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The Midterms’ Stakes for Democracy: A Scenario
Plus, No, ‘Russiagate’ Wasn’t the Hoax That Team Trump Claims It Was
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In Arizona’s 5th Congressional District, Rep. Andy Biggs—a pardon-seeking election denier, semi-fascist, and Russia softie who was set up financially for life after winning a $10 million sweepstakes in the 1990s and eventually parlayed his good fortune into a career in state and then national politics—appears set to win re-election. Biggs handily won each of his three previous elections in the district, by almost 30 points in 2016 and by around 20 points in 2018 and 2020. Although there is little polling, Biggs looks poised to win this time around again. His Democratic opponent—who has raised just over $9,000, about half of which came out of his own pockets—has virtually no chance of breaking through.
But there is another candidate in the running this time around—a moderate, conservative-leaning independent who says he couldn’t watch Biggs continue to trample democracy without doing something about it. Clint Smith, a political newcomer, decided to make a bid for Biggs’s seat after watching the events of January 6th unfold—events that Biggs helped to plan.
The acquittal last week of think tank analyst Igor Danchenko is a fitting final chapter in the “Russiagate” saga, as John Durham’s three-year-old probe judders to a halt. Durham, formerly the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, was appointed in 2019 by William Barr, Donald Trump’s attorney general, to look into possible misconduct by personnel from the FBI and CIA, various federal officials, and Democratic operatives with regard to allegations of collusion between Trump associates and Russian agents in the 2016 presidential campaign. In October 2020, Barr elevated Durham’s investigation to special counsel status, ensuring that it would continue no matter the outcome of the 2020 election.
Both Barr and Durham were fairly explicit about the fact that they saw the Trump-Russia investigation, which culminated in the Mueller report, as inappropriate, based on “the thinnest of suspicions,” and politically motivated. Thus, the Durham inquiry had an unmistakable subtext of seeking to vindicate the Trumpian narrative of a “Russia hoax” and a “witch hunt” of which Trump and some of his associates were innocent targets. Inasmuch as it set out to do that, the Durham probe—which is apparently all over except for a final report that will presumably be produced in the next few months—is a bust.
It will be a terrible spectacle, there may be violence, and the country could be torn apart, but Trump’s autocratic, undemocratic behavior cannot go unchallenged. Franklin Foer joins Charlie Sykes to make the case that Trump’s indictment is inevitable.
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KIMBERLY WEHLE: The Midterms’ Stakes for Democracy: A Scenario.
Two reasons the stakes are high for the November 8 midterms: the Big Lie and the far-right U.S. Supreme Court majority. It is no exaggeration to say that these two factors will determine whether our system of representative democratic government lives or dies.
If the House of Representatives swings to Republican control, the January 6th Committee’s investigation into the Capitol insurrection will cease, and the House will take up investigations into the current president and his family. Attorney General Merrick Garland could still pursue high-level indictments, including possibly of Donald Trump himself, but criminal investigations, indictments, trial preparation, trial, and appeals take time. Garland will lose his job on January 20, 2025 if a Republican wins the White House. That leaves him scarcely over two years to finish these enormous tasks.
The numbers are rolling in now about how much ground our kids have lost academically due to COVID-19 and they are very bad. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known informally as “the nation’s report card,” has released the results of its latest large survey of fourth and eighth graders in reading and math. Reading scores declined in half of the states in the country, and in math, well, as Education Week put it, the 2022 NAEP scores showed the “biggest drop in . . . performance in 4th and 8th grades since the testing program began in 1990,” resulting in two decades’ worth of progress being nearly wiped out.
Only 26 percent of eighth graders were found to be proficient in math and 31 percent were proficient in reading. Among fourth graders, the numbers were a bit better for math—36 percent proficient—and about the same (33 percent) for reading.
Greetings from the trail! Today’s Overtime won’t be as long as usual, because I’m out covering some local races. I’m always glad when I don’t have to get on I-95 and the candidates come to my neck of the woods. More stories to come!
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The Legend… The end of the career of America’s most legendary high school football coach.
The strange case of the attacked Rubio supporter… As more details emerge, so do more questions.
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