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Washington’s Christmas crush & the grinches who want to steal it



Members of Congress want to get home for Christmas, but it’s going to be a long sleigh ride

While they shocked themselves and many critics by approving two essential measures – keeping the US government funded and raising the US debt limit– there is still a huge December agenda that may yet find America’s lawmakers in session and voting on Christmas Eve – and beyond.

This is what has to get done

  • Passage of President Biden’s $2 trillion mega legislative program – known as Build Back Better – that would provide support to families across the county for children, pre-k programs, lower prescription drug costs, more access to less expensive health insurance, senior housing subsidies, financial aid for college – and the largest funding program to accelerate the move to renewable energy.

To pass this bill, the culmination Biden’s first-year agenda, all 50 Democrats in the Senate must vote for it

You have heard the name “Joe Manchin” ad nauseum in accounts of where the Senator will land and either make or break the legislation – and you will hear much more from Manchin and Biden before December is done.

What is crucial is this:  if this bill dies, if the Democrats do not unite and pass it, the president’s legislative program is effectively over in this Congress, and the tectonic plates will be aligning for Republican sweep of the House and Senate next November

So it is all on the line for President Biden, what he wants to achieve, and what his legacy will be.

Biden will insist that Congress stay in session, no matter if it is Christmas or New Year’s, to get this bill passed.

Here is what is up in the air at home

  • The House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack that is investigating the Trump mob insurrection on the Capitol in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The committee is determined to find out definitively what happened that day and in the days leading up to the attack, who in the White House knew what was unfolding and how they participated in the events, and how the police and military authorities responded and what they failed to do. 

There are multiple subpoenas for key players to testify, including Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff and Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official involved in attempts to steer the Justice Department to support the goals of the insurrection.  

But the most important issue right now is whether the committee will have access to all the relevant White House records that document those events. 

Two courts have ruled with no equivocation that Trump does not have and cannot exercise “executive privilege” over those documents and withhold them from the committee. 

Only President Biden can do that, and he wants the materials released in the public interest. The case is headed to the Supreme Court, and how it rules will seal the fate of this unique exercise of congressional oversight. This is a moment of supreme accountability for the proper functioning of America’s democracy.

  • Abortion.  The Supreme Court last week allowed Texas’ massively restrictive abortion law to remain in effect.

This was a bitter disappointment to supporters of abortion rights. 

Yes, the Supreme Court lets the law’s opponents challenge it further in lower courts, but it did not suspend this law – which makes abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy illegal – which is so blatantly contrary to the constitutional right to abortion services established by Roe v Wade in 1973.

Even the Chief Justice wrote that his court had now enabled a law whose “clear purpose and actual effect has been to nullify this Court’s rulings” to stay on the books!

This is a further sign that in 2022 the Supreme Court will overturn Roe and leave an issue so fundamental to the health and welfare of tens of millions of women to the 50 state legislatures across the country. 

If Roe is thrown out, two dozen states will likely move immediately outlaw abortion altogether within their boundaries.

Here is what is up in the air abroad

  • Ukraine.  Will Putin invade or not?  Will Biden’s very clear threats of massive sanctions and economic isolation of Russia, coupled with the prospects of massive weapons deliveries to Ukraine and more US troops rotating through the NATO partners in Eastern Europe, cause Putin to stand down or not?

If Russia invades, Biden will be seen to have failed to stop Russia and to have “lost” Ukraine


A new Cold War will sweep over Europe in 2022.  And in Beijing, President Xi and his military chiefs will be asking themselves, “Well, if Putin could take Ukraine without a war with the US, why can’t we take Taiwan at the same cheap price? And what are we waiting for?”

  • Iran.  The talks over the US and Iran reviving the agreement to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons are stalled, with no visible progress on Iran’s returning to the deal and the US lifting sanctions on the country.

If the talks fail, there will be immense pressure from Israel for a military solution – an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities – to end the nuclear threat that Iran poses.  Will – can – the US veto an Israeli strike?  And if Israel does strike, what does Iran do in response? Is there war throughout the Middle East?

There is more at stake than an Iran nuclear breakout in 2022.  In Pyongyang, President Kim Jong-un will be asking himself, “If Iran can get away with it, I can continue my program too.”

What will we get for Christmas? 

A president who is strong and successful at home, and a resolute leader who can solve crucial foreign policy issues abroad?  Or a presidency plagued by Grinches who sap his political power at home and let America’s adversaries play deadly games in Europe, the Middle East and Asia?

Oh yes:  and happy new year.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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Trump’s campaign tactic – debase and disgrace the legal process



Donald Trump, former president of the United States, hated Arraignment Day I in Manhattan two months ago, the first time a former president had been criminally charged. 

Trump was being forced against his will into a proceeding he had utter contempt for.  He was being arrested and fingerprinted and photographed under an indictment under the jurisdiction of Manhattan in New York City for allegations of hush money payments and fraudulent bookkeeping practices to conceal criminal activity. Trump heard the charges read out against him and he entered a plea of not guilty.

Trump had a terrible day. Trump wore a scowl throughout. His countenance was fearsome.  What Trump hated most about his arraignment in New York is that he had to sit at a table with his counsel side by side with him — equal to him — and with the judge above him looking down on him. Trump could not control the discussion and could not interrupt to make his points.

Trump was subordinate to the judge. He was subordinate to no one as president.

Arraignment Day II

Arraignment Day II in Miami will be worse from Trump, even more stressful.  The charges are substantially more serious:  the alleged violation of federal criminal statutes involving the alleged mishandling and illegal possession of classified documents, lying to legal authorities, and obstruction of justice.  Potential penalties run to years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

Trump throughout his business life had always crafted his affairs to avoid being a defendant. But in his term in office, he was caught up in it big time. He was a defendant in two impeachment trials – again, unprecedented events – and left office in disgrace.

But Trump does not feel disgraced. He never does.  Trump does not have a reverse gear.  He never retreats.  Never admits. Never concedes. Never yields.  Trump is never embarrassed. Trump never feels ashamed. When something goes wrong, it is always the fault of someone else.

And Trump never repents.

Trump can feel this way because Trump is waging war on behalf of his armies in “the final battle” for the future of the county. In his first, fiery post-indictment speech in Georgia, Trump said, “They’ve launched one witch hunt after another to try and stop our movement, to thwart the will of the American people.  In the end, they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you … “Either we have a Deep State, or we have a Democracy…Either the Deep State destroys America, or WE destroy the Deep State.”

It is a powerful formulation, and his true believers love it.

Hours later, In North Carolina, Trump mainlined his distilled message for the Republican crowd:

“We are a failing nation. We are a nation in decline. And now these radical left lunatics want to interfere with our elections by using law enforcement.

It’s totally corrupt and we cannot let it happen.

This is the final battle.

With you at my side we will demolish the Deep State.

We will expel the warmongers from our government.

We will drive out the globalists.

We will cast out the communists.

We will throw off the sick political class that hates our country.

We will roll out the fake news media.

We will defeat Joe Bide and we will liberate America from those villains once and for all.”

Any lesser mortal would be staggered by these events.  Any other presidential candidate would be driven from the race.  But not Trump.

Debase and disgrace

Trump is using the same playbook today as he successfully triggered after being charged in New York:  debase and disgrace the legal process by terming it completely political.  Trump said the federal indictment is “election interference at the highest level.”

Almost every other Republican running for president has adopted this line, insulating Trump from pressure to leave the field.

Trump’s chief opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said after these indictments: “The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation.”

Republican congressperson Nancy Mace: “This is a banana republic. I can’t believe this is happening.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: “Democrats are arresting their political enemies. and they work together in their corrupt ways to get it done.”

Trump is using his affliction to raise millions of dollars from his base.

Trump will likely face Arraignment Day III in Georgia in August.  A state prosecutor is expected to charge Trump with criminal interference in the certification of Georgia’s vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

As of now, there is no sign of cracks in Trump’s support among Republican voters.  There is no surge to another candidate.  What remains to be seen is whether Republican voters, as they see Trump spend his days in courtrooms and his evenings at rallies around the country, reach a conclusion that this is a spectacle too far, too much to bear, and that they want to turn to another conservative populist who stands for them in the political trials— and not the criminal trials – of 2024.

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Donald Trump’s legal woes will serve him well



It’s not often that a U.S. President faces federal indictment, but if it’s going to happen to anyone, it might as well be Donald Trump first.

The news that Donald Trump is facing a federal investigation over the removal of secret documents from the White House in 2021 came as no surprise.

Keen watches of the Washington soap opera have seen this playbook before, albeit in a different form.

There is no doubt that Donald Trump is a Washington outsider. But as seriously damaged as he may be (thanks to the events of January 6), his support base has only grown whenever he faces scrutiny.

For his supporters, his legal woes mirror their own relationship with the government – a giant, unfair beast that picks and chooses its fights.

Trump is accused of storing sensitive documents—including those concerning matters of national security—in boxes, some even in a shower.

The documents were seized last August when investigators from the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.

The Department of Justice has historically avoided charging people who are running for public office. Whether they should do that is a debate for another day. But it’s happening now. And it’s making it all too easy for Trump to claim there is a concerted campaign to get him away from the White House.

Trump exposed the deep state. IF they exist, they probably don’t want him back in power. Whether they exist doesn’t matter really, because plenty of Trump’s supporters agree with him, and believe the secret state is working against them. Call it QAnon, call it a conspiracy – it doesn’t matter in a democracy.

The DoJ now has to go all in. Failing to secure a conviction would be a serious embarrassment for the department.

This is the second time Trump has been indicted in recent months, yet the opinion polls show he only increases his popularity among MAGA and Republican voters. It leaves the Republican party in a difficult position. Support their leading candidate or support the law?

As other Republicans rallied around the embattled candidate, Trump held on to his loyal base of supporters.

For the Democrats, and for Biden, another reality will soon sink in – if Trump becomes President, and they lose office next year, how will a Trump-run DoJ deal with them?

Broadly, the tit-for-tat one-up-manship of U.S. politics is breaking tradition and potentially breaking the country.


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