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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Destructive DeSantis

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The early stages of the 2024 race have begun.

 Jill Lawrence at The Bulwark:

Because Trump has so often used his pardon power as a political tool, as Gabriel Schoenfeld noted in The Bulwark yesterday, it is appalling but certainly no surprise that he has repeatedly floated pardons for hundreds of people convicted in connection with the Capitol attack, most recently at the CNN town hall. Now we have DeSantis, so far the only potential intra-party threat to Trump’s comeback plan, holding out the possibility of pardons on “day one” for January 6th defendants—including Trump himself.


Last week, NBC News reported that aides from the governor’s office were soliciting and possibly tracking presidential campaign contributions from lobbyists while the state budget, filled with projects important to them, was still awaiting DeSantis’s line-item veto pen and eventual signature. Ten lobbyists told NBC this was unheard of, especially with their business pending on his desk. It’s unclear whether it was illegal, but the unsavory ethics and optics are obvious.


There are many ways I would consider DeSantis a greater threat to the public welfare than Trump, given his cruel Florida record on education, race, abortion, immigration, and the health, safety, and rights of the LGBTQ community. He’s anti-science and so is his surgeon general, as Scientific American argues. He’s even attacked the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform law that Trump signed and few in Congress opposed.

All of this is related, but my focus here is the disturbing signals DeSantis is sending about his moral code and U.S. democracy. They suggest Trump is not the only White House contender who, if elected, would feel entitled to run roughshod over America’s laws, values, and the constitutional rights of people who don’t look or think like them.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Trump and Memorial Day

 Our books have discussed Trump's low character.  He cheated his way out of the Vietnam draft, and continues to dishonor American veterans and war dead.

In 2020, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote at The Atlantic:
When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.

Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.


 On Memorial Day 2017, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery, a short drive from the White House. He was accompanied on this visit by John Kelly, who was then the secretary of homeland security, and who would, a short time later, be named the White House chief of staff. The two men were set to visit Section 60, the 14-acre area of the cemetery that is the burial ground for those killed in America’s most recent wars. Kelly’s son Robert is buried in Section 60. A first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Robert Kelly was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. He was 29. Trump was meant, on this visit, to join John Kelly in paying respects at his son’s grave, and to comfort the families of other fallen service members. But according to sources with knowledge of this visit, Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” Kelly (who declined to comment for this story) initially believed, people close to him said, that Trump was making a ham-handed reference to the selflessness of America’s all-volunteer force. But later he came to realize that Trump simply does not understand non-transactional life choices.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Tentative Debt Deal

Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. 

 Jordan Weissman at Semafor:

President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced Saturday night that they had reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling and avert a catastrophic federal default with a bit over a week to go before the deadline.

Afterwards, a quick consensus formed among much of the right and left: Republicans got blanked.

The agreement would temporarily freeze a portion of non-defense spending, while temporarily tightening the food stamp program’s work requireme​​nts for childless adults, and enacting modest changes to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The early details prompted furious reactions from members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, who’d hoped to extract vastly more sweeping budget cuts and changes to the federal safety net in return for hiking the borrowing limit.

“This ‘deal’ is insanity,” tweeted South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman. “A $4T debt ceiling increase with virtually no cuts is not what we agreed to.” North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop tweeted a vomiting emoji after a GOP conference call, and complained about “RINOs congratulating McCarthy for getting almost zippo.”

Saturday, May 27, 2023

DeSantis Squeezes Money from Lobbyists

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses campaign finance.

Matt Dixon and Jonathan Allen at NBC:
Officials who work for Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration — not his campaign — have been sending text messages to Florida lobbyists soliciting political contributions for DeSantis' presidential bid, a breach of traditional norms that has raised ethical and legal questions and left many here in the state capital shocked.

NBC News reviewed text messages from four DeSantis administration officials, including those directly in the governor's office and with leadership positions in state agencies. They requested the recipient of the message contribute to the governor’s campaign through a specific link that appeared to track who is giving as part of a “bundle” program.

“The bottom line is that the administration appears to be keeping tabs on who is giving, and are doing it using state staff,” a longtime Florida lobbyist said. “You are in a prisoner’s dilemma. They are going to remain in power. We all understand that.”

In 2011, Rich Galen explained how Texas Governor Rick Perry raised so much in-state money for his doomed presidential campaign:

  • We do know that more than half Perry's money came from the donors in the State of Texas. As a very wise Texan told me when Perry first announced:
We are a Texas business. Perry is either going to be President of the United States or he's going to be Governor of Texas for the next three years. In either case, our name is going to be on that first finance report.
  • We also know that about $13.5 million of Perry's money (nearly 80 percent) has come from donors who gave $2,500 which is the maximum amount. They can't give again in this primary season so we can assume the Perry campaign has been ramping up its small-donor program - the folks who give more modest amounts, but can be hit up again and again.


Thursday, May 25, 2023

DeSantis Launches, Badly

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The early stages of the 2024 race have begun.

Ron DeSantis officially launched his campaign with an odd Twitter Spaces event with Elon Musk.  Technical difficulties delayed the start for 26 minutes while users could hear hold music, buzzing, and unidentified crosstalk. From Politico Playbook:

Team DeSantis immediately tried to spin it as evidence that the governor’s immense popularity “broke the internet,” to paraphrase one campaign release. That’s not true, of course: The internet was just fine; the launch is what had problems. And if his popularity is so vast, it seems odd that after the Twitter Spaces restarted, half of the audience from the first attempt never returned.

Let’s be clear: This was a bad night for DeSantis.

It was supposed to be a tabula-rasa moment — a chance to reset the narrative around his campaign, which has seen its poll numbers drop and Trump’s lead widen. It was a moment to project strength and competence and give his donors and supporters a reason to get excited again.

Instead, a different narrative is taking hold …

POLITICO: “The risk for DeSantis is the prospect of the botched rollout forming a narrative and cutting against the very argument he is making to Republican primary voters — that he is a competent alternative to the chaotic presidency of former President Donald Trump. The governor has been portraying himself in public speeches and private donor meetings as a controlled, low-drama politician who embraces many of Trump’s policy positions without the trademark unpredictability. But on Wednesday, DeSantis — who fiercely values control — was the picture of disorder.”

National Review: “In theory, one advantage of an unconventional announcement in a Twitter Spaces conversation is its informality — it’s more like a live, interactive podcast. Because one of the knocks on DeSantis is that he’s too rehearsed and calculating, it could have offered DeSantis the opportunity to show his lighter side and in an unscripted environment — to joke and banter with the other participants. Instead, when called on at first, he launched into a standard stump speech.


As politicians often like to remind us reporters: Twitter isn’t real life. That’s true: It’s not where the GOP primary voters are. Hell, it’s not where the vast majority of Americans are. And we cannot imagine that anyone’s vote will ultimately be decided on the basis of technical difficulties in a Twitter Spaces event.

BUT: Twitter is where journalists and other political obsessives spend an inordinate amount of time. And as such, it has an outsize impact on which narratives take hold in national media. Which is why the DeSantis gambit was so risky: If everything had gone off without a hitch, you’d be reading stories this morning about what a forward-looking campaign he’s running — one that is experimenting with new ways to reach voters, with an innovative approach befitting a 44-year-old presidential candidate.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Trump Gets Worse

Our 2020 book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.

Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey and Adriana Usero at WP:

Embracing extreme positions is nothing new for Trump: Since launching his 2016 campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and then pledging to ban Muslims from entering the country, he has promoted divisive policies, made inflammatory comments and prompted constitutional showdowns with Congress and the courts. But a return to the White House, in Trump’s own articulation, would be his chance to take revenge on his political opponents and push even further on his most polarizing programs.

...In the storyline Trump presents, he is always the victim, but so are his supporters: The shared experience of suffering through conflicts brings them closer and strengthens their bond, according to Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian at New York University and the author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.”

“When authoritarian leaders lose office, they come back, like, 10 times worse — they never get less extreme, they always get more extreme,” Ben-Ghiat said. “January 6 was a profoundly radicalizing event for the base, for the GOP and for Trump himself, because even assaulting the Capitol you could get away with. His campaign events have to be seen as that of an extremist radicalizing people and emotionally reeducating people to hate people.”

Tuesday, May 23, 2023


 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the conservative movement, which is not good.

Right-wingers saying the loud part out loud:

Replacing Feinstein

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections

 At AP, Michael Blood reports on the possibility that Governor Newsom might have to name a replacement for ailing Senator Dianne Feinstein:

When California Sen. Kamala Harris resigned to become vice president, Newsom faced pressure from both Black, Latino and other groups over a replacement pick. Some felt that he should replace Harris, the only Black woman in the U.S. Senate, with another Black woman. But others thought it was past time for California to have its first Latino senator, and Newsom chose then-Secretary of State Alex Padilla for the job.

But he later promised that if Feinstein’s seat became vacant, he would choose a Black woman to replace her. Should Feinstein step aside, he’ll be expected to make good on the promise.

“He made the commitment and I do not believe there is any wiggle room for the governor not to honor his commitment,” said Kerman Maddox, a Los Angeles-based Democratic strategist and fundraiser who is Black.

“Newsom must honor his promise to appoint a Black woman” if Feinstein resigns, said Democratic Assemblymember Lori Wilson, who heads the Legislative Black Caucus in Sacramento. “I trust him at his word. We currently have zero Black women in the Senate, so if the opportunity becomes available the governor must act to help remedy this lack of representation.”

Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney pointed out that any presidential ambitions that Newsom might harbor would be damaged if he backed away from his promise to name a Black woman, noting that the candidate favored by Black voters has won the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination for every cycle since 1992.

“The last thing you want to do if you are thinking about running for president is alienating the nominating wing of the Democratic Party,” Pitney said.


Monday, May 22, 2023

Abuses by Trump Appointee

Our 2020 book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. 

 David Folkenflik at NPR:

On the day after his confirmation as chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media in June 2020, Michael Pack met with a career employee to discuss which senior leaders at the agency and the Voice of America should be forced out due to their perceived political beliefs.

"Hates Republicans," the employee had written about one in a memo. "Openly despises Trump and Republicans," they said of another. A third, the employee wroe, "is not on the Trump team." The list went on. (Firing someone over political affiliation is typically a violation of federal civil service law.)

Within two days, Pack was examining ways to remove suspect staffers, a new federal investigation found. The executives he sidelined were later reinstated and exonerated by the inspector general's office of the U.S. State Department. Pack ultimately turned his attention to agency executives, network chiefs, and journalists themselves.

The report, sent to the White House and Congressional leaders earlier this month, found that the Trump appointee repeatedly abused the powers of his office, broke laws and regulations, and engaged in gross mismanagement.

Pack, a slight man with an unassuming manner, had tight ties to major conservative figures. He briefly led the Claremont Institute in California, which is influential in Republican circles; he previously developed two documentaries for public television that Steve Bannon helped to produce. Bannon later became Trump's campaign manager and chief White House political strategist.

In early 2020, his nomination still languishing, Pack released his documentary about U.S. Justice Clarence Thomas, based on extensive interviews with the jurist and his wife, the conservative activist Ginni Thomas. He reportedly became friends with the Thomases, writing a book with the former White House attorney who helped smooth Thomas' path to confirmation in 1991.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

What Trump Would Do

Our 2020 book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.

Sophia Cai at Politico writes that Trump's agenda would represent an unprecedented power grab by the executive branch:

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Urban and Rural

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.  

Philip Bump at WP:
Even as recently as 2000, four of the 10 most populous cities had Republican mayors. In recent years, that number has been zero.

That itself is a reflection of how the politics of place have shifted in the last two decades. Presidential election results show how urban areas have moved to the left — and rural areas much more sharply to the right. In 2000, large urban counties backed Democrat Al Gore by 18 points more than the national margin while rural counties backed George W. Bush by 15 points more. In 2020, that gap surged to 27 points in urban areas and 37 points in rural ones....

Why this shift? Well, consider another way of looking at the change in the leadership of America’s most populous cities: race and ethnicity.

A century ago, the mayors of America’s most populous cities were White men, uniformly. Slowly, that changed. Now, none of the leaders of the five most populous cities is a White man. In 2000, three still were.
In 2021, The Washington Post published research considering why the gap between urban and rural areas was growing so wide. The conclusion? Views of race.

“Racial attitudes among all Americans best explain the gap in vote choices between rural and urban areas,” the authors wrote. “[T]he different rates of racism denial among rural and urban Americans appears to explain about three-quarters of the urban-rural gap in voting for Trump.”

Friday, May 19, 2023

What Happened in the Midterm

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.

From Catalist:

The 2022 election defied conventional wisdom and historical trends. In a typical midterm election year with one-party control of the presidency, House and Senate, the incumbent party would expect major losses. Instead, Democrats re-elected every incumbent senator and expanded their Senate majority by a seat, won the overwhelming majority of heavily contested gubernatorial elections, gained control of 4 state legislative chambers, and only narrowly lost the U.S. House.

Democrats won in the majority of heavily contested races, with electorates in these contests looking more like the 2020 and 2018 electorates than a typical midterm. Unlike recent midterms, which were wave elections with across-the-board, national swings, there was less of a national trend in the 2022 midterm. In this analysis we will present national results based on the U.S. House vote, where Republicans outperformed Democrats, as well as analysis from states that had highly contested races, according to the non-partisan Cook Political Report, where Democrats outperformed Republicans. Unlike other recent midterm years, our analysis shows a stark contrast between the electorate in areas with one or more highly contested House, Senate or gubernatorial races versus those with less contested races.

Gen Z and Millennial voters had exceptional levels of turnout, with young voters in heavily contested states exceeding their 2018 turnout by 6% among those who were eligible in both elections.1 Further, 65% of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 supported Democrats, cementing their role as a key part of a winning coalition for the party. While young voters were historically evenly split between the parties, they are increasingly voting for Democrats. Many young voters who showed up in 2018 and 2020 to elect Democrats continued to do the same in 2022.

Extreme “MAGA” Republicans underperformed. Across heavily contested Senate, Gubernatorial, and Congressional races, voters penalized “MAGA” Republicans. Candidates who were outspoken election deniers did 1 to 4 points worse than other Republicans, contributing to their losses in important close races. Of course, election denial is one of many extreme positions associated with “MAGA” Republicans, so this analysis likely reflects relatively extreme stances on other issues, including abortion rights, as well as Republicans such as Kari Lake (Arizona gubernatorial) and Doug Mastriano (Pennsylvania gubernatorial) who ran relatively insular campaigns.

Women voters pushed Democrats over the top in heavily contested races, where abortion rights were often their top issue. After Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court overturned abortion rights, a disproportionate number of women voters registered to vote in states with highly contested elections. At the same time, polls showed Democratic women and men indicating they were more engaged in the election. While relative turnout by gender remained largely stable, Democratic performance improved over 2020 among women in highly contested races, going from 55% to 57% support. The biggest improvement was among white non-college women (+4% support).

Democrats largely retained their winning 2020 coalition in heavily contested races, with some exceptions. Turnout and support among voters by race, education, gender, and other demographic factors remained relatively stable in heavily contested races. Such stability does not usually occur between presidential and midterm years, demonstrating how the Democratic coalition blunted a Republican “red wave.” One notable shift includes Black voters. While they continued to play an outsized role in contributing to Democratic victories, Black turnout largely fell in contested races. Meanwhile, Democratic support among Black voters rose in Southern states with heavily contested elections, but fell in less contested states.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Noncollege Whites in Decline

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.  

Ronald Brownstein at CNN:
Demographic change continued to chip away at the cornerstone of the Republican electoral coalition in 2022, a new analysis of Census data has found.

White voters without a four-year college degree, the indispensable core of the modern GOP coalition, declined in 2022 as a share of both actual and eligible voters, according to a study of Census results by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who specializes in electoral turnout.

McDonald’s finding, provided exclusively to CNN, shows that the 2022 election continued the long-term trend dating back at least to the 1970s of a sustained fall in the share of the votes cast by working-class White voters who once constituted the brawny backbone of the Democratic coalition, but have since become the absolute foundation of Republican campaign fortunes.

As non-college Whites have receded in the electorate over that long arc, non-White adults and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Whites with at least a four-year college degree, have steadily increased their influence. “This is a trend that is baked into the demographic change of the country, so [it] is likely going to accelerate over the next ten years,” says McDonald, author of the recent book “From Pandemic to Insurrection: Voting in the 2020 Presidential Election.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Good Night for Dems

Caroline Vakil at The Hill:
Democrats had a lot to celebrate on Tuesday night.

In one of the most closely watched races of the year, Democratic candidate Heather Boyd beat Republican Katie Ford in the special election for a Pennsylvania state House seat outside Philadelphia, allowing them to keep control of the lower chamber.

The race was seen as particularly critical since Democrats feared Republicans would use a potential majority to push through restrictive measures relating to abortion and LGBTQ issues.

Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, Fla., Democrats scored an upset after Donna Deegan (D) won the mayoral race there against Republican Daniel Davis, who was backed by DeSantis. The election offered Democrats some relief given Duval County’s red leanings, suggesting that Democrats can still be competitive in the state even as Florida has trended Republican in recent years.

Meanwhile, in Colorado Springs, independent candidate Yemi Mobolade won the mayoral race against Republican Wayne Williams, a former Colorado secretary of state. The election delivered yet another blow to Republicans given that El Paso County, where Colorado Springs is situated, was a county that former President Trump won by 11 points in 2020.

With the Jacksonville flip, the largest city with a Republican mayor is Fort Worth, TX (pop.  918,915).

Aaron Blake at WP:
All told, according to the Daily Kos Elections numbers, Democrats have overperformed the 2020 presidential results by an average of six points across 18 state legislative races this year. (And again, that was a good election for them.) They’ve also beaten their 2016 margins by an average of 10 points.

And that doesn’t include the highest offices on the ballot thus far in 2023. In a crucial Wisconsin state Supreme Court race, the Democratic-aligned candidate won by 11 points, ending 15 years of conservative control of the court. And in the only special congressional election of 2023 so far, in Virginia, Democrats beat their 2020 margin by double digits.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Rudy and the Pardons

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good.

Zoë Richards at NBC:

A woman who said she worked for Rudy Giuliani during the last two years of the Trump administration alleged in a wide-ranging lawsuit that Giuliani, the former president’s personal attorney, discussed selling presidential pardons and detailed plans to overturn the 2020 election results.

In a 70-page complaint filed in state court in New York on Monday, Noelle Dunphy said that after Giuliani hired her in January 2019 he sexually assaulted and harassed her, refused to pay her wages and often made "sexist, racist, and antisemitic remarks," adding that she had recordings of numerous interactions with him.

Dunphy, who is seeking $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages, said Giuliani had hired her for $1 million a year in addition to expenses and pro bono legal representation for a domestic abuse case against a former partner. But after she was hired, Dunphy alleged, Giuliani kept her employment “secret” and paid her only about $12,000 and reimbursed some of her business expenses, owing her $1,988,000 in unpaid wages. She said she was fired in January 2021.

Giuliani denied the allegations through a spokesperson.

Monday, May 15, 2023

The God Gap

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.  

 Ryan Burge at Politico:

The overall sense that arises from the Religion Census is that the Democrats will continue to gain ground in suburban counties that are predominantly white and where religion is fading in size and importance. In so-called Blue Wall states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, Republicans will have a harder time winning over voters in suburban Milwaukee, Detroit, or Philadelphia with messaging about six-week abortion bans. On the other hand, the shifts in the religious landscape make it more likely that the GOP can hold off Democratic advances in important states like Texas and Florida. As more Hispanic immigrants come to those areas who are deeply religious and culturally conservative, Democratic messaging on social issues will not appeal to these types of votes.

It’s hard to overstate this point. In 1990, just seven percent of Americans were non-religious — 30 years later, the “nones” had quadrupled. And new data indicates that nearly half of Generation Z has no religious affiliation. In 2020, 46 percent of the votes cast for Biden came from non-religious voters. That could easily be half of his base in a bid for reelection. Both parties have been slow to react to this changing religious landscape. Where the remaining religious Americans live and vote is a crucial question for the electoral map in 2024 and beyond. Both parties are ignoring these changing dynamics at their own peril.

Sunday, May 14, 2023


Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the impact of social media and campaign technology.

Computer engineers and tech-inclined political scientists have warned for years that cheap, powerful artificial intelligence tools would soon allow anyone to create fake images, video and audio that was realistic enough to fool voters and perhaps sway an election.
The synthetic images that emerged were often crude, unconvincing and costly to produce, especially when other kinds of misinformation were so inexpensive and easy to spread on social media. The threat posed by AI and so-called deepfakes always seemed a year or two away.

No more.

Sophisticated generative AI tools can now create cloned human voices and hyper-realistic images, videos and audio in seconds, at minimal cost. When strapped to powerful social media algorithms, this fake and digitally created content can spread far and fast and target highly specific audiences, potentially taking campaign dirty tricks to a new low.


Former President Donald Trump, who is running in 2024, has shared AI-generated content with his followers on social media. A manipulated video of CNN host Anderson Cooper that Trump shared on his Truth Social platform on Friday, which distorted Cooper’s reaction to the CNN town hall this past week with Trump, was created using an AI voice-cloning tool.


Saturday, May 13, 2023

DeSantis Falters

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The early stages of the 2024 race have begun.

Shane Goldmacher, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan at NYT:

In six short months from November to May, Mr. DeSantis’s 2024 run has faltered before it has even begun.

Allies have abandoned him. Tales of his icy interpersonal touch have spread. Donors have groused. And a legislative session in Tallahassee designed to burnish his conservative credentials has instead coincided with a drop in the polls.

His decision not to begin any formal campaign until after the Florida legislative session — allowing him to cast himself as a conservative fighter who not only won but actually delivered results — instead opened a window of opportunity for Mr. Trump. The former president filled the void with personal attacks and a heavy rotation of negative advertising from his super PAC. Combined with Mr. DeSantis’s cocooning himself in the right-wing media and the Trump team’s success in outflanking him on several fronts, the governor has lost control of his own national narrative.

Now, as Mr. DeSantis’s Tallahassee-based operation pivots to formally entering the race in the coming weeks, Mr. DeSantis and his allies are retooling for a more aggressive new phase. His staunchest supporters privately acknowledge that Mr. DeSantis needs to recalibrate a political outreach and media strategy that has allowed Mr. Trump to define the race.

A book tour that was supposed to have introduced him nationally was marked by missteps that deepened concerns about his readiness for the biggest stage. He took positions on two pressing domestic and international issues — abortion and the war in Ukraine — that generated second-guessing and backlash among some allies and would-be benefactors. And the moves he has made to appeal to the hard right — escalating his feud with Disney, signing a strict six-week abortion ban — have unnerved donors who are worried about the general election.

“I was in the DeSantis camp,” said Andrew Sabin, a metals magnate who gave the Florida governor $50,000 last year. “But he started opening his mouth, and a lot of big donors said his views aren’t tolerable.” He specifically cited abortion and Ukraine.

Friday, May 12, 2023

The Corruption of Lindsay Graham

Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. 

Will Saletan at The Bulwark:

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Trump's CNN Town Hall

Our 2020 book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.

 Lloyd Green at The Guardian:

On Wednesday night, Donald Trump demonstrated why he leads the 2024 Republican field. The audience was his from “hello”. The town hall was a prime-time infomercial. Kaitlan Collins, the moderator, was no match. For good measure, he called her a “nasty person” and questioned her intelligence.

Trump arrived amid a standing ovation and repeatedly tangled with CNN’s Collins. He directed congressional Republicans to go over the fiscal cliff and trigger a default but waffled over a federal abortion ban.

The 45th president repeated the lies that birthed the insurrection and repeatedly asserted the 2016 election was “rigged”. He expressed no remorse for Mike Pence almost winding up on makeshift gallows.

Trump beatified Ashli Babbitt, the Capitol rioter shot dead and committed to pardoning most of the January 6 rioters. For Trump and his minions, law and order hinges on “who” and “whom”. As for E Jean Carroll, Trump ridiculed her and the $5m verdict. She was a “whack job”, he said.

Immigration and energy remain Trump talking points, catnip for independents and working-class voters alike. The Democrats ought to start worrying. In 2020, Covid sapped Trump’s appeal while Biden possessed the luxury of a basement campaign. That’s gone. Trump is a natural counter-puncher. He shows no sign of letting up. 2024 is shaping up as 2016 redux.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Santos Indictment

Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. 

US Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York:

A 13-count indictment was unsealed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging George Anthony Devolder Santos, better known as “George Santos,” a United States Congressman representing the Third District of New York, with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives.

The indictment was returned yesterday under seal by a federal grand jury sitting in Central Islip, New York. Santos was arrested this morning and will be arraigned this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Anne T. Donnelly, District Attorney, Nassau County, announced the charges.

“This indictment seeks to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “Taken together, the allegations in the indictment charge Santos with relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself. He used political contributions to line his pockets, unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and lied to the House of Representatives. My Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively root out corruption and self-dealing from our community’s public institutions and hold public officials accountable to the constituents who elected them.”

“The Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section is committed to rooting out fraud and corruption, especially when committed by our elected officials,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “As alleged, Santos engaged in criminal conduct intended to deceive and defraud the American public. As this indictment reflects, the Department of Justice will hold accountable anyone who engages in such criminality.”

“As today's enforcement action demonstrates, the FBI remains committed to holding all equally accountable under the law. As we allege, Congressman Santos committed federal crimes, and he will now be forced to face the consequences of his actions. I would like to commend the diligent efforts of the investigative and prosecutorial teams in this matter,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.

“At the height of the pandemic in 2020, George Santos allegedly applied for and received unemployment benefits while he was employed and running for Congress,” stated District Attorney Donnelly. “As charged in the indictment, the defendant’s alleged behavior continued during his second run for Congress when he pocketed campaign contributions and used that money to pay down personal debts and buy designer clothing. This indictment is the result of a lengthy collaboration between law enforcement agencies, and I thank our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their dedication to rooting out public corruption.”

Mr. Peace also thanked the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, the New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL), and the Queens County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.

As alleged in the indictment, Santos, who was elected to Congress last November and sworn in as the U.S. Representative for New York’s Third Congressional District on January 7, 2023, engaged in multiple fraudulent schemes.

Fraudulent Political Contribution Solicitation Scheme

Beginning in September 2022, during his successful campaign for Congress, Santos operated a limited liability company (Company #1) through which he allegedly defrauded prospective political supporters. Santos enlisted a Queens-based political consultant (Person #1) to communicate with prospective donors on Santos’s behalf. Santos allegedly directed Person #1 to falsely tell donors that, among other things, their money would be used to help elect Santos to the House, including by purchasing television advertisements. In reliance on these false statements, two donors (Contributor #1 and Contributor #2) each transferred $25,000 to Company #1’s bank account, which Santos controlled.

As alleged in the indictment, shortly after the funds were received into Company #1’s bank account, the money was transferred into Santos’s personal bank accounts—in one instance laundered through two of Santos’s personal accounts. Santos allegedly then used much of that money for personal expenses. Among other things, Santos allegedly used the funds to make personal purchases (including of designer clothing), to withdraw cash, to discharge personal debts, and to transfer money to his associates.

Unemployment Insurance Fraud Scheme

Beginning in approximately February 2020, Santos was employed as a Regional Director of a Florida-based investment firm (Investment Firm #1), where he earned an annual salary of approximately $120,000. By late-March 2020, in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, new legislation was signed into law that provided additional federal funding to assist out-of-work Americans during the pandemic.

In mid-June 2020, although he was employed and was not eligible for unemployment benefits, Santos applied for government assistance through the New York State Department of Labor, allegedly claiming falsely to have been unemployed since March 2020. From that point until April 2021—when Santos was working and receiving a salary on a near-continuous basis and during his unsuccessful run for Congress—he falsely affirmed each week that he was eligible for unemployment benefits when he was not. As a result, Santos allegedly fraudulently received more than $24,000 in unemployment insurance benefits.

False Statements to the House of Representatives

Finally, the indictment describes Santos’s alleged efforts to mislead the House of Representatives and the public about his financial condition in connection with each of his two Congressional campaigns.

Santos, like all candidates for the House, had a legal duty to file with the Clerk of the House of Representatives a Financial Disclosure Statement (House Disclosures) before each election. In each of his House Disclosures, Santos was personally required to give a full and complete accounting of his assets, income, and liabilities, among other things. He certified that his House Disclosures were true, complete, and correct.

In May 2020, in connection with his first campaign for election to the House, Santos filed two House Disclosures in which he allegedly falsely certified that, during the reporting period, his only earned income consisted of salary, commission, and bonuses totaling $55,000 from another company (Company #2), and that the only compensation exceeding $5,000 he received from a single source was an unspecified commission bonus from Company #2. In actuality, Santos allegedly overstated the income he received from Company #2 and altogether failed to disclose the salary he received from Investment Firm #1.

In September 2022, in connection with his second campaign for election to the House, Santos filed another House Disclosure, in which he allegedly overstated his income and assets. In this House Disclosure, he falsely certified that during the reporting period:He had earned $750,000 in salary from the Devolder Organization LLC, a Florida‑based entity of which Santos was the sole beneficial owner;
He had received between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000 in dividends from the Devolder Organization LLC;
He had a checking account with deposits of between $100,001 and $250,000; and
He had a savings account with deposits of between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000.

As alleged in the indictment, these assertions were false: Santos had not received from the Devolder Organization LLC the reported amounts of salary or dividends and did not maintain checking or savings accounts with deposits in the reported amounts. Further, Santos allegedly failed to disclose that, in 2021, he received approximately $28,000 in income from Investment Firm #1 and more than $20,000 in unemployment insurance benefits from the NYS DOL.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted of the charges, Santos faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the top counts. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI is investigating the case with assistance from the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the IRS-Criminal Investigation.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Integrity Section, the Long Island Criminal Division, and the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan Harris, Anthony Bagnuola, and Laura Zuckerwise, along with Trial Attorneys Jolee Porter and Jacob Steiner, are in charge of the prosecution with assistance from Paralegal Specialist Rachel Friedman. Senior Litigation Counsel Victor R. Salgado of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section provided substantial contributions to the prosecution.

The Defendant:

Age: 34
Washington, District of Columbia

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 23-CR-197

John Marzulli
Danielle Blustein Hass
U.S. Attorney's Office
(718) 254-6323
Updated May 10, 2023