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Trump’s Potential Trials Are a One-Man “Stress Test of the Legal System”
It’s the end of a week in which former President Donald Trump said that he would be indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, for a hundred-and-thirty-thousand-dollar hush-money payment to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels—and still no charge. But just the prospect of an indictment has created a furor among Trump’s Republican allies in the House, who called Bragg’s investigation a “sham” and the District Attorney “radical.” Jim Jordan, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, led an inquiry into the Manhattan D.A.’s office—a move that the D.A.’s general counsel called an “unlawful incursion into New York’s sovereignty.” In this week’s political roundtable, the New Yorker staff writers Susan B. Glasser, Jane Mayer, and Evan Osnos look at the political ramifications of the still-looming indictment, the terrifying threat of political violence, and what a Trump “perp walk” could mean.
Donald Trump Braces for an Indictment in the Stormy Daniels Case
This week, reports circulated that the former President Donald Trump would be indicted for paying hush money to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels in 2016. But on Wednesday—the day that the indictment was expected—the New York grand jury declined to meet. Still, whatever the outcome of the Stormy Daniels case, Trump faces significant legal trouble. Investigations are under way into his alleged attempt to overturn the election in Georgia, his role in the January 6th attack, and classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. Will any of these actually hurt him? Or will they help fuel another highly unorthodox Presidential campaign? Amy Davidson Sorkin joins Tyler Foggatt to discuss the gambit of Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan District Attorney, who could charge Trump in the Stormy Daniels case, and the broader attempts to hold the former President accountable.
What Happens if the Supreme Court Ends Affirmative Action?
In Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority appears likely to strike down affirmative action, in a decision expected by this summer. The practice of considering race as a tool to counteract discrimination has been in place at many colleges and universities, and in some workplaces, since the civil-rights era. But a long-running legal campaign has threatened the practice for decades. David Remnick talks with two academics who have had a front-row seat in this fight. Ruth Simmons tells him, “For me, it’s quite simply the question of what will become of us as a nation if we go into our separate enclaves without the opportunity to interact and to learn from each other.” Simmons was the Ivy League’s first Black president, and more recently led Prairie View A. & M., in Texas. Lee Bollinger, while leading the University of Michigan, was the defendant in Grutter v. Bollinger, a landmark case twenty years ago in which the Supreme Court upheld affirmative action. The Court’s current conservative majority is likely to overturn that precedent.
Remnick also speaks with Femi Ogundele, the dean of undergraduate admissions at the University of California,Berkeley. Consideration of race in admissions at California state schools has been banned for nearly thirty years. “A lot of us are being kind of tapped on the shoulder and asked, ‘How are you doing what you’re doing in this new reality?’ ” he says. “I want to be very clear: I do not think there is any race-neutral alternative to creating diversity on a college campus,” Ogundele tells Remnick. “However, I do think we can do better than what we’ve done.”
We’re Living in a World Created by the Iraq War
Reverberations of the global “war on terror”—launched by the Bush Administration following the attacks of September 11, 2001—have rippled throughout the world, taking hundreds of thousands of lives and costing trillions of U.S. dollars. This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, conducted on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The New Yorker staff writers Susan B. Glasser, Jane Mayer, and Evan Osnos all spent time writing and reporting on the Iraq War and its aftermath—including from within Iraq. In our weekly roundtable, they look at the profound consequences of the war and how it has impacted today’s politics—through, for example, the rise of Donald Trump, debates over America’s role in the war in Ukraine, and widespread distrust of experts and the mainstream media. We are living in a world the Iraq War created, and Glasser, Mayer, and Osnos explain how.
Masha Gessen on the War Against Trans Rights
Masha Gessen has long written about Russia, and recently the war in Ukraine. But Gessen also has a deep background reporting on L.G.B.T.Q. rights. A dual citizen of Russia and the U.S., Gessen fled Russia when they were targeted by government repression of L.GB.T. people. Some of the same rhetoric that Vladimir Putin used is now appearing in bills that aim to criminalize transitioning. “All of these bills are about signalling, and what they’re signalling is the essence of past-oriented politics,” Gessen told David Remnick. “A message that says, ‘We are going to return you to a time when you were comfortable, when things weren’t scary … when you didn’t fear that your kid was going to come home from school and tell you that they’re trans.’ … Promising to take that anxiety away is truly powerful.” Gessen looks at the rapid escalation of laws in the United States that ban medical treatment for trans youth, and aspects of trans identity. “When I see that transgender care … for kids … is already illegal in some states,” Gessen says, “and for adults is likely to become illegal in some states, I know that my testosterone in New York is probably not as safe as I think it is.”
Gessen also discusses how the embattled political climate and clear dangers for trans people make nuanced conversations difficult. For instance, Gessen feels that at least some of Dave Chappelle’s jokes about trans people could be seen as sophisticated, “next-level trans accepting.” Gessen also discusses the recent backlash against mainstream media outlets for coverage of issues like detransitioning. Detransitioning has received too much of a focus, Gessen says, and focussing on it plays into a narrative that transitioning young should be discouraged. Yet the possibility of regret on the part of trans people shouldn’t necessarily be denied; better, Gessen said, to accept that regret may accompany any major life change. “We normalize regret in all other areas of life,” Gessen told Remnick. “Kids and their parents, especially teen-agers, make a huge number of decisions that have lifelong implications.”