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Political Wire logo Biden May Not Be on Ballot in Iowa and New Hampshire
Trump Redefines Stakes of His Campaign
Jill Biden Warns Against ‘MAGA Republicans’
Will Walt Nauta Flip?
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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Don't Arraign on My Parade
      •  Newsom Is Better at This Than DeSantis
      •  No Labels Is a Sham
      •  Rage Against the Manchin
      •  House Returns to Doing the People's Business
      •  I, The Jury, Part II: Voir Dire
      •  Year 20 Begins: The Results

To Readers in Nevada: Congratulations on the Las Vegas Golden Knights' first-ever Stanley Cup! Even if your coach and 63% of your players are hostiles from the north.

Don't Arraign on My Parade

We would have bet good money that it was Ethel Merman who performed that song on Broadway. But no, it was actually Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl. In fairness to us, Streisand—then a relative unknown—was clearly mimicking Merman's style.

In any case, "parade" is a pretty good starting point, because the scene outside the courthouse on the day of Donald Trump's arraignment had the feel of a carnival. Hundreds of his supporters congregated there, chanting "We want Trump!" and "Lock her up!" There were also choruses of "Happy Birthday" because today, as chance would have it, is Trump's 77th birthday. And there was a man who felt that the best statement he could make was to wear an American flag as a cape, and to carry a stick with a real pig's head impaled upon it. There were also counter-protesters, of course, most notably a man in an old-timey black-and-white-striped convict's outfit and a sign that said "Lock him up!" The important thing is that, thanks to effective crowd control, there was no violence.

The day also witnessed a mini-parade of third-tier Republican presidential candidates. Vivek Ramaswamy was there to hold a rally, and to make clear that his supporters (both of them) know that if he's elected president, he will pardon Trump. Miami mayor Francis Suarez (R), who has once again been teasing a presidential run this week, was also there. Officially, he was there to oversee the police presence. However, he also spent much time trying to press the flesh with Trumpy voters, and to otherwise do some retail politics. Given that the crowd chanted "RINO! RINO! RINO!" when they saw Suarez, he might want to rethink that whole presidential thing.

As to the hearing itself, Trump did not utter a word, though he did get in plenty of glowering at the judge and at the prosecution, including Jack Smith, who was in the courtroom. Here is the courtroom sketch of Trump produced yesterday:

Trump and three of his attorneys,
sketched in brown and yellow and orange shades of charcoal.

These sketches are rarely flattering, and Trump is hardly a male model. But even allowing for those things, boy howdy, it is not pretty. It looks like the picture of Dorian Gray.

Once the proceedings were underway, the former president's new attorney, Todd Blanche, entered a plea of "not guilty" to each of the 37 counts. The primary topic of discussion, at the insistence of Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman (Aileen Cannon will take over later in the process), was whether or not Trump is allowed to talk to other witnesses in the case. Inasmuch as some of the witnesses, along with co-defendant Walt Nauta, work for Trump, it is somewhat impractical to impose a blanket "no talking" order. Eventually, all parties agreed that specifics would be hammered out later, but that Trump cannot discuss the case with Nauta or anyone else who might testify. In other words, "Bring me a Diet Coke, Walt!' is OK, but "Don't you think it would be best, Walt, if you didn't testify?" is not. Given how very much respect both Trump and Nauta have shown for playing by the rules, we are just certain they will honor this instruction to the letter.

Speaking of Nauta, he doesn't have counsel yet, at least not in Florida. So, he was not able to enter a plea. He will have to return to court to tie up that loose end at a future date. No word yet on whether the man with the pig head on a stick will be there for that auspicious occasion.

After he was done in court, Trump and his caravan headed to Versailles. No, not the French palace, the Cuban restaurant (and note, it is pronounced Ver-sigh-yes, not Ver-sigh). Trump added that stop in order to send several messages: (1) He's not bothered by this whole documents brouhaha, (2) the court case will not affect his campaign, (3) he's a man of the people, and (4) he is simpatico with the Latino community. None of this is true, of course, but it's nonetheless a good example of "If life gives you lemons, make a mojito."

Following the Cuban restaurant (and another chorus of "Happy Birthday"), Trump returned to Bedminster to give a speech. If you really want to hear it, here it is:

It's 35 minutes long, and undoubtedly any reader of this site could have written the text, if they had a couple of minutes to spare. Nonetheless, we're a full service site, so we give you the main points:

  • Trump is innocent. Innocent, we tell ya.

  • These fancypants lawyers think the relevant law here is the Espionage Act. In fact, it's the Presidential Records Act, which (apparently) gives Trump the power to do anything he wants with any document at any time.

  • To the extent that Trump did anything wrong (not that he did!), Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush all did things 10-100 times worse.

  • The DoJ system only goes after Republicans, not Democrats. (Except, apparently, Cheney and Bush.)

  • Jack Smith is a "deranged lunatic."

  • Trump's supporters need to donate lots of money to his legal fund, because if the "communists get away with this," their next targets will be Christians and parents at school board meetings.

This same basic speech will undoubtedly be delivered dozens of times in the next several months.

At this moment, Trump faces an interesting calculus, because the needs of his political career and the needs of his legal cases(s) are in conflict. From a legal standpoint, he is far better off keeping his mouth shut, and even abandoning his presidential run so that he can focus on keeping himself out of prison. From a political standpoint, on the other hand, he needs to open his mouth (or his Truth Social app) on a daily basis, so as to keep his base believing that there's nothing to these charges and it's all just a witch hunt.

That said, Trump doesn't think like this. His response to the court case will not be governed by his political needs or his legal needs, it will be governed by his completely unchecked id. And if anyone in his family or on his legal team pushes back on that approach, he'll tell them that it's OK for him to blather because when (not if) he wins the presidency back, he can pardon himself. Never mind that the worse the criminal case gets, the longer his odds of reelection get. Also never mind that all the presidential pardons in the world won't save his bacon (his country ham?) in Georgia.

On the subject of politics, it would appear that roughly half the GOP primary field is now persuaded that there might just have been some shenanigans here. We wrote about Sen. Tim Scott and Nikki Haley yesterday, while Asa Hutchinson, who has been running in the NeverTrump lane, was the first wannabe GOP president to acknowledge that this might not be a witch hunt. Now, Mike Pence has read the indictment, and he said: "Having read the indictment, these are very serious allegations. And I can't defend what is alleged." If Pence hadn't read the indictment previously, then why was he previously railing against the DoJ? It's almost like he just revealed that he has a propensity to go off half-cocked, before he knows all the information. Sounds just like the kind of person who should have the nuclear codes.

And then there is Chris Christie who, for his part, basically hemmed and hawed last week. It would seem the former governor was saving his remarks for his CNN town hall on Monday night, as he took that occasion to unload on Trump: "This is vanity run amok... Ego run amok, and he is now going to put this country through this when we didn't have to go through it. Everyone's blaming the prosecutors. He did it. It's his conduct." Speaking as a former federal prosecutor, Christie also opined that this is "a very tight, very detailed, evidence-laden indictment."

On the other side of the political aisle, the silence continued. There's no upside for the Democrats in weighing in, at least at this moment, since that will just give Trump and other Republicans something to attack, and thus would provide a distraction. Expect the silence to continue for the foreseeable future, not only because it makes sense, but because Joe Biden has ordered the White House staff, the members of his campaign and the DNC to keep their mouths shut.

So, what's next? That's not clear yet, since Trump's new attorney just joined his team, and will need time to get up to speed. That said, there are plenty of people out there noting that this particular branch of the federal judiciary (i.e., the Southern District of Florida) is known for its "rocket docket." So, there could be more news very soon. Alternatively, maybe this goes to the back burner for a while, and the next big news comes out of Georgia. Or New York. (Z)

Newsom Is Better at This Than DeSantis

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) have some very important things in common, including governing large states, easy reelection wins in 2022, and presidential aspirations. That said, there are also some big differences. One is far-right and the other is moderate-left. One is a 2024 candidate, and the other, at least for now, is waiting until 2028. And one is far better at politics than the other.

At the outset, let us note that DeSantis' case for the presidency rests upon his record of securing right-wing legislative victories, aided by a very amenable state legislature. But the fact is, Newsom can make the exact same claim. Different kinds of laws in each case, but nonetheless, a lengthy record of implementing their respective political programs. So, this part of "politics" is a wash.

Meanwhile, while DeSantis turns people off with his unpleasant voice, his deer-in-a-headlights expression and his general unwillingness to interact with people and/or answer questions, Newsom has been showing off his retail campaign skills. The California Governor just went into the lion's den (well, the Fox's den) and sat for an interview with Sean Hannity. You can see it here, if you wish:

The interview has gotten raves for its substance and its lack of blather. Part of that is that Hannity, unlike his recently departed colleague Tucker Carlson, is willing to act like a grown-up sometimes. But a big part of it is that Newsom was really good. In particular, he took ownership of the biggest gaffe of his political career (the French Laundry party during the pandemic), conceding it was "dumb" and a "terrible mistake." When was the last time DeSantis admitted to even the tiniest mistake?

It is interesting that the circumstances of this political cycle have put the two governors in similar positions: Do they challenge a president from their party in 2024, or do they wait until 2028? Obviously, it's a different calculation when the primary opponent is a former president in serious legal trouble as opposed to a sitting president who isn't. Nonetheless, it sure looks like the non-candidate Newsom is doing a lot more for his political future than the candidate DeSantis is. As we have seen with the Florida Governor, the moment you announce, you are placed under a giant microscope. Many have wilted under the bright lights, and DeSantis is at risk of doing the same. Meanwhile, Newsom is getting his name out there, meeting donors and voters, and connecting with future campaign staffers, all without the intensity and pressure of being an official candidate. Obviously, 4½ years is a long time away, but Newsom is doing a skillful job of positioning himself to be the 2028 frontrunner. (Z)

No Labels Is a Sham

No Labels, which bills itself as a centrist political organization, has been making noise about running a third-party presidential candidate in 2024. The basic idea, ostensibly, is that Joe Biden is too far left, Donald Trump is too far right, and the mushy middle needs a candidate it can vote for. Maybe someone like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who just so happens to be a co-chair of the group.

This weekend, former Democratic operative and current No Labels CEO Nancy Jacobson was in Chicago to meet with donors. And at that meeting, she said that if Donald Trump is not the Republican candidate, then No Labels would probably sit the election out. She made clear that plan holds even if the GOP candidate is Ron DeSantis.

Given the stated goal of No Labels, this makes no sense. They're going to offer a centrist alternative if the far-right Trump is on the ballot, but not if the farther-right DeSantis is? This would seem to suggest that the real goal of the organization is to stop Trump from becoming president. Except that it's abundantly clear that a No Labels candidate would siphon far more votes from Joe Biden than they would from Donald Trump. Anyone who is planning to vote for Trump is going to vote for Trump. It's centrists and anti-Trump Republicans who are going to avail themselves of a No Labels candidate, since that would allow them to vote against Trump without having to vote for Biden.

And this brings us to what is clearly the real goal of No Labels. They want to get their foot in the door of presidential politics, and to use this election as a springboard to bigger and better things they envision in the future. But Trump is the only opponent who is hated enough for them to fundraise off of. This is the only scenario in which it makes sense to run against Trump, but not against DeSantis.

That means that like a Jill Stein in 2016 or a Ralph Nader in 2000, the No Labels folks are willing to help elect a president they clearly consider to be problematic in service of their own agenda. And it's an agenda that is a fantasy. It is true that some sizable percentage of the voting public doesn't like either Biden or Trump. But the No Labels argument is based on the notion that, again, Biden is far left and Trump is far right, and there is a huge centrist faction out there just waiting to be plucked by some centrist movement.

In reality, Biden is center-left/center, not far left. What that means is that the "I don't want Biden OR Trump" crowd isn't a bunch of centrists and moderates. No, it's a bunch of centrists and moderates, and small-l libertarians, and staunch lefties who think Biden is too centrist, and anti-government righties who think Trump is too establishment, and other folks who adhere to various non-mainstream political views. There's no such thing as a candidate who can unite all these disparate factions, and even if there was, it's dubious that these factions are large enough in number to win a majority of the Electoral College. And of course, if the EC splits three ways, then the presidency will be decided by the House of Representatives, where—according to our numbers—there are a grand total of zero members elected on the No Labels ticket.

In short, if any reader is tempted to donate to No Labels, we suggest finding some better use of your money. Lottery tickets, or Bed Bath & Beyond stock, or tickets to Chicago Bears playoff games, perhaps. (Z)

Rage Against the Manchin

Speaking of Joe Manchin, David Axelrod—Barack Obama's leading strategist—was on CNN last week and had a comment on the senator: "I don't want to be unkind to Senator Manchin, but he's kind of dead man walking in West Virginia. There's nowhere for him to go." Clearly Axelrod had seen the recent poll of the West Virginia Senate race in which Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) was leading Manchin by 22 points.

We think Axelrod is speaking a bit prematurely. First, Manchin hasn't entered the race yet. He could decide to run for governor, since he won the office twice before and it will be an open seat in 2024. Second, Justice hasn't won the primary yet. He is facing Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), and some right-wing groups, including the Club for Growth, are calling Justice (who first ran for election and won as a Democrat) a RINO. These groups will spend big time to defeat Justice and will certainly sully his name even if he wins the primary. The Club for Growth has said it will drop $10 million to attack Justice and help Mooney. That's a lot of money in a cheap-advertising state like West Virginia. And even if Justice wins the primary, Manchin has won six statewide elections in West Virginia as a Democrat. This won't be his first rodeo. He knows something about winning elections in the Mountain State.

It took a few days, but Team Manchin is hitting back at Axelrod. Jonathan Kott, who has served as Manchin's aide, said: "David Axelrod doesn't know a lot about West Virginia politics and is a brilliant strategist but probably doesn't spend much time in West Virginia with Joe Manchin and should before he counts him out." Kott also noted that Justice hasn't won the primary yet and voters don't like turncoats. You can bet that Mooney is going to make a big deal about Justice's switching parties after he was safely elected and hammer on the fact that he is a lifelong Democrat. The primary will be bloody. Kott also noted that pollsters predicted that Barack Obama would have no chance against Hillary Clinton in 2008 and Donald Trump would be crushed in 2016.

A point Kott made and which Manchin will make endlessly if he runs, is that as chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, Manchin has a lot of clout. He got the Mountain Valley pipeline approved, which will create 2,500 jobs in poor West Virginia. Other pieces of pork he got may add an additional 10,000 jobs. If Justice beats Manchin and the Republicans take over the Senate, Sen. John Barasso (R-WY) will become chairman of the Senate Energy Committee. Justice will be the most junior member, assuming he even gets assigned to the Committee, which is not a certainty because as a newbie senator he will be last in line on committee assignments.

Another factor is that the election is 17 months away. Manchin could spend the next 17 months opposing everything Joe Biden does. After all, with 51 votes, the Democrats don't need his vote any more and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) could give him permission to oppose every bill Schumer brings up. This could give Manchin lots of street cred back home. The only problem with this approach is that Sen. Krysten Sinema (I-AZ) is also likely to oppose a lot of bills and Schumer has no control over her and he can't afford to lose two votes on bills. Since Sinema is a loose cannon, Schumer may need Manchin on some bills.

Thanks to these dynamics, West Virginia is in the lead right now in overall spending on the 2024 U.S. Senate races, with the total approaching $5 million. Some groups are spending money to promote Mooney or Justice in the primary. The group One Nation has spent $2 million to paint Manchin as too liberal for West Virginia. The group Duty and Honor, which takes its cues (in part) from Schumer, has spent $1.5 million talking about Manchin's independent approach and his moderate fiscal views.

If Manchin decides not to run for reelection to the Senate, then the Democrats will turn off the money spigot, and West Virginia will end up middle-of-the-pack when it comes to spending. But if he runs, and he makes up that polling gap, then we're going to learn if it's possible to dump nine figures' worth of campaign money into a state with a population less than 1.8 million people ($100 million in spending would equate to $55 for every man, woman and child in the Mountain State). We suspect Manchin will run to keep his seat, and that folks who live in West Virginia are going to be heartily sick of political ads when November rolls around. And by that, we mean November 2023. (V)

House Returns to Doing the People's Business

Now that the Freedom Caucus mini-rebellion is over, at least for now, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) can get back to work on important legislation. First up, at the prompting of Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), is a resolution to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for his claim that Donald Trump's campaign cooperated with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

The clear intent here is to play the "whataboutism" game, and to suggest that Democrats do the same things as (or worse things than) Donald Trump, and that voters should therefore pay no attention to all that nonsense going on down in Florida. That this resolution, which is privileged and so will have to be brought to the floor this week, also hurts a leading U.S. Senate candidate is just a bonus.

We pass this news along because we are keeping a close eye on McCarthy's management of his conference, and whether he's got things in hand, or if they are spinning out of control. That he's got no choice but to bring up this silly resolution suggests, yet again, that the cat herding isn't going too well. Oh, also worth noting: Reps. Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) and Eric Burlison (R-MO) officially joined the Freedom Caucus this week. That means that at least 46 House Republicans, or 20% of McCarthy's conference, are Freedom Caucusers. (Z)

I, The Jury, Part II: Voir Dire

As we noted yesterday, we are going to run a series of reader reports on their jury service, in hopes of giving those folks who have little or no experience on this front (a group that includes both V & Z) some useful insight into the process. Yesterday, we covered the general predisposition against jurors with certain kinds of experience or expertise. Today, it's readers' experience with voir dire:

R.R. in Pasadena, CA: I served as the foreperson on a jury trial a year before the pandemic; it was a civil trial that took about three weeks. I think everyone should serve on a jury at least once so they understand how the justice system really works, it's not like TV cases at all... though there was a bit of drama in our case that felt ripped from the flatscreen. There are a few things that I think will be key for the Trump documents trial, based on what I went through:

  • The judge matters, a lot. Our judge made the trial a pleasant experience, as she had obviously been on the bench for a while and knew what we had to go through. Several times, she made the trial move in ways that cut through the lawyer nonsense that would have dragged the trial out. It looks like Donald Trump is again getting Judge Aileen Cannon, who stretched the procedures a whole lot when Trump's case was in front of her before, and is also an inexperienced judge who hasn't previously handled such a big case. I'd expect a lot of messiness in the trial procedures, and she's already shown that she'll bend over backwards to support Trump which could cause a lot of angst. She also may do things that make the jury's job harder, from confusing jury instructions to procedures that make the trial stretch out or get messy.

  • Selecting the jury will be a large bit of drama. Voir dire is meant to separate out jurors that will be good or bad for either side, as well as jurors that it's obvious can cause trouble. In my case, the juror who was interviewed just before I was made clear statements about how he was biased towards one side, in a pretty obnoxious way. He got bounced by the judge instead of either side. When I was asked, I expressed my own biases, but it was clear that I would try to be honest and set those aside based on the evidence presented. The plaintiff lawyers discussed me directly (I could tell because they kept looking at me) and picked me for the jury... the defense, whom I felt the bias against, didn't fight it because they asked the questions about if I could be fair and were satisfied. There were a lot of examples of that going on in the questioning, and it worked as we ended up with a pretty balanced jury that decided the case based on the evidence.

  • In most cases, people want to get out of jury duty. In Trump's case, there will definitely be people trying to get onto the jury as well. I can see liberals who want to stick it to Trump and MAGAs who want to save Trump trying to get on. I can also imagine MAGAs who want to avoid it because they may be worried that they will have to rule against him based on the evidence, and either don't want to do it despite it being the right thing to do or worry about the consequences when their MAGA friends learn they were on the jury. People will be scared to serve on this jury; there could be threats against them whichever way they rule, and there will be people who see it as a chance to be famous. And all of this will be overseen by an inexperienced judge who may be in the tank for Trump, making it difficult for the prosecution to get an impartial jury.

  • The foreperson will be critical. Studies have shown that a foreperson can sway the jury to their own opinion very easily; I learned this by reading about a foreperson's duties the night after I was selected. I took great pains to make sure that we went through the evidence and testimony systematically, and I always spoke last so my thoughts weren't dominating the discussion. It worked out well, and everyone was happy (though it took a bit longer to go over everything than some people wanted). The interesting thing is how I was selected foreperson: I sat at the end of the table and, once we were all seated, was the first person to say something to start things off. I didn't plan that, but it turns out those are the two biggest ways to become the foreperson... I'm just organized and always sit at the end of tables in meetings, so I did my usual plus I had had more weekly meetings than anyone else there. A person who wants to control the jury decision could try this to put themselves in charge of the proceedings. The foreperson could then direct the conversations and evidence reviews in ways that help whoever they want to win. Just being "the leader" can be enough to sway some jurors, especially if the foreperson is good at swaying people's opinions. I'm assuming the jury picks the foreperson in federal trials as well, so becoming foreperson is a popularity contest. Another thing that helped me become foreperson was that I was part of the largest group of jurors going to lunch together, and I told them about the things I did which fell naturally into "leadership" territory. I wasn't campaigning to be foreperson, but the social aspects definitely helped, especially since there was a city council member who had been a foreperson before (twice, I think) but who went to lunch on their own. It would have made more sense for them to be selected instead of me.

  • I also expect a highly professional presentation from the prosecutors, and a likely clown show from Trump's lawyers unless he gets some really good ones soon. The lawyers can most definitely turn a jury against a side. In our case, the defense lawyers were obviously not litigators and kept doing silly/stupid stuff; it didn't affect our decision but we definitely noticed and joked about it. The plaintiff attorneys were super sharp and didn't make any mistakes or leave openings for the defense to exploit. It's easier for the jury if the prosecution lays out a clear, concise story of the case and backs it up with evidence, as that gives a good structure to the discussions. If the defense puts up nonsense, that makes it even easier to see clearly what the decision should be. Again, the jury instructions matter at this point. Judge Cannon could easily undermine the prosecution case with her instructions, or cast enough doubt about the law for the jurors that they can't get past reasonable doubt.

  • I really would be concerned about someone on the jury who wanted the trial to go a certain way who used the trial weeks to grease the wheels to become foreperson and then turned the whole thing their way. It might lead to a decision not based on the evidence, or to a raucous jury that fights a lot and can't make headway. An experienced judge can head that kind of thing off, including removing any jurors that appear to be causing issues, but that will be missing in this case. Judge Cannon is a huge concern as well; she already tried to help Trump from the bench and got smacked down for it. If she learned her lesson then the trial will be fair (but possibly disorganized, since she's new); if not, she could try to torpedo the prosecution in many ways. A messy trial, with appeals for judge issues or a jury that's got internal problems, could easily make Trump look like a victim. But the justice system usually works even with flaws like this, so maybe it will all turn out fine and there will be a fair trial and just decision based on the evidence instead of people's feelings or politcal desires.

One thing I should note: I was put on the jury despite my four advanced degrees including a Ph.D. in astronomy. That actually came up in voir dire, I was asked about what I do and my educational background came up. The defense attorney slipped up and asked me about "astrology"... I made some kind of joke that got everyone including the judge to laugh. I still ended up being picked, when common wisdom is lawyers reject anyone with a Ph.D. by instinct. I guess the lesson is not to be funny and personable during voir dire if you want to avoid serving on a jury.

G.K. in Blue Island, IL: I've served on a jury within the past five years, and the short answer is: "No, nothing about that experience would give me any insights into what might unfold in the Trump documents case."

There's a reason associated with that though, that is itself an insight (I feel). Despite voir dire, juries are essentially a random assemblage of citizens, and—probabilistically speaking—they manifest a bell curve of critical thinking skills, human interaction skills, emotional maturity, empathetic capability, etc.

Although Henry Fonda's character in Twelve Angry Men is framed as a hero and champion of American justice, I'm sure it happens just as often that justice is decidedly not served because a single hold-out dug in their heels and the others in the room were not gifted with the skills to lead them to a non-biased, evidence-based conclusion.

Paramount to the process, I think, are the judge's instructions to the jury, as well as the judge's response to any questions or requests from the jury. This is why the selection of Judge Cannon is problematic for some, since she didn't seem to exhibit a good knowledge of relevant laws and legal concepts earlier in the documents investigation.

In short, despite federal prosecutors' success rate at securing convictions, I feel like anything could happen given the extraordinary natures of the defendant, the judge, and the Florida jury pool.

R.E. in Birmingham, AL: I served on a jury about 13 years ago. It was a civil case between two long-divorced people who apparently spent all their time and money suing one another. It was icky.

When we got to the jury room, I was almost instantly selected as jury foreman based on the fact that I was the only juror who took notes and, you know, paid full attention. In our case, the ex-husband had sued the ex-wife because she called the sheriff on him when he came to her house, and he spent the weekend in jail. In his instructions to us, the judge had explained the elements that the plaintiff had to prove in order to prevail. I wrote those on a whiteboard, and then turned around to face my peers on the jury. Most of them were looking at me like I had been speaking Greek, and then engaged in an animated conversation about who they thought should win, based entirely on their individual senses of "right and wrong."

We eventually reached what I thought was the only defensible verdict, in part by persuasion and in part because some of them just got tired of the process and went along with anything that would get them out of the room.

To give you a sense of the level of understanding and analysis that was taking place, I have to include an event that happened during the trial itself. We were on a break, and a fellow juror sidled up to me and asked "What happens if we find him guilty?" He was asking me what would happen if we rendered a verdict of "guilty" against the PLAINTIFF in a CIVIL case. Good Lord.

The gravity of the Trump trial is on a whole different level, of course. Hopefully, the process for selecting jurors will be more rigorous, and the jurors will take their jobs much more seriously. That being said, it isn't always enough to have a "slam dunk" case to win at trial. Once the jury room door closes behind them, the jurors are on their own, and anything can happen. The wrong mix of personalities could lead to an outcome unsupported by the facts or the law.

G.M. in Laurence Harbor, NJ: Having served on a grand jury and on several juries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, nothing surprises me. In Pennsylvania, the defense attorney noticed an elderly member of our jury was slumped over and brought it to the attention of the judge during opening remarks. The judge called the juror several times using her juror number. After a few calls with no results, he directed the bailiff to check her out. Juror #7 was okay, she was just asleep. When asked about it, she responded effectively: "I'm sorry my hearing aid is dead. If I didn't have to be here so early, I would have been able to stop and get new batteries."

H.S. In Lake Forest, CA: I served on a jury in San Diego County in 2016 after having been naturalized a few years prior. Despite the case interfering with my busy work schedule, I felt inclined to participate to fulfill my civic duty as a relatively new citizen of the U.S.

The jury selection process was interesting. The court questioned about 50 prospective jurors on various aspects related to the case, which involved drug and gun possession by a previous felon. In the end, there were a lot of dismissals of prospective jurors with too strong a view of pro- or anti-gun rights. In addition, anyone with a past traumatic experience involving law enforcement, guns or drugs was also dismissed. This resulted in 12 jurors, including myself, who were Caucasian (9), Asian (1), or Latino (2), with the defendant an African American. The 5-10 African-American prospective jurors and also a similar number of Latinos were all dismissed due to describing past traumatic experiences with law enforcement and/or guns.

Following the court proceedings, we went into deliberation. I, for one, was not impressed by the case made by the prosecution. But I also learned that, as a scientist, my definition of "reasonable doubt" apparently does not match that of the general public.

If I came away with one general conclusion that could relate to the Trump case, it is that the jury selection process is by no means perfect. Of the 12 jurors that made it through, three were outright racists, one lied to the judge on whether he ever had a traumatic experience with guns in his past, and most just wanted to get it over with as fast as possible. But there will be a few good people on any jury. So these few good people's view point and their ability to persuade the jurors of lesser intellect will likely determine the outcome of Trump's trial. Based on my past experience, I am much less convinced than you that an unbiased jury can be assembled in Florida.

More on Friday! (Z)

Year 20 Begins: The Results

Yesterday, we unveiled the answers to questions 1-9 of our Year 20 quiz. Today, the answer to question 10 (the tiebreaker) and the announcement of the winners.

As a reminder, the tiebreaker question was: "How many times did this site mention the name of George W. Bush, then running for reelection, across all postings made in 2004?" We had a number of people who guessed "zero," thinking that we did not publish any commentary that first year. This is not the case. We had quite a few creative guesses, including "a gazillion," "1.21 gigatimes," "167—It would have been higher if not for the missing Ws on the White House typewriters," "a kabillion," "666," "eleventy million," "too many," and "Rosebud." The correct answer was 728, which nobody guessed, although D.S. in Berlin, Germany, was very close, at 729. There were also six people who guessed 726 and another six who guessed 730.

There were a total of 47 readers who managed to score 9 out of 9 on the quiz. In truth, you're really all winners. That said, here are those 47 ranked by how far off their tiebreaker guess was:

  1. G.W. in Tallahassee, FL (Tiebreaker Guess: 10,000; Margin of Error: 9,272)
  2. R.C. in Washington, DC (7,410; 6,682)
  3. S.G. in Vancouver, WA (2,004; 1,276)
  4. G.H.S in Cambridge, MA (2,000; 1,272)
  5. M.L. in Coralville, IA (1,969; 1,241)
  6. W.W. in Anthem, AZ (1,962; 1,234)
  7. H.P. in Nampa, ID (1,825; 1,097)
  8. Z.M. in Washington, DC (27; 701)
  9. J.S. in New York City, NY (35; 693)
  10. I.M.O in Norman, OK (39; 689)
  11. M.S.G. in Springfield, PA (42; 686)
  12. J.K. in Sandy Spring, MD (50; 678)
  13. C.P. in Anchorage, AK (52; 676)
  14. D.K. in Huntsville, AL (58; 670)
  15. M.M. in Warrington, PA (77; 651)
  16. M.E. in Seattle, WA (100; 628)
  17. H.A. in Malden, MA (102; 626)
  18. J.T.S. in Westminster, CO (125; 603)
  19. B.W. in Olympia, WA (137; 591)
  20. B.C.B. in Manhattan, NY (1,285; 557)
  21. D.D. in Portland, OR (1,285; 557)
  22. J.S. in Los Angeles, CA (173; 555)
  23. L.K. in Grand Forks, ND (1,277; 549)
  24. R.P. in Marietta, GA (180; 548)
  25. J.A. in New York City, NY (185; 543)
  26. J.U. in Farmville, VA (215; 513)
  27. J.W. in Northampton, MA (224; 504)
  28. M.B. in San Antonio, TX (230; 498)
  29. P.A. in Columbus, OH (238; 490)
  30. R.H. in West Grove, PA (270; 458)
  31. B.P. in Louisville, KY (289; 439)
  32. B.H. in St. Paul, MN (299; 429)
  33. D.R. in Petoskey, MI (369; 359)
  34. R.S. in Cathedral City, CA (387; 341)
  35. A.O.R. in Portland, OR (399; 329)
  36. M.S. in Boston, MA (400; 328)
  37. D.N. in Toronto, ON, Canada (1,045; 317)
  38. J.R. in Cambridge, England, UK (999; 271)
  39. G.J. in Brno, Czech Republic (995; 267)
  40. J.P.A. in Katy, TX (499; 229)
  41. D.D. in Carversville, PA (902; 174)
  42. R.M.S. in Lebanon, CT (863; 135)
  43. A.B. in Torrington, CT (661; 67)
  44. I.B., Budapest, Hungary (666; 62)

And now, in third place: F.S. in Cologne, Germany, whose guess of 700 was off by only 28.

In second place: S.E. in Dundee, MI, whose guess of 711 was off by only 17.

And in first: B.S. in Somerset, England, UK, whose guess of 726 was off by a mere 2.

We hope everyone had fun. We have plans for something else along these lines fairly soon. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun13 Here Comes the Arraigned Again
Jun13 The Florida Case against Trump Is Not a Slam Dunk
Jun13 I, The Jury, Part I: Overqualified!
Jun13 Freedom Caucus Ends Rebellion... for Now
Jun13 Blumenthal Has Some Questions for the PGA
Jun13 Soros Passes the Torch to His Son
Jun13 Year 20 Begins: The Answers
Jun12 Trump Won't Drop Out Even If He Is Convicted
Jun12 Trump's Primary Opponents Are Still Scared to Death of Dumping on Him
Jun12 Trump's New Indictment Could Further Complicate Kevin McCarthy's Life
Jun12 The Republican Donor Class Is Looking for Alternatives to Trump
Jun12 New Poll of GOP Primary Voters Has Trump at 61% and DeSantis at 23%
Jun12 New York Democrats Are Making Progress on Redistricting
Jun12 Governors Matter
Jun12 Ivanka Has Vanished
Jun11 Sunday Mailbag
Jun10 I'm So Indicted
Jun10 Saturday Q&A
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
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Jun08 Pence Calls for New Leadership--for Example, His
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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
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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
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Jun06 Tracking Poll, June 2023, Presidential Edition