Is Biden Going to Make 2024 a War Against MAGA?

This content comes from the latest installment of our weekly Breaking the Vote newsletter out of VICE News’ D.C. bureau, tracking the ongoing efforts to undermine the democratic process in America. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday.

It’s the democracy, stupid

Inflation is down, unemployment is too, and the economy appears headed for a soft landing that avoids a recession. And yet President Joe Biden remains in dangerously unpopular territory for an incumbent facing reelection. 

There are many reasons. One of them is the constant right-wing media drumbeat reverberating with the message, uncontaminated by evidence, that Biden is corrupt. 

That’s the political equation (in shorthand, admittedly) that explained Thursday’s dual events. In Washington, House Republicans continued their effort to muddy up Biden with an impeachment inquiry hearing that included (you guessed it) no evidence of his wrongdoing. And in Arizona, at an event honoring the late GOP Sen. John McCain, the White House provided alternate viewing of the President of the United States identifying MAGA Republicans as a direct threat to democracy who must be defeated in the next election. 

Biden went further than he’s ever gone in publicly describing the direct threat Trump poses to democratic institutions, and the danger that broader GOP silence poses. Republicans—including those on the primary debate stage Wednesday night—have said effectively nothing in response to Trump’s appalling statement that Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, should be executed. 

“The silence is deafening,” Biden said. 

Biden has made pitches for defending democracy against this internal authoritarian threat before. But this was new: “Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican or an independent, put the preservation of our democracy before everything else,” Biden said, after itemizing Trump’s promises to turn the government into an instrument of retribution for MAGA grievances, and, most importantly, himself. 

Biden’s campaign has been road-testing the message of the recession-dodging, low-unemployment, “America’s back” recovery they call “Bidenomics.” And that makes a lot of sense in an “it’s the economy, stupid” campaign of conventional politics. But so far it just isn’t selling with independent voters.  

That helps explain Biden’s rhetorical pivot to defending democracy. No matter how you feel about the economy, or me, or my age, put preserving the Constitution first. But it also explains the very specific counterprogramming choice Thursday: Pairing a plea for democracy and bipartisan normalcy on one side of the screen with House Republicans’ faltering, Trump-boosting impeachment crusade on the other.

Dems are having a deeper debate over how to counter top-down GOP messaging that’s morphed into full-blown Trump-aligned propaganda. The tl;dr: Establishment Dems like Biden and Nancy Pelosi tend to believe Dems win by talking about and delivering popular economic wins. Like, the White House would argue, Bidenomics. Others believe the only way to counter GOP disinformation and zero-sum politics is a frontal assault confronting voters with the news that the GOP is no longer normal, and that it’s hell-bent on helping Trump get away with crimes and destroy democracy. 

The 2024 election is more than a year away, and there are too many corners to turn to know what path Biden will ultimately choose. But Biden just showed more than a passing curiosity in a new way to run. And Trump isn’t going to get any less threatening.

Don’t forget to sign up your friends for Breaking the Vote!

Flowers for Engoron

It looks like what’s left of New York AG Letitia James’ massive civil case against Donald Trump, his adult sons, and his business will go to trial Monday. No one seems to know exactly what Justice Arthur Engoron’s bombshell ruling—without even going to trial—that Trump et al participated in years of persistent fraud really means. Including Justice Engoron.

The witness lists for the trial are out. They include the Trump kids, the disgraced former president himself, Michael Cohen, Allen Weisselberg (released from jail in April) and more. 

As of now, the charters that allow Trump to operate in New York State are null and void. What happens with assets like Trump Tower or 40 Wall St. in Manhattan? Will Trump be forced to sell? Will the AG’s $250 million in requested fines stick, or be higher? Apparently that all has to be figured out. 

Those are big questions, worth a lot of money. They’d cause almost anyone to spend an entire day attacking a judge on social media. The appeals are 100% coming.

Local motion

Donald Trump won’t try to remove his 13-count Georgia racketeering and conspiracy case to federal court, his lawyer said in a filing last night. Trump was widely expected to try to move his case out of Fulton County and into US District Court, where he could access a more favorable jury pool and, crucially, keep his eventual trial off of TV. 

That was before Mark Meadows lost his bid to remove his case (that’s still under appeal.) Several other defendants, including former DOJ attorney Jeffrey Clark and three of the fake electors, also are yet to successfully remove their cases.  Trump attorney Steven Sadow told the court Trump wouldn’t try, and would put his trust in the Fulton County Superior Court to give him “a fair trial and guarantee him due process of law.” 

Crawl and response

Delay is the only strategy available if Trump wants to make the four felony cases against him go away. So it’s extremely easy to see why his lawyers are now seeking months of delay in both federal cases against him. Yesterday Trump asked for a two-month delay in the federal coup case, and the day before asked for a three-month delay in the Mar-a-Lago docs case. 


Judge Tanya Chutkan won’t be removing herself from Trump’s four-count felony trial for trying to overturn the election. The ruling this week was no surprise, and couldn’t have been a surprise to Trump’s attorneys. They staked their recusal demand on comments obliquely referring to Trump in the context of sentencing other Jan. 6 defendants. 

Judge Chutkan recusing herself from the case was always the longest of longshots. What’s far more important to Trump is the claim that Chutkan, and the whole process, are weaponizing bias to persecute him. That’s a political claim that Trump will continue to deploy as his bid to avoid prison becomes inexorably tangled with his campaign. 

But there’s something important to watch here. Chutkan is also due to rule on the Special Counsel’s request to partially gag Trump from attacking witnesses, lawyers, the judge, or evidence in the trial. The government argues Trump’s ongoing attacks are attempts to intimidate witnesses and poison the jury pool. 

It’s hard to know how far Judge Chutkan will go. But any ruling to protect the fairness of the trial by limiting Trump’s speech rights will surely be met with even louder howls of bias. When Trump crosses whatever line Chutkan establishes (and he will), he’ll cry louder still.  One could even deduce that goading the judge into a confrontation that feeds a political narrative is exactly what Trump is trying to do.

Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to Mark Meadows when he was White House chief of staff in the Trump administration, is sworn in as the House Jan. 6 select committee holds a public hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Are you being served?

You’ve probably seen a lot of Cassidy Hutchinson this week. Remember how she fired her Trump-funded lawyer, got new counsel, then somehow felt freer to tell the truth to the January 6 committee? 

A similar dance is playing out in the Mar-a-Lago documents and obstruction case. Already we know that Yuscil Taveras, the IT guy who was allegedly ordered to delete Mar-a-Lago security footage, avoided indictment after he got rid of his Trump-aligned lawyer and decided to cooperate. Now Judge Aileen Cannon has granted prosecutors’ request to inform other defendants that their lawyers may also have conflicts that prevent them from representing their best interests. 

It’s called a Garcia hearing. And it guarantees that (in this case) Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira are made aware that their lawyers also represent key witnesses in the case, who are likely to testify against the defendants. (You can see the conflict of interest: these lawyers could wind up representing both sides of the case at trial.) 

Nauta and De Oliveira can waive the warnings and stick with their lawyers, but then they can’t appeal later on the grounds that they had conflicted counsel. 

Jack Smith has had just about enough of Trump (or his PAC) keeping potential witnesses against him loyal by paying for their attorneys. In the recent fight over access to Trump’s Twitter account, the Special Counsel called it part of an “obstructive effort” by Trump, who “represents a significant risk of tampering with evidence.”  

No doxx allowed

When court records revealed the names of grand jurors who returned indictments in the Fulton County RICO case, those people were promptly doxxed and harassed. Now Judge Scott McAffee ordered that lawyers, reporters, and anyone else observing the trials of Trump and his 18 co-defendants avoid writing, broadcasting, or describing any identifying info about jurors.  

Crimson tried

SCOTUS this week put a stop to Alabama Republicans’ attempts to ignore an order to stop diluting Black citizens’ votes. It took just one sentence for the court to slap away the GOP’s latest appeal, which should be the final straw: Alabama now has to create a second Black-majority congressional district in its seven-seat map. 

The ruling also likely flips one GOP seat in the House to Democrats, which is a big deal while Speaker (as of this writing) Kevin McCarthy loses control of his angstrom-thin 5-vote majority. 

But more important than House math, the ruling reasserts the federal judiciary over defiant Alabama Republicans, who angered judges by refusing to comply with their orders. Remember, SCOTUS already ruled back in June that Alabama’s dilution of Black votes violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The Republicans who run the legislature and the governor's office turned around and generated new maps that, according to the 11th Circuit, very obviously didn’t come close to an order to create a second district with majority or close-to-majority Black representation. 

But the GOP stuck to it anyway, making sure white voters in heavily conservative Alabama saw them refusing to the last to obey outsiders’ orders that they cede a modicum of power to Blacks. They appealed back to SCOTUS, which, this week said, 5-4, “we meant it.” 

And keep your eyes on Louisiana and Georgia. The Alabama ruling is likely to influence Section 2 racial gerrymandering cases pending in both states. 

Laboratories of monstrosity

I spend a lot of time here chronicling the GOP’s anti-democracy experiment under Trump. Sure, Jan. 6 was cool, but have you ever tried undermining voters’ will at the state level? 

Republicans in Wisconsin are still maneuvering to impeach a State Supreme Court Justice who won election by 11 points (!) because she might rule against their most-gerrymandered-in-America electoral map. Ohio Republicans tried, and failed, to put their unpopular abortion position beyond voters’ reach by raising the threshold to pass referenda from 50% to 60%. 

Now, make way for North Carolina, where Republicans Republicans are about to pass a bill stripping the Democratic governor’s longstanding power to appoint majorities to state and local election boards. Instead, that power will go to the legislature, where Republicans have a gerrymandered supermajority. 

Republicans have already spent years hammering the courts and the legislature to entrench GOP rule in a state where voters are evenly divided. 

“He can go testify under oath if he has strong feelings about that.”

— Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, on Mark Meadows’ claim, through a spokesman, that her accounts of Jan. 6 and the coup attempt are filled with “half truths” and “falsehoods.” 

Western bomblet — Roughly 40% of local election officials in the western region of the country have left their jobs since the 2020 election, according to a report of 11 states released this week. The number represents a massive drain on experience in running elections and raises the risk of errors and inefficiency, it warned. 

In Nevada, 59% of election officials turned over. In Arizona, a hotbed of election conspiracies and threats, it was 80%. Some officials left because of term limits or retirement. But many fled their posts because of harassment and intimidation, according to the report. 

Third time’s a harm — Losing Arizona governor candidate Kari Lake is awaiting a verdict in her third attempt to use the courts to cast doubt on the 2022 election, which she lost. A trial wrapped up this week where Lake is seeking access to 1.3 million Maricopa County voter signatures. Her case doesn’t challenge the election results, but Lake wants access to the signatures in her ongoing disinformation campaign claiming that the election was improperly run. 

Lake lost two other cases related to her 2022 loss. But as a leading MAGA acolyte and likely GOP Senate candidate, she’s extremely likely to use the signatures to publicize voters’ identities and further claim widespread fraud that didn’t happen. 

Fraud-o-matic! — Now you can inflate your property’s value like the Trump Organization does! Just how much would your house be worth if Trump reported it to a bank or insurance company? Use this handy tool to apply Trump’s fraudulent business practices to your own life. A $400,000 home put through the Trump Org’s fraud logic would go for $1 million, $6 million, even more than $13 million. Go nuts! 

Learn to cover Trump right before it’s too late. 


Trump’s sprawling legal defense effort comes under strain.


Democracy and distrust: Overcoming threats to the 2024 election.



You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: Premium WordPress Themes | Thanks to Themes Gallery, Bromoney and Wordpress Themes