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Biden to Issue Executive Order on Mexican Border

At the moment, Joe Biden is taking a beating when it comes to the Mexican border. Republicans are spinning tall tales that make it seem like what's going on down there is something reminiscent of a scene out of Mad Max, or maybe Dune, or some other post-apocalyptic horror story. Of course, the Republicans in Congress won't actually lift a finger to do anything about it, because they don't want to deprive Donald Trump of his single most salient campaign issue.

Consequently, in the very near future (very likely today), Biden is expected to issue an executive order that will allow the Department of Homeland Security to seal the border to asylum seekers once a certain threshold has been reached. This is based on authority found in Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, now codified as 8 U.S. Code Sec. 1182. The law reads:

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

This appears to be pretty broad, and the limited number of legal challenges to presidential use of this authority have all been unsuccessful. That said, it is worth pointing out that when Donald Trump utilized 212(f), Democrats screamed about it, and said the Trump administration was in violation of the United States' treaty obligations. It would seem they feel differently now that the shoe is on the other foot.

It remains to be seen what legal challenges might arise once Biden affixes his signature to the new order. However, the political calculus couldn't be clearer. The President knows he's bleeding support with independents and moderates, and that while the Israel-Palestine protests may get more news coverage, the border actually lingers much larger in the minds of voters. That's especially true of swing-state voters. A Trumpy approach to the border (sans children in cages) will undoubtedly anger progressives and immigration advocates, but you can bet your last dollar that Team Biden has polling data that tells them that executive action on the border will gain the President more support than it loses him.

Naturally, this won't stop the Republicans from attacking the President on this issue. In fact, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) might well force a vote this week on a bill to impeach Biden over his border policy. However, if the Republicans aren't willing to take up any legislation, while at the same time Biden is exercising whatever authority he has to try to manage immigration, then that debate gets harder for the red team to win. (Z)

Biden Lays Out Ceasefire Plan for Israel

We have several items today based on news that is a few days old. That is because we were working on Friday's post when the Trump verdicts came in and, of course, we pushed everything aside in order to give our full attention to that story. This is one of those items.

Anyhow, the border may, on the whole, be a bigger problem for the Biden administration than Israel is. However, Israel is a problem, too, primarily because there are an increasing number of voters who would generally vote a Democratic ticket, but who are threatening to defect over this particular issue. And so, on Friday of last week, the President unveiled a proposal for the cessation of hostilities in Gaza.

Declaring that Hamas no longer has the capacity to inflict another attack like the one from October 7 of last year, Biden said his plan has three phases. The first is Israeli withdrawal from the populated areas of Gaza, along with the release of some Palestinian prisoners and some hostages held by Hamas (essentially, women and children). The second is the exchange of all remaining prisoners and hostages not covered by the first phase (essentially, men). The third is the commencement of "a major reconstruction plan for Gaza."

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu already pooh-poohed the plan. He has also accepted an invitation from party leaders in Congress to address a joint session of that body sometime between now and the end of August. This does not sound like someone who is planning to stand down anytime soon.

That said, Netanyahu really isn't the audience for Biden's proposals anymore. The President specifically addressed himself to the people of Israel when he unveiled the latest plan, declaring: "I need your help. Everyone who wants peace now must raise their voices and let the leaders know they should take this deal. Work to make it real, make it lasting, and forge a better future out of the tragic terror attack and war." He also dispatched Secretary of State Antony Blinken to run down the proposal with the leaders of various allied nations. And, of course, Biden is also trying to persuade the American people that he's doing everything he can as he wrestles with "one of the hardest, most complicated problems in the world."

So, that's three audiences: the Israeli people, U.S. allies, and the American public. Will any of these audiences buy what Biden is selling? We'll know in a few weeks, presumably. (Z)

Senate to Vote on Contraception on Wednesday

Carrie Sheffield is, in addition to being a freelance writer, one of the several right-wingers in CNN's stable of columnists. Her brand is "common sense conservative," and her core issue is abortion. She is broadly anti-choice, as you can surely guess.

Last week, she wrote a rather remarkable op-ed for CNN. Under the headline "A winning strategy for the GOP on abortion," she argues there is a "middle ground" that both Republicans and Democrats can agree upon:

As a pro-life Republican, I believe there's a winning strategy on abortion for the GOP to embrace, one that pushes for a goal both sides of the aisle can support: making abortion rarer. The first step is working together to prevent unwanted pregnancies. After all, preventing pregnancies rather than terminating them is less risky for women and far more cost-effective—a win for everyone.

A crucial way to do so is to increase access to contraceptives, which is why it's important that former President Donald Trump made clear on Tuesday in a Truth Social post that he supports access to contraceptives after some misinterpreted an interview he gave this week.

In addition, Sheffield wishes that Joe Biden would return to his early 2000s stance that "I think that [abortion] should be rare and safe," and that "I think we should be focusing on how to limit the number of abortions." She follows that by lamenting that:

Sadly, long gone are the days of former President Bill Clinton, who popularized the call to make abortions "safe, legal and rare." Now, some on the left support measures that would allow for late-term abortions and refuse to give a cutoff date for the procedure.

In short, Democrats need to return to their previously moderate ways. And if they can, it should be no problem to have a meeting of the minds with Donald Trump.

It really is remarkable that Sheffield was able to write that op-ed with a straight face, and to not realize she was scoring an "own goal." That is to say, the "moderate" position that she lays out is already the Democratic position. The "radical" perspective, which she vaguely ascribes to "some on the left," does not exist in the way she understands it. It is unheard of (or nearly so) for a woman to carry a fetus for, say, 25 weeks and THEN to say "Nah, I don't want to be a mother, after all." Those folks who resist limits on late-term abortions are concerned with keeping women's and doctors' options open in the event of medical calamities. Meanwhile, the notion that the nation's anti-choice forces would be perfectly fine with protecting access to contraceptives, and with doing everything possible to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place, flies in the face of reality. Certainly, some of those folks are pro-birth control. But an enormous number of them, including much of the activist class, definitely are not.

We write all of this as lead-up to the observation that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) knows what the score really is. And he is preparing an object lesson for the entire country. He sent a letter to his Democratic colleagues on the matter, in which he advised them:

Democrats have been clear we will not stand for these attacks and we will fight to preserve reproductive freedoms. That is why as we return from the Memorial Day state work period, Senate Democrats will be putting reproductive freedoms front and center. Before the break, I began the process for the Senate to consider the Right to Contraception Act, led by Senators Markey and Hirono. Members should expect to vote on that legislation on Wednesday this week. And there will be more action to come after that.

The Right to Contraception Act forbids the federal and state governments from restricting access to contraception or IVF, and decrees that "the right to contraception is a fundamental right, central to a person's privacy, health, wellbeing, dignity, liberty, equality, and ability to participate in the social and economic life of the Nation."

Schumer has tentatively scheduled a vote on the bill for tomorrow. If Sheffield has the right of it, it should be 100-0 since, after all, access to contraception is something that both conservatives and liberals agree upon, right? Of course, it won't be 100-0, or anything close to that. And even if the bill passes the Senate and is not filibustered, it's not going to get through the House. And then, anyone who is paying attention will know exactly where every member of Congress stands on the question of guaranteed access to contraception. In short, Joe Biden (see above) isn't the only one doing a little maneuvering with an eye upon the November elections. (Z)

Newton's Third Law of Ballot Access?

It would seem, at least based on the events of the past few days, that every time a presidential ballot access question is resolved, another one must arise to take its place.

To start, Ohio Republicans have finally pulled themselves together enough to address the silly Joe Biden ballot-access question, and have passed a resolution granting the Democrats a deadline waiver, which Gov. Mike DeWine has signed. It's not yet clear if the blue team will go forward with plans to hold a "virtual convention" a couple of weeks before the actual convention, since that is no longer necessary.

But, just as that question was being put to bed, a new ballot access question emerged, this one affecting the fellow on the other side of the contest. As we all know, thanks to Arizona, Republicans are huge fans of state laws passed back during the Civil War, when the states in question were territories. And so, they will surely love this law, passed by the Washington territorial legislature in 1865:

Any of the following causes may be asserted by a registered voter to challenge the right to assume office of a candidate declared elected to that office, to challenge the right of a candidate to appear on the general election ballot after a primary, or to challenge certification of the result of an election on any measure:...

(3) Because the person whose right is being contested was, previous to the election, convicted of a felony by a court of competent jurisdiction, the conviction not having been reversed nor the person's civil rights restored after the conviction.

Sound like anyone you know?

Karma being what it is, in view of what happened in Ohio, a challenge to Donald Trump's eligibility for the ballot cannot happen until he is officially chosen as the Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention. And reportedly, Washingtonians are lining up to be the one to make the challenge. How quickly the process will play out, and whether and how the U.S. Supreme Court will get involved, is anyone's guess.

Obviously, Trump isn't going to win Washington State, so if he is somehow kept off the ballot, it won't affect the electoral vote tally. However, if there are no Trump coattails, it could affect some of the House races in the state—say, in the R+5 WA-03 (represented by Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez), or the D+1 WA-08 (represented by Democrat Kim Schrier). Further, the coverage of the legal battle in Washington will be another round of headlines that contain the words "Donald Trump" and "felon," which is not good PR for the wannabe president. And finally, once this story gets out, there are going to be people in 49 states and D.C. poring over the state's election codes to see if they also have a law like this. It's not impossible that one or more swing states just might have a similar law, particularly in one of the Western states where constitutions were written substantially by anti-corruption reformers. (Z)

First Hunter Biden Trial Begins...

Somehow, some way, Joe Biden/the Democrats/George Soros/the Deep State/[insert bugaboo here] have enough power to get Donald Trump indicted by a grand jury (four times), put on trial, and convicted once so far (well, once criminally, plus several more civil defeats). And yet, they do not have the power to keep Biden's own son from being put on trial. It is a strange power, with strange limits, not unlike how the Headless Horseman can't cross the covered bridge, or how Sir Gawain is invincible, but only around noon each day.

In any case, the first of two scheduled Hunter Biden trials is now officially underway. Both trials will be conducted by Donald Trump-appointed judges; for the current one, Maryellen Noreika will be holding the gavel. Just before the trial got underway, she made a pair of rulings adverse to the first son, barring both an expert witness and a piece of exculpatory evidence the defense intended to use.

With this said, Biden's lawyers will still be in a position to mount a pretty effective defense. The defendant is accused of lying on the form he filled out when purchasing a gun, as he checked the box that said "I am not a drug addict." The lawyers will attack this from several vantage points: (1) that Biden was in denial as to his addiction when he filled out the form and so did not consciously lie, (2) that this particular law is virtually never prosecuted with this particular fact pattern (it's usually used to increase penalties if a gun is used to commit a crime), (3) that Biden had the gun for only a couple of weeks before getting rid of it, and (4) that the law in question might not be constitutional.

Jury selection began... and concluded... yesterday. The media is not reporting exhaustive profiles on the jurors, as happened with the Trump case. However, it is known that the folks who were empaneled get their news from a range of sources not dissimilar to the list from the Trump trial. Also, some members of the jury have experience with substance abuse, either involving themselves personally or else a family member. Those individuals are presumably most likely to be sympathetic to the defendant.

The President is keeping his distance from the case. He issued a statement yesterday that read, in part: "As the President, I don't and won't comment on pending federal cases, but as a Dad, I have boundless love for my son, confidence in him, and respect for his strength." Joe Biden has said there will be no presidential pardon for his son, but we very seriously doubt that promise will hold once November's elections are in the rear-view mirror.

It's not a terribly complicated case, so it won't take too long to reach resolution. The most common guess is "sometime next week." It is not hard to predict the Republican spin, once that day arrives. If the First Son is convicted, then it will be "See? Everyone bends the rules sometimes." Of course, the convicted Biden will not be a presidential candidate, while the convicted Trump is, so that's a difference. And if the First Son is exonerated, then it will be "See? One set of rules for Democrats and another set of rules for Republicans." Of course, there is the small matter that such an interpretation would mean that a Trump-appointed judge was in the bag for the Democrats. (Z)

...While Trump's Trials Continue to Idle in Neutral

There were a couple of pieces of news on the Donald Trump legal front yesterday, and both of them are probably good news for him. To start, if a federal judge appears to be shady, there is a way for private citizens to make a report to their judicial circuit for possible investigation. Well, there is at least some reason to think that maybe Aileen Cannon is shady. And so, in just the last week, there have been over 1,000 complaints filed against her. The 11th Circuit Judicial Council had decided that it will not act on the complaints and that, further, it will no longer accept complaints about Cannon. So much for that.

Meanwhile, over in Georgia, the Court of Appeals has set a date for oral arguments on the question of whether Fulton County DA Fani Willis should be removed from the Trump case due to conflicts of interest. That date is... October 4. Note that one of the parties has to request that oral arguments be heard (something that the defense will surely do), and also note that the Court can decide that written briefs (due by the end of June) are enough and that oral arguments are not necessary. So, it's still possible the Georgia case might move forward sometime this summer. But if the October 4 date holds—and it certainly could—then there is no way the case is tried before November's elections.

And so, each day, it becomes more and more likely that the only one of the three remaining Trump criminal cases that has a real chance of going to trial is the one in Washington, DC. As a reminder, that is waiting for a Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity, and SCOTUS tries to clear its desks of everything by July 1. (Z)

Trump Claims $53 Million Haul after Verdict

Donald Trump has been fundraising his little heart out off his New York criminal trial, and that went into overdrive once he was officially a convicted felon. His campaign announced that in the 24 hours after the trial, he brought in $52.8 million in donations.

That is, obviously, a staggering total. However, take it with at least a grain or two of salt. First, because he has every motivation to get that number as big as is possible, it's possible there was a little book-cooking, and that donations from a period longer than 24 hours (possibly much longer than 24 hours) were added to the total take. The FEC only requires monthly reports, not hourly ones, so it would be entirely possible to misrepresent things like this. It would also be supremely ironic to use phony bookkeeping to misrepresent the money you raised off a conviction for... phony bookkeeping.

Second, it's a fair question as to how much of that money is money he would not otherwise have received. That is to say, if John Q. Maga wasn't planning to donate, but then in a fit of pique sent $100, that's a net gain for Team Trump. But if Mr. Maga was going to send in $100 at some point anyhow, and the trial just happened to cause him to choose "now," then it's effectively a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. In other words, keep an eye on Trump's June take, to see if it's way down.

The one thing that is clear is that everyone in the Republican Party, save the odd Larry Hogan, is lining up behind Trump's version of events. Consider alleged moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who issued this statement:

It is fundamental to our American system of justice that the government prosecutes cases because of alleged criminal conduct regardless of who the defendant happens to be. In this case the opposite has happened. The district attorney, who campaigned on a promise to prosecute Donald Trump, brought these charges precisely because of who the defendant was rather than because of any specified criminal conduct. The political underpinnings of this case further blur the lines between the judicial system and the electoral system, and this verdict likely will be the subject of a protracted appeals process.

The claim that Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg campaigned on a promise to prosecute Donald Trump is an out-and-out lie. There is no evidence of that and, in fact, recall that Bragg initially decided NOT to bring charges. This upset some of his underlings so much that they resigned in protest. It took nearly a year of considering the evidence before Bragg decided to move forward. Those facts are entirely inconsistent with the narrative, unsupported by any hard evidence, that he is a Democratic operative.

To take another example, consider alleged moderate Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who issued this statement:

Bragg should have settled the case against Trump, as would have been the normal procedure. But he made a political decision. Bragg may have won the battle, for now, but he may have lost the political war. Democrats think they can put out the Trump fire with oxygen. It's political malpractice.

It's remarkable that Willard can squeeze so much wrong into such a short space. To start, it's not known if Bragg offered a plea deal—maybe he did. However, what you can be certain about is that Trump was never, ever going to cop a plea. So, for Romney to pretend this was an option is either disingenuous or ignorant. Further, as noted, there is no evidence whatsoever that Bragg was driven by political considerations here, and there is meaningful evidence he was not. And finally, the very first thing that Joe Biden, leader of the Democratic Party, said after the verdict is that the only way to defeat Trump is at the ballot box. No Democrat thinks they can "put out the Trump fire with oxygen."

In the case of Collins, we can at least understand what is going on: She's always been pretty dishonest, and she has an ongoing political career she's trying to preserve. But Romney is retiring, and need not kowtow to the Dear Leader. Still, the fact that both of them have 100% adopted the party line shows you the power Trump has to dictate "the truth" to anyone and everyone on the red team. (Z)

Trump Allegedly Used THAT Racial Slur on "The Apprentice"

This is another story left over from last week, so many readers will know about it by now. The first wave of The Apprentice non-disclosure agreements has just expired (after 20 years), and former producer Bill Pruitt spilled his guts to Slate.

The Pruitt piece was published just hours before the Trump verdict came down last week, and of course the verdict sucked up all the oxygen. But in his tell-all, Pruitt confirms two things that everyone already knew (or at least suspected). First, that the show had to work very hard to make Trump look like a shrewd, successful businessman, because in the real world he was not those things. Second, that Trump made use of racial slurs. In particular, Pruitt claims that when the first season finale came down to Kwame Jackson, a Black broker from Goldman Sachs, and Bill Rancic, a white entrepreneur from Chicago, Trump asked "I mean, would America buy a ni**er winning?"

Even if this story had not been buried by news of the verdict, it alone would not have changed anything. Again, this scuttlebutt has been out there since 2015, enough so that the comedian Tom Arnold even had a reality TV show dedicated to finding the "smoking gun" tape (or tapes). Things would be different, however, if such a tape were actually to come to light. Certainly, even if there was footage of Trump saying the mother of all racial slurs, Republicans would fall in line behind whatever excuse he came up with (see above for another example). But live footage is hard to explain away, and a tape of The Donald saying that word would absolutely do him some serious damage.

So, is there any chance the footage exists and is made public? Truth be told, our guess is that it was preemptively destroyed a long time ago, probably by The Apprentice executive producer Mark Burnett. However, if it does still exist, it now belongs to... Jeff Bezos and Amazon. And, as with Pruitt, any legal duty to keep quiet has now expired. Meanwhile, as Slate's Jeremy Stahl points out, it is within the government's powers to subpoena the footage, if it still exists. A congressional committee could do it, so could the FCC. (Whether they want to go fishing, and deal with the potential embarrassment of coming up empty, is a good question.)

What it amounts to is yet another "unknown" among the many unknowns that are a part of this election cycle. The odds are that nothing comes of this. But you never know... (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun03 Let the Monday Morning Quarterbacking Begin
Jun03 Opinions from Various Experts
Jun03 Let the Grandstanding Also Begin
Jun03 It's Not about Addition, It's about Subtraction
Jun03 Republicans Have an Election Strategy: Try to Win after Election Day
Jun03 We Might Learn Something Tomorrow
Jun03 Manchin Has Registered as an Independent
Jun03 Poll on Verdict Shows Country is Still Badly Split
Jun03 Polling Is Tough
Jun03 Mexico Elects a Woman as President
Jun02 Sunday Mailbag
Jun01 Saturday Q&A
May31 Trump Legal News: I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)
May31 Today's Presidential Polls
May30 Judgment Day
May30 Follow the Money
May30 Biden Will Spend over $10 Million Wooing Black Voters
May30 It's Deja Vu All Over Again
May30 Herschel Walker Still Has $4.3 Million in His Campaign Warchest
May30 Alito to Congress: Go Shove It
May30 Kennedy Opposes Tearing Down Statues of Confederate Leaders
May30 Blue Tent Is Back
May30 Today's Presidential Polls
May29 Trump Legal News, Part I: The Trial (Day 21)
May29 Trump Legal News, Part II: Cannon Takes a Shot at Smith
May29 White House: Red Line Was Not Crossed
May29 Democrats "Solve" Their Ohio Problem
May29 Texas Holds Its Runoffs
May29 Trump Is Officially the Enemy of Good
May29 Republicans Promise to Preserve Filibuster
May29 U.K. Elections Set for July
May28 Trump Legal News: Today's the Day
May28 Predictable Things Happen In Gaza
May28 Nate Cohn Finally Adds the Asterisk
May28 Presidential Tracking Poll, May Edition
May28 It Was Twenty Years Ago, Part I: The Quiz
May27 The Libertarians Convene
May27 House and Senate Republicans are Urging Trump to Pick a Moderate as Veep
May27 Can Ruben Gallego Save Joe Biden's Bacon?
May27 Abortion Initiatives Are Leading in Arizona and Florida
May27 Haley Wants to Be in Trump's Cabinet
May27 Trump Has a Three-Part Plan for Dismantling America
May27 What Exactly Is a Rigged Election?
May27 Many Secretaries of State Are Prepared for Election Threats
May27 Louisiana Makes Abortion Pill a Controlled Substance
May26 Sunday Mailbag
May25 Saturday Q&A
May25 Today's Presidential Polls
May24 Flag Day Comes Early This Year
May24 Supreme Court Rules for the Republicans in South Carolina Map Case