Resilience in the Face of the Onslaught

By Charles M. Blow – July 11, 2024

A blurry photo shows President Biden speaking at a podium in front of the American flag.
Credit…Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York Times

Joe Biden is still standing, refusing to bow out — he reiterated that once again in a lengthy and mostly successful news conference on Thursday night. Some may view it as selfish and irresponsible. Some may even see it as dangerous. But I see it as remarkable.

Despite sending a clear message — in his recent flurry of interviews and rallies, in his stalwart address this week to members of the NATO alliance and in his letter on Monday to congressional Democrats, in which he assured them that “I wouldn’t be running again if I did not absolutely believe I was the best person to beat Donald Trump in 2024” — there’s still a slow drumbeat from luminaries, donors and elected officials trying to write Biden’s political obituary.

The talent agency mogul Ari Emanuel (a brother of Rahm Emanuel, Biden’s ambassador to Japan), recently said Biden “is not the candidate anymore.” In a post on X, the best-selling author Stephen King said that it’s time for Biden “to announce he will not run for re-election.” Abigail Disney, an heiress to the Walt Disney fortune, said, “I intend to stop any contributions to the party unless and until they replace Biden at the top of the ticket.”

They seem to believe that they can kill his candidacy, by a thousand cuts or by starving it to death.

But none of this sits well with me.

First, because Biden is, in fact, his party’s presumptive nominee. He won the primaries. He has the delegates. He got there via an open, organized and democratic process.

Forcing him out, against his will, seems to me an invalidation of that process. And the apparent justification for this, that polls, which are highly fluctuant, now indicate that some voters want him replaced, is insufficient; responses to polls are not votes.

Yes, two weeks ago, Biden had a bad debate, and may well be diminished. Yes, there’s a chance he could lose this election. That chance exists for any candidate. But allowing elites to muscle him out of the race would be playing a dangerous game that is not without its own very real risk. It won’t guarantee victory and may produce chaos. The logic that says you have to dump Biden in order to defeat Trump is at best a gamble, the product of panicked people in well-furnished parlors.

Furthermore, no one has really made the case that whatever decline Biden may be experiencing has significantly impacted his policy decision-making or eroded America’s standing in the world. The arguments center on the visual evidence of somewhat worrisome comportment but mostly speculation about cognition.

That is just not enough.

I am not a Biden acolyte. I’ve never met the man. And I’m not arguing against the sense among those who have seen him up close and express worry. I’m not pro-Biden as much as I am pro-stay the course.

Like Biden’s Democratic doubters, I want above all to prevent Trump from being re-elected and to ensure the preservation of democracy. It’s just that I believe allowing Biden to remain at the top of the Democratic ticket is the best way to achieve that.

And since that’s the goal, perhaps the best argument in Biden’s favor is that his mettle has been revealed by the onslaught of criticism he has endured since the debate, much of it from other liberals.

Biden’s support hasn’t cratered, as one might have expected. Which suggests that the idea that Biden can’t win — or that another Democrat would have an easier run — is speculative at best.

Indeed, when I saw one headline that read, “Poll finds Biden damaged by debate; with Harris and Clinton best positioned to win,” I thought: Hillary Clinton? Now we’re truly in fantasy baseball territory.

And in the national poll on which that article was premised, Biden trailed Trump by just one percentage point while Vice President Kamala Harris led Trump by just one percentage point; in both cases, well within the margin of error.

A new Washington Post-ABC News-Ipsos poll found that Biden and Trump are tied nationally.

As for hypothetical candidates like Harris — who I do believe would acquit herself well at the top of the ticket — that same poll shows her performing slightly better against Trump than Biden does. But that is in the abstract, before the chaos of a candidate change, and before she received the full-frontal assault that being the actual nominee would surely bring. And in an era of opposition to “wokeness” and the values of diversity, equity and inclusion, that frontal assault, directed at the first Black, Asian American and female vice president, would be savage.

The potential drag on down-ballot races is a legitimate concern for some Democrats, but it appears to be the panic of some down-ballot candidates that has exacerbated the problem, as more than a dozen House Democrats and one Senate Democrat have called for Biden to leave the race.

There’s no guarantee that swapping out candidates would leave Democrats in a better position, but I believe the case is building that the continued dithering among Democrats about Biden’s candidacy is doing further damage to their chances.

Biden’s candidacy may not survive. But forcing him out of it may hurt Democrats more than it helps them, even with voters who say they want a different choice.

More on President Biden:

David French: Biden Has an Inner Circle Problem. He’s Not the Only One. – July 11, 2024

Ezra Klein: Democrats Are Drifting Toward the Worst of All Possible Worlds – July 11, 2024

Charles M. Blow is an Opinion columnist for The New York Times, writing about national politics, public opinion and social justice, with a focus on racial equality and L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

What Does the G.O.P. Have Against America?

By Paul Krugman – July 11, 2024

A lectern and a teleprompter at an outdoor rally for Donald Trump. In the middle ground is a crowd of people and in the background are palm trees.
Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

While Democrats tear themselves apart over President Biden’s disastrous debate performance and his refusal to consider stepping aside, the Republican National Committee, without much fanfare, has released its 2024 platform.

Compared with previous platforms, it dials back references to abortion — downplaying what is, for Republicans, a losing issue. That choice goes along with Donald Trump’s recent attempt to distance himself from the extremist Project 2025 — even though that blueprint was concocted by some of his close political allies. Here, Trump is clearly employing sleight of hand in an effort not to be seen as autocratically inclined. But at this point, if you believe that, I have a degree from Trump University I’d like to sell you.

In any case, there’s nothing moderate about a platform whose first plank reads, “SEAL THE BORDER, AND STOP THE MIGRANT INVASION” and whose second item calls for “THE LARGEST DEPORTATION OPERATION IN AMERICAN HISTORY.” (Yes, the list is in all caps, just in case you need help imagining Trump shouting it to you from a Mar-a-Lago ballroom.)

I’ll have a lot more to say about Republican policy ideas in the weeks ahead. For today, however, I want to focus not on what the platform proposes but what it says about the G.O.P. image of America today — a dystopian vision that bears hardly any resemblance to the vibrant country I know, a nation that has coped remarkably well with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Republicans may try to brand themselves as patriots, but they truly appear to despise the nation they live in.

Start with item No. 10, which begins with the promise to “STOP THE MIGRANT CRIME EPIDEMIC” — presumably one of the justifications for mass deportations. Any attempt to carry out such deportations would be a humanitarian, social and economic nightmare. But leaving that aside, the whole premise is false. There is no epidemic of migrant crime in America.

Yes, some Americans have been the victims of terrible crimes, and some of the perpetrators have been migrants. But violent crime in America, homicides in particular, which surged during the last year of the Trump administration — a year of low immigration — has plunged over the past two years.

And Americans have been signaling by their behavior, literally voting with their feet, that our big cities feel fairly safe. Downtown foot traffic on nights and weekends — that is, traffic that mainly reflects people going out for shopping and entertainment rather than for work — is close to or above prepandemic levels in many major cities.

Far from facing a crime “epidemic,” America has been highly successful in recovering from the Trump crime wave.

The G.O.P. platform also pledges to “MAKE AMERICA THE DOMINANT ENERGY PRODUCER IN THE WORLD.” The subtext here is the pervasive belief on the right that woke environmentalists have undermined the U.S. energy sector.

Given how often one hears this asserted, it’s a bit shocking to look at the data and learn that America produced more energy in 2023 than ever before. In fact, we’ve become a major energy exporter, for example selling Europe vast quantities of liquefied natural gas that helped it reduce dependence on Russian supplies after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

The area in which we’re really lagging China is renewable energy, which the Biden-Harris administration is promoting — and Republicans hate.

Further, the platform promises to “END INFLATION, AND MAKE AMERICA AFFORDABLE AGAIN.” In reality, inflation is already way down — from 9 percent at its peak to just 3 percent as measured by the Consumer Price Index, and is probably down to 2.4 percent according to an alternative price index preferred by the Federal Reserve. Gasoline and groceries are just as affordable, as measured by their prices compared with the average hourly earnings of nonmanagerial workers, as they were in 2019.

So what are Republicans talking about? Are they promising to roll back the price increases that took place almost everywhere as the world economy recovered from the pandemic? We haven’t seen deflation on that scale since the Great Depression — not exactly an experience we want to repeat.

Why does the Republican vision of America, as revealed in the party’s platform, bear so little resemblance to reality? A large part of it, I believe, is that the party instinctively favors harsh, punitive policies — which obliges it to believe that failure to pursue such policies must lead to disaster, even when it doesn’t. Democrats haven’t been deporting millions or toying with the idea of shooting protesters, therefore, the logic seems to go, we must be experiencing a crime epidemic. Democrats care about the environment, therefore they must be hampering energy production. Democrats want to expand health care coverage and alleviate poverty, therefore they must be feeding runaway inflation.

For a little while, reality seemed to cooperate with some of these grim visions, mainly because of spillovers from the pandemic and its aftermath. We did have a spike in homicides, although it mostly happened on Trump’s watch. We did have a burst of inflation, but it’s behind us.

Bottom line, there’s no reason at all to believe that Republicans have moderated their extremist agenda. Energy independence — which we have already achieved! — won’t be on the ballot this year. Health care, abortion and, probably, birth control will.

Paul Krugman has been an Opinion columnist since 2000 and is also a distinguished professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography.

The Devil May Be Enjoying This Election Season, but I Am Not

Thomas L. Friedman – July 9, 2024

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

When I look at my country’s presidential contest, the first thought that comes to mind is that only the Devil himself could have designed this excruciating mess.

Both men running for president right now are unfit for the job: One is a good man in obvious cognitive and physical decline, and the other is a bad man who lies as he breathes, whose main platform is revenge — and who is in his own cognitive tailspin.

But the most important difference for the country — where you really see the Devil at work — is in the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. The plain fact is that only one party in America’s two-party system is ready to defend our constitutional order anymore. The other party is interested only in gaining and holding power for the sake of it.

The G.O.P.’s moral emptiness is manifested in several ways. The party has been purged of virtually every Republican politician unwilling to submit to its Dear Leader — Donald Trump, who attempted to overturn our last presidential election. The wife of a Republican-appointed Supreme Court justice advocated overturning the results of the election on utterly bogus grounds, which shows you just how little respect that party now has for our sacred institutions. And it is ready to renominate Trump even though many of those who worked most intimately with him in his first term — including his vice president, secretary of defense, secretary of state, chief of staff, national security adviser, press secretary, communications director and attorney general — have warned the country in speeches, interviews and memoirs that Trump is erratic, immoral and someone who must never be let near the White House again.

One of the biggest mistakes Americans would be making if they were to elect Trump again is assuming that because we survived four years of his norm-busting, law-abusing, ally-alienating behavior once, we can skate by again without irreparable damage. It is the political equivalent of assuming that because you played Russian roulette once and survived you can play it again. That’s insane.

But that is precisely why this election is so important and precisely why the Democratic Party, which still prioritizes defending our democracy, must urgently produce a presidential candidate with the wits, vitality and appeal to independents to build an electoral majority to preserve our constitutional order.

Nothing else matters today — nothing, nothing, nothing.

But the leader the Democratic Party has right now, President Biden — someone I admire but who clearly has lost a step cognitively and physically — has combatively dug in his heels, lashed out at his critics and dared them to challenge him at the convention, despite the mounting calls for him to step aside. One would hope that his wife and family, who surely know the extent of his physical and mental frailties, would prevail upon him to step aside, but they won’t — seemingly oblivious to the risk this is posing to the country and the whole Biden legacy.

My God, the Devil must be enjoying this. I am not.

If Biden were to win, we’d all need to pray that he can get out of bed every day to carry out his agenda as well as he did in the past. If Trump were to win, we’d all need to pray that he stays in bed all day so that he can’t carry out his impulsive agenda, which seems driven first and foremost by which side of the bed he gets out of.

We can do better than this — and we must. Because this is also no ordinary election season. We are at a profound hinge of history that is going to put us on a roller coaster of job market volatility, geopolitical volatility and climate volatility.

The artificial intelligence revolution of the past four years is widely expected to slam into the white-collar job market in the next four like a Category 5 hurricane. The lengthy Hollywood writers strike last year was just a tiny foretaste of what this destabilizing revolution in white-collar work will look like.

At the same time, we are in the middle of defining the post-post-Cold War order, now that the U.S.-dominated post-Cold War order has come unstuck since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Managing a hostile Russia — aligned with an increasingly hostile China, aligned with malign actors like Iran and North Korea, and super-empowered nonstate actors like Hamas, the Houthis and Hezbollah — will take not only incredibly wise U.S. leadership but also a U.S. leader able to forge multiple alliances. The post-post-Cold War world can’t be managed by a lonely American superpower telling all its allies to spend more on defense or we will leave you to the tender mercies of Vladimir Putin.

And finally, speaking of hurricanes, there is every indication that our core climate change challenge — how we manage the disruptive weather that is already unavoidable and avoid the disruptive weather that would become unmanageable — is now on our doorstep. The decisions we make in the next four years may be our last chance to avoid the unmanageable.

Those are just a few of the anticipated challenges facing the next president. And God save us from the unanticipated ones, like massive climate-driven migrations amplifying geopolitical instability. America always needs clearheaded and vigorous leadership, but we need it now more than ever.

Democrats, if they are being responsible, need to imagine Biden two or three years from now, given the inevitable march of time. Do those running the Biden campaign and those Democratic Party leaders who tell Biden to hang tough really believe that in two years he will have the capacity to carry out the rigorous job of president, with all its pressures, even on a good day? He is already saying he doesn’t want to schedule events past 8 p.m., but the presidency has never been and will never be an 8 a.m.-to-8 p.m. job.

And can you imagine the conspiracy theories that will be circulating on social media and Fox News over “who is actually making decisions?” at the Biden White House when people see a president in two years who is more physically and verbally impaired? The only-Biden Democrats — and the Biden campaign — owe the country an answer to that question. I take no joy in asking it, but ask it we must.

Ditto for Trump. What will it mean for America in the age of A.I. to have a president who swore in an affidavit in a 2022 court case, “Since at least Jan. 1, 2010, it has been my customary practice to not communicate via email, text message, or other digital methods of communication”?

What will it mean to have a president who is a crude-oil-loving climate change skeptic when nearly 70 million Americans were under heat alerts last Sunday, a day on which temperatures in Las Vegas hit 120 degrees for the first time in recorded history?

What will it mean in an age when there is no important problem that can be solved by one country alone — whether mitigating climate change, regulating A.I., dealing with massive global migrations or confronting nuclear proliferation — to have a president who believes in America first and only, and that most allies are freeloaders, that U.S. tariffs are paid by China, not American consumers and that global multilateral institutions — NATO, the W.T.O., the European Union, the W.H.O., the U.N. — are an alphabet soup of useless “globalists”?

Of course, I will vote for Biden if he is the Democratic nominee. And you should, too. We have to do anything we can to stop Trump. But Democrats continuing to insist on putting him there are behaving with dangerous recklessness.

I repeat: Just because we managed to barely survive the Trump stress test to our constitutional order once — not without some serious damage — does not mean our democracy can survive another four Trump years with his now Supreme Court-fortified sense of impunity. Especially if we combine the self-induced stress levels from a second Trump term with the boiling external stresses already building up around us.

That would indeed be playing Russian roulette again — only this time with a fully loaded pistol. That’s a game only the Devil himself would design.

More on the 2024 presidential candidates:

Gail Collins and Bret Stephens: The Presidential Fitness Test Is Back – July 8, 2024

Charles M. Blow, Ross Douthat, David French, Nicholas Kristof, Pamela Paul, Lydia Polgreen, Derek Arthur, Sophia Alvarez Boyd, Vishakha Darbha and Jillian Weinberger: Who Should Lead the Democratic Ticket? Six Columnists Weigh In. – July 4, 2024

Charles M. Blow: Forcing Biden Out Would Have Only One Beneficiary: Trump – July 3, 2024

Thomas L. Friedman is the foreign affairs Opinion columnist. He joined the paper in 1981 and has won three Pulitzer Prizes. He is the author of seven books, including “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” which won the National Book Award.

Omnipotent SCOTUS bows to the Court of King Donald

Omnipotent SCOTUS bows to the Court of King Donald

John Hanno – July 4, 2024

I’m astonished, on this Independence Day 2024, the near 250th anniversary, of America’s Founding Father delegates of the Second Continental Congress declaring the original Thirteen Colonies emancipated from the Monarch of Great Britain, King George III., at having to rationalize SCOTUS’s irrational political proclamation, returning subordination of America’s Democratic experiment back to a now unfettered, kleptocratic, facist minded, autocratic King.

The Mighty Oz has spoken. Six extreme right justices of the highest court in the land have shown their true colors. They clearly believe 250 years of American jurisprudence is suspect, and that our elected legislative branch’s of government can’t be trusted to fashion unbiased laws, that large segments of our judicial branch’s of government can’t be trusted to rule fairly and without favor, that the Democratic Institutions which have served us dependably for many decades, can’t be trusted to dispense scientific and reasoned judgments, that the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees Freedom of the Press, is just more proof of a deep state conspiracy, that disaffected members of the Rockefeller, Eisenhower, Regan conservative Grand Old Party can’t be trusted to engage in bipartisan governance, and that pro choice women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, environmentalists, gun rights and labor advocates, teachers and librarians, the secular and non christians, all can’t be trusted on anything, and that large majorities of We The People, who are at loggerheads on dozens of critical issues, with this new trump conscripted MAGA cult, with the rich and powerful, and with SCOTUS itself, can’t be trusted.

The uncompromising SCOTUS answer to litigants who seek justice and reasoned deliberation from the Court, and who sometimes kneel in prayer on the steps of the Supreme Court building, begging for help, is:

“You’ve no power here! Begone, before someone drops a house on you too!” Wizard of Oz

This Court’s rulings; sometimes applying originalist or textualist interpretations, sometimes not, sometimes narrow, sometimes expansive, sometimes quick, sometimes slow, sometimes follow The Doctrine of Stare Decisis, but only if it suits them. These consequential decisions, more often than not, render unprecedented and confusing views of the U.S. Constitution, and are befuddling to common folks and legal scholars of every stripe alike.

They might advocate for Fundamental Rights, for corporations yes, but seldom for the less powerful. It’s almost as if they’re taking directives from wealthy, fawning benefactors expecting quid pro quo from justices, or from powerful political party leaders and operatives bent on undermining both the Constitution and our Democracy. Pandering to the rich and powerful, no matter how convoluted in reasoning and no matter how demented or suspect the litigant, is not beyond the courts ability to excuse the un-American and un-Democratic conduct of a demented citizen suffering a boggled mind. One would think that judges who aren’t accountable to anyone, or to any set of rules, who have lifetime jobs, would not be intimidated by the person who hired them.

“As for you, my fine friend, you’re a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You’re confusing courage with wisdom.” — The Wizard of Oz

The 6 far right Supreme Court Jesters (SCJOTUS) have now putinized the Presidency of the United States. trump was always envious of putin and Kim Jong’s luxury of ruling as Kingly monarchs unconstrained by rules, laws, precedent, integrity, equity, honesty, human decency, and above all, the truth. Toss in the express ability to break any of our mortal laws, including retribution and exacting revenge on any perceived member of one’s enemy’s list, and having been granted the capability of disappearing a political rival, and America’s Democracy is no longer the model for the world to aspire to.

“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Dorothy

Justice Sotomayor Dissented:

“Looking beyond the fate of this particular prosecution, the long-term consequences of today’s decision are stark. The court effectively creates a law-free zone around the president, upsetting the status quo that has existed since the founding. This new official-acts immunity now ‘lies about like a loaded weapon’ for any president that wishes to place his own interests, his own political survival, or his own financial gain, above the interests of the nation.

“Sotomayor said that the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, invents “an atextual, ahistorical, and unjustifiable immunity that puts the President above the law.””

“Their ruling, she went on, makes three moves that she said “completely insulate Presidents from criminal liability.” Sotomayor said the court creates absolute immunity for the president’s exercise of “core constitutional powers,” creates “expansive immunity for all ‘official acts,'” and “declares that evidence concerning acts for which the President is immune can play no role in any criminal prosecution against him.””

“Orders are nobody can see the Great Oz! Not nobody, not nohow!”— Doorman

Sotomayor warned that the ruling “will have disastrous consequences for the Presidency and for our democracy” and that it sends the message: “Let the President violate the law, let him exploit the trappings of his office for personal gain, let him use his official power for evil ends.”

She added, “Even if these nightmare scenarios never play out, and I pray they never do, the damage has been done. The relationship between the President and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law.”

In her own written dissent, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said that the majority’s ruling “breaks new and dangerous ground.

“Departing from the traditional model of individual accountability, the majority has concocted something entirely different: a Presidential accountability model that creates immunity—an exemption from criminal law — applicable only to the most powerful official in our Government,” she wrote.

“These things must be done delicately, or you hurt the spell.” Wicked Witch of the West

Jackson warned that under the majority’s “new Presidential accountability mode,” a hypothetical president “who admits to having ordered the assassinations of his political rivals or critics…or one who indisputably instigates an unsuccessful coup…has a fair shot at getting immunity.”

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” — The Wizard of Oz

Chief Justice Roberts rebukes the 3 liberals on the court, suggesting that his three liberal colleagues had misinterpreted the majority’s opinion and were engaging in “fear mongering.” Roberts argued that they “strike a tone of chilling doom that is wholly disproportionate to what the Court actually does today.” He wrote that “like everyone else, the President is subject to prosecution in his unofficial capacity.”

“My goodness, what a fuss you’re making! Well naturally, when you go around picking on things weaker than you are. Why, you’re nothing but a great big coward!” Dorothy

A Biden campaign adviser, on the other hand, said that the ruling doesn’t change what happened on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Donald Trump snapped after he lost the 2020 election and encouraged a mob to overthrow the results of a free and fair election,” the adviser said. “Trump is already running for president as a convicted felon for the very same reason he sat idly by while the mob violently attacked the Capitol: he thinks he’s above the law and is willing to do anything to gain and hold onto power for himself.”

The twice impeached ex president trump, four times indicted by grand juries, convicted on 34 felony counts, awaiting 3 additional trials on scores more felonies for attempting to overturn the 2020 election and overthrow our government, and for stealing top secret confidential documents, was found guilty of rampant fraud personally and in his business, was also found guilty of sexual assault and libel, has so far escaped being held accountable for his 6 years long crime spree. Because he’s been able to spend more than $100 million dollars of other people’s money on legal fees, in order to delay all of his pending cases, that accounting probably won’t happen before the 2024 presidential election.

“Lions, and tigers and bears! Oh my!” Dorothy, Tim Man and Scarecrow.

Soon after the court issued the ruling, Trump celebrated the decision on his Truth Social account, writing in all caps: “Big win for our Constitution and democracy. Proud to be an American!”

“Some people without brains do an *awful* lot of talking, don’t they?” The Scarecrow

trump’s conspirators are numerous, starting with the republi-cons in the U.S. Senate, who could have stopped him long ago. Minority Leader McConnell said the former president was “practically and morally responsible” for the attack on the Capitol on January 6. But after voting to acquit, McConnell argued that he believed it was unconstitutional to convict a president who was no longer in office.

“For 23 years, I’ve been dying to tell you what I thought of you, and now… well, being a Christian woman (Senator), I can’t say it!” — Auntie Em

All of the members of the MAGA republi-con congress could have held trump accountable by not condoning or endorsing every hair-brained scheme, criminal conduct, grift and assault on our Democratic institutions, our courts, the independent press and the American voters.

“Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila… er, phila… er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers.” — The Wizard of Oz

The embarrassing and comical parade of U.S. Congress men and women, dressed in their cult leader’s blue suit and red tie costume, who pontificated outside the New York court about the injustice of the American system of justice’s attempts to hold trump accountable for his one man crime wave, will be remembered in history for their un-American and treasonous butt kissing of an angry, demented megalomaniac bent on retribution and revenge.

“You’re right, I am a coward! I haven’t any courage at all. I even scare myself.” The Cowardly Lion

The U.S. Constitution establishes 3 equal branches of government. The partisan deadlocked legislative branch has proved powerless to hold trump and many of his cowardly conspirators accountable. The many courts who have ruled against and prosecuted trump for his crimes, in spite of scores of trump lawyers filing hundreds of frivolous, obfuscating briefings aimed primarily at delaying accountability until after the election, have been mostly neutered by this unjustifiable Supreme Court ruling on immunity. This rogue court has attempted to not only usurp and strip legislatures, the lower courts and our Democratic institutions of their Constitutional powers, they have empowered the executive branch and the president with a broad immunity contrary to the founding fathers intensions.

There are some hero’s in this American tragedy. Although the U.S. Senate voted 57-43 to acquit trump at his impeachment trial, for his role in inciting the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol, the largest number of senators in history, voted to find a president of their own party guilty of an impeachment charge. Voting to find Trump guilty were GOP Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.

The Republicans in the House censured and forced out Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of my home state of Illinois, for their courageous role in the January 6th Committee hearings and for referring trump’s conduct to the Justice Department. Liz Cheney has more balls than all the MAGA republi-con men in congress combined.

On September 17, 1787: Benjamin Franklin presided over the first day of the Constitutional Convention, in his home town of Philadelphia.

The day began with a prepared speech from Ben Franklin (PA) who, eighty-one years old and painfully afflicted with gout and kidney stone, was unable to read the speech himself and delegated that task to Wilson (PA).

On September 18, 1787, the final day of the Convention, this now famous quote of Benjamin Franklin was recorded in a journal kept by James McHenry, a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention. 

Elizabeth Willing Powel of Philadelphia, asked Dr. Franklin: “Well Doctor what have we got, a republic or a monarchy – A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.”

Oblique view of Powel house, looking southwest
Elizabeth and Samuel Powel’s house at 244 South Third Street, Philadelphia, where the conversation between Elizabeth Powel and Benjamin Franklin might have taken place. Historic American Buildings Survey. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

It appears we must rely on another 81 year old patriot to help preserve our Democratic Republic. Although not as eloquent as Benjamin Franklin, and in spite of his word fumbles and stutters, President Joseph Biden believes he’s up to the task. I also believe he is. One very important advantage, is Joe Biden’s ability to bring people together to solve America’s and the world’s monumental problems. With the highly qualified and diverse people he’s brought into his administration (none of them indicted, resigned, fired or in prison), to the 50 countries he’s help assembled to defend Ukraine against trump’s brother from another mother, the Biden administration has more than risen to the task over the last 3 1/2 years. But Uncle Joe can’t do it himself, everyone in his administration must step up. And the voters must award the President with a big D Democratic House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Joe Biden is remarkably adept at overcoming trying times.

Frightened? Child, you’re talking to a man who’s laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe. I was petrified.” — The Wizard of Oz

trump, on the other hand, hires people not for their expertise at governing or solving problems, but for their ability to dismantle the critical Democratic institutions they’re tasked with running, for their talent at ignoring laws and regulations, for engaging in self-serving financial enrichment, and for turning a blind eye to trump’s chaotic reign of terror. During his administration, the media had flow charts of the dozens of trump appointees who were fired, resigned, indicted, tried, convicted and sent to prison. And all of them had to hire lawyers, and their lawyers had to hire lawyers, and their lawyers, lawyers had to hire lawyers.

And a Final Word From the Library of Congress Blog:

“Another source of Elizabeth Willing Powel’s influence was her own social and political dexterity, which she deployed to make her home a gathering place for the city’s political elite from the revolutionary period through George Washington’s presidency. Among the regulars at Powel’s dinners and parties were George and Martha Washington, with whom the Powel’s became close friends. Letters exchanged between the couples are in the George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress. One of these, from Elizabeth Powel to George Washington, dates from the third year of Washington’s first term as president, a time when he was hoping he would be able to resign the presidency and go home.

Detail of letter from Elizabeth Willing Powel to George Washington
“May you, till the extremest old age, enjoy the pure Felicity of having employed your whole Faculties for the Prosperity of the People for whose Happiness you are responsible, for to you their Happiness is intrusted.” Elizabeth Willing Powel to George Washington, November 17, 1792, George Washington Papers, Manuscript Division.

In his 1789 inaugural address, and in many private letters as well, Washington made clear that he was longing to return to his retirement at Mount Vernon. Less than a week after his inauguration, he wrote to former military officer and South Carolina legislator Edward Rutledge that when he accepted his “duty to embark” on the presidency, which he described as “the tempestuous and uncertain Ocean of public life,” he “gave up all expectations of private happiness in this world.” In the fall of 1792, seeing the end of his first term in sight, Washington began planning his exit. Elizabeth Willing Powel was among the friends who convinced him to stay. In her letter she warned him that his political opponents would see his resignation as a sign that he believed the republican experiment had failed and, fearing for his own reputation, had “withdrawn from it that you might not be crushed under its Ruins.” She pleaded with him: “For Gods sake do not yield . . . to a Love of Ease, Retirement, rural Pursuits.”

Please don’t retire Joe !

Extreme heat waves broiling the US in 2024 aren’t normal: How climate change is heating up weather around the world

The Conversation

Extreme heat waves broiling the US in 2024 aren’t normal: How climate change is heating up weather around the world

Mathew Barlow and Jeffrey Basara, UMass Lowell – July 9, 2024

Visitors walk past a sign reading 'Stop: Extreme Heat Danger' in Death Valley National Park during a heat wave on July 7, 2024. <a href=
Visitors walk past a sign reading ‘Stop: Extreme Heat Danger’ in Death Valley National Park during a heat wave on July 7, 2024. Etienne Laurent/AFP via Getty Images

Less than a month into summer 2024, the vast majority of the U.S. population has already experienced an extreme heat wave. Millions of people were under heat warnings across the western U.S. in early July or sweating through humid heat in the East.

Death Valley hit a dangerous 129 degrees Fahrenheit (53.9 C) on July 7, a day after a motorcyclist died from heat exposure there. Las Vegas broke its all-time heat record at 120 F (48.9 C). In California, days of over-100-degree heat in large parts of the state dried out the landscape, fueling wildfires. Oregon reported several suspected heat deaths.

Extreme heat like this has been hitting countries across the planet in 2024.

Globally, each of the past 13 months has been the hottest on record for that month, including the hottest June, according to the European Union’s Copernicus climate service. The service reported on July 8, 2024, that the average temperature for the previous 12 months had also been at least 1.5 C (2.7 F) warmer than the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average.

The 1.5 C warming threshold can be confusing, so let’s take a closer look at what that means. In the Paris climate agreement, countries worldwide agreed to work to keep global warming under 1.5 C, however that refers to the temperature change averaged over a 30-year period. A 30-year average is used to limit the influence of natural year-to-year fluctuations.

So far, the Earth has only crossed that threshold for a single year. However, it is still extremely concerning, and the world appears to be on track to cross the 30-year average threshold of 1.5 C within 10 years.

A chart shows yearly averages and the trend line going out 10 more years before it crosses 1.5 C for the 30-year average.
Global temperatures showing the trend line averaged over 30 years. Copernicus Climate Change and Atmosphere Monitoring Services

We study weather patterns involving heat. The early season heat, part of a warming trend fueled by humans, is putting lives at risk around the world.

Heat is becoming a global problem

Record heat has hit several countries across the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia in 2024. In Mexico and Central America, weeks of persistent heat starting in spring 2024 combined with prolonged drought led to severe water shortages and dozens of deaths.

Extreme heat turned into tragedy in Saudi Arabia, as over 1,000 people on the Hajj, a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, collapsed and died. Temperatures reached 125 F (51.8 C) at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on June 17.

A large number of people in traditional clothing covering them from their necks to their wrists and ankles walk on wide pathway, some carrying umbrellas for shade.
Muslim pilgrims spent hours in extreme temperatures and humidity during the Hajj in June 2024 in Saudi Arabia. Over 1,000 people died in the heat. AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

Hospitals in Karachi, Pakistan, were overwhelmed amid weeks of high heat, frequent power outages, and water shortages in some areas. Neighboring India faced temperatures around 120 F (48.9 C) for several days in April and May that affected millions of people, many of them without air conditioning.

In Greece, where temperatures were over 100 F (37.8 C) for days in June, several tourists died or were feared dead after going hiking in dangerous heat and humidity.

Japan issued heatstroke alerts in Tokyo and more than half of its prefectures as temperatures rose to record highs in early July.

The climate connection: This isn’t ‘just summer’

Although heat waves are a natural part of the climate, the severity and extent of the heat waves so far in 2024 are not “just summer.”

A scientific assessment of the fierce heat wave in the eastern U.S. in June 2024 estimates that heat so severe and long-lasting was two to four times more likely to occur today because of human-caused climate change than it would have been without it. This conclusion is consistent with the rapid increase over the past several decades in the number of U.S. heat waves and their occurrence outside the peak of summer.

These record heat waves are happening in a climate that’s globally more than 2.2 F (1.2 C) warmer – when looking at the 30-year average – than it was before the industrial revolution, when humans began releasing large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions that warm the climate.

Two global maps show much faster warming per decade over the past 30 years than in the past 120 years.
Global surface temperatures have risen faster per decade in the past 30 years than over the past 120. NOAA NCEI

While a temperature difference of a degree or two when you walk into a different room might not even be noticeable, even fractions of a degree make a large difference in the global climate.

At the peak of the last ice age, some 20,000 years ago, when the Northeast U.S. was under thousands of feet of ice, the globally averaged temperature was only about 11 F (6 C) cooler than now. So, it is not surprising that 2.2 F (1.2 C) of warming so far is already rapidly changing the climate.

If you thought this was hot

While this summer is likely be one of the hottest on record, it is important to realize that it may also be one of the coldest summers of the future.

For populations that are especially vulnerable to heat, including young children, older adults and outdoor workers, the risks are even higher. People in lower-income neighborhoods where air conditioning may be unaffordable and renters who often don’t have the same protections for cooling as heating will face increasingly dangerous conditions.

Extreme heat can also affect economies. It can buckle railroad tracks and cause wires to sag, leading to transit delays and disruptions. It can also overload electric systems with high demand and lead to blackouts just when people have the greatest need for cooling.

The good news: There are solutions

Yes, the future in a warming world is daunting. However, while countries aren’t on pace to meet their Paris Agreement goals, they have made progress.

In the U.S., the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act has the potential to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half by 2035.

Switching from air conditioners to heat pumps and network geothermal systems can not only reduce fossil fuel emissions but also provide cooling at a lower cost. The cost of renewable energy continues to plummet, and many countries are increasing policy support and incentives.

A chart shows the number of heat waves is likely to be four times higher in a world 2.7 F (1.5 C) warmer and nearly five times higher in a world 6.3 F (3.5 C) warmer. Both scenarios are possible as global emissions rise.
Actions to reduce warming can limit a wide range of hazards and create numerous near-term benefits and opportunities. National Climate Assessment 2023

There is much that humanity can do to limit future warming if countries, companies and people everywhere act with urgency. Rapidly reducing fossil fuel emissions can help avoid a warmer future with even worse heat waves and droughts, while also providing other benefits, including improving public health, creating jobs and reducing risks to ecosystems.

Read more:

Mathew Barlow has received funding from the NOAA Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections Program to study heatwaves.

Jeffrey Basara has received funding from the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation to study flash drought and extreme temperatures.

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.