Las Vegas hits record of fifth consecutive day of 115 degrees or greater as heat wave scorches US

Associated Press

Las Vegas hits record of fifth consecutive day of 115 degrees or greater as heat wave scorches US

Ken Ritter and TY ONeil – July 10, 2024

People cool off in misters along the Las Vegas Strip, Sunday, July 7, 2024, in Las Vegas. Used to shrugging off the heat, Las Vegas residents are now eyeing the thermometer as the desert city is on track Wednesday to set a record for the most consecutive days over 115 degrees (46.1 C) amid a lingering hot spell that’s expected to continue scorching much of the U.S. into the weekend. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
People shield their eyes from the sun along the Las Vegas Strip, Sunday, July 7, 2024, in Las Vegas. Used to shrugging off the heat, Las Vegas residents are now eyeing the thermometer as the desert city is on track Wednesday to set a record for the most consecutive days over 115 degrees (46.1 C) amid a lingering hot spell that’s expected to continue scorching much of the U.S. into the weekend. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
David Clarke who is suffering homelessness and living in his car with his 6 dogs, takes to the shade at the Sepulveda Basin dog park in Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 9, 2024. Dozens of locations in the West and Pacific Northwest tied or broke previous heat records over the weekend and are expected to keep doing so into the week. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Tourists take photographs with the thermometer at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center during a dangerous heat wave, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Death Valley, Calif. The thermostat is imprecise, registering the temperature anywhere from 1 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than more precise instruments and providing a more impressive reading for pictures. (AP Photo/Ty ONeil)
Matt Fiedler takes a photo of daughter Sally Fiedler, left, and wife Cecilia Fiedler by the thermometer at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Death Valley, Calif. European tourists and adventurers from around the U.S. are still being drawn to Death Valley National Park, even though the desolate region known as one of the Earth’s hottest places is being punished by a dangerous heat wave. (AP Photo/Ty ONeil)
Louis Lacey, director of homeless response teams at Help of Southern Nevada, speaks to a homeless woman to offer water in Las Vegas, on Tuesday, July 9, 2024. Help of Southern Nevada travels the streets with flyers about heat, water and vehicles to transport people to cooling centers. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas baked Wednesday in its record fifth consecutive day of temperatures sizzling at 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46.1 Celsius) or greater amid a lengthening hot spell that is expected to broil much of the U.S. into the weekend.

The temperature climbed to 115 shortly after 1 p.m. at Harry Reid International Airport, breaking the old mark of four consecutive days set in July 2005. And the record could be extended, or even doubled, by the weekend.

Even by desert standards, the prolonged baking that Nevada’s largest city is experiencing is nearly unprecedented, with forecasters calling it “the most extreme heat wave” since the National Weather Service began keeping records in Las Vegas in 1937.

Already the city has broken 16 heat records since June 1, well before the official start of summer, “and we’re not even halfway through July yet,” meteorologist Morgan Stessman said Wednesday. That includes an all-time high of 120 F (48.8 C) set on Sunday, which beat the previous 117 F (47.2 C) record.

Alyse Sobosan said this July has felt the hottest in the 15 years she has lived in Las Vegas. She said she doesn’t step outside during the day if she can help it.

“It’s oppressively hot,” she said. “It’s like you can’t really live your life.”

It’s also dangerously hot, health officials have emphasized. There have been at least nine heat-related deaths this year in Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, according to the county coroner’s office. Officials say the toll is likely higher.

“Even people of average age who are seemingly healthy can suffer heat illness when it’s so hot it’s hard for your body to cool down,” said Alexis Brignola, an epidemiologist at the Southern Nevada Health District.

For homeless residents and others without access to safe environments, officials have set up emergency cooling centers at community centers across southern Nevada.

The Las Vegas area has been under an excessive heat warning on three separate occasions this summer, totaling about 12 days of dangerous heat with little relief even after the sun goes down, Stessman said.

Keith Bailey and Lee Doss met early Wednesday morning at a Las Vegas park to beat the heat and exercise their dogs, Breakie, Ollie and Stanley.

“If I don’t get out by 8:30 in the morning, then it’s not going to happen that day,” Bailey said, wearing a sunhat while the dogs played in the grass.

More than 142 million people around the U.S. were under heat alerts Wednesday, especially in Western states, where dozens of locations tied or broke heat records over the weekend and are expected to keep doing so all week.

Oregon has seen record daily high temperatures, with Portland reaching 103 F (39.4 C) and Salem and Eugene hitting 105 F (40.5 C) on Tuesday. The number of potentially heat-related deaths in Oregon has risen to 10, according to the state medical examiner’s office. The latest two deaths involved a 54-year-old man in Jackson County and a 27-year-old man in Klamath County.

On the other side of the nation, the National Weather Service warned of major-to-extreme heat risk over portions of the East Coast.

An excessive heat warning remained in place Wednesday for the Philadelphia area, northern Delaware and nearly all of New Jersey. Temperatures were around 90 F (32.2 C) for most of the region, and forecasters warned the heat index could soar as high as 108 F (42.2 C). The warning was due to expire at 8 p.m. Wednesday, though forecasters said there may be a need to extend it.

The heat was blamed for a motorcyclist’s death over the weekend in Death Valley National Park. At Death Valley on Tuesday, tourists queued for photos in front of a giant thermometer that was reading 120 F (48.9 C).

Simon Pell and Lisa Gregory from London left their air-conditioned RV to experience a midday blast of heat that would be unthinkable back home.

“I wanted to experience what it would feel like,” Pell said. “It’s an incredible experience.”

At the Grand Canyon, the National Park Service was investigating the third hiker death in recent weeks. Temperatures on parts of some trails can reach 120 F (49 C) in the shade.

An excessive heat warning continued Wednesday in many parts of southern and central Arizona. Forecasters said the high in Phoenix was expected to reach 114 F (45.5 C) after it hit 116 F (46.6 C) Tuesday, tying the previous record for the date set in 1958.

Authorities were investigating the death of a 2-year-old who was left alone in a hot vehicle Tuesday afternoon in Marana, near Tucson, police said. At Lake Havasu, a 4-month-old died from heat-related complications Friday, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department said.

The U.S. heat wave came as the global temperature in June was a record warm for the 13th straight month and marked the 12th straight month that the world was 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial times, the European climate service Copernicus said. Most of this heat, trapped by human-caused climate change, is from long-term warming from greenhouse gases emitted by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, scientists say.

Firefighters in Henderson, Nevada, last week became the first in the region to deploy what city spokesperson Madeleine Skains called “ polar pods, ” devices filled with water and ice to cool a person exhibiting symptoms of heat stroke or a related medical emergency.

Extreme heat in the West has also dried out vegetation that fuels wildfires.

A blaze burning in northern Oregon, about 111 miles (178 kilometers) east of Portland, blew up to 11 square miles (28 square kilometers) by Wednesday afternoon due to hot temperatures, gusty wind and low humidity, according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal. The Larch Creek Fire closed Highway 197 and forced evacuations for remote homes.

In California, firefighters were battling least 19 wildfires Wednesday, including a 45-square-mile (117-square-kilometer) blaze that prompted evacuation orders for about 200 homes in the mountains of Santa Barbara County.

Associated Press journalists Rio Yamat in Las Vegas; Anita Snow in Phoenix; Scott Sonner and Gabe Stern in Reno, Nevada; Christopher Weber and John Antczak in Los Angeles; Martha Bellisle in Seattle and Bruce Shipkowski in Toms River, New Jersey; contributed to this report.

Legal expert: SCOTUS “invented a new rule” that could even give Trump immunity for “unofficial acts”

Salon

Legal expert: SCOTUS “invented a new rule” that could even give Trump immunity for “unofficial acts”

Marina Villeneuve – July 8, 2024

Donald Trump Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images
Donald Trump Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s classified documents case in Florida could hinge on how courts define what constitutes an official presidential act under a landmark Supreme Court ruling outlining presidential immunity, according to a legal expert.

The Supreme Court last week ruled 6-3 that presidents have “absolute immunity from criminal prosecution” for acts that fall within the “exercise of his core constitutional powers he took when in office.” Presidents, according to the ruling, have “at least presumptive” immunity from other official acts, and no immunity for unofficial acts.

Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 40 criminal counts stemming from the discovery of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago after he left office.

His lawyers argue that the Supreme Court’s ruling “guts” special counsel Jack Smith’s own theory of presidential immunity. Trump’s team wants to prevent prosecutors from using evidence that concerns Trump’s “official acts” in any trial.

“The million-dollar question now is how the president’s conduct is categorized,” University of Miami School of Law professor Caroline Mala Corbin told Salon.

“If what he did is considered official conduct, then he has either absolute immunity or at least a presumption of immunity,” she said. “And a presumption that will be very difficult to rebut.”

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon — who is presiding over the documents case — is now set to weigh whether Trump had immunity for any alleged acts.

She paused upcoming court deadlines for prosecutors and Trump’s team, and gave special counsel Jack Smith until July 18 to respond to Trump’s motion claiming presidential immunity. A reply from Trump’s team is due July 21.

The grand jury’s indictment includes 32 counts of unauthorized possession and retention of national defense documents, along with counts that allege Trump conspired to conceal documents from FBI investigators.

On Friday, Trump’s lawyers asked Cannon to decide whether the alleged conduct in the documents case is official or unofficial.

In Trump’s motion, his lawyers Todd Blanche and Christopher Kise pointed out that Chief Justice John Roberts — who authored the majority immunity ruling — said that “questions about whether the President may be held liable for particular actions, consistent with the separation of powers, must be addressed at the outset of a proceeding.”

Trump’s lawyers said the indictment concerns “important Presidential powers” including meeting with foreign relations leaders, overseeing international diplomacy and intelligence gathering and responsibility for Executive Branch actions.

Earlier this year, Trump’s lawyers argued that 32 criminal counts are based on official acts — including Trump deciding to “retain” the documents by having them “removed from the White House” while he was still president.

“The timeframe alleged for each of Counts 1 – 32 begins on January 20, 2021,” reads his lawyer’s motion. “President Trump was the Commander in Chief until noon that day.”

Trump’s lawyers said he had the authority to designate the records as personal under the Presidential Records Act, and that he could declassify records under Article II of the Constitution and Executive Order 13526.

Corbin said whether Trump will have absolute immunity for official acts depends on whether Cannon determines he was acting pursuant to a power he shares with Congress.

She pointed to the ruling, which said: “Not all of the President’s official acts fall within his ‘conclusive and preclusive’ authority. The reasons that justify the President’s absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for acts within the scope of his exclusive constitutional authority do not extend to conduct in areas where his authority is shared with Congress.”

Corbin said the Supreme Court’s ruling lacked detailed parameters of what constitutes an official — and core — presidential act.

“I think they defined official conduct expansively, but not definitively,” she said. “So I think there are a lot of questions that remain.”

Pace Law School professor Bennett Gershman said the documents Trump removed belonged to the National Archive.

Trump’s possession and use of those documents as president did fall within the “outer perimeter” of his official duties, according to Gershman.

“But will a court find that his retention of the documents after he left office reasonably could be considered an official act of his presidency? Or would a court more likely conclude that his retention of these documents after he left office was a purely private and personal action on his part having nothing to do with his presidency or with any official acts of his presidency?” Gershman told Salon.

Gershman said it’s “much more reasonable” for a court to conclude that Trump’s retention of the documents falls into the unofficial bucket.

“The Supreme Court’s emphasis on affording a president extremely broad immunity is to allow the president to do his job energetically and fearlessly without tempering his decision-making over fears of prosecution,” Gershman said. “Trump, when he decided to take the documents, had no concern over how the retention and possession would affect his presidency. “

Gershman added: “The way Trump mishandled the documents — storing them in his bathroom, showing them to guests at his house, losing some of them — suggests he didn’t think these documents were official or that he was possessing in an official capacity.”

Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said the Supreme Court’s ruling won’t “jeopardize the case altogether” — but could limit evidence used by prosecutors.

“The hurrendous [sic] SCOTUS immunity decision’s effect on the Trump MAL case: it may restrict certain evidence, but not jeopardize the case altogether as it is about conduct after Trump was president (unlawful retention of docs and obstruction),” Weissmann wrote on X. “But certain allegations in the indictment may be struck.”

Weissmann pointed to half a dozen paragraphs in the Florida indictment that outlines the alleged conduct, including Trump gathering official documents and other materials in cardboard boxes in the White House.

The indictment also mentions Trump receiving intelligence briefings from high-level government officials and regularly receiving classified intelligence information in the “President’s Daily Brief.”

Trump issued a statement in 2018 stating he has a “unique, Constitutional responsibility to protect the Nation’s classified information, including by controlling access to it.”

And as he prepared to leave the White House in January 2021, the indictment says he and White House staff packed boxes containing “hundreds of classified documents” that were brought to Mar-a-Lago.

Weissmann pointed out that the Supreme Court’s ruling itself opened the door to impact proceedings involving unofficial acts.

“Because the SCOTUS decision says (ie invented a new rule) that even in such an ‘unofficial case’ the government cannot use evidence of ‘official’ conduct to prove the case (and some such arguable conduct is cited in the indictment),” he wrote.

The Supreme Court majority ruling said that allowing evidence of official conduct in cases about unofficial conduct could jeopardize presidential immunity.

“If official conduct for which the President is immune may be scrutinized to help secure his conviction, even on charges that purport to be based only on his unofficial conduct, the ‘intended effect’ of immunity would be defeated,” the ruling says. “The President’s immune conduct would be subject to examination by a jury on the basis of generally applicable criminal laws. Use of evidence about such conduct, even when an indictment alleges only unofficial conduct, would thereby heighten the prospect that the President’s official decisionmaking will be distorted.”

Trump’s lawyers pointed to that finding in their motion, and argued that the indictment does not only include official conduct.

The Supreme Court’s opinion adds: “Allowing prosecutors to ask or suggest that the jury probe official acts for which the President is immune would thus raise a unique risk that the jurors’ deliberations will be prejudiced by their views of the President’s policies and performance while in office.”

Justice Amy Coney Barrett disagreed and concurred in part with Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent, arguing that excluding “any mention” of an official act associated with a bribe ‘would hamstring the prosecution.'”

Barrett said a prosecutor could point to public record to show the president performed the official act and admit evidence of what the president “allegedly demanded, received, accepted, or agreed to receive or accept.”

But Barrett said admitting testimony or private records would invite the jury to “second-guess” the president’s motivations for official acts — which she argues would “‘seriously cripple'” a president’s exercise of official duties.

In her dissent, Sotomayor said federal criminal prosecutions require “‘robust procedural safeguards.'”

“If the Government manages to overcome even that significant hurdle, then the former President can appeal his conviction, and the appellate review of his claims will be ‘particularly meticulous,’” she wrote.

She added: “I am deeply troubled by the idea, inherent in the majority’s opinion, that our Nation loses something valuable when the President is forced to operate within the confines of federal criminal law.”

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, meanwhile, called the “official-versus-unofficial act distinction… both arbitrary and irrational.”

Jackson said “the Court has neglected to lay out a standard that reliably distinguishes between a President’s official and unofficial conduct.”

Jackson said she questioned whether a president could be held accountable for committing crimes while undertaking official duties.

“[C]ourts must now ensure that a former President is not held accountable for any criminal conduct he engages in while he is on duty, unless his conduct consists primarily (and perhaps solely) of unofficial acts,” Jackson said.

Corbin called the Supreme Court’s ruling troubling.

“It’s assumed that everyone is subject to the law in the United States, including the president, and it’s a little worrisome that the President might be absolutely immune from criminal law just because he was executing a power given by the Constitution,” Corbin said. “The court’s justification for absolute immunity seemed pretty flimsy, and granting absolute immunity to a president especially when we know certain presidents will happily abuse their power is very worrisome.”

And she called the level of immunity granted unnecessary to protect a president’s ability to do the job.

“Given that future presidents may not be trustworthy, it’s a real worry,” Corbin said. “I mean, we’ve already seen what certain presidents will do without knowing they had absolute immunity. I can’t imagine what we might see from a president who has absolute immunity.”

In a concurrence, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas raised another issue altogether — concerning the constitutionality of the special counsel.

Trump has raised such legal arguments for months and argued that Special Counsel Smith’s appointment and budget violates the Constitution.

Thomas said he wasn’t sure about whether the Attorney General could appoint a private citizen as special counsel, saying: “A private citizen cannot criminally prosecute anyone, let alone a former President.”

“Whether the Special Counsel’s office was ‘established by Law’ is not a trifling technicality,” Thomas said. “If Congress has not reached a consensus that a particular office should exist, the Executive lacks the power to unilaterally create and then fill that office. Given that the Special Counsel purports to wield the Executive Branch’s power to prosecute, the consequences are weighty.”

Trump’s lawyers cited Thomas’ dissent in their motion asking Cannon to resolve constitutional questions about presidential immunity and the special counsel’s authority.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have argued that long-held court precedents have upheld the authorities of special counsels.

Smith has pointed out that when Trump’s former Attorney General William Barr served under former President George H.W. Bush, Barr appointed former circuit and district judges.

And legal experts including D.C.-based national security attorney Bradley Moss say that for decades, criminal defendants indicted by special counsel have unsuccessfully challenged their lawfulness.

The Supreme Court’s ruling could also potentially forestall sentencing for Trump’s criminal charges in New York.

In May, jurors in Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial found Trump guilty of 34 charges of falsifying business records.

Manhattan prosecutors alleged that Trump disguised $130,000 in hush money as a legal expense as part of a scheme to keep information about alleged extramarital sex from voters and unlawfully influence the 2016 presidential election.

But in the wake of the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling, Judge Juan Merchan postponed Trump’s sentencing for at least two months — if, the judge said, “such is still necessary.”

Trump’s lawyers argue that because Trump’s crimes occurred before he assumed the presidency, some of the evidence used should have been redacted.

Prosecutors alleged Trump made or caused the falsification of business records, including invoices and checks to longtime fixer Michael Cohen — some of which have Trump’s signature on them.

Prosecutors also alleged that 2017 Trump Organization general ledger entries falsely described 2017 payments to Cohen as a “legal expense.”

Trump also faces charges for trying to overturn the 2020 election.

A D.C. federal grand jury indicted Trump on four charges in August 2023 accusing the former president of conspiring to thwart his 2020 electoral defeat and the peaceful transfer of power to President Joe Biden.

Last December, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected Trump’s motion to dismiss the charges on grounds of absolute presidential immunity, which he argues completely shields him from prosecution for any actions taken while in office.

In late February, the Supreme Court decided to take up Trump’s immunity appeal.

The justices sent the case back to Chutkan to figure out which acts are official and unofficial.

The Supreme Court’s ruling said deciding whether Trump’s alleged fake electors scheme “requires a close analysis of the indictment’s extensive and interrelated allegations.”

The ruling stressed that the federal government’s role in appointing electors is “limited” and that the president lacks “authority to control the state officials who do.” The opinion also says the framers excluded electors “suspected of too great devotion to the president in office.”

Still, the opinion said: “Unlike Trump’s alleged interactions with the Justice Department, this alleged conduct cannot be neatly categorized as falling within a particular Presidential function.”

The lower court will also weigh Trumps’ tweets urging his supporters to travel to D.C. on Jan. 6, as well as his speech to the crowd gathered at the Capitol.

The court’s opinion said the president has “extraordinary power” to speak with citizens.

But, the opinion added: “There may, however, be contexts in which the President, notwithstanding the prominence of his position, speaks in an unofficial capacity—perhaps as a candidate for office or party leader.”

Schumer pushing bill to strip Trump of court-granted immunity

The Hill

Schumer pushing bill to strip Trump of court-granted immunity

Alexander Bolton – July 8, 2024

Schumer pushing bill to strip Trump of court-granted immunity

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Monday that he and other Senate Democrats will work to advance legislation to strip former President Trump of the immunity he was granted under a recent Supreme Court ruling protecting a president’s official acts from criminal prosecution.

Schumer, invoking Congress’s powers to regulate the courts, said Democrats are working on legislation to classify Trump’s efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election as “unofficial acts” so they do not merit immunity from criminal prosecution under the high court’s recent 6-3 decision.

“They incorrectly declared that former President Trump enjoys broad immunity from criminal prosecution for actions he took while in office. They incorrectly declared that all future presidents are entitled to a breathtaking level of immunity so long as their conduct is ostensibly carried out in their official capacity as president,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

Schumer said the court’s conservative justices had “effectively placed a crown on Donald Trump’s head,” putting him above the law and making him “in many ways untouchable.”

“I will work with my colleagues on legislation classifying Trump’s election subversion acts as unofficial acts not subject to immunity,” he announced. “We’re doing this because we believe that in America no president should be free to overturn an election against the will of the people, no matter what the conservative justices may believe.”

Schumer said senators will keep on working on other proposals to “rein in the abuse of our federal judiciary.”

Some Democrats, including Sens. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), have expressed support for adding language to the Supreme Court’s annual funding bill that would require it to adopt an enforceable code of ethics.

Government watchdog groups, Democratic lawmakers and media pundits have criticized conservative justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito for accepting tens of thousands of dollars in free travel and other gifts from wealthy benefactors.

The Supreme Court granted Trump substantial immunity when it ruled on July 1 that Trump and future presidents could not be prosecuted for crimes related to official acts but left it to lower courts to determine whether Trump’s actions to overturn the results of the 2020 election fell under the category of official acts.

Some legal analysts, however, think the ruling may protect Trump entirely from being prosecuted for the attempts to overturn the election results, which resulted in a mob storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, because it would bar prosecutors from presenting actions related to official conduct to a jury as evidence.

Sen. Chuck Schumer eyes new bill hitting back at the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling on Trump

NBC News

Sen. Chuck Schumer eyes new bill hitting back at the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling on Trump

Sahil Kapur and Frank Thorp V – July 9, 2024

WASHINGTON — Accusing conservative Supreme Court justices of placing “a crown on Donald Trump’s head” that allows him to commit crimes with impunity, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that he’s eying a legislative response to last week’s court ruling.

“We Democrats will not let the Supreme Court’s decision stand unaddressed. The Constitution makes plain that Congress has the authority to check the judiciary through appropriate legislation. I will work with my colleagues on legislation classifying Trump’s election subversion acts as unofficial acts not subject to immunity,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor.

Schumer spoke as the Senate returned from recess, a week after the Supreme Court handed Trump a big win in a 6-3 ruling along ideological lines that said presidents have legal immunity from prosecution for “official acts” carried out on the job but not unofficial acts. The terms are subject to interpretation, and Schumer is seeking to define Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results as being outside the scope of his presidential duties.

“We’re doing this because we believe that in America no president should be free to overturn an election against the will of the people, no matter what the conservative justices may believe,” Schumer said. “As we work on this important matter, we’ll also keep working on other proposals to reassert Congress’s Article I authority to rein in the abuse of our federal judiciary. The American people are tired, just tired, of justices who think they are beyond accountability.”The specifics of the bill aren’t yet determined, and there would undoubtedly be hurdles to advancing the legislation in the Senate, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority in a chamber that requires 60 votes for passage.

Apart from Congress, the White House told NBC News after the Supreme Court’s ruling that it is exploring its own options for how to respond.

“We are reviewing the decision and certainly will be exploring what could be done to address it to better safeguard democracy and the rule of law in the future, given this dangerous precedent,” White House spokesperson Ian Sams said.

Biden aimed to prove US and global doubters wrong with NATO speech

Politico

Biden aimed to prove US and global doubters wrong with NATO speech

Alexander Ward and Myah Ward – July 9, 2024

With the eyes of the world on him, President Joe Biden delivered a forceful speech to open the NATO summit in Washington, aiming to reverse doubts about his fitness for the job domestically while boasting that his leadership revitalized the storied alliance and saved Ukraine.

The address, which kicked off three days of high-profile meetings in the steamy U.S. capital, served as both a political and geopolitical test for Biden. With every speech, he must prove that age is just a number and that his shambolic debate performance against former President Donald Trump was a one-off bad night. And with every appearance at the NATO Summit this week, Biden must demonstrate he can still rally allies to Ukraine’s cause for the long haul.

“Ukraine can and will stop Putin,” he said at the ornate Mellon Auditorium in Washington. “Russia will not prevail. Ukraine will prevail.”

The president didn’t fumble over words as he often does during remarks. He was clear and forceful, appearing energized by the transatlanticism that he has embraced throughout his political career.

The speech was more than atmospherics. Biden used the occasion to announce the delivery of new air defenses for Ukraine, one of Kyiv’s top requests for this summit. The U.S. and four NATO allies — the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Romania — will this year send four Patriot air-defense systems and related components as well as one SAMP/T system. In the coming months, Washington and its partners will also deliver dozens more tactical air-defense systems to bolster Ukraine’s security and expect to make similar announcements later in the year.

A critical part of the new assistance package will see some countries who have ordered air defense missiles from U.S. companies bumped down the list, as supplying those interceptors to Ukraine will take priority.

“Make no mistake: Russia is failing in this war,” Biden declared before noting that 350,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded, with another 1 million people fleeing the country. “When this senseless war began, Ukraine was a free country. Today, it’s still a free country, and the war will end with Ukraine remaining a free and independent country.”

In a joint statement released shortly after Biden’s remarks, the president and the leaders of the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Romania and Ukraine said: “Our message to Moscow and the world is clear: Our support for Ukraine is strong and unwavering.”

The move ends months of a U.S.-led search for air-defense systems to send to Ukraine and negotiations over how to procure them. Some nations didn’t want to part with the sophisticated defensive weapons, at least not before figuring out how to replace them. Last week, a senior Biden administration official told POLITICO “we’re shaking the hell out of the trees, and we’re going to get the highest number that we can.”

A boost in air-defenses was high on Ukraine’s list, as Russia’s superior arsenal allowed it to bombard cities and key military targets. On Monday, Russia overwhelmed Ukraine’s defenses in Kyiv, launching a deadly strike on a children’s hospital — one of Europe’s largest — leading surviving patients to receive cancer treatments on the street.

Andriy Yermak, head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, told POLITICO reporters before the announcement that he was pleased his country would get more support, but he lamented that the delivery was unnecessarily “delayed” and should’ve been completed much sooner. “Now it’s necessary to close our cities,” he said, claiming these and future air-defense system transfers will better protect against Russian missiles and deter future barrages.

Biden will continue to be under a microscope this week as he manages a busy schedule, including a jam-packed Wednesday and a rare news conference on Thursday, when he will face questions about his age and mental acuity.

Biden will use the days ahead to reassure NATO allies — and skittish Democrats at home — that he’s up to the job of taking down Trump, as heads of state from Europe and North America prepare for the possibility of his predecessor’s return. The president has said the summit is a good venue for judging his abilities and has pointed to his leadership in rallying NATO support for Ukraine as evidence that he’s equipped to serve four more years.

With the potential of Trump’s return to power looming, the president has repeatedly highlighted his commitment to NATO, while warning voters that his predecessor would abandon the alliance if he returns to the White House.

Unlike in 2016, NATO allies are actively preparing to manage the return of a NATO-skeptic Trump administration. NATO officials are ramping up weapons production, consulting with Trump’s advisers and holding meetings to prepare for the former president’s return, and with that, an America-first, restraint-focused approach and a deep skepticism toward Europe.

Paul McLeary contributed to this report.

The Most Interesting Justice on the Supreme Court Is Also the Loneliest

By Stephen I. Vladeck – July 8, 2024

Justice Amy Coney Barrett walking at the bottom of steps, next to the figure of a person partly out of frame.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

When this Supreme Court term began last October, one of the more intriguing predictions from commentators was that Justice Amy Coney Barrett — entering her third full term on the court — would come out of her shell and emerge as the court’s new swing justice, casting the decisive vote in the most divisive cases.

The commentators got half of that right: There’s little doubt, in looking at the oral arguments the court has conducted and the decisions it has handed down over the past nine months, that Justice Barrett has found her voice — and has easily become the most interesting justice. Her questions at argument are penetrating; the analysis in her written opinions spares no one in its detail.

The second part of that prediction didn’t come true, though. Justice Barrett did side with some or all of the three Democratic appointees in several of the term’s most important cases — but her fellow conservatives seldom joined her. Indeed, while Justice Barrett was establishing her principled independence in the middle of the court, the other five Republican appointees moved only further to the right.

When the majority in the Colorado ballot disqualification case went further than necessary, and the Democratic appointees called them out for doing so, there was Justice Barrett — writing separately to chastise all of her colleagues for failing to send a unified message to the country. When Justice Clarence Thomas took too wooden an approach to assessing historical practice and tradition in a trademark case, there was Justice Barrett — pushing back in an important concurrence that was joined by Justice Elena Kagan and in part by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

When the Fifth Circuit allowed anti-vaccine activists and red states to bring an unprecedented lawsuit against the Biden administration built on the dubious claim that the government had coerced social-media networks into removing vaccine-related disinformation and misinformation, there was Justice Barrett — writing the majority opinion holding that the plaintiffs hadn’t come close to establishing that they had been harmed by the alleged government action and that the Fifth Circuit clearly erred in concluding to the contrary. And when the court sidestepped a highly charged dispute over emergency abortions in Idaho, it was Justice Barrett who wrote for the court’s “middle” in explaining why.

Even on Monday, when Justice Barrett otherwise joined the five other Republican appointees in holding that presidents enjoy at least some immunity from criminal prosecution, she went out of her way to push back against the majority’s most controversial holding — that protected conduct can’t even be used as evidence in criminal prosecutions against former chief executives.

Her partial concurrence offered a not-so-subtle road map to Judge Tanya Chutkan, presiding over the Jan. 6 prosecution, for how she might apply the majority’s new framework. Just as in her dissenting opinion in the Fischer v. United States case — in which the other Republican appointees, joined by Justice Jackson, voted to narrow a criminal obstruction statute used to prosecute Jan. 6 rioters — Justice Barrett was cleareyed about the threat to democracy Jan. 6 posed and the importance of holding to account those who were responsible for it.

This pattern has repeated in the more opaque context of emergency applications. In March, when the court briefly allowed Texas’ new state-level deportation regime to go into effect, it was a not-so-subtle nudge from Justice Barrett, in a concurring opinion, that prompted the Fifth Circuit to quickly put it back on hold (where it remains).

And in January, it was Justice Barrett who provided the fifth vote (joined by the three Democratic appointees and Chief Justice John Roberts) to allow the Biden administration to remove razor wire that Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas had placed along the U.S.-Mexico border — defusing what had been a brewing conflict between state and federal authorities in and around the town of Eagle Pass.

The justice reflected in all of these cases is someone who comes across in her writings as principled, nuanced and fair-minded — regardless of the bottom line that her votes end up supporting. Many of us may not agree with the principles reflected in her writings (like her majority opinion in a case holding that U.S. citizens don’t have a liberty interest in the immigration status of their noncitizen spouses). What cannot be doubted is that they are principles, and that, to an extent greater than many of her colleagues, Justice Barrett does her best to hew to them.

The problem that the court’s rulings at the end of the term drove home is that, as willing as Justice Barrett is to follow her principles even when they lead her away from Republican political preferences, the same can’t always be said of the other two justices in the court’s middle — Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The chief justice wrote the majority opinion in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, in which the court overruled its 40-year-old decision in Chevron — and the principle of deference to administrative agencies for which it stood. The chief justice wrote the majority opinion in Fischer, which narrowed the criminal obstruction statute so prevalent in Jan. 6 cases in blatant defiance of the principles of textualism to which the conservative justices are supposedly committed. And the chief justice wrote the court’s sweeping majority opinion in the Trump immunity case.

And it is the split between the five other Republican appointees and Justice Barrett in that last case that is most revealing. Whereas the majority mostly left application of its new and not exactly clear approach to presidential immunity to be hashed out by the lower courts, Justice Barrett “would have answered it now.” Whereas the majority went out of its way to punt on whether the charges against Mr. Trump can go forward, Justice Barrett was emphatic that, for at least some of the charges, she saw “no plausible argument for barring prosecution of that alleged conduct.”

And whereas the majority went out of its way to hold that immunized presidential conduct couldn’t even be used as evidence to try charges for which even the majority agrees there is no immunity, Justice Barrett criticized the majority and endorsed Justice Sotomayor’s dissent, noting that “the Constitution does not require blinding juries to the circumstances surrounding conduct for which presidents can be held liable.”

As with her dissent in the Jan. 6 obstruction ruling, Justice Barrett seems willing to accept that the court lives in the real world — and that the rules it hands down should be designed to actually work on the ground and to persuade those reading them that the court understands the limits on its proper role in our constitutional system.

In the end, this contrast is perhaps one of the defining — and most chilling — takeaways from the Supreme Court’s term: Justice Barrett came out of her shell. And the other Republican appointees retreated into theirs.

Stephen I. Vladeck is a professor of law at Georgetown, writes the One First weekly Supreme Court newsletter and is the author of “The Shadow Docket: How the Supreme Court Uses Stealth Rulings to Amass Power and Undermine the Republic.”

Biden pushes defiant message in letter to Dems, MSNBC appearance

MaddowBlog – From The Rachel Maddow Show

Biden pushes defiant message in letter to Dems, MSNBC appearance

The president appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and wrote a letter to congressional Democrats, adopting a defiant posture. Whether it’ll work is unclear.

By Steve Benen – July 8, 2024

In the seven days following his awful debate performance, President Joe Biden adopted a low-key approach. He held no press conferences. He sat down for no major on-air interviews. He was slow to call his congressional allies. The incumbent Democrat appeared to be operating under a dubious assumption: The uproar would fade, the public conversation would shift, and the race would return to “normal.”

If that was Biden’s assumption, it was a mistake: The number of Democratic lawmakers, officials and donors urging the president to withdraw from the race grew considerably as the incumbent waited for the story to blow over.

And so, he’s clearly adopted a new posture. NBC News reported:

President Joe Biden began a crucial week for his candidacy by seeking to stamp out growing criticism by fellow Democrats who want him to step aside in the race. Phoning into MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday, the president said the voters have chosen him and dared his Democratic critics who want him out to challenge him at the party’s August convention.

“I’m getting so frustrated by the elites in the party. … They know so much more,” Biden said, mockingly. “If any of these guys don’t think I should run, run against me. Go ahead. Announce for president — challenge me at the convention!”

The incumbent added that he believes “average” Democratic voters want him to stay in the race — a conclusion he arrived at after some events in recent days with supporters.

On the one hand, it was a clear message delivered in a high-energy way. On the other hand, it seemed far from ideal to see Biden chastising members of his own party, while complaining about Democratic “elites” — a label the experienced president was apparently applying to his longtime friends and governing partners.

What’s more, it’s worth noting for context that recent polling suggests it’s not just folks attending cocktail parties in Georgetown who believe Biden should stand down.

The call-in appearance on MSNBC dovetailed with a two-page letter sent to congressional Democrats in which Biden argued, among other things, that he won the party’s nominating contests.

“We had a Democratic nomination process and the voters have spoken clearly and decisively,” Biden wrote, referring to his primary and caucus victories. “The voters — and the voters alone — decide the nominee of the Democratic Party,” he added.

“The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now,” the president’s letter went on to say. “And it’s time for it to end. … Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task head only helps Trump and hurts us.”

Biden’s strategy, in other words, is rooted in defiance. He’s not addressing the concerns of his intraparty critics, so much as he’s telling them that the conversation they’ve created is irrelevant: If the president isn’t going to end his candidacy, the argument goes, Democrats waiting for him to pass the torch shouldn’t waste everyone’s time with a pointless effort.

This might work, but in my experience, members of Congress don’t like to effectively be told, “Shut up and stop talking about what you want to talk about.”

As for the argument that Biden earned the nomination by way of his party’s nominating process, that’s true. Aside from American Samoa, the president cruised to lopsided victories in every Democratic primary and caucus.

But I’m reminded of the 1980 election.

In case anyone needs a refresher, in 1980, then-Sen. Ted Kennedy challenged then-President Jimmy Carter in a Democratic primary. As the process was just getting under way, the Iran hostage crisis broke, and Carter’s public support initially surged. The incumbent cruised to easy victories in nearly all of the early primaries and caucuses, mostly by wide margins.

But as the nominating fight continued, and developments in Iran dragged on, public support for Carter’s handling of the crisis deteriorated. By the time the June primaries came along, Kennedy was in a vastly stronger position, and as the nominating process wrapped up, he closed out the calendar with several key wins, including a big victory in California.

As the convention drew closer, Kennedy went to party officials with a compelling message rooted in fact: Democratic voters who backed Carter in January’s and February’s contests couldn’t have known what conditions would be like in June and July. It’s not that those contests didn’t count, so much as it was incumbent on the party to recognize the facts that weren’t available to primary and caucus voters months earlier.

If Democrats had it to do over again, Kennedy argued, knowing what the crisis in Iran would do to the president’s national support, the results would have been much different.

And while Kennedy was probably correct, his pitch didn’t work. Party officials stuck to the rules: Carter had earned a clear majority of the delegates, and so he would be the Democratic nominee.

The incumbent soon after lost in a landslide, winning only 49 electoral votes.

Biden’s absolutely right that he received the necessary number of delegates to win the nomination. But if the Democratic electorate had it to do over again, would they make a different choice?

Steve Benen is a producer for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He’s also the bestselling author of “The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics.”

US heat wave turns deadly as high temperatures continue to scorch the West

CNN

US heat wave turns deadly as high temperatures continue to scorch the West

Robert Shackelford, Sydney Bishop, Rachel Ramirez, Angela Dewan, Raja Razek and Jamiel Lynch – July 8, 2024

(CNN) — More than 50 million people across the US are under heat alerts amid a brutal heat wave that has shattered records and caused multiple deaths across the West.

As of Monday, much of the West and South are experiencing moderate to major heat risk, the National Weather Service said.

California and Nevada are expected to see more daily record high temperatures in the week ahead. By Thursday, the heat in the Pacific Northwest will shift to the Intermountain West and northern High Plains, the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center cautions.

In Oregon, four people died of suspected heat-related illnesses over the weekend, according to a Monday news release from Multnomah County. Three of the four were residents of Multnomah County, while the other individual was transported from outside the county and later died at a Portland hospital.

These deaths happened after the county declared a state of emergency Friday due to “dangerously hot temperatures,” but the news release noted “further tests and investigation will determine whether the deaths are officially hot-weather-related. In some cases, the deaths may be found to have had other causes.”

Dozens of locations in the West and Pacific Northwest tied or broke previous heat records in recent days, and more than 165 daily high temperature records could be tied or broken this week.

A motorcyclist died Saturday in California’s Death Valley from heat exposure, the Death Valley National Park said in a news release. The high temperature that day was 128 degrees Fahrenheit, according to preliminary data.

Six motorcyclists were near Badwater Basin when they became sick due to the heat, the release said. In addition to the cyclist who died, one was transported to a hospital in Las Vegas and the other four were treated on scene.

Rescue efforts were hampered due to the extreme heat at the park, as emergency medical flight helicopters cannot fly safely when it is over 120 degrees, the release noted.

“Heat illness and injury are cumulative and can build over the course of a day or days,” the release said. “Besides not being able to cool down while riding due to high ambient air temperatures, experiencing Death Valley by motorcycle when it is this hot is further challenged by the necessary heavy safety gear worn to reduce injuries during an accident.”

Heat is the deadliest weather threat in the United States, killing more than twice as many people each year on average than hurricanes and tornadoes combined.

Record-high heat during a holiday weekend

Death Valley was among a slew of places where daily temperature records were broken this Fourth of July weekend.

On Saturday, Death Valley reached 128 degrees, breaking the daily record of 127 set on July 6, 2007. An excessive heat warning is in effect until late Wednesday evening for the area where temperatures are expected to be between 122 to 129 degrees.

Areas across the West are bracing for multiple days of triple-digit temperatures this week. - Etienne Laurent/AFP/Getty Images
Areas across the West are bracing for multiple days of triple-digit temperatures this week. – Etienne Laurent/AFP/Getty Images

On the more-humid East Coast, temperatures above 100 degrees were also widespread, The Associated Press reported.

Many areas in Northern California surpassed 110 degrees Sunday, while Phoenix, Arizona, set a new daily record for the warmest low temperature: it never got below 92 degrees.

Las Vegas also made history, reaching a record high of 120 degrees on Sunday.

Indiana resident Mark Kavacinski told CNN affiliate KVVU his family almost canceled their vacation to Las Vegas because of the intense heat.

“We knew it was going to be hot. It’s July, right? Did we know it was going to be this hot? No,” Kavacinski said. “But we decided that heat’s heat. We can handle it.”

Las Vegas hit an all-time high temperature record on Sunday, with 120 degrees. - John Locher/AP
Las Vegas hit an all-time high temperature record on Sunday, with 120 degrees. – John Locher/AP

Las Vegas temperatures have exceeded 110 degrees each day since Wednesday and are forecast to do so every day until at least next Sunday, which would mark a stretch of prolonged extreme heat longer than any ever experienced in the city, with 11 days or more above 110 degrees.

Sunday’s heat was enough to melt crayons, the weather service office in Las Vegas demonstrated on X.

And parts of western Nevada and northeastern California won’t see temperatures below 100 degrees until next weekend, the National Weather Service office in Reno said.

Further north, Oregon’s weekend scorcher broke many records. On Sunday, Salem hit 103 degrees, just over the city’s 100-degree record from 1945, according to the National Weather Service office in Portland. Eugene also experienced temperatures of 103, breaking the 1945 record of 98 degrees.

But some Oregonians told CNN affiliate KATU Sunday they would not miss the Portland Timbers soccer game, regardless of the heat.

“Yeah, I know it’s hot! It’s 100, it’s crazy. but the game here is greater,” Tim Hueng of Tigard, Oregon told KATU as he waited in line to enter Providence Park.

Officials are urging people to take precautions in the face of dangerously high temperatures. - Zoe Meyers/Reuters
Officials are urging people to take precautions in the face of dangerously high temperatures. – Zoe Meyers/Reuters

Even mountain destinations couldn’t beat the heat.

Reno, Nevada, saw a new daily record of 105 degrees on Sunday, the weather service office there announced. And on Monday, Reno reached 106, topping the 2017 record of 104.

And despite its elevation of just over 6,000 feet, South Lake Tahoe hit 92 degrees Sunday, beating its daily record of 88 degrees. The high temperatures continued Monday, with the city seeing 91 degrees, breaking 2017’s record of 89.

CNN’s Dalia Faheid, Monica Garrett and Brandon Miller contributed to this report.

What Happened to the Originalism of the Originalists?

By David French, Opinion Columnist – July 7, 2024

A hand holding a pocket Constitution.
Credit…Samuel Corum/Getty Images

When I read the majority opinion on Monday in Trump v. United States, which held that presidents enjoy absolute immunity for official acts within their “conclusive and preclusive” constitutional authority and presumptive immunity for all other official acts, I was genuinely and sincerely confused. The Supreme Court’s opinion is difficult to decipher, and in many important ways it is not originalist. For the second time this term — after Trump v. Anderson, which blocked efforts to remove Donald Trump from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — the court has reached a decision that’s truly difficult to square with the constitutional text.

What is going on?

I reject the simplest explanation — the explanation you can see plastered all over social media — that the court’s conservative majority is biased in favor of Trump. In this era of institutional collapse, I’m certainly more open to allegations of corruption or venality than I was in years past, but it’s hard to square this explanation with the judicial evidence. After all, if the conservative majority was truly in thrall to Trump, the election challenges in 2020 would have had a very different outcome. Instead, conservative judges at every level of the judiciary — including at the Supreme Court — rejected Trump’s specious arguments.

Even more, as I’ve explained in detail in long analyses in 2023 and 2024, in many other areas the court has specifically rejected MAGA legal arguments, including by dismissing a dangerous legal theory — called the independent state legislature doctrine — that was one of the cornerstones of Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election and would be the cornerstone of any future effort to disrupt election results.

Given this history, however, one would have expected a narrower immunity ruling in Trump v. United States and a narrower ruling in Trump v. Anderson. Instead, the conservative majority created a barrier to prosecuting presidents for even the most blatantly corrupt official acts and blocked any enforcement of Section 3 against candidates for federal office in the absence of congressional action.

In reading both decisions, I’m struck by the way the court’s conservative majority (with the partial and notable exception of Amy Coney Barrett) ultimately made a series of policy choices more than it engaged in the kind of close textual analysis that should be the hallmark of originalism. The court’s policy choices are rooted in real concerns, but they’re not textual, they should not be constitutional, and they contradict the wiser judgment of the founders in key ways.

If the court in Trump v. Anderson had upheld Colorado’s decision to remove Trump from the ballot, such a ruling would have raised the possibility that rogue state officials or a rogue judge could knock candidates off ballots for illegitimate reasons. And in Trump v. United States, there was an obvious concern that future presidents would wield their prosecutorial discretion in blatantly political ways, perhaps pursuing their political opponents by stretching broad federal criminal statutes to prosecute predecessors for their different policy choices, not for true corruption or criminality.

Both these concerns are legitimate. Before Trump v. Anderson was decided, Republican officials openly mused about ejecting Joe Biden from the ballot, including on the grounds that permitting an “invasion” at the border constituted a form of insurrection or rebellion. Similarly, Trump has threatened to prosecute Biden.

There is no question that it would be terrible for our democracy if states engaged in abusive attempts to limit candidates’ access to the ballot, or if presidents ordered prosecutions for political reasons. The court’s decisions in both cases go a long way toward preventing future injustices, including potential future injustices by Trump.

As a matter of pure policy, then, these Supreme Court rulings represent a credible choice. But I fear that the court’s originalist majority neglected its originalism.

The Supreme Court isn’t a policy-making body; it’s an interpretive body. Indeed, conservatives often deride any approach that injects the judge’s policy preferences into the textual analysis of the Constitution as a form of “living constitutionalism.” Yet in both cases it was the court’s liberal dissenters who made the better textual case for their position.

Let’s take, for example, the plain text of Section 3 in Trump v. Anderson. Section 3 begins with an unequivocal declaration: “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” having taken a previous oath of office and then engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution or provided “aid and comfort” to the enemies of the Constitution.

The language is plainly mandatory. Yet the practical result of the Supreme Court’s opinion is to change the plain meaning to add a final, unwritten additional condition: Section 3 is enforceable against candidates for federal office only if Congress makes it enforceable.

Similarly, the court’s immunity ruling both adds to the Constitution and deviates from its text. You can read the entire document from cover to cover and not find a single reference to presidential immunity, and it’s not as if the founders were unfamiliar with the concept.

This is entirely consistent with a constitutional structure that is comprehensively anti-monarchical. The founders could have made the president more powerful and less accountable, but they chose the opposite course — and for good reason. They had fresh experience with the terrible consequences of consolidating power in the hands of one person.

Consequently, to the extent that the Constitution speaks at all to presidential criminal liability, it leaves the door wide open. The impeachment judgments clause limits the reach of an impeachment conviction to removal from office and disqualification from future federal office (in other words, impeachment convictions do not function like criminal convictions), but the clause also states, “the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.”

The court’s ruling alters that clause — essentially changing the word “shall” to “may.” Even a party convicted after impeachment can still be absolutely immune from prosecution if he was acting while carrying out a “core constitutional power.” Even when the president’s official actions aren’t “core,” they’re still presumptively immune, presenting a high bar for prosecuting any official act.

I disagree with the conservative majority in both Trump cases, but not because I think the court is trying to do Trump favors or because I think its policy concerns are frivolous. There are legitimate reasons to worry about rogue prosecutions or rogue efforts to knock candidates from ballots.

I disagree with the Supreme Court’s rulings for the most basic reason of all — they do not square with the text of the document the justices are supposed to interpret, and that means they’re granting the presidency a degree of autonomy and impunity that’s contrary to the structure and spirit of American government. In both Trump cases, the liberal minority was more originalist than the conservative majority. This time, it was the conservatives who created a living constitution.

More on recent Supreme Court rulings:

Laurence H. Tribe: The Trump Decision Reveals Deep Rot in the System – July 1, 2024

David French is an Opinion columnist, writing about law, culture, religion and armed conflict. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a former constitutional litigator. His most recent book is “Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation.”

Trump plans to Dismantle American Democracy: What is Project 2025? The conservative road map is raising a lot of eyebrows, on both sides of the aisle.

Business Insider

What is Project 2025? The conservative road map is raising a lot of eyebrows, on both sides of the aisle.

Katie Balevic – July 6, 2024

  • Project 2025 is a road map for the next Republican president.
  • The Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank, authored the plan.
  • It calls for eliminating the Education Department, among some other surprising things.

Well before the disastrous presidential debate during which President Joe Biden may have handed the keys to the White House back to former President Donald Trump, conservative thinkers were assembling a game plan.

In January 2023, The Heritage Foundation began promoting Project 2025, a 922-page “playbook” assembled with input from dozens of other conservative organizations to guide the next Republican administration.

“The time is short, and conservatives need a plan,” reads the website for the right-wing presidential transition plan. “The project will create a playbook of actions to be taken in the first 180 days of the new Administration to bring quick relief to Americans suffering from the Left’s devastating policies.”

Some of Project 2025’s priorities include:

  • Slashing employment in the federal government and muzzling “woke propaganda at every level of government”
  • Eliminating the Department of Education and its “woke-dominated system of public schools”
  • Prohibiting the FBI from fighting misinformation and disinformation
  • Ending the “war on fossil fuels” and allowing further development on Native American lands
  • Ending active FBI investigations that are “contrary to the national interest”

The plan is so extreme that even Trump has distanced himself from it, writing on Truth Social this week that he knows “nothing about Project 2025.”

“I have no idea who is behind it. I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them,” Trump wrote.

A spokesperson from Project 2025 told Business Insider that the playbook “does not speak for any candidate or campaign.”

“We are a coalition of more than 110 conservative groups advocating policy and personnel recommendations for the next conservative president. But it is ultimately up to that president, who we believe will be President Trump, to decide which recommendations to implement,” the spokesperson said.