Donald Trump Is Indicted

A grand jury has reportedly indicted Donald Trump on criminal charges stemming from his role in a hush-money payoff to the porn star Stormy Daniels. This historic event is a tragedy for the American republic not because of what it has revealed about Trump, but because of what it is revealing about us as voters and citizens.

Picture : Forbes

Donald Trump is said to have been charged with crimes in New York. This is a good day for America, because it shows, in the most direct way possible, that no one in this country is above the law. Trump’s status as a former president has not shielded him from answering for his alleged crimes.

The indictment itself is shot through with tension, because Trump is, in fact, a former president and a current leading presidential candidate—which underscores the ghastly reality that no matter how much we learn about this crass sociopath, millions of people voted for him twice and are still hoping that he will return to power in the White House.

The Manhattan DA’s office wanted Trump to surrender on Friday, but Trump’s lawyers “rebuffed the request, saying that the Secret Service, which provides security detail for the former president, needed more time to prepare”, Politico reports, citing an unnamed source but saying the exchange was confirmed by Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina.

A grand jury in Manhattan voted Thursday to indict Donald Trump — the first time a former U.S. president has faced criminal charges. The historic indictment comes in a case centered on $130,000 in payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Daniels claimed she slept with the married Trump in 2006, a claim the former president has denied. Trump had classified his reimbursement of the payout as a legal expense.

A spokesperson for the DA’s office confirmed the indictment in a statement Thursday night. “This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a [New York] Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal,” the spokesperson said. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”

Trump attorney Susan Necheles told NBC News that the former president, who lives in Florida, is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday. He is expected to surrender to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Trump attorney Joe Tacopina said earlier Thursday.

“President Trump has been indicted. He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in Court,” Necheles and Tacopina said in a joint statement.

The tentative plan is for Trump to appear before acting Justice Juan Merchan after 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday for his felony arraignment, two officials familiar with the matter said. Merchan presided over the DA’s successful tax fraud prosecution of Trump’s company last year.

Trump blasted the news in a statement Thursday evening. “This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history,” Trump said in a statement. “The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable — indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant Election Interference.”

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing related to the probe and called the investigation by Democratic Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office a continuation of the partisan “witch hunt” against him. He’s also accused Bragg, who’s Black, of being a “racist.”

The decision is sure to send shockwaves across the country, pushing the American political system – which has never seen one of its ex-leaders confronted with criminal charges, let alone while running again for president – into uncharted waters.

Desantis May Beat Biden, Could Beat Trump By 2 Points In A Hypothetical 2024 Matchup

The polls do not bear well for President Joe Biden if he chooses to stand for reelection in 2024. Biden is locked in close hypothetical races with the two leading candidates for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination, according to a new poll.

A Quinnipiac University poll released this week found Biden leading former President Trump in a hypothetical 2024 rematch, with Biden receiving 48 percent support and Trump getting 46 percent among registered voters.

In a hypothetical election between Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), the other front-runner at the moment for the GOP nomination, Biden trails 46 percent to DeSantis’s 48 percent.

Picture : NBC

The poll found Trump leading DeSantis in a head-to-head Republican primary matchup, with the former president earning 52 percent support to DeSantis’s 42 percent.

Biden, Trump, and DeSantis all had similar favorability ratings among registered voters, as well. For Biden, 37 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the president, compared to 56 percent who had an unfavorable view.

Meanwhile for Trump, 36 percent had a favorable view, and 58 percent had an unfavorable view. And 36 percent had a favorable view of DeSantis, while 39 percent had an unfavorable view, and 24 percent said they did not know enough about the governor.

The poll surveyed 1,600 registered voters from March 23-27. It has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

The results reflect that Biden may be vulnerable in a reelection bid, with voters consistently concerned about his handling of the economy in particular. But it also underscores a persistent concern among Republicans, that Trump may be the one candidate who would lose to Biden in 2024.

Trump has already declared his candidacy for 2024, as has former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. DeSantis is widely expected to enter the race in the coming months, but he has not yet formally launched a bid.

And while Biden’s intention to run for a second term does not seem to be in significant doubt, the president thus far has only reiterated his “intention” to run for the White House again.

Both Parties Fail On The Economy, Crime, And Transgender Rights

(NPR) The economy continues to dominate as the most important issue facing the country, followed by preserving democracy, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Democrats face vulnerabilities when it comes to the economy, crime and whether to ban TikTok, while Republicans risk overstepping on transgender rights and business practices, the survey found.

“The image of the Republican Party has gotten even more extreme than it was” before the 2020 election, said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the survey. “If winning the election in 2024 is predicated on picking up some swing voters in the middle, they’re moving in the opposite direction.

“For the Democrats, as much as the progressive wing is allowing President Biden some freedom to move toward the middle, you look at the issues on the economy and crime, and he is not where he wants to be in tying down the middle, either.”

The survey of 1,327 adults, including 1,226 registered voters, was conducted March 20 through Thursday, March 23 via live telephone callers to cellphones and landlines, through online research panels and via text message in English and in Spanish. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points, meaning results have a range of about 4 points lower or higher than the number reported.

The top issues facing the country

With inflation stubbornly high and interest rates increasing, there is plenty of economic uncertainty at the moment, and it remains the top issue for respondents in the survey — 31% said so, followed by preserving democracy (20%).

No other issue broke double-digits. Health care was third at 9%, then immigration and climate change at 8%. Crime, gun policy, abortion and education rounded out the topics people were asked about.

The policy priorities, as expected, are different by party — with Republicans and independents more focused on the economy and Democrats saying preserving democracy is tops, followed by the economy, health care and climate change.

Immigration and preserving democracy followed the economy for Republicans.

Biden struggles on the economy and crime

When it comes to the economy, Biden continues to get poor marks.

Just 38% approve of how he’s handling it, including just 28% of independents. The White House and Democratic strategists know Biden, who is expected to run for reelection, has to improve in how Americans view him on the economy in the next year and a half before the 2024 election.

Overall, Biden gets a 42% job approval rating. That’s about where it had been before his State of the Union address in February. An NPR survey that month, taken after Biden’s address, showed him getting a slight bounce. That appears to have receded.

On crime, Biden is particularly vulnerable. Just 35% approve of how he’s handling it, including just 27% of independents. There is a lack of approval across some key Democratic coalition groups, too, like nonwhites (37%) and people under 45 (34%).

Even though crime continues to not register as a top issue in polling, most people, by a 68%-to-31% margin, said it is a real threat to most communities and not an issue blown out of proportion by politicians as a way to win voters.

That includes 58% of Democrats and 7 in 10 independents. Notably, nonwhites, who are a pillar Democratic group, are among the most likely to say it’s a real threat. That’s in line with several core groups vital to former President Donald Trump’s political fortunes — whites without college degrees, white evangelical Christians and people who live in small towns.

Republicans have focused on increases in crime and brazen acts like smash-and-grabs and carjackings in big cities across the country.

Republicans vulnerable on transgender rights and business practices

Republican governors, legislatures and candidates across the country have focused on gender identity issues, something they see as a political wedge issue.

There is some evidence for that — 50% in the 2022 midterm exit polls, for example, said society’s values on gender identity and sexual orientation are changing for the worse.

And there has been an increase in support for criminalizing gender transition-related medical care for minors, from 28% in April of 2021 to 43% now. Almost two-thirds of Republicans support it.

But Republicans risk going too far. A majority, 54%, still oppose criminalizing this type of medical care, including 56% of independents.

There is also a big split between parents of children who are under 18 and those without kids — 59% of parents support criminalizing the practice, while 59% of people who aren’t parents are opposed.

What’s more, a majority of respondents said they oppose laws that would restrict drag shows or performances in their states. Earlier this month, Tennessee passed a bill to do just that, while in more than a dozen other states, there are GOP efforts afoot to do the same.

But the majority is not on their side — 58% oppose such laws. Republicans, on yet another issue, stand out against the majority, as 61% support these laws. Just a quarter of Democrats and fewer than 4 in 10 independents do.

It’s a similar story when it comes to socially conscious business practices.

Three-quarters said it would be more important to invest their money with companies that make money, but are also mindful of their business practices and impact on the environment and society, as opposed to investing in companies that make the most money regardless.

Even 63% of Republicans said they would rather invest with companies mindful of their impact on the environment and society. Many in the GOP have made ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) practices in companies bogey men.

Some Republicans blamed the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, for example, on these practices, when, in reality, the bank’s collapse was the result of bad investments, increased interest rates and depositors asking for their money back.

Younger people, in particular, believe in universal health care

Despite the patchwork health care system in this country, 83% said they believe that all Americans have a basic right to health care coverage. That includes 7 in 10 Republicans.

The disagreement comes in the intensity of that belief — and with who provides it.

Three-quarters of Democrats and 61% of independents strongly agree that health care is a basic right, while just a quarter of Republicans feel that way.

Americans want Congress to deal with the debt ceiling. How to do it is complicated

When asked if people think it’s the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage, almost two-thirds say yes. That includes 9 in 10 Democrats, a majority (57%) of independents, but just a third of Republicans.

While “government” continues to be the brightest of dividing lines in this country, what also stands out on this question is the generational divide. Three-quarters of members of the Gen Z and Millennial generations say it’s the government’s responsibility, but just 60% of Gen Xers do, followed by 56% of Baby Boomers and 49% of the Silent/Greatest generation.

The finding is yet another example of younger Americans being more likely to want the government to step in on pocketbook issues, like raising taxes on the wealthy to help close the national debt and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The clock is ticking on TikTok, but there’s a risk for Biden

A majority of Americans support a ban on the popular social media app TikTok — 57% said so.

Three quarters said TikTok represents either a major or minor threat to national security. And it’s bipartisan — 7 in 10 Democrats and 8 in 10 Republicans see it the same way, though Republicans are more likely to see TikTok as a major threat.

Can US Ban Tik Tok?

Nearly two-and-a-half years after the Trump administration threatened to ban TikTok in the United States if it didn’t divest from its Chinese owners, the Biden administration is now doing the same.

TikTok acknowledged this week that federal officials are demanding the app’s Chinese owners sell their stake in the social media platform, or risk facing a US ban of the app.

The new directive comes from the multiagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), following years of negotiations between TikTok and the government body. (CFIUS is the same group that previously forced a sale of LGBTQ dating app Grindr from Chinese ownership back in 2019.)

There’s a generational divide here, which is to be expected, considering younger Americans are more likely to use the app. Gen Z and Millennials, though they are split, are less likely to support a ban, and they are far less likely to see it as a national security threat.

Fifty-one percent of Gen Z/Millennials oppose banning TikTok, the most of any group, and just 27% see it as a major threat, the least of any group.

Biden has a precarious decision to make on TikTok. Ahead of his expected run for reelection, he has to balance whether to ban something the intelligence community clearly sees as a potential national security risk — or to finesse something less than a ban to stem the potential loss of support among a key voting demographic group that lives online.

Some in Washington have expressed concerns that the app could be infiltrated by the Chinese government to essentially spy on American users or gain access to US user data. Others have raised alarms over the possibility that the Chinese government could use the app to spread propaganda to a US audience. At the heart of both is an underlying concern that any company doing business in China ultimately falls under Chinese Communist Party laws.

Other concerns raised are not unique to TikTok, but more broadly about the potential for social media platforms to lead younger users down harmful rabbit holes.

Wait, didn’t all of this happen before?

If this latest development is giving you déjà vu, that’s because it echoes the saga TikTok already went through in the United States that kicked off in 2020, when the Trump administration first threatened it with a ban via executive order if it didn’t sell itself to a US-based company.

Oracle and Walmart were suggested as buyers, social media creators were in a frenzy, and TikTok kicked off a lengthy legal battle against the US government. Some critics at the time blasted then-president Donald Trump’s crusade against the app as political theater rooted in xenophobia, calling out Trump’s unusual suggestion that the United States should get a “cut” of any deal if it forced the app’s sale to an American firm.

Denying Fundamental Rights To Citizens, Modi Claims India As The Mother Of Democracy

Describing India as the mother of democracy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 29th, 2023 said the India has become the fastest-growing major economy despite many global challenges and this proves that democracy can deliver. In a virtual address to the Summit for Democracy 2023, Modi said every initiative of his government is powered by collective efforts of the citizens of India.

“India is a democracy because we believe in saamanjasya (harmony)….. We are often told that India is the largest democracy. I would like countrymen to remember that we are not just the largest; India is the mother of all democracies,” Modi said.

“Democracy is not just a structure; it is also a spirit. It is based on the belief that the needs and aspirations of every human being are equally important. That is why, in India, our guiding philosophy is “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas”, meaning ‘’striving together for inclusive growth‘’, he went on to say.

The US State Department has said that respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is the cornerstone of any democracy and that Washington was watching Rahul Gandhi’s court case that resulted in his disqualification from the Lok Sabha. The US reaction came in the wake of large-scale protests by the Congress inside and outside Parliament over the issue.

The second Summit for Democracy is being co-hosted by US President Joe Biden, Costa Rica President Rodrigo Chaves Robles, Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema, the Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte and South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol.

In his address, Modi said the idea of elected leaders was a common feature in ancient India long before the rest of the world — “Our epic Mahabharata describes the first duty of citizens as choosing their own leader. Our sacred Vedas speak of political power being exercised by broad-based consultative bodies. There is also historical evidence of republic states in ancient India where rulers were not hereditary.”

“There are also many historical references to republic states in ancient India where the rulers were not hereditary. India is, indeed, the mother of democracy,” Modi said.

Modi had earlier referred to India as the “mother of democracy” in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2021, countering the generally held perception that the Athenian city-state, founded in Greece in the 6th century BCE, which gave the terms ‘Demos’ and ‘Kratos’ to mean people’s rule, preceded it.

India was among about 120 countries invited to the second edition of the virtually held Summit for Democracy. In a repeat of the first edition in 2021 the U.S. decided to invite India, Nepal and Maldives, while not including Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the event.

A major theme of this week’s summit is to working to ensure technology is used to benefit democracy. Biden on Monday signed an executive order prohibiting the use of commercial spyware that poses a security risk to the U.S. government or risks improper use by foreigners.

A senior administration official said the summit is intended to highlight “a critical issue of our time. As President Biden has said, we’re currently at an inflection point when it comes to the future of democracy both within the United States and globally,” the official said. “When the president came into office, he said that a defining question of this moment is whether democracies will deliver for their people.”

The Biden administration hosted the first edition of the summit in late 2021 as part of the president’s broader efforts to strengthen democracies globally and combat the influence of authoritarian nations like Russia and China.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month held talks amid concerns from the U.S. that China could provide support to Russia in its war effort.

This week’s summit is also taking place as concerns play out over whether some U.S. allies are backsliding with moves to weaken democratic institutions.

Biden administration officials have raised alarm over a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give lawmakers more control over the country’s top court. Netanyahu agreed to pause the judicial reforms in the face of widespread protests this week.

Mexico in February passed a law that critics said weakened the agency that helps administer and oversee the country’s elections.

And Brazil in January saw supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro storm federal government buildings after he was defeated in the country’s elections last year in images that evoked the chaos of Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol.

Opening the first session on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a special mention of attacks against democratic principles and freedom of the media worldwide.

“Freedom of expression is in freefall, dissenting voices are silenced. Human Rights Defenders face persecution, while prosecutors fighting corruption face reprisals, journalists confront censorship, detention and violence. The number of media workers killed across the world last year rose by a horrific 50%,” Mr. Guterres said, referring to a rise in the “siren songs of enlightened despotism”, which isn’t very “enlightened”, worldwide.

Speaking during the same session on “Democracy Delivering Growth and Shared Prosperity”, several leaders, particularly from the EU, referred in their speeches to the war in Ukraine, casting Russia, which was not invited, as carrying out an “attack on a democratic country”.