Longtime political columnist explains why the Reagan library is a terrible fit for 'caustic' Trump’s GOP

George Skelton, a longtime political columnist, on Sunday wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times explaining why the Ronald Reagan library is “a bad fit” for Republicans to host their second presidential debate.

“The GOP’s modern idol is exactly the opposite of Reagan in personality and character,” Skelton wrote, noting that the current Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, views America as a “waste bin for venom and lies.”

“Reagan truly liked people,” Skelton explained “Trump merely uses them.”

Describing how Reagan would have likely received Trump, Skelton suggested, “I very much doubt that in private he’d vote for Trump.”

“Reagan had no respect for blowhards and egomanics, regardless of party,” Skelton wrote. “He would have shuddered at Trump’s caustic rhetoric.”

Contrasting Reagan and Trump's public personas, Skelton noted Reagan “was always dignified and gracious, especially in public.”

“Trump comes off as a childish bully who needs anger management,” Skelton wrote.

“Reagan was a true believer in conservative principles. Trump’s a con man,” the columnist added.

Read the full op-ed at the LA Times. the LA Times.

GOP senator insults Trump’s 'signature professional achievement' in rant about dumping him

Donald Trump's inevitability as the Republican Party's 2024 presidential nomination is weighing on the minds of an assortment of GOP donors, campaign consultants and GOP lawmakers who believe he is headed for another loss.

According to a report from the Washington Post, even supporters for some of his GOP rivals for the nomination are privately conceding that their first choice won't be able to catch him and that, in turn, is leading to some grumbling about what awaits them in 2024.

As the report notes, central to their worries is the unprecedented "variable" of having a nominee who is not only facing multiple indictments but could have a conviction on his record when voters head to the polls.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to run for office?

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) who is backing the longshot bid of his home state Governor Doug Burgum (R) is conceding, "I just don’t see a path for anybody that’s not Donald Trump right now."

With the Post reporting, "In some parts of the party, including factions of the U.S. Senate and among some wealthy donors, there is less palpable enthusiasm for Trump," one U.S. senator went so far as to lash out at former president's background and predict doom and gloom for the 2024 general election.

Sen. Todd C. Young (R-IN) complained, "I’m still holding out hope that my fellow Republicans want to throw their support behind someone who has personal integrity, respects the rule of law, aims to unite rather than divide people and actually knows how to do the job well.”

ALSO IN THE NEWS: Trump admin women strike back after being called 'pimp ladies' by ex-president's advisor

Not content with that, he added, "Donald J. Trump’s signature professional achievement is as a reality television star and he’s lacking in every personal quality that I,and I think every other Republican, should want in a presidential nominee. Moreover he is the least likely to win a general election.”

The Post report added that "tension" about Trump is expected to be on full display this week as the former president's rivals hold their second debate while Trump holds a rally in Michigan.

You can read more here.

'Very scary': Ex-Watergate prosecutor explains how a fair trial for Trump could save democracy

Ex-Watergate prosecutor Jon Sale, during Friday's episode of MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber,insisted that a fair trial for ex-President Donald Trump in his Georgia case could save democracy.

Melber asked Sale, "What do you hear from defendant Trump here when he talks about loyalty, as well as people like Miss [Jenna] Ellis, who seems to be adjusting her views of him?"

Former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis is one of the 18 individuals indicted last month by a Fulton County Superior Court grand jury along with the ex-president on charges related to their efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Sale replied, "Well, as an outsider, loyalty, to Donald Trump, sounds like a one-way street. But, I'd have to say something about the times we are living in, because when they told us how we got here, like when he mentioned Richard Nixon was barred from the presidency. And if he had more time, he would have explained it. He stepped down because of bipartisan atmosphere. It was the Republicans who called for him to step down because they couldn't support him. We live in totally different times right now. I mean, it's very scary. There was a University of Chicago study that showed that 12 million people would favor violence to support Donald Trump. And somebody who I always thought responsible is [ex-Arkansas] Governor [Mike] Huckabee, who just the other day, said that if the legal system brings down Donald Trump, that the next election will be decided by bullets rather than ballots. I think that's a very scary time that we are living in. And I may be naive."

He continued, "But I think that what's going to save the system and our democracy is Donald Trump, by the way, said he doesn't think there's much of democracy left. I think it's the Constitution. And I'm using that interchangeably with democracy which will save us. And I think what we have to do is make sure he gets a fair trial. And the trial that's going to go is the one in the District of Columbia. I think it's gonna be a challenge to get a fair trial there, but I think the judge will do everything possible to ensure that. I don't rule out a change of venue. I mean, just recently, former District Attorney of Baltimore was granted a change of venue. The Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVay, was granted a change of venue. So we have to see. The law is, we don't know if we can get a fair jury until we try. But a fair trial, I think, is what will show whether the Constitution works. And I used to be totally against televising trials. Unfortunately, this trial will not be televised because it's in Washington. But i wish it were because then people would see the overwhelming evidence."

Watch the video below or at this link.

Loyalty, for Trump, is a 'one-way street': Ex-Watergate

READ MORE: 'I didn't do anything wrong': Trump unsure of Mark Meadows' loyalty in GA case

'Vulgar and lewd': Trump judge cites extremist group to allow drag show ban

A federal judge in Texas known for a ruling that attempted to ban a widely-used abortion drug is citing an extremist anti-LGBTQ group in his ruling allowing a ban on drag shows to stay in place.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a former attorney for an anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian legal organization, and a member of the Federalist Society, in his 26-page ruling dated Thursday cited the “About” page of Gays Against Groomers to claim, “it’s unclear how drag shows unmistakably communicate advocacy for LGBT rights.”

Judge Kacsmaryk, appointed by Donald Trump twice before finally assuming office in 2019, suggests the First Amendment does not provide for freedom of expression for drag shows, calls drag “sexualized conduct,” and says it is “more regulable” because “children are in the audience.”

READ MORE: ‘The Public Deserves to Know’: Abortion Pill Banning Judge Redacted Details About Millions of Dollars in His Stock Portfolio

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern adds, “Kacsmaryk’s conclusion that drag is probably NOT protected by the First Amendment conflicts with decisions from Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Montana which held that drag is constitutionally protected expression. It also bristles with undisguised hostility toward LGBTQ people.”

Calling the judge “a proud Christian nationalist who flatly refuses to apply binding Supreme Court precedent when it conflicts with his extremist far-right beliefs,” Stern at Slate writes that Kacsmaryk ruled drag “may be outlawed to protect ‘the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.’ In short, he concluded that drag fails to convey a message, while explaining all the reasons why he’s offended by the message it conveys.”

Stern does not let Kacsmaryk off the hook there.

“From almost any other judge, the ruling in Spectrum WT v. Wendler would be a shocking rejection of basic free speech principles; from Kacsmaryk, it’s par for the course. This is, after all, the judge who sought to ban medication abortion nationwide, restricted minors’ access to birth control, seize control over border policy to exclude asylum-seekers, and flouted recent precedent protecting LGBTQ+ equality,” Stern says.

READ MORE: Far-Right Judge Under Fire for Failing to Disclose Interviews on Civil Rights – but LGBTQ Community Had Warned Senators

“He is also poised to bankrupt Planned Parenthood by compelling them to pay a $1.8 billion penalty on truly ludicrous grounds. And he is not the only Trump-appointed judge substituting his reactionary beliefs for legal analysis. We have reached a point where these lawless decisions are not only predictable but inevitable, and they show no sign of stopping: Their authors are still just settling into a decadeslong service in the federal judiciary.”

West Texas A&M University President Walter V. Wendler penned the letter that sparked the lawsuit.

Titled, “A Harmless Drag Show? No Such Thing,” Wendler wrote: “I believe every human being is created in the image of God and, therefore, a person of dignity. Being created in God’s image is the basis of Natural Law. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, prisoners of the culture of their time as are we, declared the Creator’s origin as the foundational fiber in the fabric of our nation as they breathed life into it. Does a drag show preserve a single thread of human dignity? I think not.”

Journalist Chris Geidner concludes, “It’s an extremely biased ruling by a judge who has established that he does not care about being overturned — even by the most conservative appeals court in the nation.”

READ MORE: ‘Corruption of the Highest Order’: Experts ‘Sickened’ at ‘Definitely Bought’ Clarence Thomas and His ‘Pay to Play’ Lifestyle

'Smoke and mirrors': Ex-US attorney slams Trump lawyers’ 'honest mistake' in $250M fraud case

During Friday's episode of MSNBC's Deadline: White House, host Nicolle Wallace spoke to ex-U.S. Attorney Harry Litman about ex-President Donald Trump's lawyers' lies about the size Trump's Manhattan penthouse at the Trump Tower in New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million fraud case against him, "making up the existence of 20,000 square feet that inflated the value of his property by more than $200 million in that instance alone," according to The Daily Beast.

The Beast reports:

At Friday's hearing, state attorneys presented testimony from the Trump Organization's disgraced chief financial officer, convicted tax cheat Allen Weisselberg, who admitted that the penthouse size listed on official business documents was totally fake. The judge raised the possibility that this total fabrication was an 'honest mistake,' but then quoted Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who served on the Supreme Court in the early 1900s.

'Even a dog knows the difference between being kicked and being tripped over. There's a difference between lies and misstatements,' Engoron said.

During Wallace's interview with Litman, she said to the ex- U.S. attorney, "Harry, it feels like this is another example that fits the pattern of truth being on the line in the legal outcome."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

He replied, "Yeah, it does. And that's the overall effort, but of course it's through the looking glass perhaps around the edges. But it is crystal clear down the middle. And it's fanciful to say, when you sign something to a bank and say, 'this is how much it's worth,' then it turns out to be worth one-quarter of that, that somehow there's some subjective intent defense. And of course, you know, an apartment's either 10,000 or 30,000 square feet. This is, as you say, the really old stuff. This is what we heard about from Michael Cohen way back when before congress. And it was an m.o. of the Trump Organization."

Litman emphasized, "And by the way, one thing that really puts the lie to it is the valuations of some of the same properties would differ when they wanted to lowball, say for taxes. So, as you suggest, if this point of view of, 'Oh, it's just subjective,' actually held, there could be no fraud. Fraud means a lie. And that means when they wrote that down and signed it, they knew it wasn't worth that and worth anything like it. They can try to argue that they did, but you know, there are facts here. And there are valuations here. And it doesn't help if the bank looked at it in a second way. They lied. They lied down the middle. That's fraud. everything else is just smoke and mirrors."

Watch the video below or at this link.

'Smoke and mirrors': Analyst slams Trump over lying about

READ MORE: 'Political gambit': Why Trump’s bid to oust judge from $250M fraud case will likely be 'shot down'

The Daily Beast's full report is available at this link (subscription required).

Why Trump parted company with a 'high-profile' criminal defense lawyer: report

Between four criminal indictments and a variety of civil lawsuits, 2024 GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump needs a great deal of legal representation.

Drew Findling, a well-known attorney who has represented rapper Cardi B, was part of Trump's defense team in Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis' prosecution of the former president and 18 of his allies. But Trump and Findling parted company in August.

In a report published by Rolling Stone on September 22, journalists Adam Rawnsley and Asawin Suebsaeng delve into the reasons for the separation.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

"According to three sources with knowledge of the matter," the reporters explain, "the high-profile departure was largely driven by the same kind of power struggles that have long plagued Trump's legal teams, even — or, especially — during times when Trump is trying his hardest to stay out of prison. Those problems only intensified when it became clear that Fulton County prosecutors were going to pursue a wide-ranging indictment of Trump and many of his confidants; it was the kind of nightmare scenario that Findling, well-known for his successful defenses of Cardi B and Offset, was hired to attempt to prevent."

One of the things that led to Findling's departure, according to Rawnsley and Suebsaeng, was "tensions" between him and fellow Trump attorney Boris Epstheyn.

"A small group of Trump loyalists — such as Epstheyn — would argue to the former president that Findling was not a team player, that he couldn't be completely trusted to defend the ex-president, and that he was 'anti-Trump,' according to those familiar with the matter," Rawnsley and Suebsaeng report. "It is a matter of public record that Findling has politically liberal views, and that he has publicly posted harshly negative tweets about Trump before representing him. Findling has consistently stated that his personal political beliefs aren't relevant to his job of representing his clients."

READ MORE:A recent Ohio racketeering and conspiracy case may shed light on Fani Willis' Trump prosecution strategy

Rolling Stone's full report is available at this link.

'Shocking GOP proposals' for overhauling federal government ripped as clueless and dangerous

Over the years, countless Republicans and Libertarians have repeated President Ronald Reagan's famous line from a May 14, 1986 speech, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government, and I’m here to help.'"

Shrinking the United States' federal government has long been a recurring theme on the right. But in 2023, MAGA Republican candidates, including GOP presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump, are going way beyond proposals to reduce or cut federal programs; Trump's Project 2025 agenda calls for fundamentally restructuring the United States' federal government.

POLL:Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

In a scathing article for The New Republic, the American Enterprise Institute's Norman J. Ornstein and the University of Maryland's Donald F. Kettl examine GOP presidential candidates' "shocking proposals" for changing the federal government — and slam them as both clueless and dangerous.

The reporters note that ultra-MAGA candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, for example, wants to "slash a million civil servants in his first year as president — and by 75 percent in his first term."

Ornstein and Kettl observe, "(Ramaswamy) also wants to shutter five federal agencies: the Department of Education, the FBI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Food and Nutrition Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms…. Ron DeSantis has proposed eliminating the Departments of Education, Commerce, and Energy, along with the IRS. Ramaswamy's plan makes DeSantis look like a raging moderate by comparison."

READ MORE:Revealed: Trump’s Project 2025 agenda aims for 'total control' of the federal government

Read The New Republic's full report at this link.

Why a former Trump assistant could be a 'blockbuster witness' in Mar-a-Lago documents case: ex-US attorney

Molly Michael, a former assistant to Donald Trump, is among the witnesses in special counsel Jack Smith's Mar-a-Lago documents case. Smith alleges that Trump endangered the United States' national security by storing classified government documents at Mar-a-Lago — documents that, Smith says, should have remained in Washington, D.C. when Trump left the White House.

In an article published by the Los Angeles Times on September 21, Harry Litman (who hosts the "Talking Feds" podcast) lays out some reasons why Michael could be a "blockbuster witness" in Smith's case.

"News reports this week led with the startling new detail that Trump sent Michael notes and to-do lists carelessly scrawled on the back of classified documents," Litman explains. "It's a memorable snippet that drives home Trump's indifference to classification and national security. For a prosecutor, however, that was among the least of the revelations from Michael, known as 'Trump Employee 2' in the first federal indictment of the former president."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Michael, according to Litman, has a "singular ability to tell the story of Trump's conspiracy to obstruct justice in unimpeachable terms."

"Michael apparently didn't rush to tell authorities everything she knew, but did draw a clear line at trying to deceive them," Litman notes. "She found and turned over the classified documents with Trump's notations. And she appears never to have hesitated to abide by her legal duty to tell the truth. She also has detailed knowledge of the conspiracy to hide documents from the FBI."

Litman continues, "She dealt personally with Trump and (co-defendant Walt) Nauta. She brought some of the boxes of documents to Trump's residence for his review. And most damningly, when Trump learned that FBI agents wanted to talk to Michael, he told her, 'You don't know anything about the boxes.'" Given the plain evidence that Michael knew plenty about the boxes, and that Trump knew she knew, a reasonable juror could only interpret such an instruction as a patent effort to obstruct justice."

READ MORE:Former Trump officials are shattering a key Mar-a-Lago documents defense

Read Harry Litman's full Los Angeles Times article at this link.

How Trump’s 'humiliation' campaign reduced RNC chair 'to a laughingstock': professor

In contrast to her uncle, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) — a frequent critic of former Donald Trump — Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel has been a strong supporter of the former president.

But in a biting op-ed published on September 20, the New York Times' Frank Bruni stresses that Trump has singled McDaniel out for abuse and humiliation. And Bruni doesn't have any sympathy for McDaniel, arguing that the RNC chair lacks her uncle's backbone.

Trump, Bruni observes, is not only skipping the second 2024 GOP primary debate — he is also insulting McDaniel by "competing with her debate" via "counterprogramming" in the form of a speech to striking United Auto Workers (UAW).

POLL:Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Bruni argues, "Here's one endeavor at which (Trump) really is peerless: Nobody dishes out humiliation in such heaping, merciless measures…. When Trump snubs you, he snubs you in neon."

McDaniel, Bruni adds, "richly deserves" her fate.

"Right after the 2020 presidential election," Bruni notes, "she was alternately squishy about and indulgent of Trump's bogus claims that it had been stolen…. How faithful she has been. How little it has netted her. She is being reduced to a laughingstock."

READ MORE:Former Trump megadonor joins No Labels leadership

Read Frank Bruni's full New York Times opinion column at this link (subscription required).

Joint Chiefs of Staff chair warns Trump will 'start throwing people in jail' in 2025 — himself included

During Donald Trump's four years in the White House, he clashed with a long list of Republicans in his administration — from former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to former National Security Adviser John Bolton. Even former Attorney General Bill Barr, once considered a Trump loyalist, fell out with Trump in the end.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back against Trump as well. And according to The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, Milley believes that Trump will try to have him incarcerated if he is elected president in 2024.

In an article published on September 21, Goldberg explains, "Along the way, Milley deflected Trump's exhortations to have the U.S. military ignore, and even on occasion commit, war crimes. Milley and other military officers deserve praise for protecting democracy, but their actions should also cause deep unease. In the American system, it is the voters, the courts, and Congress that are meant to serve as checks on a president's behavior, not the generals."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Milley, Goldberg notes, was the first Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman to deal with a president who "would try to foment or provoke a coup in order to illegally remain in office."

Goldberg points out that Milley has warned that if Trump wins in 2024 and returns to the White House in January 2025, "He'll start throwing people in jail, and I'd be on the top of the list."

READ MORE:Revealed: Trump's Project 2025 agenda aims for 'total control' of the federal government

Read Jeffrey Goldberg's full article for The Atlantic at this link (subscription required).

'A sign of weakness': WSJ editorial board slams Trump for declining second GOP debate

The Wall Street Journal editorial board on Thursday published list of questions Donald Trump will “eventually” have to answer after the former president scheduled a speech before Detroit union auto workers in lieu of participating in the second Republican primary debate.

Trump advisors on Monday told the New York Times Trump is once again “skipping” the GOP debate “to instead hold his own counterprogramming.” Trump also skipped the first primary debate last month in Milwaukee.

For the Wall Street Journal editorial board, the former president and current Republican frontrunner, “is acting as if he has already won.”

“After skipping the first GOP debate, he is also planning to blow off the second one, scheduled for next week at the Reagan Presidential Library in California,” the board notes. “Instead Mr. Trump will give a speech to union workers in Detroit.”

“Is he worried he’d look his age at 77 next to younger candidates?” the Wall Street Journal editorial board wonders. “To state the obvious, Mr. Trump is running to be President and leader of the free world. Voters deserve to hear him defend his record and his platform.”

On abortion, the editorial board writes, Trump “refuses to explain where in pregnancy he’d draw the line, saying vaguely that ‘we’ll come up with a number.’”

Mr. Trump owes a serious answer,” the board insists. The same goes for his record on Covid, trade and tariffs.

“John Bolton wrote in his book that Mr. Trump signaled privately he wouldn’t defend Taiwan if China invaded,” the editorial continues. “Is that what he thinks now?”

“And did Mr. Trump really try to delete the security tapes at Mar-a-Lago to hide his classified files, as the strongest indictment against him alleges,” the WSJ demands.

Of Trump’s current refusal to face off with his opponents, the board argues “that’s a sign of weakness, not strength.”

“He’ll have to answer those questions eventually,” the board adds.

Read the full op-ed at the Wall Street Journal.

'No vision': Disillusioned GOP consultant believes 'anger' has overtaken 'ideas' among conservatives

As the founder and president of Dyce Communications — a GOP consulting firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina — Alfredo Rodriguez III has been involved in conservative politics for a long time.

But in an op-ed published by North Carolina's Herald-Sun on September 20, Rodriguez makes it clear that he is feeling very disillusioned with the GOP — which he believes has lost its way.

"In the simplest of terms," Rodriguez argues, "conservatism used to represent the ideals and principles encouraging personal freedom and responsibility, Judeo-Christian morals, innovation and entrepreneurship, American sovereignty, defense of our nation and its citizens, and democracy over totalitarianism."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Rodriguez goes on to stress that the GOP's "values" of the past "have been corrupted and abandoned in many instances."

"Today, anger about everything, immovable thinking and rationale, conspiratorial theories and extreme skepticism, hatred of the opposition, and a lukewarm defense of democracy are considered by many Republicans as conservative standards," Rodriguez observes. "It possesses no vision, optimism or ideas. It offers nothing. Our republic cannot exist under these emotions."

Rodriguez laments that former President Donald Trump has "corrupted conservatism for his own benefit."

Trump is the clear frontrunner in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, leading second-place candidate Ron DeSantis by 47 percent in an Emerson College poll released on September 20. But Rodriguez is hoping that ultimately, Trump won't be the nominee.

READ MORE:Republicans in disarray as government shutdown fight looms: report

"We must abandon Trump and his conspiracies and anger," Rodriguez writes. "The 2024 election provides conservatives this opportunity."

READ MORE:'Trump without the guardrails': Journalist warns that Trump 2.0 would be a 'much more radical prospect'

Read Alfredo Rodriguez III's full op-ed for the Herald-Sun at this link.

Pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood is a 'witness for the state' in Georgia prosecution

On Wednesday, September 20, there was a new revelation in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' prosecution against former President Donald Trump and 19 of his allies. The Messenger's Adam Klasfeld reports that far-right attorney Lin Wood is a witness for the State of Georgia in Willis' case.

Wood was among the Trump supporters who, in late 2020, promoted the debunked conspiracy theory that the presidential election as stolen from Trump.

Klasfeld reports that "Willis told a judge" on September 20 "that at least six attorneys for former President Donald Trump's co-defendants may have conflicts of interest in the sprawling racketeering case."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Read Adam Klasfeld's report at this link.

The trouble with fighting domestic terrorism

Some of the most prominent members of the Proud Boys, a far-right militant group that functions more like a street gang than a militia, have been sentenced to long terms in federal prison for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Experts declare that these successful prosecutions by the U.S. Justice Department will not only discourage far-right groups but also deter people from joining them and engaging in future criminal activity.

Group chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison after being found guilty of seditious conspiracy. Group leaders Ethan Nordean, Joe Biggs and Zachary Rehl were also found guilty of seditious conspiracy and sentenced to 18, 17 and 15 years, respectively. Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boys member who breached the Capitol building with a stolen police riot shield, was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy but was convicted of a variety of felonies, including assaulting a police officer, robbing government property and obstructing an official proceeding – and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

But despite the lengths of those sentences, prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly to impose even harsher ones, claiming the offenses were related to terrorism. Kelly, however, ruled that claims of terrorism overstate the conduct of the Proud Boys sentenced.

That fits with our analysis of the Proud Boys. As scholars who study street gangs and far-right groups, we see that the larger law enforcement community continues to focus – we believe mistakenly – on the belief that, like terrorist groups, white supremacists are coordinated in ideology and intent. Evidence shows that perception actually diverts local police agencies’ attention from identifying and managing these groups.

Gangs are generally defined as durable, street-oriented groups whose own identity includes involvement in illegal activity. We believe that if police had treated Proud Boys as members of a street gang from the group’s inception in 2016, the events of Jan. 6, 2021, might have been avoided, or at least reduced in severity.

The trouble with fighting domestic terrorism

The United States lacks explicit laws banning domestic terrorism, in part because they are constitutionally controversial and may target unintended groups.

That problem has arisen with other criminal laws, such as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which was designed to specifically target organized crime groups, like the Italian Mafia. The application of RICO, however, has been adapted and used aggressively against Black, Latino and Indigenous groups and political protestors.

Nevertheless, some have suggested that passing laws defining and outlawing domestic terrorism would be the best way to deal with the threats posed by the Proud Boys and other far-right extremists.

But when Canada and New Zealand designated the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization, that did not eliminate white supremacists from those countries. It merely forced them to rebrand themselves with a new name and logo. Treating Proud Boys solely as members of a terrorist organization does not actually stamp out white supremacy groups.

Instead, this perception hurts local law enforcement’s ability to recognize local, disorganized, far-right groups as street gangs and not terrorist groups. Police discretion is immense. Time and again, police have been documented ignoring Proud Boys violence and intimidation. Failing to arrest members explicitly observed in criminal infractions has only encouraged future acts of violence. Furthermore, local law enforcement’s history of failing to investigate and arrest members of far-right groups forces the federal government to be solely responsible for prosecuting them.

Two men stand in an open space inside a building.

Proud Boys member Dominic Pezzola, center with police shield, was among those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Once a gang, always a gang

From the very start, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes explicitly declared the group a “gang.” Local police across the U.S. actively investigate and prosecute gangs, especially those whose members are Black, Latino and other people of color.

Proud Boys are predominantly white men who also intimidate and threaten communities around the U.S. with disorderly conduct, public harassment and more serious violence, including battery, assault, murder, rioting and hate crimes. This “cafeteria-style” offending is quite common among gang members participating in a range of criminal activities.

But, perhaps because of the Proud Boys’ claims to be just a “western chauvinist” men’s club, local law enforcement agencies have tended not to treat the Proud Boys and other far-right groups as street gangs. Such increased scrutiny by police of their criminal activities would have produced a much greater deterrent effect. Instead, the lack of acknowledging the Proud Boys’ violent criminal behavior only emboldened them further.

In fact, police have either remained idle or even consorted with Proud Boys members at recent protests, even giving them high-fives, as observed in Columbus, Ohio, at a demonstration against the “Holi-drag” story time event. This type of police engagement is just one element of how police ignore the threat of white supremacy and its followers.

Broadening the concept of gangs

Many Proud Boys fail to exhibit remorse for their actions. Pezzola declared “Trump won!” as he exited the federal courtroom after his sentencing. Tarrio is now positioning himself as a political prisoner to rally support from the GOP.

This raises our concerns that Proud Boys members will continue to be active and violent. Research finds it is effective for police to systematically monitor and target groups that exhibit violent behavior and that doing so deters future acts of violence.

Sometimes, new laws can help. In Alabama, for instance, a law enacted in June expands the legal definition of groups police might be concerned about. Instead of using a specific term like “street gang,” as most states do, the Alabama law defines a “criminal enterprise” as any group of three or more people who engage in a pattern of criminal activity. Such an approach aids in removing the bias in law enforcement that street gangs are composed only of urban youth.

We hope that police will collect and share information about far-right groups’ criminal acts with other agencies to help identify people who are active in various areas of a state or even around the country. But in the end, the evidence shows that the Proud Boys, like any street gang, remain primarily localized groups that are best dealt with by local police, not federal agents.The Conversation

Matthew Valasik, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Alabama and Shannon Reid, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology, University of North Carolina – Charlotte

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

This GOP operative went from hating dirty politics to being a Trump co-defendant

Although special counsel Jack Smith and Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis are both leading criminal prosecutions of former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, there are some key differences between their cases. Legal experts have been describing Smith's case as lean and mean and Willis' as broad and expansive.

Willis' indictment lists 18 of Trump's allies as co-defendants. And Willis, unlike Smith, is using RICO laws in her prosecution.

One of those co-defendants is Cathy Latham, a local GOP operative in Georgia who, Willis alleges, was part of Trump's conspiracy to overturn President Joe Biden's victory in her state. And Latham, according to Willis, was part of the fake electors scheme.

POLL:Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

The Daily Beast's Jose Pagliery, in an article published on September 20, examines Latham's place in the indictment and her post-2020 election activities. .

Pagliery notes that the Beast interviewed Latham about three months before she was indicted. Ironically, Latham claimed to hate dirty politics in the past.

"In May 2022, at her home some 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, Latham sat down with The Daily Beast for a 90-minute interview about her whirlwind of life-changing experiences in the maelstrom after the 2020 election," the reporter explains. "During that interview, she lied about her role in the secretive operation to tap into her county's election equipment, a deceit that we exposed at the time — prompting a federal judge to greenlight investigative subpoenas to probe further."

Pagliery continues, "But now that she has been formally indicted alongside several of the people who took part in that mission, some of what she shared during that sit-down carries new significance that Fulton County prosecutors could further explore."

READ MORE:Revealed: Trump's Project 2025 agenda aims for 'total control' of the federal government

The Daily Beast's full article is available at this link (subscription required).

Trump worried he will lose Secret Service protection and have to wear 'one of those jumpsuits' if he goes to jail: report

While Donald Trump claimed in his recent "Meet the Press" interview he doesn't worry about going to jail, privately he is telling confidants he is worried about losing Secret Service protection, what type of facility he could be sent to, and if he will have to wear an orange jumpsuit.

"In the past several months, Donald Trump has had a burning question for some of his confidants and attorneys: Would the authorities make him wear 'one of those jumpsuits' in prison?" Rolling Stone reports.

"Would he be sent to a 'club fed' style prison — a place that’s relatively comfortable, as far these things go — or a 'bad' prison? Would he serve out a sentence in a plush home confinement? Would government officials try to strip him of his lifetime Secret Service protections? What would they make him wear, if his enemies actually did ever get him in a cell — an unprecedented set of consequences for a former leader of the free world."

The ex-president also wonders if he is convicted in the Georgia RICO and election fraud case, could he still serve as president if re-elected.

READ MORE: Poll: Trump Guilty of Crimes, DOJ Decision to Indict Was Fair Say Majority of US – Half Call for Prison if Convicted

Rolling Stone notes there are few historical comparisons to make should Trump be convicted and sentenced to prison or some other confinement.

"The closest equivalent to Trump’s legal predicament lies in the 1973 federal prosecution of Nixon Vice President Spiro Agnew on charges related to bribes from his tenure as governor of Maryland. In that case, Agnew struck a plea deal that netted him only probation."

Rolling Stone observes, "as the criminal investigation of him mounted, privately 'Agnew was utterly terrified of going to jail,' his biographer Charles J. Holden told Rolling Stone. 'He was still terrified of that and the humiliation of it haunted him as well.'"

On Friday, ahead of Sunday's airing of her Trump interview, NBC News' Kristen Welker said she had asked Trump, "'Look, you are facing these four indictments. 91 felony charges. Do you worry about going to jail?’ He says he really doesn’t. He says he’s wired differently.”

'Trump lost the United States Senate in 2020' — and there’s 'no evidence' he’s changed: Ex-NRSC chair

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) is engaged in a “monthlong gambit to forge a strategic partnership with” former President Donald Trump in a bid to “oust red-state Democrats,” Politico reports.

According to the report, Trump’s refusal to fall in line with the NRSC “helped relegate the GOP to the minority for the last two cycles” — but now, the party’s hope of snagging the Senate majority “hinges on whether Trump marches in the same direction of the NRSC.”

President Trump lost the United States Senate in 2020,” former NRSC chair Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) told Politico.

POLL:Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

“He was concerned about himself, and harboring and indulging his own grudges far more than he was advancing values that are important to Republicans,” Young continued. “I see no evidence that President Trump has changed.”

Though Young praised Daines’ efforts to recruit “quality candidates” for the Republican primaries, the former NRSC chair warned that Trump looms large over the chairman position, telling Politico the job boils down to“[ensuring] the sensibilities and ego of an 80-year-old man are attended to.”

Daines, in an interview, highlighted his “strong relationship” with both Trump and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who Politico notes is “done working with Trump” and “has ignored [the former president] after the events of Jan. 6.” Meanwhile, Trump acolytes like Rep. Matt Gates (R-FL) are pressing the former president to endorse “anti-McConnell” candidates in the primaries.
But Daines insists Trump and McConnell, while at odds, share a common goal.

“The common objective they both have is to win control of the United States Senate back and put it back in Republican hands,” Daines said.

READ MORE:Progressives condemn House GOP 'hostage-taking' as shutdown nears

Young remains unconvinced.

“Perhaps there is some sort of calculation by President Trump that in the midst of his own campaign, it might be better for him not to indulge his own narcissism and grudges as much, in furtherance of his own candidacy,” Young said. “But I would only speculate.”

Read the full report at Politico.

'It’s the obstruction, stupid': Ex-prosecutors show why Trump’s docs defense falls flat

Former prosecutors Kristy Greenberg and Catherine Christian outlined for MSNBC's Chris Hayes on Thursday why Donald Trump aide Molly Michael is such a devastating witness against the former president in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case.

Specifically, they argued, Michael — who allegedly received a "to-do" list from Trump written on the back of a classified document and was told by the former president to play dumb about the boxes in his country club — lays out a clear fact pattern of obstruction of justice.

"I mean, [former prosecutor] Harry Litman said this, and I think it was interesting," said Hayes. "He said, 'It's not just that Molly Michael confirms obstructionist statements to [Trump attorney Evan] Corcoran and fields her own hush statement from him. It's also that she's an unblemished witness, totally credible, not vulnerable or impeachable on criminal charges. For Trump, she's the witness from hell."

"No ax to grind, nothing to gain by being subjected to cross-examination, which she will be by his attorneys," agreed Christian. "And the — it's the obstruction, stupid. As Trump, not you, as Trump goes around waving the red herring of the Presidential Records Act, it's that he had, he concealed, he attempted to destroy evidence after he received a grand jury subpoena."

"This is an important point," said Hayes. "The argument that they're declassified anyway, that he can do what he wants, is nonsense. But you're right. This has been the central focus of the defense here, and you can't do this. You can't just, like, tell the FBI that you don't know anything about the boxes. That's just classic obvious obstruction of justice. And if people who were a part of the conspiracy to obstruct justice tell the jurors on the witness stand — like, you're in a tough spot."

"Not only that, if you thought you were entitled to have these and you declassified them, then say that," said Greenberg. "But what you can't do is get a subpoena, and then say we've given you everything, we've given it to the National Archives, and now to you, FBI. And then know that you're holding some back. That, you can't do. That's obstruction."

Watch the video below or at the link here.

MSNBC panel on Trump's obstruction in

'Trump told me to do this': Analyst predicts ex-president’s aides’ conflict 'only going to increase'

Former acting solicitor general and law professor Neal Katyal joined MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber Tuesday to discuss whether "political activity" falls under the list of official duties for government employees.

Ex-Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division Jeffrey Clark, who were both indicted by a Fulton County Superior Court grand jury last month alongside ex-President Donald Trump on charges related to their efforts to overturn the 2020 election, both argue that they were acting within their official duties as government officials.

When Melber asked Katyal whether their argument stands, he replied, "There's no world in which overthrowing an election, Ari, is part of your job duties. Look, I worked at the Justice Department twice. Everyone at the Justice Department knows there's a strict prohibition against employees engaging in political activity as part of their job. So, leave aside that engage in coup — just the claim that Meadows made today is, 'Well, there's no way to have a line between politics and the regular work of a government official,' and that is just totally wrong. There is no Donald Trump exception to the Hatch Act, which is the act that forbids political activity by people in the Justice Department, and with respect to Meadows — I think the most important thing — this is why he lost his removal motion. The judge in a 49-page opinion said the Constitution cuts out the executive branch from one thing — which is presidential elections — for the most important of reasons."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Katyal continued, "Otherwise you'd use your powers as an incumbent to install yourself and keep yourself in power. That's why the founders did it. That's, of course, exactly what Donald Trump tried to do with Meadows and Clark and the like. And to me, the most significant point of all these court actions over the last 48 hours is you're seeing, Ari, the conflict between Trump and his aides like Meadows and Clark. But Clark is saying in his filing, 'Trump told me to do this,' and he's blaming Trump, and these kinds of conflicts are only going to increase over time."

In an op-ed published by Just Security last month, legal experts Walter Shaub, Norm L. Eisen and Joshua Kolb wrote, "The very purpose of the Hatch Act was to place political acts of the kind charged here beyond the reach of the office of chief of staff to the president. A person who holds the position of White House chief of staff may never use their official authority as a government employee to influence an election…. Put simply, Meadows cannot meet his burden of demonstrating a connection between the conduct and his duties because his duty was specifically to avoid committing the conduct. He cannot show he was 'carrying out' his 'executive duties' because his duty was to carry out a law prohibiting that conduct."

Watch the video below or at this link.

'There's no world in which overthrowing an election, Ari, is part of your job duties': legal

READ MORE: Top Georgia Republican in danger of losing her seat — here's why

'Conspicuously absent' GOP’s claim of backing labor unions is 'almost comical': column

In a Tuesday, September 19 op-ed published by The New Yorker, longtime staff writer and columnist John Cassidy argues ex-President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers' claim of supporting the United Auto Workers (UAW) is laughable.

"What about Trump and Pence and the rest of the Republican U.A.W. stalwarts?" Cassidy writes. "So far, they have been conspicuously absent."

He notes that this week, UAW President Shawn Fain said, "Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Cassidy emphasizes, "Most Republicans have consistently opposed legislative efforts to reverse that trend, including two bills that would have made it easier for unions to organize: the Employee Free Choice Act, which a Democratic-controlled House passed in 2007, and the Protecting the Right to Organize (pro) Act, which the House passed in 2019 and again in 2021."

Just days ago, the columnist notes the MAGA hopeful told NBC News, "The autoworkers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump."

However, comparing the ex-president's labor record with President Joe Biden's, he writes, "After taking power in 2017," Trump "restored the Republican majority on the five-person National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency that was established during the New Deal to support workers' rights to organize and bargain collectively," which led to the agency's quick reversal of "several pro-labor rulings that it had issued during the [ex-President Barack] Obama Administration, including one that made it easier for workers at fast-food franchises to organize."

Cassidy notes that under Biden's leadership, "the agency has abrogated many of its Trump-era rulings, including the ones related to voting procedures and independent contractors. Last month, the N.L.R.B. ruled that if a company engages in intimidatory behavior during a unionization election, such as firing union organizers, the agency will order the company to recognize the union and bargain collectively."

READ MORE: 'Even Henry Ford understood' that underpaid workers 'don’t have money' to buy things: ex-labor secretary

Cassidy writes:

Politics is politics, but the sight of senior Republicans posing as the true friends of the union workers is so outlandish as to be almost comical. From Trump on down, the G.O.P. has spent decades siding with employers and seeking to frustrate union efforts to organize workplaces and raise wages. Even as it has sought to rebrand itself as a workers' party, the G.O.P.'s actions have made a mockery of this claim.

John Cassidy's full op-ed is available at this link.

'Bring their own biases': FL lawyers predict difficulty 'finding truly impartial jurors' in Trump docs case

With ex-President Donald Trump's classified documents trial taking place in a Florida courthouse, with a "jury pool from a conservative-leaning region" of the Sunshine State, the 2024 MAGA hopeful could have a higher chance of beating the case, KENS 5 News reports.

KENS 5 notes, "The jury selection process is meant to weed out personal or partisan bias that could taint the case, with jurors instructed to make decisions solely on the basis of the evidence they hear. But in a federal court system where convictions overwhelmingly outnumber acquittals, defense lawyers — and prosecutors, for that matter — could nonetheless look to jury selection as a way to elicit an edge."

Furthermore, the news outlet reports:

Jurors for Fort Pierce trials are drawn from five counties, according to the written jury plan for the Southern District of Florida: St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, Okeechobee and Highlands.

Trump won each of those counties. His victory margin was particularly wide in Okeechobee, where he won with 71.8% of the votes. In St. Lucie, home to Fort Pierce, he won by only 50.4%, but Republicans have continued to gain ground there, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was reelected last year with more than 59% of the vote there.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Former United States Department of Justice official and Florida defense attorney Richard Serafini insists, "It's a high-profile defendant, but I suspect that when push comes to shove, most people don't make all of their important decisions based on politics."

Another issue, the report notes, is "such a blockbuster trial, with a deluge of media, could test the resources of a courthouse and region far less accustomed to headline-generating events than is, for instance, Miami."

However, ex-federal prosecutor and Florida attorney David Weinstein believes, "The bigger issue is going to become, can the Fort Pierce courtroom handle this case? And if it can't, where are they going to send it? And if they send it to Miami, how are they going to get the jurors there because technically it's not a Miami case."

Miami prosecutor and ex-Trump administration acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin adds, "Picking a jury is an art. It's not a science. And whether you're a prosecutor or a defense attorney, you use everything in your arsenal to seat the best jury you can get for your case. You want to ensure that you have the best people in that jury box that are going to be receptive to your message. So from that perspective, if I'm DOJ, I'd much rather have a Miami jury pool than a Fort Pierce jury pool."

Still, Florida criminal defense lawyer Richard Kibbey says, "The more conservative the counties, the highest chance he has to find jurors that would be sympathetic with him. When it comes to finding truly impartial jurors, it's going to be very difficult given the political climate across the country. Jurors will bring their own biases into the court room."

READ MORE: How 'Trump’s psychopathologies' were exposed in Kristen Welker’s Meet the Press interview: journalist

KENS 5 News's full report is available at this link.

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