June 13, 2024

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LITIGATION TRACKER ... Trump Trials Clearinghouse


Who’s ahead in the national polls?

The updated average for each candidate in 2024 presidential polls, accounting for each poll's recency, sample size, and methodology is at https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-general/2024/national/


“Europe does not have a developed early warning system. In this sense they are more or less defenseless.” — Russian president Vladimir Putin. https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cn00e422yr2o

“Well revenge does take time, I will say that. And sometimes revenge can be justified… I have to be honest. Sometimes it can.” — Donald Trump, in an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw. https://www.mediaite.com/tv/trump-says-sometimes-revenge-can-be-justified-during-interview-with-dr-phil-i-have-to-be-honest/

'We will only prove ourselves by our deeds. And, excuse me for saying so, kill those who do not want to see or love us. This is the most important thing.” — United Russia deputy Armen Mnatsakanyan calling for killing citizens who do not support representatives of the ruling party in Russia's Pskov Oblast, https://ca.news.yahoo.com/russian-mp-calls-kill-anyone-104000643.html

“What you don’t hear from Joe Biden is any attack on the judge, any attack on the prosecutor, any attack on the process by which his son is currently in federal court; any suggestion that he would misuse the presidential pardon power; any suggestion that his supporters should riot in the streets over it. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has done all of those things, and the difference reveals the difference in their commitment to the rule of law.” — Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) on Hunter Biden’s gun trial. https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2024/06/08/3-non-trump-trials-dems-want-to-talk-about-00162396

“They’re laughing at him.” — The Biden Campaign destroys Donald Trump in devastating ad. https://twitter.com/AdamKinzinger/status/1799576753339335042

Thread covering Trump's rally in Las Vegas, including his rants about batteries, shark attacks and electric cars. (Note: Lots of luck trying make sense of any of this.) https://x.com/atrupar/status/1799895109124657405

“He’s a deranged, dumb guy. He’s a dumb son of a bitch.” — Donald Trump, speaking at a campaign rally about Special Counsel Jack Smith. https://x.com/atrupar/status/1799893740812747157

“I have empathy for them. I was there. I did it. I did exactly what they’re doing. I did the hopeless equivocation. I did cognitive dissonance. I’ve been through the cycle.” — Anthony Scaramucci on Wall Street executives flocking to Donald Trump. https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-money/2024/06/10/the-moochs-warning-to-trumps-new-pals-on-wall-street-00162439

"I want a Sacred Heart of Jesus flag because I have to look across the lagoon at the Pride flag for the next month.” — Martha-Ann Alito unfurled. https://twitter.com/lawindsor/status/1800298200923766961

“You swear an oath to the Constitution and if you’re willing to suborn it to yourself, I think that makes you unfit for office.” — Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), explaining on Fox News why he won’t vote for Donald Trump. https://x.com/Acyn/status/1800626156066206061

“The DOJ is “prosecuting” Hunter Biden on gun charges and trying to create sympathy for Joe Biden. The DOJ should be prosecuting Hunter for not registering under FARA while he & his family made tens of millions from foreign countries since Joe was VP! And Joe was in on it! “— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s deranged theory! https://twitter.com/RepMTG/status/1799819782189146420






The Borowitz Report: Prison Guards Dreading Body Search of Bannon

Panic gripped the nation’s prison guards on Thursday as they reacted to the prospect of body-searching Steve Bannon.

The thought of interacting with the naked Bannon had many in the guard community rethinking their careers, insiders confirmed.

“I’ve been living in fear of this day,” Frank Klugian, a veteran correctional officer, said. “I knew it was bad news the minute I heard Mrs. Alito was flying her flag upside down again.”

Harland Dorrinson, the warden of the penitentiary that will be receiving Bannon, said that “every protection” will be provided those carrying out the procedure, “Including, obviously, hazmat suits.” https://www.borowitzreport.com/p/prison-guards-dreading-body-search

Trump loyalist pushes ‘post-Constitutional’ vision for second term

A battle-tested D.C. bureaucrat and self-described Christian nationalist is drawing up detailed plans for a sweeping expansion of presidential power in a second Trump administration. Russ Vought, who served as the former president’s budget chief, calls his political strategy for razing long-standing guardrails ‘radical constitutionalism.

He has helped craft proposals for Donald Trump to deploy the military to quash civil unrest, seize more control over the Justice Department and assert the power to withhold congressional appropriations — and that’s just on Trump’s first day back in office.

Vought, 48, is poised to steer this agenda from an influential perch in the White House, potentially as Trump’s chief of staff, according to some people involved in discussions about a second term who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.”

Some of Vought’s recommendations, such as bucking the Justice Department’s tradition of political independence, have long percolated in the conservative movement. But he is taking a harder line — and seeking to empower a presidential nominee who has openly vowed “retribution,” alarming some fellow conservatives who recall fighting against big government alongside Vought long before Trump’s election.

“I am concerned that he is willing to embrace an ends-justify-the-means mentality,” said Marc Short, formerly chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, who has said he won’t endorse Trump. Vought, Short added, is embracing “tactics of growing government and using the levers of power in the federal bureaucracy to fight our political opponents.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/06/08/russ-vought-trump-second-term-radical-constitutional/

DNC Billboard Tags Trump as ‘Convicted Felon’

The Democratic National Committee is escalating its attacks on Donald Trump as a ‘convicted felon,’ with a billboard that greeted him outside of Phoenix when he attended his first post-conviction event there. https://www.axios.com/2024/06/06/dnc-billboard-trump-convicted-felon

Tommy Tuberville Argues That Putin Has No Interest in Ukraine

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin—who ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 while declaring that the country has no claim to independence and that its people are  connected with us by blood —doesn’t actually want Ukraine because he already has  enough land.  https://www.thedailybeast.com/tommy-tuberville-tries-to-argue-putin-has-no-interest-in-ukraine

Culture wars loom again as House weighs massive defense policy bill

The Pentagon this week is once again at the center of America’s culture wars, as the Republican-led House considers adding scores of controversial provisions from its far-right members to its version of the annual defense policy bill.

The $895.3 billion legislation includes proposals to restrict service members’ access to reproductive health care and diversity protections, block future U.S. assistance to Ukraine and Palestinian civilians, expand the U.S. military’s presence along the Mexico border, and roll back environmental protections sought by the Biden administration.

All are likely to meet fierce debate from Democrats, and the most partisan measures will face tremendous hurtles to final passage, as the House will have to reconcile its legislation with whatever version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passes the Democratic-led Senate. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2024/06/12/ndaa-house-defense-bill/

Putin’s Existential Problem: Not Enough Russians

Vladimir Putin has portrayed himself as a defender of global stability, leading a powerful nation that offers a robust economic, military and cultural alternative to the West.

One challenge to his vision: Russia’s population has been in decline for years, and the war in Ukraine has made matters worse.

At least 150,000 Russians are dead on the battlefield, according to Western estimates. Nearly a million fled the country after the war began. The number of births is at its lowest in more than two decades, with bigger-than-average drops in babies born in some regions closest to the fight.  https://www.wsj.com/world/russia/putin-russia-population-birthrate-war-904d74a7

Paul Gosar Wants Trump’s Face on a $500 Bill

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has a bill to put Donald Trump's face on the $500 bill  - the  TRUMP Act of 2024.  https://x.com/jamiedupree/status/1798470961379016849

Trump plans to claim sweeping powers to cancel federal spending

Donald Trump is vowing to wrest key spending powers from Congress if elected this November, promising to assert more control over the federal budget than any president in U.S. history.

The Constitution gives control over spending to Congress, but Trump and his aides maintain that the president should have much more discretion — including the authority to cease programs altogether, even if lawmakers fund them. Depending on the response from the Supreme Court and Congress, Trump’s plans could upend the balance of power between the three branches of the federal government. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2024/06/07/trump-budget-impoundment-congress/

The Proud Boys are back: How the far-right group is rebuilding to rally behind Trump

The Proud Boys are back. Four years after the failed effort to overturn Trump’s 2020 electoral defeat, the violent all-male extremist group that led the storming of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, is rebuilding and regaining strength as Trump campaigns to return to the White House, according to interviews with eight Proud Boys, two U.S. law enforcement officials and four experts who track the group’s online activity.

Since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, four former Proud Boys leaders have been convicted in federal court of seditious conspiracy, each sentenced to 15 or more years in prison. At least another 70 members were charged with participating in the violence. But that crackdown hasn’t stopped the Proud Boys.

Some Proud Boys say they are preparing to emerge once again as a physical force for Trump, drawn to his hardline nationalism and convinced their leaders will be pardoned if he wins. Trump himself promises to pardon convicted Jan. 6 rioters if he’s elected.

After last Thursday’s historic guilty verdict against Trump, an Ohio Proud Boys chapter vowed  war  and posted a video of Proud Boy street brawls that ended with the message,  Fighting solves everything.  A Miami chapter said,  Now, more than ever, we are recruiting!  Some posted images of the upside-down American flag symbolizing the  Stop the Steal  movement that falsely claims Trump won the 2020 election. One Proud Boy told Reuters that America is in a period of  calm before the storm.  https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-election-proudboys/

Republicans Helping Cornel West Get on the Ballot

Cornel West’s independent presidential campaign is broke. His former campaign manager says he knows nothing about ballot access. And he spent more on graphic design than petition-gathering in his most recent campaign finance report.

But tens of thousands of signatures have been gathered on behalf of the famed left-wing academic in key states thanks to self-organized grassroots volunteers — and some help from outside operatives tied to a Republican consulting firm.  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2024-election/operatives-gop-ties-are-helping-cornel-west-get-ballot-key-state-rcna153110

Johnson Pushes Bill to Support Trump After Guilty Verdict

House Republican leaders are whipping votes on a bill aimed at showing allegiance to former President Trump after his historic conviction — but it’s unclear if they can secure the needed support.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is under pressure from GOP hardliners to schedule a vote on the measure as part of a full-court press to defend Trump, so any difficulty locking down votes could once again put him in their crosshairs.

The bill would allow current or former presidents to move state-level charges against them into federal court. It’s in direct response to Trump’s conviction last week in New York.  https://www.axios.com/2024/06/07/scoop-johnson-seeks-votes-for-bill-to-support-trump-after-guilty-verdict

Clarence Thomas, in Financial Disclosure, Acknowledges 2019 Trips Paid by Harlan Crow

Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledged on Friday additional luxury travel he had accepted from a conservative billionaire, amending a previous financial disclosure to reflect trips he had taken to an Indonesian island and a secretive all-male club in the Northern California redwoods.

The trips, taken in 2019, were earlier revealed by ProPublica, but it is the first time that Justice Thomas has included them on his financial disclosures.  https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/07/us/supreme-court-disclosures-gifts.html 



Bess Levin: Trump to Attend Event With Group That Believes Abortion Is “Child Sacrifice” and Must Be “Eradicated Entirely”

Donald Trump has spent much of his 2024 campaign pretending to be a moderate on abortion, a stance no one should believe given that:

  • He regularly brags about killing Roe v. Wade
  • He has said “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who obtain abortions
  • He has said states can punish doctors who provide abortions
  • He has said he wouldn’t stop states from tracking individual pregnancies so they can prosecute people caught getting abortions

Oh, and next week he’s speaking to a group that calls abortion “child sacrifice” and whose mission is to “eradicate” the medical procedure entirely.

That group is the Danbury Institute, which declares on its website: “We believe that the greatest atrocity facing our generation today is the practice of abortion—child sacrifice on the altar of self...Abortion must be ended. We will not rest until it is eradicated entirely...We are grateful to God and to the current slate of Supreme Court Justices for the successful overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, the battle is far from won.” (Not surprisingly, the group also notes that it is against “LGBTQ+ indoctrination of children,” “Gender confusion,” “Transgender ideology,” “Critical Race Theory and Marxist ideologies,” and ”Socialism.”)  https://www.vanityfair.com/news/story/trump-to-attend-event-with-group-that-believes-abortion-is-child-sacrifice-and-must-be-eradicated-entirely

David A. Graham: Trump’s Most Audacious Lie Yet

The former president is claiming he never said  "Lock her up."

When someone lies as prodigiously as Donald Trump—The Washington Post stopped counting at more than 30,000, around the time he left office—handing out superlatives is challenging. Even so, the former president might have told his most audacious lie yet this weekend.

Trump sat for a conversation with Fox & Friends Weekend that aired yesterday. This isn’t a venue where Trump would expect to get tough questions, and a co-host, Will Cain, made a relatively straightforward point.  "You famously said, regarding Hillary Clinton, ‘Lock her up,’"  he said.  "You declined to do that as president."  The "lock her up" motif is troublesome for Trump because it undermines his new gambit that he should be immune from prosecution because he’s a politician.

"I beat her. It’s easier when you win. They all said ‘Lock her up’—and I could have done it—but I felt it would have been a terrible thing, and then this happened to me,"  Trump replied.  Hillary Clinton, "I didn’t say ‘Lock her up,’ but the people would all say ‘Lock her up.’"

That’s nonsense, though the assertion was so bold that it gave me pause. I spend a lot of time watching and listening to Trump, but memories are fickle. I remembered attending Trump rallies where the crowd chanted "Lock her up,"  and I remembered Trump doing little to quell them. Was it possible he had never explicitly said the words himself?

But of course he did.  "‘Lock her up’ is right," he said in October 2016.  "For what she did, they should lock her up," he said at a rally I attended in Greensboro, North Carolina, a few days later. He used other phrasings at other times. In June 2016, for example, he said, "Hillary Clinton has to go to jail. She has to go to jail," helpfully adding for the historical record:  I said that.  As he noted in the interview, he eased off the demands once he’d won. But in 2020, running for reelection, he went back to playing the hits. "You should lock her up, I’ll tell you," he said at an Ohio rally.

His claim that he "could have" locked Clinton up is less brazen but perhaps more dangerous for its view of how the justice system works, or how Trump thinks it ought to work. Trump faces the possibility of jail only after he was indicted by a grand jury, tried in an open court, and convicted by a jury of 12 New Yorkers. Clinton, by contrast, was never charged, much less convicted by any court. A president can’t legally, and shouldn’t, be able to summarily imprison anyone without charge, including and perhaps especially a political opponent. These are the kinds of things that used to go without saying.

Speaking of things left unsaid, none of the Fox News hosts pushed Trump on the bogus claim. Regardless of whether Republicans or conservative media are willing to back his lie as he seeks a return to the White House as commander in chief, he’s already the gaslighter in chief. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2024/06/trump-most-audacious-lie/678583/


Kate Sullivan and Kristen Holmes: Trump again suggests he would try to prosecute his political opponents if reelected

Former President Donald Trump is again suggesting he would try to prosecute his political opponents if he’s elected to a second term as he rails against his criminal conviction in New York.

"Look, when this election is over, based on what they’ve done, I would have every right to go after them, and it would be easy because it’s Joe Biden,"  he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday when pressed on whether he would use the justice system to go after his political opponents.

"It’s a terrible, terrible path that they’re leading us to, and it’s very possible that it’s going to have to happen to them," Trump said in an interview with Newsmax on Tuesday.

Trump, who has repeatedly called for the imprisonment of his 2016 Democratic presidential opponent Hillary Clinton despite her never being charged with a crime, also said Tuesday that he thought it would have been a  terrible thing  if Clinton went to jail. Trump recently falsely claimed in an interview with Fox News that he didn’t call to lock up Clinton.

"I got a lot of credit from a lot of people, and some people said I should have done it, but, you know, could have, would have been very easy to do it, but I thought it would be a terrible precedent for our country, " Trump said.

Trump continued,  "Wouldn’t it be terrible to throw the president’s wife and the former secretary of state, think of it, the former secretary of state, but the president’s wife, into jail. Wouldn’t that be a terrible thing, but 'they' want to do it."

Earlier this week, Republican National Committee co-chair Michael Whatley said the party was preparing for a scenario in which Trump addressed the Republican National Convention from prison. The convention is slated to kick off on July 15 in Milwaukee, just four days after Trump’s scheduled sentencing date.

"We’re working on that right now,"  Whatley told Newsmax.  "I’m actually going up to Milwaukee this week and we’re going to have a series of conversations. But look, we expect that Donald Trump is going to be in Milwaukee and he’s going to be able to accept that nomination. And if not, we will make whatever contingency planning we need to make for it." https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/05/politics/trump-prosecute-political-opponents/index.html

Robert O. Paxton: I've Hesitated to Call Donald Trump a Fascist. Until Now

I resisted for a long time applying the fascist label to Donald J. Trump. He did indeed display some telltale signs. In 2016, a newsreel clip of Trump's plane taxiing up to a hangar where cheering supporters awaited reminded me eerily of Adolf Hitler's electoral campaign in Germany in July 1932, the first airborne campaign in history, where the arrival of the Führer's plane electrified the crowd. Once the rally began, with Hitler and Mussolini, Trump mastered the art of back-and-forth exchanges with his enraptured listeners. There was the threat of physical violence ("lock her up!"), sometimes leading to the forceful ejection of hecklers. The Proud Boys stood in convincingly for Hitler's Storm Troopers and Mussolini's squadristi. The MAGA hats even provided a bit of uniform.The "America First" message and the leader's arrogant swagger fit the fascist model.

But these are matters of surface decor. How did Trump relate to more profound social, political, economic, and cultural forces in American life? Like Hitler, among the first political leaders to master radio, Trump mastered electronic media like Twitter and won the support of America's largest television chain, Fox News. Like the fascist leaders Trump understood the deep disaffection of parts of society for traditional leaders and institutions, and he knew how to exploit a widespread fear of national division and decline. Like Hitler and Mussolini he knew how to pose as the only effective bulwark against an advancing Left, all the more fearful because it took on cultural forms unfamiliar to provincial rural America—feminism, Black Power, gay rights.

But Trump and Trumpism also differ in some important ways from the historical fascisms. The circumstances are profoundly different. Although the United States has its problems, these are minor compared to those of the defeated Germany of 1932, with over 30 percent of workers unemployed, or the divided Italy at the brink of civil war in 1921. Most Americans are employed, or were until the pandemic, while those lucky enough to own stocks are in clover. American political institutions are not deadlocked, as were those of Germany in 1932, when President Hindenburg believed that only Hitler could stop the rapidly growing Communist Party. American circumstances are unlike those of Italy in 1921, where the King believed that the only way to stop the runaway take-overs of Italian cities by Mussolini's new nationalist and anti-socialist mass movement he called Fascism was to invite its leader into office. The crisis created by Trump's refusal to accept a legitimate electoral outcome seems almost trivial by comparison.

A further fundamental difference is Trump's relation to the world of business. Whereas Hitler and Mussolini, at least at the beginning, won their mass audiences with promises to shake up capitalist power, and whereas, once in power with the support of the same businessmen against Labor, the fascist leaders had subjected businessmen, often against their preferences, to the demands of forced rearmament, Trump gave American business what they wanted: the relaxation of regulations and access to world markets. It seemed to me better to avoid one more facile and polemical use of the fascist label in favor of a more unemotional term, such as oligarchy or plutocracy.

Trump's incitement of the invasion of the Capitol on January 6, 2020 removes my objection to the fascist label. His open encouragement of civic violence to overturn an election crosses a red line. The label now seems not just acceptable but necessary. It is made even more plausible by comparison with a milestone on Europe's road to fascism—an openly fascist demonstration in Paris during the night of February 6, 1934.

Curiously, it seems the Washington demonstrators' success at breaching the Capitol gives them less support in American society today than the unsuccessful French demonstrators of February 1934 acquired in their country. In France, elections in June 1936 had a highly contested outcome: the installation of a Jew and a Socialist, Leon Blum, as the French Prime Minister. French fascists remained active opponents of Blum until opportunity came for them again in June 1940 with Hitler's defeat of the French Army, and the replacement of the French parliamentary republic with the authoritarian Vichy regime. In the United States, after the ignominious failure of a shocking fascist attempt to undo Biden's election, the new American President can begin his work of healing on January 20. Despite encouraging early signs and the relative robustness of American institutions, it's too soon for a responsible historian to say whether he'll be more successful in sustaining our Republic than European leaders were in defending theirs. https://www.newsweek.com/robert-paxton-trump-fascist-1560652 

Dean Obeidallah: GOP Judges protecting Trump show us what weaponizing the justice system really looks like!

This is judicial corruption at it's worst!

We’ve never seen such a brazen effort by Republican appointed judges to protect the GOP’s political power as we are seeing play out right in front of our eyes with Donald Trump’s three remaining criminal cases.  They are not even trying to hide their efforts to help convicted felon Trump win in 2024 by delaying his criminal cases so that their presidential nominee is not convicted of even more felonies before the November election.

That brings us to the Republican controlled US Supreme Court that is nothing more of an arm of the GOP when it comes to political related cases. And we are seeing that again with the Court delaying Trump’s Jan 6 case where he faces four very serious felonies including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United State for his illegal efforts to remain in office despite losing the 2020 election.

As a reminder, Special Counsel Jack Smith first asked the Supreme Court on December 11, 2023 to hear Trump’s appeal of the trial judge’s ruling he has no immunity for the crimes he committed while in office. At the time, Smith argued this was  an extraordinary case  that demanded swift attention. But the GOP controlled court agreed with Trump’s argument, refusing the direct appeal. As a result, the case went to the US Court of Appeals, which rendered a decision on February 6 that Trump has no immunity.

Despite the obvious urgency of this case given the man who attempted a coup was the likely 2024 GOP presidential nominee, the GOP justices delayed for nearly three weeks a decision on whether to hear the appeal. Finally, they took the case on an  expedited  basis and scheduled oral argument for April 25. Yet hear we are nearly seven weeks since that oral argument with no decision—meaning Trump’s Jan 6 case remains on hold.

In glaring contrast, earlier this year when the Supreme Court considered whether to bar Trump from the ballot for engaging in an insurrection in violation of the 14th Amendment—a case of first impression—the court quickly ruled in Trump’s favor in just a little over three weeks after the February 8 oral argument. So when a speedy decision helps Trump, they deliver it—and when a delay helps Trump, they deliver that as well. Again, they are not hiding their partisan agenda.

If you want an even more extreme example of how quickly GOP Justices will move when they sense a chance to help Republicans gain power, check out the infamous Bush v. Gore decision. Just one day after oral arguments in that case, the five Republican Justices joined forces to effectively declare George W. Bush the winner of the 2000 election. As a reminder, three of the current GOP justices worked as lawyers on Bush’s legal team: John Roberts, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh. That means these three know first-hand how quickly the Supreme Court can move.

This is what political weaponization of the justice system really looks like. These judges are political operatives in black robes.  And the only remedy to this brazen judicial corruption is to win in 2024—and to win big! https://deanobeidallah.substack.com/p/gop-judges-protecting-trump-show

Ronald Brownstein: What Trump’s Total GOP Control Means Next

The sweeping attacks from Republican elected officials against former President Donald Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts last week send a clear signal that if he wins a second term, he will face even less internal resistance from the GOP than he did during his first four years in the White House.

Republican pushback was rare enough in his first term, against even Trump’s most extreme ideas and actions, but it did exist in pockets of Congress and among appointees inside his own administration with roots in the party’s prior traditions. The willingness now of so many House and Senate Republicans, across the GOP’s ideological spectrum, to unreservedly echo Trump’s denunciation of his conviction shows that the flickers of independence that flashed during his first term have been virtually extinguished as he approaches a possible second term.

The strong message of the near-universal Republican condemnation of the verdict is that  Donald Trump owns the Republican Party,  the political scientist Susan Stokes, who directs the Chicago Center on Democracy at the University of Chicago, told me.  That means he can pretty much force the rest of the party leadership, if they see their future in the party, to toe the line, no matter what.

GOP elected officials are aligning obediently behind Trump even as numerous signs suggest that the Supreme Court’s Republican-appointed majority, and other GOP-appointed judges in the federal courts, may be more willing than in his first term to openly defend and enable his actions. And all of these indications of Trump’s tightening grip over Republicans in the electoral and legal arenas follow his description of a second-term agenda that pushes more aggressively against the limits of law and custom on presidential power.

That combination points to a possible second Trump term defined by both fewer constraints and more challenges to the traditional constitutional order.  What should most alarm Americans who believe that somehow ‘the system will hold’ is that for all the red hats and red ties Republican electeds don to appease their leader, they seem to have no red lines,  Deana El-Mallawany, a senior counsel for the bipartisan group Protect Democracy, told me in an email.  Which suggests that the most radical things Trump has hinted at—being a dictator (for a day), tearing up the constitution—which seem unthinkable today could just as easily come to pass in the very near future. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2024/06/trump-verdict-republican-party-loyalty/678609/

Elizabeth Dias and Lisa Lerer: Alito’s ‘Godliness’ Comment Echoes a Broader Christian Movement

It’s a phrase not commonly associated with legal doctrine: returning America to “a place of godliness.”

And yet when asked by a woman posing as a Catholic conservative at a dinner last week, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. appeared to endorse the idea. The unguarded moment added to calls for greater scrutiny by Democrats, many of whom are eager to open official investigations into outside influence at the Supreme Court.

But the core of the idea expressed to Mr. Alito, that the country must fight the decline of Christianity in public life, goes beyond the questions of bias and influence at the nation’s highest court. An array of conservatives, including antiabortion activists, church leaders and conservative state legislators, has openly embraced the idea that American democracy needs to be grounded in Christian values and guarded against the rise of secular culture.

They are right-wing Catholics and evangelicals who oppose abortion, same-sex marriage, transgender rights and what they see as the dominance of liberal views in school curriculums. And they’ve become a crucial segment of former President Donald J. Trump’s political coalition, intermingled with the MAGA movement that boosted him to the White House and that hopes to do so once again in November. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/11/us/samuel-alito-christianity-law-democracy.html

David A. Graham: Guilty on all counts

Trump’s most loyal defenders have vied to denounce the New York Trump verdict most extravagantly. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida took an early lead by equating it to a  show trial  in  communist countries.  But Rubio has had plenty of competition: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas likened the trial to proceedings in  banana republics.  Senator Mike Lee of Utah has gotten about a dozen other GOP senators to sign a letter pledging to use procedural tools to snarl all action in the chamber to protest the verdict. House Speaker Mike Johnson has similarly promised to use  everything in our arsenal  against the decision; Representative Jim Jordan, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who has already launched investigations against all of the prosecutors who have indicted Trump, has demanded that New York prosecutors appear at a hearing on the case next week. Other Trump allies have insisted that state and local Republican attorneys general and district attorneys manufacture indictments against Democratic politicians in retaliation.

Strikingly, several of the Republicans denouncing the decision have argued that not only were Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Judge Juan Merchan biased against Trump, but the Manhattan jury of ordinary citizens was as well.  The partisan slant of this jury pool shows why we ought to litigate politics at the ballot box and not in the courtroom,  Senator J. D. Vance of Ohio, one of Trump’s most unconditional defenders, insisted in his statement immediately after the verdict.

Juries  have been sacrosanct in our democracy,  and the fact that so many prominent Republicans  are just prepared to treat them as Democratic operatives rather than members of a community that have judged Trump guilty of 34 felonies,  Fred Wertheimer, the founder and president of Democracy 21, a government-ethics watchdog group, told me,  tells us even more than what Trump himself has told us about what will happen in a Trump presidency. These elected officials are wide open to accepting an autocracy.

The breadth of the Republican rejection of the verdict has been as emphatic as its depth. The criticism has come not only from reflexive Trump defenders such as Vance and Rubio, but from others who had previously kept somewhat more distance from the former president. They include several congressional Republicans, such as Mike Lawler and Marc Molinaro, who represent House districts carried by President Joe Biden, as well as Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who voted to convict Trump after his impeachment over the January 6 riot.

Maybe the most revealing moment in the entire GOP eruption against the Trump verdict came last week, when Johnson reassured his Fox News hosts during an interview that he expected the Supreme Court to eventually overturn the conviction.  I think that the justices on the Court—I know many of them personally—I think they are deeply concerned about that, as we are,  the House speaker said.  So I think they’ll set this straight.

Johnson later clarified that he had not personally spoken with any of the justices about the Trump verdict, but that only magnified the import of his initial words—revealing the extent to which he considered the GOP-appointed justices part of the Republican team, receptive to the leadership’s signals about the actions it expects. Right now, the clearest signal is that the leadership expects all Republicans to lock arms around Trump, no matter what he has done in the past or plans for the future.  "The guardrails," said Dach of the Congressional Integrity Project, "are gone. " https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2024/06/trump-verdict-republican-party-loyalty/678609/

Jackie Calmes: Which is it? Biden the mastermind or Biden the bungler?

News flash: Republicans haven’t said it in so many words, but they seem to have a new line of attack against President Biden: He suffers from dissociative identity disorder. Biden has multiple personalities.

For months on end, Republicans have hammered the message that he’s an addled octogenarian — a  well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,  in the gratuitous, much-repeated words of the Republican special counsel who cleared Biden of criminality for having a few classified documents.

Then Republicans flipped the script: Biden is a criminal mastermind!

They’re telling us that this political superman has successfully  weaponized  the justice system. Biden convened a  kangaroo court  — no, worse, a Stalinist show trial! — and executed  the most egregious miscarriage of justice in our nation’s history  by getting a jury to find Donald Trump guilty of 34 felonies in advance of the 2024 election. And stand by for the sentencing: On July 11, Biden the deep state puppetmaster surely will pull Judge Juan M. Merchan’s strings again, to ensure that he throws Trump in the clink.

I grew up in Miami listening to the stories about the Castro show trials in Cuba,  Florida’s politically pliant Republican senator, Marco Rubio, wailed in Trump’s defense.  Not even in my worst nightmares would something like that ever happen here in America. But it did.  (It bears repeating: In 2016 Rubio said,  Many people … are going to be having to explain and justify how they fell into this trap of supporting Donald Trump. )

How does Biden do it? How did he get a state grand jury, trial jury and judge to do his bidding?

Well, leave it to Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, that wrestler-turned-congressional combatant who chairs the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government (yes, there really is such a thing in the Republican-controlled House), to seek the answer. Jordan has summoned Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg and Bragg’s lead prosecutor in the Trump trial to testify under oath next Thursday. Never mind that they are New York officials, not cogs in the federal government under Biden’s management.

But, wait — the supposed commander in chief of this weaponized government has morphed yet again. His new persona: Biden the bungler.

Republicans would have us believe that the president engineered a  sham case to make Trump a convicted felon, and yet Biden has been unable to prevent  his  Justice Department from putting his own son on trial. Hunter Biden is in court now, on three criminal charges alleging that he lied about his drug use when he bought a firearm in 2018.

Apparently Biden created a Frankenstein’s monster out of the nation’s top law-enforcement department, which has not only turned on his own party, but also his own family.

Republicans, Fox News and the rest of MAGA Media Inc. are reveling in the Hunter Biden trial, without, of course, acknowledging that it contradicts their cockamamie  two-tier system of justice  blather. But even among those celebrating what they consider to be righteous prosecutions, some can’t help themselves. They’re claiming that both the current federal trial and a second one that Hunter Biden faces in September in Los Angeles, on tax-evasion charges, are  rigged.

The investigation of Hunter began six years ago at the Trump Justice Department (without any bleating from Joe Biden about  weaponization of justice ). When the father became president, he kept in place the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney investigating his son, Republican David Weiss. (Can’t you just see Trump, as president, doing the same if a Democratic appointee were investigating Donald Jr.?) When Hunter’s plea deal on gun and tax charges collapsed in July (quashed by the Trump-appointed judge, Noreika), President Biden’s attorney general granted Weiss’ request to become a special counsel. As such, Weiss could bring charges against the son in any federal court. Blame him for choosing Bidenland, Del., and blue L.A.

Nothing about Hunter Biden’s humiliating legal predicament suggests odds-stacking by Joe Biden, Mastermind. And God love ’im, as Biden himself might say. For respecting the rule of law, even against his sole living son. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2024-06-06/column-calmes-column-hed-tk

Francis Wilkinson: The Supreme Court just showed us that Trump is not incompetent. He’s a master of corruption

I have badly underestimated Donald Trump. Thursday was the day that his justices — it turns out that they are indeed his justices on the Supreme Court, just as he claimed — got it through my thick head: Trump is not just competent but masterful. He is not just capable, he is supreme.

Because Trump is clumsy at his alleged crimes, surrounding himself with flagrant thugs, telling obvious lies, leaving prolific trails of damning evidence, offering ridiculous defenses for indefensible conduct, I had long concluded that he is incompetent at crookery along with his other manifest failings. That’s true as far as it goes. But for all his mad greed and compulsive lawlessness, for all his sleaze and stupidity, crime is ultimately not Trump’s game. Trump is nothing like a master criminal. But he is a master of something far more sinister and complex: corruption.

Crime is when you launch a violent attempt to overthrow the republic. Corruption is when you convince an entire political party to pretend they didn’t watch it live on television, or cower from it inside the Capitol while dozens of police officers were being bludgeoned by the mob.

Crime is when you fake business expenses to cover up a payoff to an adult film actress who wants to cash in on your campaign for president. Corruption is when the head of the nation’s greasiest tabloid, a perpetual fount of lies and nonsense, expresses concern that your deeds are too sleazy for him.

Crime is when your lawyers tell the Senate not to convict you in an impeachment trial because you can be charged in court. Corruption is when your lawyers inform the Supreme Court that you are immune from criminal courts and only the Senate can judge you — but, alas, the senators have missed their window.

Trump has already succeeded at corrupting much of what’s corruptible. Government. Elections. Foreign policy. Democracy. Religion. Above all, people, and mostly men. Truckloads, boatloads, tiki-torch-parade-loads, courtloads of weak men all standing in the shadow that Trump casts.

Richard Nixon, a self-made, and self-corrupted, man who studied geopolitics and government assiduously, never achieved such a broad subjugation of American values and institutions. Trump, the ignorant, n’er-do-well heir to his father’s crooked fortune, has achieved so much more. Trump hasn’t just captured the trenches of conservative America, he has taken the commanding heights. He owns all of it, from the most racist backwater saloon to the Federalist Society clubhouse. They are his corrupted subjects. He is their corrupt and demented king. If he can somehow get through the next few perilous months, he may yet render corruption sacred, and the republic irredeemable. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2024-04-26/donald-trump-supreme-court-justices-corruption

Dana Milbank: As Biden rallies the free world, Trump serves a higher cause: Himself

The 80th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday provided the contrast that should define the election.
President Biden went to Normandy and spoke about American greatness. Donald Trump went to Phoenix and called the United States a “failed nation” and a “very sick country.”

In France, Biden rhapsodized about “the story of America” told by the rows of graves at the Normandy America Cemetery: “Nearly 10,000 heroes buried side by side, officers and enlisted, immigrants and native-born, different races, different faiths, but all Americans.”

In Phoenix, Trump, invoked the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, saying Biden had orchestrated an “invasion” at the border as part of “a deliberate demolition of our sovereignty” because “they probably think these people are going to be voting.”

Biden hailed NATO, the “greatest military alliance in the history of the world,” and vowed to defend Ukraine: “To bow down to dictators is simply unthinkable. Were we to do that, it means we’d be forgetting what happened here on these hallowed beaches.”

Trump hailed a modern-day tyrant, Hungary’s Viktor Orban (“strong man, very powerful man”), complained about “endless wars” and “delinquent” Europeans, and vowed to “spend our money in our country” — including by “moving thousands of troops, if necessary, currently stationed overseas to our own borders.”

Biden honored the heroes of Operation Overlord, who launched an invasion to liberate a continent knowing “the probability of dying was real.” Trump promised the “largest domestic deportation operation” in U.S. history.

Biden spoke powerfully about the threat to democracy then, and now: “In their hour of trial, the Allied forces of D-Day did their duty. Now, the question for us is, in our hour of trial, will we do ours? We’re living in a time when democracy is more at risk across the world than at any point since the end of World War II, since these beaches were stormed in 1944. Now, we have to ask ourselves: Will we stand against tyranny? … Will we defend democracy? Will we stand together? My answer is yes, and only can be yes.”

And Trump? Though he posted on social media about the “immortal heroes who landed at Normandy,” his message in Phoenix was full of self-absorbed thoughts on his “rigged trial in New York” and nihilistic commentary: “It’s all fake. Impeachment is a fake. The court cases are a disgrace to our country. Everything is fake.” He went on: “I don’t like using the word ‘bulls---’ in front of these beautiful children, so I will not say it.”

The crowd struck up a chant: “Bulls---! Bulls---! Bulls---!” . https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/06/07/trump-phoenix-campaign-rally/

Michelle Goldberg: Colorado’s Trumpified G.O.P. Says to Burn Pride Flags

The Colorado Republican Party last week sent a mass email with the subject line, “God Hates Pride.” The missive denounced Pride Month as a time when “godless groomers” attack what is “decent, holy and righteous.” It included a clip of a sermon by a famously misogynist pastor named Mark Driscoll, with thumbnail text proclaiming, in a nod to the slogan of the obscenely anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, “God Hates Flags.” The party also posted on the social media platform X, “Burn all the #pride flags this June.”

These messages, which have rocked Republican politics in Colorado, are the latest demonstration of how Donald Trump’s MAGA movement has thrown state parties into turmoil. But they’ve also set off a furious backlash from within the party, an indication that beneath a thin veneer of pro-Trump unanimity, old-school Republicans are locked in a power struggle with the fanatics, trolls and conspiracy theorists Trump has empowered. It’s a strange dynamic: a bloc of conservatives who’ve mostly capitulated to Trump are still fighting Trumpism, as if the two things can be separated. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/10/opinion/colorado-gop-pride.html