Last week, for the first time in U.S. history, federal charges were announced against a former President of the United States. Donald Trump became the first U.S. President, former or current, to face federal prosecution.
The 37 charges stem from a federal probe into Donald Trump's decision to retain and store dozens of classified documents at his Florida resort, which he refused to return to the FBI and National Archives. The charges, which include obstruction and unlawful retention of defense information, all carry significant fines and/or maximum prison sentences up to 20 years.
The federal charges add to Trump legal woes. In April, the New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced a 34-count felony indictment of the former president in connection with his payoff of former adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The charges related to falsifying New York business records to conceal "damaging information and unlawful activities."
Trump has already begun campaigning for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, which led some commentators to speculate as to whether or not pursuing the charges would create the appearance of political persecution–which is indeed how Republicans are attempting to frame it. However, DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith's statement announcing the indictment addresses these concerns.
"Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced," he said. "Violations of those laws put our country at risk. Adherence to the rule of law is a bedrock principle of the Department of Justice."
So far, the indictments do not seem to have impacted Trump's popularity with voters, which has increased since May. The former president has suggested that charges could increase his appeal, which at least for now, appears plausible. Whether or not Trump's polling strength continues remains to be seen.
The former president is already faces increasing dissent within the GOP. Former allies including his former vice president Mike Pence, his former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are challenging him for the nomination.
For more about the strain on the relationship between the GOP and Trump, check out this piece by WHOWHATWHY.
For more explanation on the latest Trump indictment, check out these stories from OptOut participating outlets.
First, we turn to a story by STATES NEWSROOM, answering questions about the charges.
THE NEW REPUBLIC had a solid analysis of this latest development and what the charges could mean for Trump.
Jordan Chariton of STATUS COUP, meanwhile, broke down the charges on video.
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A Rare Supreme Court Win
This week, the United States Supreme Court delivered a victory for voting rights in an Alabama gerrymandering case. The Court struck down Alabama's 2022 congressional maps, which removed on the two African American opportunity districts in the state. Alabama had urged the Court to overturn a test for violations of the Voting Rights Act that had existed for decades, but its arguments were rejected.
STATES NEWSROOM explained that the ruling had positive implications for voting rights cases in other states.
BOLTS had a strong analysis of the Alabama voting rights decision as well.
Wildfires and Smoke
Last week, smoke from wildfires in Canada reached the U.S., turning the skies over northeastern states like New York a grim orange, proving another reminder that the climate crisis is ongoing–even accelerating.
The smoke even made its way down to Virginia. VIRGINIA MERCURY had the story.
THE REAL NEWS had an important piece about how the fires were impacting Indigenous nations in Alberta.
Of course, the political right was quick to act in response to the smoke, doing damage control for big polluters driving the climate crisis–and the smoke. Right-wing media was out in force proclaiming the smoke perfectly safe to inhale and had nothing to do with climate change. Climate change, right-wing media insisted, was overblown.
THE INTERCEPT covered the ongoing fight over clean air and the absurdity of the claims on Fox News.
RING OF FIRE broke it down over video.
While right-wing media was spinning the changing climate, indepndent media was covering the real story. DEFECTOR wrote about how Canada's fires have implications for us all.
JACOBIN put out an import piece about why federal air quality data will not include the smoke from the Canada wildfires. Spoilers: The fossil fuel industry is to blame.
Consequences of Normal
The COVID-19 national emergency is over–at least according to the federal government. Both the national emergency declaration and the public health emergency have officially come to an end, and with them expanded relief for struggling Americans.
More than 600,000 Americans have already lost Medicaid coverage since April–most due to incomplete paperwork.
THE ARKANSAS ADVOCATE covered how the purge is impacting Arkansans.
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