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.

A Trump Indictment Would Stretch the Limits of GOP’s Loyalty Pledge - WhoWhatWhy
The RNC will require a “loyalty pledge” from candidates who participate in their primary debates; it’s not clear if this promise to support the eventual nominee will apply if he is under investigation for espionage.
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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.

Questions and answers about Trump’s indictment on federal criminal charges - Kansas Reflector
A federal judge in Florida unsealed an indictment that accuses former President Donald Trump of hiding classified national security documents after he left the White House, improperly storing them and sharing sensitive information with people who lacked security clearance.
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THE NEW REPUBLIC had a solid analysis of this latest development and what the charges could mean for Trump.

The Trump Indictment Is Even More Damning Than Expected
Top secret documents were left in a Mar-a-Lago ballroom, spilled on a floor, and shown to random guests.
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Jordan Chariton of STATUS COUP, meanwhile, broke down the charges on video.

BREAKING: Trump Showed Classified Defense Docs to Others, Stored Docs in Bathroom & Ballroom
Jordan LIVE on breaking news of Trump classified documents indictment being unsealed. Special Counsel Jack Smith to make statement at 3pm eastern
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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.

Ruling in Alabama case could boost suits increasing Black voters’ power in other states - Nevada Current
In one sense, the Supreme Court’s surprise ruling striking down Alabama’s 2022 congressional maps maintains the legal status quo. By 5-4, the justices rejected the state’s attempt to restrict the ability of the Voting Rights Act to block gerrymanders that suppress the power of minority voters. But t…
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BOLTS had a strong analysis of the Alabama voting rights decision as well.

Surprise After Supreme Court Saves What’s Left of the Voting Rights Act - Bolts
John Roberts began targeting the Voting Rights Act decades before he joined the U.S. Supreme Court, and as Chief Justice nearly a decade ago to the day, in Shelby County... Read More
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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.

As smoke from Canada enters Virginia, research links climate change with more frequent wildfires - Virginia Mercury
Smoke from fires in Canada rolled into Virginia last week causing health concerns and beginning a discussion on the role of climate change.
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THE REAL NEWS had an important piece about how the fires were impacting Indigenous nations in Alberta.

The First Nations at the front line of Canada’s fires
Alberta’s Indigenous nations face down apocalyptic wildfires and the provincial government’s “let-it-burn” climate policy.
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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.

The Right-Wing War on Clean Air
As wildfire smoke hit the East Coast, Fox News claimed it was “perfectly healthy” to breathe.
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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.

It’s All The Same Fire | Defector
This week, smoke from a series of wildfires in southwestern Quebec was pushed south and east by a storm system off the coast of Nova Scotia, blanketing major cities in the United States in a thick, toxic quilt. New York City residents awoke on Wednesday to find that they suddenly lived in Mordor, as…
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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.

Big Oil Lobbied for a Wildfire Smoke Pollution Loophole
Because of a Big Oil–backed exemption, federal air quality data won’t reflect this week’s wildfire smoke. The exemption allows states to ignore pollution from “exceptional events,” freeing polluters from reducing emissions to offset smoke impact.
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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.  

As Medicaid purge begins, ‘staggering numbers’ of Americans lose coverage – Daily Montanan
According to rapidly accumulating data, many are losing Medicaid coverage because of paperwork issues.
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THE ARKANSAS ADVOCATE covered how the purge is impacting Arkansans.

Nearly 35K more Arkansans lose Medicaid coverage due to incomplete paperwork - Arkansas Advocate
In April and May, roughly 75,000 Arkansans failed to return a Medicaid renewal form, failed to submit required information or were unable to be reached.
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