People With Criminal Records React to Trump Verdict: ‘Now You Understand’

The New York Times

People With Criminal Records React to Trump Verdict: ‘Now You Understand’

Shaila Dewan – June 4, 2024

Former President Donald Trump outside Trump Tower after his felony convictions in Manhattan, May 30, 2024. (Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times)
Former President Donald Trump outside Trump Tower after his felony convictions in Manhattan, May 30, 2024. (Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times)

Some Democratic leaders are eager to make former President Donald Trump’s new identity as a convicted criminal central to their pitch to voters on why he is unfit for office. At the same time, there has been a movement on the left for years to end the stigma of criminal records and point out grave issues in the country’s legal system.

That is why in the wake of the news last week that a New York jury had found Trump guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, there were especially complex and personal reactions among the millions of Americans who have also been convicted of felonies.

They debated whether the former president’s convictions made him one of them or only underscored how unlike them he was, and discussed their mixed feelings over hearing an entire country discuss the ramifications of having a rap sheet.

“He’s convicted, so now he’s in our community,” said Rahim Buford, 53, who also has a felony conviction on his record.

Buford believes that neither Democrats nor Republicans have done enough to address significant parts of America’s criminal justice system that are broken, including wrongful convictions, racial disparities and a rate of imprisonment that far outstrips that of other industrialized nations.

So he wondered if sharing a label with the leader of the Republican Party might not, in some way, help his cause.

“Will he go to prison? I doubt it. Will it change his lifestyle? I doubt it,” said Buford, who founded the organization Unheard Voices Outreach for the formerly incarcerated in Nashville, Tennessee. “But what I know it will do is give him — he’s already had — an experience that he can never forget. Because once you go through the criminal legal system and you’re put on trial, that’s traumatizing.”

He added: “Now you understand, at least a little bit, what it feels like.”

For Dawn Harrington, who served time on Rikers Island in New York and now directs an organization called Free Hearts for families affected by incarceration in Tennessee, watching the news coverage of Trump’s criminal conviction last week was upsetting.

She heard liberals rejoice that he was now a “convicted felon,” a term she and others have tried to persuade people not to use.

Harrington said she did time for gun possession after traveling to New York with a handgun that was registered in Tennessee. She is from a part of Nashville that has a high level of incarceration, she said, and her brother had also gone to prison.

After the Trump verdict, she also heard President Joe Biden defend the justice system as a “cornerstone of America” that has endured for “nearly 250 years” — back to a time, Harrington noted, when slavery was legal.

The rhetoric, she thought, was “quite frankly dehumanizing to the base that we organize with,” she said.

At the same time, Harrington said, a group chat she is on erupted into a conversation about what it was like to see national news outlets discussing “permanent punishments,” like the loss of voting rights. Criminal convictions often become obstacles to finding jobs and housing, and bar people from voting, owning guns and pursuing some careers.

An estimated 77 million Americans have a criminal record of some kind, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nearly 20 million, according to another estimate, have been convicted of felonies.

Differences abound between Trump and the vast majority of Americans who are convicted of felonies, who are overwhelmingly poor and disproportionately Black, Latino and Native American. It is rare for a criminal case to even go to trial; most are resolved through plea bargains.

Trump is running for the highest office in the country, and prosecutors in the case argued that by falsifying business documents to cover up hush-money payments to a porn actor, he deceived the American people.

Few of the typical consequences are expected to affect Trump, who now lives in Florida. Some legal experts said he was likely to retain his voting rights, unlike most other Florida residents convicted of felonies, because he was convicted in a different state.

“Him having a felony conviction now, that doesn’t make him one of us,” said David Ayala, who lives in Orlando, Florida, and said that his last criminal conviction, for conspiracy to sell drugs in 2000, still kept him from accompanying his daughters on school field trips. “He has had access to plenty of resources. He has privilege.”

Yet Ayala recognized a chance to make criminal justice a bigger issue. “Here we have a former president who feels he did not receive a fair trial,” he said. “So what does that say about our justice system?”

At the same time, Ayala cannot forget that after a group of Black and Latino teenagers were arrested in connection with the rape of a jogger in Central Park in 1989, Trump took out full-page newspaper ads calling for New York to reinstate the death penalty. The teenagers, who became known as the Central Park Five, were later exonerated and the real perpetrator was identified.

Ayala said that it was tricky to craft a statement about the Trump conviction on behalf of the Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People and Families Movement, a network of groups that he leads.

The group’s leaders wanted to caution against the use of terms like “felon” and “convicted criminal” for Trump, but without appearing to support him. “There are so many characteristics to him that are completely against what we stand for,” Ayala said, citing Trump’s record on race.

Buford, in Nashville, was less guarded in his hopes for capitalizing on the moment. He served 26 years for killing a man during an armed robbery when he was 19, and he knows that political will can be very different when it comes to people whose offenses were, like Trump’s, nonviolent.

“We have a different narrative now,” he said. “President Biden could do massive clemencies right now. I think it can change things for us if we strategize and think bigger and leave our personal feelings out of it.”

Sheinbaum Makes History as First Woman Elected to Lead Mexico

The New York Times

Sheinbaum Makes History as First Woman Elected to Lead Mexico

Natalie Kitroeff – June 3, 2024

A young girl with the name of Claudia Sheinbaum, a climate scientist and former mayor of Mexico City, on her face attends Sheinbuam’s election night event in Mexico City, on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Fred Ramos/The New York Times)
A young girl with the name of Claudia Sheinbaum, a climate scientist and former mayor of Mexico City, on her face attends Sheinbuam’s election night event in Mexico City, on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Fred Ramos/The New York Times)

MEXICO CITY — Claudia Sheinbaum, a climate scientist and former mayor of Mexico City, won her nation’s elections Sunday in a landslide victory that brought a double milestone: She became the first woman, and the first Jewish person, to be elected president of Mexico.

Early results indicated that Sheinbaum, 61, prevailed in what the authorities called the largest election in Mexico’s history, with the highest number of voters taking part and the most seats up for grabs.

It was a landmark vote that saw not one, but two, women vying to lead one of the hemisphere’s biggest nations. And it will put a Jewish leader at the helm of one of the world’s largest predominantly Catholic countries.

Sheinbaum, a leftist, campaigned on a vow to continue the legacy of Mexico’s current president and her mentor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, which delighted their party’s base — and raised alarm among detractors. The election was seen by many as a referendum on his leadership, and her victory was a clear vote of confidence in López Obrador and the party he started.

López Obrador has completely reshaped Mexican politics. During his tenure, millions of Mexicans were lifted out of poverty and the minimum wage doubled. But he has also been a deeply polarizing president, criticized for failing to control rampant cartel violence, for hobbling the nation’s health system and for persistently undercutting democratic institutions.

Still, López Obrador remains widely popular and his enduring appeal propelled his chosen successor. And for all the challenges facing the country, the opposition was unable to persuade Mexicans that their candidate was a better option.

“We love her, we want her to work like Obrador,” Gloria Maria Rodríguez, 78, from Tabasco, said of Sheinbaum. “We want a president like Obrador.”

Sheinbaum won with at least 58% of the vote, according to preliminary results, while her closest competitor, Xóchitl Gálvez, an entrepreneur and former senator on a ticket with a coalition of opposition parties, had at least 26.6%.

If early returns hold, Sheinbaum will have captured a broader share of the vote than any candidate in decades.

Speaking to supporters early Monday, Sheinbaum vowed to work on behalf of all Mexicans, reaffirmed her party’s commitment to democracy and celebrated her groundbreaking ascension to the nation’s highest office.

“For the first time in 200 years of the republic, I will become the first female president of Mexico,” she said. “And as I have said on other occasions, I do not arrive alone. We all arrived, with our heroines who gave us our homeland, with our ancestors, our mothers, our daughters and our granddaughters.”

Sheinbaum said she received calls from Gálvez and the third-place candidate, Jorge Álvarez Máynez, to congratulate her on the victory. Shortly after Sheinbaum’s speech, Gálvez told supporters that the early returns were “not favorable to my candidacy,” and “irreversible,” noting that she had just communicated with Sheinbaum.

Gálvez had said in an interview days before the vote Sunday that “an anti-system vote” against López Obrador could help propel her to victory. In reality, it appeared that many Mexicans still associate the parties backing her with a system they see as inept and corrupt.

“Xóchitl Gálvez has been unable to represent change because the parties backing her embody the establishment,” said Carlos Bravo Regidor, a political analyst based in Mexico City. “Most Mexicans want a continuity of the change brought by López Obrador.”

Many voters seemed to endorse Sheinbaum as an agent of institutionalizing the changes brought about by her mentor. “We need to bring about more change to the country,” said Evelyn Román, 21, a chemical engineering student in Mexico City who supports Sheinbaum. “We did notice the progress in these six years.”

Sheinbaum’s experience is ample: She has a doctorate in energy engineering, participated in a United Nations panel of climate scientists awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and governed the capital, one of the largest cities in the hemisphere.

Known as a demanding boss with a reserved demeanor, Sheinbaum has risen through the ranks by aligning herself completely with López Obrador, who built an entire political party around his outsize personality. During the campaign, she backed many of his most contentious policies, including a slate of constitutional changes that critics say would severely undermine democratic checks and balances.

As a result, the president-elect battled the perception among many Mexicans that she will be little more than a pawn of her mentor.

“There’s this idea, because a lot of columnists say it, that I don’t have a personality,” Sheinbaum complained to reporters earlier this year. “That President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tells me what to do, that when I get to the presidency, he’s going to be calling me on the phone every day.”

Even with the broad mandate voters granted her, she faces significant challenges when she takes office in October.

López Obrador benefited “from the invincible popularity that comes from being a very charismatic leader — something that Claudia is not,” said Paula Sofía Vásquez, a political analyst based in Mexico City.

Cartel violence continues to torment the country, displacing people en masse and fueling one of the deadliest campaign cycles in recent Mexican history, with more than 36 people vying for public office killed since last summer.

Carlos Ortiz, 57, a municipal official working for the Iztapalapa borough in Mexico City, said that such bloodshed compelled him to vote against Sheinbaum.

“I want everything to change,” Ortiz said, recalling the dozens of aspirants for public office killed in recent months. “I don’t want a country on fire anymore.”

López Obrador has directed government attention to addressing the drivers of crime instead of waging war on the criminal groups, a strategy he called “hugs not bullets.” Homicides declined modestly but remain near record levels, and reports of missing people have spiked. Insecurity was a top concern for voters.

Sheinbaum has said she would continue his focus on social causes of the violence, while also working to lower rates of impunity and building up the national guard.

On the economy, the opportunities are clear: Mexico is now the largest trading partner of the United States, benefiting from a recent shift in manufacturing away from China. The currency is so strong it’s been labeled the “super peso.”

But there are also problems simmering. The federal deficit ballooned to around 6% this year, and Pemex, the national oil company, is operating under a mountain of debt, straining public finances.

“The fiscal risk we’re facing at the moment is something we haven’t seen for decades,” said Mariana Campos, director of Mexico Evaluates, a public policy research group.

It’s unclear how Sheinbaum would make good on a range of campaign promises — from building public schools and new health clinics to expanding social welfare programs — given the current state of public finances.

“The problem I see is that a lot of proposals are oriented toward spending and there is nowhere to get the money from,” said Vásquez.

Another challenge involves the broad new responsibilities granted to the armed forces, which have been tasked with running ports and airports, running an airline, and building a railroad through the Mayan jungle. Sheinbaum has said “there is no militarization” of the country, while suggesting she’s open to reevaluating the military’s involvement in public enterprises.

Beyond the domestic strains, Sheinbaum’s destiny will be intertwined with the outcome of the presidential election in the United States.

A reelection victory for President Joe Biden would provide continuity, but a return of Donald Trump to the White House would likely be far less predictable. Trump’s plans to round up people living in the country illegally on a vast scale and deport them to their home countries could target millions of Mexicans living in the United States. He has already threatened to slap 100% tariffs on Chinese cars made in Mexico.

Then there’s the festering issue of fentanyl, which cartels produce in Mexico using chemicals imported from China, the U.S. government says. Trump has suggested taking military action to combat the fentanyl trade.

Sheinbaum has said Mexico would have “good relations” with either Trump or Biden as president, and her campaign team has said it will continue to work to contain flows of migrants.

But handling such pressure from Washington, even in the form of incendiary campaign rhetoric, could prove complicated.

Voters expressed faith in Sheinbaum’s ability to deal with such challenges. Daniela Mendoza, 40, a psychologist who lives in Villahermosa, in Tabasco state, said she had long supported López Obrador, including during his previously unsuccessful bids to win the presidency.

Pleased with his social welfare programs, Mendoza voted for Sheinbaum.

“Claudia follows that line, perhaps with better ideas,” Mendoza said. “And having the first woman president in the country is an accomplishment.”

Judge Cannon Falls for Trump’s Most Nefarious Lie Yet

The New Republic – Opinion

Judge Cannon Falls for Trump’s Most Nefarious Lie Yet

Hafiz Rashid – June 3, 2024

Judge Aileen Cannon seems to have handed Donald Trump another big favor in his classified documents trial—seriously entertaining a lie from the former president.

Trump made up a false claim that the FBI plotted to assassinate him during its search of his Mar-a-Lago estate for classified documents because it had weapons, despite the fact that this is generally standard procedure when law enforcement carries out a search warrant. Trump appointee Cannon has decided to grant this made-up conspiracy legitimacy by giving the presumptive Republican presidential nominee two weeks to prove it, further delaying the trial.

Tweet screenshot: Aileen Cannon gives Trump a full two weeks to argue that he should be allow to falsely claim the FBI tried to assassinate him, a conspiracy theory based off an obvious misstatement from his lawyers.
Tweet screenshot: Aileen Cannon gives Trump a full two weeks to argue that he should be allow to falsely claim the FBI tried to assassinate him, a conspiracy theory based off an obvious misstatement from his lawyers.

It’s the latest in a series of questionable moves from Cannon in the classified documents case. She has indefinitely delayed the case over “unresolved pretrial motions,” and last week she rejected a gag order request from special counsel Jack Smith because she claimed it was “wholly lacking in substance and professional courtesy.” Trump has made no secret of how much he appreciates Cannon’s efforts, and there have been calls for her to remove herself from the case. Even one of Trump’s former lawyers, Ty Cobb, thinks that she is incompetent.

Overall, the trial isn’t running smoothly. One hearing that gave a defendant’s lawyer a chance to allege vindictiveness from a prosecutor devolved into a shouting match. Cannon herself seems to be having trouble understanding basic legal proceedings and principles, leading to long explanations that she still doesn’t appear to grasp. Her conduct has disillusioned some of her clerks, two of whom decided to quit as a result of her conduct on the classified documents case as well as an allegedly hostile work environment. All of this fuels accusations that Cannon is deliberately slowing down the case to benefit Trump and his campaign for president.

Trump faces 42 felony charges in the case related to illegally retaining national security documents and conspiracy to obstruct justice, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Bombshell Report Reveals Team Trump Is Rewarding Key Trial Witnesses

The New Republic – Opinion

Bombshell Report Reveals Team Trump Is Rewarding Key Trial Witnesses

Talia Jane – June 3, 2024

Donald Trump’s campaign and the Trump Organization paid off nine witnesses called to testify in criminal cases against Trump, an explosive new report from ProPublica reveals. Witnesses who testified in defense of Trump for his numerous criminal cases received massive raises, new jobs, cushy severance packages, and more, all conveniently coinciding with being called to testify or after providing testimony favorable to Trump—and the excuses from Team Trump couldn’t be weaker.

Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, told ProPublica witness tampering is often difficult to prove because the gimmick is often not done explicitly. But the trend could assist prosecutors in their efforts to call into question the credibility of witnesses testifying in Trump’s defense for his innumerable legal battles.

In response to queries by ProPublica, team Trump claimed the nine witnesses who all saw big raises and flashy new jobs simply took on more work. The campaign also insisted Trump, who notoriously insists on controlling every facet of his organizations, has no say in who gets promoted or how much they’re paid. “The president is not involved in the decision-making process,” a Trump campaign official told ProPublica. “I would argue Trump doesn’t know what we’re paid.”

Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump’s campaign, questionably asserted in a statement to ProPublica that “the 2024 Trump campaign is the most well-run and professional operation in political history.” Cheung continued, “Any false assertion that we’re engaging in any type of behavior that may be regarded as tampering is absurd and completely fake.” ProPublica also reports the outlet received a cease-and-desist from David Warrington, Trump’s attorney, against publishing its findings, promising that “President Trump will evaluate all legal remedies.” According to ProPublica’s findings, those legal remedies seem to conveniently trend toward doling out big payments to people called to testify on Trump’s behalf.

According to records reviewed by ProPublica, monthly payments from Trump’s campaign to Trump lawyer Boris Epshteyn’s company—which appears to be just a one-man show—more than doubled after Trump was indicted—jumping from $26,000 a month to $53,500 a month. The Trump campaign told ProPublica the increase was due to Epshteyn’s workload increasing, even though Epshteyn has continued taking contracts for other campaigns and landed a job as a managing director at a financial securities firm elsewhere.

Susie Wiles, senior adviser to Trump’s 2024 campaign who allegedly witnessed Trump showing off classified documents, also saw a big bump in pay after being called to a grand jury and before Trump’s indictment in that case. Her pay jumped from $25,000 a month to $30,000 a month and her consulting firm received a hefty $75,000, according to ProPublica. Team Trump claims payments to the consulting firm were simply backpay and her raise was because she “redid her contract.” Her daughter Caroline was hired by the Trump campaign a few months later, receiving a salary of $222,000 and becoming the fourth-highest-paid campaign staffer. Caroline told ProPublica she got the job “because I earned it,” telling ProPublica, “I don’t think it has anything to do with Susie,” referring to her mother. Meanwhile, her mother stated she directly hired her nepobaby daughter and that Trump had no influence in that decision.

Dan Scavino, a political adviser and Trump’s former chief of staff, was given a seat on Truth Social’s board, Trump’s social media company. His appointment landed between him being subpoenaed and giving testimony to Congress about Trump’s role in the January 6 Capitol riot. Scavino also received a $600,000 retention bonus and “a $4 million ‘executive promissory note’ paid in shares” at some point, according to ProPublica. Conveniently, Scavino’s testimony around the Capitol riot produced no “significant new information,” according to ProPublica.

Allen Weisselberg, a retired Trump Organization chief financial officer who was recently convicted of lying for Trump, received a $2 million severance agreement four months after New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump for real estate fraud. The agreement included a clause preventing Weisselberg from cooperating with investigators unless forced to do so. According to court records, prosecutors in Trump’s hush-money trial raised the agreement for why they wouldn’t call him to testify, noting, “The agreement seems to preclude us from talking to him or him talking to us at the risk of losing $750,000 of outstanding severance pay.”

Witness payoffs are nothing new for team Trump, which has a history of campaign staff getting convicted for federal witness tampering: Roger Stone, Trump’s 2016 campaign adviser, directed a witness to lie to a Senate committee. Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, was convicted for colluding with Russia after previously being convicted for witness tampering. Trump pardoned both, as well as Jared Kushner’s father, in his final days in office.

Why aren’t Americans willing to believe good news about crime?

Yahoo! News 360

Why aren’t Americans willing to believe good news about crime?

Mike Bebernes, Senior Editor – June 3, 2024

Photo illustration: Victoria Ellis for Yahoo News; photos: Getty Images (Photo illustration: Victoria Ellis for Yahoo News; photos: Getty Images)
What’s happening

The best data we have available shows that violent crime in the United States has declined significantly over the past couple of years. But ask the average American and they’ll confidently tell you that it’s actually going up.

According to the FBI’s preliminary analysis, crimes like murder, rape and assault fell in 2023 at what could prove to be a record pace, erasing a pandemic-era spike in violent crimes and bringing the national rates near the lowest levels ever recorded. The rate of property crimes like burglary and theft has also declined.

In survey after survey, though, Americans consistently say they believe crime is increasing. In a poll taken late last year, 77% of people said crime is getting worse, and two-thirds said crime is an extremely or very serious problem. The last time Americans were so pessimistic about crime was in the early 1990s, when the violent crime rate was more than double what it is today.

Perception vs. Data
In any given year, most Americans say crime is going up.
The best stats we have suggest it has plummeted in recent decades.

Violent crime rate……..Percentage who said crime is rising

Graph: https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/18194817/embed?auto=1

This gap between perception and reality has real-world impacts. The campaign to enact police and criminal justice reform gained major momentum in the wake of the nationwide protest movement following George Floyd’s murder in 2020. But it has largely stalled — and in some cases been rolled back — as members of both parties have returned to promoting “tough on crime” policies.

Republicans have also worked to make crime a central issue in the upcoming election, often in connection with immigration based on the false claim that migrants are fueling a national crime wave. They also frequently mischaracterize crime rates in major Democratic-run cities. On Friday, former President Donald Trump, reacting to his own criminal convictions, claimed that crime is “rampant” in New York even though it ranks among the safest cities in the country. Polls suggest that, despite this misleading message, voters trust the GOP to deal with crime much more than Democrats.

Why there’s debate

Part of the disconnect appears to come down to human nature. We tend to put more weight on negative events, whether we experience them personally or simply hear about them, much more than times when everything goes well. Gallup has been polling on perceptions of crime for 25 years, and almost every year a majority of people say it’s going up, even though the actual crime rate has been cut by more than half over that same period.

Experts say there are also plenty of cultural forces that feed our predispositions on crime. Watching the news or using social media, which frequently focuses on out-of-context acts of individual violence, can make crime seem much more prominent than it really is. That’s especially true of conservative media outlets that have a vested interest in promoting the narrative that crime is on the rise.

Politics plays a major role as well. Republicans have been promoting the idea that crime is out of control, especially in blue cities like New York and Chicago, to attack their liberal rivals and draw favor for their “tough on crime” policies for decades. For the most part, though, Democrats have struggled to land on a cohesive narrative to counter these attacks that highlights the progress that has been made without seeming to be dismissive of voters’ concerns.

But some conservative analysts argue that the data is simply wrong and crime has not in fact fallen as much as the numbers would suggest. While the FBI’s figures are the closest thing we have to national crime rates stats, they are far from perfect. They don’t include data from every law enforcement agency in the country and only account for crimes that were in fact reported to police.

Critics say it’s possible that what has really declined is the share of crimes that get reported, either because people distrust the police more recently or because some departments have had their resources cut, not the true crime rate itself. As evidence for this claim, they point to data showing that the share of people who say they’ve been the victim of a crime — whether it was reported or not — did rise in 2022 after falling during the peak of the pandemic.

Perspectives

Good news doesn’t get any attention

“The old adage is that if it bleeds, it leads: Lurid stories attract press coverage. More positive stories, such as the absence of crimes, are less likely to receive attention.” — David A. Graham, The Atlantic

The GOP wants the public to think crime is rampant, and Democrats aren’t eager to counter that message

“Politically, for [Republicans], it would have been helpful if the statistics had been just the opposite. If homicides had gone up, it would have been a useful tool for bashing Democrats in order to take some of the heat off Trump. Democrats, on the other hand, could use the positive stats to bolster policies fostered by the current administration, but they’re being fairly quiet about them because they really want to keep the spotlight on the abortion issue and Trump’s trial.” — EJ Montini, Arizona Republic

Crime hasn’t actually gone down; it has just been reported less

“Americans aren’t mistaken. News reports fail to take into account that many victims aren’t reporting crimes to the police, especially since the pandemic.” — John R. Lott Jr., Wall Street Journal

Social media turns rare incidents into viral moments

“The spread of social media and video technology has made it infinitely easier to film and publicize a viral crime incident such as a large-scale shoplifting spree. There are millions of property crimes occurring each year, but these outlier incidents become the glue people rely on when guesstimating whether crime is up or down. My neighbors never post on NextDoor how many thousands of packages they successfully receive, only video of the one that randomly got swiped.” — Jeff Asher, crime data analyst, via Substack

Conservative media is committed to pushing a false vision of crime

“Even with crime dropping, Fox is still talking about crime as though it’s on the rise. This is often done by cherry-picking, finding a city or a statistic where crime has gone up and then focusing on it. Often, though, it’s simply presented as a given, which its audience — given what it sees on the news — will assume to be the case.” — Philip Bump, Washington Post

Bad data obscures what’s really happening with crime in the U.S.

“I wouldn’t say the FBI is cooking the books, but that the data they are putting out is half-baked. … So it’s not a conspiracy but a rush job, and it’s giving people a false picture. They infer something is true, and then because it’s politically expedient they don’t bother correcting it.” — Sean Kennedy, executive director of the Coalition for Law, Order and Security, to Real Clear Investigations

The chaos of the past few years has left people feeling unsettled and wary of the world around them

“The bottom line is that concern about crime is often a proxy for broader fears about social disorder. Public safety is about more than just the number of robberies and assaults that occur in a given year; it is also about whether people feel safe when they leave their homes. And those vibes have been way off during the past four years.” — Ethan Corey, The Appeal

Trump attorney spars with ABC host over bias

Politico

Trump attorney spars with ABC host over bias

David Cohen – June 2, 2024

Julia Nikhinson/AP

Will Scharf, an attorney for former President Donald Trump, insisted Sunday that the Biden administration was firmly behind Trump’s prosecution even as ABC’s George Stephanopoulos pushed back on that idea.

Speaking on “This Week,” Scharf responded to Stephanopoulos saying, “Of course, the attorney general of Manhattan has nothing to do with the Department of Justice,” by arguing in response: “I vehemently disagree that the district attorney in New York was not politically motivated here, and I vehemently disagree that President Biden and his political allies aren’t up to their necks in this prosecution.”

Stephanopoulos answered: “There’s no evidence here of that sir. … I’m not going to let you continue to say that — there’s zero evidence of that.”

After some further jousting over the issue, the ABC host tried to steer Scharf back to a question he had asked. “This has nothing to do with President Biden,” he said. “Do you want to answer the question about the sentencing process or not?”

“I completely disagree that this has nothing to do with President Biden,” Scharf said. “With respect to sentencing, as I said before, we’re going to vigorously challenge this case on appeal. I don’t think President Trump is going to end up being subject to any sentence whatsoever.”

In discussing the appeals process, Scharf made it clear that Trump’s appeal of his conviction of 34 felony charges would focus on two areas: Justice Juan Merchan’s decision not to recuse himself amid appearances of bias, and Merchan’s instructions to the jury.

Stephanpoulos pointed out that Scharf himself had praised the jury instructions before the deliberations took place.

“I think: Hope for the best, plan for the worst, George. But I think when you look at the totality of the circumstances in this case,” Scharf responded, “this is a prosecution that should have never been brought. This was a case tried in front of a judge that clearly should have recused. I think we have a lot of fair complaints with the way this trial was conducted and I think ultimately, President Trump will be vindicated on appeal.”

In discussing the effectiveness of the defense team’s legal strategies, Scharf also said it “would have been dangerous” for Trump to testify on his behalf, but that he would have made an effective witness if he had testified.

On Thursday, Scharf sharply criticized the verdict right after it came down.

“This is a tragic day in the history of the American Republic,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “President Trump’s conviction proves one thing and one thing only: that Joe Biden and his allies have weaponized our legal system to persecute their principal political opponent. We will speedily appeal, and we will win on appeal because this case is meritless, baseless, and should have never seen the inside of an American courtroom.”

Stephanopoulos cuts off Trump lawyer after he suggests Biden was behind Trump conviction

The Hill

Stephanopoulos cuts off Trump lawyer after he suggests Biden was behind Trump conviction

Sarah Fortinsky – June 2, 2024

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos clashed with former President Trump’s attorney, Will Scharf, in a Sunday interview, over the former president’s unsubstantiated claims that President Biden played a role in bringing the hush money criminal case against Trump in New York.

In an interview on “This Week,” Scharf repeatedly echoed claims of the former president, arguing the hush money criminal trial — which ended in a guilty conviction against Trump on 34 felony counts — was “exhibit A” in terms of the “politicization of the legal system.”

“It’s absolutely unprecedented in American history. It’s not the way that our campaigns are supposed to be run. We contest elections at the ballot box, not in the courts in this country,” Scharf continued.

Stephanopoulos conceded Scharf’s point about winning elections at the ballot box but made clear there was no evidence to suggest any involvement of the federal Department of Justice with the New York state criminal trial that just concluded.

“That is true. But, of course, we’ve never had a former president or presidential candidate facing the kind of charges that the president faced because of his own activities. And, of course, the attorney general in Manhattan has nothing to do with the Department of Justice,” Stephanopoulos said.

As Stephanopoulos tried to pivot back to his question about the sentencing process, Scharf pressed on, refusing to concede his point about the prosecution being politically motivated. Stephanopoulos eventually interrupted.

“I vehemently disagree that the district attorney in New York was not politically motivated here,” Scharf said, “and I vehemently disagree that President Biden and his political allies aren’t up to their necks in this prosecution.”

Stephanopoulos jumped in, saying, “There’s no evidence here of that. Sir … I’m not going to let you continue to say that. There’s just zero evidence of that.”

“Do you want to answer the question about the sentencing process or not?” Stephanopoulos added, after some back-and-forth.

Scharf pointed to the prosecutor in the case, Matthew Colangelo, “standing over [District Attorney] Alvin Bragg’s shoulder when he announced this verdict” as evidence of political interference, noting he used to work at the Department of Justice, before the interview wrapped up.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Louisiana graduate finishes high school as valedictorian while being homeless

CNN

Louisiana graduate finishes high school as valedictorian while being homeless

Ashley R. Williams, CNN – June 1, 2024

A Louisiana high school senior experiencing homelessness recently graduated at the top of his class with the highest-earned GPA.

Elijah Hogan, 19, was named valedictorian of Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans and graduated May 24 with a 3.93 GPA, he told CNN.

Hogan, who became homeless a year and a half ago, says he was in disbelief when he learned of his academic achievement.

“I thought they were mistaking me for someone else, but when I looked at it and I was shown evidence that it was me, I was in awe, like, I was jaw dropped,” said Hogan, who was born in New Orleans and raised mostly in Houston.

Hogan was one of four Black male students who achieved valedictorian status at their New Orleans schools this spring, CNN affiliate WDSU reported.

Hogan, who previously lived with his grandmother since he was 11, says he became homeless after the lease on his grandmother’s house expired when the homeowner decided to sell the property.

He and his grandmother were given 30 days to vacate the house, according to Hogan.

“From there, I made the executive decision to live on my own to lighten my grandmother’s burden,” Hogan told CNN.

While his grandmother went to live in a care home for the elderly, Hogan was left without permanent housing.

His grandmother told him about the Covenant House, a homeless shelter in New Orleans serving youth and young adults ages 16-22. Hogan has been living at the shelter as part of its transitional housing program since he became homeless, he said.

Elijah Hogan, center, proudly holds up his high school diploma from Walter L. Cohen High School. - Courtesy Kewe Ukpolo
Elijah Hogan, center, proudly holds up his high school diploma from Walter L. Cohen High School. – Courtesy Kewe Ukpolo

The program allows young people to stay at the shelter up to 24 months rent-free, giving them an opportunity to focus on education or to save money while working, Covenant House New Orleans chief executive officer Rheneisha Robertson told CNN.

“It really allows them to get stable and identify more permanent, stable housing,” said Robertson, who added the homeless shelter had five other high school graduates this year.

Hogan, who addressed his graduating class with an uplifting valedictorian speech last week, said dealing with homelessness while completing his education was challenging but he found support from the homeless shelter’s employees and his high school’s staff.

“As time went on, I started to open up to people over at Covenant House as well as Cohen, people were there to support me and give me a guiding hand,” Hogan said. “Without them, I wouldn’t (have) become who I am today.”

He credits his Covenant House case manager, Jarkayla Cobb, with never giving up on him.

“She helped me get through it even when I was showing a lack of faith in myself,” Hogan said. “She’s been there no matter what I needed.”

Hogan, who lost his mother just before he turned 12, says her death encouraged him to push forward with his education for his grandmother’s sake.

“I know that’s what (my mother) would have wanted,” he said.

Hogan plans to attend Xavier University in New Orleans in the fall to study graphic design and has been granted a scholarship to cover his tuition fees, he says.

“Elijah’s accomplishments are worth celebrating. We know that they are a product of his character and the choices he made day after day to pursue his dreams,” Jerel Bryant, chief executive officer of Collegiate Academies, which operates Hogan’s former high school, said in a statement.

“His success is also a testament to how capable and excellent our Black youth are, in New Orleans and across this country,” Bryant said.

Hogan offered these words of encouragement for other young people:

“To any race, no matter what color or accent you have, you are your own guiding light,” Hogan said. “You are your own storybook that you write. Let yourself be the pen that you write on paper.”

Trump adviser on Hogan’s verdict remarks: You just ended your campaign

The Hill

Trump adviser on Hogan’s verdict remarks: You just ended your campaign

Filip Timotija – May 30, 2024

Trump adviser on Hogan’s verdict remarks: You just ended your campaign

Former President Trump’s adviser Chris LaCivita said that former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who is running to become one of the state’s next senators, has just ended his campaign with remarks he shared in the lead-up to the decision in the former president’s hush money case.

Minutes before Trump, the Republican presumptive nominee, was found guilty on all 34 felony counts in the Manhattan hush-money case, Hogan shared a Thursday post on the social media platform X, saying that “regardless” of the outcome, Americans should respect the legal “process” and the verdict.

Larry Hogan, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, arrives at the polling place at Davidsonville Elementary School to cast his ballot in the state primary election on May 14, 2024 in Davidsonville, Maryland. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Larry Hogan, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, arrives at the polling place at Davidsonville Elementary School to cast his ballot in the state primary election on May 14, 2024 in Davidsonville, Maryland. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“At this dangerously divided moment in our history, all leaders—regardless of party—must not pour fuel on the fire with more toxic partisanship,” Hogan said. “We must reaffirm what has made this nation great: the rule of law.”

In a little more than an hour, LaCivita, a veteran consultant, who has been overseeing day-to-day operations of the Republican National Committee (RNC) since March, fired back at the former governor, saying “You just ended your campaign.”

Hogan, a frequent Trump critic, is looking to become the first GOP politician to win a seat in Maryland, a blue-leaning state where he served as governor for two consecutive terms.

The moderate Republican, who launched his Senate bid in February, said in March that he would not vote for Trump or for President Biden in 2024.

Hogan is looking to build a diverse coalition of voters as he tries to win the race in November while also stressing that neither Republicans nor Democrats in the upper chamber can count on his vote, showcasing his commitment to being an independent voter.

Hogan won the Maryland GOP primary in May and will square off against Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who beat Rep. David Trone (Md.) in the Democratic primary.

Time Magazine Literally Brings The Gavel Down On Donald Trump In Brutal New Cover

HuffPost

Time Magazine Literally Brings The Gavel Down On Donald Trump In Brutal New Cover

Lee Moran – May 31, 2024

Donald Trump: Guilty

Time magazine wasted little, well, time in showing off a future front page following former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial conviction on Thursday.

The publication posted its June 24 edition cover — featuring a new illustration by Cuban-American artist Edel Rodriguez — several weeks early on X, formerly Twitter.

Time’s new cover: Donald Trump found guilty on all counts. The image showed a gavel being brought down on a sound block, which itself is an abstract interpretation of the preemptive GOP presidential nominee’s face:

TIME's new cover: Donald Trump found guilty on all counts

Rodriguez has mockingly portrayed Trump for the outlet on multiple previous occasions, showing the convicted ex-POTUS as literally melting down, as a peach during his first impeachment for extorting Ukraine and as a wrecking ball dismantling government.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Batb4G5l9ll/embed/captioned?cr=1&v=12

In 2018, Rodriguez marked Trump’s first year in office with this illustration of the then-president’s hair as fire:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bdzy6Uyh5R0/embed/captioned?cr=1&v=12

He also tackled Trump’s disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic with this picture of him and a misplaced face mask:

Image

For Germany’s Der Spiegel, meanwhile, Rodriguez has illustrated Trump as a Statue of Liberty-decapitating lunatic, an asteroid headed for Earth and as wearing a Klu Klux Klan hood.

Rodriguez, who fled Cuba for America as a child, told HuffPost in 2017 that his antipathy toward Trump stemmed from growing up under a brutal dictatorship on the Caribbean islad.