Sunday, September 25, 2022

US stance on Ukraine leaves Republican senators mum on Trump support for ’24

The US Supreme Court is playing a role in helping Republicans avoid a national voting right act, but it seems unlikely to help former President Donald Trump in his latest battle over government documents that President Biden wants to release.

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By Kenneth Tiven in the US

Each day brings disclosures about the previous president’s decisions in both the White House and running his New York real estate business. None of it is good news for Donald Trump, except for obscuring what President Biden is doing about the Ukraine-Russia situation and the US Economy.

Biden can’t avoid Trump issues. He has just approved the National Archives giving the White House guest logs to the Congressional committee investigating the week of the January 6 insurrection. Trump claimed executive privilege. Biden rejected the former president’s claim saying, “in light of the urgency” of the committee’s work, the National Archive would provide the material to the committee giving Trump 15 days in which to get a court to agree with his belief. Based on traditional behaviour, Trump will seek intervention, despite losing recent claims of executive privilege after leaving office. The Presidential Records Act says all documents and logbooks— records of any sort, including official gifts to the president— are considered government property, not the property of whoever is the president. This is relevant as the National Archive this week retrieved 15 cartons of documents that somehow found their way to Trump’s Florida residence.

Biden’s speech this week on the Ukraine crisis was well received by people who usually have nothing good to say about a Democrat, so polarized are the two political parties. Republican senators and conservative pundits were in strange territory compared to their criticism of Biden over events in the withdrawal from Afghanistan where Biden was carrying out an agreement signed by Trump.

A recent Morning Consult poll, claims the two-track “diplomatic and deterrent” approach has gained American support across the political spectrum. Even Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell praised the speech, apparently because Biden declared: “It’s about standing for what we believe in, for the future we want for our world, for liberty…the right of countless countries to choose their own destiny, and the right of people to determine their own futures, for the principle that a country can’t change its neighbor’s borders by force. That’s our vision. And toward that end, I’m confident that vision, that freedom will prevail.”

However, what’s good abroad may not be so great at home. The Republican Party in America is playing election defence, refusing to pass national voting rights legislation, preferring to encourage states where it controls the legislature to pass laws that limit voting rights. When two courts In Alabama ruled that Republicans there had redrawn the state’s congressional districts to discriminate against black voters, the state went to the ultimate safe haven for help—the US Supreme Court.

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Using its shadow docket with no arguments, the high court voted 5-4 to reinstate the map that packed black voters into one district and left black voters in other districts as a distinct minority. They will hear the case much later next year. Despite erosion by the Supreme Court, the Voting Rights Act still prohibits race-based discrimination. Chief Justice John Roberts, whose critical vote several years ago handicapped the voting rights act, this time sided with liberals in voting against the stay issued by the court.

The focus on Ukraine and the Super Bowl obscured good economic news. The federal budget is in a massive surplus. Opponents to Biden’s want to talk about inflation which has been significant because of supply problems and demand by people with unspent personal money from the pandemic slowdown. Price gouging by large corporations is a major factor, claim nonpartisan groups that monitor these issues. Eight months ago Biden, in a barely noticed executive order, reinforced the idea that government works for the people as well as big business. That executive order creates a White House Competition Council to figure out how best to restore competition, workers’ rights, and consumer protection. It charged the different government departments with reporting on the consolidation in their areas of concern. It specifically recognizes that mega-mergers and the rise of mega-corporations have stifled competition and increased racial, wealth, and income inequality as power is transferred to corporate employers, making it harder for workers to bargain for higher wages and better working conditions.

Trump has a working relationship problem with his accounting and tax firm, Mazars, Inc. in New York, who sent him a letter resigning from their services and explaining that they cannot describe their work for the past decade as reliable. In circumspect legalese, Mazars explained that they have been speaking with the New York Attorney General who is in the midst of a major civil suit investigation of Trump’s use of fake high appraisals in seeking property loans and fake low appraisals for tax purposes. The House Committee investigating the 6 January insurrection committee was in the news his week as the Republican National Committee censored the two Republican house members on the panel. That document described the arrests of people who assaulted police and ransacked offices in the Capitol as the “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.” It certainly was in stark contrast to what Americans and people around the globe saw on television. Senate leader McConnell criticized his party for censuring Liz Cheney, a Republican on the committee frequently critical of Trump. Among Republican politicians critical of that censure language, McConnell was the bluntest.

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The Republican Party has tied its fortunes to the voters least interested in Democracy who have immunized themselves against facts that support Trump lost honestly at the ballot box. And it was Trump criticizing McConnell. The senator from Kentucky does not need Trump to keep his position. McConnell tries to let Republican voters know that there are still reasonable GOP politicians with a traditional agenda of deregulation, big business, tax cuts, and right-wing judges. If traditional Republicans won’t vote for Trump again having seen what it brought, then the impact will be significant on more than the presidential race. This explains the desire of various Republicans to have someone other than Trump as a presidential contender in 2024, but their contemporaneous fear of saying too much about it right now keeps them quiet.

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