Biden 303
image description
Trump 235
image description
Click for Senate
Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description
  • Strongly Dem (208)
  • Likely Dem (18)
  • Barely Dem (77)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (46)
  • Likely GOP (63)
  • Strongly GOP (126)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2019 2015 2011
New polls: (None)
the Dem pickups vs. 2020: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2020: (None)
Political Wire logo How Walt Nauta Became Trump’s Co-Conspirator
DeSantis and Pence Circle the Wagons Around Trump
Trump Supporters’ Violent Rhetoric Disturbs Experts
Evidence Against Trump Came from Within Mar-a-Lago
North Carolina Republicans Censure Thom Tillis
Trump Says ‘They’re Coming After You’

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  I'm So Indicted
      •  Saturday Q&A

I'm So Indicted

Yesterday, it was Peaches & Herb; today you should feel free to channel The Pointer Sisters as you read the headline (thanks to reader J.P. in Horsham, PA, for the suggestion). Anyhow, things moved rather more quickly than expected with the federal indictment of Donald Trump, and so there was a lot of news and new information yesterday. Let's run down the ten biggest storylines, as we see them:

  1. Loose Cannon?: We start with one of the biggies: The case has been assigned, at least for now, to Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee to the federal bench who earned both fame and infamy for her earlier rulings in this case (specifically, her shockingly dubious ruling that Trump was entitled to a special master, who was to review seized documents for potential executive privilege claims).

    There is no way to know, at this time, how Cannon drew the assignment. It could be because she was already involved in the case; sometimes "you handle the opening days of the case" assignments are given to judges who are already familiar with a particular proceeding. It could be because her docket wasn't as full as those of her colleagues. It could be random chance.

    Let us start by imagining that Cannon is indeed in the bag for Trump, and will do anything she can to help her benefactor. Could she derail the case? That is certainly within her power. We checked with one of our lawyer readers, R.E.M. in Brooklyn, who confirmed she cannot dismiss the indictment out of hand: "Dismissal of an indictment before trial has commenced does not create 'jeopardy' within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment. Only after trial has commenced would a dismissal (or verdict) prevent the government from appealing."

    So, the Judge is not going to be able to wave her hands and make this all go away. However, if she holds on to the case, she could help the former president in a bunch of ways. She could try to get MAGA jurors seated by rejecting voir dire challenges from the prosecutors. She could exclude evidence that puts Trump in a bad light. She could craft jury instructions that steer the members toward acquittal. She could, as R.E.M. suggested to us, drag out the timeline for the trial, such that it cannot commence until after the election. In that case, Trump could run for president largely unfettered (Georgia and New York cases notwithstanding), and if he or some other Republican wins, he could theoretically be pardoned.

    Now, as an alternative, let us consider that Cannon is not actually in the bag for Trump. Or that she's in the bag for him, but she's also concerned about destroying her reputation and/or facing some sort of sanctions. Another lawyer-reader, A.R. in Los Angeles, weighs in on this possibility:
    Once again, Trump draws a sympathetic judge to oversee the federal criminal case, his own appointee, Aileen Cannon.

    But I actually think this will work out well for the prosecution. Cannon has already issued a ruling related to this case when she tried to appoint a special master to review all the documents seized under the search warrant. But she was slapped down hard by an appeals court panel—twice! The panel consisted of judges who are all Republican appointees, including two Trump appointees.

    So, whatever sympathies she may have to Trump will be tempered by the realization that the appeals court is not in the bag for him. She'll make every effort to avoid a repeat of that earlier outcome. Couple that with the fact that this will ultimately be tried by a jury and I believe her presence will only help legitimize a guilty verdict. I'm sure the prosecutors are confident they can overcome any obstacles she throws at them.
    This is an important point. If Cannon keeps the case, and makes dubious decisions, they can be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Although the 12 non-senior judges who sit on this circuit skew slightly Republican in terms of who appointed them (7 GOP appointees vs. 5 Democratic appointees), the group is not known for its "creative" interpretations of the law in the way the Fifth Circuit is.

    There is also an excellent chance Cannon will not hear the case. The fact is, as a Trump appointee, she should recuse herself as a matter of course. She might well summon up enough integrity to do that, or she might decide that she wants to save face rather than being removed from the case. Alternatively, if she doesn't self-recuse, and if Special Counsel Jack Smith and his team believe Cannon won't give them a fair hearing, they can go to the Eleventh Circuit and ask for a new judge. Between Cannon having been appointed by Trump, and her questionable decision-making earlier in the process, that request is exceedingly likely to be granted.

  2. Unlucky Number 37: The indictment has been unsealed; you can read it here, if you wish, or you can read an annotated version here.

    It was already known that Trump had been charged with seven different crimes. With the indictment in hand we now know he's being charged with 37 different criminal acts. That includes 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information, and one count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, and scheming to conceal.

    The various charges against the former president carry a total maximum sentence of 400 years. Recall that Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg has already charged an additional 34 counts carrying a potential sentence of 136 years. That means it is now incumbent upon Fulton County DA Fani Willis, and Smith in any 1/6 related indictment, to come up with 29 more counts carrying a potential sentence of 464 years. Then Trump would be looking at 100 counts and a nice, round 1,000 years in prison.

  3. A Partner for Bridge: Although Trump has many enablers in his orbit, only one of them was apparently stupid enough to leave himself open to significant criminal exposure. That would be Trump aide Walt Nauta, who helped the former president move boxes of documents around in hopes of keeping them hidden from Trump's attorneys and from the feds, and then turned around and lied to the FBI about it. Nauta now faces six charges of his own (the same ones Trump faces, excepting the 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information).

    Nauta certainly introduces an interesting wildcard into the situation. On one hand, maybe he's a Steve Bannon-type True Believer, and willing to do anything to protect his boss. On the other hand, he might notice that he's facing a long, long time in the slammer, and might decide to flip on Trump in exchange for a plea deal.

  4. Another Smoking Gun...: This leaked out several hours before the indictment was released, and then is also noted in the indictment itself. It would seem there is yet another tape from yet another meeting where Donald Trump decided to shoot himself in the foot. In this one, Trump can be heard telling someone that he kept "secret" military information after leaving the White House, and that "As president, I could have declassified, but now I can't."

    It is an excellent question as to why Trump would admit this so openly. Undoubtedly, he didn't know he was being recorded, but it is nonetheless unwise to tell people about the illegal acts you've committed or are in the act of committing. Even absent a recording, discussing a criminal act with someone creates an eyewitness who could testify in court about it. Our best guess is that Trump likes people to think he's a "rebel" who "doesn't play by the rules." But who knows, really?

  5. ...And Yet Another: As we note above, Walt Nauta and Trump allegedly played a shell game with boxes of documents. The idea was to convince Trump attorney Evan Corcoran, and then the feds, that everything classified had been identified and returned. In truth, boxes were being hidden in various places in Trump's private residence (including a bathroom; more below). On one occasion, Nauta moved dozens of boxes and then told the feds the very next day he didn't know anything about boxes being moved.

    One small problem for Nauta and Trump: The box moving was captured on Mar-a-Lago's security cameras.

  6. Do You Want to Know a (Sensitive) Secret?: Hundreds of classified documents were found in Trump's possession. However, the criminal case is focusing on 31 of those. The indictment, starting on page 28, gives enough details to make clear that those 31 were among the most sensitive documents, and were all related to military matters.

    It was a tactical decision to focus on the juiciest 10% of the documents reclaimed from the former president. Jurors have limited attention spans, and if you ask them to consider 50 or 100 or 200 different, but similar, documents, they are eventually going to have a hard time focusing. Further, including less significant documents opens up the argument, both in court and in the court of public opinion, that the prosecution is focusing on trivialities and is being overzealous. If you keep it to the serious stuff, that's a much harder sell.

    The details in the indictment are deliberately vague, for obvious reasons. For example, none of the countries involved is named (well, beyond the U.S., of course). Still, there is enough information there that past and current military leaders were shocked at the extent of the breach that was revealed yesterday. In addition to Trump, and whatever penalties he might face, the defense establishment expects it's going to take a lot of time to figure out all the damage that was done, and to fix it.

  7. A Pence for Your Thoughts: With the Trump indictment out of the bag, Judge James Boasberg released his ruling in the case filed by Mike Pence, asking to be excused from testifying. It was already known that Pence was required to answer a lot of questions from prosecutors, but now we know he had to answer almost everything. This is not going to help Pence in the estimation of those who feel that the former VP should be falling on his sword to protect Trump. He might well drop to 0.5% support in polls of the Republican primary electorate, down from his current 0.7%. If he is below 1% in all the polls, then he won't make the debate stage and then it is bye, bye Mike.

  8. What else?: It should be clear that the indictment has a lot of oomph. It's also 44 double-spaced pages, which means you can read it in, what, half an hour? Jack Smith says it will take a month to present the full case to a jury. That's not terribly long by the standards of a serious criminal case, but it's also way more than half an hour. Which means there must be oodles of evidence that haven't been made public yet. And note, there aren't many paragraphs out there that have two different words beginning with "oo." Too bad there were no Oompa Loompas drinking oolong tea at Mar-a-Lago while the boxes were being concealed.

    In any event, because some huge percentage of the evidence remains under wraps, the full case against Trump is a mystery to everyone except the people who work with Smith. We think it's fair to say, as we have, that just based on what is publicly known, Trump is in a bad spot. It's also entirely apropos to say, as nearly all Democratic politicians are, that we must be patient and let the process play out. What is total nonsense is to say "There's no case here and this is a witch hunt." Even if you reject the publicly available evidence, there's no way to know that the remaining, still-hidden evidence is not even more damning. That means that anyone who is saying "witch hunt," "conspiracy," etc. is either delusional (Trump) or is a phony (most of the other Republicans who are saying these things).

  9. Heading for the Hills: Right around the time the indictment was unsealed, two Trump lawyers, who have taken the lead in representing him in this matter, quit. They are Jim Trusty and John Rowley, who have often been in court in Washington, DC, as various questions were adjudicated.

    The one thing that is certain is that the case is either at, or very close to, the point of no return for Trump's counsel. Sometime very soon, Trump's lawyers will not be able to withdraw from the case without permission from the judge. The stated reason for the departures was that Trusty and Rowley are Washington-based, and not in a position to handle a Florida case. That may be true, although the lawyer already named as one of their replacements, Todd Blanche, is based in New York.

    If geography is not the reason for their departure, or is not the only reason, then all we can do at this point is speculate as to what happened. Did Trump fire them in a fit of pique? Did he stiff them on their bills? Were they tired of him screwing up the case by saying stupid things in front of a national audience and/or to someone with a recording device? Just about anything is possible.

  10. The Photograph: The indictment contains numerous photographs that show the haphazard and non-secure manner in which documents were being stored. This one is from page 12:

    30 or so boxes of
document in a bathroom at Mar-a-Lago

    Can you imagine a photo that better captures the absurdity and the Trumpiness of this situation than this one? The fake gold fixtures. The tacky mirror. The two chandeliers, one for the room, and one for the toilet. And the boxes and boxes of documents, where anyone could theoretically walk up and grab a handful to peruse. Was this just a convenient spot with lots of storage space? Or was Trump making bathroom reading out of the nation's military secrets? If it's the latter, that would be quite ironic, since he famously didn't bother to read the stuff when he was actually president.

That's the latest. If any politician has any unfavorable information they know is going to be made public eventually, this weekend would be the time to leak it, since Trump's indictment is going to dominate the news for a good while. "Sen. Menendez admits he did take bribes," for example, is probably a page nine story if comes out next week. (Z)

Saturday Q&A

Given the major, historic news of the last couple of days, we are going to do what we do sometimes and put aside normal order. Today, it's going to be all questions about you-know-who (no, not Voldemort, though that's not far off).

Current Events: The Trump Indictment

D.P. in Pittsburgh, PA, asks: Do you think there's a chance Trump will be tried and convicted for the classified documents indictment before the 2024 election?

(V) & (Z) answer: Yes. An excellent chance, in fact. The case appears to be very straightforward, and has already been locked and loaded by Jack Smith and his team. Smith himself says he wants to move quickly. After all, he's ready to go anyhow, and he and AG Merrick Garland want to put as much time between the court case and the 2024 election as is possible.

Trump, as is his wont, will presumably try to drag things out. But there's a lot of time between now and Nov. 2024 and, barring Cannon or some other judge standing on their head to help him out, he's going to have a hard time coming up with reasons why he needs 18 months' worth of delays. Recall that he tried mightily to delay the E. Jean Carroll case once it was ready to go, without a lot of success.

R.D. in Philadelphia, PA, asks: Is there any chance Jack Smith would offer a plea deal? Trump pleads guilty and they sentence him to 10 years in prison.

(V) & (Z) answer: If Trump is willing to accept a 10-year sentence right now, then Smith would surely make that deal. That removes all uncertainty, saves a lot of time and energy, and achieves the goal of convicting Trump and saddling him with a de facto life sentence.

But since it would be a de facto life sentence, and since he is convinced he's innocent, and because he thinks he's going to be president again, Trump would never take the deal. He might not accept any plea deal right now, no matter how exposed he is, since he's so fully convinced of his righteousness and his martyrdom. And if there is a deal he would take (6 months' house arrest at Mar-a-Lago?), it would be too light to be acceptable to Smith.

J.J. in Johnstown, PA, asks: With the indictment of Trump now unsealed, it looks like Jack Smith has the now "Federal Defendant Donald Trump" dead to rights. As you have noted many times, one of Trump's legal strategies has always been to file appeals to delay as long as possible. Shortly after news of the indictment broke, two of his top lawyers, Jim Trusty and John Rowley, resigned. Does his top lawyers resigning "reset" the clock for a trial, so that a new "top" defense team can review everything? Given the highly classified contents of these documents and how long it would take to vet new lawyers for security clearances (doubtful they would pass the clearance process), it seems like his best defense is to simply run the clock out. Can he continue to perpetually "punt" by cycling lawyers out of the starting lineup? (Apologies for the sports analogies).

(V) & (Z) answer: Unless Trump ends up with a judge who is toting his water, this is not likely to work. Most judges did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday, and they know a delaying action when they see it, particularly when it comes from a guy who's been pulling the same stunt for 50 years. If a future Trump attorney wants to withdraw, they are going to need a very good reason. And even if that is granted, the replacements won't be given luxurious quantities of time to get up to speed.

J.L. in Los Angeles, CA, asks: After what felt like the longest foreplay in history, Donald Trump will finally be headed to federal court for a trial... in Florida, no less. As I understand it, Florida has what is known as a "sunshine law" mandating that all public proceedings, including criminal trials, are allowed to be televised to the public by the news media, gavel to gavel. Does this also hold true for federal trials?

(V) & (Z) answer: The federal courts are not subject to state law. And as the official website of the federal court system explains: "Electronic media coverage of criminal proceedings in federal courts has been expressly prohibited under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 since the criminal rules were adopted in 1946." So, no TV coverage of United States of America vs. Donald Trump.

D.E. in Lancaster, PA, asks: Regarding the audio of Trump talking about the stolen top secret documents, if it was made at his Bedminster "resort" in New Jersey, shouldn't the indictments come from that state instead of Florida? Could Trump be charged with similar indictments in New Jersey since by his own voice admission he had classified documents there? And why in God's name, haven't the Feds searched Bedminster to find this Iran battle plan, which is still missing?

(V) & (Z) answer: We can only say two things at this point. First, as we note above, there is much that remains unknown about the case against Trump. It's possible (though we don't think it likely) that Bedminster was part of the investigation, and that fact will eventually come out in court.

Second, and most importantly, prosecutors go with the crimes they can most readily prove. The Mar-a-Lago stuff looks like a slam dunk. And the audio recording, assuming it was made at Bedminster, is excellent evidence in terms of Trump's state of mind, and his true beliefs about whether the documents were unclassified or not. On the other hand, the audio recording is not great evidence of crimes committed at Bedminster, since Trump might well have been waving around anything while he was talking.

G.R. in Butte, MT, asks: I have started thinking that even if Trump is convicted and given a prison sentence (which I honestly don't think will happen), the second a Republican gets power they'll pardon Trump because that's what the base will want... and if Trump himself is elected all hell will break lose as he goes on a tour of revenge. Apologies for all of the pessimism but it's hard not to feel this way about the current state of American politics, and I was wondering if you had comments on this.

(V) & (Z) answer: We agree with you that if Trump gets elected, he'll pardon himself. We can't imagine any reason he wouldn't do so, especially since he's convinced himself and much of his base that this is a sham. As to a "revenge tour," he loathed his enemies, real and perceived, when he was president the first time, and didn't manage to do much more besides come up with third-grade-level nasty names. We're not sure what new tools or schemes he would have during a second term that he didn't have during a first term.

Any other Republican wannabe president is surely going to try to avoid this hot potato. Not only would pardoning Trump generate vast blowback from voters, it would greatly displease the military establishment, as it would send the message that keeping information secure doesn't really matter. It could be that some Republican candidate, in desperation, says "elect me and I'll pardon Donald Trump." And it could be that once one of them makes that promise, they all have to make it. However, as you may have heard, politicians do not always make good on their promises. And again, most of them are going to resist so much as a hint of a promise. We suspect that you're about to hear a lot of reporters ask: "Would you pardon Donald Trump if you were elected president?" And you're about to hear a lot of candidates say things like: "Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it" and "We'll have to examine all the facts and make a decision then."

J.H. in El Segundo, CA, asks: Assuming TFG gets convicted in multiple states and by the feds, which prison would he go to? If we further assume he starts his stay in federal prison, what would happen to the state charges?

(V) & (Z) answer: Keeping in mind that while the New York charges could result in prison time, they probably won't, so we are really talking about Georgia vs. the federal government here. The Georgia case, if and when it is filed, will surely move forward even if Trump is convicted in federal court. And when it came time for prison sentences, the feds would be first in line, since they went first and since those crimes are more serious.

If Trump is convicted, and is sent to an existing federal prison, then our guess is it would be Federal Prison Camp, Pensacola. The government does make some effort to put inmates relatively close to their families, and FPC Pensacola is a white-collar, low security facility with experience housing politicians (e.g., Chris Collins) and grifters (e.g. Todd Chrisley).

That said, given the rather unusual logistical challenges that would arise from imprisoning a former president, the feds might have to create a prison just for Trump by repurposing some other structure or facility. He probably can't be placed among a general prison population, and the U.S.S.S. has to be able to protect him, so it might well be easiest to, for example, stick him in an empty barracks at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, or something like that.

C.V. in Columbia, NJ, asks: Normally, keeping a person in prison is a considerable cost to the government. If Trump is sent to prison, would the government save money since his secret service detail costs would be greatly reduced due to his limited movement and increased security already provided by the prison system?

(V) & (Z) answer: Probably so. Plus, the U.S.S.S. would not have to pay for multiple, full-price rooms at Mar-a-Lago anymore.

S.R. in Kansas City, MO, asks: Could there ever come a time during the legal process, arrest, or sentencing when DT would be required to give a DNA sample? If so, would that DNA be available to resolve a possible paternity lawsuit?

(V) & (Z) answer: Under the terms of 34 U.S. Code 40702, last updated in 2009, the government is allowed to collect DNA from anyone it has in custody, and is required to collect DNA from anyone who is convicted of a crime. In both cases, however, the DNA sample must remain private, and is only available for law enforcement purposes and not for paternity suits.

J.S. in The Hague, Netherlands, asks: What are the Florida laws regarding book deals for people who serve on grand juries?

(V) & (Z) answer: First, note that it's a federal grand jury, and so it is federal law that matters here. And federal law is very clear that federal grand juries are required to keep their deliberations secret, even after the cases they considered have been litigated. The official handbook for federal grand jurors warns:

[T]he grand jury may disclose matters occurring before it only to the government attorneys for use in the performance of their duties, but even the government attorneys may not be informed of what took place during the grand jury's deliberations and voting. The only other time matters occurring before the grand jury may be disclosed to anyone is when disclosure is ordered by the court in the interests of justice. Disclosure of such matters may never be made to a grand juror's friends or family, including a grand juror's spouse.

Needless to say, if you can't even spill the beans to family and friends, you certainly can't write a book. There have been a few lawsuits by people who wanted to write books, and who argued they should be allowed to on First Amendment grounds, but the courts have always said "nope!"

J.M. in Houston, TX, asks: You wrote, of your poll question about how long it would take for Donald Trump to be indicted:

The lowest guess, registered by 36 people, was "1 day." That was not far off, as it turns out. The correct guess, "2 days," was also the most common guess. There were over 200 respondents who hit the bullseye. The three highest guesses were 517, 530 and 533 days. Those weren't such good guesses, it would seem. The average guess was 41.5 days. Sometimes the wisdom of the crowds doesn't work out, though in fairness, it was hard to imagine that things would come together so fast.

I'm not sure that final statement is correct. While obviously I can't see the data set, but I can imagine what it looks like based on the info you provided. Arithmetic mean is probably not the right metric to evaluate the "center" of a data set with this shape. What was the median? What about the geometric mean? inquiring minds want to know!

(V) & (Z) answer: To start, we made a mistake when reporting the data. We downloaded the results, and opened them in Excel, forgetting that Excel treats fields with a zero in them as blanks. As it turns out, there were actually 44 people (a bit less than 2% of the respondents) who thought Trump would not be indicted at all. They were not correct, of course.

For those who felt Trump would be indicted, the median answer was 23 days and the geometric mean was 22 days.

D.K. in Iowa City, IA, asks: How does this first indictment complicate the second case about the January 6th events? Will it cause Jack Smith to delay that indictment or have no impact on its timing?

(V) & (Z) answer: Based on the available evidence, it seems that Smith does his job, and when it's done, he goes to court and files his case. We don't imagine that the Mar-a-Lago case will affect the timing of the January 6 case, excepting that Smith and his team will now be able to devote most of their time to the latter, which may speed things up a bit.

K.M. in Tacoma, WA, asks: Can you remind us how the Hillary Clinton e-mail case differs from Trump's document case. Classified and sensitive information was central to the gravity of both cases. The Republicans are making the case that Trump is being treated differently.

(V) & (Z) answer: In a word: intent.

As we have noted many times, for a civilian to get popped for mishandling classified documents, they either have to be engaging in a willful act of rulebreaking, or they have to be so reckless that their actions were effectively willful. If this was not the case, then there would be a parade of federal employees headed to prison for inadvertent and/or moderately careless errors.

Clinton, by all indications, was not a tech wizard, and did not particularly grasp the notation system used for classified information in e-mails. She was just following the lead of her two immediate predecessors, along with the advice of people in her orbit who were more tech savvy. She never knowingly exposed or kept information she wasn't supposed to expose/keep. By contrast, as is made very clear in the indictment, Trump not only knew he was doing wrong, he took active steps to hide his misdeeds from both his own attorneys and from the feds.

There is also a question of degree when it comes to crimes. If you drive drunk and the police pull you over before anyone gets hurt, you're going to get a very different punishment than if you drive drunk and plow into a family of four, killing them all. While some of the information on Clinton's e-mail server was indeed classified, it was relatively trivial stuff. By contrast, the information being held at Mar-a-Lago was among the country's most sensitive intelligence.

We'll also point out that Clinton and Trump were subjected to similar processes. People whose job it is to understand the law and to evaluate such cases decided, several times, that Clinton should not be prosecuted. The same sort of people looked at Trump, tried very hard to let him un-hang himself, and when he chose to keep playing games, went after him.

But again, the easy answer is intent. The evidence did not support the conclusion that Clinton deliberately mishandled information. It does appear to support that conclusion for Trump.

B.F. in Poway, CA, asks: (Z) made the following comment, in reference to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) embracing the "Trump is a victim" bit: "We are not clear how you can successfully campaign against a rival by playing into his narrative of victimhood and martrydom, but we didn't graduate from two different Ivy League schools, so maybe it's beyond our capacity to grasp."

Especially with his numbers so low, don't you think it is a rational strategy for DeSantis to best position himself for the eventuality that Trump is forced out of the race? In that case, I'd say this narrative works quite well for him.

(V) & (Z) answer: Reasonable people can disagree, but we don't see it. If DeSantis is running a "next man up" campaign, then he should not be sparring with Trump at all, but he is. Further, if Trump's base is absolutely convinced he's a martyr, as opposed to a felon, then they are likely to cast millions (and probably tens of millions) of protest votes for him whether he is on the ballot or not. DeSantis needs Trump to be fully discredited, not for him to be Jesus v2.0.

J.A. in Kansas City, MO, asks: Wow! Seems like a particularly significant set of headlines on Friday! Do you track significance of this sort across the history of the site? What other day or days would best today?

(V) & (Z) answer: You're right; between the indictment, and the Supreme Court ruling about Alabama, and the death of Pat Robertson, it was a pretty big day. That said, it's somewhat hard to compare, because there are different kinds of big days. For example, presidential election days are big days. Further, there are some days where the lead story is so big, we give most or all of the day over to it (see the posting for Jan. 7, 2021, for example).

If readers have suggestions for particular big news days, send them along, and we'll run a selection.

Reader Question of the Week

Fortunately, the question we put before readers last week fits pretty well with the theme of the day. Here it is:

P.V. in Kailua, HI, asks: I believe that the most probable outcome of the 2024 Presidential election is that Trump will be the Republican nominee, lose to Biden, claim that the election was rigged, then—just as in 2020—do all that is in his power, which is thankfully less than it was in 2020, to create chaos surrounding certification of the results, including attempting to incite violence from his followers with his usual coded language. What should the Federal and State governments be doing now to prepare for this completely predictable situation?

And here some of the answers we got in response:

C.E. in Murrysville, PA: Put Trump in the supermax prison in Florence, CO.

M.S. in Sterling, NY: After he's convicted of seditious treason for 1/6, send him to ADX Florence, the supermax prison in Colorado, and put him in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, then eliminate his one allowed phone call, which he would naturally use to try and sic the few remaining cult idiots to violence.

T.G. in Lee's Summit, MO: Put his prison on lockdown on Election Day.

K.H. in Albuquerque, NM: GOP-led states and local agencies are already preparing for this eventuality by gutting election boards, diminishing the authority of attorneys-general with D's by their name, pushing independent state legislature theory, putting election deniers in key offices, etc. There are grave threats from bills that encroach on the political independence of local election officials.

According to this assessment, "the next most likely events are associated with the 2024 presidential election: local officials refusing to certify vote counts (55%) and a state legislature naming alternative electors (46%). These expectations are likely based on local- and state-level Republican activism across the country against supposed threats to election integrity. Despite an absence of evidence that maladministration or fraud are widespread, party activists and many Republican politicians are advancing claims that electoral administration and outcomes (when Democrats win) are untrustworthy. That drumbeat appears to have persuaded our experts that, in at least some localities and perhaps some states, the 2024 election results will be rejected. Expectations that Congress would refuse to certify the election result are only slightly lower (39%)."

On the Democratic (and democratic) side, one can hope that continued conviction of Jan. 6 insurrectionists will make others hesitant to follow in their footsteps. With election reform legislation a non-starter in the GOP-controlled House, I am pessimistic about opportunities to counter Republican behavior. My best suggestion to counter Trump-led chaos is to make it a Democratic landslide.

G.R. in Carol Stream, IL: Promote civics education.

R.H. in Macungie, PA: State governments should declare that TFG isn't eligible to be on any ballot pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment. This would then be challenged in court and would end with the U.S. Supreme Court making the final decision.

A.C. in Columbus, OH: I don't think there's much that needs to be done. Trump was at the height of his power and influence in 2020. Yet, he still was eventually compelled to leave the office of the presidency (and swipe some documents on the way out the door). I don't think he will be able to command his acolytes the way he did last time. Of course, it's always a good idea to shore up election security and provide more ways for people to safely vote, but I don't think it needs to be done with an eye specifically on stopping a violent Trump uprising.

E.D. in Temecula Valley, CA: Pass a law stating that in a dispute, a state's electoral count cannot be changed without a court ruling.

R.T. in Arlington, TX: This isn't very sexy, but I think it would do a lot for voter confidence in general. Imagine if you got a tracking number for your ballot like you get for a UPS package. You could check a website to tell you where your vote is in the overall process. The first event would identify which ballot box (machine) was used to hold your ballot. The next would give the time when your ballot box left your polling location and then arrived at the next physical location. Then when the ballot box was first opened and the totals from that ballot box alone. Then when the totals from the ballot boxes were consolidated at the next administrative level (presumably the county). Then when the county total was reported to the state level. The idea is to make all of the counting and totalling completely transparent, without revealing any individual's vote. You could have independent checking for arithmetic errors in the process and any unusual delays would stand out for further investigation. Poll watchers would be largely unnecessary except for the initial counting of ballot boxes.

A.S.W. in Melrose, MA: Two words: duct tape.

Here is the question for next week:

V & Z ask: Have you ever served on a jury? And if so, is there anything about that experience that might give insight into what might unfold in the Trump documents case? Tell us your story.

Submit your answers here!

If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city.

To download a poster about the site to hang up, please click here.

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun09 Re-Indicted
Jun09 Paxton Associate Arrested
Jun09 Anti-McCarthy Rebellion Continues
Jun09 SCOTUS Strikes Down Racial Gerrymander in Alabama
Jun09 Pat Robertson Is Dead
Jun09 This Week in Schadenfreude: And It Feels So Good
Jun09 This Week in Freudenfreude: The Sultan of Slowjamastan
Jun08 Some Bad News and Some Good News for Trump Yesterday
Jun08 The Decapitator Speaks
Jun08 Pence Calls for New Leadership--for Example, His
Jun08 Doug Who? Is In
Jun08 Chris Licht Is Out at CNN
Jun08 Is DeSantis Making a Faustian Bargain with the Electorate?
Jun08 Candidates Use T-shirts to Qualify for Debate
Jun08 What Are the Easiest Paths for the Republicans to Win the Presidency in 2024?
Jun08 The Democrats House Plan Has Leaked Out
Jun08 What Might a New York Gerrymander Look Like?
Jun07 More Legal Trouble for Trump
Jun07 The Freedom Caucus Strikes Back
Jun07 LIV Golf, PGA Tour Merge
Jun07 What Mike Pence's Presidential "Lane" Looks Like
Jun07 "George Santos" Ordered to Reveal Bond Co-Signers
Jun07 Approval Ratings Are a Mystery, Worldwide (Part III)
Jun07 Maybe This Explains Biden's Approval Rating
Jun07 Tracking Poll, June 2023, Senate Edition
Jun06 The Presidential Field Looks to Be (Almost) Set
Jun06 DeSantis May Cede One of His Biggest Advantages over Trump...
Jun06 ...And DeSantis Has Another Big Problem in Comparison to Trump
Jun06 Anti-Drag Law Struck Down
Jun06 Churchgoers Are Losing Their Grip on the Republican Party
Jun06 Talking about Abortion, Part IX: P.S.' Story
Jun06 Tracking Poll, June 2023, Presidential Edition
Jun05 Biden Clinches the Deal
Jun05 Political Winners and Losers from the Debt Deal
Jun05 It's Cattle Call Time
Jun05 DeSantis' Fundraising Is from Rich Donors
Jun05 Trump and DeSantis Are Already Getting Nasty with Each Other
Jun05 Jack Smith's Grand Jury Will Meet Again This Week
Jun05 Willis Is Now Looking Beyond Georgia for Trump's Crimes
Jun05 RNC Issues Criteria for Making the Debate Stage
Jun05 Iowa Will Require Caucusgoers to Be Present in Person
Jun05 The Economy Is Roaring
Jun05 Both Parties Hope to Rebound in 2024
Jun05 How Can Biden Handle It If His Son Is Indicted?
Jun04 Sunday Mailbag
Jun03 Saturday Q&A
Jun02 Our Long National Nightmare Is (Almost) Over
Jun02 DeSantis Blows His Lid
Jun02 The Pride Goeth During the Fall
Jun02 California Republicans May Try Something Different