Dear Commons Community,
The Sunday morning news shows yesterday had interviews with Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and other members of the House January 6th committee. All were consistent in stating that more witnesses are coming forward with new details on the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, following former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s devastating testimony last week against former President Donald Trump. As reported by several media outlets.
The panel already has subpoenaed former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who investigators remain hopeful will appear Wednesday for a deposition, and said it would also welcome follow-up details from Secret Service members with Trump that day.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., cited Hutchinson’s testimony that Trump wanted to join an angry mob that marched to the Capitol on Jan. 6 where they rioted as particularly valuable in “inspiring” more people to step forward as the committee gets set for at least two public hearings this month.
“Every day we get new people that come forward and say, ‘Hey, I didn’t think maybe this piece of the story that I knew was important,’” he said yesterday. “There will be way more information and stay tuned.”
The committee has been intensifying its yearlong investigation into the attack on Jan. 6, 2021, and Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The next hearings will aim to show how Trump illegally directed a violent mob toward the Capitol on Jan. 6, and then failed to take quick action to stop the attack once it began. Over the weekend, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the committee’s vice chair, made clear that criminal referrals to the Justice Department, including against Trump, could follow.
The committee also has been reviewing new documentary film footage of Trump’s final months in office, including interviews with Trump and members of his family.
Kinzinger, in a television interview, declined to disclose the new information he referred to and did not say who had provided it. He said nothing had changed the committee’s confidence in her credibility.
“There’s information I can’t say yet,” he said. “We certainly would say that Cassidy Hutchinson has testified under oath, we find her credible, and anybody that wants to cast disparagements on that, who were firsthand present, should also testify under oath and not through anonymous sources.”
In a separate interview, another committee member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said: “We are following additional leads. I think those leads will lead to new testimony.”
In Hutchinson’s appearance before the committee, she painted a picture of Trump as an angry, defiant president who was trying to let armed supporters avoid security screenings at a rally on the morning of Jan. 6 to protest his 2020 election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.
According to Hutchinson, Cipollone was concerned that Trump would face criminal charges if he joined his supporters in marching to the Capitol.
Legal experts have said Cassidy’s testimony is potentially problematic for Trump as federal prosecutors investigate potential criminal wrongdoing.
Cheney said in an interview aired yesterday that the committee was still considering whether to issue recommendations to the Justice Department, indicating “there could be more than one criminal referral.”
Committee members said they are hopeful Cipollone will come forward.
“He clearly has information about concerns about criminal violations, concerns about the president going to the Capitol that day, concerns about the chief of staff having blood on his hands if they didn’t do more to stop that violent attack on the Capitol,” Schiff said. “It’s hard to imagine someone more at the center of things.”
In her testimony, Cassidy recounted a conversation with Tony Ornato, Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations, who, she testified, said Trump later grabbed at the steering wheel of the presidential SUV when the Secret Service refused to let him go to the Capitol after the rally.
That account was disputed, however. Bobby Engel, the Secret Service agent who was driving Trump, and Ornato are willing to testify under oath that no agent was assaulted and Trump never lunged for the steering wheel, a person familiar with the matter said. The person would not discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
“We had interviewed Mr. Ornato several times,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and member of the panel. “His memory does not appear to be as precise as hers. We certainly would welcome them to come back if they wish to do that.”
Kinzinger appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Schiff was on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Cheney appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and Lofgren spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Dear Commons Community,
In New York City, public school funding is tied to student enrollment, and students have been leaving city schools in droves for years. But during the pandemic, school budgets were largely untouched, buoyed by federal aid.
Now, the city is saying schools must make cuts to reckon with the steep declines — to the tune of over $200 million — and start preparing for even steeper reductions next year. That largely means culling teachers.
Nearly 77 percent of New York City district schools, about 1,200 out of 1,600 in the system, have seen their enrollments decline and are facing the budget cuts after Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council agreed to a municipal budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The budget reversed a policy under the previous mayor, Bill de Blasio, to keep funding for individual schools steady during the pandemic.
Hundreds of teachers are being let go, or “excessed,” by school principals, and placed into a districtwide hiring pool — leading to an uproar among parents, educators and even some of the elected officials who voted for the reduced budgets. As reported by the New York Times.
Mariscelle Bautista, a mother of two public elementary school students, said during public testimony last week that the city’s decision to “defund” public schools was “outrageous” and called for parents to mobilize and “eventually vote all of these people out.”
The cuts to school budgets would hurt the programs and services that have helped students affected by school shutdowns and learning loss during the pandemic, said Ms. Bautista, including her own children.
The New York City schools chancellor, David C. Banks, pledged Monday, the last day of the school year for students, that most, if not all, teachers forced out because of enrollment-based budget cuts at their schools will be able to find a position within the system before the next school year begins.
Mr. Banks, who is just six months into his tenure at the helm of the nation’s largest school system, said that “no teacher in the entire school system will lose their job as a result of this right sizing.”
Teachers who are excessed are placed into the city’s reserve pool and become eligible for jobs in other schools. Mr. Banks said that the number of teachers who are likely to land in the reserve pool this year is comparable with the numbers after the years before the pandemic. And with a mandate that schools first hire those teachers before bringing new teachers into the system, “we expect all of those excessed teachers to be picked up,” Mr. Banks said.
“We have several thousand teachers to hire this year and we will hire them,” he said. “You’re not going to come back in September and see like dozens of people still sitting around.”
But Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, the New York City teachers’ union, said the decision to shuffle teachers between schools based on a “false narrative” of necessary budget cuts was “unacceptable.”
He said that the city has $4.6 billion in unspent federal pandemic aid. “Those funds should be used to give our students the learning conditions, including smaller class sizes, they need to recover,” Mr. Mulgrew said. “Our students need stability.”
Mr. Banks’s assurance that teachers will remain employed in new schools does not address the destabilizing impact on students, said Crystal Hudson, a councilwoman from Brooklyn, who was among 44 out of 50 City Council members who voted for the budget deal that included the cuts.
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“It is also time we reconsider a system that allocates resources not on a qualified determination of need, but rather on a stubborn belief that faltering schools should languish,” she said in a statement, “punishing our poor and working-class Black and brown communities, while those with means prosper.”
Mr. Banks argued Monday that adjusting funding to reflect a school’s enrollment changes is nothing new, adding, “I was a principal for 11 years, the first thing I used to do is check the budget.”
But the idea that the cuts were a normal part of the budget cycle did little to satisfy parents, educators and elected officials, who voiced their dissatisfaction at protests, on social media and at a meeting on Thursday of the Panel For Educational Policy, a local board made up of appointees mostly appointed by the mayor.
Jessica Beck, a seventh grade teacher at 75 Morton Middle School, in Manhattan, testified at Thursday’s panel, and said she was excessed earlier this month when the school’s budget was reduced by 43 percent.
Ms. Beck spoke about how, in addition to teaching, she has helped students with buying art supplies, lunches and even books they wanted to read. “And during the month of June, I’ve wiped their tears and assured them the future is hopeful even as I’ve told them I’m leaving,” she said.
She added: “As I think about how relationships matter to our students, I can’t help but think how unimportant and insignificant we’ve been when this administration made budget decisions.”
Under the enacted budget, schools losing funds will see an average of $402,000 cut from their budgets, said Brad Lander, the New York City comptroller.
“These cuts might mean going from four sections of a grade to three, thus boosting class size from 25 to 32, or losing their only art or music teacher,” Mr. Lander said. “While not every individual excessed teacher will be out of work, schools will lose the small classes and enrichment programs that students need to thrive.”
This is a bad situation that might only get worse in the years to come.
Dear Commons Community,
Public schools in Texas would describe slavery to second graders as “involuntary relocation” under new social studies standards proposed to the state’s education board.
A group of nine educators submitted the idea to the State Board of Education as part of Texas’ efforts to develop new social studies curriculum, according to the Texas Tribune. The once-a-decade process updates what children learn in the state’s nearly 8,900 public schools.
The board is considering curriculum changes one year after Texas passed a law to eliminate topics from schools that make students “feel discomfort.”
Board member Aicha Davis, a Democrat who represents Dallas and Fort Worth, raised concerns during a June 15 meeting that the term wasn’t a fair representation of the slave trade. The board sent the draft back for revision, urging the educator group to “carefully examine the language used to describe events.”
“I can’t say what their intention was, but that’s not going to be acceptable,” Davis told The Texas Tribune on Thursday.
Part of the proposed draft standards obtained by The Texas Tribune say students should “compare journeys to America, including voluntary Irish immigration and involuntary relocation of African people during colonial times.”
Texas’ public education system has become heavily politicized in recent years, with lawmakers passing legislation to dictate how race and slavery should be taught in schools and conservative groups pouring large amounts of money into school board races.
Texas drew attention for a similar situation in 2015, when a student noticed wording in a textbook that referred to slaves who were brought to America as “ workers.” The book’s publisher apologized and promised to increase the number of textbook reviewers is uses.
Dear Commons Community,
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling expanding state authority to prosecute some crimes on Native American land is fracturing decades of law built around the hard-fought principle that tribes have the right to govern themselves on their own territory, legal experts say.
The Wednesday ruling is a marked departure from federal Indian law and veers from the push to increase tribes’ ability to prosecute all crimes on reservations — regardless of who is involved. It also cast tribes as part of states, rather than the sovereign nations they are, infuriating many across Indian Country. As reported by the Associated Press.
“The majority (opinion) is not firmly rooted in the law that I have dedicated my life to studying and the history as I know it to be true,” said Elizabeth Hidalgo Reese, an assistant law professor at Stanford University who is enrolled at Nambé Pueblo in New Mexico. ”And that’s just really concerning,”
Federal authorities largely maintained exclusive jurisdiction to investigate serious, violent crime on reservations across much of the U.S. when the suspect or victim is Native American. The 5-4 decision from the high court in a case out of Oklahoma means states will share in that authority when the suspect is not Native American and the victim is.
Criminal justice on tribal lands already is a tangled web, and the ruling likely will present new thorny questions about jurisdiction, possible triple jeopardy and how to tackle complicated crimes in remote areas where resources are stretched thin. States had power to prosecute crimes involving only non-Natives on reservations before this week’s ruling.
“It will have an impact in Indian Country, so only the future will tell us if it’s good or not,” said Robert Miller, a law professor at Arizona State University and citizen of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe. “Is it better to have more criminal prosecutions, more governments enforcing crimes or less?”
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a scathing dissent joined by the court’s three liberal members, saying “one can only hope the political branches and future courts will do their duty to honor this Nation’s promises even as we have failed today to do on our own.”
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. of the Cherokee Nation said the court “failed in its duty to honor this nation’s promises, defied Congress’s statutes and accepted the ‘lawless disregard of the Cherokee’s sovereignty.’”
Dear Commons Community,
I have just finished reading River of the the Gods: Genius, Courage and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile, a new book by Candice Millard. A New York Times bestselling author, Millard tells once again the story of Richard Burton and John Speke who travel through East Africa to find the source of the Nile in the 1850s. There are a number of other books and biographies such as Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton by Edward Rice that tell the grueling trek of these explorers who brave difficulties especially paralyzing illnesses to find the beginning of the White Nile. Millard focuses mostly on the conflicts between the two protagonists. While originally good friends, Burton and Speke become lifelong enemies especially after their return to England. Although Speke rightfully is credited with finding Lake Nyanza (renamed Lake Victoria) and establishing it as the source of the White Nile, it is Burton who is the more interesting of the two. We learn of Burton’s life before and after the discovery, his antagonistic personality, his wife, and his prolific writings and translations of Middle Eastern and Asian books. Millard also gives a good deal of credit to Sidi Mubarek Bombay, a former slave and lead guide who keeps the expeditions together. A nice touch!
I enjoyed River of the Gods… It is a good summer read and at three hundred plus pages, you will likely get through it quickly. The last seventy or so pages will definitely keep your attention as the conflict between the two men escalate until Speke dies suddenly at the age of 37 during a hunting accident.
Below is a review that appeared in The New York Times.
The New York Times Review of Books
Exploration at the Edge of Disaster
By Edward Dolnick
May 15, 2022
RIVER OF THE GODS: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile,
by Candice Millard
The first law of travelers’ tales is simply put: the worse, the better. No reader wants to hear of well-made plans or sunsets that paint the sky in glorious reds and purples. Give us a ship trapped in the ice or desperate wanderers sitting down to a meal of frozen boot. Better yet, give us two Victorian rivals in East Africa, supposed colleagues who were consumed with hate for each other, weak from fever, half-starved and half-blind but nonetheless obsessed with solving a mystery that had mocked the world for 2,000 years.
“River of the Gods” is a lean, fast-paced account of the almost absurdly dangerous quest by those two friends turned enemies, Richard Burton and John Speke, to solve the geographic riddle of their era. The two men had set out, in 1857, to find the source of the Nile. Candice Millard, formerly a National Geographic writer and editor and the author of a gripping book about Teddy Roosevelt’s adventures in South America, has here plunged into another tale of exploration at the edge of disaster.
The search for the Nile’s headwaters was not simply a chase for fame and glory, though it was that. Filling in that tantalizing blank on the map would represent a genuine contribution to knowledge as well. It would not come easy.
Burton, six years older than Speke and more experienced, was the expedition leader. Speke was second in command. They should have worked well together. Speke was a skilled surveyor and geographer, Burton an astonishingly gifted linguist. Both were fearless and ambitious, but they had little else in common.
Burton was a scholar and an adventurer — the first Englishman to travel to the forbidden city of Mecca (disguised as a Muslim), a linguist who spoke 25 languages, and a translator who would one day bring the Kama Sutra and “Arabian Nights” to a vast audience of titillated, scandalized Victorians. Speke was a more conventional character, a soldier from an aristocratic family, a big-game hunter and, in one acquaintance’s admiring description, “a fine, manly, unaffected specimen of an Englishman.”
They quickly became fierce enemies. Yoked together in pursuit of the same goal, they devoted vast stores of energy to denouncing each other, as if “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” had been rewritten to feature a pair of mismatched Victorian explorers.
Almost from the start, Burton and Speke found themselves tormented by a host of mysterious pains and illnesses. Three months into their journey they came to a 7,000-foot-tall mountain range. “Trembling with ague, with swimming heads, ears deafened by weakness, and limbs that would hardly support us,” Burton wrote, “we contemplated with a dogged despair the apparently perpendicular path.”
Speke needed the support of three men just to keep on his feet. Then his fever boiled over and he began raving in delirium. Porters took away his weapons, for everyone’s safety. The expedition’s supply of food, which was meant to last a year, had nearly run out. There were no villages nearby to trade with and scarcely any game to hunt. Desperate for protein, the travelers took to eating ants.
This is not new ground — the most recent writer to have come this way is Tim Jeal, author of the thorough and engaging “Explorers of the Nile” — but Candice Millard has earned her legions of admirers. She is a graceful writer and a careful researcher, and she knows how to navigate a tangled tale.
Curiously, Millard provides few of the natural history vignettes that were highlights of “The River of Doubt,” her Teddy Roosevelt book. There are hardly any mentions of elephants, except as their tusks figured in the ivory trade, and only the briefest mention of lions. Leopards and giraffes and wildebeests turn up in only a single paragraph.
Millard sticks close to Burton and Speke, even dashing past such important and colorful figures as David Livingstone and Henry Stanley (of “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” fame). But she takes pains to put her story in context. Unlike Scott and Amundsen, say, whose race to the South Pole played out on an empty continent, Burton and Speke set out into territory that, Millard notes with characteristic liveliness, “had in fact been occupied continuously by human beings for hundreds of thousands of years longer than London or Paris.”
But the Nile had never yielded its secrets, though traders had long recounted stories of towering mountains and giant lakes that might have given rise to a mighty river. The problem for locals and traders alike was scale — knowing a great deal about one region or stretch of river was far different from knowing the full course of the longest river in the world. Just how all those lakes and rivers connected, across vast watersheds, no one knew. Explorers since Roman days had tried to follow the Nile upstream to its headwaters. They had all failed. The new strategy was to make an end run instead, by marching inland from the coast.
Burton and Speke and other explorers wound their way like armies on the move, in caravans of 100 or 200 men. Most of the paths they followed had been laid down over the course of centuries by African and Arab traders in ivory and enslaved people. Even in the 1850s those trade caravans continued to thrive. Throughout East Africa, Millard writes, “the shackling and selling of human beings was still a common and daily occurrence.”
Porters staggered along with tusks that weighed up to 100 pounds, cut from slaughtered elephants. Victims of smallpox lay dead along the trail. Hordes of unfortunate souls who had been captured in raids or purchased like animals trudged their weary way along, destined for slave markets.
One of the heroes of Millard’s story had once marched in one of those slavers’ caravans, in ropes and chains. Sidi Mubarak Bombay would play an indispensable role as a guide to Burton and Speke — he was, Burton said, “the gem of the party” — and he had endured a lifetime of hardships that surpassed anything that befell his employers.
Bombay was born in a village near the present-day border of Tanzania and Mozambique. Kidnapped by raiders, he was dragged hundreds of miles to the coast and then flung into a crammed boat for the 200-mile crossing to Zanzibar. Those who died at sea were tossed overboard. Bombay survived. In Zanzibar’s notorious slave market, he was exchanged for a few lengths of cloth and shipped to India, where he lived in slavery for 20 years.
Bombay was freed on his master’s death and made his way back to Africa. By the end of his life, Millard writes, the man who had been stripped of his name and family had become “not only one of the most accomplished guides in the history of African exploration but likely the most widely traveled man in Africa.”
History buffs know the names of Burton and Speke and their fellow explorers. Millard reminds us of the role of men like Bombay, who guided them, and the anonymous porters and laborers, who marched alongside them or struggled to carry their frail, feverish bodies in hammocks, mile after endless mile over hills and across rivers.
Medal of Freedom Nominees: clockwise from top left: Simone Biles, Megan Rapinoe, Denzel Washington and Gabby Giffords
Dear Commons Community.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors. Yesterday, President Biden named seventeen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
As stated in the White House announcement, President Biden has long said that America can be defined by one word: possibilities. These seventeen Americans (see list below) demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith. They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for generations to come.
The awards will be presented at the White House on July 7, 2022.
Medal of Freedom Nominees
Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history, with a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. Biles is also a prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system, and victims of sexual assault.
Sister Simone Campbell
Sister Simone Campbellis a member of the Sisters of Social Service and former Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization. She is also a prominent advocate for economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare policy.
Dr. Julieta García is the former president of The University of Texas at Brownsville, where she was named one of Time magazine’s best college presidents. Dr. García was the first Hispanic woman to serve as a college president and dedicated her career to serving students from the Southwest Border region.
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate, serving first in the Arizona legislature and later in the U.S. Congress. A survivor of gun violence, she co-founded Giffords, a nonprofit organization dedicated to gun violence prevention.
Fred Gray was one of the first black members of the Alabama State legislature since Reconstruction. As an attorney, he represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP, and Martin Luther King, who called him “the chief counsel for the protest movement.”
Steve Jobs (posthumous)
Steve Jobs (d. 2011) was the co-founder, chief executive, and chair of Apple, Inc., CEO of Pixar and held a leading role at the Walt Disney Company. His vision, imagination and creativity led to inventions that have, and continue to, change the way the world communicates, as well as transforming the computer, music, film and wireless industries.
Father Alexander Karloutsos
Father Alexander Karloutsos is the former Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. After over 50 years as a priest, providing counsel to several U.S. presidents, he was named by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as a Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Khizr Khanis a Gold Star father and founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center. He is a prominent advocate for the rule of law and religious freedom and served on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom under President Biden.
Sandra Lindsayis a New York critical care nurse who served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response. She was the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials and is a prominent advocate for vaccines and mental health for health care workers.
John McCain (posthumous)
John McCain (d. 2018) was a public servant who was awarded a Purple Heart with one gold star for his service in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. He also served the people of Arizona for decades in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and was the Republican nominee for president in 2008.
Diane Nash is a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who organized some of the most important civil rights campaigns of the 20th century. Nash worked closely with Martin Luther King, who described her as the “driving spirit in the nonviolent assault on segregation at lunch counters.”
Megan Rapinoeis an Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion. She also captains OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice, and LGBTQI+ rights.
Alan Simpson served as a U.S. Senator from Wyoming for 18 years. During his public service, he has been a prominent advocate on issues including campaign finance reform, responsible governance, and marriage equality.
Richard Trumka (posthumous)
Richard Trumka (d. 2021)was president of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO for more than a decade, president of the United Mine Workers, and secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. Throughout his career, he was an outspoken advocate for social and economic justice.
Brigadier General Wilma Vaughtis one of the most decorated women in the history of the U.S. military, repeatedly breaking gender barriers as she rose through the ranks. When she retired in 1985, she was one of only seven women generals in the Armed Forces.
Denzel Washington is an actor, director, and producer who has won two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and the 2016 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also served as National Spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 25 years.
Raúl Yzaguirre is a civil rights advocate who served as CEO and president of National Council of La Raza for thirty years. He also served as U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic under President Barack Obama.
Dear Commons Community,
The Washington Examiner, a conservative news website and weekly magazine, published a blistering editorial in the wake of bombshell testimony from the Jan. 6 committee hearings.
Former President Donald Trump is a “disgrace” who is “unfit to be anywhere near power ever again” says the editorial.
Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mark Meadows while he was Trump’s White House chief of staff, gave jaw-dropping testimony Tuesday that indicated Trump knew his supporters were armed and potentially violent but encouraged them to help him overthrow the 2020 election anyway. She also testified that a Secret Service agent told her that Trump tried to grab the wheel of his armored limousine to turn back to the Capitol when the Secret Service informed him they’d be unable to take him there on Jan. 6.
The Examiner noted that Hutchinson, at 25, had already worked at the highest levels of Republican politics, and was “a conservative Trumpist true believer and a tremendously credible one at that.”
“What Hutchinson relayed was disturbing. She gave believable accounts of White House awareness that the planned Jan. 6 rally could turn violent. She repeated testimony that Trump not only knew that then-Vice President Mike Pence’s life had been credibly threatened that day but also that he was somewhere between uncaring and actually approving of Pence’s danger,” the site said, before going on to relay other shocking elements of Hutchinson’s testimony, including his episode in the presidential motorcade and his “fits of rage” throwing food at walls.
“Hutchinson’s testimony confirmed a damning portrayal of Trump as unstable, unmoored, and absolutely heedless of his sworn duty to effectuate a peaceful transition of presidential power,” the site concluded.
“Trump is a disgrace. Republicans have far better options to lead the party in 2024. No one should think otherwise, much less support him, ever again.”
Telling it like it is!
Dear Commons Community,
It appears the Congressional Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection is having an effect on Republican support for another presidential run by Donald Trump. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis now trails Donald Trump by just 9 percentage points in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll — the only single-digit gap between the two potential rivals in any major national survey to date. As reported by Yahoo News and The New York Times.
In a striking sign of vulnerability for the former president — and a possible warning that his vice-like grip on the GOP base is slipping — less than half of registered voters who identify as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents say they would choose Trump (45%) over DeSantis. Another 36% say they would pick DeSantis, while 18% say they’re not sure yet.
President Biden, meanwhile, continues to struggle among registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents — less than a third of whom (32%) say they would back him over his own vice president, Kamala Harris (24%), in a theoretical one-on-one contest.
A full 40% — a clear plurality — say they’re not sure who they would vote for. And while it’s extraordinarily unlikely that Harris would challenge Biden for the Democratic nomination, the president’s anemic numbers in such a scenario underscore his waning popularity — even among his own party’s base.
Until recently, the conventional wisdom has been that the 2024 presidential election was shaping up as a rematch between Biden and Trump. That may still be the likeliest scenario. But as Biden’s popularity continues to sink amid soaring inflation — and as the Jan. 6 select committee sharpens the possibility of criminal charges against Trump — members of both parties have started to whisper about alternatives.
Republicans seeking a Trump alternative have largely focused on DeSantis, who has pointedly not asked for Trump’s endorsement in his Florida reelection race. DeSantis is favored to win in November ahead of a likely 2024 presidential bid.
The left, on the other hand, has been less single-minded in its speculation — in part because Biden, both publicly and privately, has repeatedly insisted that he will run for a second term. But given the president’s advanced age (he’ll turn 82 shortly after the next presidential election) and low approval ratings, several national outlets have published recent stories about Democrats’ emerging interest in some sort of plan B.
“To say our country was on the right track would flagrantly depart from reality,” Steve Simeonidis, a Democratic National Committee member from Miami, told the New York Times — adding that Biden “should announce his intent not to seek re-election in ’24 right after the midterms.”
The survey of 1,630 U.S. adults, which was conducted from June 24-27, underscores Simeonidis’s view that no one is pleased with the status quo. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s momentous decision last Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, just 15% of Americans now say the country is “generally headed in the right direction” — a 6-point drop from the previous Yahoo News/YouGov survey and the lowest reading in the last two-and-a-half years. Nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) think the country is “off on the wrong track.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, few Americans say that Biden (22%) or Trump (30%) should run in 2024.
Again, Biden is in worse shape with his own party than Trump. After the court’s Roe decision, “right direction” responses cratered among Democrats, falling from 40% to 27% over the last two weeks as “wrong track” responses rose from 46% to 63%. That nearly two-thirds of Democrats now think the U.S. is “off on the wrong track” even when their own party controls Congress and the White House is worrisome for the president.
In turn, just one-third of Democrats and Democratic leaners (33%) want Biden to run again; a larger share (42%) do not. Of the latter group, a full three quarters select “he’s too old” as the reason why Biden shouldn’t run in 2024.
Yet there is no consensus among Democrats when it comes to who should succeed Biden. One potential Democratic presidential candidate, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, has been lavished with press attention in recent weeks despite insisting he has no White House ambitions. (In an interview with Yahoo News earlier this year, Newsom said Harris, his “old friend” and fellow Californian, “is the next in line” should Biden step aside.)
But as with Harris, a plurality of Democrats (40%) say they’re not sure who they prefer in a hypothetical face-off between Biden (37%) and Newsom (17%).
Republicans and Republican-leaners are not yet expressing the same level of uncertainty about Trump that Democrats are about Biden; a majority of GOP voters (54%) still say he should run for reelection. But his numbers against DeSantis suggest his support may be softening.
Even at this early stage, DeSantis is ahead of Trump (within the margin of error) among several key demographic groups, including Republican-leaning independents (by 2 points), seniors (by 4 points), those making between $50,000 and $100,000 a year (by 5 points) and those making more than $100,000 a year (by 3 points). It’s a remarkable showing for a state-level politician who just four years ago was an obscure congressman in an uphill battle to become Florida’s governor.
In contrast, former Vice President Mike Pence, another possible 2024 challenger, trails Trump by a staggering 47 percentage points — 18% to 65% — among registered voters who identify as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents. In other words, the single-digit gap between Trump and DeSantis is as much a sign of the governor’s strength as the former president’s weakness.
Despite the president’s rock-bottom numbers — just 38% of Americans approve of the job he’s doing— both DeSantis and Trump currently trail Biden by 3 points among registered voters in a general election matchup. They come marginally closer against Harris or Newsom, but not enough to escape a statistical tie.
Interesting numbers. We will begin to see a lot of polling in another couple of months as the midterm elections near!
The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,630 U.S. adults interviewed online from June 24-27, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2020 presidential vote (or non-vote) and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.9%.
Lev Parnas with Rudy Giuliani
Dear Commons Community,
Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani who was a figure in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment investigation, was sentenced yesterday to a year and eight months in prison for fraud and campaign finance crimes by a judge who said fraud had become “a way of life” for Parnas. As reported by several media sources.
Parnas, 50, had sought leniency on grounds that he’d cooperated with the Congressional probe of Trump and his efforts to get Ukrainian leaders to investigate President Joe Biden’s son.
U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken didn’t give Parnas credit for that assistance, which came only after the Soviet-born businessman was facing criminal charges. But the judge still imposed a sentence lighter than the six years sought by prosecutors.
The judge also ordered Parnas to pay $2.3 million in restitution.
The various schemes Parnas deployed to get money that prosecutors claim say fueled a lavish lifestyle led Oetken to say that for Parnas, fraud “was essentially a way of life, a way of doing business.”
Addressing the court before the sentence was announced, Parnas sobbed and apologized to those who had lost money investing in his business ventures.
“A lot that you heard is true, your honor. I have not been a good person my whole life. I’ve made mistakes. And I admit it,” Parnas said. “I want to apologize to all the victims that I hurt. These are all people who are my friends, all people who trusted me, and I lied to them to further my personal agenda.”
The criminal case against Parnas was not directly related to his work acting as a fixer for Giuliani as the former New York City mayor lobbied Ukrainian officials to launch an investigation of Biden’s son, Hunter.
Instead, it zeroed in on donations Parnas had illegally made to a number of U.S. politicians using the riches of a wealthy Russian to jump-start a legal recreational-marijuana business.
In March, Parnas also pleaded guilty to a wire fraud conspiracy, admitting that he and a partner had given investors false information about a Florida-based business, Fraud Guarantee, that promised it could protect people against fraud.
That new company hired Giuliani as a consultant at a time when some Ukrainian figures were trying to curry favor with the Trump administration, agreeing to pay him $500,000.
Charles Gucciardo, a Long Island attorney who put up the cash to pay Giuliani, told the judge during the sentencing hearing that he hoped the former Manhattan federal prosecutor would return the money, since Fraud Guarantee turned out to be a fraud.
“My bet is he’s going to give me that money back,” he said, adding that he didn’t blame Giuliani, who has not been charged with any crimes in connection with the scheme.
Outside of court, Parnas said that he didn’t believe Giuliani would return the money.
“I don’t think he’ll pay him back because, as you can see, he’s gone down the path of no return. He’s just an evil man, unfortunately, and somebody that I’m very, very sad that I had to meet,” he said.
Giuliani, who was working at the time as a personal lawyer for Trump, has said he knew nothing about the crimes of Parnas and others.
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani’s interactions with Ukrainian figures violated a federal law that governs lobbying on behalf of foreign countries or entities.
Parnas and a business associate, Igor Fruman, attracted attention from reporters after arranging big donations to Republican politicians, including a $325,000 donation to a political action committee supporting Trump.
An October conviction also supported a finding that he made illegal donations in 2018 to promote a new energy company.
During Parnas’ sentencing hearing, the judge also heard from others who had lost money with him in failed business deals.
Dianne Pues said the businessman “destroyed my life” when he failed to repay money she and her husband had loaned him to produce a movie called “Anatomy of an Assassin.”
Parnas promised he would become a new person, sometimes turning around in court to looked for victims as he expressed contrition.
“I’d like to apologize to Mr. Gucciardo. Even though I never spent a dollar of his money. I lied to him and used our friendship. Charles, I am sorry,” he said.
Parnas got one thing right – Giuliani is evil!