September 14, 2023

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Pending Criminal and Civil Cases Against Donald Trump.

Third indictment against former Donald Trump:

Fulton County, Ga. indictment of former President Trump, Rudy Giuliani and others:


“I think it’s a fool’s errand. I really do. And I think that they shoot with a shotgun. They don’t know who they’re going to hurt, and depending on who they nominate, and not something that I would ever care to be involved in.“ — Chris Christie told Hugh Hewitt that he’s not a fan of No Labels, even though Hewitt said the group would likely help elect a Republican president in 2024.

“Convicted felons should be allowed to carry weapons — including if it’s concealed.” — Vivek Ramaswamy.

"Super PACs for several GOP candidates challenging Donald Trump have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to help fund efforts to displace him as the party’s nominee—and they have absolutely nothing to show for it.No progress. No signs of life. No movement. Nada.The impotence of the super PAC efforts is an all-the-more-inviting target for ridicule when you consider that this entire strategic approach was discredited in the 2016 and 2020 presidential races.” —  Tim Miller.

Donald Trump spoke with Hugh Hewitt on his radio show:

HEWITT: “Did you direct anyone to move the boxes, Mr. President? Did you tell anyone to move the boxes?”
TRUMP: “I don’t talk about anything. You know why? Because I’m allowed to do whatever I want. I come under the Presidential Records Act. I’m not telling you. You know, every time I talk to you, oh, I have a breaking story. You don’t have any story. I come under the Presidential Records Act. I’m allowed to do everything I did.”

“I would pay a lot of money to sit down with that 51 percent of respondents and ask them to tell me five things Trump accomplished in office.” — Jonathan Last on the  Wall Street Journal poll which found that, by an 11-point margin, more voters see Trump rather than Biden as having a record of accomplishments as president—some 40% said Biden has such a record, while 51% said so of Trump. By an eight-point margin, more voters said Trump has a vision for the future.

“We’ve got people doing poems on aircraft carriers over the loudspeaker. It is absolutely insane the direction that we’re headed in our military. — Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) told Fox News that poetry is proof of wokeness in the U.S. Navy.

“We need to move past this notion that he’s not going to run. President Biden is going to run and I’m looking forward to him getting reelected. Time to move on. Let’s go.” — California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) message to voters who think President Joe Biden won’t run again.

“Democratic knife-fighter David Brock is going on the offensive again, disseminating opposition research to various news outlets regarding the family members of various congressional Republicans who may have benefited from their parents’ position—and not just the committee members who are investigating the president and his son, Hunter Biden.” — Tara Palmeri.

“To say that a section of the 14th Amendment is election interference and considering how to uphold the Constitution is election interference is un-American. We know that the former president is a liar who will do everything he can to hold onto power.” —Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) called former President Trump a ‘liar,’ after Trump suggested a recent push to use the 14th Amendment to keep him off the ballot in the state was ‘election interference.

“Here I am sitting in my first Freedom Caucus meeting, as my head explodes, thinking, ‘How did these individuals get elected?’ The old saying is, ‘It takes you six weeks to figure out how did all these other people around me get elected.’ Well, it took me six minutes. It was incredible to me to listen to that.” — Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) who quit the GOP last year, citing its transformation into a cult of personality to former President Donald Trump.

“To our intensifying discussion about whether President Biden has grown mentally fuzzy and too old for a second term, I’d like to add this question: How would we even notice Donald Trump’s lapse into incoherence, when derangement is essentially his brand? Pretty much any interview he gives is a babble bonanza, and his recent lovefest with Tucker Carlson was no exception.” — Frank Bruni

“I’ve never seen a colleague make more empty threats — day in/day out than this guy. Gaetz folded like a cheap card table to make McCarthy speaker and will never — I repeat never — make a motion to remove McCarthy.” — Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).

“The evidence suggests Hunter Biden is guilty of unethical and/or illegal behavior. The evidence suggests Joe Biden is guilty of absolutely nothing more than being a father.”— Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN).

“Fasten your seat belts because it’s going to be a shit show.” — Rep. Mike Simpson’s (R-ID) blunt warning for his party as it struggles to round up the votes to bring up — let alone pass — its own defense spending bill.

“As for the prosecution of Trump, for us what is happening in today’s conditions, in my opinion, is good because it shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others democracy,” — Vladimir Putin, who has a history of persecuting his political opponents, claimed Tuesday that the criminal cases against Trump were part of “the persecution of a political rival for political reasons.”


The Biden campaign is launched a new ad that touts his surprise visit to Ukraine as an example of the quiet strength of a true leader. It aired during 60 Minutes in battleground states, timed with Biden’s trip to the G-20.




      IN THE NEWS...  

      Andy Borowitz: Trump Calls Biden “Pathetic” for Needing Hunter’s Help to Get Impeached

      As House Republicans took steps to open an impeachment inquiry targeting the President, Donald J. Trump called Joe Biden “pathetic” for needing his son Hunter’s help to get impeached.

      “What kind of a man relies on his son to get impeached?” Trump said. “Joe Biden is a disgrace.”

      Having one’s children help secure an impeachment “should never be allowed to happen in our country,” he said.

      “Imagine if I had depended on Don, Jr., to get me impeached,” he said. “And Eric? Give me a break. That boy can barely dress himself.”

      House GOP Weaponizes Impeachment

      The start of an inquiry also reflects how quickly impeachment has been downgraded from an ultra-rare proceeding to a political weapon in Congress: House Republicans have yet to turn up a smoking gun that would substantiate high crimes and misdemeanors or link the president to money Hunter Biden received in Ukraine and China. The GOP argues that the inquiry will give the panels more opportunity to dig deeper into the matter.

      Some Democrats reacted by rubbing their hands at the prospect of McCarthy forcing his swing-seat incumbents into a vulnerable position if Republicans overplay their hand. But this is nonetheless a major move against Biden that could make him more vulnerable politically and put Hunter’s struggles front and center.

      It’s a tale as old as time, or at least January 2023, all in all: The hard right prevails, McCarthy goes back on his word to hold on to power, moderates roll over, and the whole thing is likely headed nowhere in the Senate.

      Biden impeachment probe puts vulnerable California Republicans in a tough spot

      Impeachment is not popular in the 18 districts that Biden won in 2020 but that are currently held by House Republicans, according to an August poll commissioned by the Congressional Integrity Project, a Democratic-aligned nonprofit. Five of those vulnerable incumbents— John Duarte of Modesto, Young Kim of Orange County, David Valadao of Hanford, Michelle Steel of Seal Beach and Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita — represent California districts.

      Republican megadonors wait for their anti-Trump champion

      The yearning for Youngkin is a sign of the donor dilemma: for some deep-pocketed Republicans, no single, compelling alternative to Trump has emerged in the primary. And while the billionaires want to see such a candidate break from the pack before giving, the candidates need the money first to help them make that break.

      Several big GOP donors — from billionaire hedge fund bosses such as Paul Singer and Ken Griffin, to Miriam Adelson, the wife of the late casino emperor Sheldon Adelson — are now on the sidelines. Peter Thiel, who gave $35mn to two Senate candidates in 2022, does not plan to donate to any 2024 race, said a person familiar with his thinking.

      A House GOP attempt to advance abortion measure backfires in funding fight

      House GOP leaders had hoped that inserting abortion policy into every major piece of their government spending plans would help win over conservative members and placate influential outside groups agitating for more aggressive action on the issue.

      But so far, the move has helped to seal the demise of what is usually among the easiest appropriations bills for Congress to pass, drawing fierce and rare pushback from more than a dozen moderate Republicans.

      Navarro: Trump White House officials feel as if they are facing prison

      Peter Navarro said that his contempt of Congress conviction has everybody in that frigging White House feeling as if they are grappling with massive legal bills and prison time..

      Lamenting that prosecutors had pushed to stick me in leg irons… and with half a million dollars of legal bills, Navarro pledged to seek a reversal of his conviction from an appellate court.

      Trump faces another 14th Amendment candidacy challenge, this time in Minnesota

      A liberal group filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block former President Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot in Minnesota, the second major lawsuit in two weeks that hopes to invoke the 14th Amendment’s arcane ‘insurrectionist ban,’

      Democrats Could Take Back House on Redistricting Alone

      The fundamentals of the 2024 campaign are still taking shape, but one thing is already clear: A flurry of court actions might cost Republicans the House majority, Politico reports.

      In the past nine days, state and federal judges threw out two congressional maps — and helped Democrats avoid a worst-case scenario in Ohio — kicking off an unusually busy redistricting calendar heading into the election year.

      All told, a dozen or more seats across at least six states could be redrawn, increasing the likelihood Democrats could chip away the five-seat GOP House majority through redistricting alone.

      Two Election Workers Want Giuliani to Pay Legal Fees

      Two Georgia state election workers who won a defamation lawsuit against Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani are now requesting $104,256.50 in attorneys’ fees.

      Russian Company Refuses to Remove Doxxing Info of Trump Grand Jurors

      A Russian company doxxed Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and the grand jurors involved in the 2020 election case against Donald Trump and, according to Atlanta cops, it has refused U.S. federal government orders to remove the information. In a letter attached to a Wednesday filing in which Willis asked the judge to ban the publication of any information identifying jurors, an investigator in her office said that the data was posted to the dark web, and that the website had hosted similar personal reports about other prosecutors and judges.

      In a second letter, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said he would use law enforcement resources to allow the jurors to complete their civic duty without being subjected to unnecessary danger but that the Russian-hosted site had ignored demands to remove jurors’ information. The doxxing led to Trump supporters harassing the grand jurors, which Willis argued would hurt their ability to decide the issues before them impartially and without outside influence.

      Trump supporters post names and addresses of Georgia grand jurors online

      The purported names and addresses of members of the grand jury that indicted Donald Trump and 18 of his co-defendants on state racketeering charges this week have been posted on a fringe website that often features violent rhetoric,

      The grand jurors' purported addresses were spotted by Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan research group founded by Daniel J. Jones, a former FBI investigator and staffer for the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.

      It’s becoming all too commonplace to see everyday citizens performing necessary functions for our democracy being targeted with violent threats by Trump-supporting extremists, Jones said. The lack of political leadership on the right to denounce these threats — which serve to inspire real-world political violence — is shameful.

      After Trump posted on his social media website that authorities were going after those that fought to find the RIGGERS! — Advance Democracy said Trump supporters were using the term ‘rigger’ in lieu of a racial slur in posts.

      Trump Challenges Rupert Murdoch to Mental Acuity Test

      Donald Trump threw down the gauntlet in a Sunday evening Truth Social rant, challenging a host of his perceived enemies—including Rupert Murdoch and the ‘heads’ of his Wall Street Journal newspaper—to the same mental acuity test that he supposedly ‘aced’ a few years back.

      Trump was apparently angry about a WSJ poll which asked voters about his age and mental fortitude. ‘Where did that come from?’

      Ginni Thomas Sought to Profit from Court Decision

      As the Supreme Court prepared to decide the Citizens United case that designated money as political speech, Ginni Thomas — wife of Justice Clarence Thomas — along with conservative activists quietly filed to create exactly the type of non-profit group that would benefit from the decision.

      Thomas also had a rich backer: Harlan Crow, the billionaire who had helped Thomas and her husband in many ways, from funding luxury vacations to picking up tuition payments for their great-nephew.

      McCarthy Seeks to Exact Price for Ukraine Aid

      Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the House GOP leadership are considering attaching billions of dollars in disaster relief to a short-term stopgap spending bill, leaving out Ukraine aid at a critical moment in the war with Russia.

      McCarthy wants changes to border policies as well as an increase in overall border security money in return for additional Ukraine aid.

      Such a move would set up a showdown with the Senate and President Joe Biden over U.S. support for its embattled ally.

      Trump's big lead: Among nonvoters, many agree with him that elections are rigged

      A new USA Today/Suffolk University Poll of unlikely voters — those who are eligible to vote but say they probably won’t — give Donald Trump a lopsided edge over President Biden.

      Registered voters who say they aren’t likely to go to the polls back Trump over Biden by nearly 20 percentage points, 32% to 13%, with 27% supporting a third-party or other candidate. Citizens who are eligible to vote but haven’t registered also favor Trump by close to 2-1, 28% to 15%; 27% prefer another candidate.

      If they participated in the election, Trump’s advantage among them is so wide that they could shift the political landscape to his advantage.

      Trump’s 2020 crusade has led to 700 years in prison sentences

      The sentences over the past week — including 22 years for Tarrio, 17 for Biggs and 15 for Rehl — bring the total number of years of incarceration in Jan. 6 sentences to about 700.

      More than 350 people have been sentenced to jail or prison time, with an average sentence of just less than two years.

      Trump’s Resilience Leaves Anxious G.O.P. Donors in Despair and Denial

      Mr. Trump’s grip on the party’s voters is as powerful as ever, with polls in Iowa and New Hampshire last month putting him at least 25 percentage points above his nearest rivals.

      That has left major Republican donors — whose desires have increasingly diverged from those of conservative voters — grappling with the reality that the tens of millions of dollars they have spent to try to stop the former president, fearing he poses a mortal threat to their party and the country, may already be a sunk cost.

      Utah Sen. Mike Lee calls for defunding the U.S. military amid abortion policy debate

      Lee has vigorously defended Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s month-long blockade of hundreds of military promotions to force the Biden administration to rescind a policy to provide leave and reimburse travel expenses for service members and their families to travel to other states for abortions. Service members cannot choose where they are stationed and may be stationed in a state that does not allow abortions after the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade last year.

      A Reminder That Just One Juror Could Save Trump

      But perhaps the more practical lesson from the newly released Fulton County, Ga., special grand jury report report, regarding the case ahead, is that it reinforces how difficult it might be to obtain convictions, including for Trump.

      Every criminal charge recommended against Donald Trump by the Fulton County special grand jury had at least one no vote. That suggests one person was repeatedly holding out — which would matter greatly at Trump’s trial.

      Trump Plans Harsher Trade and Tax Policies for His 2024 Comeback Bid

      Donald Trump and his advisers are mapping out an economic agenda with harsher trade policies and deeper tax cuts if he returns to the White House, stirring anxiety within the US business community of potential retaliatory measures.

      Schiff and Porter increasingly dominate race for Senate, poll shows

      A new Los Angeles Times/UC Berkeley poll finds Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Katie Porter (D-CA) are neck and neck in the U.S. Senate jungle primary, with support from 20% and 17% of likely voters, respectively.

      The two have opened up sizable leads over their other prominent Democratic opponent, Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, who sits at 7%.

      Fani Willis Blasts Jim Jordan’s Interference

      Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis blasted Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who has pledged to investigate her handling of an indictment of Donald Trump and others, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

      Said Willis, in a letter: Its obvious purpose is to obstruct a Georgia criminal proceeding and to advance outrageous misrepresentations. As I make clear below, there is no justification in the Constitution for Congress to interfere with a state criminal matter, as you attempt to do.

      Three Paths to Biden’s Re-Election

      The 2024 presidential election will be decided on what happens in roughly eight swing states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

      Joe Biden’s narrowest path to re-election is to simply solidify the blue wall. Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election when the blue wall — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — fell to Donald Trump.

      This strategy would net Biden 270 electoral votes, the exact number he needs to win.

      Another path is to win the Sun Belt states, where Biden made great inroads in 2020. Winning Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina would give Biden 275 electoral votes.

      And of course, Biden could simply replicate his 2020 win, which would net him 303 electoral votes. (Biden actually won 306 electoral votes in 2020, but the electoral map has been reconfigured since the 2020 census.)

      Jan. 6 Rioters Have Been Held to Account. That Might Be the Easy Part

      The effort to hold the rioters at the Capitol accountable has been the largest inquiry ever undertaken by the Justice Department, and is likely to continue for months, or even years, with additional indictments.

      But the looming trials of former President Donald J. Trump and those accused of helping him seek to remain in office will be a different sort of challenge, probing the resilience and authority of the criminal justice system.

      The Trump prosecutions are likely to be a stress test of the country’s commitment to the rule of law at a moment of intense polarization and with Mr. Trump solidifying his position as the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

      As Abortion Laws Drive Obstetricians From Red States, Maternity Care Suffers

      Idaho’s obstetrics exodus is not happening in isolation. Across the country, in red states like Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee, obstetricians — including highly skilled doctors who specialize in handling complex and risky pregnancies — are leaving their practices. Some newly minted doctors are avoiding states like Idaho.

      The departures may result in new maternity care deserts, or areas that lack any maternity care, and they are placing strains on physicians… who are left behind. The effects are particularly pronounced in rural areas, where many hospitals are shuttering obstetrics units for economic reasons. Restrictive abortion laws, experts say, are making that problem much worse.

      Harris launching college tour to try to mobilize young voters in battleground states

      Vice President Kamala Harris will soon be hitting the road for a monthlong college tour, traveling to more than a dozen campuses across eight states.

      The trip underscores both the value Democrats are placing on younger voters and the more forceful role Harris is seeking to play on key issues like abortion access ahead of the 2024 election, after weathering two years of scrutiny and low approval ratings.

      Republicans Insist Biden Is Staying In His Basement. He’s Traveled More Than Trump.

      President Joe Biden has traveled more frequently than former President Donald Trump this year, even as Republicans regularly imply the 80-year-old incumbent is homebound as they work to capitalize on voter concerns about his age.

      Walter Isaacson: 'How am I in this War?': The untold story of Elon Musk’s support for Ukraine

      Shortly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Ukrainian officials appealed to Elon Musk to send Ukraine Starlink stations. U.S. military helped with transport. By July there were 15,000 Starlink terminals operating in Ukraine.

      In September, 2022, Musk refused a request to enable Starlink coverage of the Crimean coast.

      In the end, with Shotwell’s help, SpaceX made arrangements with various government agencies to pay for increased Starlink service in Ukraine, with the military and CIA working out the terms of service. More than 100,000 new satellite dishes were sent to Ukraine at the beginning of 2023. In addition, Starlink launched a companion service called Starshield, which was specifically designed for military use. SpaceX licensed Starshield satellites and services to the U.S. military and other agencies, allowing the government to determine how they could and should be used in Ukraine and elsewhere.


      Ann Coulter, the washed up political “pundit” who predicted my win in 2016, then went unbearably crazy with her demands and wanting to be a part of everything, to the consternation of all, has gone hostile and angry with every bit of her very “nervous” energy. Like many others, I just didn’t want her around - She wasn’t worth the trouble! — Donald Trump attacked Ann Coulter on Truth Social as a washed up pundit who went unbearably crazy with her demands.
      Trump begged me to come to Bedminster this week. I said only if I could record a Substack with him, but the GIGANTIC PUSSY is too afraid of me, so instead he did this.  — So Coulter responded on X:

      When @SpeakerMcCarthy makes his announcement in moments, remember that as I pushed him for weeks, @kilmeade said I was:
      Speaking into the wind on impeachment.
      Turns out, the wind may be listening! — Matt Gaetz@mattgaetz
      Correction my friend.
      I introduced articles of impeachment against Joe Biden for his corrupt business dealings in Ukraine & China while he was Vice President on his very first day in office.
      You wouldn’t cosponsor those and I had to drag you kicking and screaming to get you to cosponsor my articles on the border.
      Who’s really been making the push? — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene@RepMTG
      Eleven days ago, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pledged he would only launch an impeachment inquiry into President Biden with a vote on the House floor — "not through a declaration by one person."


      This Tuesday, McCarthy stood alone at a lectern and declared that three GOP-led committees would begin a formal impeachment inquiry, at his sole direction.

      Michelle Cottle: Kevin McCarthy Faces His Puppet Master

      Is it just me, or did Kevin McCarthy look a little rough around the edges on Tuesday when announcing his decision to open an impeachment investigation into President Biden?

      I realize that Mr. McCarthy, the House speaker, needed to convey a dignified solemnity on such an occasion. “I do not make this decision lightly,” he assured the American people as he tried to make an argument about a “culture of corruption” and the president maybe lying about his son’s sketchy business dealings. But in his brief appearance, Mr. McCarthy came across not so much as serious and statesmanlike but as if the words were being dragged from his lips.

      It may be that even he is nauseated by his latest stunt. That it has finally sunk in that he has become the not-so-glorified puppet of the House Republican conference’s radicals, folks like Dan Bishop, Chip Roy and, most prominently, Matt Gaetz.

      Mr. McCarthy may wield the gavel. But the far-right rebels who opposed his election as speaker, of whom Mr. Gaetz was a ringleader, now wield the ax poised above Mr. McCarthy’s exposed neck — an ax that he handed them in exchange for them letting him pretend to be in charge. With the omnipresent threat of voting him out of his dream job, the conference’s fringe is leading the speaker around by the nose hairs. And whenever they feel he’s getting a bit sassy, they give those hairs a sharp yank.

      Jonathan Chait: Biden or Bust

      It seems clear enough that Joe Biden is up to the job of being president. The economy is booming, especially for the poor and working class; he has signed more bipartisan legislation (on infrastructure, guns, and domestic manufacturing) than anybody expected; and he has held together the western alliance while maintaining a dogged defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty after Russia expected to swallow up its smaller neighbor.

      But whether Biden is up to the task of running for president is another matter. The national polls show a virtual tie with Biden leading Donald Trump, on average, by less than a point. Since the Electoral College has given Trump a substantial edge in each of the past two elections, it seems as though Biden needs much more than that. He won by 4.4 percentage points in 2020, and had he performed just over half a point worse, Trump probably wouldn’t have even needed to try to steal a second term.

      The election is more than a year away, and Biden’s polling might improve. Another 14 months of surging wages and declining inflation could give his campaign the Morning in America feel it has thus far lacked. On the other hand, if the economy sputters, or if Biden suffers a health setback that reinforces the public’s already serious doubts about his fitness, it could get even worse. For an incumbent presiding over peace and prosperity to be effectively trailing an indicted felon feels terrifying. And it undercuts one of the central rationales of both Biden’s 2020 run and his reelection campaign: that he is best positioned in the Democratic field to stave off the threat of a second Trump term.

      The strangest thing about this harrowing circumstance is that no mainstream Democrat is challenging Biden for the nomination. The hunger for such a challenge certainly exists: A CNN poll finds two-thirds of Democrats want their party to nominate somebody else. There isn’t much mystery as to why. The same poll asked Democrats what concerns they may have about Biden and found that two-thirds cited his age, his health, his mental sharpness, or his vice-president, all of which amount to the same thing. The demand for a different option is robust. What is mystifyingly absent is the supply.

      Politicians tend to be highly ambitious people who, by and large, dream of ascending to the presidency. Why haven’t any of them seized this opportunity?

      Nate Cohn: Trump’s Electoral College Edge Seems to Be Fading

      The patterns in recent polling and election results are consistent with the trends in national surveys, which suggest that the demographic foundations of Mr. Trump’s Electoral College advantage might be fading. He’s faring unusually well among nonwhite voters, who represent a larger share of the electorate in noncompetitive than competitive states. As a consequence, Mr. Trump’s gains have probably done more to improve his standing in the national vote than in relatively white Northern states likeliest to decide the presidency, like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

      Midterm results typically don’t tell us much about the next general election. Polls taken 15 to 27 months out don’t necessarily augur much, either. But the possibility that Republicans’ Electoral College advantage is diminished is nonetheless worth taking seriously. It appears driven by forces that might persist until the next election, like Mr. Biden’s weakness among nonwhite voters and the growing importance of issues — abortion, crime, democracy and education — that play differently for blue and purple state voters.

      Michael Hiltzik: How the media’s obsession with Biden’s age could help reelect Trump

      Every race since 1992 seems to have been reduced to a premasticated nugget. In 2000, it was Al Gore’s claim to have “invented the internet.” In truth, that’s not what he said, and in any case he had indeed played a key role in advancing the legislation and funding that made the internet happen. Too bad for Gore: The meme became shorthand for the notion that he couldn’t be trusted.

      In 2016, it was the claim that Hillary Clinton had used a private email server as secretary of State, supposedly placing national security at risk. This was always a fatuous issue, but since Trump was pushing it relentlessly the press went along, even though there was much more evidence that Trump was the one whose behavior threatened national security.

      This time around, the age meme is accompanied by the claim that Americans are hopelessly polarized. As I’ve written before, there’s no evidence for that, and plenty for the contrary. The truth is that Americans favor, often by a supermajority, abortion rights and stricter gun controls.

      The consequence of the press’ fixation on the issue of Biden’s age despite his evident capability for governing is that public opinion will be skewed in Trump’s favor, even as some of Trump’s fellow Republicans have begun to question his fitness for office (not to mention those, er, “legal battles,” as Axios would have it).

      The importance of the press in reporting fairly and incisively on the issues at large in the coming presidential election is inescapable. So far, its failure has become more evident with every passing day. Time is getting short for it to turn itself around.

      Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt: Democracy’s Assassins Always Have Accomplices

      Since the 2020 election, Republican leaders have enabled authoritarianism at four decisive moments. First, rather than adhere to the cardinal rule of accepting election results after Joe Biden won that November, many Republican leaders questioned the results or remained silent, refusing to publicly recognize Mr. Biden’s victory. Vice President Mike Pence did not congratulate his successor, Kamala Harris, until the middle of January 2021. The Republican Accountability Project, a Republican pro-democracy watchdog group, evaluated the public statements of 261 Republican members of the 117th Congress after the election. They found that 221 of them had publicly expressed doubt about its legitimacy or did not publicly recognize that Mr. Biden won.

      That’s 85 percent. And in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, nearly two-thirds of House Republicans voted against certification of the results. Had Republican leaders not encouraged election denialism, the “stop the steal” movement might have stalled, and thousands of Trump supporters might not have violently stormed the Capitol in an effort to overturn the election.

      After Mr. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, Senate Republicans overwhelmingly voted to acquit him, even though many conceded that, in Senator Mitch McConnell’s words, the president was “practically and morally responsible” for the attack. The acquittal allowed Mr. Trump to continue his political career despite his having tried to block the peaceful transfer of power. Had he been convicted in the Senate, he would have been legally barred from running again for president. In other words, Republican senators had a clear opportunity to ensure that an openly antidemocratic figure would never again occupy the White House — and 43 of them, including Mr. McConnell, declined to take it.

      With remarkably few exceptions, Republican leaders say they will still support Mr. Trump even if he is convicted of plotting to overturn an election. Alternatives exist. The Republican National Committee could declare that the party will not nominate an individual who poses a threat to democracy or has been indicted on serious criminal charges. Or Republican leaders could jointly declare that for the sake of democracy, they will endorse Mr. Biden if Mr. Trump is the Republican nominee. Such a move would, of course, destroy the party’s chances in 2024. But by keeping Mr. Trump out of the White House, it would help protect our democracy.

      If Republican leaders continue to endorse Mr. Trump, they will normalize him yet again, telling Americans that he is, at the end of the day, an acceptable choice. The 2024 race will become another ordinary red versus blue election, much like 2016. And as in 2016, Mr. Trump could win.

      Republican leaders’ acquiescence to Mr. Trump’s authoritarianism is neither inevitable nor unavoidable. It is a choice.

      Michael Bloomberg: How Biden and Congress Should Fix the Immigration Crisis in Our Cities

      Think about it: We have a system that essentially allows an unlimited number of people to cross our borders, forbids them from working, offers them free housing, and grants them seven years of residency before ruling on whether they can legally stay. It would be hard to devise a more backward and self-defeating system.

      We are a nation of immigrants because we are a land of opportunity. To deny immigrants the opportunity to work — and force them to rely on public handouts — is as anti-American as anything I can think of. It is harmful not only to the refugees, but to our country — especially at a time when so many businesses are facing labor shortages.

      Critics who have latched onto Mayor Adams’s recent comments that the crisis will ‘destroy’ the city seem more concerned with his words — spoken in understandable frustration with Washington — than with the problem itself. Solving the crisis will not be easy, especially with a divided Congress. But ignoring it will only make it worse, while also elevating the political fortunes of xenophobes and eroding public support for immigration reform.

      Frank Bruni: Trump Is Really Old, Too

      I’m not claiming that Biden, 80, and Trump project the same degree of vigor. I have eyes and ears. Trump talks louder and faster than Biden does and moves with a thudding force. He’s like a freight train to Biden’s cable car, or a big, bulbous tuba to Biden’s tremulous piccolo. Listening to Biden, I want a volume knob I can turn up. Listening to Trump, I crave nonsense-canceling headphones.

      I’m also aware and suspicious of the paucity of Biden’s interactions with journalists, his avoidance of unscripted public appearances and a schedule that can seem strangely light. I’ve heard from influential Democrats who have crossed paths with him and were alarmed by how slowly he was moving and how disoriented he seemed.

      But the situation is more complicated than that, and the conversation about it omits dynamics that it shouldn’t. Trump is a mere three years younger than Biden, and he’s overweight. His diet is garbage. His cardio is golf putts. Biden, on the other hand, is a trim tribute to regular exercise.

      And Trump diverts attention from his age by going to significant lengths to conceal it.

      A thought exercise: Imagine Biden with more hair — or at least some swooping, swirling, painstakingly contrived facsimile of more hair. Color it a shade of orange-gold that’s less a sneaky evasion of gray than a desperate pummeling of it. Now get to work on his face. Cloak his age spots under a fake tan. Spackle his wrinkles with makeup. Then dress him in suits so dark and baggy that they veil time’s toll on the body they’re tenting.

      I happen to think that Democrats would be safer with a nominee who’s younger than Biden is and radiates more energy than he does. But I believe at least as strongly that if the unideal choice before Americans winds up being Biden, with his imperfections, or Trump, with his, rejecting Biden because of how old he has grown isn’t a grown-up decision.

      Isaac Arnsdorf: Trump escalates false attacks on Biden

      Manchurian candidate. Stone-cold thief. Dumb son of a b----.

      Trump's attacks offer a glimpse of potential 2024 battle lines and follow a well-established pattern for Trump of trying to delegitimize his political opponents. During the 2012 election, Trump became the leading promoter of the racist and unfounded conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born outside the United States. In 2016, Trump pledged to prosecute Hillary Clinton and encouraged his supporters’ chants of Lock her up!

      Now, Trump is explicitly trying the same tack against Biden, announcing in April that he would retire the Crooked nickname for Clinton and start using it for Biden. There’s never been anyone in the history of American politics so crooked or dishonest as Joe Biden, he said at the time, during a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H.

      The current onslaught from Trump coincides with a broader effort, as House Republicans have supplied a steady drumbeat of disclosures about Hunter Biden, with hard-liners pushing Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) toward opening an impeachment inquiry against the president, though they have not specified what it would focus on. Some House Republicans acknowledge the current evidence doesn’t implicate the elder Biden.

      Still, polling shows a stark partisan divide in how Americans view the allegations, with the vast majority of Republicans saying they believe the scandal implicates President Biden, while Democrats see things differently.

      The frequently false claims the former president is making intersect with another argument that is central to his candidacy: He has suggested that the crimes he accuses Biden of committing are the reason he is being prosecuted. Trump is fighting four separate criminal indictments: in New York for a 2016 hush money scheme; in Florida for allegedly mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House; in Washington for attempting to overturn the 2020 election; and in Georgia for allegedly interfering in that state’s results. The New York and Georgia cases are run by local prosecutors. The federal cases are brought by special counsel Jack Smith, acting independently of the White House.

      Frank Bruni: Old Is Workable. Depravity Is a Dead End.

      Biden’s age. Trump’s trials. One man’s attempt to manage the rigors of a presidential campaign without being or seeming depleted by them. Another man’s challenge to manage any kind of presidential campaign at all with the sword of imprisonment dangling over his head. I can’t shake the feeling that the 2024 presidential election hinges on those anomalies, with all the usual dynamics minimized or rendered irrelevant by the uncharted terrain that both Biden and Trump are traversing.

      And even if it does turn out to be the choice before us, we’ll hear plenty about matters other than Biden’s health and Trump’s indictments — about inflation, Hunter Biden, migrants, Hunter Biden, NATO, Hunter Biden, abortion, Hunter Biden. In terms of values and policy as well as demeanor, Biden and Trump have governed and will govern as differently as two leaders can.

      But questions about Biden’s physical and cognitive fitness aren’t going away. In private and in whispers, many Democrats express doubts about his robustness and crispness. They entertain the possibility of — and in some cases, wish for — a turn of events by which someone else becomes the party’s nominee. They contemplate how much is at risk.

      As well they should. If Trump beats Biden next year, there won’t be another free and fair election, A.B. Stoddard wrote in The Bulwark recently, an assessment that I find as correct as it is blunt.

      Trump’s chances of prevailing are bound up in what happens with his indictments and how they mature in the public mind. Until now, they seem to have helped him with the Republican primary electorate by feeding his martyr act, by supporting his portrayal of himself as a proxy for Americans who don’t meekly obey elite liberals’ orders.

      But that could change. I suspect it will. Even a part played as well as Trump’s poor, persecuted me suffers from overexposure, and even an electorate as polarized as ours includes some voters who make their decisions along practical lines. The uncertainty of Trump’s legal fate and the mess and melodrama of every second of his existence will matter to them.

      If they’re wise, it will matter more — much, much more — than Biden’s diminished brio. Picking between Biden and Trump wouldn’t be about surrendering to the lesser of two evils. It would be about distinguishing imperfection from evil, about recognizing that one route preserves democracy while the other opens the door to autocracy, about realizing that there would be remedies for Biden’s limitations but no reprieve from Trump’s excesses.

      Old is workable. Depravity is a dead end.

      Joe Klein: Hidin' Biden

      We need to transition to something, a new Democratic vision of America — or to someone who can plausibly promise a creative way out of this molasses stasis. But Democrats are paralyzed. They’re terrified that a real conversation, a real political contest, will result in chaos — that Biden will collapse under pressure and there won’t be anyone credible to replace him…

      But it’s the wrong concern. Democrats really should be terrified by the opposite: that nothing will change between now and [the] election, except Joe Biden will get older

      And there are all the things the President won’t talk about: Immigration, education (especially charter schools, supported by the vast majority of Democrats), fentanyl, Trump, Hunter. He is running as a void: he isn’t Trump. That may be enough to win, but I’m sensing—or maybe it’s just me feeling this—a growing frustration among Democrats. A growing desire for…energy. Biden is a ghost of what the country needs right now.

      It’s said the Biden people are worried by Gavin Newsom’s clever appropriation of the political space, his gleeful taunting of Ron DeSantis, whom he’ll debate in November. They should be. The contrast between Biden’s dirge and Newsom’s verve is damning (though I’m closer to Biden’s politics than Newsom’s). And there is a fascinating generation of Democratic governors on the horizon—Newsom, Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, Colorado’s Jared Polis, Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro…and around the next corner, Maryland’s charismatic Wes Moore.

      Those who say only Biden can beat Trump don’t know politics. Any of the governors listed above can beat Trump. And Nikki Haley, the freshest voice in presidential politics right now, can beat Trump, too—watch the numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire. Trump’s polls right now are a protest vote. They are Republicans telling Democrats, leash your lawyers. Enough already. The threshold question hasn’t yet been considered by Republicans in the early states: Do we really want more of this guy? The answer may be yes. We’ll start to know more in December. The numbers may not change, but I won’t be surprised if they do. And if Trump collapses, Haley or Pence or even DeSantis can beat Biden.

      David Lauter: Biden vs. Trump — the sequel. You may not like it, but it grows more likely by the day

      It’s hard to ignore just how many Americans would prefer not to face another election between President Biden and former President Trump.

      But ignoring the unhappiness is exactly what the nation’s two major parties seem determined to do: A rematch appears increasingly inevitable.

      If you watch cable news or read politics-oriented sites, you might not think the concrete is close to set. We’re in the silly season of the campaign, when voting remains a long way off and political journalists and pundits have time to spin out improbable scenarios and pretend to take them seriously.

      But don’t be fooled.

      Barring some sudden, dramatic event, the die is pretty much cast.

      But ignoring the unhappiness is exactly what the nation’s two major parties seem determined to do: A rematch appears increasingly inevitable.

      Aaron Blake: Biden’s age may be a growing problem for his reelection

      For the second time in a week, a poll shows that three-quarters of Americans, including two-thirds of Democrats, consider President Biden too old for the office.

      In the new Wall Street Journal poll, 73 percent of Americans said the phrase too old to run for president captures Biden at least somewhat well, with even Democrats agreeing overwhelmingly. The results echo an Associated Press-NORC poll from last week, which found that 77 percent of Americans overall and 69 percent of Democrats said Biden was too old to effectively serve another four-year term.

      It’s evident that this is a growing problem for Biden. But how much might it actually matter in a deeply polarized country in which the likely alternative has been criminally indicted four times?

      The New York Times in April published an analysis downplaying the significance and pointing to the impact of polarization — as well as to Trump’s many problems not related to age or mental sharpness. Polling expert Nate Silver, by contrast, argued over the weekend that Democrats ought to be more concerned than they currently are.

      Silver’s analysis strikes me as reasonable. It’s not that the three-quarters of people who say Biden is too old won’t actually vote for him; many will. Democrats as a whole have increasingly rallied around Biden, and the alternative of Trump looms large.

      What’s more, there is evidence that too old isn’t close to a dealbreaker for many of the would-be Biden supporters who have that reservation about him. In a July Suffolk University poll, 37 percent of Democratic-leaning voters said Biden’s age made them less likely to support him, as compared to the two-thirds who now say he’s too old.

      That 37 percent saying they were less likely to back Biden over his age was similar to the 34 percent of Republican-leaning voters who said the same of Trump’s initial indictment in New York. And much of the conventional wisdom pretends as if Trump’s indictments are something of a political non-factor.

      But Silver’s analysis closes with an important point. It’s not so much that this is currently a major liability; it’s that it’s going to loom on the campaign trail. This election is probably going to be close, and Trump might be only one Biden-has-a-McConnell-moment away from winning, Silver wrote, referring Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) two on-camera freeze-ups.

      The problem is that the margins are just so fine, and this issue presents the vast majority of voters with a historically unusual liability, however compelling they might ultimately find it, to balance against Trump’s liabilities.

      There is a large universe of people who not only think Biden is too old but, relatedly, that his mental acuity is actually an impediment to his service as president. When those saying these things include 7 in 10 independents and two-thirds of your own base — the people most likely to view you in the most positive light and give you the benefit of the doubt — it’s something that must be reckoned with.

      There is logically a point at which that impediment could rise as a priority, depending in part on how Biden deals with it and in part on the perceived magnitude of Trump’s own problems. For now, the issue is trending in the wrong direction for Biden.

      Jonathan Chait: Attacking Trump As ‘Unelectable’ Is Just So Pathetic

      The appeal of the electability argument, despite the absence of any solid evidence for it, is that it allows Trump skeptics to avoid making any moral case against Trump. It is probably a correct calculation that a party dominated by Trump admirers will not support a candidate who believes Trump has done anything worse than occasionally write a ‘mean tweet.'

      But the single-minded focus on electability is not merely a communications strategy. It is also a way of establishing moral boundaries within the party. And the message sent by focusing on Trump’s electability is that the only problem with his behavior is that it reduces the party’s chances of obtaining power. If Trump does win the nomination, which now appears extremely likely, the electability argument leaves no room for abandoning him; to the contrary, it creates a permission structure for Trump skeptics to once again support him as the lesser evil.

      ‘Electability,’ even if it was factually persuasive, is a morally empty, de minimis critique of a nakedly authoritarian figure. The Republican calculation through every step of the Trump era has been to avoid the short-term cost of a party split and shrink its differences with his base to the smallest possible level. They couldn’t bear to break irrevocably with him after he won the 2016 nomination, or at any time during his crime spree of a presidency, or even after the insurrection. And now he has obtained total mastery of the party.