New York Man Charged With Threatening To Kill Donald Trump

In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House on September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

The US Secret Service arrested a 72-year-old man in New York on Monday after he allegedly phoned them threatening to kill ex-president Donald Trump, a criminal indictment showed.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn say Thomas Welnicki “knowingly and willfully threatened to kill, kidnap, and inflict bodily harm upon” America’s former president.

It alleges that Welnicki told US Capitol Police during an interview in July 2020 that if Trump “loses the 2020 election and refused to step down” he would “acquire weapons and take him down.”

Trump is referred to as “Individual-1” in the indictment.

READ ALSOChina Is Not Trapping Africa In Debt, Says Foreign Minister

Welnicki is also accused of having left two voicemail messages with the Secret Service’s office in Long Island, New York in January last year in which he “threatened to kill” Trump as well as 12 unnamed members of Congress.

“Oh yeah that’s a threat, come and arrest me. I will do anything I can to take out [Individual-1] and his 12 monkeys,” Welnicki, who lives in Queens, is alleged to have said.

Welnicki is also accused of having called the Secret Service’s desk in New York City last November three times from his cell phone, introducing himself by name each time.

“He repeatedly referred to Individual-1 as ‘Hitler’ and stated, ‘I will do everything I can to make sure [Individual-1] is dead,” reads the indictment.

In another call last month he stated that “the new Civil war could break out and taking up arms against the government is justified when ballots don’t matter.”

He added that he used to own a .22 caliber firearm, according to the indictment.

Welnicki was due to be appear in a Brooklyn federal court via videoconference later Monday to be arraigned on the charges.

AFP

Trump ‘Tried To Prevent Peaceful Transfer Of Power’ – Biden

This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020, shows ex-US President Donald Trump (L) and  President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

US President Joe Biden accused his predecessor Donald Trump Thursday of attempting to block the democratic transfer of power on January 6, 2021, after losing the presidential election.

“For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election; he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol,” Biden said in a speech marking the first anniversary of the attack on the US Congress.

“This wasn’t a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection,” he said.

READ ALSOChina Is Not Trapping Africa In Debt, Says Foreign Minister

In a powerful speech at Congress’s Statuary Hall, one of the very spots where a pro-Trump mob ran amok a year ago, Biden took off the gloves after a year of largely ignoring Trump.

“The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” Biden said, alluding to Trump’s repeated false claim that the election was stolen from him through fraud — an assertion that many Republicans still embrace.

“He’s done so because he values power over principle because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest,” Biden said.

Biden said the United States and much of the world is locked in a battle between democracy and autocracy.

“I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy,” Biden said at the Capitol. “I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation.”

AFP

Trump To Launch Social Network In February

File photo of former US President Donald Trump 
MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

 

Former US President Donald Trump’s media group is aiming to launch its long-promised social network in February, according to a listing at Apple’s App Store.

A “Truth Social” app is “expected” to be available on February 21, the listing showed, and will have features similar to online connection tools found at Facebook.

The 75-year-old was thrown off Twitter — his preferred communication conduit while president — as well as Facebook and YouTube after last year’s January 6 insurrection, in which a mob of Trump supporters, riled up by his repeated false claims that the November 2020 election was stolen from him, assaulted the US Capitol.

Trump says the new platform will be an alternative to Silicon Valley internet companies that he says are biased against him and other conservative voices.
The social network is currently being used by invited guests as it readies for public launch, according to Trump Media and Technology Group.

READ ALSO: UK To Deploy Troops To Virus-Hit Hospitals In London

President Joe Biden on Thursday savaged Trump’s “lies” and attempt to overturn the 2020 election, vowing on the first anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot that he would let no one put a “dagger at the throat of democracy.”

After largely ignoring Trump for a year, Biden took off the gloves, describing the Republican as a cheat whose ego wouldn’t let him accept defeat and whose supporters almost shattered US democracy when they stormed Congress to prevent certification of the election.

Trump, who has spent the last year spreading conspiracy theories about his election loss to millions of followers, quickly fired back with a series of statements doubling down on his lie about the “rigged” election and dismissing Biden’s speech as “political theater.”

Truth Social will join an already crowded market of social networks popular among conservatives and members of the far-right.

Gettr was launched in early July by a former Trump adviser, while Parler and Gab are already favored by the real estate mogul’s supporters.

Trump Slams Biden Speech On Capitol Riot As ‘Political Theater’

This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This is a combination of file pictures of former US President Donald Trump and US President  Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

 

Donald Trump on Thursday angrily hit back at Joe Biden on the first anniversary of the Capitol riot, repeating his claims that the 2020 election was “rigged’ after the US president assailed his predecessor as a dangerous threat to American democracy.

In a series of statements, Trump used Biden’s own language from his January 6 anniversary speech, accusing the veteran Democrat of a “web of lies” and again alleging the November 2020 election won by Biden was in fact stolen from him.

Trump said it was Biden, and not himself, who sought to prevent a “peaceful transfer” of presidential power a year ago when thousands of Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol claiming Biden’s election victory was fraudulent.

“They spread a ‘web of lies about me and Russia for four years to try to overturn the 2016 election, and now they lie about how they interfered in the 2020 election, too,” Trump said.

“Never forget the crime of the 2020 Presidential Election. Never give up!”.

Trump’s statements came after Biden, in a forceful speech inside the Capitol marking the anniversary of the 2021 assault, said the former president was a threat to democracy.

“The lies that drove the anger and madness we saw in this place, they have not abated,” Biden said, alluding to Trump’s claims about the election.

“I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy,” he said, without ever saying Trump’s name directly, only calling him the “former president.”

Trump though accused Biden of “political theater” and repeated his charge — unsupported by any evidence released to date — that the 2020 vote count in key states like Georgia and Arizona was fraudulent, cheating him of a second term.

Biden “used my name today to try to further divide America,” Trump said.

“This political theater is all just a distraction for the fact Biden has completely and totally failed,” Trump said.

Trump, who earlier this week cancelled a press conference planned for Thursday, repeated his claim that the election was “rigged.”

“Just look at the numbers, they speak for themselves,” the former president said.

“They are not justifiable, so the complicit media just calls it the Big Lie, when in actuality the Big Lie was the Election itself.”

Trump’s claims of fraudulent voting and vote counts have repeatedly been rejected by the states in question, the Justice Department, and US courts.

US Supreme Court To Hear Challenges To COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

A healthcare worker prepares to administer a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a person at a drive-thru site in Tropical Park on December 16, 2021, in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP

 

The US Supreme Court is to hear challenges on Friday to President Joe Biden’s bid to impose Covid vaccination mandates on millions of American workers.

After months of public appeals to hesitant or reluctant Americans to get their shots, Biden turned up the pressure in September.

“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” he said.

READ ALSO: Almost 100,000 Children Lost Parents To COVID-19 In Peru

The Democratic president made Covid vaccinations compulsory at businesses that employ 100 workers or more, as well as for health care workers at facilities receiving federal funding.

Unvaccinated employees would have to present weekly negative tests and wear face masks at work.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has given businesses until February 9 to be in compliance with the rules or face the possibility of fines.

The vaccine mandates came under immediate attack from some Republican lawmakers and business owners as an infringement on individual rights and an abuse of government power.

A flurry of lawsuits ensued, and the conservative-majority Supreme Court is holding a special hearing to decide whether the mandates can be implemented while the legal challenges continue.

A decision is expected within a few weeks.

Businesses with 100 employees or more represent about two-thirds of the private sector workforce in the United States, or some 80 million people.

The health care worker mandate would apply to roughly 10 million people.

In a brief submitted to the court on behalf of the Biden administration, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said the measures were necessary “confronted with the deadliest pandemic in the nation’s history.”

“Workers are becoming seriously ill and dying because they are exposed to the virus that causes Covid-19,” Prelogar said.

She said the mandates will save more than 6,500 worker lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations over the course of six months.

‘Irreparable Harm’ 

A group of 26 business associations opposed to the mandates, however, said they will “inflict irreparable harm upon hundreds of thousands of businesses.”

Companies will be forced to pass the costs of testing on to consumers, resulting in “yet higher prices at a time of record inflation,” they argued.

Or businesses will put the costs of testing on unvaccinated employees, they said, “who will quit en masse rather than suffer additional testing costs each week.

“The resulting labor upheaval will devastate already fragile supply chains and labor markets.”

Republican-ruled states led by Missouri said forcing health care workers to be vaccinated “threatens to create a crisis in health care facilities in rural America.”

“The mandate would force millions of workers to choose between losing their jobs or complying with an unlawful federal mandate,” they argued.

The government countered that the number of people who have left their jobs when faced with a vaccination mandate has actually been very low.

At a hospital system in Houston, Texas, for example, just 153 of some 26,000 employees left rather than comply with a vaccination mandate.

Several large US corporations, including meat giant Tyson Foods and United Airlines, imposed vaccination mandates in September without suffering major disruptions.

The Supreme Court has six conservative justices and three liberal justices, and all of them have been vaccinated and received booster shots, according to the court.

The nation’s highest court has previously upheld vaccination mandates imposed on college students and health care workers by local authorities.

But the court has previously curtailed federal actions linked to the pandemic, notably by throwing out a moratorium prohibiting evictions.

If the court blocks the vaccination mandates, it would be a major blow to Biden, who has made bringing the pandemic under control one of his priorities but is battling a surge in cases from the Omicron variant.

Vaccination has become a politically polarizing issue in the United States, where 62 percent of the population are vaccinated.

There have been more than 58 million cases of coronavirus in the United States and more than 830,000 deaths.

AFP

Trump Cancels Press Conference, Biden To Address Divided Nation

This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020, shows ex-US President Donald Trump (L) and President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

Donald Trump on Tuesday abruptly gave up his plan to steal the limelight on the anniversary of the January 6th assault against Congress, leaving President Joe Biden to address a divided nation.

Trump’s decision to ditch his controversial press conference in Florida means Americans will be spared a bitter split-screen moment on Thursday.

If it had gone ahead, Biden would have marked what he calls “one of the darkest days” in US history, while Trump, just a few hours later, was due to promote his lie about being cheated out of victory in the 2020 presidential election.

No question, though, that Trump will be looming over Biden.

In a statement announcing the demise of his press conference, Trump yet again pushed his conspiracy theory that “fraud” accounted for his defeat to Biden, calling it “the Crime of the Century.”

The statement underlined how one year after a mob of Trump supporters marched on Congress to try and prevent lawmakers from certifying Biden’s victory, political wounds remain far from healed.

READ ALSO: [Trumpism Without Trump] The Republican Playbook For 2022?

‘Unprecedented’ 

On Thursday, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will speak from inside the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, the setting during the unrest of almost unbelievable scenes as Trump supporters fought past police to invade the heart of US democracy.

As a veteran politician who came out of retirement to take on what he saw as Trump’s authoritarian presidency, Biden has often warned during his first year in the White House of an “existential” threat to political freedoms that until now most Americans took for granted.

His speech is set to take that warning to a new level.

“He’ll speak to the historical significance of January 6, what it means for the country one year later,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

Congress will later hold a prayer vigil.

While Trump is retreating on the day itself, he said he would tout some “important topics” at a rally planned in Arizona on January 15th.

Those “topics” are now familiar to all Americans.

Despite losing by more than seven million votes to Biden, and despite losing multiple court challenges around the country, Trump continues to say he was the real winner in 2020.

And the accusations are only the most incendiary element of a broader attack against Biden on everything from immigration to Covid-19, all adding up to what looks very much like an as-yet undeclared bid to take back power in 2024.

It’s a campaign that Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, calls “unprecedented in US history.”

“No former president has attempted to do so much to discredit his successor and the democratic process,” Tobias said.

What Can Biden Do? 

However ludicrous the election conspiracy theory may be — one federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Trump’s case “strained” and “speculative” — it is seen as truth by millions of Americans.

Polls consistently show that around 70 percent of Republicans think Biden was elected illegitimately.

And fighting what Trump, the master brander, popularizes as “the Steal,” has become a political ideology in its own right, with nearly all Republican lawmakers either squirming to avoid criticizing what happened on January 6 — or actively defending the attack.

Lara Brown, director of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, said the combination of political grifters looking to get into Trump’s good books and the masses of voters deluded into believing what they’re told amounts to a considerable force.

“What is so frightful about where we are right now isn’t just that these are elite attacks, but they are being fueled by a grass roots movement,” she said.

“It wasn’t just far-right win groups who had organized” on January 6, she said. “It was average, everyday Americans who had bought into this whole notion.”

It’s unclear what, if anything, Biden can do to change these dynamics.

Political scientist and Democratic pollster Rachel Bitecofer urged Biden to take on Trump more aggressively, rather than stick to pretending that the man Psaki has referred to as “the former guy” no longer matters.

Biden “is not commemorating an event that ended. He is commemorating the event that is in process and threatens to get worse,” she said.

“There’s a real hesitancy to accept how virulent the right is in coming after democracy here.”

Brown said, however, that Biden has little room for maneuver, because a direct attack on Trump risks looking like a “political witch hunt” — exactly what the former president claims in his conspiracy theories.

AFP

‘I Don’t Consider Him President,’ Trump Backer Says Of Biden

US President Joe Biden addresses a press conference at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 2, 2021. Brendan Smialowski / AFP
US President Joe Biden addresses a press conference at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 2, 2021. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

Jim Wood has thought a lot about it and he just does not believe that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. 

“I don’t consider him the president of the United States,” the retired US Air Force veteran told AFP at his New Hampshire home surrounded by oak and birch trees and houses displaying “TRUMP” signs.

“I don’t believe he was elected,” said the 62-year-old Wood, a Republican stalwart who joined thousands of other supporters of Donald Trump in marching on the US Capitol a year ago.

Voting machines which failed to count votes, fraudulent mail-in ballots, “phantom” voters are among what he cites as evidence the White House race was “stolen” from Trump.

“I had seen the election results and I thought things don’t seem that right,” said Wood, a grey-haired man with a piercing gaze who spent years repairing B-52 bombers as an Air Force mechanic.

Although no credible evidence of 2020 election fraud has emerged, Wood insisted it has been “suppressed by the mainstream media.”

READ ALSO: [Trumpism Without Trump] The Republican Playbook For 2022?

He said he no longer watches the news on television except for the weather “and I don’t believe that almost anymore.”

When Trump called on his supporters to rally in Washington on January 6, the day Congress was set to certify Biden’s victory, Wood heeded the call.

“It was just amazing,” he said.

 ‘Get more involved’ 

Wood said he was not among the hundreds of Trump supporters who entered the Capitol building itself and he condemned the violence that marked the day.

He said he returned from Washington with a newfound purpose.

“I came back home and I made a promise to myself I’d get more involved,” he said.

Several months later, Wood discovered a Facebook group which claims to “protect” the elections in his home state and shed light on the alleged fraud in the 2020 vote.

Using a mobile app, members of the “New Hampshire Voter Integrity Group” knock on doors of residents of the northern state bordering Canada asking about reports of electoral fraud.

“There’s about 5,200 of us now,” Wood said. “I’m just another small cog in the wheel.”

Allegations of 2020 election fraud have been dismissed by the courts and state authorities but polls have found that as many as two-thirds of Republicans believe the election was “stolen” from Trump.

Marylyn Todd, an accountant who heads the New Hampshire Voter Integrity Group and described herself as an “independent,” said the organization was dedicated to finding the “truth.”

Similar initiatives are underway in other states — Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Utah — and have received backing from Trump.

‘Do what I need to do’

Wood also has an eye on the 2022 midterm elections and is dedicating his time to replacing candidates who he says are “not following the Constitution.”

“We have a bunch of people running for everything now between school boards and stuff like that,” he said. “It’s actually taking hold at the lower levels and working our way up from there.”

“We’re actually going out supporting candidates now to replace the people that are in office,” he said. “We’re going to support them both financially and practically by getting out on the streets and actively campaigning for them.”

Wood said he was proud of his fellow citizens who responded to the “wake-up call” of January 6.

He said he was prepared that day in Washington to “ultimately sacrifice myself to save my rights.”

And he remains so a year later.

“I’ll do what I need to do,” he said.

AFP

A Year After Capitol Riot, Americans Fear For Their Democracy – Polls

In this file photo taken on January 6, 2021 riot police push back a crowd of supporters of ex-US President Donald Trump after they stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

 

One year after the violent assault on the US Capitol, Americans remain deeply concerned about the health of their democracy, and about a third say violence against the government can sometimes be justified, according to two polls published Sunday. 

The January 6 attack on the seat of Congress, led by supporters of Donald Trump, was “a harbinger of increasing political violence,” and American democracy “is threatened,” according to two-thirds of those surveyed for a CBS News poll.

Meantime, Americans’ “pride” in their democracy has dropped sharply, from 90 percent in 2002 to 54 percent now, a Washington Post/University of Maryland survey found.

With the January 6 anniversary nearing, the polls offer specific causes for concern: CBS found that 28 percent of respondents believe force can be used to defend the result of an election, while 34 percent told The Washington Post that a violent action against the government can sometimes be justified — the largest percentage in decades.

READ ALSO: [Trumpism Without Trump] The Republican Playbook For 2022?

The results underscore the seemingly almost irreconcilable views dividing American society, which President Joe Biden — who took office 14 days after the Capitol rioting — has promised to overcome.

Two-thirds of Trump supporters continue to believe his baseless charge that Biden is not the legitimately elected president.

Trump had addressed thousands of supporters shortly before the Capitol assault, telling them the election had been “rigged” and that they should “fight like hell.”

Some 60 percent of those polled say Trump bears heavy responsibility for the invasion of the Capitol just as lawmakers were set to certify Biden’s victory.

‘Coordinated Effort’

There again, opinion follows partisan lines: 83 percent of Trump voters placed his level of responsibility at only “some” or “none,” the Post survey found.

And 26 percent of Americans want him to run again in 2024, according to CBS.

A select committee of the House of Representatives has spent months working to establish the roles and responsibilities of those who incited or may have organized the protest.

Despite limited cooperation from Trump’s inner circle, the panel has conducted more than 300 interviews and collected thousands of documents.

“We have uncovered some things that cause us real concern, things like people trying to … undermine the integrity of our democracy,” the panel’s chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, said Sunday on ABC.

“It appeared to be a coordinated effort on the part of a number of people to undermine the election,” he said.

“It could be people in the executive branch. It could be people in the Department of Defense… and some very wealthy individuals.”

He said he would not hesitate to refer any evidence of illegality to the Justice Department.

Liz Cheney, one of only two Republicans on the panel, on Sunday strongly condemned Trump for waiting hours before urging the Capitol rioters to stand down.

He could easily have issued such a call, she told ABC.

“He failed to do so. It’s hard to imagine a more significant and more serious dereliction of duty.”

AFP

Twitter Blocks Trump’s Ardent Supporter’s Account

In this file photo US Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene(R-GA) holds a press conference to call for the dismissal of Dr. Anthony Fauci on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 15, 2021.
JIM WATSON / AFP

 

Twitter said Sunday it has permanently suspended the personal account of outspoken Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene for violating the platform’s Covid-19 misinformation policy.

The lawmaker from Georgia is a loud and fervent supporter of Donald Trump and his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and is also known for making outlandish anti-vaccine claims and other false statements about the coronavirus pandemic.

Twitter said it was shutting down Greene’s personal account — @mtgreenee — for repeated violations of its Covid misinformation policy. She still has access to her official Twitter handle, which is @RepMTG.

READ ALSO: [Trumpism Without Trump] The Republican Playbook For 2022?

Greene used the personal one more frequently.

“We permanently suspended the account you referenced (@mtgreenee) for repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policy,” Twitter said in a statement sent to AFP.

“We’ve been clear that, per our strike system for this policy, we will permanently suspend accounts for repeated violations of the policy,” it added.

Twitter did not specify exactly what Greene said to deserve this punishment.

Greene hit back after her suspension, saying in a statement on Telegram that Twitter is “an enemy to America and can’t handle the truth. That’s fine, I’ll show America we don’t need them and it’s time to defeat our enemies. ”

Twitter’s Covid misinformation police employees a strike system that metes out gradually escalating sanctions for violations.

One strike results in nothing, for instance; three strikes result in a 12-hour account lock, and five strikes cause permanent suspension.

Twitter had sanctioned Greene before the permanent suspension.

Her account was suspended for one week in August after she tweeted that the Food and Drug Administration should not approve Covid vaccines because they were “failing” to slow the spread of the virus.

On Saturday, she tweeted that deaths from vaccines used to be taken seriously in America but now “extremely high amount of covid vaccine deaths are ignored and government forced vaccine mandates are increased.”

A year ago, Twitter banned Trump from the platform after the January 6 riot at the US Capitol by Trump supporters, who were fired up by his claims that he was robbed of victory over Joe Biden.

AFP

Trumpism Without Trump: The Republican Playbook For 2022?

In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House on September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

As US Republicans cheered impressive gains in state elections in the fall, their leader may not have been so delighted as he followed the results from his fiefdom in southern Florida.

For the results of the gubernatorial races — victory in leftward-trending Virginia and an unexpectedly narrow defeat in deeply Democratic New Jersey — proved one thing beyond doubt: Republicans can win without Donald Trump.

Whisper it, but five years after submitting entirely to the will of its mercurial leader, and one year ahead of the crucial midterm elections, the Republican Party is tentatively picturing life after Donald.

“At this stage, he would be the frontrunner if he chose to enter the 2024 presidential race,” Matt Lacombe, an assistant professor of political science at New York liberal arts school Barnard College, told AFP.

“But it’s also very possible that coordination among potential candidates and party officials… would be sufficient to prevent him from pursuing or succeeding in a second run.”

After Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination in May 2016, the party abandoned its policy platform at its next two conventions, instead opting to simply declare fealty to its rambunctious chieftain.

The consensus remains that all paths to Congress go through Mar-a-Lago — that to succeed in Washington you had to kiss the ring in Palm Beach, flattering Trump and his ultra-loyal base of tens of millions of ardent devotees.

Republican politicians who fail to toe the line know they risk a public dressing down and primary challenge at best and death threats to their families if his supporters were particularly inflamed.

“Despite losing his social media megaphone, his endorsements still energize grassroots supporters, drive donations, and in some cases clear away competitors and force retirements,” Tommy Goodwin, a Washington-based political consultant and lobbyist, told AFP.

Some prominent Republicans are seizing on the recent governors’ races to call for a course correction, however, navigating around Trump and his “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from him by the Democrats.

All-Time Low 

In Virginia, Republican multimillionaire Glenn Youngkin won by far exceeding Trump’s 2020 showing in the suburbs, especially among independents and women.

Trump immediately took credit but in reality, Youngkin soft-pedaled the former reality TV star’s support and did all he could in the final weeks to keep his high-profile endorser at arm’s length.

In New Jersey too, Republican Jack Ciattarelli started out very pro-Trump, even speaking at a “Stop the Steal” rally in 2020, but distanced himself from the ex-president during the campaign proper.

The suburbs are likely to be the key battlegrounds again next year, when the stakes will be control of the House of Representatives and Senate and 36 governorships — yet Trump is far less popular there than in the countryside.

The takeaway for many Republicans is that borrowing heavily from Trump’s playbook while assiduously avoiding the man himself could be the key.

The former president’s approval sank to an all-time low of 34 percent after the January 6 insurrection, when thousands of his supporters stormed the US Capitol to stop lawmakers certifying Joe Biden’s victory.

Trump has since issued a number of statements praising the insurrectionists and defending their threats on the life of his vice president, Mike Pence.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged the 75-year-old real estate tycoon to stay out of the midterms, telling reporters: “I do think we need to be talking about the future, and not the past.”

Yet Rick Scott, the chairman of the Republicans’ Senate campaign committee for 2022, told NBC any Republican would be “foolish” to reject Trump’s endorsement — underlining the dilemma Republicans face.

“Donald Trump is where he wants to be — the center of attention, a crying child in the candy aisle of a packed grocery store, demanding more soda while he throws bags of candy bars at other children,” Peter Loge, an associate professor at George Washington University, told AFP.

“It is difficult to imagine him demurring so that others can have their turn in the spotlight.”

 ‘The Past Is Never Dead’ 

Trump’s bully pulpit isn’t what it was before social media bans effectively curbed his day-to-day influence and, in any case, his electoral secret sauce was never as powerful as he claimed.

Republicans did fairly well down-ballot in 2020 — keeping their Senate loss to the narrowest possible margin and almost taking the House — but stumbled at the presidential level.

And Trump is the first president since Herbert Hoover nearly a century ago to lose the House, the Senate and the White House during a single term.

“So far, Trump-endorsed candidates haven’t fared particularly well,” said Sam Nelson, associate professor and chair of the University of Toledo’s political science department.

“While Republican primary candidates actively seek his endorsement, valuable in Republican races, that same endorsement can be somewhat dangerous in a general election in that it motivates Democrats to turn out to vote against the Trump-supported candidate.”

Loge believes challengers who think they have nothing to lose may emerge, alongside others concerned about the future of the Republican Party and the country.

“The 2022 midterm elections will also go a long way to determining Trump’s level of support in 2024,” Loge told AFP.

“If Trump-backed candidates win primary and general elections, Trump’s stock will go up. If Trump-backed candidates lose primary and general elections, Trump’s stock will go down.”

But Trump remains a hero to the millions of disaffected new voters he brought to the Republican cause in 2016, and is credited with remaking the federal judiciary in the image of his right-wing backers.

His deficit-busting tax cuts remain popular among the working classes, although they tilt increasingly toward the mega-rich over the longer term.

“William Faulkner famously wrote ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past,'” Mark Bayer, a former chief of staff in the Senate and the House, told AFP.

“The same can be said about Trump’s trance-inducing influence over the Republican Party. His grip… is as strong as it was when he was president.”

AFP

Trump Asks Supreme Court To Block Release To Capitol Riot Probe

In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House on September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

Former US President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to block the release of White House records to a congressional committee investigating the January 6 assault on the Capitol by his supporters.

Trump asked the nation’s highest court to stay a ruling this month by a federal appeals court which rejected his attempt to keep the documents and records secret.

Trump, who has been accused of fomenting the assault on Congress, is seeking to exercise his privilege as a former president to keep White House records and communications that might relate to the attack under wraps.

The appeals court agreed with a lower court this month that ruled President Joe Biden could waive executive privilege on the records so they could be handed over to the panel investigating the violence by Trump supporters.

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In a filing with the Supreme Court, Trump’s lawyers argued that “a former president has the right to assert executive privilege, even after his term of office.”

They condemned the congressional records request as “strikingly broad” and accused the committee in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives of conducting an investigation of a “political foe.”

“Congress may not rifle through the confidential, presidential papers of a former President to meet political objectives,” Trump’s lawyers said.

“In an increasingly partisan political climate, such records requests will become the norm regardless of what party is in power,” they said.

Trump’s lawyers defended executive privilege, saying it affects “the ability of presidents and their advisers to reliably make and receive full and frank advice, without concern that communications will be publicly released to meet a political objective.”

The US Court of Appeals agreed to delay the release of the White House records until lawyers for the former Republican president could file their appeal to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s lawyers asked the conservative-majority Supreme Court to schedule a hearing on whether the probe request is constitutional and to block release of the documents in the meantime.

In response, the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection reportedly asked the Supreme Court to expedite consideration of Trump’s filing, with a House counsel writing to the justices that a delay “would inflict serious injury” on the committee and the public.

Public Interest 

In its ruling, the appeals court said “the right of a former president certainly enjoys no greater weight than that of the incumbent.”

“In this case, President Biden, as the head of the Executive Branch, has specifically found that Congress has demonstrated a compelling need for these very documents and that disclosure is in the best interests of the nation,” the court said.

The appeals court said the public interest was greater than Trump’s own in relation to the records, which are held by the National Archives.

The records are being sought by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attempt by hundreds of Trump supporters to block certification of Biden’s November 2020 election victory.

Documents that Trump hopes to block include emails, phone records, briefing materials and other records.

The more than 770 pages include records of his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, his former senior advisor Stephen Miller and his former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin.

Trump has also sought to block the release of the White House Daily Diary — a record of his activities, trips, briefings and phone calls.

Another trove of documents Trump does not want Congress to see includes memos to his former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, a handwritten note on the January 6 events and a draft text of his speech at the “Save America” rally, which preceded the attack.

AFP

Biden Says A Trump Candidacy Would Motivate Him To Go For Second Term

This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020, shows ex-US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

Though he isn’t even a year into his first term, US President Joe Biden says one factor could help convince him to run again in 2024: a rematch against 2020 rival Donald Trump.

“That would increase the prospect of running,” Biden told ABC News on Wednesday.

When asked about whether he would stand for re-election, the 79-year-old Democrat responded that he would.

“But look,” he said. “I’m a great respecter of fate. Fate has intervened in my life many, many times. If I’m in the health I’m in now, if I’m in good health, then in fact I would run again.”

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And if that means facing off once more against 75-year-old former president Trump, who launched a no-holds-barred campaign against Biden last year?

“You’re trying to tempt me now,” Biden said with a smile.

“Sure, why would I not run against Donald Trump if he were the nominee?”

Trump continues to falsely claim that his 2020 defeat to Biden was due to voter fraud and that the election was “stolen” from him.

It was under that bogus premise that Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 as Congress was certifying Biden’s presidential win.

Though Biden’s second-in-command Kamala Harris was once considered his potential political successor, there are questions about her political future as rumors have swirled through Washington that the president and vice president’s relationship is not strong.

Harris, 57, seems to be struggling to find her place in the White House, where she has been charged with tackling particularly sensitive missions, such as minority voting rights and migration issues.

Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly hinted at another possible White House campaign but has yet to announce his plans.

AFP