December 21, 2023

To subscribe to this FREE weekly newsletter simply email with “subscribe” as the subject.

LITIGATION TRACKER ... Trump Trials Clearinghouse


“I want to give James Comer some credit. Because after 50,000 pages of depositions and secret hearings and closed hearings, I think if we give him enough time, he’s gonna prove that Hunter Biden is Joe Biden’s son.” — Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), on the House floor.

“Trump’s not a conservative. He’s an authoritarian narcissist. So I think they basically called him out for that. He’s a populist, authoritarian narcissist. So historically speaking, all of his tendencies are basically where narcissism takes him, which is whatever makes him popular, makes him feel good at any given moment.” — Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” are propaganda words for racism, sexism and other -isms.  This is just as morally wrong as any other racism and sexism. Changing the target class doesn’t make it right! -- Elon Musk.
“I’m mad he wasn’t tougher than that. Because have you seen what’s happening at the border? We’re being overrun. They’re taking us over. So a little bit disappointed it wasn’t tougher.” — Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) when asked what he thought of Donald Trump’s comments over the weekend on immigrants “poisoning the blood” of the country.

“Even Vladimir Putin says that Biden’s — and this is a quote — politically motivated persecution of his political rival is very good for Russia, because it shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others about democracy.” — Comrade Trump as he railed against the 91 criminal charges he is facing.

“Did anybody ever hear of the great Alphonse Capone, Al Capone, great, great head of the mafia, right? Mean, Scarface. He had a scar that went from here to here, and he didn’t mind at all. But he was a rough guy. Now, I heard he was indicted once – a couple of people told me a few times more – but I was indicted four times.” — Trump.

“This is an invasion. This is like a military invasion. Drugs, criminals, gang members and terrorists are pouring into our country at record levels. We’ve never seen anything like it. They’re taking over our cities.” — Herr Trump in a speech that highlighted his frequent use of dehumanizing language and exaggerated terms to describe many foreigners seeking to enter the country.


When Donald Trump said that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country,” he was actually referring to Democratic policies that are doing the “poisoning. — Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY).

“I would not only not vote for that ticket, I would advocate against it as strongly as I could.” — Tucker Carlson saying that he would fight Donald Trump’s reelection efforts if Trump picked Nikki Haley as his running mate.

“Oliver was great several years ago, but stopped being funny when he sold his soul to wokeness where humor is basically illegal." — Elon Musk responding to John Oliver’s 30 minute take-down.


Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) discussed opening an impeachment inquiry into President Biden:
NEGUSE: “What is the specific constitutional crime that you are investigating?”

RESCHENTHALER: “High crimes, misdemeanors, and bribery.”

NEGUSE: “What high crime and misdemeanor are you investigating?”

RESCHENTHALER: “Look, once I get time, I will explain what we’re looking at.”

“They’re poisoning the blood of the country… They poison mental institutions and prisons all over the world not just in South America… but all over the world they’re coming into our country from Africa, from Asia.” — Herr Trump, at a campaign rally.

“The NDAA just passed, it just passed. This is Mike Johnson, and don’t tell me you’re a Christian. I don’t want to hear you’re a Christian, don’t wear your faith, don’t give me the Bible, I don’t hear more Bible verse. When you’ve allowed the transgender, you’ve allowed all that garbage, all that demonic trash throughout the defense budget. You’re just as bad as the bad guys because you should know better. So I don’t need to hear any more biblical view, okay? — Steve Bannon slamming Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) on his podcast for bringing the defense policy bill to the House floor for a vote.

"J6 hostages. I don’t call them prisoners. They’re hostages." — Trump.

“I’ve never read Mein Kampf.” — Donald Trump, at a campaign speech in Iowa.





Most people think the U.S. crime rate is rising. They're wrong.

Crime in the United States has declined significantly over the last year, according to new FBI data <> that contradicts a widespread national perception that law-breaking and violence are on the rise.

A Gallup poll released this month found that 77% of Americans believe crime rates are worsening, but they are mistaken, the new FBI data and other statistics show

The FBI data, which compares crime rates in the third quarter of 2023 to the same period last year, found that violent crime dropped 8%, while property crime fell 6.3% to what would be its lowest level since 1961, according to criminologist Jeff Asher, who analyzed the FBI numbers.

Murder plummeted in the United States in 2023 at one of the fastest rates of decline ever recorded, Asher found, and every category of major crime except auto theft declined.

Yet 92% of Republicans, 78% of independents and 58% of Democrats believe crime is rising, the Gallup survey shows.

“I think we’ve been conditioned, and we have no way of countering the idea” that crime is rising,” Asher said. “It’s just an overwhelming number of news media stories and viral videos — I have to believe that social media is playing a role.”

Giuliani Sued Again for Defamation

Days after being awarded $148 million in damages against Rudy Giuliani in a defamation suit, two former Georgia election workers have filed a new lawsuit against the former Trump lawyer over remarks he made about them immediately following Friday’s verdict.

The new suit by Ruby Freeman and Wandrea ‘Shaye’ Moss seeks a court order permanently barring Giuliani ‘from persisting in his defamatory campaign’ against the mother and daughter pair, arguing that he’s continued to falsely accuse them of committing election fraud even after a federal jury handed down last week’s verdict in Washington, D.C.

Biden Leads Among Likely Voters

Even though he trails among registered voters, President Biden actually leads Donald Trump in a new New York Times/Siena poll of the 2024 likely electorate, 47% to 45%.

Our polls have consistently shown Mr. Biden doing better among highly regular and engaged voters — especially those who voted in the last midterm election. In those polls, the most heavily Republican voters have been those who voted in 2020, but not 2022. It helps explain why Democrats keep doing so well in low-turnout special elections even though they struggle in polls of registered voters or adults.

But in this particular poll, the split isn’t just between midterm and non-midterm voters. It’s between people who voted in the 2020 general election and those who didn’t. Mr. Biden leads by six points among voters who participated in the 2020 election, while Mr. Trump holds an overwhelming 22-point lead among those who did not vote in 2020.

Israelis Abandon Political Left Over Security Concerns After Oct. 7

In the wellspring of sadness, anger and fear that has gripped Israel since that day, a consensus has emerged that Israel needs to take a harder line with the Palestinians and embrace an even more militarized state. And while public opinion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is faltering, support for the policies upheld by his right-wing government is growing.

If the left has lost mainstream support, Israel’s peace camp has been driven virtually underground. Activist groups say many members have abandoned the cause, and those who remain committed have struggled to find public places willing to accommodate antiwar protests. Israelis Abandon Political Left Over Security Concerns After Oct. 7.

Meadows Ruling May Have Undermined Trump’s Case

Mark Meadows was handed a significant defeat by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday which ruled unanimously that he cannot move his Georgia election interference case to federal court.

The Supreme Court may yet hear this case, but assuming the ruling stands it clearly finds that Meadows was engaging in conduct that fell outside his official duties.

But perhaps more importantly, the ruling also undermines Donald Trump’s claims of immunity.

The mystery of the missing binder: How a collection of raw Russian intelligence disappeared under Trump

A binder containing highly classified information related to Russian election interference went missing at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, raising alarms among intelligence officials that some of the most closely guarded national security secrets from the US and its allies could be exposed.

Its disappearance, which has not been previously reported, was so concerning that intelligence officials briefed Senate Intelligence Committee leaders last year about the missing materials and the government’s efforts to retrieve them.

In the two-plus years since Trump left office, the missing intelligence does not appear to have been found.

The binder contained raw intelligence the US and its NATO allies collected on Russians and Russian agents, including sources and methods that informed the US government’s assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to help Trump win the 2016 election.

The intelligence was so sensitive that lawmakers and congressional aides with top secret security clearances were able to review the material only at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where their work scrutinizing it was itself kept in a locked safe.

The binder was last seen at the White House during Trump’s final days in office. The former president had ordered it brought there so he could declassify a host of documents related to the FBI’s Russia investigation. Under the care of then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, the binder was scoured by Republican aides working to redact the most sensitive information so it could be declassified and released publicly.

The Russian intelligence was just a small part of the collection of documents in the binder, described as being 10 inches thick and containing reams of information about the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. But the raw intelligence on Russia was among its most sensitive classified materials, and top Trump administration officials repeatedly tried to block the former president from releasing the documents.

U.S. Blocks Shipment of Rifles to Israel

The U.S. blocked a major shipment of rifles into Israel yesterday over concerns they could end up transferred to extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

Rep. Comer's blatant hypocrisy reaches new heights

An Associated Press investigation found  that Rep. James Comer (R-KY), who has been leading the charge in the Joe Biden impeachment “scandal,” engaged in some of the same behavior that he has accused the president of.

Comer, a multimillionaire who owns some 1,600 acres of farmland in his home state, appears to have put six of those acres — which he purchased for $128,000 from a key campaign donor in 2015 — into a shell company called Farm Team Companies. 

The use of shell companies is something that Comer has used as evidence to suggest the existence of the so-called “Biden Crime Family.” Such revelations come just a month after the Daily Beast reported that the Kentucky congressman, who has cited President Biden’s $200,000 loan to his brother James as evidence of corruption, engaged in a Russian nesting doll-style land swap with his own brother for almost the exact same amount as Biden — and without any meaningful financial records behind it.

But unlike with the Bidens, Comer’s own history actually borders a conflict of interest between his official government role and his private family business—and it’s been going on for decades.

Israel urging US not to talk publicly about two-state solution

Israeli leaders have been privately urging the Biden administration to refrain from publicly talking about the two-state solution in the fallout of Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught, four Israeli and US officials told The Times of Israel this week.

The message is not just being voiced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose resonance is more limited since Washington is convinced he has been engaged in a “politically motivated campaign” on the matter, a US official said. Other war cabinet members including Benny Gantz, President Isaac Herzog and even Opposition chairman Yair Lapid have also conveyed their discomfort with the Biden administration’s revived rhetoric regarding the need for a two-state solution since the war’s outbreak, according to two Israeli officials.

Billionaires Are Bankrolling Judges’ Luxury Travel

In 2021 and 2022, two conservative, billionaire-funded legal interests sent more than 100 federal judges on 251 trips to conferences and seminars in cushy locations around the country and overseas, according to a review of hundreds of federal financial disclosure forms.

Do-nothing Congress

Congress is about to wrap its least productive legislative year since at least 1973.

Just 22 bills have been signed into law this year, according to GovTrack. (When the annual defense policy bill, which Congress passed this week, is signed by the president, the total number will be 23. That number can also rise slightly with the Senate’s end-of-year business, including potentially a short-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.)

It’s a stark contrast to last year, when 281 bills were signed into law.  Before this year, the record low was when 72 bills became law in 2013 — more than three times the number of bills this year.


"They have to prove that President Biden somehow financially benefited from the business enterprises of Hunter Biden. We'll see. If there were a smoking gun, I think we'd be talking about it.” — Senator Lindsey Graham, admitting that the Republicans had nothing to tie Joe Biden to his son's business dealings.

“How can Lindsey Graham in Washington, D.C., on ‘Meet the Press’ say that he hasn’t seen a smoking gun? I think somebody better run for senator in South Carolina.” — Rep. MT Greene at Turning Point USA’s “AmericaFest” event.

Kate Cox, a mother of two children, asked the court to get an abortion after learning her fetus was diagnosed trisomy 18, a genetic abnormality with a high likelihood of miscarriage or stillbirth and low survival rate. Cox's doctor, Damla Karsan of Houston, along with her attorneys from the Center for Reproductive Rights, asked the court to authorize the abortion after Cox made four trips to the emergency room because of severe cramping and discharge and worried for her health and ability to have more kids.


In response, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton sent letters to three Houston hospitals, where Karsan can see patients, stating that they would face civil and criminal penalties if they went through with Cox's abortion. State laws suggest doctors performing "illegal abortions" could face 99 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.



Jonathan Last: The Colorado Decision: Heads Trump Wins. Tails America Loses.

The politics of this decision are unknowable.

It is plausible that the decision could energize Trump voters and also scare swing voters into supporting him against a system they believe has run amok.

It is also plausible that the Colorado decision might freak swing voters in the other direction: that, by highlighting Trump’s insurrection, they become more convinced that he is an agent of chaos who cannot be trusted again with the power of the presidency.

There’s even a third option: that this decision won’t matter either way. Maybe the SCOTUS overturns it and/or five days from now we’re on to the next upheaval when Trump says he wants to personally oversee the execution of blood traitors or some such.

How many times in the last three years have people insisted that some moment will either doom Trump or assure his victory?

Philip Bump:The racism and ahistoricism of Trump’s ‘poison the blood’ rhetoric

Donald Trump doesn’t hate immigrants. He married two women who immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe. Nor is he particularly insistent about immigrants having children in the United States. His three oldest children were born to Ivana Trump, who at the time had not yet become a citizen. His youngest child was born in March of the year that Melania Trump got her citizenship.

So when Trump talks about how immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of the country, as he did over the weekend, we don’t need to pretend that he is offering a sober observation about shifts in the country’s population. He is, instead, making a demagogic appeal to Americans who — like so many Americans before them — view newcomers with fear or anger.

Despite their almost uniformly being descendants of immigrants themselves.

Seth Masket: On the Colorado Supreme Court’s big ruling

The Colorado’s Supreme Court has determined that, under the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, Trump is ineligible to serve as president again, and thus his name may not appear on the Republican primary ballot in March.

So what’s going to happen? First of all, get used to a lot of back-and-forth on this and other issues about Trump’s ability to run for and serve in office. The Supreme Court may simply overrule the Colorado Supreme Court. Or it could rule that this is a question for Congress. (Good luck with that one.) Or it could rule that states can’t tell parties who can and can’t appear on their ballots. Or it could just duck the question. Or something else.

Here’s a thing I’m confident will not happen: Republican Party leaders publicly proclaiming, “Hey, maybe we should switch our endorsements to Ron DeSantis or Nikki Haley or someone else who is not facing scores of criminal indictments or a constitutional prohibition against holding office just to spare our party and the nation a massive multi-year governing crisis” and the bulk of primary voters and caucusgoers agreeing with that.

Hussein Ibish: Why Trump Won’t Win

Some look at Trump’s long list of flaws and understandably see reasons to worry about him winning. I see reasons to think he almost certainly won’t.

Yes, recent polls appear to favor him. Yes, Joe Biden is an imperfect opponent. And yes, much could change over the next 11 months, potentially in Trump’s favor. But if Biden’s health holds, he is very likely to be reelected next year. It’s hard to imagine any Republican candidate galvanizing Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans to vote for the current president in the way that Trump will.

I’m not arguing that anyone who wants President Biden to win—and, more important, anyone who wants Trump to lose—should relax. To the contrary, Democrats, and any other sensible voters who oppose Trump, need to forcefully remind the American people about how disastrous he was as president and inform them of how much worse a second term would be. Thankfully, that is not a hard case to make.

The 2024 election will be a referendum on democracy, with both candidates claiming to stand for freedom and American values. On this matter, Biden’s claims are obviously stronger: He has been governing as a traditional president, whereas Trump promises authoritarianism and openly says he wants to be dictator for a day to accomplish certain policies, namely restricting immigration. But what if his plans take more than a day? What if his one-day dictatorship extends to a year and then never ends? Americans know that strongmen don’t keep their promises.

Biden is old, but so is Trump. Biden has grown unpopular, but so has Trump. Biden has liabilities, but Trump’s are considerably worse. Biden has lost the backing of plenty of voters, but the results of the past few elections suggest that Trump has lost more. Meanwhile, Trump’s record as president and since—January 6, the devastating testimony from his former senior officials, the ongoing trials, and whatever additional self-inflicted wounds he delivers—will contrast very poorly with Biden’s track record and steady leadership. By November, enough Americans will surely understand that they aren’t voting for Biden over Trump so much as voting for the Constitution over a would-be authoritarian.

The case against Trump’s reelection is obvious and damning. As long as his opponents prosecute that case—and they will—Trump isn’t going to win.


Jonathan Chait: Trump Touts Endorsements From Global Dictators

Donald Trump has flitted erratically from one position to another on a variety of political beliefs, but he has hewed with remarkable consistency to one: Dictators are good. Trump has maintained this belief throughout his long public career, and he asserted it once again in a speech in New Hampshire Saturday.

In the address, Trump cited Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, and North Korean hereditary communist monarch Kim Jong-un as authorities on his own superiority…

Trump is not merely making a Kissingerian argument that these foreign leaders maintained peaceful international relations with him as president. He is citing them specifically as experts on domestic American governance. They know how to run a society, Trump boasts, and they see in Trump a strong leader in the same mold.

Trump has inculcated a new idea in his followers. The tyrants of the world are smart and tough, and the democratically elected leaders are dumb and weak. The best kind of ruler is the strongest, and strength means crushing opposition in all its forms.

Conservatives can pretend Trump has no chance of fulfilling these autocratic dreams. But the dream itself is its own kind of dagger at the republic’s throat.

Maureen Dowd: Supreme Contempt for Women

Religious fanatics on the Supreme Court have yanked America back to back alleys. American women are punished, branded with Scarlet Letters, forced to flee to get procedures.

And we have our own fraught case of a 31-year-old begging for a termination: Kate Cox, a married Texas mother of two who was thrilled to be pregnant until she was told that her fetus had a deadly chromosomal abnormality. Continuing the pregnancy could also keep Cox from getting pregnant again.

“I kept asking more questions, including how much time we might have with her if I continued the pregnancy,” Cox wrote in The Dallas Morning News. “The answer was maybe an hour — or at most, a week. Our baby would be in hospice care from the moment she is born if she were to be born alive.”

Cox, more than 20 weeks pregnant, had to leave Texas to have an abortion because the state’s boorish, mega-MAGA attorney general, Ken Paxton, gleefully threatened to prosecute “hospitals, doctors or anyone else” who helped her, even floating first-degree felony charges. The case has become so politically toxic that even the voluble Ted Cruz, who is running for re-election next year, has clammed up about it. The Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, playing school nurse, warned Republicans on the Hill to talk less about banning abortion and more about the benefits of contraception.

I’m sure even Donald Trump, who was once pro-choice but now panders to evangelicals, has qualms about criminalizing abortion. It’s a political loser and could cost him the election if women are supermobilized. He called Ron DeSantis’s six-week abortion ban in Florida “a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.” Once Trump bragged about appointing the conservative justices on the court who were pivotal in overturning Roe v. Wade. But that won’t be a great sales pitch in the general election.

It is outrageous that such an important right in America was stripped away by a handful of cloistered, robed zealots, driven by religious doctrine, with no accountability.

The more we learn, the more infuriating it is that our lives and choices about our bodies are determined by conniving radicals. The Supreme Court is way, way out of order.

David A. Graham:  Republicans Are Playing House

Despite the flimsiness, the impeachment inquiry seems to be just about the only issue about which Republicans can marshal a majority. McCarthy was unceremoniously tossed by a small but powerful portion of the caucus who were mostly mad that he couldn’t manifest their desires despite Democrats controlling the Senate and White House. Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise, and Tom Emmer couldn’t win enough votes to become speaker. Johnson triumphed, and then promptly agreed to more or less the same fiscal deal that had gotten McCarthy booted, and had to rely on Democratic votes to do so. The whole thing looked like a game—specifically, Calvinball.

Despite his hard-right cred, Mike Johnson is starting to wear out the flealike patience of hard-liners. Many conservative members voted today against a compromise defense bill. On Monday, a conservative revolt forced him to give up a plan to put two competing bills governing the reauthorization of a law that allows surveillance of foreign nationals abroad. That just punts the issue to some time next year. But with McCarthy retiring this month, and George Santos recently expelled, the Republican caucus is only shrinking, and it already doesn’t function as a majority, so cobbling together a position that will attract a GOP majority could be even harder then. Congress has also failed to strike a deal on aid to Ukraine and Israel in exchange for better border security, in part because Republicans won’t say what they want, as my colleague David Frum reported this week.

And that’s the problem with playing House. When Republicans were simply fighting one another and cutting their own leaders off at the knees, it was an embarrassment to the party but also mildly entertaining. But now the chaos has started to affect the rest of the nation. Dithering on how to reform a major intelligence law and holding up aid to American allies poses a risk, in the view of the White House and many members of both parties, to national security. The impeachment probe focuses on the president and could influence the election. None of this is just fun and games.

Nevertheless, Republicans are going through the motions of running the House without actually doing much at all. When Johnson was elected speaker, critics feared that his lack of experience in House leadership would make it hard for him to manage the majority. That was a little unfair—McCarthy, Paul Ryan, and John Boehner, his predecessors as speaker, all had extensive experience and still couldn’t manage the current GOP either. But maybe it also doesn’t matter, as long as all that’s going on is a pantomime of governance.

Bess Levin: Republicans Can’t Believe Fox News Keeps Calling Them Out on Their Impeachment Bulls--t

That Republicans will likely vote to authorize a formal impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden on Wednesday should not come as a surprise to anyone given the GOP’s history of (1) being obsessed with the unproven claim that the president sits at the top of a sprawling family crime ring (2) doing everything Donald Trump tells it to do, and (3) having no shame. What is surprising—and downright hilarious—is that Fox News, which the GOP thought had its back, keeps telling viewers that Republicans have zero basis to impeach the president and are also hypocrites to boot.

The hypocrisy callout came on Tuesday night, when anchor Bret Baier played a 2019 clip of Mike Johnson, then a little-known congressman, declaring that the founding fathers were rolling over in their graves on account of Trump facing impeachment so close to an election year. “The founders of this country warned against a single-party impeachment—for good reason. They feared that it would bitterly, and perhaps irreparably, divide our nation,” Johnson said almost exactly four years ago. “As the next election in 2020 is drawing so close now, and their candidates for president are so terribly weak, they obviously met somewhere at liberal high command about 75 days ago and convinced Nancy Pelosi they had to pull the trigger. I hope and pray that future Congresses can and will exercise greater restraint.”

Fox News stars, father and son Steve Doocy and Peter Doocy, reminded viewers that Republicans have been investigating Biden for more than a year and have still come up with no evidence to impeach him. As in zero, zilch, nada. “The House Oversight Committee has been at this for years,” Boy Doocy said Friday, “and they have so far not been able to provide any concrete evidence that Joe Biden personally profited from his son Hunter’s overseas business.” On Monday, Peter’s father informed the Fox & Friends audience that “at this point…[Republicans] have not connected the dots” between Hunter’s alleged crimes and Joe Biden. “They’ve connected the dots—the Department of Justice did on Hunter. But they have not shown where Joe Biden did anything illegally.

Nate Cohn: Vibes, the Economy and the Election

For two years, the public has said the economy is doing poorly, even though it appears healthy by many traditional measures. This has prompted a fierce debate over whether the public’s views are mostly driven by concrete economic factors like high prices or something noneconomic — like a bad “vibe” brought on by social media memes or Fox News.

To cut right to the heart of the problem underlying this debate: High prices do not seem to fully explain why voters are this upset about the economy.

“Yes, voters are upset about high prices, and prices are indeed high. This easily and even completely explains why voters think this economy is mediocre: In the era of consumer sentiment data, inflation has never risen so high without pushing consumer sentiment below average and usually well below average. This part is not complicated.”

But it’s harder to argue that voters should believe the economy is outright terrible, even after accounting for inflation. Back in early 2022, I estimated that consumer confidence was running at least 10 to 15 percentage points worse than one would expect historically, after accounting for prices and real disposable income.

I could run through the numbers, but just consider this instead: The low point for consumer sentiment in 2022 wasn’t just low; it was a record low for the index dating all the way to 1952.

Fareed Zakaria: In 2024, U.S. domestic politics will cast a dark shadow across the world

2023 has turned out to be a year that has seen a fundamental challenge to world order. The rules-based international system built by the United States and others over the decades is now under threat in three regions.

In Europe, Russia’s war on Ukraine shatters the long-standing norm that borders should not be changed by force. In the Middle East, the war between Israel and Hamas threatens a dangerous radicalization of the region, with Iranian-backed militias fighting U.S.-backed allies from Lebanon to Yemen to Iraq to Syria. And in Asia, China’s rise continues to unsettle the balance of power.

Each of these challenges has its peculiarities, but they have in common the need for a sophisticated mixture of deterrence and diplomacy. The Biden administration has tackled them energetically, setting agendas, rallying allies and talking to adversaries. Success will depend on whether it can execute the policies it has adopted. Alas, that might depend on the United States’ domestic politics more than its grand strategies.

Despite well-designed policies in each of the areas the Biden administration confronts the reality that U.S. domestic politics could derail all progress. If U.S. support for Ukraine wavers, European resolve will also weaken, and Russian leader Vladimir Putin will be confirmed in his prediction that he can outlast the West. Large constituencies in both America and Europe still support Ukraine, but the United States is experiencing growing opposition from a newly isolationist right. And the Republican Party is poised to nominate Donald Trump as its presidential candidate, a man who has made no bones about his dislike of Ukraine and admiration for Putin.

The most worrying challenge to the rules-based international order does not come from China, Russia, or Iran, it comes from the United States. If America retreats, in each of these three areas, aggression and disorder will rise. 2024 might be a year in which the ugly, polarized politics on Capitol Hill ends up shaping the world in which we will live for decades to come.

David Frum: They Do It for Trump

The White House and Senate continue to work frantically toward a deal to supply Ukraine before Congress recesses for Christmas. Supposedly, all leaders of Congress are united in their commitment to Ukraine—so the new speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, insists. Yet somehow this allegedly united commitment is not translating into action. Why not?

The notional answer is that Republicans must have a border-security deal as the price for Ukraine aid. But who on earth sets a price that could stymie something they affirmatively want to do? Republicans have not conditioned their support for Social Security on getting a border deal. They would never say that tax cuts must wait until after the border is secure. Only Ukraine is treated as something to be bartered, as if at a county fair. How did that happen?

Ukraine’s expendability to congressional Republicans originates in the sinister special relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.