June 22, 2023

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Pending Criminal and Civil Cases Against Donald Trump.



“Pardoning Is Not Enough: We Must All Perform Seppuku (suicide)  for Donald Trump” —Jeffrey Blehar in the  National Review, https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/pardoning-is-not-enough-we-must-all-perform-seppuku-for-donald-trump/

“There’s no oxygen for anything else or anyone else. That’s an environment where he thrives.” — Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/06/14/donald-trump-indictment-campaign/

“It’s just irresponsible action that places our service members at risk, places our nation’s security at risk. You cannot have these documents floating around. They need to be secured. We know how that happens, that only authorized persons are allowed to see documents or receive information from documents.” — Mark Esper, Donald Trump’s former secretary of defense, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/defense-secretary-mark-esper-trump-security-threat-1234774122/.

He’s like a defiant 9-year-old kid who is always pushing the glass towards the edge of the table, defying his parents from stopping him from doing it. Our country can’t be a therapy session for a troubled man like this.” — Former Trump attorney general, William Barr. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/18/us/politics/barr-trump-documents-russia.html

I will do what was needed “to be up on the stage to try to save my party and save my country from going down the road of being led by three-time loser Donald Trump.” — Chris Christie saying it was a “useless idea” to force 2024 GOP contenders to sign a pledge to back the party’s ultimate nominee in order to participate in primary debates. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/18/us/politics/barr-trump-documents-russia.html

 We shouldn’t fear a government shutdown. If we shut it down in order to try to bring fiscal stability and fiscal solvency, that will save the country from an economic and fiscal standpoint for our kids and grandkids. —  Rep. Bob Good (R-VAFresh off grinding the House floor to a halt last week, hardline House conservatives are already gunning for a new fight: Forcing a government shutdown this fall if they don’t get desired spending cuts. https://punchbowl.news/archive/61623-punchbowl-news-am/

“I believe the No Labels campaign is shady, and quite possibly a false flag operation backed by Republican billionaires. If it succeeds, the result will be the same as it was in 2016: Donald Trump will win.” — Joe Klein. https://josephklein.substack.com/p/mislabeled

“I was invited shortly before the event, and I was asked whether I would like to fly there in a seat that, as far as I am aware, would have otherwise been vacant.” — Justice Samuel Alito, defending taking a flight on the private jet of a Republican billionaire donor. https://www.wsj.com/articles/propublica-misleads-its-readers-alito-gifts-disclosure-alaska-singer-23b51eda

The words “cis” or “cisgender” are considered slurs on this platform. — Elon Musk https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1671370284102819841

“Let’s get back to being the party of the rule of law, of the justice system supporting law enforcement and the equal application of law. Let’s don’t undermine the greatest justice system and criminal justice system and rule of law in the world today, this side of heaven.” — Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson warning his fellow Republicans to “back off” allegations that the Justice Department has been “weaponized.” https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/4055802-hutchinson-warns-republicans-to-back-off-allegations-doj-has-been-weaponized/


"For the Trump team, they have to run the table. They have to take out every single count, or you've got a 76-year-old man looking at a potentially terminal sentence.” — Jonathan Turley https://twitter.com/AccountableGOP/status/1667244251502071808

“No. The definition of a cult is a group of people who are excessively supporting one another and a cause, all about conformity and compliance, and intolerance of anyone who doesn’t agree with what their mission is. That is  the definition of what left is engaged in now” — Sarah Palin, when asked on Newsmax if Donald Trump’s supporters are cult members. https://twitter.com/therecount/status/1669039983083020299

“CROOKED JOE BIDEN pressed deranged Jack Smith to do this FAKE INDICTMENT on me in order to take the pressure off the fact that they caught Joe Biden stealing FIVE MILLION DOLLARS, and that’s just the beginning!”  — Trump, lashing out at his successor in the hopes of undermining the charges against him. https://truthsocial.com/@realDonaldTrump/posts/110560063274571806

Uh oh! Rudy Giuliani says the GOP witness who had all the information regarding their fake Biden bribery scheme has died. https://twitter.com/MeidasTouch/status/1669393498389512192

House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) told Fox News that another source in the GOP’s Biden family probe has been missing ― for the last three years. Said Comer: Unfortunately, nobody’s had any contact with him for the last three years. You know, MSNBC makes fun of me when I said that there are a lot of people that were involved in the Biden shenanigans that are currently missing. But with respect to this oligarch, we think we know where he is. He just hasn’t been seen in public in a long time, but we’re following the money. https://twitter.com/Acyn/status/1669518024385110022

All that’s left is rich tech titans working from home and just bags of flesh mutating on the sidewalk. . — Fox News host Jesse Watters about San Francisco’s homeless population, referred to them as urine-soaked junkies and vagabonds and zombies. https://twitter.com/cynicalzoomer/status/1669850163106525192

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccine crusade led him down a rabbit hole — I hate to use that cliché, but there is nothing more apt — to a realm where up is down, medicine is poison, and the CIA is plotting day and night to sap our precious bodily fluids. He should stay there. — Eugene Robinson. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/06/19/robert-kennedy-jr-campaign-antivaxx-conspiracy/

“Mr. Trump confessed to personally going through the boxes and had no explanation for why classified records from those boxes wound up in his personal desk. He placed himself at the scene of the retention and obstruction. This is the stuff of nightmares for a defense attorney.” — Former national security lawyer Bradley Moss about Donald Trump’s Sunday night interview with Fox News. https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-bret-baier-interview-legal-experts-react-1807744

Trump touts pardoning first-time nonviolent drug offender Alice Johnson and says she got “treated terribly,” but then Bret Baier points out Johnson would get the death penalty under his new proposal. "No, no, no. Under my, oh, under that? Uh, it would depend on the severity.” — https://twitter.com/KateSullivanDC/status/1671289320152375297




      IN THE NEWS...  

      Andy Borowitz: Miami Police Searching for Defendant with Seventy-one Felony Counts Who Skipped Out on Restaurant Check

      Miami police are looking for a defendant with seventy-one felony counts who skipped out on a check at a local Cuban restaurant on Tuesday.

      According to the police, the man, who has been indicted for crimes in New York and Florida and could soon face arrest in Georgia, offered to pay for everyone in the restaurant before beating the check.

      Harland Dorrinson, a spokesman for the Miami police, said that the suspect had been on a “multistate crime spree” and should be considered “extremely dangerous.”

      “He is not believed to be carrying a weapon, but he could be carrying documents indicating the location of weapons,” the spokesman said. He revealed that the police are searching for the suspect throughout Miami, with special emphasis on the city’s bathrooms. “He appears to believe that those are highly secure locations,” Dorrinson noted. https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report 

      McCarthy Headed for a Government Shutdown

      House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s latest pledge to cut spending—intended to again mollify hard-right members of his party—has put Congress on a collision course with a potential government shutdown later this year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

      To become House speaker in January, the California Republican promised deep spending reductions. To reach a debt-ceiling deal with the White House, he tacked to the middle, agreeing to smaller constraints than conservatives wanted. Eleven Republicans revolted this month, withholding procedural votes and bringing the House to a halt. That prompted the speaker to promise another crack at cuts, this time in the appropriations process now getting under way.

      This latest pledge drew howls from Democrats who said he was reneging on the bipartisan spending deal. The fight is expected to come to a head this fall when the GOP-controlled House and Democratic-run Senate try to pass an annual spending package. On the line: a possible lapse in government funding that many lawmakers see as increasingly probable, and, once again, McCarthy’s job if he is forced to make concessions hard-liners don’t like. https://www.wsj.com/articles/speaker-mccarthys-next-trick-averting-a-government-shutdown-634f67b6

      How government rules for classified papers could help Trump delay his trial

      As former president Donald Trump prepares for trial on charges that he repeatedly violated government rules for handling classified information, his legal team may get a tactical timing advantage from an unlikely source: government rules for handling such secrets, the Washington Post reports.

      Trump’s indictment on dozens of charges, including mishandling classified documents and trying to obstruct investigators’ efforts to recover that material, means his case will be tried under the rules of the Classified Information Procedures Act, or CIPA — a law that could, in theory, delay any trial until after the 2024 presidential election. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/18/trump-trial-classified-rules/

      Support for Legal Abortion Rises

      A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds that by almost 4-1 — 23% to 6% — those whose views on abortion have changed in the past year said they have become more supportive of legal abortion, not less supportive.

      By almost 2-1 — 58% to 30% — those surveyed opposed the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2023/06/18/poll-abortion-support-dobbs-overturned-roe-v-wade/70320647007/

      It’s not just Trump. Christie’s gunning for DeSantis, too

      Since announcing his long-shot bid for the presidency earlier this month, Christie has occupied the lonely lane of publicly attacking Trump, doing so even as DeSantis and other GOP contenders either defend the former president or avoid discussing him amid his mounting legal troubles.

      But Christie isn’t on some kamikaze mission to take out the frontrunner. In fact, he isn’t sparing second-place candidate DeSantis at all. Instead, he’s trying to create space for other Trump rivals before the Florida governor further solidifies his second-place standing in the primary. https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/15/trump-christie-desantis-2024-election-00102085

      Senate Republicans love Tim Scott. They just can’t say so politically.

      All told, 35 Senate Republicans remain on the sidelines of the 2024 contest, more than 70 percent of the caucus, and it’s crystal clear that many are paralyzed by the fear that former president Donald Trump might seek revenge if they publicly support someone else.

      Today’s Senate GOP ranks are adrift in a broader Republican realignment in which their traditional conservative ideology feels increasingly marginalized. They don’t comport with Trump’s America First worldview calling for a retreat from global leadership and opposing the strong defense of Ukraine against Russia.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/06/17/senate-republicans-love-their-colleague-tim-scott-very-few-will-endorse-him/t Russia.

      That Time Donald Trump Promised "Food for Everyone" at Versailles

      The local press was on hand to capture footage of the large crowd milling outside to greet their man. Inside the bakery, Trump supporters fawned over their man, regaling the soon-to-turn-77-year-old with a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ a day early and holding a group prayer…

      A glad-handing Trump was heard to declare: ‘Food for everyone!'

      So, did Trump — who famously fancies his chicken from KFC and his steaks well-done and slathered with ketchup but isn’t exactly known for picking up the check — treat his fan club to a spread of croquetas, pastelitos, and cubanos chased with cafecitos?

      It turns out no one got anything. Not even a cafecito to-go. https://www.miaminewtimes.com/restaurants/donald-trump-visits-versailles-cuban-restaurant-in-miami-after-federal-indictment-17198756

      Trump centers campaign on his prosecution, vilifying legal system

      Donald Trump is seeking to present the next election as a stark choice: whether to return to power a twice-impeached, twice-indicted former president so that he can beat his prosecution and exact revenge on his political opponents.

      In the process, Trump is now determinedly delegitimizing the legal system, as he has tried to do in the past with public health measures, the intelligence community, elections and other people or agencies he views as opposing him. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/06/14/donald-trump-indictment-campaign/

      Fewer than 1% of defendants in federal criminal cases were acquitted in 2022

      In fiscal year 2022, only 290 of 71,954 defendants in federal criminal cases – about 0.4% – went to trial and were acquitted, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the latest available statistics from the federal judiciary. Another 1,379 went to trial and were found guilty (1.9%). https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/06/14/fewer-than-1-of-defendants-in-federal-criminal-cases-were-acquitted-in-2022/

      Debt Deal Behind Them, Lawmakers Plunge Into Bitter Spending Fight

      After narrowly avoiding a federal default, the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate are now on a collision course over spending that could result in a government shutdown this year and automatic spending cuts in early 2025 with severe consequences for the Pentagon and an array of domestic programs.

      Far-right Republicans whose votes will be needed to keep the government funded are demanding cuts that go far deeper than what President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed to in the bipartisan compromise they reached last month to suspend the debt ceiling, but such reductions are all but certain to be nonstarters in the Senate. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/15/us/politics/congress-spending-debt-limit.html

      Arkansas federal judge blocks first ban on gender-affirming care

      A federal judge has struck down a 2021 Arkansas law banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth, forbidding the enforcement of the nation’s first law blocking medical treatment for transitioning young people.

      U.S. District Judge James Moody of the Eastern District of Arkansas ruled the law unconstitutional, saying it violated the rights of doctors and discriminated against transgender people. Gender-affirming medical care includes such treatments as puberty blockers and hormone therapy. The law also prohibited doctors from referring trans youth to other providers for gender-affirming care.

      Moody’s closely watched ruling marks the first time a federal court has decided the legality of such bans, which have been taken up by a growing number of state legislatures in recent years. As of June 20, at least 20 additional states have enacted restrictions or bans on gender-affirming care, according to data compiled by the ACLU. Florida’s effort to limit such care for trans youth has also severely restricted access to transition-related care for adults. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/06/20/transgender-care-arkansas-court-ruling/

      No Labels Is Helping a Firm that Raises Money for Right-Wing Extremists

      Donations to No Labels are handled by an online fundraising platform called Anedot. According to its website, Anedot typically charges political groups a 4 percent fee plus 30 cents per transaction. Under that formula, when an online contributor sends No Labels $100, Anedot pockets $4.30.

      That money bolsters Anedot’s mission to raise funds for the right and the GOP. https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/06/no-labels-is-helping-a-firm-that-raises-money-for-right-wing-extremists-anedot/

      Former Google exec and investor eyes California Senate race

      Lexi Reese (D), a San Francisco Bay Area tech executive and investor, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate in California, potentially scrambling a crowded field of established Democrats. https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/15/california-senate-lexi-reese-campaign-00102082

      House and Senate Republicans fracture as Washington heads for another budget fight

      The signs of a split between House and Senate Republicans are growing as Capitol Hill barrels toward yet another major fight over the federal budget later this year.

      Facing pressure from hard right lawmakers, House Republicans have begun writing budget bills for next year that on paper would spend almost $120 billion less than the amounts outlined in the debt ceiling deal Congress passed this month, setting the stage for another showdown with Democrats in the Senate and the White House that has already prompted speculation about a potential government shutdown in the fall.

      But Republicans on the Senate appropriations committee aren’t showing any interest in going along with the House’s effort. https://www.semafor.com/article/06/16/2023/house-and-senate-republicans-fracture

      Democratic group launches ‘This f***ing guy’ campaign centered on Trump chaos

      A major Democratic super PAC on Friday launched a campaign intended to highlight chaotic moments from former President Trump’s first term in the White House as Trump faces fresh controversy over his indictment on federal charges.

      American Bridge 21st Century is promoting a campaign titled ‘This Fucking Guy,’ which officials said is intended to remind voters of key moments from Trump’s presidency as he pursues the GOP nomination in 2024. https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/4052244-democratic-group-launches-this-fing-guy-campaign-centered-on-trump-chaos/

      Trump and his allies try to spin classified documents case with myths and misinformation

      Ever since the former president revealed last week that he had been indicted, he and his allies have put forward a number of legal and political arguments, and proliferated many falsehoods about the process. Some Trump surrogates have incorrectly claimed that he had declassified the documents and so did nothing wrong, while others have said that even if he did mishandle certain records, he’s not the first to do so. https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-06-16/trump-allies-reaction-federal-indictment

      The Great Medicaid Purge begins

      Beginning last Saturday the first of an expected 15 million people will be kicked off Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). At least five states — Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire, South Dakota — have said they will begin terminating coverage throughout the month of April. As a result, a lot of Americans are about to fall through the cracks of our haphazard health-insurance system, and become uninsured altogether.

      Depending on the state, proving and re-proving eligibility for Medicaid (or food stamps, or other programs) can be somewhere between cumbersome and impossible. In some parts of the country, this is deliberate: Government-hating politicians want fewer poor people to get benefits. Rather than changing eligibility requirements (which courts don’t always favor), officials set up an obstacle course and hope some people get tripped up.

      In other states, public officials truly want everyone eligible for benefits to successfully receive them. But vulnerable families fall through the cracks anyway, often because of poor management or bad government IT. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/03/30/medicaid-purge-lose-coverage/

      G.O.P. Targets Researchers Who Study Disinformation Ahead of 2024 Election

      On Capitol Hill and in the courts, Republican lawmakers and activists are mounting a sweeping legal campaign against universities, think tanks and private companies that study the spread of disinformation, accusing them of colluding with the government to suppress conservative speech online, the New York Times reports.

      The effort has encumbered its targets with expansive requests for information and, in some cases, subpoenas — demanding notes, emails and other information related to social media companies and the government dating back to 2015. Complying has consumed time and resources and already affected the groups’ ability to do research and raise money. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/19/business/gop-disinformation-researchers-2024-election.html

      2024’s hidden prize: The upper hand in tax ‘Armageddon’

      Much of the GOP’s sweeping Trump-era tax breaks are set to expire in 2025, which will almost certainly push Congress to act on their future. So the 2024 campaign will determine whether Republicans can keep the cuts, Democrats can rewrite them — or, if neither party gets a clean sweep, whether a split government prompts a massive fiscal collision.

      Both Democrats and Republicans are actively strategizing over how to handle the very real consequences of the tax cliff. First, though, one party has to try to win it all. https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/19/tax-code-2024-elections-00102209

      Russia Sought to Kill Defector in Florida

      As President Vladimir Putin of Russia has pursued enemies abroad, his intelligence operatives now appear prepared to cross a line that they previously avoided: trying to kill a valuable informant for the U.S. government on American soil.

      The clandestine operation, seeking to eliminate a C.I.A. informant in Miami who had been a high-ranking Russian intelligence official more than a decade earlier, represented a brazen expansion of Mr. Putin’s campaign of targeted assassinations. It also signaled a dangerous low point even between intelligence services that have long had a strained history. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/19/us/politics/russia-spy-assassination.html

      Why Robert Kennedy Jr.’s 2024 Bid Is a Headache for Biden

      As much as the president wants to turn to his looming fight against a Republican — he has signaled he is itching for a rematch with Mr. Trump — his Democratic allies warn he has significant work to do with voters in his own party. He still has to find ways to promote his accomplishments, assuage voters wary of his age and dismiss the Democratic challengers he does have without any drama.

      Those upstart rivals include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the anti-vaccine activist with a celebrated Democratic lineage who has emerged with unexpected strength in early polls even as he spreads conspiracy theories and consorts with right-wing figures and billionaire donors. Mr. Kennedy’s support from Democrats, as high as 20 percent in some surveys, serves as a bracing reminder of left-leaning voters’ healthy appetite for a Biden alternative, and as a glaring symbol of the president’s weaknesses. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/19/us/politics/rfk-jr-biden-democrats.html


      The targeting prosecution of a leading political opponent is the type of thing you see in dictatorships like Cuba and Venezuela. — Trump attorney Alina Habba, just before Donald Trump was arraigned. https://twitter.com/TrumpWarRoom/status/1668686895851642897


      I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America: Joe Biden and the entire Biden crime family. — Donald Trump. https://twitter.com/peterbakernyt/status/1668798880308133888

      John Bowden: POLL: Voters think Trump is a criminal, Biden is too old and DeSantis is a fascist, new poll finds

      With the GOP primary now in full swing, Americans are getting a good look at the alternatives the Republican Party will present to the re-election of President Joe Biden, who was already the oldest president ever to take office when he did so in 2021.

      But the top contenders in the GOP, former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, each have debilitating labels to overcome if they have any shot of picking up ground with a general election audience, according to the survey. For Mr Trump, voters were most likely to describe him in one word as a “criminal”; others were even less flattering, such as “disgusting”, “liar”, “evil” and “dangerous” (though “patriot” also made a top-10 appearance).

      The Florida governor got off arguably worse. The top two responses from voters describing Mr DeSantis were “fascist” and “unsure”, the latter indicating possible unfamiliarity with his political record or a lack of name recognition.

      And while Mr Biden fares better than either of his would-be opponents, the incumbent president nevertheless remains chained to concerns about his age, which dominated the minds of the most voters asked for their one-word summation of him.

      Altogether, the poll results signaled that Americans are largely unsatisfied with the options they have for leadership over the next half decade. https://news.yahoo.com/voters-think-trump-criminal-biden-155844311.html

      Jackie Calmes: Talk about ‘American carnage’ — Walt Nauta is the latest casualty of Donald Trump’s malicious selfishness

      For loyal service to Donald Trump both in the White House and since — as valet, Diet Coke gofer and occasional box mover — Walt Nauta misplaced loyalty puts him at the front of an immeasurably long line of people, both famous and obscure, who’ve had their lives upended somehow by the egomaniacal Trump.

      Perhaps the single most compelling argument for Trump’s unfitness for the presidency is his cruelty, his willingness to use people for his own ends, regardless of the peril for them and their families, and his entirely selfish maliciousness toward countless others, for any reason or no reason.

      Cohen, the ex-con ex-Trump lawyer who speaks from experience, has been quoted using both phrases. He laments that Nauta hasn’t aided prosecutors to save himself jail time: “Loyalty, to Donald Trump, is like 1st Avenue in Manhattan: one way.” On MSNBC, Cohen looked straight into the camera as if talking to Nauta and said, “Run as fast as you can, my friend ... because Donald Trump will throw you under the bus faster than you could possibly imagine.”

      Another former Trump lawyer, Ty Cobb, likewise feels sorry for Nauta. “I’d be shocked if Trump said 10 words a day to him,” Cobb told the Washington Post. And two of those words, Cobb added, would not be “Thank you.”

      After the indictment of Trump and Nauta, the former president praised his valet and protested on his social media site that the FBI and the Justice Department “are trying to destroy his life, like the lives of so many others.”

      Trump was projecting again. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2023-06-19/donald-trump-walt-nauta-federal-indictment-mar-a-lago-classified-documents

      Maureen Dowd: To Jail or Not to Jail

      Studying Hamlet, the revenge play about a rotten kingdom, I tried for years to fathom Hamlet’s motives, state of mind, family web, obsessions.

      His consciousness was so complex, Harold Bloom wrote, it seemed bigger than the play itself.

      Now I’m mired in another revenge play about a rotten kingdom, Trump. I’ve tried for years to fathom Donald Trump’s motives, state of mind, family web, obsessions.

      The man who dumbed down the office of the presidency is a less gratifying subject than the smarty-pants doomed prince. Hamlet is transcendent, while Trump is merely transgressive. But we can’t shuffle off the mortal coil of Trump. He has burrowed, tick-like, into the national bloodstream, causing all kinds of septic responses.

      Trump is feral, focused on his own survival, with no sense of shame or boundaries or restraint.

      As Axelrod wrote in The Atlantic, Over time, Trump has worked to discredit and demean any institution that raises inconvenient truths or seeks to hold him accountable for his actions — not just media, but law enforcement and the election system itself.

      It remains to be seen, as Axelrod has noted, whether indictments will serve as kryptonite against Trump or energy packs fueling his return to the Oval Office. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/17/opinion/to-jail-or-not-to-jail.html

      Michelle Cottle, Ross Douthat and Carlos Lozada; Just When You Thought There Was Nothing New to Learn About Donald Trump

      After believing time and time again that Trump had self-destructed — after he denigrated John McCain, after we found out he had pretended to be his own spokesman, after the Access Hollywood tape, and after he shared classified material with Russian diplomats — I have learned to wait and see whether Trump will preposterously get away with things. He has spent his entire life cutting corners and dancing on the edge of legal. But Jack Smith, the special counsel, is teaching him that you can’t conduct a presidency that way.

      So we must contemplate Trump’s weird preoccupation with his boxes full of state secrets.

      He held onto them. Why? Mitt Romney asked reporters on Capitol Hill. That’s the question. Why is the country going to have to go through all this angst and tumult? Why didn’t he just turn the documents in?

      The papers spilling out of boxes are a snapshot of Trump’s id. He raised his personality to a management style. His disordered mind has caused public disorder.

      During his presidency, The Times reported, his aides began to refer to the boxes full of papers and odds and ends he carted around with him almost everywhere as the ‘beautiful mind’ material. It was a reference to the title of a book and movie depicting the life of John F. Nash Jr., the mathematician with schizophrenia played in the film by Russell Crowe, who covered his office with newspaper clippings, believing they held a Russian code he needed to crack.

      The aides used the phrase — which turned up in the indictment — as shorthand for Trump’s organized chaos, how he somehow kept track of what was in the boxes, which he held close as a security blanket. During the 2016 campaign, some reporters said, he traveled with cardboard boxes full of real estate contracts, newspaper clippings and schedules, as though he were carrying his world around with him.

      The guy likes paper. And, like Louis XIV, he believes L’État, c’est moi. His favorite words are personal pronouns and possessive adjectives. Kevin McCarthy is my Kevin. Army officers were my generals. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was my favorite dictator. In the indictment, a Trump lawyer quotes Trump as warning, I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes.

      Is he so addled by narcissism that he sees no distinction between highly sensitive documents belonging to the government and papers he wants to keep? He treats classified maps and nuclear secrets and a Pentagon war plan for Iran like pelts, hunting trophies, or family scrapbook items.

      He’s like a child, dragging around the things that are important to him. Chris Christie joked about Trump taking some of the boxes on his jet to his club in Bedminster: He flew the boxes up to New Jersey for summer vacation. What is this? Like, they’re a family member?

      It bespeaks a frailty, a need to be bolstered by talismanic items.

      When he was a real estate dealer and reality star, his office in Trump Tower was papered in framed magazine covers, so that his face stared back at him from every angle, like an infinity mirror.

      He must worry: Without pieces of paper to prove I am important, am I important?

      Trump has said one of his favorite movies is Citizen Kane. Perhaps the boxes at Xanadu he’s obsessed with, the papers that could make him the locked-up loser he dreads being, have been revealed as his Rosebud. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/17/opinion/to-jail-or-not-to-jail.html

      Aaron Blake: The GOP’s remarkable views of Trump’s classified documents

      Multiple polls focused on the Trump classified documents case suggest that many, if not most, Republicans don’t particularly appreciate the potential gravity of the situation or its details. And it can’t simply be explained by mere partisanship.

      One of the inescapable facts of the situation is that Trump got himself in trouble not because he took the documents in the first place, but because he declined to return them. The indictment only charges conduct after the government subpoenaed Trump’s documents in May 2022. After that subpoena, Trump only returned some of his remaining classified documents before the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago turned up more. The Washington Post recapped how Trump’s fateful decision not to return the documents resulted from rejecting his lawyers’ advice.

      But despite it being readily apparent that Trump didn’t do what the government asked, a new YouGov poll shows Republicans, by and large, maintain that he did. It shows 53 percent say Trump ‘cooperated in returning documents,’ with just 15 percent saying he didn’t. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/06/15/gops-remarkable-views-trumps-classified-documents/

      Jonathan Swan, Charlie Savage and Maggie Haberman: The Radical Strategy Behind Trump’s Promise to ‘Go After’ Biden

      When Donald Trump responded to his latest indictment by promising to appoint a special prosecutor if he’s re-elected to ‘go after’ President Biden and his family, he signaled that a second Trump term would fully jettison the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department independence.

      The naked politics infusing Mr. Trump’s headline-generating threat underscored something significant. In his first term, Mr. Trump gradually ramped up pressure on the Justice Department, eroding its traditional independence from White House political control. He is now unabashedly saying he will throw that effort into overdrive if he returns to power.

      Mr. Trump’s promise fits into a larger movement on the right to gut the F.B.I., overhaul a Justice Department conservatives claim has been ‘weaponized’ against them and abandon the norm — which many Republicans view as a facade — that the department should operate independently from the president. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/15/us/politics/trump-indictment-justice-department.html

      Evan Osnos: How Will the G.O.P. Field Respond to Donald Trump’s Indictment?

      How do you campaign against a political rival for whom there is no conceivable precedent? When the Department of Justice indicted Donald Trump, last week, on counts arising from his handling of classified documents, he became not only the first former President in American history to face federal charges but also the most confounding front-runner ever in a Presidential primary. Trump is a candidate for Commander-in-Chief who now faces thirty-seven counts for refusing to return material related, according to the indictment, to United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack. Trump, who first came to power assailing his rival, Hillary Clinton, for her storage of sensitive information, is now accused of urging an attorney to hide or destroy documents, and of allowing unqualified civilians to see secret files. In one instance, at his golf club in New Jersey, the former President is alleged to have told visitors about a classified plan of attack against Iran, and was recorded on tape admitting that this is still a secret.

      The federal indictment came two months after Trump was indicted in Manhattan on thirty-four counts related to a hush-money case. Those charges, which he denied, gave him a boost in the polls. The latest counts, which Trump also denies, could further fortify his grip on the Republican Party or, in the fullness of time, they could blast the race wide open. The effect will depend, in part, on the strategic calculations of his opponents.

      The indictment in the documents case could be followed by others—in Washington, Georgia, or elsewhere. It’s tempting to dismiss the field of long shot candidates for their hypocrisies or their eccentricities, but American elections are long and mercurial, and, with Trump engulfed in legal woes, it’s not inconceivable that one of them could end up in the White House. More immediately, their very presence in the race is shaping it, because they stand to split the opposition to Trump and improve his prospects. For that reason, the most vital question Americans face is not who has the confidence to enter the campaign but who will have the courage to speak frankly about Trump and, ultimately, who will have the sense to exit it.

      Trump Says He’ll Never Leave ’24 Race, Even If He’s Rotting in a Prison Cell, Which He Just Might Be. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/06/19/how-will-the-gop-field-respond-to-donald-trumps-indictment

      Fintan O’Toole: The Ultimate Deal

      Secrets are a kind of currency. They can be hoarded, but if kept for too long they lose their value. Like all currencies, they must, sooner or later, be used in a transaction—sold to the highest bidder or bartered as a favor for which another favor will be returned.

      To see the full scale of Donald Trump’s betrayal of his country, it is necessary to start with this reality. He kept intelligence documents because, at some point, those secrets could be used in a transaction. What he was stockpiling were the materials of treason. He may not have known how and when he would cash in this currency, but there can be little doubt that he was determined to retain the ability to do just that.

      Before the publication of the grand jury’s indictment, it was possible to believe that Trump’s retention of classified documents was reckless and stupid. The indictment reveals that recklessness and stupidity are the least of his sins. https://www.nybooks.com/online/2023/06/10/the-ultimate-deal/

      Bess Levin: Donald Trump Says He’ll Never Leave ’24 Race, Even If He’s Rotting in a Prison Cell, Which He Just Might Be

      The 2024 presidential race took an incredible turn last Thursday night when Donald Trump, late of being indicted by the Manhattan district attorney, was charged by the Justice Department with a whopping 37 felony counts including conspiracy to obstruct justice, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, and making false statements and representations. (If it wasn’t clear: The charges against the former guy, which were the result of special counsel Jack Smith’s months-long investigation, are extremely serious and he is facing decades behind bars.) At this time, a normal candidate—i.e., someone who doesn’t stash national security secrets next to the toilet, or talk like critical components of his brain were removed during a routine teeth cleaning—would likely deliver a speech in which he or she announced that they were dropping out of the race. But Trump, obviously, is not a normal candidate, which is why he’s vowed to keep his campaign for president going even if he’s convicted of federal crimes.

      On Saturday, in an interview on his plane, Trump told reporters, “I’ll never leave,” adding that if there was ever a time that he would have dropped out of a presidential race it would have been in 2016. He also said he did not anticipate accepting a plea deal but suggested he would do so in a scenario in which the government pays him damages. In a separate interview, Alina Habba, one of the few Trump attorneys who hasn’t quit, told Fox News, “You take a plea deal to make something go away. That’s an admission of guilt. He would never admit guilt. Because there was nothing wrong with declassifying documents, taking documents with you.” (Habba forgot to mention the part where Trump wasn’t just accused of “taking documents” with him but obstructing justice and lying to the feds.)

      Of course, what happens to Trump with regard to a potential conviction and sentence is not actually up to him but rather the justice system. Should he be found guilty on all counts, he is facing a fine of more than $9 million and 400 years in prison. And even if he’s found guilty of just one count, he could be headed to prison for an amount of time that, at his age, might as well be 40 to life. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/06/donald-trump-2024-race-prison

      Dan Balz, Ann E. Marimow and Perry Stein: Trump’s indictment plus candidacy could endanger democracy and the rule of law

      America’s institutions have been attacked repeatedly over the past half-dozen years, thanks principally to the conduct and actions of Donald Trump. The next 18 months could further undermine confidence in democracy and the rule of law as the former president seeks a return to the White House while defending himself against federal and state criminal charges.

      Not since the Vietnam War in the 1960s or perhaps the mid-19th century before the Civil War has the country’s governing structure faced such disunity and peril, given the unprecedented nature of a federal criminal indictment of a former president compounded by the fact that Trump has been charged by the Justice Department in the administration of the Democrat who defeated him in 2020 and who is his likeliest general election opponent in 2024, if Trump is nominated again by the Republican Party.

      Scholars, legal experts and political strategists agree that what lies ahead is ugly and unpredictable. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/17/trump-indictment-candidacy-democracy-institutions/

      Damon Linker: A Trump Pardon Won’t Save Us

      That didn’t take long. Less than a week after Donald Trump’s 37-count indictment was unsealed infederal court, conservative writers began to call for a pardon of the former (and possibly future) president.

      There’s just one problem, however. Pardoning Trump for the actions that led to the 37-count indictment in the classified-documents case would do nothing to clear him of the charges that have already been brought against him by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Or the potential charges he faces in Fulton County, Georgia related to his efforts to strongarm Georgia’s secretary of state to find votes that would flip the state to Trump in the 2020 election. Or, potentially gravest of all, the charges that could grow out of Smith’s still-ongoing investigation into Trump’s words and deeds leading up to and throughout the insurrectionary riot on Capitol Hill during the afternoon of January 6, 2021.

      That’s a grand total of four possible indictments—two federal and two at the state level. Several things follow from this array of charges. First, even if a present or future president pardoned Trump for the charges connected to his mishandling of classified documents, a separate pardon would need to be granted for any future federal charges connected to January 6. Since the latter case would concern something that looks very much like a self-coup attempt, however ineptly executed, on the part of a sitting president, issuing such a pardon without at least an admission of guilt and expression of remorse from the accused would be ill-advised. Any pardon granted without such an admission of guilt and expression of remorse would have the effect of exonerating Trump for his actions after the 2020 election, thereby demonstrating to Trump himself or other potential bad actors that acts of outright electoral subversion and defiance of the peaceful transfer of power can be undertaken without fear of legal retribution.

      But even if such a second pardon were granted, Trump would still be facing a trial in New York and a possible indictment in Georgia, each of which could lead to conviction and jail time. And in these cases, there would be no possibility of a presidential pardon, since the pardon power enumerated in Article II of the United States Constitution only applies to federal crimes. (Whether Trump could be pardoned by state officials in New York or Georgia is another matter. Though as this helpful Politico story explains, it isn’t especially likely in either state.)

      If Republican voters (egged on by demagogic rabblerousers in the media and elective office) are convinced Trump is being unfairly targeted, I can’t imagine them being placated by seeing him receive two presidential pardons for federal crimes and yet still facing possible trial, conviction, and imprisonment in other jurisdictions.

      The country is walking a dangerous road, with potentially dire consequences. But as much as we might wish that Joe Biden or a future Republican president could simply use the pardon power to drain the poison out of the system, in Rich Lowry’s words, there is no such magic wand. Donald Trump got himself into each of these legal messes, and his fate will now ultimately be decided by judges and juries—just as our collective political fate will be determined to a large extent by how Trump and his most devoted supporters respond to these outcomes. https://damonlinker.substack.com/p/a-trump-pardon-wont-save-us

      David A. Graham: Chris Christie, Liberal Hero

      Chris Christie is the hottest candidate in the Republican presidential race right now. Oh, not with Republican voters. He’s still polling in the low single digits among the people who will actually choose the nominee. But among liberal pundits, Christie’s reputation is on the rise.

      “Out of the miasma of Republican denial, a bold truth teller has emerged,” proclaims the Los Angeles Times’ Robin Abcarian, praising Christie’s “poetic” description of Donald Trump as “a lonely, self-consumed, self-serving mirror hog.” (If this is poetry, it is truly a demotic variety.)

      Joe Klein watched Christie’s CNN town hall and found it “exhilarating,” explaining, “The surprise—and I must say, it was a relief—was the joy that came from watching a terrific stand-up politician at work. I had almost forgotten what that was like. Christie speaks plain English. He is self-deprecating. He was fluent and reasonable—even when I disagreed with his positions—on a broad swath of issues.”

      Jim Newell of Slate is just enjoying the ride: “What Christie does bring to the race that no other non-Trump candidate has brought in a while is some life. A touch of energy. A little gosh-darn fun around here!” But Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post finds a higher purpose: “Chris Christie is not in it to win it. His task is more important.” The veteran Pennsylvania journalist Dick Polman concurs: “At a time when ‘the GOP-MAGA nomination contest reeks of weakness, moral rot, political capitulation and fear’ (in the words of ex-Republican strategist Steve Schmidt), it’s good to have an ass-kicker in the mix, regardless of his flaws. If democracy is to be saved, we must welcome all comers.” https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/06/chris-christies-only-constituents-are-liberal-pundits/674437/