10 Things in Politics: Trump's woes expand 2024 field
Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @BrentGriffiths.
- Programming note: I'm out on Monday as we observe the Fourth, but we'll be back Tuesday.
Here's what we're talking about:
- Trump's troubles expand the Republican field
- The Supreme Court dealt another blow to voting rights
- Trumpworld trots out old hat 'witch hunt' to attack new indictments
One thing to watch for: The Labor Department publishes June's jobs report at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. President Joe Biden is planning to speak about it at 10:15 a.m. ET.
1. IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY: Former President Donald Trump's lack of a social-media megaphone and continuing legal cloud over his namesake company have begun to thaw the freeze he's cast over the 2024 Republican presidential field. My colleague Tom LoBianco has taken stock with power rankings of where the vast array of hopefuls stand.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to rule the roost (No. 2): The Floridian edged out Trump in a nonscientific straw poll at the Western Conservative Summit last week, a minor victory that raised eyebrows. One of the few downsides his detractors can muster is that he's peaking too early.
- Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota is sinking (Slipping two spots to No. 9): "Noem's stock cratered when she vetoed the women's sports bill," one Republican strategist said. "Conservatives think she caved to the chamber of commerce, to the NCAA, to Amazon."
- Don't count out Ted Cruz (No. 5): The Texas senator may still be the butt of Cancún jokes for some, but GOP strategists say he has the luxury of playing it more cool than the first-time presidential hopefuls thanks to the massive organization he built during his 2016 run.
Legal troubles or not, Trump is still in command ... for now: "Political parties only shift when they lose, and the GOP is not convinced yet that Trump is bad for winning elections," said Michael Cohen, a Republican pollster. This means 2022 may loom far larger than any legal clouds.
See where the rest of the GOP field stands.
2. Trump and his allies brand New York investigation 'witch hunt': Running the same strategy suffers from one potentially fatal flaw, however: Trump is no longer president. He and his allies are still hoping they can win the PR battle even with the former president deprived of the bully pulpit and his Twitter account. For now, they also aren't worried about Trump being implicated directly.
- More reaction: "It's like going after Al Capone for tax evasion. It's petty," one former Trump White House official said.
- Thursday's indictments barely registered at Trump's once glorious haunt: The less than two dozen people gathered at Trump's Washington, DC, hotel were more interested in mapping out sightseeing, sipping Champagne, and even celebrating a birthday than the breaking news. More from the eerily empty hot spot.
Someone clearly didn't watch 'The Wire': New York prosecutors' indictments of the Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg cite company documents that listed certain payments to Weisselberg as "Holiday Entertainment" in official records and then in a different place listed the money as part of Weisselberg's compensation. The holiday money is one of the instances that prosecutors say show Weisselberg and the Trump Organization evaded paying taxes.
3. Supreme Court dealt another blow to voting rights: The court's justices ruled 6-3 to uphold two Arizona voting restrictions in a pair of key cases over whether the laws violated one of the surviving sections of the Voting Rights Act. A leading expert on voting rights, who has been sharply critical of Republican-led efforts across the country to expand voting restrictions, told NPR that the ruling would severely restrict future federal challenges of state laws.
- The door to massive changes in campaign finance may also be open: The court also voted 6-3 to strike down a California law that required charities to privately disclose top donors, The Washington Post reports. Nonprofits across the political spectrum questioned the law, citing fears over the prospect of leaks, but Chief Justice John Roberts' ruling is viewed by some, including the court's liberal justices, as weakening disclosure requirements for dark-money groups and other campaign donations.
4. Rescue work resumed at Florida condo site: Rescue efforts stalled for 15 hours over concerns for the stability of the remaining structure of the Surfside condominium that partially collapsed, the Miami Herald reports. The search for the 145 people still missing will be more limited because of the instability of the debris.
- Biden says survivors and victims' families 'are going through hell': Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, traveled to Florida to see the site of the collapse and to meet with families. "It's bad enough to lose somebody, but the really hard part is to not know if they're surviving or not," he said.
5. Federal executions are temporarily halted: Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered the Department of Justice to pause federal executions after the Trump administration made historic use of capital punishment by carrying out 13 executions in just six months, the Associated Press reports. This doesn't end federal executions for good nor does it stop prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.
6. A major milestone in the US withdrawal from Afghanistan: American forces have left Bagram Airfield, once the center of the US war effort in Afghanistan, officials said. The US military withdrawal from the country is expected to be completed soon, though some troops are expected to remain longer to protect the US Embassy.
7. CDC director says vaccinated don't need to wear masks despite variant: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, says fully vaccinated Americans are "safe" from all coronavirus variants identified so far in the US and don't need to wear masks. The World Health Organization sparked confusion when it recommended that even vaccinated people revert to social distancing and mask-wearing to stem the spread of the Delta variant. Despite the CDC's guidance, Los Angeles County is urging Californians of any vaccination status to wear masks indoors as a precaution.
8. Rep. Liz Cheney is lone Republican on Capitol-riot panel: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named Cheney as one of her appointments to the newly created select committee tasked with investigating the January 6 insurrection. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has reportedly threatened to strip any Republicans who join the panel of their other committee assignments. McCarthy questioned whether Cheney, who was ousted from GOP leadership over her criticism of Trump in connection to the riot, might be more loyal to Pelosi than "to us."
- "Who gives a s---?" Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who was also under consideration to join the panel, said of McCarthy's threat.
9. Hundreds are thought to be dead amid heat wave: The death toll in Oregon alone is 79, the Associated Press reports. Many were found alone in homes without air conditioning or fans as triple-digit temperatures blanketed the Pacific Northwest. Officials tried to help residents, but the scorching weather was simply too much.
10. There's a bipartisan push in Washington to #FreeBritney: Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bob Casey are pressing for more federal oversight over conservatorship after Britney Spears' emotional testimony last week describing her past 13 years under a conservatorship, Time magazine reports. More on what the senators are doing here.
- Rep. Matt Gaetz wants Spears to testify: The Florida Republican joined three other GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, in writing to Spears that she had "been mistreated by America's legal system" and that if she would "speak to Congress, we are ready to listen."
Today's trivia question: Which founding father was dead certain that we would all celebrate July 2 for years to come? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at email@example.com.
- Yesterday's answer: Teddy Roosevelt's role in trying to clean up college football helped lead to the creation of the NCAA.
That's all! Have a healthy and happy holiday weekend.
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