Aftermath of the Trump Administration, May 2024


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Wednesday, 1 May 2024:


Trump, Repeating 2020 Election Lies, Will Not Commit to Accepting 2024 Results, The New York Times, Michael Gold and Chris Cameron, Wednesday, 1 May 2024: “Former President Donald J. Trump told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Wednesday that he would not commit to accepting the results of the 2024 election, as he again repeated his lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him. ‘If everything’s honest, I’ll gladly accept the results. I don’t change on that,’ Mr. Trump said, according to The Journal Sentinel. ‘If it’s not, you have to fight for the right of the country.’ In an interview with Time magazine published on Tuesday, he also dismissed questions about political violence in November by suggesting that his victory was inevitable. When pressed about what might happen should he lose, he said, ‘if we don’t win, you know, it depends. It always depends on the fairness of an election.’ Mr. Trump’s insistent and fraudulent claims that the 2020 election was unfair were at the heart of his efforts to overturn his loss to President Biden, and to the violent storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by a mob of supporters who believed his claims. Mr. Trump now faces dozens of felony charges in connection with those events.”


Thursday, 2 May 2024:


Jury Hears Tape of Trump and Michael Cohen Discussing Hush-Money Deal. The tape, played at the former president’s criminal trial, captured Michael Cohen telling Donald Trump about a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich and Jesse McKinley, Thursday, 2 May 2024: “Two voices reverberated in the courtroom. The first was loud, deep and unctuous, the second was casual — until money came up. They were discussing a deal made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence a woman who claimed to have had an extramarital affair with the Republican candidate. The first voice on the recording belonged to Michael D. Cohen, a former personal lawyer and fixer for Donald J. Trump. The second was the candidate himself, Mr. Trump, who on Thursday sat mutely as jurors heard his words. The Manhattan district attorney’s office used the tape, surreptitiously made by Mr. Cohen, to bring the trial’s two main characters together for the first time. The recording vividly captured how Mr. Cohen reported details of a key transaction to his then boss. On it, Mr. Cohen discusses a hush-money deal that the parent company of The National Enquirer made on Mr. Trump’s behalf with the former Playboy model Karen McDougal, as well as the question of how to deal with ‘the financing’ — that is, repaying — the supermarket tabloid’s publisher, David Pecker. ‘What financing?” Mr. Trump asked, suddenly snapping to attention. He then directed Mr. Cohen to ‘pay with cash.’ (Mr. Pecker, the jurors already know, was never repaid.) The existence of the recording, made by Mr. Cohen about two months before the election, was previously known. But it demonstrated for the jury the direct involvement of the future president in what prosecutors have said was a conspiracy to help him get elected.” See also, At Trump’s Trial, a Decade’s Worth of Celebrity Sleaze Is Exhumed. Donald Trump’s lawyers tried to paint Keith Davidson, the man who helped broker a hush-money payment for Stormy Daniels, as a specialist in extracting money from the famous. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Jonah E. Bromwich, Thursday, 2 May 2024: “An attempt to shake down the actor Charlie Sheen. Rumors that the Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan was in rehab. A lawsuit by Hulk Hogan, the former pro wrestler, against the gossip website Gawker for publishing a tape of him having sex. Testimony on Thursday at former President Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan dove deeply into the celebrity-obsessed digital media environment of the past fifteen years or so that helped fuel Mr. Trump’s rise to political prominence. The lurid tales were introduced to the jury largely through the witness Keith Davidson, a Los Angeles lawyer who specialized in getting money for clients who had dirt on famous people. In his testimony, particularly as he was cross-examined, Mr. Davidson and a defense lawyer, Emil Bove, together led the jurors on a whirlwind tour of several gossipy and tawdry deals he had a hand in…. The purpose of Mr. Bove’s interrogation appeared to be to suggest to the jury that Ms. McDougal and Ms. Daniels may have sought to extract their own payments from Mr. Trump. But making that point required Mr. Bove to drag Mr. Davidson through some old patches of mud.” See also, Live Coverage Including Five Takeaways: Jurors Hear Tape of Trump Discussing Deal With Playboy Model Karen McDougal. The recording, secretly made by Donald Trump’s longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, came at the end of a day of testimony detailing a separate hush-money deal with the porn star Stormy Daniels. The New York Times, Thursday, 2 May 2024. See also, Trump Hush Money Trial: Trump defense suggests he was shakedown target, not hush money schemer. During contentious questioning of Stormy Daniels lawyer Keith Davidson, Donald Trump’s lawyers portray their client as the victim in the case. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Shayna Jacobs, and Mark Berman, Thursday, 2 May 2024: “Donald Trump’s defense team suggested Thursday that rather than orchestrating a hush money scheme, the former president was really the target of a shakedown attempt by unscrupulous entertainment figures who saw his 2016 presidential campaign as an opportunity for a quick payday. In the most contentious testimony yet in the criminal trial, Los Angeles lawyer Keith Davidson denied accusations that he flirted with extortion when he negotiated settlements with celebrities to keep potentially damaging stories out of the public eye. By accusing him, Trump’s lawyers displayed a key element of their defense strategy: getting jurors to focus on the lawyers and middlemen who negotiated hush money payments on Trump’s behalf in 2016, rather than the politician who — according to prosecutors — orchestrated the payments and allegedly falsified paperwork about one of them to try to separate it from his presidential campaign. The jury also heard a secretly recorded phone conversation between Davidson and Trump’s then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which Cohen claimed Trump told him, ‘I hate the fact that we did it,’ in reference to the hush money payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels.” See also, Trump Trial takeaways: ‘When in doubt, steer clear.’ Donald Trump’s lawyers used tabloid stories to portray their client as a victim and argued he should be able to respond to political jokes against him. The Washington Post, Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett, Thursday, 2 May 2024: “Another day in Manhattan criminal court, with much more testimony about the messy, shady world of celebrities and tabloid media. But unlike the last week and a half, Donald Trump’s legal team tried to use the tabloid stories Thursday to go on offense, rather than play defense against the prosecutor’s allegations.” See also, Live coverage: Stormy Daniels’s lawyer completes testimony in Trump’s hush money trial, The Washington Post, 6 Live coverage contributors, Thursday, 2 May 2024. See also, Highlights from day 10 of the Trump hush money trial, Associated Press, Thursday, 2 May 2024.


Friday, 3 May 2024:


Hope Hicks Takes the Stand: 5 Takeaways From Trump’s Criminal Trial. In a riveted courtroom, Ms. Hicks, the former spokeswoman for Donald Trump, testified how she and her former boss managed one scandal after another. The New York Times, Jesse McKinley and Kate Christobek, Friday, 3 May 2024: “Gasps were heard in the overflow courtroom when Hope Hicks was called as a witness on Friday in Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan, an audible sign of the anticipation as Mr. Trump’s former press secretary and White House communications director took the stand. Her testimony ended the trial’s third week in dramatic fashion. In nearly three hours on the stand, Ms. Hicks described the impact on Mr. Trump’s campaign of the so-called ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, in which Mr. Trump bragged about grabbing women’s genitals. As soon as the tape was disclosed in October 2016, Ms. Hicks said, she knew it would be ‘a massive story.’ Taking the stand under a subpoena, Ms. Hicks said she was nervous, and at one point, early in the cross-examination, she broke down in tears.” See also, Live Coverage of Trump Trial: Hope Hicks Delivers Emotionally Gripping Testimony Before Trial Adjourns for Weekend, The New York Times, Friday, 3 May 2024: “The former Trump spokeswoman testified about his 2016 campaign’s damage-control efforts after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which the candidate spoke of groping women, became public. Prosecutors say it made Mr. Trump’s aides more eager to quash damaging stories, like Stormy Daniels’s account of an affair.” See also, Live coverage of Trump Hush Money Trial: Hope Hicks testimony ends; Trump hush money trial concludes for the week, The Washington Post, 6 Live coverage contributors, Friday, 3 May 2024: “Hope Hicks, a former top aide to then-President Donald Trump, ended her testimony Friday in his New York criminal trial for allegedly falsifying records related to a hush money payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. Hicks said she was stunned by the ‘Access Hollywood’ video revealed by The Washington Post in 2016 and worried about what Trump’s recorded comments about grabbing women’s genitalia could mean for his campaign.”

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, April 2024


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Monday, 1 April 2024:


Gag Order Against Trump Is Expanded to Bar Attacks on Judge’s Family. Donald Trump had in recent days targeted the daughter of Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing his criminal trial in Manhattan, in blistering social media posts. The New York Times, Jesse McKinley, Ben Protess, and William K. Rashbaum, Monday, 1 April 2024: “The New York judge overseeing Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial later this month expanded a gag order on Monday to bar the former president from attacking the judge’s family members, who in recent days have become the target of Mr. Trump’s abuse. Justice Juan M. Merchan last week issued an order prohibiting Mr. Trump from attacking witnesses, prosecutors, jurors and court staff, as well as their relatives. That order, however, did not cover Justice Merchan himself or the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, who brought the criminal case against the former president. And although the ruling issued on Monday still does not apply to the judge or the district attorney, Justice Merchan, granting a request from Mr. Bragg’s office, amended the gag order so that it does now cover their families. In his ruling, the judge cited recent attacks against his daughter, and rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that his statements were ‘core political speech.’ ‘This pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose,’ Justice Merchan wrote. ‘It merely injects fear in those assigned or called to participate in the proceedings, that not only they, but their family members as well, are ‘fair game’ for defendant’s vitriol.’ Mr. Bragg’s office had asked the judge to clarify that their relatives were included, calling such protection ‘amply warranted.’ Noting Mr. Trump’s track record of issuing ‘threatening and alarming remarks,’ Mr. Bragg’s office warned of ‘the harms that those family members have suffered.’” See also, Trump ramps up attacks on judges, sparking concerns as criminal trial nears. The judge overseeing the criminal trial that will start April 15 issued an expanded gag order late Monday in response to some of the former president’s rhetoric. The Washington Post, Marianne LeVine, Clara Ence Morse, and Shayna Jacobs, Monday, 1 April 2024: “Former president Donald Trump is ramping up efforts to disparage judges overseeing his criminal and civil cases — reprising a long-standing strategy as a high-profile trial draws near and prompting growing concerns from legal experts and an an expanded gag order late Monday. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s approach, part of a broader election-year attempt to portray the judicial system as weaponized against him, was evident in a slew of attacks over the weekend. Such broadsides, which Trump has often lobbed without evidence for his claims, have raised worries about the safety of judges and threaten to undermine faith in the court system, some legal experts said Monday. Trump’s personal attacks against the daughter of the New York judge overseeing a hush money case prompted the judge to expand an existing gag order to include his family and the district attorney’s family.” See also, Judge expands gag order in Trump hush money case to include family members of the court, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Lauren del Valle, and Jeremy Herb, Monday, 1 April 2024: “The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial expanded a recently imposed gag order to include family members of the court and family members of the Manhattan district attorney, according to a late Monday ruling. In the ruling, which comes after Trump leveled comments against Judge Juan Merchan’s daughter in recent days, the judge issued a warning that Trump’s rhetoric threatens to instill fear in those who might be involved in the proceedings for their loved ones. ‘The average observer, must now, after hearing defendant’s recent attacks, draw the conclusion that if they become involved in these proceedings, even tangentially, they should worry not only for themselves, but for their loved ones as well,’ Merchan wrote. ‘Such concerns will undoubtedly interfere with the fair administration of justice and constitutes a direct attack on the Rule of Law itself.’ ‘It is no longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings. The threat is very real. Admonitions are not enough, nor is reliance on self-restraint,’ he said.”

Trump Gets Bond Deal to Ward Off $454 Million Judgment, for Now. The guarantee means that New York’s attorney general will not be able to pursue Donald Trump’s assets and bank accounts until Mr. Trump’s appeals are settled. The New York Times, Ben Protess, Monday, 1 April 2024: “Former President Donald J. Trump averted a financial disaster on Monday, reaching a deal that will spare him from paying a $454 million judgment in his civil fraud case while he appeals the penalty. The lifeline came in the form of a bond that will prevent New York’s attorney general, who brought the lawsuit that led to the judgment, from collecting the $454 million until Mr. Trump’s appeal is resolved. The attorney general, Letitia James, accused Mr. Trump of fraudulently inflating his net worth by as much as $2 billion, and a judge ruled in her favor. Mr. Trump secured the bond after an appeals court last week granted his request to lower the bond amount, setting it at $175 million and staving off a financial crisis for Mr. Trump. He otherwise would have had to post a bond for the full $454 million, which his lawyers declared a ‘practical impossibility.’ Had he failed to do so, Ms. James could have frozen his bank accounts.” See also, Trump posts $175M bond to keep New York authorities from seizing his property, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Monday, 1 April 2024: “Donald Trump posted a $175 million bond on Monday to prevent New York authorities from seizing his assets, including properties such as Trump Tower, pending appeal of a civil fraud judgment against him of nearly a half-billion dollars. The former president’s posting of the bond was necessary to keep New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) from initiating legal steps to take over his properties. The bond arrangement was made with Knight Specialty Insurance Company, according to a court document. After a 10-week trial late last year, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron found Trump, the Trump Organization, Trump’s adult sons and two former executives liable in February for using illegal tactics to knowingly cheat business partners to increase the company’s profits and savings.” See also, Donald Trump has posted a $175 million bond to avert asset seizure as he appeals New York fraud penalty, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak and Jennifer Peltz, Monday, 1 April 2024: “Donald Trump posted a $175 million bond on Monday in his New York civil fraud case, halting collection of the more than $454 million he owes and preventing the state from seizing his assets to satisfy the debt while he appeals, according to a court filing. A New York appellate court had given the former president 10 days to put up the money after a panel of judges agreed last month to slash the amount needed to stop the clock on enforcement. The bond Trump is posting with the court now is essentially a placeholder, meant to guarantee payment if the judgment is upheld. If that happens, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee will have to pay the state the whole sum, which grows with daily interest. If Trump wins, he won’t have to pay the state anything and will get back the money he has put up now.”

The Church of Trump: How He’s Infusing Christianity Into His Movement. Ending many of his rallies with a churchlike ritual and casting his prosecutions as persecution, the former president is demanding–and receiving–new levels of devotion from Republicans. The New York Times, Michael C. Bender, Monday, 1 April 2024: “Long known for his improvised and volatile stage performances, former President Donald J. Trump now tends to finish his rallies on a solemn note. Soft, reflective music fills the venue as a hush falls over the crowd. Mr. Trump’s tone turns reverent and somber, prompting some supporters to bow their heads or close their eyes. Others raise open palms in the air or murmur as if in prayer. In this moment, Mr. Trump’s audience is his congregation, and the former president their pastor as he delivers a roughly 15-minute finale that evokes an evangelical altar call, the emotional tradition that concludes some Christian services in which attendees come forward to commit to their savior. ‘The great silent majority is rising like never before and under our leadership,’ he recites from a teleprompter in a typical version of the script. ‘We will pray to God for our strength and for our liberty. We will pray for God and we will pray with God. We are one movement, one people, one family and one glorious nation under God.’ The meditative ritual might appear incongruent with the raucous epicenter of the nation’s conservative movement, but Mr. Trump’s political creed stands as one of the starkest examples of his effort to transform the Republican Party into a kind of Church of Trump. His insistence on absolute devotion and fealty can be seen at every level of the party, from Congress to the Republican National Committee to rank-and-file voters. Mr. Trump’s ability to turn his supporters’ passion into piety is crucial to understanding how he remains the undisputed Republican leader despite guiding his party to repeated political failures and while facing dozens of felony charges in four criminal cases. His success at portraying those prosecutions as persecutions — and warning, without merit, that his followers could be targeted next — has fueled enthusiasm for his candidacy and placed him, once again, in a position to capture the White House.”

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, March 2024


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


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.”

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, February 2024


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Thursday, 1 February 2024:


Special counsel Jack Smith questioned witnesses about 2 rooms FBI didn’t search inside Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Sources said the FBI missed the rooms in their search for classified documents. ABC News, Katherine Faulders, Mike Levine, and Alexander Mallin, Thursday, 1 February 2024: “Special counsel Jack Smith’s team has questioned several witnesses about a closet and a so-called ‘hidden room’ inside former President Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago that the FBI didn’t check while searching the estate in August 2022, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. As described to ABC News, the line of questioning in several interviews ahead of Trump’s indictment last year on classified document charges suggests that — long after the FBI seized dozens of boxes and more than 100 documents marked classified from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate — Smith’s team was trying to determine if there might still be more classified documents there. According to sources, some investigators involved in the case came to later believe that the closet, which was locked on the day of the search, should have been opened and checked. As investigators would later learn, Trump allegedly had the closet’s lock changed while his attorney was in Mar-a-Lago’s basement, searching for classified documents in a storage room that he was told would have all such documents. Trump’s alleged efforts to conceal classified documents from both the FBI and his own attorney are a key part of Smith’s indictment against Trump in Florida.”

Allen H. Weisselberg, Trump’s Former Finance Chief, Is in Negotiations to Plead Guilty to Perjury. Weisselberg would admit to lying on the stand during the former president’s civil fraud trial, according to people familiar with the talks. The New York Times, William K. Rashbaum, Jonah E. Bromwich, and Ben Protess, Thursday, 1 February 2024: “Allen H. Weisselberg, a longtime lieutenant to Donald J. Trump, is negotiating a deal with Manhattan prosecutors that would require him to plead guilty to perjury, people with knowledge of the matter said. As part of the potential agreement with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Mr. Weisselberg would have to admit that he lied on the witness stand in Mr. Trump’s recent civil fraud trial, the people said. Mr. Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer at Mr. Trump’s family business, also would have to say that he lied under oath during an interview with the New York attorney general’s office, which brought the civil fraud case.”


Friday, 2 February 2024:


Fani Willis, Prosecutor in Trump Georgia Case, Admits Relationship With Colleague. Willis said her relationship with Nathan Wade did not begin until after she hired him and argued that it should not disqualify her. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Friday, 2 February 2024: “Fani T. Willis, the district attorney prosecuting the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald J. Trump, acknowledged on Friday a ‘personal relationship’ with a prosecutor she hired to manage the case but argued that it was not a reason to disqualify her or her office from it. The admission came almost a month after allegations of an ‘improper, clandestine personal relationship’ between the two surfaced in a motion from one of Mr. Trump’s co-defendants. The motion seeks to disqualify both prosecutors and Ms. Willis’s entire office from handling the case — an effort that, if successful, would likely sow chaos for an unprecedented racketeering prosecution of a former president. ‘While the allegations raised in the various motions are salacious and garnered the media attention they were designed to obtain, none provide this Court with any basis upon which to order the relief they seek,’ Ms. Willis’s filing said, adding that her relationship with the prosecutor, Nathan J. Wade, ‘has never involved direct or indirect financial benefit’ to Ms. Willis. The filing included an affidavit from Mr. Wade asserting that the relationship started only after Mr. Wade had been hired.” See also, Fani Willis admits relationship with prosecutor on Trump Georgia case, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey and Amy Gardner, Friday, 2 February 2024: “Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) acknowledged that she had a personal relationship with an outside prosecutor she appointed to manage the election interference case against former president Donald Trump and his allies. But she denied claims that the relationship had tainted the proceedings. In a 176-page court filing on Friday, Willis called the claims against her ‘meritless’ and ‘salacious.’ She asked a judge to reject motions from Trump and other co-defendants that seek to disqualify her and her office from the case — and to do so without an evidentiary hearing. Willis denied claims of misconduct and said there was no evidence that the relationship between her and special prosecutor Nathan Wade had prejudiced the case. The filing included a sworn affidavit from Wade, who said there was ‘no personal relationship’ between him and Willis ‘prior to or at the time’ he was appointed. Wade’s affidavit said that in 2022 he and Willis ‘developed a personal relationship in addition to our professional association and friendship.’ The filing did not say whether that personal relationship is ongoing. Wade also denied that his role had financially benefited Willis. Mike Roman, the Trump co-defendant who first leveled allegations of misconduct, accused Wade of paying for ‘lavish’ vacations with Willis. Wade said in his affidavit that the two had split travel expenses ‘equally.’ An attached exhibit includes receipts for airline tickets for a trip to Miami in December 2022 that Willis bought for herself and Wade.”

Judge Tanya Chutkan Scraps 4 March Trial Date for Trump Election Subversion Case. Chutkan removed the planned 4 March start from her calendar, formalizing a delay that had become increasingly likely in recent weeks. It remains unclear when the trial might start. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 2 February 2024: “The federal judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s prosecution on charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election issued an order on Friday scrapping the March 4 trial date for the case. The order by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan was a formal confirmation of what had seemed fairly obvious for weeks. It came after she had made a series of hints that she was going to delay the trial as Mr. Trump pursues an effort to have the underlying charges tossed out with an argument that he enjoys complete immunity from prosecution. In her order, Judge Chutkan said that she would set a new date for the proceeding in Federal District Court in Washington ‘if and when’ Mr. Trump’s immunity claims are resolved. The immunity claims are now in front of a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has been mulling the issue since oral arguments were heard on Jan. 9. The panel, which expressed skepticism about Mr. Trump’s position, has yet to return a decision after setting an extremely aggressive schedule for briefings to be filed. Judge Chutkan’s decision to delay the trial was the latest twist in an ongoing and often bitter struggle between Mr. Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors working for the special counsel, Jack Smith, over the timing of the proceeding.” See also, After Speedy Start, Appeals Court Slows Down on Trump Immunity Decision. The implications have started coming into focus with the scrapping of March 4 as the start date for the former president’s federal trial on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Charlie Savage, published on Saturday, 3 February 2024. See also, Trump’s D.C. trial removed from March calendar, clearing way for New York case. Administrative move comes as anticipation mounts over how – and when – an appeals court will decide former president’s claim of immunity from criminal prosecution. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Friday, 2 February 2024: “Former president Donald Trump’s March 4 trial date on charges of plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 election in D.C. has been taken off the calendar, a formal acknowledgment of what has long been anticipated — that his claim of presidential immunity from criminal prosecution would delay his trial while it remains on appeal.” See also, Federal judge in DC postpones Trump’s March trial on charges of plotting to overturn 2020 election, Associated Press, Eric Tucker, Friday, 2 February 2024: “A federal judge in Washington formally postponed Donald Trump’s March trial on charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election as a key legal appeal from the former president remains unresolved in the courts. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Friday vacated the March 4 trial date in the case brought by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith but did not immediately set a new date. The move opens the door for a separate prosecution in New York, charging Trump in connection with hush money payments to a porn actor, to proceed first. That case has long been seen as arguably the least legally perilous of the four indictments Trump faces, with the alleged misconduct less grave than accusations of mishandling classified documents or plotting to subvert a presidential election. The postponement in Washington comes as a federal appeals court has yet to resolve a pending appeal from Trump arguing that he is immune from prosecution for actions he took in the White House. It is not clear when the three-judge panel might rule, but a ruling in favor of prosecutors that permits the case to move forward is expected to be appealed by the Trump team, likely resulting in additional delays.”

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, January 2024


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Tuesday, 2 January 2024:


Trump Appeals Decision Barring Him From Maine Primary Ballot. The move attempts to overturn the decision which made Maine the second state to rule the former president ineligible for the primary ballot. The New York Times, Jenna Russell, Tuesday, 2 January 2024: “Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump filed an appeal on Tuesday seeking to overturn the ruling last week by Shenna Bellows, Maine’s secretary of state, to bar him from appearing on the state’s Republican primary ballot…. Maine became the second state to exclude Mr. Trump from its primary ballot on Dec. 28, when Ms. Bellows found him ineligible under the third section of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits people who have engaged in insurrection from holding office. Her decision followed a similar landmark finding in Colorado, where the state’s Supreme Court ruled on Dec. 19 that he could not appear on the ballot there.” See also, Trump appeals Maine’s decision to ban him from the primary ballot, The Washington Post, Patrick Marley, Tuesday, 2 January 2024: “Former president Donald Trump asked a judge Tuesday to reverse an attempt by Maine’s secretary of state to keep his name off the state’s primary ballot after she determined that he was an insurrectionist who is ineligible to hold the presidency again under the Constitution. Trump filed his appeal to Kennebec County Superior Court five days after Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) declared his name should not be on the ballot because of his actions before and after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. She put her ruling on hold while Trump pursues his appeal. Trump’s filing came as he prepared a separate appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court over a decision from Colorado’s top court that would keep him off the ballot in that state. Efforts to remove the former president from the ballot in other states are ongoing, increasing pressure on the Supreme Court to resolve the issue for the entire country. The cases hinge on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which says those who have sworn an oath to support the Constitution cannot hold office if they engage in insurrection. The measure — ratified in 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War — was meant to prevent Confederates from returning to power. Trump’s opponents have seized on the provision to argue that he can’t hold office again because he urged supporters to ‘fight like hell’ at the Capitol as Congress was confirming Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.”

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Rules Texas Can Ban Emergency Abortions Despite Federal Guidance. The court affirmed a ruling that sided with the state on whether emergency rooms are required to perform emergency abortions. The New York Times, Jesus Jiménez, Tuesday, 2 January 2024: “Emergency room doctors in Texas are not required to perform emergency abortions despite federal guidance that requires hospitals to offer stabilizing care, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a ruling that sided with the State of Texas, which had sued the Biden administration, arguing that the federal guidance issued in 2022 was an overstep that would ‘force abortions.’ The appeal was heard by Judge Leslie H. Southwick, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, and judges Kurt Engelhardt and Cory Wilson, who were appointed by President Donald Trump. Judge Engelhardt wrote that the federal guidance does not mandate physicians to provide emergency abortions, adding that the guidance ‘does not mandate any specific type of medical treatment, let alone abortion.'” See also, Court rules Texas doctors do not need to perform emergency abortions, The Washington Post, Dan Diamond and Caroline Kitchener, Tuesday, 2 January 2024: “A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that Texas hospitals and doctors are not obligated to perform abortions under a long-standing national emergency-care law, dealing a blow to the White House’s strategy to ensure access to the procedure after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion in 2022. The federal law ‘does not mandate any specific type of medical treatment, let alone abortion,’ the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit concluded, faulting the Biden administration’s interpretation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA. The law ‘does not govern the practice of medicine,’ the court added.” See also, Federal appeals court rules emergency room doctors are not required to perform life-saving abortions. The Biden administration reminded hospitals of their obligation to perform life-saving abortions under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act after the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Texas sued, arguing it was an overstep that mandated abortions. The Texas Turbine, Eleanor Klibanoff, Tuesday, 2 January 2024: “Federal regulations do not require emergency rooms to perform life-saving abortions if it would run afoul of state law, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. After the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent hospitals guidance, reminding them of their obligation to offer stabilizing care, including medically necessary abortions, under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). ‘When a state law prohibits abortion and does not include an exception for the life of the pregnant person — or draws the exception more narrowly than EMTALA’s emergency medical condition definition — that state law is preempted,’ the guidance said. Texas sued, saying this was tantamount to a ‘nationwide mandate that every hospital and emergency-room physician perform abortions.’ Several anti-abortion medical associations joined the lawsuit as well. Since summer 2022, all abortions have been banned in Texas, except to save the life of the pregnant patient. But doctors, and their patients with medically complex pregnancies, have struggled with implementing the medical exception, reportedly delaying or denying abortion care rather than risk up to life in prison and the loss of their license. At a hearing in November, a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice said that while Texas law might not prohibit medically necessary abortions, the guidance was intended ‘to ensure that the care is offered when it is required under the statute.'”

How death threats get Republicans to fall in line behind Trump. The insidious way violence is changing US politics — and shaping the 2024 election. Vox, Zack Beauchamp, Tuesday, 2 January 2024: “Across the board and around the country, data reveals that threats against public officials have risen to unprecedented numbers — to the point where 83 percent of Americans are now concerned about risks of political violence in their country. The threats are coming from across the political spectrum, but the most important ones in this regard emanate from the MAGA faithful. Trump’s most fanatical followers have created a situation where challenging him carries not only political risks but also personal ones. Elected officials who dare defy the former president face serious threats to their well-being and to that of their families — raising the cost of taking an already difficult stand. As a result, the threat of violence is now a part of the American political system, to the point where Republican officials are — by their own admissions — changing the way they behave because they fear it.”


Wednesday, 3 January 2024:


Trump Asks Supreme Court to Keep Him on the Colorado Ballot. The petition came in response to a Colorado Supreme court ruling that the former president had engaged in insurrection and was ineligible to hold office under the 14th Amendment. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Wednesday, 3 January 2024: “Former President Donald J. Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to keep him on the primary ballot in Colorado, appealing an explosive ruling from the state Supreme Court declaring him ineligible based on his efforts to overturn the 2020 election that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. That ruling, Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrote, marked ‘the first time in the history of the United States that the judiciary has prevented voters from casting ballots for the leading major-party presidential candidate.’ Mr. Trump’s appeal adds to the growing pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to act, given the number of challenges to Mr. Trump’s eligibility and the need for a nationwide resolution of the question as the primaries approach.” See also, Trump asks the Supreme court to keep his name on the Colorado ballot. The former president, who is the 2024 Republican frontrunner, is also appealing a Maine official’s decision to bar him from that state’s ballot. The Washington Post, Patrick Marley and Ann E. Marimow, Wednesday, 3 January 2024: “Donald Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to ensure he can appear on primary ballots across the country by invalidating a ruling from Colorado’s top court that said Trump is ineligible to serve as president again. Last month, the Colorado Supreme Court concluded that Trump engaged in an insurrection before and during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and as a result could not appear on the state’s primary ballot. It marked the first time a court said a candidate could be removed from the ballot based on a post-Civil War provision of the U.S. Constitution that bars insurrectionists from holding office.” See also, Trump asks US Supreme Court to overturn Colorado ruling barring him from ballot over January 6 attack on the US Capitol, Associated Press, Nicholas Riccardi, Wednesday, 3 January 2024: “Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling barring him from the Colorado ballot, setting up a high-stakes showdown over whether a constitutional provision prohibiting those who ‘engaged in insurrection’ will end his political career. Trump appealed a 4-3 ruling in December by the Colorado Supreme Court that marked the first time in history that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was used to bar a presidential contender from the ballot. The court found that Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol disqualified him under the clause. The provision has been used so sparingly in American history that the U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on it.”

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, December 2023


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Friday, 1 December 2023:


Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan Rejects Trump’s Claims That He Enjoys Absolute Immunity From Criminal Charges Accusing Him of Seeking to Reverse the 2020 Election. The ruling is likely to spark a series of appeals that the former president’s lawyers hope will push the trial on election interference charges past the 2024 election. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 1 December 2023: “A federal judge on Friday rejected claims by former President Donald J. Trump that he enjoyed absolute immunity from criminal charges accusing him of seeking to reverse the 2020 election, slapping down his argument that the indictment should be tossed out because it was based on actions he took while he was in office. The ruling by the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, was her first denying one of Mr. Trump’s many motions to dismiss the election interference case, which is set to go to trial in Federal District Court in Washington in about three months. It offered a sweeping condemnation of what Judge Chutkan called Mr. Trump’s attempts to ‘usurp the reins of government’ and cited foundational American texts like the Federalist Papers and George Washington’s farewell address. Mr. Trump’s lawyers had expected the immunity motion to fail. They have, in fact, been planning for weeks to use the defeat to begin a long-shot strategy to put off the impending trial. They intend to appeal Judge Chutkan’s ruling all the way to the Supreme Court if they can, hoping that even if they lose, their challenges will eat up time and keep the case from going in front of a jury until after the 2024 election…. The former president’s lawyers essentially claimed that all the steps he took to subvert the election he lost to President Biden were not crimes, but rather examples of performing his presidential duties to ensure the integrity of a race that he believed had been stolen from him. Judge Chutkan had little patience for such arguments, saying on Friday evening that neither the Constitution nor American history supported the contention that a former president enjoyed total immunity from prosecution. ‘Whatever immunities a sitting president may enjoy, the United States has only one chief executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong get-out-of-jail-free pass,’ Judge Chutkan wrote. ‘Former presidents enjoy no special conditions on their federal criminal liability. Defendant may be subject to federal investigation, indictment, prosecution, conviction and punishment for any criminal acts undertaken while in office.’ She added, ‘Defendant’s four-year service as commander in chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens.'” See also, Federal judge Tanya Chutkan rejects Trump immunity claim in January 6 criminal prosecution. Chutkan’s ruling sets the clock ticking on whether the Supreme Court will agree and allow Trump to face federal trial in Washington before the 2024 election. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hus and Rachel Weiner, Friday, 1 December 2023: “A federal judge on Friday rejected Donald Trump’s claim of ‘absolute immunity’ from criminal prosecution for actions taken while he was president, setting the stage for a legal battle over presidential power probably headed to the U.S. Supreme Court and starting the clock ticking on whether the justices will agree to allow him to face trial in Washington before the 2024 election. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan denied Trump’s request to toss out his four-count August indictment on charges of conspiring to defraud the federal government’s election process, to obstruct Congress’s certification of the vote on Jan. 6, 2021, and to disenfranchise American voters.” See also, Federal judge Tanya Chutkan rules that Trump is not immune from election-subversion prosecution. ‘A former President’s exposure to federal criminal liability is essential to fulfilling our constitutional promise of equal justice under the law,’ Chutkan ruled. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 1 December 2023: “Donald Trump is not immune from prosecution for his attempt to subvert the 2020 election, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled Friday, concluding that his term as president does not serve as a shield against charges that he sought to defraud and disenfranchise millions of Americans. ‘Defendant’s four-year service as Commander in Chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens,’ Chutkan ruled in a 48-page opinion, sweeping aside Trump’s most intricate attempt to derail the case against him.”

Federal Appeals Court Rules That Civil Lawsuits Seeking to Hold Former President Donald Trump accountable For the Violence That Erupted at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Can Move Forward For Now. The court left open the possibility that the former president could still prevail in his effort to claim immunity from civil cases seeking to hold him accountable for the violence. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Charlie Savage, Friday, 1 December 2023: “A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that civil lawsuits seeking to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for the violence that erupted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, can move forward for now, rejecting a broad assertion of immunity that Mr. Trump’s legal team had invoked to try to get the cases dismissed. But the decision, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, left open the possibility that Mr. Trump could still prevail in his immunity claims after he makes further arguments as to why his fiery speech to supporters near the White House on Jan. 6 should be considered an official presidential act, rather than part of his re-election campaign. The Supreme Court has held that the Constitution gives presidents immunity from being sued over actions taken as part of their official duties, but not from suits based on private, unofficial acts. The civil cases brought against Mr. Trump have raised the question of which role he was playing at the rally he staged on Jan. 6, when he told supporters to “fight like hell” and urged them to march to the Capitol. Essentially, the appeals court ruled that at this stage of the case, that question has yet to be definitively answered. It said Mr. Trump must be given an opportunity to present factual evidence to rebut the plaintiffs’ claims that the rally was a campaign event — scrutinizing issues like whether campaign officials had organized it and campaign funds were used to pay for it.” See also, Federal Appeals Court rules Trump doesn’t have presidential immunity from civil lawsuits related to the January 6, 2021, US Capitol riot, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz and Holmes Lybrand, Friday, 1 December 2023: “Former President Donald Trump can be sued in civil lawsuits related to the January 6, 2021, US Capitol riot in a long-awaited, consequential decision from the federal appeals court in Washington, DC. The decision will have significant implications for several cases against Trump in the Washington, DC, federal court related to the 2020 election. The decision arises out of lawsuits brought by Capitol Police officers and Democrats in Congress. The opinion, written by Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan, states that not everything a president does or says while in office is protected from liability.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson wrote foreword for book filled with conspiracy theories and homophobic insults, CNN Politics, Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, Friday, 1 December 2023: “Speaker of the House Mike Johnson wrote the foreword and publicly promoted a 2022 book that spread baseless and discredited conspiracy theories and used derogatory homophobic insults. Written by Scott McKay, a local Louisiana politics blogger, the book, ‘The Revivalist Manifesto,’ gives credence to unfounded conspiracy theories often embraced by the far-right – including the ‘Pizzagate’ hoax, which falsely claimed top Democratic officials were involved in a pedophile ring, among other conspiracies. The book also propagates baseless and inaccurate claims, implying that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was subjected to blackmail and connected to the disgraced underage sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.” See also, House Speaker Mike Johnson Wrote the Foreward for a Racist, Homophobic, Anti-Poor Book That Endorsed Pizzagate and Denigrated a Prisoner of War, Vanity Fair, Bess Levin, Friday, 1 December 2023: “With George Santos’s expulsion drama taking up all the attention in Congress this week, you might have forgotten that the new leader of the House, Mike Johnson, has a history of deeply homophobic remarks that have come out on a near-daily basis since he was elected, as well as equally shitty takes on things like abortionmass shootings, and democracy. But he does! And on a whole bunch of other stuff as well. CNN’s KFile reports that Johnson wrote the foreward for and then promoted a 2022 book written by Scott McKay called The Revivalist Manifesto, which: 1. Says poor voters are ‘unsophisticated and susceptible to government dependency’ and easy to manipulate with ‘Black Lives Matter defund the police pandering’; 2. Describes Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as the ‘queer choice’ for the Cabinet job, calls him ‘openly, and obnoxiously, gay,’ and refers to him as ‘Gay Mayor Pete Buttigieg’; 3. Claims the Biden administration purposely let undocumented immigrants into the US for voting purposes; 4. Says Barack Obama’s ‘chief selling point was that he was black’; 5. Writes of the debunked conspiracy theory that Democratic officials ran a pedophile ring out of a pizza shop: ‘The Pizzagate scandal was born, and though some of the most outlandish allegations made in it were clearly disproven, other elements were not; the whole thing just seemed to be dismissed as debunked, and no explanation was ever given”; 6. Suggests Supreme Court Chief justice John Roberts had ties to sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein; 7. Declares John McCain used five and a half years as a prisoner of war during Vietnam ‘as a political get-out-of-jail-free card.'”

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, November 2023


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Wednesday, 1 November 2023:


If Trump Wins, His Allies Want Lawyers Who Will Bless a More Radical Agenda. Politically appointed lawyers sometimes frustrated Donald Trump’s ambitions. His allies are planning to install more aggressive legal gatekeepers if he regains the White House. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Charlie Savage, and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 1 November 2023: “Close allies of Donald J. Trump are preparing to populate a new administration with a more aggressive breed of right-wing lawyer, dispensing with traditional conservatives who they believe stymied his agenda in his first term. The allies have been drawing up lists of lawyers they view as ideologically and temperamentally suited to serve in a second Trump administration. Their aim is to reduce the chances that politically appointed lawyers would frustrate a more radical White House agenda — as they sometimes did when Mr. Trump was in office, by raising objections to his desires for certain harsher immigration policies or for greater personal control over the Justice Department, among others. Now, as Trump allies grow more confident in an election victory next fall, several outside groups, staffed by former Trump officials who are expected to serve in senior roles if he wins, have begun parallel personnel efforts. At the start of Mr. Trump’s term, his administration relied on the influential Federalist Society, the conservative legal network whose members filled key executive branch legal roles and whose leader helped select his judicial nominations. But in a striking shift, Trump allies are building new recruiting pipelines separate from the Federalist Society. These back-room discussions were described by seven people with knowledge of the planning, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. In addition, The New York Times interviewed former senior lawyers in the Trump administration and other allies who have remained close to the former president and are likely to serve in a second term.”

Donald Trump Jr. Denies Responsibility for Company Business Statements. The former president’s son began the Trump family’s parade to the witness stand in the civil fraud case. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich and Kate Christobek, Wednesday, 1 November 2023: “Donald Trump Jr. testified on Wednesday that he had no direct involvement in annual financial statements that his family’s business gave banks and insurers despite language in the statements themselves suggesting that he was partially responsible for them. His contention, which came during the trial of a civil fraud lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general, capped an afternoon of otherwise unremarkable testimony from Mr. Trump, who is the first of his family members to testify about the case. Asked whether he worked on one such statement, from 2017, Mr. Trump was clear: ‘I did not. The accountants worked on it. That’s what we pay them for.’ He soon clarified that his conversations with others at the company may have informed the financial statement. The attorney general, Letitia James, has said such papers were filled with fraud that helped the company, the Trump Organization, gain favorable treatment from lenders.” See also, Donald Trump Jr. testifies and deflects responsibility in New York business fraud case, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Mark Berman, Wednesday, 1 November 2023: “Donald Trump Jr. testified Wednesday afternoon in a multimillion-dollar civil case that accuses him, his father and other Trump Organization executives of cheating in business deals, saying he was not directly involved in the production of financial statements. The former president’s son is the first member of his family to be called as a witness by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) in its $250 million fraud lawsuit against the family and the company. James’s lawsuit accuses Donald Trump and his executives of inflating his financial statements to secure better terms. During his testimony, Trump Jr. said the responsibility of preparing financial statements rested with Mazars USA, the company’s longtime accounting firm.” See also, Donald Trump Jr. testifies he never worked on the key documents in his father’s New York civil fraud trial, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak and Jennifer Peltz, Wednesday, 1 November 2023: “Donald Trump Jr. testified Wednesday that he never worked on his father’s financial statements, the documents now at the heart of the civil fraud trial that threatens former President Donald Trump’s real estate empire. The ex-president’s eldest son is an executive vice president of the family’s Trump Organization and has been a trustee of a trust set up to hold its assets when his father was in the White House. At least one of the annual financial statements bore language saying the trustees ‘are responsible’ for the document. But Donald Trump Jr. said he didn’t recall ever working on any of the financial statements and had ‘no specific knowledge’ of them. The lawsuit centers on whether the former president and his business misled banks and insurers by inflating his net worth on the financial statements. He and other defendants, including sons Donald Jr. and Eric, deny wrongdoing.” See also, Live From Trump Fraud Trial: Donald Trump Jr. Takes the Stand, Forbes, Dan Alexander, Wednesday, 1 November 2023.

Before he became a politician, House Speaker Mike Johnson partnered with an anti-gay conversion therapy group, CNN Politics, Andrew Kaczynski, Wednesday, 1 November 2023: “Speaker of the House Mike Johnson closely collaborated with a group in the mid-to-late 2000s that promoted ‘conversion therapy,’ a discredited practice that asserted it could change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian individuals. Prior to launching his political career, Johnson, a lawyer, gave legal advice to an organization called Exodus International and partnered with the group to put on an annual anti-gay event aimed at teens, according to a CNN KFile review of more than a dozen of Johnson’s media appearances from that timespan. Founded in 1976, Exodus International was a leader in the so-called ‘ex-gay’ movement, which aimed to make gay individuals straight through conversion therapy programs using religious and counseling methods. Exodus International connected ministries across the world using these controversial approaches. The group shut down in 2013, with its founder posting a public apology for the ‘pain and hurt’ his organization caused. Conversion therapy has been widely condemned by most major medical institutions and has been shown to be harmful to struggling LGBTQ people.”

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, October 2023


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Sunday, 1 October 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden and Republican lawmakers vow to send Ukraine aid after Congress leaves it out of funding bill, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Leo Sands, and Nick Parker, Sunday, 1 October 2023: “President Biden sought to reassure Ukrainians on Sunday that the United States would not abandon its support for the war-torn nation after a funding bill that averted a government shutdown this weekend did not include anticipated aid. ‘We cannot under any circumstance allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted,’ Biden said in a news conference Sunday afternoon. Republican lawmakers also said Ukraine would receive aid in the coming weeks, though they said it would need to be packaged with spending on U.S. border security. Ukrainian officials sought to minimize the snub, though some observers worried that support could be waning. Biden said he expected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to support funding for Ukrainians ‘as they defend themselves against aggression and brutality.’ Biden touted ‘overwhelming’ bipartisan support for Ukrainian aid, and he said he hoped Republican leaders would ‘keep their word’ on further funding it. McCarthy said he’ll support sending Ukrainian troops ‘the weapons that they need,’ though a potential challenge to his leadership could further complicate plans for the aid. McCarthy, speaking on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ said he wanted to include efforts for U.S. border control in the next Ukraine-aid legislation. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham said Sunday morning that Senate Republicans would soon come out with a bill that would provide as much as $70 billion for Ukraine. ‘I’m not worried about the next six weeks,’ Graham (R-S.C.) said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ referring to the time period covered by the short-term spending bill passed this weekend. ‘I’m worried about next year. We will produce in the United States Senate Ukraine funding $60 or $70 billion … to get them through next year.’ Graham also tied the next potential Ukraine aid to border funding. Ukraine’s envoy to Washington expressed optimism that funding guarantees for Kyiv would be secured. There is time, there are resources, and there is bipartisan support for Ukraine in Washington, Ambassador Oksana Markarova said in a Facebook post. An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed confidence in U.S. aid Saturday. There has been no change in U.S. support, Andriy Yermak said on Telegram before the Senate vote, and Ukrainian leaders discuss the support often with Democratic and Republican officials. Aid for Ukraine had been a key issue as the United States headed toward a potential government shutdown. House Republicans, with late help from Democrats, pushed through a short-term bill to fund the government through Nov. 17 and avert a shutdown. Though the Senate ultimately approved the bill as well, the vote was at first delayed by Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), who expressed concern over the lack of additional aid to Ukraine. Slovakia’s parliamentary election has the potential to complicate the Western response to Ukraine. Nearly complete results showed that Robert Fico, a populist former prime minister whose campaign has been laced with pro-Russian and anti-American discourse, defeated his progressive rival. Fico said Sunday that his party would do ‘everything we can’ to promote immediate Ukraine-Russia peace talks. Zelensky has said he would allow peace talks only once Russian troops have left Ukraine; the Kremlin has said it must hold on to the five areas it has illegally annexed since 2014. Drones were spotted above Russian regions overnight into Sunday morning, local authorities said. Flights into Sochi International Airport were temporarily redirected as a result, the Black Sea resort city’s mayor, Alexei Kopaigorodsky, said early Sunday — adding in a Telegram post that a drone was shot down. Farther north, the governor of Smolensk region, bordering Belarus, said three drones were suppressed. NATO jets are monitoring part of its eastern flank ‘in the wake of Russian drone strikes near NATO territory,’ the defense alliance said. NATO’s X account said Sunday that Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance jets that arrived in Siauliai, Lithuania, last week ‘can detect aircraft and missiles hundreds of kilometres away.’ Romania detected ‘a possible unauthorized’ breach of the its airspace, the Defense Ministry said Saturday. In a separate instance a few weeks earlier, it said it found fragments of a suspected Russian drone in Romania.”


Monday, 2 October 2023:


Trump’s New York Civil Fraud Trial Starts With His Attacks on Attorney General Letitia James and Judge Arthur Engoron. Trump appeared in court as lawyers for New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, painted him as a fraudster. His lawyers said she was out to get the former president. The New York Times, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, and Kate Christobek, Monday, 2 October 2023: “The trials of Donald J. Trump began Monday in a New York courtroom, where the former president arrived to fight the first of several government actions — a civil fraud case that imperils his company and threatens his image as a master of the business world. The trial’s opening day brought Mr. Trump face-to-face with one of his longest-running antagonists: the attorney general of New York, Letitia James, who filed the case against him, his adult sons and their family business. If her office proves its case, the judge overseeing the trial could impose an array of punishments on Mr. Trump, including a $250 million penalty. Outside the courtroom, Mr. Trump fired a fusillade of personal attacks on Ms. James and the judge, Arthur F. Engoron. He called the judge ‘rogue’ and Ms. James ‘a terrible person,’ even suggesting that they were criminals. Inside, Mr. Trump sat in uncomfortable silence as Ms. James’s lawyers methodically laid out their case. The attorney general’s office accused the former president of inflating his riches by more than $2 billion to obtain favorable deals with banks and bragging rights about his wealth.” See also, Key Takeaways From the First Day of Trump’s Civil Fraud Trial. New York’s attorney general Letitia James filed the lawsuit accusing the former president of inflating the value of his assets. She seeks a $250 million penalty and other punishments. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, Monday, 2 October 2023. See also, New York’s $250 million civil fraud trial against Donald Trump gets underway, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Mark Berman, Jonathan O’Connell, and Wesley Parnell, Monday, 2 October 2023. See also, Trump attended his civil fraud trial in New York court, The Washington Post, Monday, 2 October 2023: “A civil trial in which former president Donald Trump and his company are accused of committing rampant fraud began Monday in a Manhattan courtroom, with a sharp dispute playing out over the property valuations at the center of the case. New York Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit accuses the former president and his company of committing fraud by inflating the value of his real estate empire. Trump, who is running for president, has denied any wrongdoing and defended his business. James’s office said Monday in court that Trump and his business schemed to overestimate his assets for financial gain. Trump’s defense responded that there was ‘no fraud,’ saying there were multiple ways to value a real estate asset. The trial could last for weeks or months, and Trump is expected to testify. Proceedings concluded late Monday afternoon and are expected to resume Tuesday morning. New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the trial, issued a pretrial decision last week saying that fraud was broadly committed by the Trump Organization and its executives. James is seeking a $250 million financial penalty for Trump and restrictions on his ability to operate a business in New York state. Engoron, in his decision, revoked Trump’s New York business licenses, which could cause the former president to lose control over dozens of properties worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” See also, Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York begins Monday. Here’s what to know. The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Monday, 2 October 2023.

Exclusive: John Kelly goes on the record to confirm several disturbing stories about Trump, CNN Politics, Jake Tapper, Monday, 2 October 2023: “John Kelly, the longest-serving White House chief of staff for Donald Trump, offered his harshest criticism yet of the former president in an exclusive statement to CNN. Kelly set the record straight with on-the-record confirmation of a number of damning stories about statements Trump made behind closed doors attacking US service members and veterans, listing a number of objectionable comments Kelly witnessed Trump make firsthand. ‘What can I add that has not already been said?’ Kelly said, when asked if he wanted to weigh in on his former boss in light of recent comments made by other former Trump officials. ‘A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all “suckers” because “there is nothing in it for them.” A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because “it doesn’t look good for me.” A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family – for all Gold Star families – on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France…. A person who cavalierly suggests that a selfless warrior who has served his country for 40 years in peacetime and war should lose his life for treason – in expectation that someone will take action. A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law. There is nothing more that can be said,’ Kelly concluded. ‘God help us.’ In the statement, Kelly is confirming, on the record, a number of details in a 2020 story in The Atlantic by editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, including Trump turning to Kelly on Memorial Day 2017, as they stood among those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery, and saying, ‘I don’t get it. What was in it for them?’ Those details also include Trump’s inability to understand why the American public respects former prisoners of war and those shot down in combat. Then-candidate Trump of course said in front of a crowd in 2015 that former Vietnam POW Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, was ‘not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.’ But behind closed doors, sources told Goldberg, this lack of understanding went on to cause Trump to repeatedly call McCain a ‘loser’ and to refer to former President George H. W. Bush, who was also shot down as a Navy pilot in World War II, as a ‘loser.'” See also, John Kelly’s full-throated confirmation of Trump’s ugliest comment, parsed. Kelly finally went on the record to make clear that, yes, Trump did say those things about veterans and wounded soldiers. The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 2 October 2023: “Among the many controversies Donald Trump has courted during his time in politics, perhaps none engender the kinds of emotions as his comments — and reported comments — denigrating veterans and the war-wounded. But some of the most serious reports about what he’s said have gone largely unconfirmed by key players. That changed in a major way on Monday. Former Trump White House chief of staff John F. Kelly delivered a blistering statement to CNN’s Jake Tapper that, for the first time, served to confirm years-old comments attributed to Trump and for which Kelly was present. Kelly, like many former top Trump administration officials, has criticized Trump somewhat in the past, but his new statement takes things to another level and fills out the picture of some of Trump’s ugliest alleged comments.” See also, John Kelly, a Former White House Chief of Staff, Confirms Trump’s Disparaging of Veterans. In a statement to CNN, Mr. Kelly corroborated reporting from 2020 that he declined to confirm at the time despite pressure from friends and associates to do so. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, published on Tuesday, 3 October 2023: “John F. Kelly, the onetime chief of staff to former President Donald J. Trump, confirmed on Monday some of Mr. Trump’s most startling comments about service members and veterans, reeling them off in a statement in which he said his onetime boss had ‘contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution and the rule of law. A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as P.O.W.s are all “suckers” because there is nothing in it for them,’ he told CNN. He went on: ‘A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because “it doesn’t look good for me.” A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family — for all Gold Star families — on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are “losers” and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.’ The mention of ‘a Gold Star family’ was a reference to Mr. Trump’s 2016 attacks on the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq, which he made after they criticized him. Four years later, he suggested that Gold Star families might be to blame for infecting him with the coronavirus. Mr. Kelly’s statement confirmed reporting from The Atlantic in 2020, which he declined to confirm at the time despite pressure from friends and associates to do so. The attitude he described also matched an account last month from Gen. Mark A. Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said Mr. Trump had chastised him for choosing an Army captain who lost a leg in Afghanistan to sing ‘God Bless America’ at a ceremony because ‘no one wants to see that, the wounded.’ In his final speech as chairman last week, General Milley said — without naming Mr. Trump — that American troops took an oath to the Constitution, not ‘to a wannabe dictator.'” See also, Trump Says Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers.’ The president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members, and asked that wounded veterans be kept out of military parades, multiple sources tell The Atlantic. The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, published on Thursday, 3 September 2020: “When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that ‘the helicopter couldn’t fly’ and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true. Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, ‘Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.’ In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as ‘suckers’ for getting killed.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, October 2023:

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, September 2023


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For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Friday, 1 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. says Ukrainian forces advance in Zaporizhzhia, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Victoria Bisset, Robyn Dixon, Natalia Abbakumova, Miriam Berger, Karen DeYoung, and Serhiy Morgunov, Friday, 1 September 2023: “White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Friday that Ukraine has achieved ‘notable progress’ in recent days in its counteroffensive to retake territory in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. ‘They have achieved some success along that second line of Russian defenses,’ he said at a news conference. It ‘is not beyond the realm of the possible that Russia will react’ to Ukraine’s push, he said. Kirby declined to comment on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s claims overnight that Kyiv had used new domestically made long-range missiles to hit a target at some 435 miles distance. Zelensky did not offer specifics, including whether they were used in a test or against an enemy target. Hours later, the head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, said that Moscow’s new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads, had after months of delay been put on combat alert. Ukraine’s apparent advance came after several weeks of near stalemate, which has prompted concern, including within the administration, about Ukraine’s military strategy. Russia’s Ministry of Justice branded Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov a ‘foreign agent’ on Friday. Muratov, the editor in chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, has been a frequent critic of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ‘foreign agent’ designation imposes rules and restrictions relating to finances and public disclosures. The underlying law has been used to harass and burden human rights organizations and journalists in Russia. Zelensky said Kyiv’s new long-range weapons were produced by the Ministry of Strategic Industries and, according to Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, have been under development since 2020. The Washington Post could not immediately verify the Ukrainian claims. Kirby referred all questions about Ukrainian capabilities to Kyiv and reiterated the administration’s policy of not encouraging or enabling Ukrainian strikes inside Russia’s borders. ‘We are focused on making sure Ukraine can win back its own territory,’ Kirby said. Yuri Borisov, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos, announced the deployment of the Sarmat missile complex on Friday, three months after Russian President Vladimir Putin initially said it would be ready, Russian state news agency Interfax reported. The Kremlin, which has claimed that it can breach ‘any missile defense’ system, successfully test-launched one of the intercontinental ballistic missiles in April. At the time, Pentagon said it was not a significant threat to the United States or its allies. Russia said Friday that any weapons facilities in Ukraine could become a target, a day after Zelensky’s office announced that Britain’s largest defense contractor, BAE Systems, will open an office in Kyiv to streamline support for Ukrainian forces. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that the development would not ‘fundamentally change the situation,’ but warned: ‘Any weapons production facilities, especially if these weapons are fired at us, become the object of special attention by our military forces.’ BAE has been providing Ukraine with weapons such as the L119 and M777 artillery systems, Zelensky said. Putin said Friday that he would meet ‘soon enough’ with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who the Russian president called ‘his friend’ and ‘a person who does a lot for the development of Russian-Chinese relations.’ The two leaders most recently met in March and held three days of talks in Moscow — a symbolic joint stand against the United States and its Western allies. Xi and Putin agreed to expand economic ties, which have become a lifeline for Russia under Western sanctions. Ambassadors from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to attend this year’s Nobel Prize award ceremony and banquet, after the foundation behind the prize said it would invite all countries with diplomatic representation in Sweden. Both countries were uninvited from last year’s ceremony in Stockholm — which awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to a trio of Kremlin critics and human rights defenders in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia — following the invasion of Ukraine. ‘The achievements recognised by the Nobel Prize require openness, exchange and dialogue between people and nations,’ the organization wrote in a statement Thursday, adding that it wished to reach out ‘even to those who do not share the values of the Nobel Prize.’ A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, urged North Korea not to negotiate with Russia or provide it with arms, describing the arms in question as ‘essentially artillery ammunition’ in a briefing with reporters. The previous day, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia and North Korea are ‘actively advancing’ negotiations for weapons that would be used in the war in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday. The announcement comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan. are expected to meet in Moscow to discuss a proposal to send Russian grain to Turkey with the financial help of Qatar, as an alternative to the Black Sea grain deal. The grain would be processed in Turkey and exported to countries ‘in need,’ the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Military exercises involving more than 2,500 soldiers from Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan began Friday in Belarus, and are set to last through Sept. 6. Armenia, which is part of the same military alliance of post-soviet states, declined to participate. Ukraine and Poland said they were strengthening protections at their shared borders with Belarus. Poland’s internal affairs minister, Mariusz Kaminski, said that all Belarusian crossings with the European Union will be immediately closed should any provocations arise.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine’s Offensive Makes Progress. Washington acknowledges Kyiv’s counteroffensive has advanced in the past three days. The New York Times, Friday, 1 September 2023:

  • Ukraine’s counteroffensive has made ‘notable progress’ in the last 72 hours, the White House says.
  • Russia claims its Sarmat intercontinental missile is on ‘combat duty.’
  • A U.S. official meets with a Ukrainian delegation to discuss Kyiv’s anti-corruption efforts.
  • Russia brands a Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalist a ‘foreign agent.’
  • Putin and Erdogan will meet as grain talks appear stalled.
  • Ukrainian students begin a new school year in the shadow of war.
  • New Russian high school textbooks seek to justify the war in Ukraine.

Two Proud Boys Sentenced in January 6 Sedition Case. Ethan Nordean, a ground commander of the far-right group, got 18 years, matching the longest January 6 sentence so far. Dominic Pezzola, among the first rioters to enter the Capitol, received 10 years. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, Friday, 1 September 2023: “Two more members of the Proud Boys were sentenced to prison on Friday for their roles in the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, with a ground commander in the far-right group, Ethan Nordean, given 18 years, and Dominic Pezzola, the man who set off the initial breach of the building by smashing a window with a riot shield, getting 10 years. The sentences imposed on Mr. Nordean and Mr. Pezzola were the third and fourth to have been handed down this week to five members of the far-right group who were tried in May for seditious conspiracy and other crimes in one of the most significant prosecutions to have emerged from the Capitol attack. While Mr. Pezzola’s sentence was only half of the 20 years the government had requested, Mr. Nordean’s was the stiffest penalty issued so far in any case related to the Capitol attack and was the same as term given in May to Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, who was also found guilty of sedition in connection with Jan. 6.”

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, August 2023


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For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Tuesday, 1 August 2023:


Trump Is Indicted in His Push to Overturn the 2020 Election. The former president faces three conspiracy charges and a count of attempting to obstruct an official proceeding in his campaign to use the levers of government power to remain in office. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump was indicted on Tuesday in connection with his widespread efforts to overturn the 2020 election following a sprawling federal investigation into his attempts to cling to power after losing the presidency. The indictment, filed by the special counsel Jack Smith in Federal District Court in Washington, accuses Mr. Trump of three conspiracies: one to defraud the United States; a second to obstruct an official government proceeding, the certification of the Electoral College vote; and a third to deprive people of a civil right, the right to have their votes counted. Mr. Trump was also charged with a fourth count of obstructing or attempting to obstruct an official proceeding. ‘Each of these conspiracies — which built on the widespread mistrust the defendant was creating through pervasive and destabilizing lies about election fraud — targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election,’ the indictment said. The charges signify an extraordinary moment in United States history: a former president, in the midst of a campaign to return to the White House, being charged over attempts to use the levers of government power to subvert democracy and remain in office against the will of voters. In sweeping terms, the indictment described how Mr. Trump and six co-conspirators employed a variety of means to reverse his defeat in the election almost from the moment that voting ended. It depicted how Mr. Trump promoted false claims of fraud, sought to bend the Justice Department toward supporting those claims and oversaw a scheme to create false slates of electors pledged to him in states that were actually won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. And it described how he ultimately pressured his vice president, Mike Pence, to use the fake electors to subvert the certification of the election at a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, that was cut short by the violence at the Capitol.” See also, The Trump January 6 Indictment, Annotated. The Justice Department unveiled an indictment on Tuesday charging former President Donald J. Trump with four criminal counts. They relate to Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which culminated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Here Are the Charges Trump Faces in the January 6 Case. The former president is charged with three conspiracy counts and the corrupt obstruction of an official proceeding. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Judge In Trump January 6 Trial Is Known for Tough Capitol Riot Sentences. A judge with a liberal background and significant criminal trial experience, Tanya S. Chutkan swiftly ruled against the former president in his 2021 attempt to keep White House papers secret from the congressional inquiry. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023. See also, The Indictment Says Trump Had Six Co-consiprators in His Efforts to Retain Power. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “The indictment of former President Donald J. Trump mentions — but does not identify by name — six co-conspirators who prosecutors say worked with him in seeking to overturn the 2020 election. It is not clear why the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, decided to seek only Mr. Trump’s indictment for now, though it is possible that some of the co-conspirators could still face charges in the weeks ahead…. Among those people central to the inquiry were Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer who oversaw Mr. Trump’s attempts to claim the election was marred by widespread fraud; John Eastman, a law professor who provided the legal basis to overturn the election by manipulating the count of electors to the Electoral College; Sidney Powell, a lawyer who pushed Mr. Trump to use the military to seize voting machines and rerun the election; Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official at the time; and Kenneth Chesebro and James Troupis, lawyers who helped flesh out the plan to use fake electors pledged to Mr. Trump in states that were won by President Biden.” See also, Four Takeaways From the Trump Indictment. The indictment of the former president for trying to subvert democracy was issued by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia. It’s the third set of charges that he faces. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: See also, Keeping Track of the Trump Investigations, The New York Times, updated Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Trump indicted on 2020 election charges after January 6 investigation, The Washington Post, Perry Stein, John Wagner, Amy B Wang, Mariana Alfaro, Maegan Vazquez, Jacqueline Alemany, Amy Gardner, Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Niha Masih, and Lyric Li, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “A grand jury has indicted former president Donald Trump for multiple alleged crimes stemming from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The four-count, 45-page indictment accuses Trump of three distinct conspiracies, and charges that he conspired to defraud the U.S., conspired to obstruct an official proceeding and conspired against people’s rights. Trump, who is seeking to return to the White House in next year’s election, denied all wrongdoing. Special counsel Jack Smith, in a brief appearance, said his office would seek a speedy trial.” See also, Trump charged in investigation of January 6 efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The indictment alleges four different crimes and describes six unnamed, uncharged co-conspirators. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu, Perry Stein, Josh Dawsey, and Jacqueline Alemany, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “A grand jury indicted former president Donald Trump on Tuesday for a raft of alleged crimes in his brazen efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory — the latest legal and political aftershock stemming from the riot at the U.S. Capitol 2½ years ago. The four-count, 45-page indictment accuses Trump, who is again running for president, of conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, attempting to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiring against people’s civil right to have their vote counted. The maximum potential sentence on the most serious charge is 20 years in prison. ‘The attack on our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy,’ special counsel Jack Smith told reporters after the indictment was filed. ‘It was fueled by lies, lies by the defendant.’ Smith also praised the law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol, saying that they ‘did not just defend a building or the people sheltering in it. They put their lives on the line to defend who we are as a country and as a people.'” See also, Read the full text of the 45-page Trump January 6 indictment document, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Here are the Trump co-conspirators described in the Department of Justice indictment, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, Rachel Weiner, Amy B Wang, and Isaac Arnsdorf, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “In criminally charging former president Donald Trump for his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss, federal prosecutors allege that Trump enlisted six co-conspirators to ‘assist him in his criminal efforts to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election and retain power.’The co-conspirators were not charged on Tuesday and are not named in the indictment, but five of them can be identified using the detailed descriptions provided by prosecutors.” See also, Trump has been indicted before. Historians say this time is different. Scholars say the new charges of attempting to overturn the 2020 election pose a unique test for the rule of law and go to the core of the threat to democracy. The Washington Post, Kevin Sullivan, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023: “When Donald Trump was indicted in Manhattan in March, it was the first time in U.S. history that a president or former president had faced criminal charges. On Tuesday, it happened to Trump for the third time in just over four months — and he may face even more charges before the summer is done. Historians and legal scholars say the new indictment, brought by federal special counsel Jack Smith, is fundamentally more consequential than the earlier ones, which related to hush money paid to an adult-film actress and the alleged mishandling of classified documents. While those are serious allegations, Tuesday’s indictment accuses a former president of the United States of attempting to subvert the democracy upon which the nation rests. And with Trump again running for the White House, the charges he faces pose an extraordinary test to the rule of law, experts say.” See also, 4 things that stand out from the Trump January 6 indictment, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023. See also, Judge Tanya Chutkan is a tough Trump critic and the toughest January 6 sentencer. Trump’s trial judge in D.C. is a former public defender and was one of the first U.S. judges to reject his executive privilege claims to withhold January 6 White House records. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “With U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan as the trial judge overseeing his case in Washington, Donald Trump’s legal troubles in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack come near full circle. Trump’s federal criminal indictment on charges of attempting to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election was randomly assigned Tuesday to Chutkan, 61, who nearly two years ago became one of the first federal judges in D.C. to reject the former president’s efforts to use executive privilege to withhold White House communications from Jan. 6 investigators, in that instance from the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot.” See also, Trump indicted for efforts to overturn 2020 election to block transfer of power, Associated Press, Eric Tucker and Michael Kunzelman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “Donald Trump was indicted on felony charges Tuesday for working to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the run-up to the violent riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, with the Justice Department acting to hold him accountable for an unprecedented effort to block the peaceful transfer of presidential power and threaten American democracy. The four-count indictment, the third criminal case against Trump, provided deeper insight into a dark moment that has already been the subject of exhaustive federal investigations and captivating public hearings. It chronicles a months-long campaign of lies about the election results and says that, even when those falsehoods resulted in a chaotic insurrection at the Capitol, Trump sought to exploit the violence by pointing to it as a reason to further delay the counting of votes that sealed his defeat. Even in a year of rapid-succession legal reckonings for Trump, Tuesday’s indictment, with charges including conspiring to defraud the United States government that he once led, was stunning in its allegations that a former president assaulted the ‘bedrock function’ of democracy. It’s the first time the defeated president, who is the early front-runner for next year’s Republican presidential nomination, is facing legal consequences for his frantic but ultimately failed effort to cling to power.” See also, The New Trump Indictment and the Reckoning Ahead. With the former President still far ahead of the rest of the Republican field, the American electorate is headed for a crucial test. The New Yorker, David Remnick, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “To read the stark criminal indictment, returned by a federal grand jury on Tuesday, charging Donald Trump with conspiring to steal the 2020 Presidential election is to realize more deeply than before that the country is headed for a great reckoning—in the courts and at the ballot box. It suggests a question that cannot be escaped: Will the American electorate show itself capable of overlooking a conspiracy to undermine democratic rule and return the chief conspirator to power? The third and latest indictment against Trump sets out four charges and makes the case against him in the plainest terms. ‘Despite having lost, the defendant was determined to remain in power,’ the introduction to the forty-five-page document reads—and where have you seen a more succinct summary of criminal intent?” See also, Trump charged with 4 felony counts for attempt to overturn the 2020 election, NPR, Carrie Johnson, Ryan Lucas, Jaclyn Diaz, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “Former President Donald Trump was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on four counts related to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to court documents. Trump was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, witness tampering, conspiracy against the rights of citizens, and obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding. The charges were unsealed two weeks after the former president said he had learned he may be indicted by a federal grand jury investigating the siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. That’s when protesters loyal to Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent then-Vice President Mike Pence from performing his ceremonial role of certifying the presidential election in favor of the winner, Joe Biden.” See also, 5 things to know about the latest charges against Donald Trump, NPR, Emily Olson, Jaclyn Diaz, Ximena Bustillo, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Moscow says drone hits skyscraper again; Kherson and Kharkiv report strikes, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Ellen Francis, Natalia Abbakumova, Serhiy Morgunov, and Eve Sampson, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “A drone hit the same Moscow skyscraper — which houses offices and ministries — for the second time in days, the city’s mayor and Russia’s Defense Ministry said early Tuesday, blaming Ukraine. Kyiv has not claimed responsibility, but Ukrainian officials have described targets in Russia as legitimate. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak suggested early Tuesday that the drones meant that Moscow was ‘rapidly getting used to a full-fledged war.’ Ukrainian officials said Russian attacks a day earlier killed at least 10 people, including a 10-year-old girl and her mother, and injured at least 100 in the southern city of Kherson and in Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Russian shelling Tuesday hit a medical facility in Kherson, killing a doctor, injuring a nurse and damaging a surgical department there, the regional governor, Oleksandr Prokudin, said in a statement. International humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders confirmed that it maintains a partnership with the hospital that was attacked. Russian air defenses thwarted ‘several drones’ trying to reach Moscow, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said Tuesday. He said the facade of the building’s 21st floor was damaged, that it was the same skyscraper hit on Sunday and that there was no information on casualties. UNESCO has verified damage to 274 locations in Ukraine, including religious sites, museums, monuments and libraries, during nearly a year and a half of war, the U.N. organization said. Russian drones struck Kharkiv and destroyed two floors of a dormitory, the mayor of the northeastern city, Ukraine’s second-largest, said overnight. Belarusian helicopters violated Polish airspace during a training exercise Tuesday, Poland’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. The Belarusian Defense Ministry refuted the claims, calling them ‘far-fetched.’ Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak ordered more soldiers along the border, the ministry said. Britain imposed sanctions on six Russian nationals involved in the trial of British-Russian dual national Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was sentenced to 25 years in a penal colony on treason charges. Kara-Murza has publicly denounced Russia’s war on Ukraine and was sentenced on ‘bogus charges,’ British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said. The sanctioned Russian citizens include three judges, two prosecutors and an expert witness. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan is slated to attend a Ukrainian-backed peace summit that Saudi Arabia is planning, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive planning. Ukraine’s foreign minister said he discussed the possibility of using Croatian ports to export grain during a meeting Monday with his Croatian counterpart. Russia’s withdrawal from a U.N.-backed grain deal last month has blocked the flow of Ukrainian grain exports via Black Sea routes.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Drone Again Hits a Moscow Building Housing Russian Ministries. Ukrainian officials have become more open in their view that targets inside Russia are legitimate. The New York Times, Tuesday, 1 August 2023:

  • Central Moscow is hit for the second time in two days in a drone attack.
  • In Moscow, some residents worry after recent attacks while others move on.
  • UNESCO says 274 cultural sites have been damaged in Ukraine since February last year.
  • A Ukrainian doctor is killed in a shelling attack on his first full day at work, authorities say.
  • Ukraine’s stepped-up attacks on Russia aim at the Kremlin’s military logistics.
  • Ukraine is moving to export grain through Croatia’s ports.
  • Extensive minefields impede Ukraine’s counteroffensive, military experts say.

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