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Trump’s Decision to Cancel Joint ‘War Games’ Near North Korea Border Was Likely Putin’s Idea



President Donald Trump’s ideas about stopping the joint military exercises between the United States military and South Korea may have come from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A Wall Street Journal puff piece from Jan. 2018 walked through 50 staffers who gave insights into how to deal with the president after his first year in office. Nested within that story, however, was a story about the conversation Trump had with Putin at the G-20 summit last summer.

At the time, Trump was reportedly angry with Congress for inserting itself into his decision to impose sanctions against Russia.

“Around the same time, Mr. Trump had an idea about how to counter the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, which he got after speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” The Journal wrote of the plan.

“If the U.S. stopped joint military exercises with the South Koreans, it could help moderate Kim Jong Un’s behavior,” the report continued. Tuesday, Trump announced exactly that.

“Defense Secretary Jim Mattis used an approach that aides say can work: ‘He says, ‘Your instincts are absolutely correct,’ and then gets him [the president] to do the exact opposite of what his instincts say,’” The Journal wrote, citing a person close to the White House.

“Mr. Trump dropped the idea, although he has ordered aides to give the exercises a low profile, eliminating press releases and briefings about them,” the report closed.

The U.S. had previously said it would never make such a move because the military exercises were part of its military alliance with South Korea and served as a deterrent to Kim Jong-un.

During the 2016 presidential debate, Trump was accused of being a puppet of the Russian president.

“No puppet. No puppet,” Trump said to Clinton. “You’re the puppet”

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Ex-GOP Head Says Judge in Trump Documents Case ‘Wasted Countless Months on Frivolous Motions’



Former head of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele accused the judge of dragging her feet in former President Donald Trump’s case about improper handling of classified documents.

On Friday, Trump’s defense lawyers put forth a motion to dismiss special counsel Jack Smith under allegations that he was illegally appointed, according to the Associated Press. Despite admitting that Smith’s appointment appears to be supported by precedent, Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon agreed to a three-day hearing to determine the challenge’s validity, according to The Washington Post. While defense attorneys will often challenge the standing of the prosecution, not every challenge necessarily warrants a full hearing.

Steele called out Cannon on Sunday’s edition of Inside with Jen Psaki on MSNBC. He called the particular challenge against Smith a “long shot,” according to The Hill, and said most judges would dismiss it out of hand.

READ MORE: Judge Cannon’s ‘Mind Boggling’ Move Could Put Witnesses at Risk, Experts Warn

“But apparently, Judge Cannon just had to have a hearing about it. It’s the last delay tactic from a judge who’s wasted countless months on frivolous motions. She has all but refused to allow Trump’s case to go to trial and still, still hasn’t even set a date for the trial to begin,” Steele said. He also accused Cannon of “effectively putting the prosecution on trial.”

Cannon has faced much criticism over her handling of the Trump documents case. In May, she postponed the trial indefinitely, putting the kibosh on hopes that the case would be heard before the November election. Her reasoning was that it would be “imprudent and inconsistent with the Court’s duty to fully and fairly consider the various pending pre-trial motions before the Court,” referring to motions like the one to dismiss Smith.

Rulings like this have led legal experts to trash Cannon. Constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis called Cannon “incompetently bad.” George Conway, a lawyer and founder of the conservative anti-Trump The Lincoln Project, said Cannon “doesn’t know the most basic rule governing criminal conspiracies.” Conway’s comment was in response to Cannon appearing unfamiliar with the Pinkerton rule, which holds that everyone involved in a conspiracy can be held liable for crimes committed by co-conspirators. This appears to back up NBC News legal analyst Joyce Vance’s statement that Smith has to “spoon feed… the law” to Judge Cannon.

One month ago, Laurence Tribe, a top constitutional scholar and University Professor Emeritus at Harvard, said that Cannon would likely be removed from the Trump documents case.

“Cannon’s wildly lawless rejection of Special Counsel Smith’s clearly correct request for a gag order against fake and dangerous claims that the FBI was ordered to assassinate him is good news,” Tribe wrote on X. “It’s the smoking gun that will finally lead to her removal from the stolen secrets case.”




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Does the 14th Amendment Bar Trump From Being President?



States across the nation are determining whether or not former President Donald Trump can appear on ballots in upcoming primary elections—and if Trump is even eligible to serve. Most of these arguments hinge on the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

But with some states—like Maine and Colorado—moving to strike Trump from the ballot, while others—including California, Minnesota and Michigan—deciding to keep Trump in the primaries, is there a clear answer as to whether or not the 14th Amendment actually applies? Let’s take a look at the arguments, for and against.

What is the 14th Amendment?

The 14th Amendment lays out the rules for being an elected official in the federal government, and is also the home of the equal protection clause. While the equal protection clause—which sets up due process—is important, most of the focus in this particular fight is on Section 3.

Section 3 reads as follows:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 3 was passed shortly after the Civil War, and ratified in 1868. It was intended to keep former Confederates out of Congress and the electoral college. In 1872, Congress invoked the last clause of the section to give immunity to most former Confederates, except for those high up in the Confederacy—for example, General Robert E. Lee or President Jefferson Davis.

Prior to Trump, Section 3 has been invoked only once after the Civil War. Victor Berger, a Socialist Party of America member from Wisconsin was barred from his elected seat in the House of Representatives in 1919 and 1920. Berger had been convicted in 1919 of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for speaking against the U.S.’ entry into World War I. The Supreme Court ruled in 1921 that Section 3 did not apply to Berger, and he served three more terms in the House, from 1923 to 1929.

Why The 14th Amendment Disqualifies Trump

Both Maine and Colorado have barred Trump from their primary ballots, citing the 14th Amendment. In Maine’s ruling Thursday evening, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said that Trump “engaged in insurrection” on January 6, 2021, when his supporters stormed the Capitol Building in order to stop the confirmation of the 2020 election results in Congress.

“I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” Bellows wrote, according to the AP. “I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”

On December 19, Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Trump was ineligible to appear on the primary ballot due to the 14th Amendment, according to the AP. The court ruled that Trump indeed engaged in an insurrection, and thus, was not able to be president.

Other politicians and pundits have weighed in. Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a former professor of constitutional law, said the Constitution “could not be any clearer,” according to The Hill.

“This is a chance for these [Supreme Court] justices to show that they really mean it when they talk about textualism, when they talk about originalism. The plain text of the Constitution could not be any clearer,” Raskin said. “If Donald Trump is not disqualified from holding office again after what he did on January 6 in the weeks leading up to it, then who is disqualified? Why would they read an entire provision out of the constitution?”

Another constitutional law professor, Mark A. Graber of the University of Maryland, agrees. Graber puts particular emphasis on the part of Section 3 about a person who had previously taken an oath to protect the Constitution who engages in insurrection.

“These oaths bind officeholders to follow all the rules in the Constitution. The only legitimate government officers are those who hold their offices under the constitutional rules. Lawmakers must follow the Constitution’s rules for making laws. Officeholders can only recognize laws that were made by following the rules – and they must recognize all such laws as legitimate,” Graber wrote in an essay for The Conversation.

Why It Doesn’t Apply to Trump

On the other hand, most of the court rulings in favor of Trump ask questions of jurisdiction and standing. In Florida, a federal district judge ruled that the lawyer and voters who sued to remove Trump didn’t have standing, according to Forbes. In Michigan and Minnesota both, Trump was allowed to remain on the ballot because Trump had qualified for the primary election, but the courts said the cases could be brought again should Trump enter the general election.

In California, Secretary of State Shirley Weber declined to honor a request from Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis to “explore every legal option” to boot Trump from the ballot citing the 14th Amendment, according to the New York Times. However, California state law does not legally give the secretary of state authority to disqualify candidates in the presidential race, the Times reports. This sets California apart from most other states, where secretaries of state indeed have that power.

As with the argument in favor of dumping Trump, politicians have come out to say that the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply in this case. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) said that Section 3 only applies to the former Confederacy, and has no modern application.

“The 14th Amendment referred to, basically, people who had risen in rebellion and fought a war for four years. There’s no point at which it references anybody today,” Gingrich said, according to The Hill.

Gingrich also said that Trump had not been charged with insurrection, “because you can’t. Because an insurrection is a unique and classifiable thing.”

Legal scholar Kurt Lash wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that posits that the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply, as the presidency is not, as the Constitution requires, a “‘civil’ office ‘under the United States.'”

“If the framers meant the catchall provision to include presidents and postmasters, they were remarkably negligent. According to longstanding congressional precedent and legal authority, the phrase ‘civil office under the United States’ did not include the office of president of the United States. As Joseph Story explained in his influential ‘Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States,’ the congressional precedent known as Blount’s case established that the offices of president, senator and representative were not civil offices under the government of the United States; they were the government of the United States. The phrase ‘civil office under the United States’ referred to appointed offices,” he continued.

Of course, we’ll have to wait for the Supreme Court to decide before we’ll have an official answer. While both chambers of Congress could give Trump an exemption, this seems unlikely as the Republican control of the House is by a razor-thin margin, and the Democrats control the Senate.

But either way, until then, Trump’s political fate lies in limbo.

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Trump’s Primary Opponents Say They’d Help Him If Elected, Even Though He’s Bashed Them



While former President Donald Trump is the frontrunner in the Republican primary, Trump’s primary opponents say they’re going to help him if elected—even as he tears into them.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley promised Thursday in New Hampshire that if she were to be elected, she’d “pardon Trump if he was found guilty,” according to Business Insider.

“A leader needs to think about what’s in the best interest of the country,” Haley said. “What’s in the best interest of the country is not to have an 80-year-old man sitting in jail, that continues to divide our country.”

READ MORE: DeSantis Mocks Colorado Boycott: Trump Would ‘Spike the Football’ if Anybody Else Banned

The same day, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that he’d fire special counsel Jack Smith on his first day as President, according to The Hill. DeSantis then accused Smith, who has brought two indictments against Trump, and the Biden administration of having “weaponized the legal system to go after their political enemies.”

“And that starts with day one, firing somebody like Jack Smith. That goes to dealing with people who are violating constitutional rights at the state and local government area,” DeSantis said.

Though Haley and DeSantis promised to help Trump, in his usual fashion, he’s repeatedly bashed his primary opponents. In February, shortly after Haley announced her candidacy, Trump wrote on Truth Social that the “greatest thing” she did was to accept the U.N. ambassadorship so Henry McMaster could take her place as governor of South Carolina, according to Forbes.

“That was a big reason why I appointed Nikki to the position—it was a favor to the people I love in South Carolina,” Trump wrote.

This week, Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., squashed rumors that Haley would be Trump’s vice presidential nominee, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“I wouldn’t have her on. I would go to great lengths to make sure that that doesn’t happen,” he said during a Newsmax interview, adding that she was “a puppet of the establishment.”

On Truth Social, Trump gave Haley one of his famous nicknames: “Birdbrain.” In a post Monday, Trump slammed her for being endorsed by Americans For Prosperity—which Trump called Americans For Chinese Prosperity—a conservative political advocacy group founded by the right-wing Koch brothers.

“Americans For Chinese Prosperity (Action?) is a Globalist CON JOB that is big on giving our Country away to China and other countries throughout the World. They Endorsed ‘Birdbrain’ because that has always been where her sympathies lie. She is a Globalist RINO, much like ‘Rob’ DeSanctimonious, but not a smart one, and I got to see that up close and personal. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!” Trump wrote.

And, as that post shows, Trump is not a fan of “DeSanctimonious”, either. Though in 2018, Trump endorsed DeSantis for governor, and DeSantis supported him during the Mueller probe, their allyship has cooled. Since then, Trump said DeSantis has has “got no personality,” and called him a “Trump imposter.”

While DeSantis has occasionally hit back at Trump, even telling reporters that if Trump “drained the swamp like he promised… [he] wouldn’t be in the mess that he’s in right now,” this isn’t the first time he’s defended Trump in recent memory. Earlier this month, he said Trump was not a “threat to democracy,” and should have gone further and, for example, fired Dr. Anthony Fauci.




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