Democrats seek to leverage Alabama embryo ruling in an election year

February 23, 2024

Since the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are people on Friday, February 16, Democrats have begun to seize on the decision—casting it as further evidence of a Republican-led assault on reproductive rights, an issue which they have reason to believe already plays to their advantage, reports The Washington Post.

The Alabama decision, which threatens the practice of in vitro fertilization, comes nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade—prompting several states to enact restrictions on abortion and catapulting the issue of reproductive rights to the forefront of subsequent elections.

Democrats, including those in the White House, argue that the Alabama decision is a harbinger of further restrictions, if Republicans make gains in Congress and expand their hold on statehouses nationwide—and hope the issue can boost turnout in an election year in which polling suggests a lack of enthusiasm for the incumbent president.

In its ruling, the Alabama high court held that someone can be held liable for destroying frozen embryos, a common outcome in IVF procedures, which have been utilized in soaring numbers in the United States by families of all political stripes over the past decade.

Joy Williams, a Democrat consultant based in New York, said the ruling bolsters Democrats ahead of the 2024 election because it will widely be seen by families as part of “an escalating attack on their freedoms” by Republicans.

“What this says to families and individuals is we are going to continue to restrict your ability to make individual choices about your body and your livelihood,” Williams said. “And that motivates people to turn out.”

Reproductive rights as an election issue have been a highly favorable one for Democrats in recent contests. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe, every ballot measure that has sought to preserve or expand abortion access has been successful, while those that have sought to restrict abortion access have failed — even in states that skew conservative.

The White House was quick to put a spotlight on the Alabama decision. In a social media post Wednesday, Vice President Harris called it “outrageous” and said that it “is already robbing women of the freedom to decide when and how to build a family.”

And in statement Thursday, Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez sought to pin blame directly on Trump.

“What is happening in Alabama right now is only possible because Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justices overturned Roe v. Wade,” she said, alluding to the three justices nominated by Trump who currently sit on the court.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump says he doesn’t know whether he could work with Mitch McConnell, if re-elected

February 22, 2024

Former President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, February 20, that he was uncertain if he could work with former ally turned political foe Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, if he were to be re-elected, reports NBC News.

“He’ll probably end up endorsing me. I don’t know that I can work with him,” Trump said during a town hall on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” on Tuesday. “He gave away trillions of dollars that he didn’t have to, trillions of dollars. He made it very easy for the Democrats.”

The relationship between the two Republican leaders soured after McConnell denounced Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot—calling it a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.”

Trump has escalated attacks on McConnell since leaving office, and most recently helped tank the sweeping bipartisan border deal that McConnell supported.

McConnell has not endorsed Trump’s bid for re-election, even as many of his Senate colleagues have—although he said he would support whomever the GOP nominee is and has acknowledged that appears almost certain to be Trump.

NBC News has reached out to McConnell’s office for comment.

Research contact: @NBCNews

‘Not a joke’: John Oliver offers Clarence Thomas millions to resign immediately

February 21, 2024

There’s a reason why John Oliver and his Last Week Tonight crew keep winning Emmy Awards: All of the other late-night TV hosts are all talk and no action, reports The Daily Beast.

Oliver’s Season 11 premiere ended with perhaps his boldest move yet, as he offered sitting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas $1 million per year—plus a brand-new, state-of-the-art motor coach worth an estimated $2.4 million, to replace the justice’s current rig—if Thomas resigns immediately from the highest court in the United States. Oliver’s offer expires in 30 days.

“Clarence Thomas is arguably the most consequential justice on the court right now, and he’s never really seemed to like the job. He’s said it’s not worth doing ‘for the grief.’ So what if he could keep the luxury perks that he clearly enjoys without having to endure all of that grief?” Oliver asked. “We have a special offer for you tonight. We are prepared to offer you $1 million a year for the rest of your life if you simply agree to leave the Supreme Court immediately and never come back.”

Oliver then displayed a contract. “This is not a joke,” he said. “This is real. A million dollars a year until you or I die.”

He said he and his show spoke with legal experts who assured him the offer is legal. “Which seems crazy to me because it really feels like it shouldn’t be. But as they keep pointing out, there are no rules in place to stop me from doing this. And let me be clear: HBO is not putting up the money for this. I am personally on the hook.”

Oliver admitted that he might regret this offer if Thomas accepts it: “I could be doing stand-up tours for your retirement for years.”

Oliver had spent the bulk of the episode diving into the many conflicts of interest surrounding multiple members of SCOTUS; how the American public’s approval of the court has sunk to 18 percentage points; and how important some of the cases in front of SCOTUS are now—not just the issues involving whether former President Donald Trump should be disqualified from the 2024 ballot due to insurrection under the 14th Amendment or whether Trump2024 ballot has immunity from any prosecution, but also matters involving abortion rights and the right of the federal government to regulate anything at all.

But Oliver zeroed in on Thomas, whose lack of recusals for sitting on cases involving his wife, Ginni, are just the tip of the iceberg compared to all of the financial favors Thomas’ wealthy friends have bestowed on him since he joined the court.

One of those things, as featured in a 2017 episode of 60 Minutes and more recently questioned, is a $267,000 loan the Thomas’ were given for the motor coach the couple has used to drive across the country–and then never asked to pay back.

Oliver described the current SCOTUS as at a “breaking point,” and said legislative fixes such as enforceable ethics codes, term limits, or expanding the number of justices might help; but he conceded that those ideas might not ever come to fruition.

“In their confirmation hearings, they pretend to have no idea how they’ll rule on hot-button issues and we all have to pretend to believe them before we appoint them to a job that they can hold until they die,” Oliver said. “We don’t treat them like what they are, which is people who can be motivated by ideology and greed like anybody else.”

Which is why Oliver was hoping a new rig worth tentimes Thomas’ current one would appeal. The motorcoach—on display in the Last Week Tonight studio—features a bedroom with a king bed, one-and-a-half baths, a fireplace, four TVs, a “residential-length fridge” plus a washer and dryer.

“And if you’re thinking, What will my friends say if I take this offer? Will they judge me as they sit in the boardrooms and megayachts and Hitler shrines? Will they still treat me to luxury vacations and sing songs about me off of their phones?” Oliver said. “Well, that’s the beauty of friendships, Clarence. If they’re real friends, they’ll love you no matter what your job is.”

As he threw a stack of bills into the air while standing in front of the souped-up “condo on wheels,” Oliver ended the show by repeating the deadline: “Thirty days Clarence. Let’s do this… Your move, Clarence. Your f**king move.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Reeling from $450 million penalty, Trump hawks $400 ‘golden’ high-top sneakers

February 20, 2024

Former President Donald Trump—reeling from a ruling in a New York civil fraud case on Friday, February 16, that ordered him to pay a $450 million penaltyappeared at a footwear convention in Philadelphia the next day to promote Trump-branded sneakers, retailing for just under $400, reports The New York Times.

The former president took to the stage at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia—facing a less-friendly audience than is typical for his political rallies—brandishing golden shoes called the Never Surrender High-Top, which follow in the footsteps of Trump-branded products like Trump Water, Trump Vodka, and Trump Steaks.

“Wow, a lot of emotion, there’s a lot of emotion in this room,” Trump said after boos and cheers drowned out his voice as he began speaking. He added, “We’re going to remember the young people; we’re going to remember Sneaker Con.”

The appearance, just hours before a scheduled campaign rally in Michigan, is the latest effort by Trump to capitalize on his brand as he faces staggering penalties in civil court cases and 91 felony counts across four criminal indictments. In just the past year, Trump has promoted trading cards, his mug shot, scraps of his clothes, and firearms bearing his name and likeness.

The website selling the shoes says they are not “designed, manufactured, distributed. or sold by Donald J. Trump”—adding that “GetTrumpSneakers.com is not political and has nothing to do with any political campaign.” But the company is using Trump’s brand through a licensing agreement, under which he would most likely get a cut of the revenue. Trump, his campaign, and surrogates all have promoted the shoes, either at the convention or online.

The sneakers, described on the website where they are sold as “Bold, gold, and tough, just like President Trump,” are coated almost entirely in gold—even the shoelaces—and have a “T” badge for Trump and an American flag wrapped around the collar. The site also features two other cheaper sneaker styles in red or white for just under $200, as well as “Victory47” cologne and perfume sold for just under $100.

Derek Guy, a menswear writer who has written extensively about the style of politicians, called the promotion “embarrassing.”

“Imagine Macron doing a limited drop and Rishi Sunak holding pop-up events,” he wrote on social media, referring to the French president and the British prime minister doing similar promotions.

Research contact: @nytimes

Ex-F.B.I. informant is charged with lying over Bidens’ role in Ukraine business

February 16, 2024

The special counsel investigating Hunter Biden has charged a former F.B.I. informant with fabricating claims that President Joe Biden and his son each sought $5 million bribes from a Ukrainian company—a stinging setback for Republicans who cited the allegations in their push to impeach the president, reports The New York Times.

The longtime informant, Alexander Smirnov, 43, is accused of falsely telling the F.B.I. that Hunter Biden—then a paid board member of the energy giant Burisma—demanded the money to protect the company from an investigation by the country’s prosecutor general at the time.

 

The explosive story, which seemed to back up unsubstantiated Republican claims of a “Biden crime family,” turned out to be a brazen lie, according to a 37-page indictment unsealed late Thursday in a California federal court, brought by the special counsel, David C. Weiss.

Smirnov’s motivation for lying, prosecutors wrote, appears to have been political. During the 2020 campaign, he sent his F.B.I. handler “a series of messages expressing bias” against Joe Biden, including texts, replete with typos and misspellings, boasting that he had information that would put him in jail.

Republicans pressured the F.B.I. to release internal reports after they learned of Smirnov’s claims. In May last year, Representative James Comer of Kentucky, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, threatened to hold the bureau’s director, Christopher Wray, in contempt if he did not disclose some details.

In July, after Wray complied, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa released a copy of an F.B.I. record that included the false allegation without naming Smirnov, or questioning its veracity.

He then described Smirnov’s claims as “very significant allegations from a trusted F.B.I. informant implicating then-Vice President Biden in a criminal bribery scheme.”

Comer, in a statement released after the charges against Smirnov became public, took no responsibility for spreading a claim that prosecutors suggested was a smear intended to hurt Biden politically.

Instead, he blamed bureau officials for privately telling the committee that their “source was credible and trusted, had worked with the F.B.I. for over a decade and had been paid six figures.”

But F.B.I. officials did not seem to think much of Smirnov’s allegations from the start, and requested he provide travel receipts to prove he attended meetings cited in his report. In 2020, they concluded that his claims did not merit continued investigation and told senior Trump administration officials in the Justice Department of that decision, prosecutors wrote.

Smirnov now faces two charges of making false statements and obstructing the government’s long-running investigation into the president’s troubled son. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

The indictment did not say if Smirnov was a U.S. citizen, or specify his country of origin—only that he is a globe-trotting businessman who speaks Russian and who became an F.B.I. informant in 2010.

He was arrested in Las Vegas on Wednesday after disembarking from an international flight and detained pending a hearing on Tuesday, February 20.

The president’s son still faces indictments on a gun charge in Delaware and tax charges in California. But his lawyers said Smirnov’s indictment was proof that he was the target of a mendacious and politically motivated smear campaign.

“For months, we have warned that Republicans have built their conspiracies about Hunter and his family on lies told by people with political agendas, not facts,” Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s lawyer, said in a statement. “We were right, and the air is out of their balloon.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to end delays of Trump’s January 6 trial

February 15, 2024

On Wednesday, February 14, federal prosecutors urged the Supreme Court not to delay Donald Trump’s trial for his coup attempt any further—calling a quick resolution of those criminal charges a matter of utmost importance for the country, reports The Huffington Post.

“The charged crimes strike at the heart of our democracy,” Special Counsel Jack Smith wrote in a 39-page brief filed with the court Wednesday evening. He called Trump’s actions an “effort to perpetuate himself in power and prevent the lawful winner of the 2020 presidential election from taking office.

“The national interest in resolving those charges without further delay is compelling,” he wrote.

The former president on Monday asked the high court to freeze that prosecution through two more rounds of appeals—a request that, if granted, could put Trump in a position of ordering the Department of Justice to dismiss all federal cases against him, should he win back the presidency this autumn.

Trump is arguing to the Supreme Court that his riling up his followers with lies about a “stolen” election that culminated in the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, to keep him in power was, in fact, an “official” act of the presidency for which he cannot be prosecuted. He also claims he cannot be prosecuted for his actions because the Senate failed to hit the two-thirds supermajority needed to convict him on that impeachment. What’s more, he argues that the Founders always intended for presidents to enjoy total immunity.

All those arguments were previously rejected by both trial Judge Tanya Chutkan as well as the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That appellate court ruled that the case would return to Chutkan for trial unless the Supreme Court granted him a delay while it considers Trump’s request.

Smith wrote in his new filing that Trump had no grounds to seek another delay at this point. “He has no entitlement to a further stay while seeking discretionary review from this court,” Smith said. “Delay in the resolution of these charges threatens to frustrate the public interest in a speedy and fair verdict―a compelling interest in every criminal case and one that has unique national importance here; as it involves federal criminal charges against a former president for alleged criminal efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election, including through the use of official power.

Further, Trump had not shown any historical or legal basis for his claim that he is immune from prosecution. “A president’s alleged criminal scheme to overturn an election and thwart the peaceful transfer of power to his successor should be the last place to recognize a novel form of absolute immunity from federal criminal law.”

Trump’s lawyers have gone beyond merely asking the Supreme Court to review the case and are demanding that Trump first be allowed to appeal to the full appellate court before coming to the high court—all while the January 6 case remains on hold.

But Smith asked the court to treat Trump’s request for a delay as a request for the court to review the three-judge panel’s ruling—thereby eliminating one of the steps Trump was asking for. Smith also asked the justices to decline taking the case at all, given the appellate court’s detailed ruling; but that if did take it, to do so on an expedited basis that would produce a ruling by the end of the court’s term this summer.

“The public interest weighs heavily in favor of this court’s issuance of its decision without delay,” Smith wrote.

The January. 6 case is one of two federal prosecutions Trump could end if he becomes president again. The other is based on his refusal to turn over secret documents he took with him to his South Florida country club upon leaving the White House.

Trump also faces a Georgia state prosecution for his attempt to overturn his election loss there and a New York state indictment accusing him of falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to a porn star in the days before the 2016 election.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Democrat Tom Suozzi wins New York special election to replace George Santos

February 14, 2024

Former Democratic Representative Tom Suozzi is heading back to Congress after winning the special election in New York’s 3rd District to replace former GOP Representative George Santos, reports NBC News.

Suozzi’s victory on Tuesday, February 13, over Republican Mazi Pilip cuts Republicans’ already razor-thin House majority by one seat, making legislating even more difficult moving forward. And it could provide a guide for Democrats competing in similar competitive districts this fall, especially when it comes to navigating their political vulnerability on immigration and border security. Another factor in the win was Pilip’s outspoken antipathy about abortion.

The Democrat may seek to be sworn into Congress as early as Thursday, according to a source with knowledge of his thinking. If not, he may have to wait until the end of the month after the House takes an extended recess for President’s Day.

At his victory party Tuesday night, Suozzi thanked a long list of supporters and aides, and ran through some of the attacks he faced in the hard-fought contest.

“Despite all the lies about Tom Suozzi and the Squad, about Tom Suozzi being the godfather of the migrant crisis, about ‘Sanctuary Suozzi’— despite the dirty tricks, despite the vaunted Nassau County Republican machine: We won,” he said to applause.

Suozzi’s speech was initially interrupted by protesters who accused him of supporting “genocide” in Gaza. One of them walked onstage to shout down Suozzi while holding what appeared to be a Palestinian flag, but he was removed.

Suozzi may have been helped by a winter storm that walloped the New York City area on Tuesday, as Democrats built up an advantage in early votes. But his victory also came amid some built-in advantages in name ID and fundraising as the district’s former congressman and as Democrats outspent Republicans on the airwaves.

“He has the values that I have—to get things done but to take into consideration the people who are in need. And he represents the majority of the middle class,” said Jeanne DeChiaro, who voted for Suozzi in Syosset and said her biggest issues were abortion, immigration, the economy and “the ability to be bipartisan.”

Linda Karpe, a Suozzi voter, said the roads on Long Island were “horrible” on her way to the voting booth and “the cars were swerving all around the place.”

“I think my son wants my inheritance, because he told me ‘it would be OK to drive, Mom,’” Karpe joked. “It was really bad.”

Although President Joe Biden won the Long Island-based district by 8 percentage points, according to calculations from Daily Kos Elections, Republicans have made gains in the area since then. In 2022, Santos won this open seat by 8 points, but he was expelled from Congress in December following his indictment on federal charges; as well as a damning Ethics Committee report that alleged he broke multiple federal laws and misused campaign funds. (Santos has pleaded not guilty and is set to go to trial in September.)

The result is a blow to the Nassau County GOP, which has been energized by a string of victories in recent years amid a backlash to Democratic-run New York City and Albany. Before Santos was ousted, Republicans represented every congressional district on Long Island.

Suozzi did not run for re-election last year, instead making an unsuccessful run for governor in a bitter primary race against Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul. Suozzi met with Hochul before his nomination for Tuesday’s contest; he apologized, and Hochul pressed him about his path to victory and his support for abortion rights, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Suozzi and Pilip could face off again in November. Both have committed to run for the full term. But the district’s lines could change in an ongoing redistricting process. The state’s redistricting commission has until February 28 to draw a new congressional map; and the state GOP has vowed to challenge it if the party views it as a partisan gerrymander.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Trump says he’d disregard NATO treaty, urge Russian attacks on U.S. allies

February 13, 2024

Former president Donald Trump ramped up his attacks on NATO on Saturday, February 10—claiming he suggested to a foreign leader that he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to member countries that he views as not spending enough on their own defense, reports The Washington Post.

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?,’” Trump said during a rally at Coastal Carolina University. “I said, ‘You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent.’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

Trump’s remarks come as the GOP is debating whether to provide additional foreign aid to Ukraine, which is fighting a war with Russia after being invaded by Moscow in 2022. The Senate is considering legislation that would give $60 billion to Ukraine. House Republicans, however, have echoed Trump’s skepticism about doing so.

Trump has long been a fierce critic of U.S. participation in the alliance—frequently hammering European countries on their share of defense spending—and he appeared to be referring to indirect funding as part of participation in the alliance.

Since 2006, each NATO member has had a guideline of spending at least 2% of its gross domestic product on defense spending by 2024.

NATO countries were already increasing their funding substantially before Trump’s presidency, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. More than half had met or come close to that goal, as of 2023, and many member countries have increased their spending in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Under Article 5, if a NATO ally is attacked, other member countries of NATO consider it “an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.” Since NATO’s founding in 1949, the clause has been invoked only once: On Sept. 12, 2001, after the terrorist attacks in the United States the day before.

Several NATO partnership experts described Trump’s understanding of the financial obligations of NATO member countries as inaccurate and argued that his opposition to collective security as a member nation is misplaced.

“NATO isn’t a pay-to-play setup, as Trump seems to think. It’s an alliance that is first and foremost about U.S. national security interests to prevent another world war originating in Europe,” said Alina Polyakova, president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis, in an email to the Post.

She added, “The U.S. investment in NATO is worth every dollar—the only time that the Article 5 collective defense clause was initiated was in response to 9/11. Our allies came to our aid then, and it would be shameful and misguided to not do the same.”

In May 2017, Trump initially did not affirm the United States’ commitment to Article 5, but then reversed course two weeks later. Trump broadly has expressed skepticism about NATO. His campaign website states: “We have to finish the process we began under my Administration of fundamentally reevaluating NATO’s purpose and NATO’s mission.”

The New York Times reported in 2019 that Trump discussed withdrawing from NATO. While he was in office, Trump repeatedly tried to claim credit for making NATO countries pay more, claiming that “hundreds of billions” of dollars came to NATO as a result of his complaints about other countries as “delinquent” members.

Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state for European Affairs and fellow at the Atlantic Council, said of Trump: “He seems to prefer a world based on pure power where other countries, where the United States intimidates or threatens other countries. The trouble with that is when we need them, those other countries won’t be there.”

“Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged—and it endangers American national security, global stability, and our economy at home,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

‘How in the hell dare he?’ Biden strikes defiant tone on special counsel report

February 12, 2024

President Joe Biden forcefully defended himself against charges that he suffers from memory loss—delivering remarks on Thursday night, February 8, at the White House in response to Special Counsel Robert Hurs report on his handling of classified information, reports NBC News.

Hur’s report included characterizations of the president’s mental fitness, saying his memory was “significantly limited, both during his recorded interviews with the ghostwriter in 2017, and in his interview with our office in 2023.”

The report also said Biden did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died.

“How in the hell dare he raise that?” Biden said,—adding that when he was asked about son Beau’s death during the probe, he thought to himself that it “wasn’t any of their damn business.” Biden’s son died in 2015 from brain cancer.v

“I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away,” Biden said Thursday night, reiterating that he wears his late son’s rosary beads and honors him with a service every Memorial Day. The president often talks about Beau in speeches, especially in discussing loss and grief.

Biden also said, “My memory’s fine,” in response to a reporter’s question.

Later in his remarks, Biden mistakenly referred to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as the president of Mexico. The flub took place when Biden was answering a question about the Israel-Hamas war, and it was the third time last week that he has mixed up heads of state.

Biden appeared hours after Hur released his report into the president’s handling of classified documents. Hur declined to prosecute the president, but he found that he “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.”

White House officials concluded Thursday evening that Biden needed to address the special counsel’s most damning allegations head-on and express his anger about the report directly, according to two people familiar with the decision.

Senior Biden aides believed it was imperative for the president to call out what they viewed as purely political criticism from Hur because, they argued, the special counsel was concerned about potential blowback from conservatives for not charging Biden with a crime, one of the people said.

The White House staff also believed, as evidenced by the president’s fiery remarks about knowing when his late son Beau died, that the attacks on his memory were “way out of line” and “gratuitous,” the source said.

Biden on Thursday night reiterated the distinction the special counsels report made between his handling of classified documents and former President Donald Trump’s. Earlier in the day, he briefly addressed the report in a pre-announced speech, saying he was “especially pleased” that it “made clear the stark differences between this case and Donald Trump.”

In response to a reporter’s question Thursday night about what he would have done differently, Biden talked about the importance of overseeing the transfer of materials.

“I should have done that,” he said.

“I didn’t know how half the boxes got in my garage until I found out staff gathered them up and put them together and took them to the garage in my home,” he added.

But Biden pushed back against the report’s language that he “willfully retained” classified documents, saying such assertions were “not only misleading; they’re just plain wrong.”

Biden also denied sharing classified information, including with his ghostwriter.

“I guarantee you,” he said.

The pushback came in response to part of Hur’s report that details a recorded 2017 conversation Biden had with his ghostwriter, in which he said he “just found all this classified stuff downstairs,” according to the report. He told the ghostwriter in a recording, “Some of this may be classified, so be careful.”

The report also threw doubt on whether a jury would convict Biden had Hur decided to bring charges.

“We have also considered that, at trial, … Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory. Based on our direct interactions with and observations of him, he is someone for whom many jurors will want to identify reasonable doubt,” the report said. “It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him—by then a former president well into his eighties—of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Supreme Court hears arguments to boot Trump from 2024 ballot

February 9, 2024

On Thursday, February 8, the Supreme Court heard arguments over former President Donald Trump’s effort to remain on the 2024 ballot after a Colorado state court ruled he should be barred because he promoted and participated in an insurrection on January 6, 2021, reports the New York Daily News.

The Conservative-dominated top court weighed the knotty legal question of whether the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution bars Trump from winning back the presidency because he led the effort to overturn the 2020 election that culminated in the violent attack on the Capitol.

The momentous case marks the first time that the justices will be considering a weighty constitutional provision that was adopted after the Civil War to prevent turncoat federal officeholders who “engaged in insurrection” against the Union from ever holding office again.

The case is only one of several Trump cases that the nation’s top court may or may not decide.

Trump is certain to ask them to reverse the decision of an appeals court this week that he does not hold blanket immunity from prosecution for crimes committed while in the White House. He is facing a Monday, February 12, deadline to appeal to the justices—or his election interference case will return to District Court Tanya Chutkan for trial.

The 14th Amendment case unfolded after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled late last year that Trump incited the riot in the nation’s capital and, as a result, is ineligible to be president again and should not be allowed on the ballot.

The decision marks the first time that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment has been applied to a presidential candidate.

Trump’s lawyers argue that the constitutional amendment can’t be used to keep Trump off the ballot for several reasons. They contend that the January 6 riot wasn’t an insurrection—and even if it was, Trump did not participate. The Colorado court found otherwise; and the Supreme Court normally does not make findings of fact, potentially undercutting that argument.

Trump also has suggested that the wording of the amendment does not apply to the president. In addition, his lawyers say that Congress was supposed to pass legislation to allow enforcement of Section 3, which it never did.

Research contact: @NYDailyNews