Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Biden makes the case for reelection, saying ‘democracy is on the ballot’

Philadelphia Inquirer:

President Joe Biden delivers first major 2024 campaign speech in Montco

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Biden is speaking at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, near Valley Forge.

  • Biden’s speech comes a day ahead of the three-year anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where supporters of former President Donald Trump attempted to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s 2020 election victory.

  • While Biden is stopping north of Philadelphia during this trip, he traveled to the city nine times in 2023, and at least 16 since he took office in January 2021.

President Joe Biden delivered a full-throated defense of democracy, and an attack on both MAGA and Donald Trump—by using Trump’s own words.

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Craig Mauger/Detroit News:

Trump’s campaign guided filing of Michigan’s false electors certificate, emails show

Then-President Donald Trump’s campaign directly orchestrated the filing of a certificate, signed by 16 Michigan Republicans, that falsely claimed he won the state’s 2020 election, according to internal campaign emails obtained by The Detroit News.

The documents, which have become part of Attorney General Dana Nessel’s ongoing investigation into the slate of false electors, showed that Trump’s campaign staff helped coordinate the Republicans’ gathering inside state party headquarters on Dec. 14, 2020. Then, Trump’s team prepared the official mailing of the false certificate to Vice President Mike Pence and the National Archives, according to the emails.

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David A Graham/The Atlantic:

The Cases Against Trump: A Guide

Fraud. Hush money. Election subversion. Mar-a-Lago documents. One place to keep track of the presidential candidate’s legal troubles

In all, Trump faces 91 felony counts across two state courts and two different federal districts, any of which could potentially produce a prison sentence. He’s also dealing with a civil suit in New York that could force drastic changes to his business empire, including closing down its operations in his home state. Meanwhile, he is the leading Republican candidate in the race to become the next president—though lawsuits in several states seek to have him disqualified from the presidency. If the criminal and civil cases unfold with any reasonable timeliness, he could be in the heat of the campaign trail at the same time that his legal fate is being decided.

Here’s a summary of the major legal cases against Trump, including key dates, an assessment of the gravity of the charges, and expectations about how they could turn out. This guide will be updated regularly as the cases proceed.

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Brian Klaas/”The Garden of Forking Paths” on Substack:

The Biggest Hidden Bias in Politics

Pundits, political analysts, and political scientists all have a serious bias that makes them misunderstand our world …

… why is the United States such an outlier for unhinged political extremism that’s utterly detached from reality?

To answer that question, let’s start with a seemingly unrelated pop quiz: how many of you can correctly identify who is pictured in the photograph below?

The correct answer is Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, leader of a country that is home to nearly 1 out of every 5 people on the planet. He’s one of the most important people in the world—and, by appearance and dress, one of the most recognizable. So, when Americans were asked to identify an array of photographs of prominent figures from politics, business, celebrities, you name it, what percentage of Americans could identify Modi correctly?

The answer: 3 percent. Three percent.

Let’s put that into perspective. Sixteen percent of Americans could recognize the face of PewDiePie, the Swedish YouTuber, which was pretty close to the proportion of Americans who correctly identified the face of Xi Jinping, the President of China (20 percent).

There is a clear trend in the data: most Americans can’t identify prominent world leaders, including some of their own—but have no trouble with celebrities…

The disconcerting truth is this: The biggest bias in (mis)understanding politics is the bias that political elites assume most other people think about politics often and have a basic working knowledge of it that is rooted in facts and reality.

That’s not a safe assumption.

Jamelle Bouie/The New York Times:

If Trump Is Not an Insurrectionist, What Is He?

Trump sought and actively tried to subvert constitutional government and overturn the results of the presidential election. And what he could not do through the arcane rules and procedures of the Electoral College, he tried to do through the threat of brute force, carried out by an actual mob.

Looked at this way, the case for disqualifying Trump through the 14th Amendment is straightforward. Section 3 states that “No person shall … hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath … 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.”

Ryan J Reilly/NBC News:

Why Trump can’t use the ‘idiot’ defense other Jan. 6 defendants often lean on

Capitol rioters and their lawyers often concede they were “gullible” for believing 2020 election lies. Donald Trump’s lawyers have to argue his concerns were fact-based and reasonable.

In court filings and sentencing memos, lawyers defending Jan. 6 rioters have argued that their clients were duped and manipulated, that they were poorly educated, had low IQs and lacked critical thinking skills. They wanted former President Donald Trump’s “respect” and “approval” and thought they were “following presidential orders,” lawyers argued. Some Jan. 6 defendants have even called themselves idiots, lamenting that they were credulous enough to have fallen for what they now see as obvious lies.

The strategy appears to have had an impact in some cases, with judges agreeing to more lenient sentences, particularly in cases in which defendants appear genuinely remorseful for their conduct and regret that they were so gullible.

But it’s hard to see the same approach working for Trump, who famously called himself a “very stable genius,” as his own Jan. 6 trial nears.

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John A Stoehr/The Editorial Board:

2024, a referendum on the loser

Normally, it’s a referendum on the incumbent. Not this year.

Normally, an election year like this one would be what I might call a “reelection election”: a referendum on a sitting president, his record thus far and what he says he wants to do with a second term. The presidency is his. The challenger has to take it, but with the help of an electorate that subjects the incumbent to an up-or-down vote.

The president is usually the center of our collective attention during a “reelection election.” For one thing, he has the biggest platform, as anything that he says is newsworthy and reported widely. But having actual power makes all the difference. When Joe Biden talks, for instance, about the importance of funding Ukraine’s war against Russia, he doesn’t sound like an ordinary politician. He appears to be above politics. Even the wealthiest challenger can’t buy that look.

But this “reelection election” is different for an obvious reason. Donald Trump is not Walter Mondale (who challenged President Reagan) or Bob Dole (President Clinton) or John Kerry (President Bush) or Mitt Romney (President Obama). He’s Donald Trump. His every word has become as newsworthy and widely reported as Biden’s. In terms of his dominance of our attention, Trump is like an incumbent. If 2024 is a referendum on Biden, and it is, it’s equally a referendum on him.

On a lighter note, an ode to Biden’s Valley Forge-adjacent speech (this is from 1963):

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