 15 hush-money criminal trial, making a fallacious claim about his daughter and urging him to step aside from the case. In a social media post, the former president suggested without evidence that Judge Juan M. Merchan was kowtowing to his daughter’s interests as a Democratic political consultant. He also made a claim — later repudiated by court officials — that she had posted a social media photo showing Trump behind bars…. In a statement, a spokesperson for New York’s state court system said that claim was false and that the social media account Trump was referencing no longer belongs to Loren Merchan. It appears to have been taken over by someone else after she deleted it about a year ago, court spokesperson Al Baker said.” See also, Republican-appointed judges raise alarm over Trump attacks on law. Federal D.C. Judge Reggie B. Walton warned Trump’s attacks on hush-money trial judge and others could lead to violence. Reagan and Bush-appointed judges decry January 6 revisionism and Trump’s threats.  The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, published on Friday, 29 March 2024: “A Republican-appointed judge denounced Donald Trump’s social media attacks against the judge presiding over the former president’s hush money trial in Manhattan and his daughter, calling them assaults on the rule of law that could lead to violence and tyranny. ‘When judges are threatened, and particularly when their family is threatened, it’s something that’s wrong and should not happen,’ U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in a live interview Thursday. He added, ‘It is very troubling because I think it is an attack on the rule of law.’ The unusual media statement by a sitting federal judge came after Trump blasted New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan and his daughter, Loren Merchan, criticizing her affiliation with a digital marketing company that works with Democratic candidates and erroneously attributing to her a social media post showing Trump behind bars.”

How Trump Moved Money to Pay $100 Million in Legal Bills, The New York Times, Molly Cook Escobar, Albert Sun, and Shane Goldmacher, Wednesday, 27 March 2024: “Former President Donald J. Trump has spent more than $100 million since leaving office, on lawyers and other costs related to fending off various investigations, indictments and his coming criminal trials, according to a New York Times review of federal records. The remarkable sum means that Mr. Trump has averaged more than $90,000 a day in legal-related costs for more than three years — none of it paid for with his own money. Instead, the former president has relied almost entirely on donations made in an attempt to fight the results of the 2020 election. Now, those accounts are nearly drained, and Mr. Trump faces a choice: begin to pay his own substantial legal fees or find another way to finance them.”

Was the 2020 election stolen? Job interviews at the Republican National Committee (RNC) take an unusual turn. Prospective hires say agreeing with Trump’s false election claim appears to be a new litmus test for being hired by the party. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 27 March 2024: “Those seeking employment at the Republican National Committee after a Donald Trump-backed purge of the committee this month have been asked in job interviews if they believe the 2020 election was stolen, according to people familiar with the interviews, making the false claim a litmus test of sorts for hiring. In recent days, Trump advisers have quizzed multiple employees who had worked in key 2024 states — and who are reapplying for jobs — about their views on the last presidential election, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private interviews and discussions. The interviews have been conducted mostly virtually, as the applicants are based in key swing states.” See also, The Republican National Committee Has a New Interview Question: Was the 2020 Election Stolen? The question during job interviews at the Republican National Committee reflects Donald Trump’s newly tightened grip on the party apparatus. The New York Times, Michael C. Bender, Wednesday, 27 March 2024: “Former President Donald J. Trump’s full takeover of the Republican National Committee continued this week with interviews for key positions that have included a jarring question: Was the 2020 presidential election stolen? That question has been asked in interviews aimed at replacing some of the more than 60 R.N.C. officials who were laid off this month, according to three people familiar with the matter. Most of the applicants who were posed the question responded with some version of an answer saying that there had been irregularities in the 2020 presidential contest and that changes to rules and laws that year because of the coronavirus pandemic had created cause for concern, the people familiar with the matter said. There is no evidence of widespread fraud in that year’s election, but Mr. Trump and some of his allies have continued to cast doubt on its legitimacy. The Washington Post first reported that the R.N.C. interviews included a question about the validity of the 2020 election. It was unclear how the answers from applicants would affect party officials’ hiring decisions.” See also, People seeking employment at the Republican National Committee (RNC) are asked whether they believe the 2020 election was stolen, CNN Politics, Alayna Treene and Daniel Strauss, published on Friday, 29 March 2024: “People seeking employment at the Republican National Committee have been asked in recent job interviews whether they believe the 2020 election was stolen, according to two sources familiar with the questioning. Over the past few weeks, Trump advisers have asked those seeking employment at the RNC about their views of fraud during the 2020 election, with the question serving as an apparent litmus test for hiring, the sources said. Use of the question comes after the Trump campaign has effectively merged its operations with the RNC. The Washington Post first reported the substance of the interview questions.”

California Judge Finds John Eastman Should Lose His Law License. The decision was only the latest effort by bar officials to seek accountability against a group of lawyers who sought to help President Donald Trump stay in office despite his election loss. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 27 March 2024: “A judge in California recommended on Wednesday that the lawyer John Eastman be stripped of his law license, finding he had violated rules of professional ethics by persistently lying in his efforts to help former President Donald J. Trump maintain his grip on power after losing the 2020 election. In a 128-page ruling, the judge, Yvette Roland, said Mr. Eastman had willfully misrepresented facts in lawsuits he helped file challenging the election results and acted dishonestly in promoting a ‘wild theory’ that Mr. Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, could unilaterally declare him the victor during a certification proceeding at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. ‘In sum, Eastman exhibited gross negligence by making false statements about the 2020 election without conducting any meaningful investigation or verification of the information he was relying upon,’ Judge Roland found, adding that he had breached ‘his ethical duty as an attorney to prioritize honesty and integrity.’ The ruling said Mr. Eastman would lose his license within three days of the decision being issued. While he can appeal the finding, the ruling makes his license ‘inactive,’ meaning that he cannot practice law in California while a review is taking place. The decision was only the latest effort by bar officials across the country to seek accountability against a group of lawyers who pushed false claims of election fraud and sought to help Mr. Trump stay in office.” See also, California judge recommends ex-Trump election lawyer John Eastman be disbarred, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz and Hannah Rabinowitz, Wednesday, 27 March 2024: “An attorney discipline judge in California has recommended that ex-Trump election lawyer John Eastman be disbarred, according to an opinion released on Wednesday. Eastman will lose his ability to practice law within days, because the court’s decision involuntarily revokes his license, according to the opinion. Judge Yvette Roland’s opinion comes after a lengthy trial about Eastman’s actions as he led some of the efforts for Donald Trump to challenge his 2020 election loss. The opinion serves as a recommendation to the California Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide whether to endorse or reject the punishment. Eastman will have the opportunity to appeal Roland’s ruling. Still, the judge’s opinion marks a major step in the consequences for lawyers who propelled false theories of election fraud on Trump’s behalf.” See also, California judge recommends disbarment of pro-Trump attorney John Eastman, NPR, Tom Dreisbach, Wednesday, 27 March 2024: “A California judge has formally recommended that attorney John Eastman lose his law license for his role in Donald Trump’s legal effort to remain in power after losing the 2020 presidential election. Eastman, a prominent figure in conservative legal circles and a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, played a key role in developing and backing a plan for states to send pro-Trump slates of electors to Congress and have then-Vice President Mike Pence unilaterally block or delay the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. ‘Eastman’s wrongdoing constitutes exceptionally serious ethical violations warranting severe professional discipline,’ wrote California State Bar Court Judge Yvette Roland in her decision. ‘Eastman made multiple patently false and misleading statements in court filings, in public remarks heard by countless Americans and to others regarding the conduct of the 2020 presidential election and Vice President Pence’s authority to refuse to count or delay counting properly certified slates of electoral votes on January 6, 2021.’ Judge Roland also criticized Eastman’s defiant response to the allegations against him. ‘His lack of insight into the wrongfulness of his misconduct is deeply troubling,’ wrote Judge Roland. ‘While Eastman is entitled to defend himself, his conduct goes beyond this, revealing a complete failure to understand the wrongfulness of his actions.'” 

 

Thursday, 28 March 2024:

 

Biden Administration Restores Wildlife Protections Weakened Under Trump. The rules give federal officials more leeway to protect species in a changing climate. Industry groups are expected to sue. The New York Times, Catrin Einhorn, Thursday, 28 March 2024: “After three years of planning and navigating the slow bureaucracy of federal rule-making, the Biden administration is restoring a series of protections for imperiled animals and plants that had been loosened under President Donald J. Trump. The rules, proposed last year and now finalized, give federal officials more leeway to protect species in a changing climate; bring back protections for animals that are classified as ‘threatened’ with extinction, which is one step short of ‘endangered’; and clarify that decisions about whether to list a species must be made without considering economic factors. They come as countries around the world grapple with a biodiversity crisis that has taken hold as humans have transformed the planet.” See also, Biden administration restores threatened species protections dropped by Trump, Associated Press, Matthew Brown, Thursday, 28 March 2024: “The Biden administration on Thursday restored rules to protect imperiled species and shield their habitat from destruction after the measures were rolled back under former President Donald Trump. Among the changes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will reinstate a decades-old regulation that mandates blanket protections for animals and plants newly classified as threatened. That means officials won’t have to craft specific plans to shield each individual species while protections are pending, as has been done recently with North American wolverines in the Rocky Mountains, alligator snapping turtles in the Southeast and spotted owls in California. The restoration of more protective regulations rankled Republicans who said the Endangered Species Act was being wielded too broadly and to the detriment of economic growth. Meanwhile, wildlife advocates were only partially satisfied, saying some potentially harmful changes under Trump were untouched.”

A ship crashed into a Baltimore bridge and demolished the lies about immigration. Despite the right’s ridiculous DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] conspiracy theories, the Baltimore bridge disaster reminded us that immigrants are what makes America great. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Will Bunch, Thursday, 28 March 2024: “From the day in the mid-2000s when a then-20-year-old Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval crossed the border into America, he never stopped working. The youngest of eight children, Suazo was fleeing numbing poverty and a dead-end career path in Azacualpa, a small rural village in the western mountains of Honduras. The undocumented Suazo wound up in Greater Baltimore, a magnet for Central American refugees with its relatively cheap housing for the bustling Eastern Seaboard, a friendly climate toward migrants, and lots of opportunity. With American dreams of entrepreneurship, he took menial jobs like clearing brush, then launched a package delivery service, and when COVID-19 ended that, started working overnight construction for a Baltimore contractor, Brawner Brothers…. Suazo and seven men with stories very much like his — migrants from the neighboring countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico — were filling potholes on the region’s major span on a raw March night. They were doing a backbreaking job at a wretched hour, one many other Americans simply can’t or won’t do ― all so their neighbors could drive safely to their warm, comfortable office cubicles in the dawn’s early light…. When the Dali cargo ship demolished that bridge support on Tuesday, it obliterated all the ridiculous lies and myths our demagogues have been spreading around immigration. There were no sex traffickers aboard the Key Bridge that night. Nobody was dealing fentanyl. They were not ‘animals,’ but fathers and husbands like Suazo….  They were filling potholes so their children could have an even better life. These six workers who perished were not ‘poisoning the blood of our country,’ they were replenishing it. This is a moment of clarity when we need to reject the national disease of xenophobia and restore our faith in the United States as a beacon for the best people like Suazo. They may have been born all over the continent, but when these men plunged into our waters on Tuesday, they died as Americans.”

 

Friday, 29 March 2024:

 

New Pollution Rules Aim to Lift Sales of Electric Trucks. The latest in a string of ambitious climate regulations aims to clean up the heaviest polluters on the road. But truckers are worried. The New York Times, Coral Davenport and Jack Ewing, Friday, 29 March 2024: “The Biden administration on Friday announced a regulation designed to turbocharge sales of electric or other zero-emission heavy vehicles, from school buses to cement mixers, as part of its multifront attack on global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency projects the new rule could mean that 25 percent of new long-haul trucks, the heaviest on the road, and 40 percent of medium-size trucks, like box trucks and landscaping vehicles, could be nonpolluting by 2032. Today, fewer than 2 percent of new heavy trucks sold in the United States fit that bill. The regulation would apply to more than 100 types of vehicles including tractor-trailers, ambulances, R.V.s, garbage trucks and moving vans. The rule does not mandate the sales of electric trucks or any other type of zero or low-emission truck. Rather, it increasingly limits the amount of pollution allowed from trucks across a manufacturer’s product line over time, starting in model year 2027. It would be up to the manufacturer to decide how to comply. Options could include using technologies like hybrids or hydrogen fuel cells or sharply increasing the fuel efficiency of the conventional trucks. The truck regulation follows another rule made final last week that is designed to ensure that the majority of new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States are all-electric or hybrids by 2032, up from just 7.6 percent last year.” See also, EPA sets strict emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses in bid to fight climate change, Associated Press, Matthew Daly and Tom Krisher, Friday, 29 March 2024: ” The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday set strict emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks, buses and other large vehicles, an action that officials said will help clean up some of the nation’s largest sources of planet-warming greenhouse gases. The new rules, which take effect for model years 2027 through 2032, will avoid up to 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades and provide $13 billion in net benefits in the form of fewer hospital visits, lost work days and deaths, the EPA said. The new standards will especially benefit an estimated 72 million people in the United States who live near freight routes used by trucks and other heavy vehicles and bear a disproportionate burden of dangerous air pollution, the agency said.”

Donald Trump shares an image of Joe Biden with hands and feet tied on social media, The Washington Post, Azi Paybarah, Friday, 29 March 2024: “Former president Donald Trump disseminated on social media on Friday an image of President Biden with his hands and feet tied, the latest example of the Republican candidate’s use of increasingly violent rhetoric and imagery this campaign season. The image can be seen about halfway through a 20-second video that Trump posted on his Truth Social site. The post says it was recorded Thursday on Long Island, where Trump traveled this week to attend a wake for a recently killed police officer. In the video, two trucks decorated with giant Trump flags and altered American flags are driving on a highway. On the tailgate door of one of the trucks is the image of Biden bound and lying horizontally. Similar images of Biden have been circulating on social media for months, if not years, on sites including InstagramReddit and Twitter, before the platform changed its name to X. In February, the popular World Star Hip Hop site posted a video of a truck it said was in California featuring such an image. ‘This image from Donald Trump is the type of crap you post when you’re calling for a bloodbath or when you tell the Proud Boys to stand back and stand by, said Michael Tyler, communication director for Biden’s campaign, referring to the right-wing group involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. ‘Trump is regularly inciting political violence and it’s time people take him seriously — just ask the Capitol police officers who were attacked protecting our democracy on January 6.'” See also, Trump Shares Video Featuring Image of a Hog-Tied Biden. The social media post reflects the increasingly violent and personal attacks that Donald Trump has employed during the presidential campaign. The New York Times, Chris Cameron, published on Saturday, 30 March 2024: ‘Former President Donald J. Trump posted a video on Friday to his social media website that features an image of President Biden with his hands and feet tied together. Mr. Trump posted the video to Truth Social early Friday afternoon with a line that said it was filmed on Long Island on Thursday, when Mr. Trump attended the wake of a slain New York City police officer in Massapequa Park, N.Y. The video shows two moving trucks decorated with flags and decals supporting Mr. Trump. The tailgate of the second vehicle features the image of Mr. Biden. Macabre imagery targeting Mr. Trump’s perceived enemies frequently circulates online among right-wing provocateurs and pro-Trump groups, and in some cases has been featured at conservative conferences. Photos of trucks featuring similar images of Mr. Biden tied up have been shared across social media, and online vendors sell vehicle stickers with the image. Mr. Trump’s promotion of the video featuring the image reflects the increasingly caustic and personal attacks that he has directed against Mr. Biden — for example, in a speech this month he said that ‘everything Joe Biden touches turns to’ filth, though he used an expletive — and it extends a record in which the former president features violent imagery on his social media accounts.” See also, We Need to Talk About This, Civil Discourse with Joyce Vance, published on Saturday, 30 March 2024: “Today’s widely discussed Trump post on Truth Social isn’t just another instance of bad behavior. It’s not just a shrug of the shoulders and a resigned sigh of, “What are you going to do?” Far too often, people resignedly accept Trump’s behavior because they believe there’s no alternative. The zeitgeist is: We can’t make him stop, can we? Here’s Trump’s Truth Social post. It’s a video, and although I hate to send you to Truth Social, you can watch the whole thing here. Or read on for my description. What you need to know is that this is unprecedented and out of bounds. If you or I did this, the Secret Service would be on our doorstep within hours. Donald Trump, by the way, is out on bond ahead of trial in four separate criminal cases. Today, he threatened the President of the United States. It’s time for the people with authority to do so to deal with him…. [S]omeone is going to get hurt if he isn’t.”

Russian influence scandal rocks European Union. Pro-Kremlin website spread propaganda and ‘paid’ European politicians, top European officials said. Politico, Nicholas Vinocur, Pieter Haeck, and Eddy Wax, Friday, 29 March 2024: “A Russian political influence campaign is shaking up Europe, as top officials warned Moscow paid European Parliament members to interfere in the upcoming EU election. ‘This confirms what we have suspected: the Kremlin is using dodgy outlets pretending to be media [and] using money to buy covert influence,’ European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová told Brussels Playbook, calling the revelations ‘very troubling.’ The scandal broke when the Czech government on Wednesday sanctioned a news site called Voice of Europe, which Prague said was part of a pro-Russian influence operation. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Thursday that Russia had approached EU parliament members (MEPs) and ‘paid [them], to promote Russian propaganda.'” See also, According to authorities in several countries, Russian-backed ‘propaganda’ network has been broken up for spreading anti-Ukraine stories and paying unnamed European politicians, BBC, Ido Vock, Friday, 29 March 2024: “Investigators claimed it used the popular Voice of Europe website as a vehicle to pay politicians. The Czech Republic and Poland said the network aimed to influence European politics. Voice of Europe did not respond to the BBC’s request for comment. Czech media, citing intelligence sources, reported that politicians from Germany, France, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Hungary were paid by Voice of Europe in order to influence upcoming elections for the European Parliament. The German newspaper Der Spiegel said the money was either handed over in cash in covert meetings in Prague or through cryptocurrency exchanges. Pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk is alleged by the Czech Republic to be behind the network.”

 

Sunday, 31 March 2024:

 

Trump attacks Biden over Easter coinciding with Transgender Day of Visibility, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Sunday, 31 March 2024: “Donald Trump, his campaign and his allies invoked religion in a flurry of political grievances this weekend, including by attacking President Biden for acknowledging International Transgender Day of Visibility — which happened to fall this year on Easter Sunday — and by making false claims that Biden newly prohibited children from submitting religious egg designs to a White House Easter art contest. The attacks follow Trump’s announcement that he is selling $60 Bibles, which attracted criticism from Democrats and some religious leaders. Trump fired off dozens of social media posts Sunday that targeted his political rivals and railed against his legal troubles. The latest salvo began Friday, after the White House issued a proclamation recognizing Sunday as Transgender Day of Visibility and called on Americans to ‘join us in lifting up the lives and voices of transgender people throughout our Nation and to work toward eliminating violence and discrimination based on gender identity.’ The acknowledgment was not new. Since 2009, International Transgender Day of Visibility has been held annually on March 31, and the Biden administration has marked the day every year since Biden was elected. The date of Easter, meanwhile, changes from year to year, falling on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the spring equinox.”

 

 

 

 

Even though the Trump administration is no longer in office, I am continuing to post summaries of the daily political news and major stories relating to this tragic and dangerous period in US history. I try to focus on the differences between the Trump administration and the Biden administration and on the ongoing toxic residual effects of the Trump administration and Republicans. I usually post throughout the day and let the news settle for a day or so before posting.

I created Muckraker Farm in 2014 as a place to post muckraking (investigative) journalism going back to the 19th century. I hope to return to this original project soon. You can find these muckraking pieces under the Home Page link at the top of this site. Thanks for reading!