David Brooks | If an Alternative Candidate Is Needed in 2024, These Folks Will Be Ready – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“What happens if the 2024 election is between Donald Trump and somebody like Bernie Sanders? What happens if the Republicans nominate someone who is morally unacceptable to millions of Americans while the Democrats nominate someone who is ideologically unacceptable? Where do the millions of voters in the middle go? Does Trump end up winning as voters refuse to go that far left?

The group No Labels has been working quietly over the past 10 months to give Americans a third viable option. The group calls its work an insurance policy. If one of the parties nominates a candidate acceptable to the center of the electorate, then the presidential operation shuts down. But if both parties go to the extremes, then there will be a unity ticket appealing to both Democrats and Republicans to combat this period of polarized dysfunction.”

Michelle Cottle | Donald Trump’s Dangerous Gambit – The New York Times

Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

“If there’s one thing a top-notch grifter knows how to do, it’s exploit a crisis.

So it is that Donald Trump has transformed the F.B.I.’s search of his Mar-a-Lago home from a potentially debilitating scandal into a political bonanza — one that threatens to further divide a twitchy, polarized nation.

His formula for this alchemy? The usual: playing on pre-existing grievances among his followers — in this case, the right’s bone-deep suspicion and resentment of federal authority. If you thought members of the MAGAverse were jacked up on Deep State conspiracy theories before, just wait until they spend several more weeks consuming the toxic spinsanity that Mr. Trump and his enablers have been pushing out like black tar heroin.

Once Mr. Trump donned his trusty cloak of victimhood, which by now must be threadbare from overuse, the Republican response to the search was predictable: His base roared in outrage, a display of blind fealty featuring threats of lethal violence against their savior’s perceived persecutors. Party leaders tripped over themselves to fuel the fury, lobbing attacks at the F.B.I. for which they should forever hide their faces. (Dear Kevin McCarthy: Any blood spilled over this is partly on your hands. An “intolerable state of weaponized politicization” of the Justice Department? Seriously?)”

Opinion | We Are Retired Generals and Admirals. Trump’s Actions on Jan. 6 Were a Dereliction of Duty. – The New York Times

Steve Abbot, Peter Chiarelli, John Jumper, James Loy, John Nathman, William Owens and 

“Admirals Abbot, Loy, Nathman and Owens and Generals Chiarelli, Jumper and Wilson are retired four-star generals and admirals in the U.S. armed forces.

The inquiry by the House’s Jan. 6 committee has produced many startling findings, but none to us more alarming than the fact that while rioters tried to thwart the peaceful transfer of power and ransacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the president and commander in chief, Donald Trump, abdicated his duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

In the weeks leading up to that terrible day, allies of Mr. Trump also urged him to hold on to power by unlawfully ordering the military to seize voting machines and supervise a do-over of the election. Such an illegal order would have imperiled a foundational precept of American democracy: civilian control of the military.

Americans may take it for granted, but the strength of our democracy rests upon the stability of this arrangement, which requires both civilian and military leaders to have confidence that they have the same goal of supporting and defending the Constitution.”

Opinion | Bret Stephens: I Was Wrong About Trump Voters – The New York Times

“. . . . A final question for myself: Would I be wrong to lambaste Trump’s current supporters, the ones who want him back in the White House despite his refusal to accept his electoral defeat and the historic outrage of Jan. 6?

Morally speaking, no. It’s one thing to take a gamble on a candidate who promises a break with business as usual. It’s another to do that with an ex-president with a record of trying to break the Republic itself.

But I would also approach these voters in a much different spirit than I did the last time. “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall,” noted Abraham Lincoln early in his political career. “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.” Words to live by, particularly for those of us in the business of persuasion.”   -30-

Tears, Screaming and Insults: Inside an ‘Unhinged’ Meeting to Keep Trump in Power – The New York Times

“The meeting lasted for more than six hours, past midnight, and devolved into shouting that could be heard outside the room. Participants hurled insults and nearly came to blows. Some people left in tears.

Even by the standards of the Trump White House, where people screamed at one another and President Donald J. Trump screamed at them, the Dec. 18, 2020, meeting became known as an “unhinged” event — and an inflection point in Mr. Trump’s desperate efforts to remain in power after he had lost the election.

Details of the meeting have been reported before, including by The New York Times and Axios, but at a public hearing on Tuesday of the Jan. 6 committee, participants in the mayhem offered a series of jolting new details of the meeting between Mr. Trump and rival factions of advisers.”

Andrew Weissmann | Merrick Garland Should Investigate Trump’s 2020 Election Schemes as a ‘Hub and Spoke’ Conspiracy – The New York Times

Mr. Weissmann was a senior prosecutor in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“The tenacious work of the Jan. 6 committee has transformed how we think about the Jan. 6 rebellion. It should also transform the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Before the hearings, federal agents and prosecutors were performing a classic “bottom up” criminal investigation of the Jan. 6 rioters, which means prosecuting the lowest-ranking members of a conspiracy, flipping people as it proceeds and following the evidence as high as it goes. It was what I did at the Justice Department for investigations of the Genovese and Colombo crime families, Enron and Volkswagen as well as for my part in the investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election led by the special counsel Robert Mueller.

But that is actually the wrong approach for investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. That approach sees the attack on the Capitol as a single event — an isolated riot, separate from other efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the election.”

Thomas B. Edsall | Why Conspiracy Theories Flourish in Trump’s America – The New York Times

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C., on politics, demographics and inequality.

“Whether he is out of power or in office, Donald Trump deploys conspiracy theory as a political mobilizing tool designed to capture anger at the liberal establishment, to legitimize racial resentment and to unite voters who feel oppressed by what they see as a dominant socially progressive culture.

The success of this strategy is demonstrated by the astonishing number of Republicans — a decisive majority, according to a recent Economist/YouGov survey — who say that they believe that the Democratic Party and its elected officials conspired to steal the 2020 election. This is a certifiable conspiracy theory, defined as a belief in “a secret arrangement by a group of powerful people to usurp political or economic power, violate established rights, hoard vital secrets, or unlawfully alter government institutions.”

Not only do something like 71 percent of Republicans — roughly 52 million voters, according to a University of Massachusetts Amherst poll released on Jan. 6, 2022 — claim to believe that Donald Trump won the 2020 election despite indisputable evidence to the contrary, but the Republican Party has committed itself unequivocally and relentlessly to promoting this false claim.”

Jack Goldsmith | Prosecute Trump? Put Yourself in Merrick Garland’s Shoes – The New York Times

Mr. Goldsmith served in the George W. Bush administration as an assistant attorney general, office of legal counsel, and as special counsel to the general counsel of the Department of Defense.

“The evidence gathered by the Jan. 6 committee and in some of the federal cases against those involved in the Capitol attack pose for Attorney General Merrick Garland one of the most consequential questions that any attorney general has ever faced: Should the United States indict former President Donald Trump?

The basic allegations against Mr. Trump are well known. In disregard of advice by many of his closest aides, including Attorney General William Barr, he falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent and stolen; he pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count certified electoral votes for Joe Biden during the electoral count in Congress on Jan. 6; and he riled up a mob, directed it to the Capitol and refused for a time to take steps to stop the ensuing violence.

To indict Mr. Trump for these and other acts, Mr. Garland must make three decisions, each more difficult than the previous, and none of which has an obvious answer.”

Neal K. Katyal | The Future Criminal Case Against Donald Trump – The New York Times

Mr. Katyal is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, was an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and is a co-author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

“Congress and the Justice Department now find themselves in a complex dance, set to the tempo of the Jan. 6 hearings. The House select committee has already uncovered evidence suggesting that former President Donald Trump committed serious federal crimes.

Congress cannot bring criminal charges; the Justice Department must do so. And critics of the department are asking why it does not appear to be investigating these allegations. The hearings point to a potential answer: The committee is laying a foundation upon which prosecutors can build in a subsequent investigation.

And a subsequent investigation is virtually inevitable, given the evidence generated by the committee. How could Attorney General Merrick Garland ignore the facts the American people are now learning about?”

Should Biden Run in 2024? Democratic Whispers of ‘No’ Start to Rise. – The New York Times

“Midway through the 2022 primary season, many Democratic lawmakers and party officials are venting their frustrations with President Biden’s struggle to advance the bulk of his agenda, doubting his ability to rescue the party from a predicted midterm trouncing and increasingly viewing him as an anchor that should be cut loose in 2024.

As the challenges facing the nation mount and fatigued base voters show low enthusiasm, Democrats in union meetings, the back rooms of Capitol Hill and party gatherings from coast to coast are quietly worrying about Mr. Biden’s leadership, his age and his capability to take the fight to former President Donald J. Trump a second time.

Interviews with nearly 50 Democratic officials, from county leaders to members of Congress, as well as with disappointed voters who backed Mr. Biden in 2020, reveal a party alarmed about Republicans’ rising strength and extraordinarily pessimistic about an immediate path forward.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I’m still in Biden’s court, though he pissed me off when he didn’t pass the Infrastructure Bill immediately, and caved to the left wing of his party, which I blame for most of our self-inflicted wounds. Sanders would lose in a landslide in the electoral college. When Nate Cohn puts together his amalgam of national polls, we will know who is hot and who is not, in the six swing states, that will determine the electoral college outcome. It would be great if Buttigieg could win them all. I I’ll bet you a penny, it remains Biden as our best chance. If Ukraine runs out of ammunition, which is happening now, and falls, all bets are off.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.