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Poor Debate Outing: Democrats Panic, Seek to Replace Biden

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Democrats are so panicked over President Joe Biden’s faltering debate performance some are actively discussing what was once unspeakable: replacing him on the ticket.

Three strategists close to three potential Democratic presidential candidates said they had been bombarded with text messages throughout the debate. One adviser said they received pleas for their candidate to step forward as an alternative to Biden.

Another adviser said they had “taken no less than half a dozen key donors texting ‘disaster’ and [the] party needs to do something,” but acknowledged that “not much is possible unless” Biden steps aside.

They were among more than a dozen Democrats who spoke with POLITICO, most of whom were granted anonymity to speak freely.

One major Democratic donor and Biden supporter said it was time for the president to end his campaign. This person described Biden’s night as “the worst performance in history” and said Biden was so “bad that no one will pay attention to Trump’s lies.”

“Biden needs to drop out. No question about it,” the donor said in a text message, proposing an alternate ticket led by the governors of Maryland and Michigan.

At least two prominent potential 2028 contenders — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and California Gov. Gavin Newsom — said they stood by Biden even after his performance.

Newsom, when pressed on MSNBC if Biden should step down, said that talk is “unhelpful” and “unnecessary.”

“You don’t turn your back because of one performance,” Newsom said. “What kind of party does that?”

Biden struggled throughout much of the debate, the first 2024 general election matchup between the president and former President Donald Trump. The 81-year-old president has long faced questions about his fitness for office, and the debate — the earliest general election matchup of its kind in modern political history — had been a gambit by the Biden campaign to reset the narrative around the race.

For weeks, Democrats had hoped a strong performance by Biden in the debate could ease concerns about his age. Instead, it did the opposite.

“No Labels and Dean Phillips won this debate,” said a former senior Biden White House official, referring to the outsider efforts to push a different candidate, not named Trump or Biden, into the race.

The pleas from within the party, while unlikely to actually result in a change atop the ticket, reflect a major turn in the campaign. Incumbent presidents have traditionally underperformed during their first debates — inundated by the demands of the job and often unable to dedicate serious time to preparation. But Thursday’s debate was unique in that it affirmed an existing preconception of Biden among many voters as a candidate past his sell-by debate.

 

One adviser to major Democratic Party donors said they were texting from a meeting of donors in Atlanta on Thursday night, some writing “wtf.”

“Our only hope is that he bows out, we have a brokered convention, or dies,” the donor adviser said. “Otherwise we are fucking dead.”

Nonetheless, the likelihood of a brokered convention or Biden stepping aside are unlikely, a reality that even those who privately complained about Biden’s performance acknowledged.

“Only one guy can decide, and it’s him,” said one Democratic strategist.

The Biden campaign pushed back on the critique of the president, with an adviser calling him “the only person who has ever beaten Donald Trump.”

“He will do it again,” the adviser said. “Donald Trump did not give voters any reason to vote for him tonight. On the issues, the American people are with Joe Biden.”

Asked if Biden would be dropping out, one campaign aide said “of course not.” The aide said the hour just after the debate — from 11 p.m. to midnight — was the campaign’s strongest hour of grassroots fundraising since it launched.

In a statement, Biden’s campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon said Biden “presented a positive and winning vision for the future of America,” while Trump “offered a dark and backwards window into what America will look like if he steps foot back in the White House.”

Stephanie Cutter, a Democratic consultant, said, “President Biden is the Democratic nominee and that’s not changing because of one debate performance.”

She said, “We need to calm down and stay focused because Donald Trump certainly didn’t gain any voters tonight.”

But for many Democrats on Thursday night, the view was far dimmer. One down-ballot statewide Democrat running for election said: “I mean, it’s not great all around. Our president has a speech impediment, a cold, and is 81.”

“No one expected a master class in debating from Joe Biden, but no one expected this nose dive,” said a senior adviser to top Democratic officials. “He was bad on message, bad on substance, bad on counter punching, bad on presentation, bad on non-verbals. There was no bright spot in this debate for him. The only bright spot is that this happened in June and not October.”

Source: Politico

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Trump Has Absolute Immunity for Official Acts, US Supreme Court Rules

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The United States Supreme Court has for the first time recognised that former presidents have immunity from prosecution for certain actions taken in office, as it threw out a judicial decision rejecting Donald Trump’s bid to shield himself from criminal charges involving his efforts to undo his 2020 election loss.

The court on Monday ruled 6-3 that while former presidents enjoy immunity for actions they take within their constitutional authority, they do not for actions taken in a private capacity.

The ruling marked the first time since the nation’s 18th-century founding that the Supreme Court has declared that former presidents may be shielded from criminal charges in any instance.

The decision will boost Trump’s defence against federal charges over his efforts to overturn the 2020 vote, which he lost to President Joe Biden. It could also affect similar state-level election interference charges in Georgia.

Trump was quick to welcome the ruling. “BIG WIN FOR OUR CONSTITUTION AND DEMOCRACY. PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN,” the former president wrote in a social media post.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced the landmark decision on behalf of the court’s six-justice conservative majority. The court’s three liberal justices dissented.

The Supreme Court justices argued that enabling the prosecution of former presidents over their official acts in office could open the door for political retribution and despotism.

“The President enjoys no immunity for his unofficial acts, and not everything the President does is official. The President is not above the law. But Congress may not criminalize the President’s conduct in carrying out the responsibilities of the Executive Branch under the Constitution,” they wrote.

They stressed that the immunity does not apply just to Trump but “to all occupants of the Oval Office, regardless of politics, policy, or party.”

Three of the six justices who backed the ruling were appointed by Trump himself.

Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor forcefully rejected the majority’s opinion on Monday, arguing that the ruling effectively legalises abuse of power.

“The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the country, and possibly the world. When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution,” she wrote.

“Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune.”

Source: Aljazeera

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Guilty As Charged! Trump Convicted in Hush-Money Case, Awaits Sentencing

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A New York jury convicted Donald Trump on all charges in his hush-money case on Thursday in a seismic development barely five months ahead of the election where he seeks to recapture the White House.

The verdict makes Trump the first criminally convicted former US president but does not prevent him from campaigning for another term.

The first criminal trial of a former US president ended with the 77-year-old Trump found guilty on each of the 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide a payment meant to silence porn star Stormy Daniels.Trump – who was released without bail and is all but certain to appeal – initially sat still in the drab Manhattan courtroom, shoulders dipping.

Addressing reporters outside minutes later, though, he branded the result a “disgrace” and “rigged,” vowing that the “real verdict” would come from voters in the November 5 presidential election.

The conviction thrusts the United States into uncharted political territory.

However, it does not bar Trump from his continuing his White House run, even in the unlikely event that Judge Juan Merchan sentences him to prison.

Sentencing was set for July 11 – right before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where Trump is due to receive the party’s formal nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the election.

Biden’s campaign issued a statement saying that the trial showed “no one is above the law.” It added that “the threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater.”

The 12-member jury deliberated for more than 11 hours over two days before announcing the unanimous conclusion within a matter of minutes.

Merchan thanked the jurors for completing the “difficult and stressful task.”

Their identities had been kept secret throughout proceedings, a rare practice more often seen in cases involving mafia or other violent defendants.

– Election conspiracy –

Trump was convicted of falsifying business records to reimburse his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 payment to Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election, when her claim to have had sex with him could have proved fatal to his campaign.

The trial featured lengthy testimony from the adult performer, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who described to the court in graphic detail what she says was a 2006 sexual encounter with the married Trump.

Prosecutors successfully laid out a case alleging that the hush money and the illegal covering up of the payment was part of a broader crime to prevent voters from knowing about Trump’s behaviour.

Trump’s defence attorneys had countered that “trying to influence an election” was simply “democracy” and that the former president did nothing wrong.

– Campaigning in courthouse –

The trial has distracted Trump from his campaign to unseat Biden.

However, he milked the media attention throughout, with daily speeches in front of the cameras outside the courtroom in which he complained about being a political victim.

Yet after teasing the prospect for weeks, Trump — who denied ever having sex with Daniels at a 2006 celebrity golf tournament — opted not to testify.

Keith Gaddie, a political analyst and professor at Texas Christian University, said the political impact of the shocking events has yet to be determined.

“It probably doesn’t move a lot of votes, but in particular states with particular swing votes, it could matter around the margins. So in particularly tight races, it can tip things back from one direction to the other,” she said.

The Republican, who made his name as a brash real estate mogul before a stunning ascent to the nation’s highest office in the 2016 election, now faces prison or, more likely, probation.

In theory, he could face up to four years in jail for each count of falsifying business records but legal experts said as a first-time offender he is unlikely to go behind bars.

An appeal could take months to complete.

Should he win the presidency he will not be able to pardon himself, given that the case was not brought by the federal government but by the state of New York, where only the governor could clear his name.

Trump also faces federal and state charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election won by Biden, and for hoarding secret documents after leaving the White House.

AFP

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Gunman Kills 10 in US Walmart Shooting

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A gunman shot and killed multiple people in a Walmart store late Tuesday in the US state of Virginia, police said, adding that the single shooter suspect is also dead.

The outburst of gun violence in the city of Chesapeake comes just before Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, and follows another mass shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado late Saturday that left five people dead.

“We were able to find multiple fatalities and multiple injured parties,” Chesapeake Police Department officer Leo Kosinski told reporters at the scene, saying rapid response officers and tactical teams entered the store “immediately” after arriving on the scene.

“We believe it is a single shooter and that single shooter is deceased at this time,” he said, without clarifying how the suspected shooter died.

Emergency calls were first made just after 10:00 pm Tuesday (0300 GMT Wednesday), while the store was still open.

News footage showed a major police presence at the scene with Kosinski saying several officers and investigators were carefully sweeping the store and securing the area.

The exact number of fatalities remained unclear. Kosinski told reporters that police believed no more than 10 people were killed.

Walmart, the largest retailer in the United States, issued a statement early Wednesday saying: “We are shocked at this tragic event.”

The company added that it was “praying for those impacted, the community and our associates. We’re working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates.”

AFP

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