Jesse Wegman | Is Donald Trump Ineligible to Be President? – The New York Times

“. . . . There is another, less-known solution in our Constitution to protect the country from Mr. Trump: Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars from public office anyone who, “having previously taken an oath” to support the Constitution, “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to America’s enemies.” . . . .

Trump Is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser – WSJ

“What will Democrats do when Donald Trump isn’t around to lose elections? We have to wonder because on Tuesday Democrats succeeded again in making the former President a central campaign issue, and Mr. Trump helped them do it.

Trumpy Republican candidates failed at the ballot box in states that were clearly winnable. This can’t be what Mr. Trump was envisioning ahead of his “very big announcement” next week. Yet maybe the defeats are what the party needs to hear before 2024.

Looking at the Senate map, the message could not be clearer. In New Hampshire, the Trump-endorsed Republican Don Bolduc lost to Sen. Maggie Hassan, 53% to 45%, as of the latest data. At the same time voters re-elected Republican Gov. Chris Sununu by 16 points.

“Don Bolduc was a very nice guy, but he lost tonight when he disavowed, after his big primary win, his longstanding stance on Election Fraud,” Mr. Trump said. “Had he stayed strong and true, he would have won, easily.” We doubt New Hampshire voters simply wanted Mr. Bolduc to stay kooky.

In Arizona the Trump-endorsed Republican Blake Masters trails Sen. Mark Kelly, 51% to 47%. This is a state successful Gov. Doug Ducey won by 14 points in 2018. Mr. Ducey could have won the Senate seat, but Mr. Trump pledged to go to war with him because Mr. Ducey refused to entertain 2020 fraud theories.

In Pennsylvania, the Trump-endorsed Republican Mehmet Oz lost to John Fetterman, 51% to 47%. This is a tough state for the GOP. But Mr. Fetterman was a weak candidate: He’s a lefty with a record of wanting Medicare for All and a ban on fracking, and he’s recovering from a stroke. David McCormick would have been a better Republican nominee, but he wouldn’t say the 2020 election was stolen, so Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Oz.

In Georgia, the Trump-endorsed Republican Herschel Walker trails Sen. Raphael Warnock, 49.4% to 48.5%. This is going to a December runoff, which Mr. Walker could win. But Gov. Brian Kemp won re-election by eight points. Mr. Walker’s flaws as a candidate were obvious, but Mr. Trump helped clear the primary field and other candidates opted out.

In Ohio the Trump-endorsed Republican J.D. Vance won a solid victory over Rep. Tim Ryan, 53% to 47%, while Republican Gov. Mike DeWine won by 26 points. Mr. Vance was a poor fundraiser. As of Oct. 19 he’d pulled in $12 million to Mr. Ryan’s $47 million. What saved him was $32 million from the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), a Super Pac aligned with Mitch McConnell. Mr. Vance trailed in the polls until mid-October.

Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s Trump-endorsed gubernatorial choice, lost by 14 points. Tim Michels in Wisconsin and Tudor Dixon in Michigan fumbled winnable gubernatorial races. Also in Michigan, Mr. Trump helped John Gibbs beat GOP Rep. Peter Meijer in the primary in the Grand Rapids seat because Mr. Meijer voted to impeach him. Mr. Gibbs lost by 13 points. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler also voted to impeach Mr. Trump, who helped Joe Kent beat her in a primary. Mr. Kent is trailing in that Washington state district.

Mr. Trump could have stayed quiet in the final weeks of the campaign except to spend money to help his candidates. But he did little of the latter and instead staged rallies that played into Democratic hands. His rally in Latrobe last week might have hurt Mr. Oz with suburban voters who cost Mr. Trump the state in 2020.

Since his unlikely victory in 2016 against the widely disliked Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump has a perfect record of electoral defeat. The GOP was pounded in the 2018 midterms owing to his low approval rating. Mr. Trump himself lost in 2020. He then sabotaged Georgia’s 2021 runoffs by blaming party leaders for not somehow overturning his defeat. That gave Democrats control of the Senate, letting President Biden pump up inflation with a $1.9 trillion Covid bill, appoint a liberal Supreme Court Justice, and pass a $700 billion climate spending hash.

Now Mr. Trump has botched the 2022 elections, and it could hand Democrats the Senate for two more years. Mr. Trump had policy successes as President, including tax cuts and deregulation, but he has led Republicans into one political fiasco after another.

“We’re going to win so much,” Mr. Trump once said, “that you’re going to get sick and tired of winning.” Maybe by now Republicans are sick and tired of losing.”  -30-

Source: Trump Is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser – WSJ

With Falsehoods About Pelosi Attack, Republicans Mimic Trump – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Speaking on a conservative radio talk show on Tuesday, former President Donald J. Trump amplified a conspiracy theory about the grisly attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, that falsely suggested that Mr. Pelosi may not have been the victim of a genuine attack.

“Weird things going on in that household in the last couple of weeks,” Mr. Trump said on the Chris Stigall show, winking at a lie that has flourished in right-wing media and is increasingly being given credence by Republicans. “The glass, it seems, was broken from the inside to the out — so it wasn’t a break-in, it was a break out.”

There is no evidence to suggest that. Mr. Pelosi, 82, was attacked on Friday with a hammer by a suspect who federal prosecutors say invaded the Pelosis’ San Francisco home, bent on kidnapping the speaker and shattering her kneecaps.

But Mr. Trump, a longtime trafficker in conspiracy theories who propelled his political rise with the lie that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, has never let such facts get in his way.”

The Untold Story of ‘Russiagate’ and the Road to War in Ukraine – The New York Times

“On the night of July 28, 2016, as Hillary Clinton was accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in Philadelphia, Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, received an urgent email from Moscow. The sender was a friend and business associate named Konstantin Kilimnik. A Russian citizen born in Soviet Ukraine, Kilimnik ran the Kyiv office of Manafort’s international consulting firm, known for bringing cutting-edge American campaign techniques to clients seeking to have their way with fragile democracies around the world.

Kilimnik didn’t say much, only that he needed to talk, in person, as soon as possible. Exactly what he wanted to talk about was apparently too sensitive even for the tradecraft the men so fastidiously deployed — encrypted apps, the drafts folder of a shared email account and, when necessary, dedicated “bat phones.” But he had made coded reference — “caviar” — to an important former client, the deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who had fled to Russia in 2014 after presiding over the massacre of scores of pro-democracy protesters. Manafort responded within minutes, and the plan was set for five days later.

Kilimnik cleared customs at Kennedy Airport at 7:43 p.m., only 77 minutes before the scheduled rendezvous at the Grand Havana Room, a Trump-world hangout atop 666 Fifth Avenue, the Manhattan office tower owned by the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Shortly after the appointed hour, Kilimnik walked onto a perfectly put-up stage set for a caricature drama of furtive figures hatching covert schemes with questionable intent — a dark-lit cigar bar with mahogany-paneled walls and floor-to-ceiling windows columned in thick velvet drapes, its leather club chairs typically filled by large men with open collars sipping Scotch and drawing on parejos and figurados. Men, that is, like Paul Manafort, with his dyed-black pompadour and penchant for pinstripes. There, with the skyline shimmering though the cigar-smoke haze, Kilimnik shared a secret plan whose significance would only become clear six years later, as Vladimir V. Putin’s invading Russian Army pushed into Ukraine.”

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.”