Trump melts down on Truth Social after judge refuses to delay his testimony: “No way, no how”
Igor Derysh – December 6, 2023
The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s New York fraud trial on Tuesday shot down his attorney’s request to postpone his scheduled testimony.
Trump attorney Chris Kise made a “lengthy request” to postpone Trump’s testimony, which is scheduled for Monday, until an appeals court reviews the gag orders Judge Arthur Engoron imposed on the former president and his legal team barring their attacks on his law clerk and court staff.
“You tried,” Engoron added. “And I gave it a deep thought, as well.”
Kise also told Engoron that Eric Trump, who was scheduled to testify on Wednesday, would no longer be part of the defense case, according to CNN. The defense is expected to finish its case after Trump’s testimony concludes next week.
Trump on Truth Social said he was behind Eric’s abrupt cancellation.
“I told my wonderful son, Eric, not to testify tomorrow at the RIGGED TRIAL brought about by A.G. Letitia James’ campaign promise that, without knowing anything about me, ‘I WILL GET TRUMP!’” Trump wrote Tuesday night. “She ran for A.G., then Governor of New York, and lost! Eric has already testified, PERFECTLY (Unlike their STAR witness-who admitted he lied!), so there is no reason to waste any more of this Crooked Court’s time on having him say the same thing, over and over again, as a witness for the defense (us!). His young life has already been unfairly disturbed and disrupted enough on this corrupt Witch Hunt. Besides, I will be testifying on Monday in this shameful, NO JURY ALLOWED ‘TRIAL.’”
Trump claimed to reporters on Tuesday that the gag order is in place because “they’re afraid to have me speak” even though the gag order only prevents him from targeting court staff, not the judge or the attorney general’s team nor from defending himself against the state’s claims.
“If Trump’s truly unconcerned about testifying while the NY gag orders in place, why did his lawyers ask Judge Engoron to postpone his testimony until his appeal of that gag order is resolved?” questioned MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin.
Engoron, who already issued a summary judgment holding Trump liable for persistent fraud, imposed gag orders on Trump and his lawyers after they targeted his law clerk Allison Greenfield, who has been bombarded with hundreds of threatening and disparaging calls and messages, according to the court.
Trump falsely accused Greenfield of being romantically involved with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and his attorneys have accused her of bias and influencing the judge’s rulings in the case.
The gag orders were briefly paused on appeal, leading to a flurry of new attacks from Trump before an appeals court reinstated the gag order last Thursday.
Engoron warned Trump’s team that he plans to enforce the order “rigorously and vigorously.”
Listen closely to Liz Cheney about Republicans and the 2024 election | Opinion
Gene Nichol – December 5, 2023
Last Monday, candidate filing for the 2024 election began. On the same day, Black and Latino voters sued the state for race discrimination in the construction of the new congressional districts. Republicans said they didn’t do it. That’s what they always say. Every time.
But here is something that hasn’t always been said. Liz Cheney, the hard-right former member of Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, said: “…the Republican Party of today has made a choice and they haven’t chosen the Constitution.” She went on to say that if they control the House in January 2025, it will present “an existential threat” to the American democracy. It “can’t happen.” Defeating them, and Donald Trump, according to Cheney, is “the cause of our time.”
Here’s how her deadly accurate claim goes.
An election denier now leads the House of Representatives. Mike Johnson, whom Cheney describes as a former friend, is “dangerous” — he was “a collaborator in the overthrow of the election.” She has “seen him take steps he knows to be wrong, steps not supported by the law, by the facts, by the Constitution to do Trump’s bidding.”
“He can’t be the speaker in 2025”, she adds. We cannot have “an election which is thrown into the House of Representatives which is governed by the Republican Party.”
Johnson and his cohort have already shown themselves to be opponents of democracy; they’ve “made their choice,” as Cheney said. It is now “easy to see” the democracy-denying steps they’ll take. We’re “numb to the truth.” We are “slow walking to dictatorship.”
Cheney adds that these Republican House members “have an extra role to play in the normalization of Trump’s attack on democracy.” They bolster and amplify it, they aren’t, as they assume, just silent aiders and abettors. You can’t “defend the Constitution and support Donald Trump, they break their oaths.” “I don’t know how they look at themselves in the mirror,” she concludes. They “vote for the destruction of democracy in the United States.”
Surely Republicans understand this. Every step in the chain is literally and irrefutably true. But maybe it’s like historian Heather Cox Richardson says, “we get so invested in our own beliefs that we don’t care what is true.” And that provides fertile ground for the breeding of totalitarianism.
I know this can, somehow, seem distant to North Carolina. Washington stuff. But the bulk of our Republican House of Representatives delegation has voted to support sedition before. And the entire N.C. Republican delegation voted to elect “a collaborator in the overthrow of (the) 2020 election” as speaker of the House. All have now formally enrolled in the shameful sedition caucus. It is surely absurd and naïve and numb to assume any will stand on democratic principle when given the opportunity to hand the American experiment over to its first dictator.
I know a lot of us, even folks who vote for them, don’t think of an array of our Republican congressmen as serious people. We’ve elected them because they were outrageous, or owned a gun shop, or because they hate transgender people, or because they say they’re holy, or, apparently, because they are buffoonish. But now we face grim and sober business. Weighty work. In our highest calling.
North Carolina cannot afford to send a single Republican member to the U.S. Congress in 2024. Our very form of government, and the blood and tears shed in the long history of its sacred name, hang in the balance. As Ulysses Grant, and, I suppose, Liz Cheney, would put it: ““There are but two parties now: traitors and patriots.”
Contributing columnist Gene Nichol is a professor of law at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
14th Amendment challenge to Trump’s eligibility heads to Colorado Supreme Court
Melissa Quinn – December 6, 2023
Washington — A closely watched legal fight that aims to keep former President Donald Trump off the ballot in Colorado under a rarely invoked provision of the 14th Amendment is set to come under review by the state’s supreme court on Wednesday.
The challenge to Trump’s candidacy in Colorado is just one in a nationwide fight underway in courts across more than a dozen states. Those arguing against Trump say he is disqualified from holding federal office again under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment because of his conduct surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The provision says those who engaged in insurrection against the Constitution after swearing an oath to support it cannot hold federal or state office. While enacted after the Civil War and designed to exclude former Confederate civil and military officials from future office, the so-called disqualification clause has now been invoked to target Trump’s candidacy.
The question of Trump’s eligibility is widely expected to land before the U.S. Supreme Court, but it will face a major test when the seven members of Colorado’s Supreme Court consider a bid from voters to keep Trump off the state’s presidential primary ballot. Secretary of State Jena Griswold has until Jan. 5 to certify the candidates for Colorado’s March 5 primary, and Trump is leading the field of candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination.
The Colorado Supreme Court is holding oral arguments in the case at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday, or 1 p.m. local time. The proceedings will be streamed live on CBS News in the player above.
The Colorado lawsuit
The four Republican and two unaffiliated voters in Colorado filed their lawsuit against Griswold and Trump in September, arguing the former president is disqualified from public office under Section 3. The voters asked a state trial court in Denver to block Griswold from taking any action that would allow Trump access to the ballot.
Following a five-day hearing, Judge Sarah Wallace concluded that the Jan. 6 assault was an insurrection against the Constitution, and found that Trump engaged in insurrection — the first time a court has made such a finding about the former president’s conduct regarding Jan. 6. But the judge found that Trump was not disqualified under Section 3 because the clause does not apply to those who took only the presidential oath and does not prevent those who engaged in insurrection from becoming president.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Wallace’s ruling rested on her finding that the president is not an “officer of the United States,” as cited in Section 3. She said the president’s oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution” differs from an oath to “support” the Constitution, as specified in the provision. As a result, she ordered Griswold to place Trump on the state’s GOP presidential primary ballot.
The group of voters challenging Trump’s candidacy and the former president both appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court. The voters argued that Section 3 covers the president and presidential oath. Trump pushed back on the findings involving the events of Jan. 6, among other matters.
In a filing with the state high court, lawyers for the voters said that excluding the president from the provision in the 14th Amendment “would make no sense.”
“There would be no reason to prohibit insurrectionists from serving as mere presidential electors, and from holding every other office in the land, while allowing them to hold the most powerful and hence most dangerous office,” they argued. “Nor would there be any reason to allow insurrectionist former presidents to hold office again, while excluding former low-level state officers.”
The former president challenged several aspects of Wallace’s decision. His legal team claimed that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider the case because Section 3 is not self-executing and could only be enforced through an act of Congress. Trump’s lawyers also argued that his speech on Jan. 6 was protected under the First Amendment and asserted that states cannot create and enforce an additional qualification for a candidate to be elected president.
“The framers excluded the office of President from Section Three purposefully,” his lawyers told the state supreme court. “Section Three does not apply, because the presidency is not an office ‘under the United States,’ the president is not an ‘officer of the United States,’ and President Trump did not take an oath ‘to support the Constitution of the United States.'”
The case, Trump’s legal team said, is about whether Republicans and unaffiliated voters in Colorado can be denied their right to vote for the former president. They warned that candidate access to the ballot affects the constitutional rights of not only those running, but also that of voters to cast their ballots effectively.
Griswold, who was sued in her capacity as Colorado’s chief election official, has not taken a position on whether Trump should be listed on the ballot. But in a filing with Colorado’s high court, lawyers for the state said the secretary’s “overriding concern” is that Colorado courts and election officials remain empowered to ensure the integrity of the ballot.
If Trump’s argument that state courts don’t have jurisdiction to hear the constitutional claim under state election law is accepted, it would hinder the ability of the state and courts to exclude candidates from the ballot who are disqualified from holding office, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser wrote.
The former president’s assertion “would render ballots nothing more than vehicles for political party expression with the State unable to exclude even candidates who do not meet the age, residency, or nationality requirements for office,” Weiser argued. “This radical interpretation would undermine Colorado’s interests in ballot integrity and ensuring that all Colorado voters can cast ballots for eligible candidates.”
Supporting Trump in the case is a group of 19 GOP-led states, who said in a friend-of-the-court brief that the question of the former president’s eligibility under the 14th Amendment demands a “single, national answer.”
“Electoral chaos would ensue if a presidential candidate, whose eligibility is governed by a single set of constitutional requirements, is eligible to appear on some States’ ballots but not others,” officials for the states said in their filing.
They argued that questions about the so-called insurrection clause are left to Congress, and said the case raises a political question that cannot be decided by the courts.
At least two courts, a state court in Michigan and federal district court in New Hampshire, have already dismissedcases seeking to exclude Trump from their states’ presidential primary ballots because they raised political questions that courts were barred from adjudicating. A group of Michigan voters has appealed the decision from the court of appeals and asked the state supreme court to step in.
In Minnesota, the state supreme court dismissed a lawsuit that sought to bar Trump from the primary ballot under Section 3. But the court said in its ruling that voters challenging his candidacy could return after the state’s primary election on March 5 and pursue a case over the general election.
‘Test case’ for America: Colorado’s top court poised to weigh Trump’s eligibility to run again
Erica Orden, Kyle Cheney and Zach Montellaro – December 6, 2023
The most potent effort to disqualify Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot lands Wednesday in the lap of Colorado’s highest court — and a ruling there could send the case hurtling toward the U.S. Supreme Court just as the election year arrives.
The Colorado case is one of dozens around the country that have challenged Trump’s eligibility to return to the presidency. The cases argue that he is disqualified under section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which states that anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after taking an oath of office to support the Constitution is forbidden from holding any public office.
So far, no court has declared Trump ineligible, and few of the cases have advanced beyond initial stages. In Minnesota, the state supreme court dismissed a challenge seeking to bar Trump from that state’s Republican primary ballot, but said the challengers could bring a new case concerning the general election after the primary. In Michigan, a state judge dismissed a challenge there, and an appeals court is expected to issue a ruling after Dec. 8.
The Colorado case, however, is on the fastest track, and the challengers there may have one of their most favorable venues: All seven justices of the Colorado Supreme Court are Democratic appointees.
During Wednesday’s argument, those justices will face two weighty questions: whether Trump provoked and participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and, if so, whether that act requires his removal from the ballot.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, said the lower court ruling was “pretty surprising.”
“I think it is important that a court of law has decided that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection,” she told POLITICO. “The court’s decision to say the presidency is excluded from section 3 of the 14th Amendment is the really surprising part. Under that decision, Donald Trump is above the law when it comes to insurrection.”
Now, the Colorado justices have a chance to lend the imprimatur of a state supreme court to the debate. And if they rule against Trump, they will trigger a rush to the U.S. Supreme Court, which would be called upon to resolve Trump’s eligibility nationwide.
“I think once that happens, the court will seriously consider getting involved,” said Richard Hasen, an expert in election law who teaches at UCLA Law School.
Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), who appointed five of the seven current justices in his former role as the state’s governor, described the issue as a “test case” for the nation to determine the meaning of 14th Amendment provision. He said in an interview that he worries his state becoming the epicenter of the issue isn’t “in Colorado’s best interest.”
“That being said, we need to figure out what that law means,” he added.
Trump contends that the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 doesn’t amount to an insurrection at all. He argues that the Colorado challengers seeking to remove him from the ballot — several voters backed by advocacy groups — relied too heavily on the work of the House Jan. 6 select committee and on witness testimony that he argues was subjective.
He also argues that his conduct on Jan. 6 was largely protected by the First Amendment and that he can’t be blamed for the violence that followed his remarks to the crowd.
But Wallace rejected those assertions. “The Court finds that Petitioners have established that Trump engaged in an insurrection on January 6, 2021 through incitement, and that the First Amendment does not protect Trump’s speech,” she ruled.
The case may turn on historical understandings about the roots of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause, which passed in the aftermath of the Civil War and was intended to prevent former leaders of the Confederacy from returning to power. The clause has rarely been applied in the modern era, and it has never been applied to a presidential candidate — nor has any former president been accused of aiding an insurrection against his own government.
The Jan. 6 select committee spent a year interviewing hundreds of witnesses in Trump’s orbit, amassing a trove of evidence that has formed the backbone of multiple civil and criminal investigations of Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election. Though the committee’s conclusions were the subjective judgment of its nine members — seven Democrats and two Republicans — the hundreds of witness transcripts and exhibits laid bare an extraordinary effort by Trump to use his office to pressure federal and state officials to prevent Joe Biden from taking office.
That effort culminated with Trump’s incendiary speech to a crowd of supporters on Jan. 6 near the White House, where Trump urged them to “fight like hell” to “stop the steal” and told them to march on the Capitol. Violence was already underway during his speech, and thousands of his supporters began the 1.5-mile march before hearing him implore them to go “peacefully.”
Wallace’s trial featured testimony from the Jan. 6 committee’s chief investigator, Tim Heaphy, who described the panel’s evidence-gathering process. Other witnesses included D.C. Police Officer Daniel Hodges, who was famously assaulted by Jan. 6 rioters while he was wedged in a Capitol doorway; former Trump Pentagon aide Kash Patel; retiring Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.); and several experts in constitutional history and right-wing extremism.
Wallace’s ruling perplexed many legal advocates by concluding that Trump engaged in an insurrection but nevertheless holding that he could remain on the ballot.
Advocacy groups successfully deployed the 14th Amendment to have a local official in New Mexico removed from office last year over his actions related to Jan. 6. A state judge ordered that Couy Griffin, a “Cowboys for Trump” co-founder and then an Otero County commissioner, be removed. That lawsuit was backed by advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which is also backing the Colorado case.
Griffin was previously convicted in a federal court for a misdemeanor for entering the grounds of the Capitol on Jan. 6. The state Supreme Court twice turned away his appeal of the 14th amendment ruling.
Activists have pushed election officials across the country to remove Trump from state ballots, but they have largely balked, saying courts — not election officials — should be the ones to make that call. Now, officials across the country are watching the Colorado case for signals on how to proceed in their own states.
Recently, Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade, a Democrat, said she would not remove Trump from the state’s primary ballot last week. Her office — relying on legal advice from the state Department of Justice — noted that state law treats presidential primary elections and the general election differently, and that her decision here does not apply to the November election.
“We recognize that the same question may come up with respect to the general election if Donald Trump is nominated,” Benjamin Gutman, the state’s solicitor general, wrote in a letter to Griffin-Valade. But, he concluded, “we think it would be prudent to defer consideration of the general-election question at present.”
WASHINGTON — Former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., warned Monday that if Donald Trump is elected president next year for a second term, he will try to remain in power beyond those four years.
“There’s no question,” Cheney said about that possibility in an interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show with host Savannah Guthrie in advance of the release Tuesday of her book, “Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning.”
Asked if she believes Trump would try to stay in power forever, Cheney said, “Absolutely. He’s already done it once,” referring to his efforts after the 2020 presidential election to overturn Joe Biden’s victory and to stop its certification on Jan. 6, 2021.
The U.S. could become a dictatorship if Trump is re-elected, Cheney warned. “I think it’s a very, very real threat and concern. And I don’t say any of that lightly and frankly, it’s painful for me as someone who has spent her whole life in Republican politics, who grew up as a Republican to watch what’s happening to my party and to watch the extent to which Donald Trump himself has basically determined that the only thing that matters is him, his power and his success.”
Cheney said it’s “naive” for Americans to think the country would survive another Trump presidency. She argued that Americans cannot count on a House led by Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to stop Trump or a Senate whose members include Republicans Josh Hawley, of Missouri, or Mike Lee, of Utah.
Asked what would happen if Trump tried to overturn the election again with Johnson as House speaker, Cheney said it’s “too dangerous to even contemplate going down that path” because, she said, they all had a “practice run” in 2020 and 2021.
Cheney suggested it would be safer for the country for Democrats to take control of the House, saying emphatically that Johnson and the Republicans currently serving there cannot be in the majority in 2025, especially if it has to determine the outcome of the presidential election.
“I think what we have seen is that you cannot count on this group of elected Republicans to uphold their oath,” she said.
Cheney repeated that she would “never vote for Donald Trump” and that she would “do whatever it takes to make sure that Donald Trump is defeated in 2024.” Asked if that means she would vote for Biden, she repeated, “I will do whatever it takes.”
“A vote for Donald Trump may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in,” she warned. “A vote for Donald Trump is a vote against the Constitution.”
Could a second Donald Trump presidency slide into dictatorship? A sudden spate of dystopian warnings has got America talking about the possibility less than a year before the US elections.
Dark scenarios about what could happen if the twice-impeached Republican former president wins in 2024 have appeared in the space of a few days in major US media outlets that include The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Atlantic.
Grim predictions also came from top Republican Trump critic Liz Cheney, who said that the country is “sleepwalking into dictatorship” and that she is weighing a third-party presidential run of her own to try to stop him.
Together, they paint a bleak picture of an angrier yet more disciplined Trump than during his first spell in the White House, one who would wreak vengeance on his perceived enemies and possibly try to stay in power beyond the two-term US limit.
Trump, 77, responded to the warnings in typical style by laughing them off — with an edge.
“He says, you’re not going to be a dictator, are you? I said no, no, no — other than day one,” Trump said when asked in a televised Fox News townhall on Tuesday if he would abuse power or seek retribution.
“We’re closing the border and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling (for oil). After that I’m not a dictator.”
– ‘Day one’ –
President Joe Biden, who is behind Trump in the polls ahead of a likely replay of their bitter 2020 contest, said the warnings backed his own claims to be defending democracy.
“If Trump wasn’t running, I’m not sure I’d be running. But we cannot let him win,” the 81-year-old Democrat told a campaign event in Massachusetts.
Biden cited Trump’s own increasingly violent language on the campaign trail, saying his rival’s description of his opponents as “vermin” echoed the language used in Nazi Germany.
The most eye-opening piece appeared in The Washington Post by conservative commentator Robert Kagan, with the headline: “A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending.”
Comparing him to the power-grabbing Roman emperor Julius Caesar, the lengthy article says neither the US Constitution nor the Supreme Court could prevent Trump being “president for life” if he wanted.
Kagan wrote that if Trump survives the trials he faces over trying to upend the 2020 election and cling to power illegally, and wins the next election, he will in effect feel he is above the law and can get away with anything.
The New York Times analyzed the ways that a “second term could unleash a darker President Trump” than in his chaotic first presidency from 2017-2021.
Trump has “spoken admiringly of autocrats for decades” and would likely follow their example by packing the civil service with loyalists and using the Justice Department to crack down on opponents, it said.
In scenes reminiscent of a dystopian movie, it said Trump would also set up migrant detention camps and use the military against protesters under the US Insurrection Act.
The Atlantic magazine meanwhile is dedicating its entire January-February 2024 issue to what a Trump presidency would look like, with an editor’s note titled simply: “A Warning.”
– ‘Dangerous moment’ –
Some of the most dire forebodings have come from Cheney, the former Republican lawmaker and daughter of ex-vice president Dick Cheney, whose opposition to Trump made her a pariah in the party.
“It’s a very dangerous moment,” she told NBC on Sunday.
There was “no question” Trump would try to stay in office beyond 2028, she said, adding that the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol by supporters trying to overturn Biden’s election win was merely a “practice run.”
For his critics, Trump’s autocratic side has long been in plain sight.
Trump already faces trial for conspiring to upend the 2020 election result, with prosecutors saying on Tuesday that evidence shows he was determined to “remain in power at any cost.”
His language has turned more extreme in recent months, during which he described migrants as “poisoning the blood of our country” and suggested his former military chief should face death for treason.
But in the looking-glass world of Trump and his allies, he is always the victim.
“Joe Biden is the real dictator,” Trump said in a picture posted on his conservative Truth Social network.
The Atlantic’s new issue sounds alarm over second Trump term
Lauren Sforza – December 4, 2023
The Atlantic’s newest issue is sounding the alarm over a potential second term by former President Trump, warning that another four years under the former president would be worse than the first.
For The Atlantic’s January/February issue, the magazine published a 24-article project titled “If Trump Wins” to outline what a second Trump presidency would look like. The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, wrote an editor’s note titled, “A Warning,” to introduce the series, which largely argues against another Trump term.
He wrote that for a short-lived period he believed Trump would never be a candidate for the White House again. He said this period lasted only from Jan. 6, 2021, to Jan. 28, 2021 — the date when former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) visited the former president at his Mar-a-Lago residence.
“And so here we are. It is not a sure thing that Trump will win the Republican nomination again, but as I write this, he’s the prohibitive front-runner. Which is why we felt it necessary to share with our readers our collective understanding of what could take place in a second Trump term,” Goldberg wrote.
“Our team of brilliant writers makes a convincingly dispositive case that both Trump and Trumpism pose an existential threat to America and to the ideas that animate it. The country survived the first Trump term, though not without sustaining serious damage. A second term, if there is one, will be much worse,” Goldberg continued.
Goldberg emphasized that The Atlantic is not a partisan magazine, noting that its issues with the former president do not stem from him being a Republican.
“We believe that a democracy needs, among other things, a strong liberal party and a strong conservative party in order to flourish. Our concern is that the Republican Party has mortgaged itself to an antidemocratic demagogue, one who is completely devoid of decency,” he wrote.
David Frum, a staff writer for The Atlantic, used his piece to argue that Trump would lurch the country into a “constitutional crisis” if elected again. Frum was a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Frum wrote that his article argues that “Trump’s attempt to destroy the legal system will lead — not to dictatorship — but to chaos, to the paralysis of the presidency, the US government, an open door to US enemies.”
The New York Times also published an article Monday pushing back on a second Trump term that argued his win could lead to a “more radical” term than the first.
“As he runs for president again facing four criminal prosecutions, Mr. Trump may seem more angry, desperate and dangerous to American-style democracy than in his first term. But the throughline that emerges is far more long-running: He has glorified political violence and spoken admiringly of autocrats for decades,” according to the article.
Trump’s campaign dismissed The Atlantic’s articles in a statement to The Hill.
“This is nothing more than another version of the media’s failed and false Russia collusion hoax,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement. “The Atlantic will be out of business soon because nobody will read that trash.”
A second Trump term ‘poses a threat to the existence of America as we know it,’ says The Atlantic’s top editor
Oliver Darcy, CNN – December 5, 2023
Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, refuses to go gently into that good night.
“We can’t participate in the normalization of Donald Trump,” an impassioned Goldberg told me by phone on Monday. “I refuse to participate in the normalization of Donald Trump.”
Goldberg is one of the few major newsroom leaders who has been exceptionally clear-eyed about the perilous storm on the horizon for American democracy. Using plain language, Goldberg and his team of writers at the renowned magazine have not shied away from portraying Trump as a vandal of civilized society and an outright menace to the U.S. Constitution.
On Monday, The Atlantic published a special edition of its monthly magazine focusing on what a second Trump term would look like. The aptly-titled “If Trump Wins” issue features two dozen articles laying out how the twice-impeached, four-time indicted candidate would shred norms, weaponize government, warp the rule of law, and degrade democracy.
“I want people to be able to hand this issue to people… who are still unsure about the nature of Trump’s authoritarianism,” Goldberg explained to me.
While the leaders of major American newsrooms might privately believe Trump will aim to rule as an authoritarian, it is rare to hear any of them say so aloud — especially in such frank terms. But Goldberg is more than comfortable doing so. He points out that his position is not a partisan one. It’s “not about Republicans and Democrats,” he stressed, but “about authoritarians versus pro-democracy Americans.” And, in his view, not being open with readers about dangerous forces on the march would amount to a dereliction of duty.
“I would prefer journalists to speak plainly about what they’re seeing,” Goldberg said. “And I believe that a second Trump term poses a threat to the existence of America as we know it.”
It is not difficult for newsrooms to state that they are pro-democracy. Most leaders in the Fourth Estate have no problem saying as much. The conundrum they face is that, in this dark time in which we find ourselves, staking out a vocal pro-democracy stance effectively means being anti-Trump. And most news organizations are not comfortable in that territory, given it could be perceived as partisan and turn away audiences.
“This is one of the discomforting aspects of this whole dilemma that people in the news media face,” Goldberg noted. “Our eyes and ears tell us that Donald Trump fomented an insurrection against the Constitution. Right? We saw it. We heard it. It happened. That means that he placed himself outside the norms of American democratic behavior. That is why I am comfortable devoting an entire issue of answering the question of what a second Trump term would look like and reaching the conclusion that it would be terrible. Absolutely terrible.”
When I asked Goldberg about whether being outspoken about the prospect of a second Trump presidency could alienate otherwise persuadable audiences, he argued that self-censorship is not the solution. As he put it, “At a certain point, you can’t convince people of reality.”
“All we can do is try to present fairly and completely our fact-checked views of Trump and Trumpism and hope that people read it and understand that we are trying to be truthful with our readers and truthful with ourselves and transparent,” Goldberg said. “And if some voters in America can’t handle that, then they can’t handle that. There’s not much I can do about it.”
“And this is the dilemma facing all journalism institutions,” Goldberg continued. “We’d like to be able to speak to 100% of Americans. But at a certain point you don’t want to twist or muffle or downplay certain realities simply because reporting those realities offends a segment of your audience.”
Goldberg personally knows that being candid and reporting aggressively on Trump can come with severe consequences. After Goldberg reported in September 2020 that Trump had disparaged American servicemembers who had died in war as “suckers” and “losers” (something former White House chief of staff John Kelly later confirmed on the record to Jake Tapper), he had to move out of his house over security concerns for a period.
But, he warned, a second Trump presidency could be even worse for the press. And, for that reason, members of the news media will need to contemplate their editorial decisions now, given Trump’s already-declared hopes to muzzle critics if he were to regain power.
“We all understand that Trump thinks of us as enemies of the state, and we understand that there are consequences for us that come with this belief,” Goldberg said. “There’s a chance that he would try to somehow criminalize reporting in a second term, and so we have to sound the alarm about that, along with the more generalized threats to American democracy. And we have to sound the alarm now
A New Trump Administration Will ‘Come After’ the Media, Says Kash Patel
Donald Trump, who has already promised to use the Justice Department to “go after” his political adversaries, is expected to install Mr. Patel in a senior role if he returns to power.
By Jonathan Swan, Maggie Haberman and Charlie Savage December 5, 2023
A confidant of Donald J. Trump who is likely to serve in a senior national security role in any new Trump administration threatened on Tuesday to target journalists for prosecution if the former president regains the White House.
The confidant, Kash Patel, who served as Mr. Trump’s counterterrorism adviser on the National Security Council and also as chief of staff to the acting secretary of defense, made the remarks on a podcast hosted by Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former strategist, during a discussion about a potential second Trump presidency beginning in 2025.
“We will go out and find the conspirators, not just in government but in the media,” Mr. Patel said. “Yes, we’re going to come after the people in the media who lied about American citizens, who helped Joe Biden rig presidential elections — we’re going to come after you. Whether it’s criminally or civilly, we’ll figure that out.” He added: “We’re actually going to use the Constitution to prosecute them for crimes they said we have always been guilty of but never have.”
Earlier in the interview, when asked by Mr. Bannon whether a new administration would “deliver the goods” to “get rolling on prosecutions” early in a second term, Mr. Patel noted that the Trump team had a “bench” of “all-America patriots,” but he said he did not want to name any names “so the radical left-wing media can terrorize them.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Patel, Erica Knight, pointed out that in the same conversation with Mr. Bannon, Mr. Patel said they would “follow the facts and the law.” She also sent The New York Times a statement from Mr. Patel, reading, “When President Trump takes office in 2025, we will prosecute anyone that broke the law and end the weaponized, two tier system of justice.”
But Mr. Trump, who is facing 91 felony charges in four separate cases, has already promised to use the Justice Department to “go after” his political adversaries — signaling that a second Trump term would build on the ways it opened investigations into his enemies during his first term and fully abandon the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department independence.
“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,” Mr. Trump said in June.
Mr. Patel was a relatively unknown Capitol Hill staffer in the early days of the Trump administration, in 2017, but he became an aggressive defender of Mr. Trump against the investigation into whether the president’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russians to affect the outcome. Over the next four years, he rose to become one of Mr. Trump’s most trusted aides and among the most powerful national security officials in the federal government.
In late 2020, Mr. Trump trusted Mr. Patel to such a degree that he asked for him to be installed as a deputy director of either the C.I.A. or the F.B.I. Mr. Trump jettisoned this plan only after senior officials, including the former C.I.A. director Gina Haspel and former Attorney General William P. Barr, argued forcefully against the move. Mr. Barr wrote in his memoir that he told Mark Meadows, then the chief of staff, that having Mr. Patel become deputy F.B.I. director would only happen “over my dead body.”
Over the past three years, since leaving government, Mr. Patel has capitalized on his fame as a Trump insider. He has sold “Kash” merchandise on an online store and wrote a children’s book about the Russia investigation in which a “King Donald” is persecuted by a wicked “Hillary Queenton.” The story’s hero is a wizard named “Kash” who exposes a conspiracy to tear down King Donald. Mr. Trump declared that he wanted to “put this amazing book in every school in America.”
Mr. Patel himself has filed defamation suits against The New York Times, CNN and Politico. And since leaving government he has set up a fund-raising entity to “fight the deep state” and finance lawsuits on behalf of the “everyday Americans” who he says have been “defamed” by what he calls “the fake news mafia.”
Mr. Patel’s threats against the news media echo warnings from Mr. Trump himself.
In a Truth Social post in September, the former president wrote: “I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I WIN the Presidency of the United States, they and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events.” He added: “Why should NBC, or any other of the corrupt & dishonest media companies be entitled to use the very valuable Airwaves of the USA, FREE?”
In the same post, Mr. Trump wrote that “Comcast, with its one-side and vicious coverage by NBC NEWS, and in particular MSNBC,” should be “investigated for its ‘Country Threatening Treason.’”
Earlier this year, Mr. Trump recorded a video for his campaign website in which he promised that in a second term he would bring the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates broadcast licenses, “back under presidential authority as the Constitution demands.”
A spokesman for Mr. Trump, Steven Cheung, was asked if the former president disavowed Mr. Patel’s comments. Mr. Cheung did not answer the question directly, instead referring to a recent public statement from Mr. Trump’s top two campaign advisers that read, “Any personnel lists, policy agendas, or government plans published anywhere are merely suggestions. Likewise, all 2024 campaign policy announcements will be made by President Trump or members of his campaign team. Policy recommendations from external allies are just that — recommendations.”
Mr. Patel is among a small number of former senior national security officials from Mr. Trump’s first term who have stayed close to him. He was appointed by Mr. Trump in June 2022 to be one of his representatives to interact with the National Archives, whose officials had spent months the previous year trying to retrieve reams of presidential records that left the White House when Mr. Trump did, including classified material.
Mr. Patel told Breitbart News during an interview in 2022 that he had been on hand when Mr. Trump declassified documents before leaving office.
That interview attracted interest from federal investigators, who in May 2022 had subpoenaed any remaining classified documents that he hadn’t turned over. Three months later, the F.B.I. executed a search warrant to locate additional classified material at Mr. Trump’s Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago.Mr. Trump’s office claimed shortly after the search of the club that he had a standing order in place as president by which materials that left the Oval Office for the White House residence were considered declassified.
Several former senior officials, including former Vice President Mike Pence, said they knew of no such order.
Despite Mr. Trump’s obsession with news coverage and his need to stay in the headlines dating back to the 1980s, he has grown increasingly threatening toward the press throughout his life and particularly since his political campaigns began in 2015.
He has talked about changing libel laws to make it easier to sue over coverage. He repeatedly encouraged crowds at his rallies to antagonize the reporters gathered at the back covering the events. Once in office, he began referring to the press in public as “the enemy of the people,” language often used by despots globally to justify anti-press crackdowns.
He was obsessed with leaks. He wanted aides to interfere with the merger between AT&T and CNN, which covered him rigorously. And he told advisers he wanted officials to obtain phone records of a journalist covering him, a request that apparently was never fulfilled.
But Mr. Trump is suggesting there will be results next time.
“They are a true threat to Democracy and are, in fact, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” Mr. Trump wrote in September on Truth Social. “The Fake News Media should pay a big price for what they have done to our once great Country!”
“Chilling moment”: Liz Cheney says she secretly listened to phone call revealing Trump’s Jan. 6 plot
Gabriella Ferrigine – December 5, 2023
Former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., in her upcoming book “Oath and Honor,” disclosed the moment she learned of former President Donald Trump‘s plot to paint his loss of the 2020 presidential election as fraudulent, calling it “a very dangerous and chilling moment.” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow read an excerpt from the book, detailing a phone call made two days before the deadly Capitol attacks in which the former president’s legal team allegedly discussed the fake elector scheme. Cheney, who noted that Trump’s attorneys were unaware that she was listening in on the call, also observed that former Vice President Mike Pence was acting in cooperation with the plans at that time.
“Listening to them describe how these fake electors were going to be used and the fact that they anticipated that Vice President Pence was gonna use them to refuse to count the legitimate electors was certainly a moment of intense concern,” Cheney wrote, also noting that she fled to the House parliamentarian after the call concluded to try and halt the plan. “It was very clear that there were not a lot of good answers to that,” Cheney added. The former legislator observed that Pence “ultimately of course did his duty bravely,” writing that she soon learned he was also speaking to the Senate parliamentarian. Pence would also eventually testify before a grand jury investigating Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.