Bedlam in the Country

Must read

It’s looking like a no: Yesterday, Donald Trump received a less-than-warm reception from the three-judge federal appeals court panel tasked with deciding whether the former president should receive immunity from criminal election-subversion charges.

“I think it’s paradoxical to say that his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed allows him to violate criminal law,” said Judge Karen Henderson, appointed by a Republican president. The other two judges were appointed by President Joe Biden, and seem similarly unconvinced by Trump’s argument; the only outstanding question that remains is what reasoning the judges will decide on when rejecting his claim. Per Politico, they’re weighing whether toissue a blanket decision simply rejecting the notion that former presidents enjoy any immunity from criminal prosecution—an outcome favored by [special counsel Jack] Smith and his team—or a narrower ruling that focused on the specifics of Smith’s charges against Trump.”

Henderson mulled whether “a sweeping decision to deny immunity to former presidents could result in a flood of partisan prosecutions” as well as whether the panel should send the case back to the trial judge “for additional scrutiny on issues like whether Mr. Trump’s actions should be thought of as official or private,” according to The New York Times.

To “authorize the prosecution of a president for his official acts would open a Pandora’s Box from which this nation may never recover,” argued Trump’s lawyer, John Sauer, who then posed bizarre hypotheticals about whether a president could use the military to assassinate an opponent and be shielded from prosecution if not first convicted and impeached.

If Trump does not receive a favorable outcome—and it’s looking like he won’t—it’s likely that his legal team will appeal this to the Supreme Court. It’s worth noting that U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan already rejected Trump’s immunity claims last month, thus his current appeal. Basically, the actual trial will continue to be put on hold until the immunity claim is ruled on, then appealed (rinse and repeat as necessary).

Trump’s take: There will be “bedlam in the country” if the charges harm his candidacy, Trump said yesterday. “It’s the opening of a Pandora’s box,” he added. “I feel that as a president you have to have immunity—very simple.” (Is it, really?)

Israel update: Yesterday, the Israeli military killed Ali Hussein Barji, a senior Hezbollah militant who was allegedly responsible for the recent drone strike on one of Israel’s command sites in the north.

“Israel has long seen Hezbollah, with thousands of trained fighters and a deep arsenal of rockets and other weapons, as the most formidable foe on its borders,” reports The New York Times. Tensions have escalated since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, but have ramped up even more within the last few days, as Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah have exchanged strikes on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

Despite our preference for diplomacy over fighting and our continued strategic patience with Hezbollah aggression against our civilians, I don’t think we are left with any choice but to ensure the security of our communities in the north by the use of force. Massive force.

— Jonathan Conricus (@jconricus) January 9, 2024

Scenes from New YorkDespite being in favor of massively upping immigration quotas, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the shoddily-crafted migrant shelters of New York City are not, in fact, OK.

Some strange things are happening at the Floyd Bennett Field migrant shelter, which is technically federal parkland (and also near my house in Rockaway). Several new cars, seemingly yet inexplicably belonging to migrants housed in these city-provided shelters, were towed from the area. On Monday, while driving, I saw what looked like a new bus of migrants pulling up to the otherwise-deserted area. But then, last night, as a heavy storm rocked much of New York City, the 2,000 migrants housed at Floyd Bennett were evacuated to James Madison High School, in another part of Brooklyn, due to fears that the tent shelter would collapse due to high winds.

The kids who go to that high school? They were switched to remote learning for all of Wednesday, since migrants were now temporarily living in their classrooms.

Meanwhile, in another shelter on Randall’s Island, a 24-year-old Venezuelan migrant was just stabbed to death by other migrants in the shelter.

As of October, it was costing the city about $394 to house and feed each migrant, per day.


  • Manuel Rocha, the former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, stands accused of spying on behalf of the Cuban government. “I consider the Cubans more disciplined and more effective pound-for-pound than the KGB ever was,” James Olson, the former counterintelligence head at the CIA, told the BBC.
  • Turns out that Alaska Airlines flight mishap, in which a door on the plane flew off, was due to loose bolts.
  • An abortion/libel case at Notre Dame.
  • Movement in the polls:

New CNN poll in NH finds Haley within single digits, up 12 since their Nov. poll

Trump: 39

Haley: 32

Christie: 12

Vivek: 8

DeSantis: 5

— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) January 9, 2024

  • After six months of strikes, is Hollywood in trouble? “The number of scripted TV shows released in the US peaked at 599 in 2022, double the number in 2012,” reports Bloomberg. “Those days are over.”
  • I love this piece, which dunks on Quora, a cool-sounding website that ended up being pretty bad.
  • Good thread swatting away a foolish Vox piece that casts doubt on the idea that shoplifting is a problem:

The other thing, of course, is that if shoplifting falls in response to retailer countermeasures — more stuff locked-up, more cameras, more guards — that doesn’t show the shoplifting was fake or a nonproblem.

— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 9, 2024

  • Bill Ackman’s argument, that Business Insider is wrong to write about his wife’s possible plagiarism scandal because she’s an “intensely private person,” is an odd one:

Neri Oxman has had shows at museums. She’s been profiled in Vanity Fair & on the cover of magazines. But her husband thinks that because she’s an “intensely private person” she can’t also be a public figure? Woody Allen is also an intensely private person. Just bizarre logic.

— Katie Herzog (@kittypurrzog) January 10, 2024

More articles

Latest article