Some people just love criminals: Timothy Mellon, Secretive Donor, Gives $50 Million to Pro-Trump Group

Timothy Mellon, Secretive Donor, Gives $50 Million to Pro-Trump Group

The cash from Mr. Mellon, a reclusive billionaire who has also been a major donor to a super PAC supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is among the largest single disclosed gifts ever.

By Shane Goldmacher and Theodore Schleifer – June 20, 2024

Former President Donald J. Trump, speaking on a stage behind a lectern and in a blue suit and yellow tie, facing left.
Former President Donald J. Trump and his allies have been working to close the financial gap with President Biden. Credit…Ash Ponders for The New York Times

Timothy Mellon, a reclusive heir to a Gilded Age fortune, donated $50 million to a super PAC supporting Donald J. Trump the day after the former president was convicted of 34 felonies, according to new federal filings, an enormous gift that is among the largest single disclosed contributions ever.

The donation’s impact on the 2024 race is expected to be felt almost immediately. Within days of the contribution, the pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., said in a memo that it would begin reserving $100 million in advertising through Labor Day.

The group had only $34.5 million on hand at the end of April, and Mr. Mellon’s contribution accounted for much of the nearly $70 million that the super PAC raised in May. On Wednesday and Thursday, the super PAC began reserving $30 million in ads to air in Georgia and Pennsylvania around the Fourth of July holiday.

Mr. Mellon is now the first donor to give $100 million in disclosed federal contributions in this year’s election. He was already the single largest contributor to super PACs supporting both Mr. Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is running as an independent. Mr. Mellon has previously given $25 million to both.

Democrats have sought to portray Mr. Kennedy as a spoiler supported by Republicans, in part by emphasizing Mr. Mellon’s dual contributions and seemingly split loyalties. The pro-Kennedy super PAC has distributed quotations from the hard-to-reach Mr. Mellon, and for a blurb that appears on the cover of Mr. Mellon’s upcoming book, Mr. Kennedy called the billionaire a “maverick entrepreneur.”

It is not clear what Mr. Mellon’s mega-donation means for his support of Mr. Kennedy going forward. He has so far toggled between giving to support both candidates. His most recent donation to Mr. Kennedy’s super PAC was a $5 million contribution in April.

But Mr. Mellon’s $50 million gift will significantly help pro-Trump forces narrow the financial advantage that President Biden and his allies have enjoyed so far. Miriam Adelson, the casino billionaire and widow of Sheldon G. Adelson, who died in 2021, has also made plans to fund a pro-Trump super PAC with at least as much money as the $90 million that her family gave in the 2020 campaign, although much of the cash has yet to arrive.

Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, the Illinois couple who are among the G.O.P.’s largest donors, each gave $5 million to the Trump super PAC in May. The billionaire energy executive Kelcy Warren also gave $5 million.

But outside groups supporting Mr. Biden have already announced more than $1 billion in planned spending, anchored by a reserved $250 million in advertising from the leading pro-Biden super PAC, Future Forward.

Individual donations as large as $50 million are rare in American campaigns. Other gifts of a similar size have come from candidates who self-funded their campaigns, from couples who technically split their mammoth contributions or from donors who have paid in installments over time.

Until now, Make America Great Again Inc., which serves as the leading pro-Trump super PAC, has had only modest fund-raising success, relying largely on Republican donors who have personal connections to the former president.

In the first few months of 2024, the group raised between $7.4 million and $14.4 million a month. MAGA Inc. was originally seeded with $60 million by Mr. Trump’s political action committee — which is prohibited from spending to support his candidacy — before he declared his run for president. But in a highly unusual transaction, Mr. Trump later asked for a refund of the $60 million he had given months earlier, so MAGA Inc. has now returned that amount to the PAC, Save America, which is helping pay his legal bills.

Mr. Mellon, who had previously put $25 million into the group over the last 12 months, now accounts for nearly half of what the group has raised in total.

Mr. Mellon has long avoided the publicity that typically surrounds a donor this significant. After bursting onto the Republican fund-raising scene at the dawn of the Trump administration, he quickly developed a reputation as an unusual, quirky figure.

Despite his famous last name — he is the grandson of former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and a member of the wealthy Mellon family — Republican fund-raisers had largely not heard of him before he made a $10 million donation to a G.O.P. super PAC in mid-2018. That gift was the first of nine eight-figure checks that he would cut to major Republican groups.

He would go on to hire political counsel to guide him in Washington, although he lives primarily in Wyoming these days. Few recipients of his money have even met him.

The $50 million check to support Mr. Trump is matched only by a different donation Mr. Mellon made on behalf of another tough-on-immigration political project: the private construction of a border wall in Texas. In August 2021, Mr. Mellon donated $53 million worth of stock to help pay for the wall, a priority of Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.

Mr. Mellon, who did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday, appears to be growing more comfortable with the scrutiny of his influence. Next month, he is slated to publish a book, “panam.captain,” about his work turning around Pan Am Systems, a collection of companies that includes rail, aviation and marketing firms.

Mr. Mellon originally self-published an autobiography, but it was taken off-line in 2016 after some incendiary passages became public, including a line that Black people were “even more belligerent” after social programs were expanded in the 1960s and ’70s.

Mr. Mellon also wrote that social safety net programs amounted to “slavery redux.”

“For delivering their votes in the Federal Elections, they are awarded with yet more and more freebies: food stamps, cellphones, WIC payments, Obamacare, and on, and on,” Mr. Mellon wrote, according to The Washington Post.

The new book, “panam.captain,” will be released by Skyhorse Publishing. Its president is Tony Lyons, who co-founded the pro-Kennedy super PAC, American Values 2024.

In a rare interview with Bloomberg in 2020, Mr. Mellon praised what he saw as Mr. Trump’s follow-through: “He’s done the things he promised to, or tried to do the things he’s promised to,” he said.

What a foolish psycho’: Trump’s Father’s Day rant slammed by critics — Biden among them

What a foolish psycho’: Trump’s Father’s Day rant slammed by critics — Biden among them

Kathleen Culliton – June 16, 2024

'What a foolish psycho': Trump's Father's Day rant slammed by critics — Biden among them
Former President Donald Trump speaks during the Alabama Republican Party’s 2023 Summer meeting at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel on Aug. 4, 2023, in Montgomery, Ala. Trump’s appearance in Alabama comes one day after he was arraigned on federal charges in 
 Washington, D.C.
 D.C.
 for his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Julie Bennett/Getty Images

It’s not an American holiday until former President Donald Trump issues his all-caps complaint and is immediately, and ruthlessly, mocked.

On Father’s Day, Trump decided to celebrate his status as family patriarch with a lengthy tirade against “radical left degenerates” the former president, recently convicted on criminal charges, accused of “trying to influence” the judicial system against him.

President Joe Biden’s campaign was quick to respond Sunday evening with a succinct synopsis.

“Convicted felon Trump posts a deranged, all caps ‘Father’s Day’ message attacking the judicial system and promising revenge and retribution against those who don’t support him,” his campaign tweet reads.

ALSO READ: ‘Harm Democrats’: Republican lawmakers practically giddy about Trump prison silver lining

Hours earlier, Trump — who has a history of marking holidays by posting angry rants against his foes — issued the following screed on Truth Social:

“HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL, INCLUDING THE RADICAL LEFT DEGENERATES THAT ARE RAPIDLY BRINGING THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA INTO THIRD WORLD NATION STATUS WITH THEIR MANY ATTEMPTS AT TRYING TO INFLUENCE OUR SACRED COURT SYSTEM INTO BREAKING TO THEIR VERY SICK AND DANGEROUS WILL,” he wrote.

ALSO READ: Republican dodo birds have a death wish for us all

“WE NEED STRENGTH AND LOYALTY TO OUR COUNTRY, AND ITS WONDERFUL CONSTITUTION. EVERYTHING WILL BE ON FULL DISPLAY COME NOVEMBER 5TH, 2024 – THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!”

The Biden-Harris campaign was not the only voice raising a sly eyebrow at Trump’s comment, quickly flooded with dozens of messages of frustration, amusement and rage.

“He always has the worst holiday greetings of anyone I know,” wrote X user Franklin.

“Such a narcissistic, small man,” added Dawn Young-McDaniel.

“Yep, he is consistent in only one manner,” replied Trish Davis, “Telling us what a foolish psycho he aspires to be.”

The EPA Grossly Underestimated How Many Carcinogens are Polluting This Louisiana Region’s Air, Study Says

Futurism

The EPA Grossly Underestimated How Many Carcinogens are Polluting This Louisiana Region’s Air, Study Says

Maggie Harrison Dupré – June 15, 2024

A chemical plant-smattered stretch of Louisiana between New Orleans and Baton Rouge is already known as “Cancer Alley” due to disproportionately high levels of illnesses related to chemicals released by the area’s many manufacturing facilities. Now, according to a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the stretch of land — which, again, is already called Cancer Alley — is even worse off than scientists already thought.

The study, published this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, examined the rates of a toxic gas called ethylene oxide in the air covering the Louisiana region. Ethylene oxide is a known and potent carcinogen linked to lymphomas, breast cancer, and other health and life-threatening illnesses, and was banned in the European Union back in the early 1990s. But ethylene oxide is used to manufacture other chemicals, and though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes its toxicity, chemical plants in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley stretch continue to use the poisonous gas in their production processes — and as a result, leak ethylene oxide into the air.

And yet, though it’s long been known that the plants leak the poisonous gas, this new Johns Hopkins research finds that the EPA has been grossly underestimating exactly how much ethylene oxide is actually in Cancer Alley’s air. According to these new findings, the area’s average ethylene oxide level is double what previous EPA models suggested — and well beyond levels considered safe for area inhabitants.

“We expected to see ethylene oxide in this area,” said study senior author Peter DeCarlo, an associate professor at the university’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, in a statement. “But we didn’t expect the levels that we saw, and they certainly were much, much higher than EPA’s estimated levels.”

As explained in the study, any level of airborne ethylene oxide above 11 parts per trillion (PPT) is considered dangerous for long-term exposure (which, we should note, isn’t really that much, and speaks to how toxic the gas is.) Horrifyingly, the researchers found ethylene oxide levels above 11 PPT in three-quarters of the overall area they studied, with average levels for affected areas hovering around 31 PPT.

“We saw concentrations hitting 40 parts per billion,” said DeCarlo, “which is more a thousand times higher than the accepted risk for lifetime exposure.”

The findings are staggering. And as the researchers note, those who live and work in the area have never — until now — had access to this kind of detailed, accurate data about ethylene oxide figures. And it’s important to note that Cancer Alley’s Black residents are disproportionately likely to develop petrochemical industry-related illness, and that the EPA has openly accused Louisiana lawmakers of engaging in environmental racism.

“There is just no available data, no actual measurements of ethylene oxide in air, to inform [plant] workers and people who live nearby what their actual risk is based on their exposure to this chemical,” DeCarlo added.

As Grist reports, the EPA — which very much needs to update its modeling data — moved this year to install heavier regulations on ethylene oxide use and emissions. And though that’s certainly a necessary step, experts have continued to warn that the agency and other regulating bodies have been very slow to take it.

“The fossil fuel and petrochemical industry has created a ‘sacrifice zone’ in Louisiana,” Antonia Juhasz, a senior researcher on fossil fuels at Human Rights Watch, said earlier this year after the global nonprofit released a devastating report about the health consequences of Cancer Alley’s rampant chemical and fossil fuel pollution. “The failure of state and federal authorities to properly regulate the industry has dire consequences for residents of Cancer Alley.”

Indeed, mitigating future exposure through strict regulations is essential. But so, too, is supporting the people and communities currently living ethylene oxide’s harms.

“These monitors are good,” Rise St. James founder Sharon Lavigne, whose community action group opposes petrochemical expansion, told Grist of the Johns Hopkins report. “But in the meantime, people are dying.”

California Republican pushes back on far-right calls to ‘burn it down’

The Hill

California Republican pushes back on far-right calls to ‘burn it down’

Sarah Fortinsky – June 16, 2024

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) on Sunday criticized the tactics of far-right lawmakers who say their Republican colleagues, rather than working within the confines of Congress, should be willing to “burn it down” to fight for conservative principles.

“The tactics that they’re using aren’t advancing those principles. They’re an impediment to those principles,” McClintock said on NewsNation’s “The Hill Sunday,” when asked about those who would “burn it down” instead of working within the system.

“We saw that with the ousting of [former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)]. He had produced, with a very slender majority, some absolutely remarkable accomplishments, including the Fiscal Responsibility Act that bent federal spending back by $2.6 trillion over a 10-year period of time — not nearly enough, but a tremendous accomplishment,” McClintock said, also pointing to some GOP messaging bills that failed in the Senate.

“All of those things with a majority of just five members,” McClintock said. “He was able to accomplish all that and was then destroyed, not by the Republicans, but by all of the Democrats joined by eight Republican malcontents.”

Before a small handful of Republicans joined all Democrats in voting against keeping McCarthy as House Speaker, McClintock wrote a letter to his colleagues urging them to “have the wisdom to see the damage you have done to our country and the courage to set things right before it’s too late.”

McClintock was also one of three Republicans to vote against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who was blamed for the handling of rising migration at the southern border.

The two other Republicans, Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.) and Mike Gallagher (Wis.), have since retired from Congress. Asked why he’s still around, McClintock quoted Winston Churchill.

“Well, Churchill put it best. He said, ‘I fight for my corner, and I leave when the pub closes,’” McClintock said.

“I think our country is at a pivotal moment in its history. And I think it’s going to prevail through the difficulties we’re in, but it’s going to require all of us doing whatever we can to bring our country through,” he continued. “So I’m just very privileged to have a seat in the House of Representatives on behalf of all my neighbors in California.

NewsNation is owned by Nexstar Media Group, which also owns The Hill.

How the US supreme court could be a key election issue: ‘They’ve grown too powerful’

The Guardian

How the US supreme court could be a key election issue: ‘They’ve grown too powerful’

David Smith in Washington – June 15, 2024

<span>Activists call for the passage of a binding code of ethics for Supreme Court justices in front of the supreme court in Washington DC on 30 October 2023.</span><span>Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE</span>
Activists call for the passage of a binding code of ethics for Supreme Court justices in front of the supreme court in Washington DC on 30 October 2023.Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE

“Look at me, look at me,” said Martha-Ann Alito. “I’m German, from Germany. My heritage is German. You come after me, I’m gonna give it back to you.”

It was a bizarre outburst from the wife of a justice on America’s highest court. Secretly recorded by a liberal activist, Martha-Ann Alito complained about a neighbour’s gay pride flag and expressed a desire to fly a Sacred Heart of Jesus flag in protest.

This, along with audio clips of Justice Samuel Alito himself and a stream of ethics violations, have deepened public concerns that the supreme court is playing by its own rules. The Democratic representative Jamie Raskin has described a “national clamour over this crisis of legitimacy” at the court.

A poll last month for the progressive advocacy organisation Stand Up America suggests that the supreme court will now play a crucial role in voters’ choices in the 2024 electionNearly three in four voters said the selection and confirmation of justices will be an important consideration for them in voting for both president and senator in November.

Reed Galen, a co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a pro-democracy group, said: “The idea that these guys act as if they are kings ruling from above, to me, should absolutely be an issue. It was always Republicans who said we hate unelected judges legislating from the bench and we hate judicial activism. That’s all this stuff is.”

Public trust in the court is at an all-time low amid concerns over bias and corruption. Alito has rejected demands that he recuse himself from a case considering presidential immunity after flags similar to those carried by 6 January 2021 rioters flew over his homes in Virginia and New Jersey. Justice Clarence Thomas has ignored calls to step aside because of the role his wife, Ginni, played in supporting efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in 2020.

Ethical standards have been under scrutiny following revelations that some justices failed to report luxury trips, including on private jets, and property deals. Last week Thomas, who has come under criticism for failing to disclose gifts from the businessman and Republican donor Harlan Crow, revised his 2019 form to acknowledge he accepted “food and lodging” at a Bali hotel and at a California club.

These controversies have been compounded by historic and hugely divisive decisions. The fall of Roe v Wade, ending the nationwide right to abortion after half a century, was seen by many Democrats as a gamechanger in terms of people making a connection between the court and their everyday lives.

Even though debate among members of Congress would lead you to believe that court reform is a polarising issue, it really isn’t

Maggie Jo Buchanan, managing director of Demand Justice

There are further signs of the debate moving beyond the Washington bubble. Last week, the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper argued that, since the court’s own ethics code proved toothless, Congress should enact legislation that holds supreme court justices to higher ethical standards. The paper called for the local senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who is chair of the Senate judiciary committee, to hold a hearing on the issue.

Maggie Jo Buchanan, managing director of the pressure group Demand Justice, said: “It’s important to keep in mind that, even though debate among members of Congress would lead you to believe that court reform is a polarising issue, it really isn’t. For years we have seen broad bipartisan support for basic supreme court reforms such as ethics.

“A broad bipartisan consensus exists that they’ve grown too powerful, that they have too much power over laws and regulations. That’s shared among nearly three-fourths of Americans, including 80% of independents, so the demand is there and this isn’t something where it’s Democrats versus Republicans in the sense of real people. The American people want change and want to check the judiciary.”

Congressional Democrats have introduced various bills including one to create an independent ethics office and internal investigations counsel within the supreme court. Broader progressive ideas include expanding the number of seats on the court or limiting the justices to 18-year terms rather than lifetime appointments.

But such efforts have been repeatedly thwarted by Republicans, who over decades impressed on their base the importance of the court, ultimately leading to a 6-3 conservative majority including three Trump appointees.

This week Senate Republicans blocked the ​​Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act, legislation that would require the court to adopt a binding code of conduct for all justices, establish procedures to investigate complaints of judicial misconduct and adopt rules to disclose gifts, travel and income received by them that are at least as rigorous as congressional disclosure rules.

In response, Christina Harvey, executive director of Stand Up America, said its “nearly 2 million members are fired up and ready to continue advocating for supreme court reform – in Congress and at the ballot box”.

But Galen of the Lincoln Project worries that Democrats lack the necessary aggression to capitalise on the issue. “[Senate majority leader Chuck] Schumer and Durbin are not change agents. They consider themselves institutionalists and they continue to call themselves thatThey’re in a place where they can’t possibly conceive of something like that. Democrats are just afraid of their own shadow.”

That principle might apply to the US president himself. The 81-year-old, who served in the Senate for 36 years, is reluctant to call out justices by name or call for sweeping reforms of the court, although he is making its decision to end the constitutional right to abortion a centrepiece of his campaign.

Ed Fallone, an associate law professor at Marquette University Law School said: “I don’t know that Joe Biden is the politician to try and benefit from this issue. Biden has always presented himself as an institutionalist and more of a centrist than many segments of the Democratic party.

“There’s a real risk here for Biden because, if he does try to get political advantage from the public’s growing concern about the supreme court, it seems to conflict with his message that we should all respect the court system and the judicial system and the Trump prosecutions and the various legal problems of former Trump advisers. It seems difficult to reconcile telling the public to respect the judicial system with also embracing the idea that the very top of the system is flawed and needs reform.”

Fallone added: “You will see other Democrats seize on this issue and start to push it, in particular those who are are going to try to energise the left side of the base, maybe not necessarily for this election, but maybe anticipating Biden might lose and starting already to look ahead to the following election.”

Other argue that, competing for voter attention with the cost of living, immigration and other issues, the supreme court will ultimately fade into background noise.

Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center think-tank in Washington DC, said: “The middle of the country, the independents and the swing voters do not care about the supreme court, and I don’t think any effort by Democrats or the media bringing up these things about Alito or Thomas is going to register or motivate those people. It motivates partisans. It doesn’t motivate swing voters on either side.”

SOTUS takes another swipe at our Democratic Administrative State, while handing the NRA another weapon of mass destruction: Supreme Court strikes down Trump-era ban on bump stocks, gun accessories used in 2017 Vegas massacre

Associated Press

Supreme Court strikes down Trump-era ban on bump stocks, gun accessories used in 2017 Vegas massacre

Lindsay Whitehurst – June 14, 2024

FILE – A bump stock is displayed in Harrisonburg, Va., on March 15, 2019. The Supreme Court has struck down a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, a gun accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
The Supreme Court building is seen on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, a gun accessory that allows semiautomatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns and was used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The high court’s conservative majority found that the Trump administration did not follow federal law when it reversed course and banned bump stocks after a gunman in Las Vegas attacked a country music festival with assault rifles in 2017. The gunman fired more than 1,000 rounds in the crowd in 11 minutes, leaving 60 people dead and injuring hundreds more.

The 6-3 majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas said a semiautomatic rifle with a bump stock is not an illegal machine gun because it doesn’t make the weapon fire more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger.

“A bump stock merely reduces the amount of time that elapses between separate functions of the trigger,” Thomas wrote in an opinion that contained multiple drawings of guns’ firing mechanisms.

He was joined by fellow conservatives John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Alito wrote a short separate opinion to stress that Congress can change the law to equate bump stocks with machine guns.

In a dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed to the Las Vegas gunman. “In murdering so many people so quickly, he did not rely on a quick trigger finger. Instead, he relied on bump stocks,” she said, reading a summary of her dissent aloud in the courtroom.

Sotomayor said that it’s “deeply regrettable” Congress has to act but that she hopes it does.

The ruling came after a Texas gun shop owner challenged the ban, arguing the Justice Department wrongly classified the accessories as illegal machine guns.

The Biden administration said that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives made the right choice for the gun accessories, which can allow weapons to fire at a rate of hundreds of rounds a minute.

It marked the latest gun case to come before the high court. A conservative supermajority handed down a landmark decision expanding gun rights in 2022 and is weighing another gun case challenging a federal law intended to keep guns away from people under domestic violence restraining orders.

The arguments in the bump stock case, though, were more about whether the ATF had overstepped its authority than the Second Amendment.

Justices from the court’s liberal wing suggested it was “common sense” that anything capable of unleashing a “torrent of bullets” was a machine gun under federal law. Conservative justices, though, raised questions about why Congress had not acted to ban bump stocks, as well as the effects of the ATF changing its mind a decade after declaring the accessories legal.

The high court took up the case after a split among lower courts over bump stocks, which were invented in the early 2000s. Under Republican President George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, the ATF decided that bump stocks didn’t transform semiautomatic weapons into machine guns. The agency reversed those decisions at Trump’s urging after the shooting in Las Vegas and another mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 dead.

Bump stocks are accessories that replace a rifle’s stock, the part that rests against the shoulder. They harness the gun’s recoil energy so that the trigger bumps against the shooter’s stationary finger, allowing the gun to fire at a rate comparable to a traditional machine gun. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have their own bans on bump stocks.

The plaintiff, Texas gun shop owner and military veteran Michael Cargill, was represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a group funded by conservative donors like the Koch network. His attorneys acknowledged that bump stocks allow for rapid fire but argued that they are different because the shooter has to put in more effort to keep the gun firing.

Government lawyers countered the effort required from the shooter is small and doesn’t make a legal difference. The Justice Department said the ATF changed its mind on bump stocks after doing a more in-depth examination spurred by the Las Vegas shooting and came to the right conclusion.

There were about 520,000 bump stocks in circulation when the ban went into effect in 2019, requiring people to either surrender or destroy them, at a combined estimated loss of $100 million, the plaintiffs said in court documents.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court at https://apnews.com/hub/us-supreme-court.

Trump turns 78 – and age is increasingly an issue

AFP

Trump turns 78 – and age is increasingly an issue

Jim Watson – June 14, 2024

Former US president Donald Trump gestures next to his birthday cake at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida on June 14, 2024 (Jim WATSON)
Former US president Donald Trump gestures next to his birthday cake at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida on June 14, 2024 (Jim WATSON)

Donald Trump, whose attempted White House return is based in part on attacking President Joe Biden as old and feeble, turned 78 Friday — just three years younger than his election rival — with growing questions over his own health.

Whoever wins the November election will set a new age record. At 81, Biden is already the oldest man to hold the office and would continue to be so, while if Trump wins, he would become the oldest ever at an inauguration.

Trump, aided by the right-wing media ecosystem, has carefully worked to build an image of vigor, in attempted contrast to an opponent he routinely claims is “sleepy” or even senile.

Whether staging photo-ops with martial arts personalities or performing his trademark short dance at the end of rallies, Trump spares little effort to come across as an energetic showman.

Heavy use of cosmetics and hairspray typically give him a look — at a distance — of a tanned and younger man.

Trump aimed to maintain that image at a party in West Palm Beach, in his home state of Florida, as he gave an hour-long campaign speech before a throng of paying guests.

Club 47 USA, a Trump supporters’ group, hosted the event near the ex-president’s Mar-a-Lago residence and golf resort, with the crowd singing “Happy Birthday” as he stood on stage before a row of American flags.

“Wow, is that a nice crowd,” he said, before launching into his boilerplate speech.

Invitations, featuring a picture of Trump grinning and hugging yet another US flag, referred to him as “the best president ever.”

The former president is used to the flattery, with almost the entire Republican party now lined up behind him.

On Thursday, he received a rousing happy birthday message in Washington from Republican members of Congress.

They included senior figures who only three years ago had denounced him after cowering in fear as a mob of Trump supporters tried to storm the Capitol to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win.

– Unflattering Trump photo –

There were no warm wishes from the Biden camp.

The president’s reelection campaign put out an unflattering close-up photograph of a sweaty, disheveled Trump, titled: “Ah, another year around the sun for Donald Trump.”

Underneath, a list of 78 lifetime “accomplishments” was provided, ranging from Trump’s multiple bankruptcies to instances of far-right rhetoric, alleged sexual misconduct, cheating at golf, his encouraging of the Capitol assault, and recent felony conviction for business fraud in New York.

“Happy birthday, Donald. You’re a crook, a failure, a fraud, and a threat to our democracy, economy, rights, and future,” Biden campaign spokesman James Singer said. “Our early gift for your 79th: Making sure you are never president again.”

In response, a Trump spokeswoman described Biden as a “weak and incompetent candidate” who has been “shuffling around like a brain-dead zombie at the G7 summit” in Italy this week.

– Trump exposure grows –

Polls show that a big majority of Americans think Biden is too old, while a small majority think the same of Trump.

But Trump — who has already had many a well-documented verbal slip — now faces months of intense media exposure, increasing the risk of more focus on the same kinds of gaffes that have plagued Biden.

Just Thursday, a mini firestorm blew up when Trump was quoted as saying that Milwaukee — where the Republicans will hold their convention to nominate Trump in July — is a “horrible” place.

Attention is also growing on his often bizarre, meandering comments during speeches, including a recent tirade against electric vehicles that involved a sinking boat, a shark and being electrocuted.

Trump appears conscious that attacks on Biden risk backfiring, given their similar ages.

“He’s not too old at all,” Trump said in an interview last September. “Age is interesting because some people are very sharp, and some people do lose it.”

Biden on Friday said he agreed there are nuances to the age question.

“Happy 78th birthday, Donald. Take it from one old guy to another: Age is just a number,” he posted on X. “This election, however, is a choice.”

Supreme Court Overturns Ban On Gun-Enhancing Bump Stock Devices

HuffPost

Supreme Court Overturns Ban On Gun-Enhancing Bump Stock Devices

Roque Planas – June 14, 2024

Supreme Court Overturns Ban On Gun-Enhancing Bump Stock Devices

The Supreme Court Fridayoverturned a federal agency’s rule banning bump stocks, the devices used in some of America’s deadliest mass killings carried out by lone shooters. 

Plaintiff Michael Cargill, an Austin, Texas, gun store owner, did not claim that the Second Amendment protected his right to own a bump stock. The case focused narrowly on the administrative process by which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) banned bump stocks, which harness a firearm’s recoil to achieve rates of firing that approach those of automatic weapons. 

An employee of a gun store in Raleigh, North Carolina, demonstrates how a bump stock works on Feb. 1, 2013. The gun accessory makes semiautomatic weapons fire faster.
An employee of a gun store in Raleigh, North Carolina, demonstrates how a bump stock works on Feb. 1, 2013. The gun accessory makes semiautomatic weapons fire faster. Allen Breed/Associated Press

But the ruling in Garland v. Cargill deals a heavy blow to gun reformers, who viewed a ban on bump stocks as a commonsense response to the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, when a single shooter fired more than 1,000 rounds into a concert crowd, killing 60 people and injuring 850 more. 

After the shooting, a broad consensus formed that bump stocks, a small segment of the overall firearms industry, should be banned. 

Congress, however, did not move swiftly to ban bump stocks in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting. Instead, then-President Donald Trump directed the ATF to restrict the devices. 

The bureau issued a rule in 2018 reclassifying bump stocks as machine guns, making them illegal for civilians to own under federal law. 

Trump trademark case highlights the muddle the Supreme Court made of gun laws

MSNBC

Trump trademark case highlights the muddle the Supreme Court made of gun laws

Jordan Rubin – June 13, 2024

Among the three opinions issued Thursday by the Supreme Court was one that shut down an attempt to trademark the double entendre “Trump too small.” The high court was unanimous on the bottom line that the rejection didn’t violate the First Amendment.

But the justices fractured on the reasoning in a way that calls into question how the Republican-led court goes about deciding cases generally — including gun cases.

To get a sense of the underlying split in the trademark case, Vidal v. Elster, look at the breakdown here, which may help to explain why it took this long to decide the appeal argued back in November:

“On the bottom line, there is no dispute,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas, who authored the opinion joined at various points by different justices, as shown above.

But beyond the bottom line, the justices were more divided.

In her concurrence, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that “perhaps the biggest surprise (and disappointment) of today’s five-Justice majority opinion is its reliance on history and tradition as a dispositive test to resolve this case.” Joined by fellow Democratic appointees Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, she called out Thomas’ citation of the 2022 ruling in Bruen (also authored by Thomas) that further expanded gun rights under a supposedly historical approach.

“The majority attempts to reassure litigants and the lower courts that a ‘history-focused approac[h]’ here is sensible and workable” by citing Bruen, Sotomayor wrote. “To say that such reassurance is not comforting would be an understatement,” she went on, lamenting that “one need only read a handful of lower court decisions applying Bruen to appreciate the confusion this Court has caused.”

She cited an amicus brief that makes that point in the pending gun case of United States v. Rahimi, on the constitutionality of a law that bars gun possession for people subject to domestic violence restraining orders. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law under Bruen, prompting the government to appeal to the justices.

We could learn as soon as Friday morning how the court attempts to settle that Second Amendment confusion in Rahimi, which forces the majority to confront the mess that it made in Bruen.

Republicans Have No Idea What Happened in That Trump Meeting Either

The New Republic – Opinion

Republicans Have No Idea What Happened in That Trump Meeting Either

Hafiz Rashid – June 13, 2024

Donald Trump’s trip to Capitol Hill on Tuesday was supposed to be about his agenda if he wins the election in November. Instead, his meeting with House Republicans was about as coherent as one of his rally speeches.

“Like talking to your drunk uncle at the family reunion,” one source at the meeting said, while another said that the convicted felon and presumptive Republican presidential nominee was “rambling.”

Almost every Republican in the House attended the meeting, which was full of praise for Trump, including singing “Happy Birthday” to him and presenting him with the baseball from Wednesday’s Congressional Baseball Game. But after that, Trump’s remarks went in various directions, from praising Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Nancy Mace, and Steve Scalise to bashing the site of this year’s Republican national convention, Milwaukee.

Trump also told the audience that he met with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and claimed he’s leading polls in the state by two points, despite the fact that a Republican hasn’t won there since 2004. Bizarrely, he also brought up Taylor Swift, asking why the pop singer would “endorse this dope,” referring to Biden, and referenced Hannibal Lecter again, calling him a “nice guy.”

“He even had a friend over for dinner,” Trump said.

His comments on abortion to the group were puzzling, claiming that it only became an issue 10 years before.

Twitter screenshot Jake Sherman: ����TRUMP on abortion to House Republicans: “Roe v Wade, everyone was against it because they wanted it to be decided by the states, there was no 10 weeks, 12 weeks, every person said it’s got to be back to the states. “It became a complex issue 10 years ago, everyone wanted it back in the states, and we got it back in the states, sometimes good sometimes not good, some states went one way and some states went a different way “But like Ronald Reagan, you have to have three choices: life of mother, rape and incest you have to do, but you have to follow your own heart “Republicans are so afraid of the issue, we would have had 40 seats”
Twitter screenshot Jake Sherman: ����TRUMP on abortion to House Republicans: “Roe v Wade, everyone was against it because they wanted it to be decided by the states, there was no 10 weeks, 12 weeks, every person said it’s got to be back to the states. “It became a complex issue 10 years ago, everyone wanted it back in the states, and we got it back in the states, sometimes good sometimes not good, some states went one way and some states went a different way “But like Ronald Reagan, you have to have three choices: life of mother, rape and incest you have to do, but you have to follow your own heart “Republicans are so afraid of the issue, we would have had 40 seats”More

Weirdly, he also said that one of Representative Nancy Pelosi’s daughters told him, “If things were different, Nancy and I would be perfect together,” which prompted an immediate denial from Pelosi’s daughter Christine.

Trump’s meandering rants didn’t hold the attention of everyone in the room, though, as Representative Chip Roy, who has often fought with his Republican colleagues, was at one point reportedly watching golf on an iPad while Trump spoke.