“As Trump Prosecutions Move Forward, Threats and Concerns Increase”

NY Times:

At the federal courthouse in Washington, a woman called the chambers of the judge assigned to the election interference case against former President Donald J. Trump and said that if Mr. Trump were not re-elected next year, “we are coming to kill you.”

At the Federal Bureau of Investigation, agents have reported concerns about harassment and threats being directed at their families amid intensifying anger among Trump supporters about what they consider to be the weaponization of the Justice Department. “Their children didn’t sign up for this,” a senior F.B.I. supervisor recently testified to Congress.

And the top prosecutors on the four criminal cases against Mr. Trump — two brought by the Justice Department and one each in Georgia and New York — now require round-the-clock protection.

As the prosecutions of Mr. Trump have accelerated, so too have threats against law enforcement authorities, judges, elected officials and others. The threats, in turn, are prompting protective measures, a legal effort to curb his angry and sometimes incendiary public statements, and renewed concern about the potential for an election campaign in which Mr. Trump has promised “retribution” to produce violence.

Given the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, scholars, security experts, law enforcement officials and others are increasingly warning about the potential for lone-wolf attacks or riots by angry or troubled Americans who have taken in the heated rhetoric.

In April, before federal prosecutors indicted Mr. Trump, one survey showed that 4.5 percent of American adults agreed with the idea that the use of force was “justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency.” Just two months later, after the first federal indictment of Mr. Trump, that figure surged to 7 percent.

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“Misinformation research is buckling under GOP legal attacks”

Must-read WaPo:

Academics, universities and government agencies are overhauling or ending research programs designed to counter the spread of online misinformation amid a legal campaign from conservative politicians and activists who accuse them of colluding with tech companies to censor right-wing views.

The escalating campaign — led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans in Congress and state government — has cast a pall over programs that study not just political falsehoodsbut also the quality of medical information online.

Facing litigation,Stanford University officials are discussing how they can continue tracking election-related misinformation through the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), a prominent consortium that flagged social media conspiracies about voting in 2020 and 2022, several participants told The Washington Post. The coalition of disinformation researchers may shrink and also may stop communicating with X and Facebook about their findings…..

Led by the Stanford Internet Observatory and the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, the coalition of researchers was formed in the middle of the 2020 presidential campaign to alert tech companies in real time about viral election-related conspiracies on their platforms. The posts, for example, falsely claimed Dominion Voting Systems’ software switched votes in favor of President Biden, an allegation that also was at the center of a defamation case that Fox News settled for $787 million.

In March 2021, the group released a nearly 300-page report documenting how false election fraud claims rippled across the internet, coalescing into the #StopTheSteal movement that fomented the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol. In its final report, the coalition noted that Meta, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok and YouTube labeled, removed or suppressed just over a third of the posts the researchers flagged.

But by 2022, the partnership was engulfed in controversy. Right-wing media outlets, advocacy groups and influencers such as the Foundation for Freedom Online, Just the News and far-right provocateur Jack Posobiec argued that the Election Integrity Partnership was part of a coalition with government and industry working to censor Americans’ speech online. (Posobiec didn’t respond to a request for comment, but after this story was published online he posted the request on X with the comment: “Every one of these programs will be penniless and powerless by the time I am done.”)

Jordan has sent several legal demands to see the coalition’sinternal communications with the government and social media platforms and hauled them into Congress to testify about their work.

Louis-Charles, the Judiciary Committee spokeswoman, said in a statement that the universities involved with EIP “played a unique role in the censorship industrial complex given their extensive, direct contacts with federal government agencies.”

The probe prompted members of the Election Integrity Partnership to reevaluate their participation in the coalition altogether. Stanford Internet Observatory founder Alex Stamos, whose group helps lead the coalition, told Jordan’s staff earlier this year that he would have to talk with Stanford’s leadership about the university’s continued involvement, according to a partial transcript filed in court.

“Since this investigation has cost the university now approaching seven [figure]legal fees, it’s been pretty successful, I think, in discouraging us from making it worthwhile for us to do a study in 2024,” Stamos said.

Kate Starbird, co-founder of the University of Washington Center for an Informed Public, declined to elaborate on specific plans to monitor the upcoming presidential race but said her group aims to put together a “similar coalition … to rapidly address harmful false rumors about the 2024 election.”

She added, “It’s clear to me that researchers and their institutions won’t be deterred by conspiracy theorists and those seeking to smear and silence this line of research for entirely political reasons.”…

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“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Flirts With the Libertarian Party”


For months, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has said he plans to continue his long-shot challenge against President Biden in the Democratic primary rather than dropping out to launch a third-party bid.

But lately Mr. Kennedy’s message has seemed to shift, including publicly telling a voter who asked about his plans that he was keeping his “options open.”

If Mr. Kennedy does decide to leave the party of his famous father and uncles to run in the general election, one potential landing spot may be the Libertarian Party, which at the moment lacks a widely known candidate but has excelled at securing ballot access.

In July, Mr. Kennedy met privately with Angela McArdle, the chair of the Libertarian Party, at a conference they were both attending in Memphis — a meeting that has not previously been reported….

In a general election, Democrats worry that a third-party run by Mr. Kennedy could draw votes away from Mr. Biden and help elect former President Donald J. Trump. They have expressed similar concerns about No Labels, the bipartisan group trying to recruit a moderate candidate for a third-party run, and also about the progressive scholar Cornel West, who is already in the race to lead the Green Party’s ticket for 2024.

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“In North Carolina, Republicans Seek More Control Over Elections”


Shortly before Gov. Roy Cooper, a North Carolina Democrat, began his first term in 2017, his rivals in the Republican-controlled legislature voted to strip the position of key powers, including the governor’s longstanding authority to appoint majorities to the state election board and local election boards in all 100 counties. After the state Supreme Court ruled that move illegal, the lawmakers put the idea on the ballot, but the state’s voters shot that down, too.

Now, seven years after their first try, the legislators appear on the verge of getting what they have long sought.

On Wednesday, the State House of Representatives followed the State Senate in passing legislation that would put the legislature in charge of all election board appointments. It would also change the number of positions on each board to split seats equally between Republican and Democratic members, eliminating the extra seat — controlled by the governor — that had served as a tiebreaker in disputes….

Another court challenge is likely. But it probably will end up before a state Supreme Court controlled by Republicans who have established a pattern of reversing past Democratic rulings in politically sensitive cases.

Well beyond any policy differences, the Republicans’ move to shift power from Governor Cooper to themselves underscores the blood-feud intensity of the political divide in a state evenly split between Republican and Democratic voters but where Republicans increasingly have gained political control.

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“Mississippi high court blocks appointment of some judges in majority-Black capital city and county”


The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday struck down part of a state law that would have authorized some circuit court judges to be appointed rather than elected in the capital city of Jackson and the surrounding county, which are both majority-Black.

Critics said the law was an effort by the majority-white Legislature to stomp on voting rights and to treat Jackson and Hinds County residents unfairly in a state where most judges are elected.

In the ruling, justices affirmed a part of the law that creates a new court to hear misdemeanor cases in a part of Jackson that includes the state Capitol and other state government buildings.

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“Republicans Will Encourage Voting Before Election Day”

Walter Olson at Cato:

A more systematic benefit is that campaigns can save money and target their resources more effectively if supporters vote early. If a household is already recorded in the state database two weeks before Election Day as having voted, there’s no need to bombard it with last‐​minute mailings and phone calls.

There is also reason to believe that mail and drop box voting appeals to many constituencies among whom Republicans tend to do well, such as retirees and homemaking moms. In fact, until Trump chose to impose a different narrative, Republicans in many states were thought to be more skillful users of mail voting.

Partisan interest aside, there are two ways in which the interest of the nation as a whole is likely to be well served by the GOP’s return to course on this point. First, it abets distrust, polarization, and gamesmanship for one voting method to be seen as somehow “belonging to” one side. If early in‐​person voting is no longer perceived as a Democratic specialty, it will be easier for states to weigh impartially how much of it to schedule (from election administrators’ perspective, there are potential burdens in providing either too little or too much of it). Likewise for other methods.

The second ground for renewed optimism is that allowing voters to sort themselves more evenly between ballot channels will tend to dissipate the “red mirage” phenomenon in which one party jumps off to an early lead based on an early counting of votes that were cast its favored way, only to see that lead diminish and reverse as votes from the other party’s favored channels get counted.

It is hard to exaggerate how much damage the “red mirage” did in setting up the conditions for much of the public to be misled about the 2020 presidential election.

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