April 18, 2024

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LITIGATION TRACKER ... Trump Trials Clearinghouse



“The two-party system that we got in place doesn’t work, hasn’t been working, hasn’t been working really since JFK was in office, and we need somebody who’s willing to lay it on the line. That’s what I love about Bobby. Think about it. They killed his uncle. They killed his dad. We know the CIA was involved, right? I mean, they can’t declassify it because it’s so damning. We know the FBI was involved… I’m not saying that was a conspiracy, but it’s kind of a weird coincidence. Bobby’s in danger, you know? Like he’s putting himself on the line.” — Football star Aaron Rodgers. https://www.nbcsports.com/nfl/profootballtalk/rumor-mill/news/aaron-rodgers-thinks-robert-kennedy-jr-is-in-danger

“Senate Republicans, the GOP, and President Trump really worked hard to overturn Roe v. Wade.” — Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), on Fox News, defending the 1864 Arizona law that almost completely bans abortion. https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1777798966479872186


The Republican Speaker of the House flew directly into a crime scene in Florida today to take orders from a thug, serial liar and traitor, who stole America's secrets, and then viciously attacked her on January 6, 2021, with hopes of overturning the election. Go ahead, fact-check me. — D. Earl Stephens. https://substack.com/@dearlstephens/note/c-53802579

“We have perverted the word love. We don’t understand the word love. We don’t understand what love really is. We think love is sunshine and rainbows, and put your arms around somebody saying ‘I love you, brother’ — certainly that’s a form of love. But how many of y’all know when you hold your young’un by one arm and beat them in a circle, because they were bad — how many of you know that’s love too?” — North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R). https://www.wunc.org/politics/2024-04-12/mark-robinson-corporal-punishment-children-schools

"Gettysburg, what an unbelievable battle that was. It was so much, and so interesting, and so vicious and horrible, and so beautiful in so many different ways—it represented such a big portion of the success of this country. Gettysburg, wow—I go to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to look and to watch," he said. "And the statement of Robert E. Lee, who's no longer in favor—did you ever notice it? He's no longer in favor. 'Never fight uphill, me boys, never fight uphill.' They were fighting uphill, he said, 'Wow, that was a big mistake,' he lost his big general. 'Never fight uphill, me boys,' but it was too late," — Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-rambling-rally-speech-raises-questions-1890121


Trans people using locker rooms "should be put in jail” — Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Al). https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1778428815099732002

Rick Wilson: We’re live!!! https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1MYGNojplvbJw

Raskin vs.MTG! — https://twitter.com/MAGABULLDEFINER/status/1778234677372834266?cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjcw%3D%3D&refsrc=email

"If [Biden] doesn't get 270 [electoral votes] then Congress picks the president ... They'll pick Trump.”— Rita Palma, Robert Kennedy Jr's former New York State Director, reveals that the campaign's goal is to give Trump a win. https://twitter.com/keithedwards/status/1777372496250966265

After being honorably discharged from the US Army, Elvis volunteered to fight against Russia among the International Legion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces — in this video he shares his experience, the motivation to keep fighting, and the price of freedom. https://twitter.com/TOGAjano21/status/1778818998047494282

A thread covering Trump's rally in Schnecksville Pennsylvania. Follow along for clips. https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1779295265045811211

Trump goes on a weird rant about the battle of Gettysburg and then points out that Robert E Lee, ”he's no longer in favor. Did you ever notice that?” https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1779310887825809538

The only sensible thing to do with Trump's "Gettysburg, Wow" speech in Pennsylvania was to make a one-minute documentary film of it. https://twitter.com/Randall_Stps/status/1780295504561131876

“Why wouldn’t we? Trump is right all the time. Trump is right all the time.” — Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX), when asked if he supported extending the 2017 tax cuts, which Democrats call a giveaway to the wealthy. https://twitter.com/dlippman/status/1779843730477838437

“We are going to put on the armor of God. Then maybe strap on a Glock.” — Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake (R) urged supporters in Arizona to “strap on a Glock” pistol as they prepare for what she called an intense six months leading up to the Nov. 5 elections. https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-republican-kari-lake-tells-234608716.html

“I just told Mike Johnson in a conference that I’m cosponsoring the Motion to Vacate that was introduced by Greene. He should pre-announce his resignation (as Boehner did), so we can pick a new Speaker without ever being without a GOP Speaker.” — Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) announced he will co-sponsor a resolution to oust Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). https://thehill.com/homenews/house/4596862-massie-backs-greene-effort-to-oust-speaker-johnson/





The Borowitz Report: Most Innocent People Try to Delay Trials, Experts Say

Prominent legal experts believe that defendants who are innocent of a crime will usually do everything humanly possible to delay their trials.

Professor Davis Logsdon, who teaches a course about the behavior of innocent defendants at the University of Minnesota Law School, said that if a defendant is strenuously trying to have his trial delayed, there is no clearer evidence that he is innocent of all charges against him.

Generally speaking, people who have done nothing wrong want to push the day when their name is cleared as far into the future as they can, he said. They will spend a massive amount on legal fees to have a cloud of suspicion hover over them for as long as possible.

He said that there are other signs that a person is completely innocent, including claiming immunity from all charges, defaming the judge and his or her children, and calling the trial a ‘disgrace’ or a ‘witch-hunt.’

If someone does all of those things, it’s so obvious he’s innocent that the case should be dismissed immediately, he said. The fact that such  a trial is allowed to proceed is worrisome proof that our legal system is broken. https://www.borowitzreport.com/p/most-innocent-people-try-to-delay

Donald Trump Seems Well Aware He’s in Legal Peril

Whatever the weaknesses of the New York case against him, and it’s possibly the least consequential and muscular of the myriad federal and state charges he faces, Trump seems well aware that he’s in peril. He continuously ramped up efforts to postpone the trial, and only seemed to grow more unspooled and histrionic each time the court rejected him. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2024-04-15/donald-trump-seems-aware-criminal-trial-puts-him-in-legal-peril

Statement Of Facts

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK STATEMENT OF FACTS IND-71543-23 -against- DONALD J. TRUMP. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/23980822-2023-04-04-statement-of-facts-donald-j-trump-sof

The Supreme Court effectively abolishes the right to mass protest in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will not hear Mckesson v. Doe. The decision not to hear Mckesson leaves in place a lower court decision that effectively eliminated the right to organize a mass protest in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

Under that lower court decision, a protest organizer faces potentially ruinous financial consequences if a single attendee at a mass protest commits an illegal act.

It is possible that this outcome will be temporary. The Court did not embrace the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision attacking the First Amendment right to protest, but it did not reverse it either. That means that, at least for now, the Fifth Circuit’s decision is the law in much of the American South. https://www.vox.com/scotus/24080080/supreme-court-mckesson-doe-first-amendment-protest-black-lives-matter

Trump Takes Over Congressional GOP Agenda

Donald Trump is tightening his stranglehold on the congressional GOP’s policy agenda as he reshapes Republican lawmakers’ party orthodoxy on national security and social issues.

Trump’s sway was on full display Wednesday as the House tried to take up a warrantless government surveillance bill that was intended to unite the party. Then, hours after the former president pushed to ‘kill’ the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reauthorization, 19 House Republicans did just that. https://www.politico.com/news/2024/04/11/trump-tightens-stranglehold-on-congressional-gop-00151629

The reality of being a criminal defendant on trial finally dawned on Trump. He didn’t take it well.

Donald Trump is learning a hard lesson: Criminal defendants don’t get to set their own schedules.

This is a jarring new reality for Trump, who has been accustomed to setting the agenda for most of his adult life — and, in the years since his presidency, has bounced between his sunny Florida resort and political rallies brimming with adoring fans. But this spring, he’ll have to spend most weekdays in a drab county courtroom in a city with very little MAGA. https://www.politico.com/news/2024/04/16/trump-trial-reality-criminal-defendant-00152421

Fake videos and images flooded X in hours after Iran attacked Israel

Within seven hours of the drones being launched, 34 fake images and videos claiming to show the conflict had received 37 million views on X, according to a report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD).

Seventy-seven percent of the posts came from 'verified' paid accounts. X amplifies some posts and replies from these accounts so they are more easily seen by other people, and the verified 'tick' may make users think the post is real.

"The speed at which these posts travel is moving more quickly and the scale of it is bigger.” https://news.sky.com/story/fake-videos-and-images-flooded-x-in-hours-after-irans-attack-on-israel-13116542

Verified pro-Nazi X accounts flourish under Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s X is a thriving hub for Nazi support and propaganda, with paid subscribers sharing speeches by Adolf Hitler or content praising his genocidal regime.

NBC News found that at least 150 paid “Premium” subscriber X accounts and thousands of unpaid accounts have posted or amplified pro-Nazi content on X in recent months, often in apparent violation of X’s rules. The paid accounts posting the content all consistently posted antisemitic or pro-Nazi material. Examples included praise of Nazi soldiers, sharing of Nazi symbols and denials of the Holocaust.

The pro-Nazi content is not confined to the fringes of the platform. During one seven-day period in March, seven of the most widely shared pro-Nazi posts on X accrued 4.5 million views in total. One post with 1.9 million views promoted a false and long-debunked conspiracy theory that 6 million Jews did not die in the Holocaust. More than 5,300 verified and unverified accounts reshared that post, and other popular posts were reshared hundreds of times apiece. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/x-twitter-elon-musk-nazi-extremist-white-nationalist-accounts-rcna145020

Arizona Senate Race Now Leans Democratic

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “The two new developments that pushed us to make these changes are the increased importance of abortion rights in the state following a blockbuster state court decision last week as well as recent Democratic fundraising strength in both races.” https://centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/rating-changes-arizona-senate-and-az-6/

Small-time investors in Trump’s Truth Social reckon with stock collapse

For Donald Trump supporters of investing in Truth Social is less a business calculation than a statement of faith in the former president and the business traded under his initials, DJT.

Even the company’s plunging stock price — and the chance their investments could get mostly wiped out — doesn’t seem to have shaken that faith. The company has lost $3.5 billion in value since its public debut last month.

For some Trump investors, the stock is a badge of honor — a way to show their devotion beyond buying Trump merchandise, visiting Trump golf courses or donating to Trump’s presidential campaign. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2024/04/14/truth-social-investors-faith-trump/

Trump’s PAC spent $230k a day on legal fees in February, records show

Trump is blowing through cash in the middle of a critical campaign crunch as he faces 88 criminal charges and tens of millions of dollars in penalties

Donald Trump’s legal bills are outpacing the money coming into one of his chief political action committees, underscoring the strain of his many courtroom battles, lawsuits and criminal charges on his presidential campaign. Fundraising committees tied to the Republican former president have routinely relied on his trial losses and the mountain of criminal charges against him to ask his supporters for money while casting him as a victim of a political conspiracy from his Democratic rivals.

All together, Mr Trump’s legal fees through Save America reached nearly $7m in February, or the equivalent of roughly $230,000 a day.  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-fec-campaign-spending-b2516599.html

Bankruptcy documents detail how GOP NC governor nominee Mark Robinson failed to file federal income taxes for 5 years

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) has been open about some of his past financial challenges, including nonpayment of debts and failure to pay rents.

He’s also, throughout his political rise, railed against the social safety net and disparaged those who have relied on government assistance, while on his way to clinching the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the state.

And while Robinson has previously talked about his financial issues, bankruptcy records obtained by ABC News paint a more dire and detailed picture of his financial and business history than has previously been disclosed — including new details regarding how the potential future governor had failed to file his federal income taxes for five consecutive years starting in 1998. https://abcnews.go.com/US/bankruptcy-documents-detail-gop-nc-governor-nominee-mark/story

Biden Dares the Courts

President Biden has embraced the power of the pen, practically daring the courts to block new executive actions on gun control, student loan forgiveness and potentially the border.

Stymied by the least productive Congress in modern American history, Biden wants to hit the campaign trail with fresh policy wins tailored to the voting blocs he needs to defeat former President Trump. https://www.axios.com/2024/04/11/biden-executive-orders-courts-lawsuits

Leo rejects Senate subpoena from panel probing gifts to Supreme Court justices

The Senate Judiciary Committee sent a subpoena Thursday to conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo as part of a months-long inquiry into undisclosed gifts to Supreme Court justices and he promptly rejected it, calling the move politically motivated.

Said Leo: I am not capitulating to his lawless support of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and the left’s dark money effort to silence and cancel political opposition. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/04/11/leonard-leo-subpoena-senate-supreme-court-gifts/

GOP Lawmakers Say Mass Shooting Was God’s Retribution

A pair of Republican lawmakers in Maine were ruled out of order on Thursday after one of them tried to suggest that a horrific mass shooting last October was God’s retribution for a state bill which expanded abortion access, and the other heartily agreed.

During a debate Wednesday night over a new bill which would extend the right to gender-affirming care to people from out of state, Rep. Michael Lemelin voiced his trepidation by making a wildly offensive connection between the two discrete incidents. https://www.thedailybeast.com/maine-reps-ruled-out-of-order-for-blaming-lewiston-shooting-on-abortion-bill

Republican state representative left a loaded handgun in Colorado Capitol bathroom

Colorado state Rep. Don Wilson (R) left a loaded, semiautomatic handgun in a bathroom at the Colorado Capitol on Tuesday night, an incident that comes as Democrats are trying to ban firearm possession in the building — and the GOP is fighting them.

The Colorado State Patrol, which provides security at the Capitol, said Thursday that the gun, a 9mm Glock, was left on a shelf inside a single occupancy, unisex restroom. It was found by a janitor at about 9:30 p.m. https://coloradosun.com/2024/04/11/colorado-capitol-gun-don-wilson/


Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill for Joe Biden’s illegal student loan bailout scam. — House Republicans. https://twitter.com/HouseGOP/status/1777497907819942038

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is an SBA-backed loan that helped businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis. https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse/status/1778445403651731696
“If you’re a Trump supporter in New York City who is a part of the jury pool, do everything you can to get seated on the jury and then refuse to convict as a matter of principle, dooming the case via hung jury. It’s the most patriotic thing you could possibly do.” —  Fox News contributor Clay Travis. https://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/2024/04/fox-personalitys-tweet-called-jury-tampering-by-us-congressman/


“Jury tampering. That’s what they do. *It’s a felony.” — Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a former prosecutor. https://twitter.com/RepSwalwell/status/1779895917610741998
“He’s fucking crazy! The press often will ask me if I think Donald Trump is crazy. And I’ll say it this way: I don’t think he’s so crazy that you could put him in a mental institution. But I think if he were in one, he ain’t getting out!” — New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), two years ago. Sununu is now backing Trump for president. https://apnews.com/article/chris-sununu-donald-trump-new-hampshire-002278062fb3e2fb11a27edd458ebd1f


 New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) interviewed on ABC News by George Stephanopoulos:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Just to sum up. You support Trump for president even if he’s convicted in the classified documents case. You support him for president even though you believe he contributed to an insurrection. You support him for president even though you believe he’s lying about the last election. You support him for president even if he’s convicted in the Manhattan case. I just want to say, the answer to that is yes, correct?
SUNUNU: Yeah. Me and 51% of America. https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1779529741579542854

Natasha Korecki and Adam Edelman: Trump's conflicting abortion stances are coming back to haunt him — and his party

Trump’s dizzying stances on abortion last week — on Monday embracing states' rights and on Wednesday distancing himself from a state-based outcome — demonstrate the messaging impossibilities that are ahead for him as he moves into the general election and tries to shed the impact of Roe v. Wade's fall. 

Trump made a transparently political decision Monday, moving against a part of his party and not speaking in support of a national abortion ban. In his video statement, he noted that electoral politics influenced his thinking, lamenting GOP losses since Roe was reversed.

If Trump thought he was taking the more politically palatable route, he was stung one day later by an Arizona Supreme Court decision that triggered an 1864 law saying anyone who performs the procedure or helps a woman access an abortion could face felony charges and up to five years in prison.

Since the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the landmark abortion case, Republicans have failed to find a way to neutralize the issue.

On one hand, embracing nationwide restrictions on abortion drives the potential for down-ballot Republican losses. On the other, embracing states' rights forces Trump to own the most extreme measures in those states. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trumps-abortion-stances-republicans-2024-gop-rcna147222

Jackie Calmes: Trump 1.0 made some world leaders laugh. Trump 2.0 terrifies them

Not a joke, as Joe Biden might say.

I’m talking about our country: America is no joke, no matter how many times Donald Trump claims it is.

One of his most obnoxious lies at every rally and in most interviews is his contention that, with Biden as president, a disrespectful world is laughing at us. Trump was at it again last week, at his most recent rally in Green Bay, Wis., claiming the United States is a global laughingstock.

“Joe Biden is not respected and Joe Biden is not feared” among the world’s nations, he told his fawning crowd. But once he, Trump, is reelected, “America will soon be respected again, very quickly respected, like never before.”

Like virtually all Trumpisms, this one is demonstrably false.

“Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, publics around the world held the United States in low regard,” the Pew Research Center reported soon after he left office. Its 2020 survey found that among 13 allied nations, the share of people who had a favorable view of America was the lowest it had been in the two decades since Pew began asking the question. Good feelings toward the United States rebounded after Biden took office and remained favorable by a 2-to-1 ratio last year.

It’s almost laughable, Trump’s projection of his own unpopularity onto Biden. Except that too many Americans believe him.

As for foreign leaders, they’re not laughing at the United States or Trump. They’re openly fretting that the pro-authoritarian neo-isolationist whose crude credo is “America First” could return to power. Their agita is pretty astounding.

They don’t respect Trump at all, though they do fear him — the way you’d fear a madman at the nuclear button. President Nixon sought leverage by making foreign counterparts think he was unstable; Trump actually is unstable. Foreign diplomats and some leaders don’t even mask their anxiety. They mostly speak anonymously, in case he regains power, but they speak nonetheless, ignoring norms against opining about another country’s election. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2024-04-11/donald-trump-joe-biden-fumio-kishid

Jonathan Chait: Marjorie Taylor Greene Attempts Trump Legal Defense, Fails Very Badly

There’s a solid argument that Alvin Bragg should not have charged Donald Trump for falsifying business records in connection with his hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. There’s a shakier case that Trump is innocent of the crime. And then there’s the argument being made by hard-core Trump cultists like Marjorie Taylor Greene that Trump never had the affair at all:

Stormy Daniels said the affair never happened and Michael Cohen committed perjury and is a serial liar.

This political show trial shouldn’t be happening! pic.twitter.com/2l937YgiBn — Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) April 15, 2024

Yes, there is a signed statement by Stormy Daniels denying that she had an affair with Trump. Trump paid her to make the statement. The payments for that statement is what the case is about.

Greene is citing evidence of the crime, which she imagines to be evidence the crime never occurred. It’s a bit like a defense lawyer asking a jury, “If my client is a murderer, how do you explain THIS?” - and then dramatically revealing the gun used in the murder.

At the risk of trying to induce Greene to commit logic, one is tempted to ask: If she imagines the affair never happened, why did Trump pay Stormy Daniels? https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/marjorie-taylor-greene-trump-trial-stormy-daniels-hush-money.html

Eric Lutz:  What Is RFK Jr. After?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and other potential spoiler candidates could play a decisive role in Donald Trump’s effort to beat Joe Biden this fall. “There is no question that in a close presidential race,” Trump strategist Roger Stone told the New York Times Wednesday, “independent or minor party candidates can have a disproportionately large impact.” But the Kennedy scion, a Democrat turned independent crank, may not mind being used as a pawn in Trump’s scheme to return to power. The Kennedy campaign has seemed, at times, to relish its part as a possible Biden saboteur. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/what-is-rfk-jr-after

Susan B. Glasser: Donald Trump Did This

Just about everyone knows that Donald Trump was for abortion before he was against it. But what, exactly, is the position of the formerly “very pro-choice” former President now that his four years in the White House resulted in what might be termed catastrophic success for the anti-abortion movement? That, it turns out, is one of the harder questions to answer so far in 2024. Trump, whose only ideology is opportunism, has been predictably all over the map on the repeal of Roe v. Wade. To right-wing audiences, he frequently and loudly brags about being the author of Roe’s destruction. Bragging is his happy place; of course he cannot resist taking credit for a historic accomplishment. “I was able to kill Roe v. Wade,” he exulted on social media in May of last year. “I did it and I am proud to have done it,” he said on a Fox News town hall earlier this year. “Nobody else was going to get that done but me.”

Call it the abortion-news paradox: in the post-Roe era, every crazy court decision, every extremist vote by a Republican-controlled state legislature, may help the Democrats politically in the upcoming election, but it’s terrible in the meantime for the millions of women and girls who are affected. By the Biden campaign’s reckoning, one in three American women are already living in states where abortion is banned in some form—“with more on the way.” Until the Arizona court decision, signs were discouraging for Biden in a battleground state that he won by less than eleven thousand votes in 2020; now Republican strategists are moaning about an “earthquake” and a “shock to the Republican body politic” so terrible for their party that it will “definitely give Biden a leg up going into the election.” “That movement you feel under your feet?” the liberal columnist Laurie Roberts wrote in the Arizona Republic. “That’s one of America’s key battleground states swinging blue.”

Biden’s campaign shows every sign of having long been prepared to seize the political opening. Soon after Trump’s confusing announcement, the Biden team rolled out a powerful new ad. It features a young couple in Texas, Josh and Amanda, recounting how, because of a restrictive state law that, post-Dobbs, prompted a hospital to refuse her necessary medical care, Amanda nearly died from sepsis after suffering a miscarriage. The one-minute spot is intimate and devastating. At the end, a simple tagline appears, as the screen fades to black over the sound of Amanda crying: “Trump did this.”

If Biden wins in November, I have little doubt that we will look back on the events of this week in Arizona as one of the reasons why. https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-bidens-washington/donald-trump-did-this

John Herrman: On Truth Social, Trump’s Sad Mini-MAGA, It’s 2016 Forever

Last year, Trump Media & Technology Group lost $58.2 million on $4.1 million in revenue. In March, it went public under the symbol DJT, and today its stock is trading at a price that values the company at more than $5 billion. It’s an absurd financial story that is nonetheless easy to comprehend. Owning DJT stock is a way to signal support for the man, invest in the enthusiasm of others, and to indirectly give him money — Donald Trump owns a substantial chunk of the firm. It’s an “ethical nightmare” by design, a brazen rearticulation of public corruption in the language of finance, and a sneering refutation of generations of messaging about the purpose and function of public markets.

Most coverage of Trump Media & Technology Group hasn’t spent much time on the company’s actual product, the social-media platform Truth Social, because it’s materially irrelevant and basically self-explanatory: Trump built Truth Social after he was banned from mainstream social platforms after he incited January 6. It’s been around for a couple of years and hasn’t amounted to much; the only content on the platform that breaks through to the outside world are posts from Trump, which are by far the most popular on the site. Other right-leaning “alt-social” sites have mostly failed, and those that remain have been rendered obsolete by Twitter’s transformation into X, which has become the de facto home of the online right. In cultural and political terms, nothing much starts on Truth Social, and it can’t make anything go viral, mainly because it’s so small. The New Yorker recently described it as a “Potemkin village” and compared the experience of using the site to attending a shoddy Republican carnival. A critic at the Los Angeles Times likened it to a “town hall in a ventless conference room, where an endless line of folks step up to the mic to share how the world is out to get them” as well as, more darkly, a place where “madness and misinformation [go] largely uncontested.” https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/truth-social-donald-trump-elon-musk-x.html

Jonathan Chait: The Media Did Not Make Up Trump’s Russia Scandal

The Mueller Report found extensive evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The evidence was summarized in a report by Just Security. It uncovered multiple secret meetings and communications between the two, including, but not limited to. Trump campaign officials met with Russian agents in Trump Tower and were receptive to the offer of campaign assistance; Russian agents shared with Trump their plan to leak embarrassing emails; Trump’s campaign manager shared polling data with a figure linked to Russian intelligence; Trump appeared to have advance knowledge of the timing of the release of stolen Russian emails; and the campaign and Russia coordinated a response to Obama administration sanctions punishing Russia for its efforts on Trump’s behalf.

But because collusion is not a crime, Mueller refrained from stating an opinion as to whether this extensive pattern of furtive meetings in pursuit of a shared objective constituted “collusion.”

There was an investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. That investigation was conducted by the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee. That report found even more evidence of collusion, including multiple links between Russian intelligence and the Russian figures interfacing with Trump’s campaign. The Senate identified Konstantin Kilimnik, the business partner of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, as a Russian intelligence agent. And it found two pieces of evidence that “raise the possibility of Manafort’s potential connection to the hack-and-leak operations” — the most direct kind of collusion — that it redacted for national-security reasons.

The Senate Intelligence report came out more than a year after the Mueller report and received a fraction of the media attention devoted to Mueller. But that disparity is not, as PR reporter Uri Berliner frames it, evidence of anti-Trump bias. It’s evidence of the opposite. The news media allowed Trump’s “no collusion” to misleadingly frame Mueller’s investigation and then buried the report that did investigate collusion. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/media-liberal-bias-npr-free-press-trump-russia-mueller-collusion.html

Noga Tarnopolsky: Israelis Are Hostages of Netanyahu

On Saturday, Israel was rocked by the largest demonstrations against the government since the war began six months ago. Some families of Israeli hostages marched to Benjamin Netanyahu’s home carrying photos of the captives, torches, and banners reading:


Hostages, that is, of the prime minister and his incompetent government that failed to stop Hamas from killing some 1,200 people and taking another 250 hostages, more than half of whom remain in captivity.

“Six months later Netanyahu and his entire government fucked this up, and they’re still there,” says Itzhak Amar, a taxi driver in Tel Aviv. “It’s a middle finger to all of us. He’s just hanging on by his fingernails.”

On trial for corruption, unwell (he underwent mysterious “hernia surgery” last week), and clinging to power, the 74-year-old leader is also trapped.

Netanyahu refuses to entertain a commission of inquiry “until after the war,” a time he refuses to identify, presumably because that would finally be the end of his political career.

In the past week, prominent family members of some of the hostages began to openly say Netanyahu was sabotaging any hope for their release. On Saturday night, Katzir and members of numerous other families accused him of “torpedoing” efforts to achieve a deal that would release hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners and a cease-fire, which would likely fracture his coalition and lead its more radical members to bolt in protest over what they consider a precipitous end to the war.

Rumors have circulated in Jerusalem for weeks that Netanyahu has been slow-walking negotiations by refusing to give his representatives real authority to make a deal with Hamas. On Thursday, President Biden “urged the prime minister to empower his negotiators” to conclude a deal to bring Israeli hostages home, according to the White House, in a stern call after Israeli forces killed seven members of the World Central Kitchen aid group delivering food to Gaza. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/israelis-are-hostages-of-netanyahu.html

Edward Luce: America’s moment of truth on Ukraine

The Republican rights pro-Russia interventionism is two-way. As Catherine Belton, author of "Putins People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West," reported this week, Russian troll factories are giving Marjorie Taylor Greene's Republicans their talking points. Ken Buck, one of many Republican legislators to have recently quit politics in despair, calls Greene Moscow Marjorie’s agenda comes straight from the Kremlin. Historians compare Trump to Charles Lindbergh's pro-Nazi America First movement in the early 1940s. The difference is that Lindbergh got nowhere near the White House. Far from isolating America, a Trump presidency would switch US foreign policy in Vladimir Putin's favor.

All of which leaves Mike Johnson, the accidental speaker, in a no-win situation. The difference between backing Ukraine or Russia is as critical to US democracy’s future as it is for European security.

Like most Republicans, Johnson was initially an admirer of the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Churchillian defiance. Johnson voted for the first rounds of US funding in 2022. At that time, the Republican critique was that Biden was not doing enough for Zelenskyy. Johnson changed his mind on the last clean vote in September. Suddenly every dollar for Ukraine was a dollar less for US border security.

Johnson's dramatic switch has little to do with his stated reasons. The US can easily afford to keep funding Ukraine. At $113bn over the past two years, America's largesse amounts to less than 1 percent of federal spending over that time. Even that overstates it. Most of the money is spent at home on US-made military equipment, much of which is ageing and needed to be replaced.

In the coming days, Johnson will submit what will surely be Congress’s final chance this year to bolster a faltering Ukraine. In addition to tougher border security measures that some Democrats will see as a poison pill, his package will divert interest from Russia's sequestered assets and define part of the Ukraine aid as a loan. Neither gimmick is likely to sway Greene. Her aim is to stop any help from reaching Ukraine, not to help it in a fiscally responsible way. Johnson's hope is to supply Ukraine without being branded a MAGA traitor. In reality, he faces a simple choice; help Zelenskyy or please Trump. It is impossible to do both. https://www.ft.com/content/98f37cee-aaf6-47c5-b032-bde2968e00f0

Mona Charen: The GOP Is the Party of Putin

“RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA HAS MADE ITS WAY into the United States, unfortunately, and it’s infected a good chunk of my party’s base.” That acknowledgement from Michael McCaul, Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was echoed a few days later by Michael Turner, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. “It is absolutely true, we see, directly coming from Russia, attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor.” Among the falsehoods that GOP members of Congress are repeating is the notion that the Ukraine war is a battle between NATO and Russia. “Of course it is not,” Turner told CNN. “To the extent that this propaganda takes hold, it makes it more difficult for us to see this as an authoritarian versus democracy battle.”

What makes it even more difficult to see reality is the presence in the GOP of dunderheads like Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who gushed to an Alabama radio show that “Putin is on top of his game,” while scorning U.S. media accounts of Russian behavior. “The propaganda media machine over here, they sell anything they possibly can to go after Russia.” Tuberville may be the dimmest Putin booster on the Hill, but he is hardly lonely.

It has been two months since the Senate passed, in a 70–29 vote (including 22 Republican yes votes), a $95 billion foreign aid bill that included $60 billion for Ukraine. The Republican-controlled House, by contrast, has been paralyzed. Stories leak out that Speaker Mike Johnson, apparently influenced by high-level briefings he’s received since capturing the gavel, has changed his posture and wants to approve the aid. But Johnson leads, or is at least is the titular congressional chief, of a party that contains a passionate “Putin wing,” and so he dithers. This week, Volodomyr Zelensky warned that Ukraine will lose the war if the aid is not approved. Yet Johnson headed not to Kyiv but to Mar-a-Lago. https://www.thebulwark.com/p/the-gop-is-the-party-of-putin

Dana Milbank  This is why Trump supporters will believe absolutely anything

A humble Trump said this week on Truth Social that it would be a “GREAT HONOR,” to be a modern Mandela. (Back in October, he had said dismissively that “I don’t mind being Nelson Mandela.”) But this honor apparently wasn’t great enough. Two days later, Trump suggested in an interview that he is even greater than the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, though he had been advised not to say so publicly.

Trump explained to his host on the MAGA outlet Real America’s Voice that “nobody’s done more than I have” for Black people. “I say nobody’s done more since Abraham Lincoln,” he elaborated. “I actually wanted to go beyond Abraham Lincoln, but some people thought that wasn’t a good thing to do.”

It is altogether fitting and proper for Trump to compare himself with a Civil War-era leader. This is because, thanks largely to Trump, the rights of American women have just been returned to where they were 160 years ago.

Trump accurately boasts that “I was able to kill Roe v. Wade” and “I was proudly the person responsible.” As a result of his achievement, conservatives on Arizona’s Supreme Court, freed by Roe’s demise, resurrected on Tuesday an 1864 law that bans nearly all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, from the moment of conception. Trump invited just such Wild West jurisprudence the day before when he said abortion policy should be left “up to the states.” Now, Arizona has restored women’s health care to an era when bloodletting and mercury pills were the standard of care and patients had limbs sawed off without anesthesia.

Then there was his abortion statement in which he expressed his belief that states would “do the right thing.” He also repeated the fiction that “Democrats are the radical ones” on abortion because they support infanticide — “execution after birth.”

Trump, the day after the Arizona decision, defended his original abortion statement (“people are very happy”) by expounding on his even more preposterous claim that Democrats wanted Roe v. Wade overturned. “Every legal scholar, everybody from the Democrats and Republicans, they wanted to bring it back, for 53 years, bring it back to the states,” he said after arriving in Georgia for a pair of fundraisers. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/04/12/trump-jesus-mandela-lincoln/

Angelo Fichera: The Method Behind Trump’s Mistruths

Since the beginning of his political career, Donald J. Trump has misled, mischaracterized, dissembled, exaggerated and, at times, flatly lied. His flawed statements about the border, the economy, the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 election have formed the bedrock of his 2024 campaign.

Though his penchant for bending the truth, sometimes to the breaking point, has been well documented, a close study of how he does so reveals a kind of technique to his dishonesty: a set of recurring rhetorical moves with which Mr. Trump fuels his popularity among his supporters.

In the week starting with Mr. Trump’s victory speech in Iowa through his win in the New Hampshire primary — the contests that put him on the path to becoming his party’s nominee for the third consecutive time — The New York Times analyzed all of his public statements, including speeches, interviews and social media posts.

His words focused heavily on attacking his political rivals, self-aggrandizing and stoking fear to make his case for 2024. In doing so, Mr. Trump often relied on repeated falsehoods and half-truths. He has yet to deviate from this approach in the general election.

Here’s a look at how he does it: He grossly distorts his opponents’ records and proposals to make them sound unreasonable, he relies on both well-worn and fresh claims of election rigging to suggest he can lose only if his opponents cheat, he has turned his criminal cases into a rallying cry, baselessly asserting that he is being persecuted by his successor, he makes unverifiable claims about what the world would have been like had he secured a second term, and he describes the United States as a nation in ruins. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2024/04/08/us/politics/trump-speech-mistruths.html

Caroline Fredrickson: What Worries Me Most About a Trump Presidency

There are almost daily headlines now describing what Donald Trump would do if elected: the mass deportations, the pardons handed out to his friends and golf buddies, the Justice Department settling scores and waging personal vendettas. The former president has even promised violence if the election goes against him, warning that it could be a “blood bath.”

But as worrying as these prospects are, they are far from the biggest threats he poses. What we should fear most is Mr. Trump transforming our government into a modern-day Tammany Hall, installing a kleptocratic leadership that will be difficult if not impossible to dislodge.

I do not discount the possibility of state-sponsored violence, and I worry deeply about the politicization of the civil service. But those are, for the most part, threats and theories, and while they need to be taken seriously, people should be paying more attention to a far more likely reality: that Mr. Trump would spend much of his time in office enriching himself. He failed spectacularly as an insurrectionist and as a disrupter of the civil service, and his clownish and chaotic style may well lead to failure again — but he has succeeded time and time again in the art of the steal. If his grift continues into a second term, it will not only contribute to the fraying trust Americans have in their institutions, but also impair our ability to lead the world through a series of escalating crises. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/04/10/opinion/trump-presidency-corruption.html

David Frum: A Test of Strength

When Trump Republicans thwarted aid to Ukraine, they also stalled Biden’s request to help Israel bear the immense costs of its self-defensive war after the Hamas terror attack. Last night’s defense will be expensive: Hundreds of interceptors must now be replaced; fighter-jet operations burned fuel and weapons.

Because of Donald Trump, Republicans are now the party of foreign-policy weakness, passivity, and surrender—and not only to Russia. Trump accepted an invitation from the billionaire donor Jeff Yass, who holds a large stake in ByteDance, and then flip-flopped on TikTok, one of the firms in which Yass holds an interest. The Republican refusal to aid Ukraine has also denied Israel money to replenish its Iron Dome defenses. Biden’s October 2023 request included funds to add 100 new anti-missile launchers to reinforce or replace the existing 30 to 40. Israel is still waiting for that assistance. Ukraine is waiting—and bleeding. The border is waiting, too, because Trump Republicans first demanded a border deal as the price of Ukraine aid—then rejected the toughest deal in a generation because they feared that Biden might get credit for it.

After months of nonaction, House Republicans have now proposed to schedule next week a vote on aid to Israel—separate from the requests for Ukraine aid and border security that President Biden combined in his October 2023 request. A vote on only the Israel portion of Biden’s defense program does too little of the job of defending America’s allies and honoring America’s promises. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2024/04/what-israels-allies-must-do-now/678070/