We begin today with Aaron Blake of The Washington Post writing that more and more Americans view Number 45 as a criminal FPOTUS as opposed to merely an unethical one.
In new polling, Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election and his storage of sensitive government documents in his residence at Mar-a-Lago have reached new highs in the percentages of Americans who say Trump broke the law — rather than saying his actions were unethical but not illegal.On both issues, more Americans say Trump broke the law — 45 percent and 44 percent, respectively — than ever said so during the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the scandal involving Trump’s interaction with the Ukrainian president and other instances in which the question was asked, according to a Washington Post review of polling during Trump’s tenure.
After a presidency marked by Trump repeatedly escaping consequences after controversy and now retaining a fighting chance to win the next election, the data suggests that Trump may find it more difficult to move past these new issues.
At the same time, the political middle remains somewhat mixed in its views on whether Trump’s actions in these instances were illegal or merely unethical. And the polls suggest Trump’s devoted base, which regards him as blameless, continues to constitute as many as 3 in 10 Americans.
Looking at the data laid out in this way, I am reminded of something that MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid said about Trump’s first impeachment.
That is, while there wasn’t a conviction based on the the impeachment charges, the impeachment, itself, does serve as a sanction and renders any successful attempts to run for reelection almost impossible. That was true in Andrew Johnson’s case in the 19th century and Trump’s case in the 21st century. Gerald Ford’s and Al Gore’s attempts to become POTUS also failed.
I always assumed that Trump lost the 2020 election because of his sheer malicious stupidity and mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic as the primary factor. I still believe that to be the case, for the most part. But maybe that first impeachment over the attempt to extort Ukraine’s President Zelensky had more of an effect than I originally thought.
To indict or not to indict, that is the question. But James D. Zirin writes for Washington Monthly that a third option is available to AG Merrick Garland.
As a former federal prosecutor, I would indict Trump. The facts and the law in Trump’s case are compelling. The rule of law binds us together and is at the core of our democracy. Or, as the Times added, “America is not sustained by a set of principles; it is sustained by resolute action to defend those principles.”
But Garland has a third choice that has received little attention. It could conceivably get him where he wants to go—a “presentment” or report filed by the grand jury with the federal court. Here, prosecutors could lay out the evidence the grand jury has gathered of Trump’s criminality but hold off on an indictment.
The grand jury report is an institution we inherited from the English. It likely dates to 1166 and antedates the grand jury itself. It is mentioned in the Fifth Amendment. The report is presented to the court by the grand jury without any bill of indictment. A presentment may charge individuals with crimes. Meanwhile, the investigation could continue and be followed later by criminal charges in an indictment.
Here’s section 159 of DOJ’s Criminal Resource Manual as well as the text of 18 U.S. Code § 3333.
Matthew Connelly of The Los Angeles Times notes that the nation security classification systems are due for an overhaul.
The security classification system is designed to control information according to its level of sensitivity, ranging from confidential to top secret. Anyone seeking a security clearance to handle these materials must undergo rigorous background checks and training. But being approved for a level of clearance does not automatically give one access to classified information. Only those who already have access to a specific program’s information can grant others with clearance permission to see it, and only if the requestor has an explicit reason for their “need to know.” The system creates the impression that only a select few are permitted to handle carefully defined categories of truly dangerous information.
But these rules do not describe what is actually happening. In 2017 alone, officials told the ISOO that they had stamped something with “confidential,” “secret” or “top secret” more than 49 million times. At the time, this seemed like an improvement. In 2012, similar self-reported data added up to more than 95 million classifications, or three new state secrets per second. Bradley now says that a lot of the data in these earlier reports “was neither accurate nor reliable,” but cannot offer better estimates. And so many Special Access Programs — which may require additional security measures and bear the designation “Sensitive Compartmented Information” — have proliferated across the government that Bradley could not create a complete list. [...]
Trump has claimed that he had a standing order to declassify the records that ended up in Mar-a-Lago — but there is no evidence of such an order and numerous officials have called this claim ludicrous. The fact is, the declassification of even one document involves a page-by-page inspection, and often requires sign-off by multiple departments and agencies. Yet the government employs fewer than 2,000 people to review, redact and determine which of these records can eventually be released.
Stuart Rothenberg of Roll Call recalls the midterm elections of 1998 and 2002 in an attempt to note campaign anomalies that may be present for the 2022 midterms.
Today’s GOP is being defined by its most extreme voices, who spend much of their time complaining about how the 2020 election was “stolen.”
Their attacks on democracy and the rule of law — and the increasing visibility of former President Donald Trump on the campaign trail and in legal fights — have transformed a referendum on Biden in November into a choice between Democrats and Republicans.
The Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the right to an abortion; the FBI search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort; and the findings of the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol — combined with falling gas prices, the passage of a gun control bill, and the use of budget reconciliation legislation to pass major initiatives on health care and climate change — have boosted Democratic enthusiasm about the midterms.
Democrats also seem to be overperforming in special elections and primaries, which reflects unusual enthusiasm for the president’s party. That, along with the nomination of extreme Republican nominees for Congress and state offices, suggests that many voters are more worried about Trump and his allies than they are about Biden.
Paul Krugman of The New York Times looks at some indicators that President Joe Biden may be succeeding where Number 45 failed when it comes to bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States.
Under the radar, however, some of what Trump wanted but failed to achieve — a return of manufacturing to the United States, for instance — may actually be happening under his successor. A recent Bloomberg review of C.E.O. business presentations finds a huge surge in buzzwords like onshoring, reshoring and nearshoring, all indicators of plans to produce in the United States (or possibly nearby countries) rather than in Asia.
There has also been a flurry of news reports, backed by some flaky data, suggesting that companies really are building new manufacturing facilities in the United States and other high-income countries.
So we may be seeing early indications of a partial retreat from globalization. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, but that’s a topic for another day. For now, let’s talk about why this may be happening.
The first thing you need to know is that if we see some decline in world trade in the years ahead, it won’t be the first time that’s happened. It’s common to assume that the world is always getting smaller, that rising international interdependence is an ineluctable trend. But history says otherwise.
Makani Themba of The Nation looks at the history behind the Jackson, Mississippi “water crisis”.
...Jackson’s current mayor—Lumumba’s son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba—is still battling to reach that “infrastructure frontier.” Months of lobbying to get the state to grant Jackson access to its own special tax funds, decades of divestment and neglect, and the state’s consistent denial of city requests for adequate funding have taken their toll. Now, record flooding has accelerated the sadly inevitable—and preventable—rupture of the city’s crumbling water infrastructure. More than 150,000 residents are without potable water.
Most residents under the age of 50 have no memory of a Jackson without “boil water” notices—the frequent public warnings that the water that comes out of your faucet is not safe to consume in any form without a good, rolling boil. The truth is that the “Jackson Water Crisis”—as the press has dubbed it—has been decades in the making. It’s part and parcel of an infrastructure crisis that is gripping much of the country—but with grossly unequal impact. Its roots are in Jim Crow, the separate that was never equal, where everything from water to parks to food and even air in our communities receives less investment, less protection, and less access. Broken levees in New Orleans. Toxic water in Flint. Crumbling buildings in eastern Kentucky. This is beyond a crisis in infrastructure. It is a crisis in justice.
Jerusalem Demsas of The Atlantic reports on the significance of the decades-long migration of Black Americans from urban to suburban.
In the U.S., the terms inner city and urban have long been code words for Black areas. They are used to evoke the stereotype of a Black underclass, confined to public-housing units or low-income housing, entrenching the belief that this population is somehow inherently meant for city life while also denigrating city life as dirty, crowded, and utterly undesirable. During the 2016 presidential debates, for instance, then-candidate Donald Trump repeatedly referred to African Americans living in “the inner cities.” When asked about the nation’s racial divide or being a president to “all the people in the United States,” he repeatedly evoked the stereotype that Black people largely live in inner cities wracked by crime.
To make this stereotype work in the 21st century requires overlooking one key fact: Black families have been absconding from cities for decades. In a recent paper, the economists Alex Bartik and Evan Mast note that over the past 50 years, the share of the Black population living in the 40 most populous central cities in the U.S. fell from 40 percent to 24 percent. They are not the first to highlight this phenomenon. Demographers and sociologists in particular have been noting this trend for decades. As the Brookings Institution demographer William Frey has documented, from 2000 to 2010, the Black population of the central cities in America’s 100 largest metro areas decreased by 300,000. Detroit, Chicago, and New York (prime destinations during the Great Migration) as well as Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles all saw declines in their Black populations.
What this geographic shift has meant for Black Americans is complicated, and there are many stories to tell—of families moving to opportunity, of inequality replicating itself when they get there, and of the people left behind. In 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act and outlawed discrimination in the housing market. This did not eradicate housing inequality, but it did give Black households much more freedom to actualize their preferences of where to live and whom to live among. More than 50 years later, we are still seeing how those preferences shape the nation’s geography of opportunity.
Nektaria Stamouli of POLITICO Europe reports on rising tensions between Turkey and Greece.
Earlier this week, the Greek foreign ministry sent letters to NATO, the United Nations and the EU complaining about comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that it said were “unprovoked, unacceptable and an insult against Greece and the Greek people” and asking the organizations to condemn Ankara’s behavior.
“By not doing so in time or by underestimating the seriousness of the matter, we risk witnessing again a situation similar to that currently unfolding in some other part of our Continent,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias wrote in the letters, dated Monday and Tuesday, alluding to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Erdoğan has stepped up his rhetoric against Greece in recent days, amid what Ankara sees as a growing military buildup on the Greek Aegean islands, close to Turkey’s coastline. In a repeated, thinly veiled threat, he said: “We can come down suddenly one night when the time comes.”
Finally today, Hyung-Jin Kim and Kim Tong-Hyung of The Diplomat answers the question: why is Russia looking to buy weapons from North Korea.
The ammunitions North Korea reportedly intends to sell to Moscow are likely copies of Soviet-era weapons that can fit Russian launchers. But there are still questions over the quality of the supplies and how much they could actually help the Russian military.
Slapped by international sanctions and export controls, Russia in August bought Iranian-made drones that U.S. officials said had technical problems. For Russia, North Korea is likely another good option for its ammunitions supply, because the North keeps a significant stockpile of shells, many of them copies of Soviet-era ones.
North Korea “may represent the single biggest source of compatible legacy artillery ammunition outside of Russia, including domestic production facilities to further supplies,” said Joseph Dempsey, research associate for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
Have a good day, everyone!