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Trump Starts Off 2024 Bid With Events In Early Voting States

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COLUMBIA, South Carolina — Former President Donald Trump will kick off his bid for the presidency in 2024 with visits to two early-voting states on Saturday, his first campaign event since launching his campaign more than two months ago.

Trump will deliver the keynote address at the New Hampshire Republican Party’s annual meeting before traveling to Columbia, South Carolina, to unveil his leadership team at the Statehouse. The states control two of the party’s first three nominating contests, giving them enormous sway over the party’s nominee.

Trump and his supporters hope that the events will show how much support there is for the former president after his campaign got off to a slow start, which has made many people wonder if he really wants to run again. His supporters have recently reached out to political operatives and elected officials to get their support for Trump’s reelection at a crucial time when other Republicans are getting ready for their own expected challenges.

“The gun has been discharged, and the campaign season has begun,” said Stephen Stepanek, chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party and co-chair of Trump’s 2016 campaign in the state.

While Trump remains the only declared presidential candidate for 2024, a slew of potential challengers, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as Trump’s UN ambassador, is widely expected to launch campaigns in the coming months.

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Trump Has Struggled To Rally Support

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, and several members of the state’s congressional delegation are expected to attend the event on Saturday. However, Trump’s campaign has struggled to rally support from state lawmakers, including some who enthusiastically supported him in previous runs.

Some have stated that it is too early to make endorsements more than a year before the primary election or that they are waiting to see who else enters the race. Others have suggested that the party look beyond Trump to a new generation of leaders.

Republican state Rep. RJ May, vice chair of South Carolina’s state House Freedom Caucus, said he wouldn’t attend Trump’s event because he was too preoccupied with the Freedom Caucus’ legislative battle with the GOP caucus. He stated he was open to other Republican candidates in the 2024 election.

“I believe we’ll have a very strong slate of candidates here in South Carolina,” said May, who supported Trump in 2016 and 2020. “I would take a Donald Trump over Joe Biden,” he added.

According to Dave Wilson, president of the conservative Christian nonprofit Palmetto Family, some conservative voters may be concerned about Trump’s recent remarks that Republicans who opposed abortion without exceptions had cost the party critical midterm victories in 2022.

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Lots Of People To Attend The Event

“It makes some people in the conservative ranks of the Republican Party wonder whether we need the process to work itself out,” said Wilson, whose organization hosted Pence for a speech in 2021. “You must continue to earn your vote,” he added. Nothing is presumptuous.”

Wilson said South Carolina GOP voters may be looking for “a candidate who can be the standard-bearer not only for now but to build ongoing momentum across America for conservatism for the next few decades,” despite acknowledging that Trump “did some phenomenal things when he was president,” such as securing a conservative U.S. Supreme Court majority.

Gerri McDaniel, who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign and will attend Saturday’s event, disagreed with the notion that voters were ready to let go of the former president.

“Some in the media claim he’s losing support. “No, he isn’t,” she clarified. “It’s only going to get worse because so many people are angry about what’s going on in Washington.”

The South Carolina event, which took place in a government building surrounded by elected officials, is out of character for a former reality TV star who prefers large rallies and has tried to build a reputation as an outsider. But Trump is a former president who wants to get back into office by comparing his time in office to the current one.

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This Rally Has Been Costly For Trump

Rallies are also costly, and Trump, who is notoriously frugal, added new financial challenges by launching his campaign in November — far earlier than many allies had advised. As a result, he is subject to strict fundraising regulations and is prohibited from using his well-funded leadership PAC to fund such events, which can cost millions of dollars.

Officials expect Trump to speak in the Statehouse’s second-floor lobby, an opulent ceremonial area between the House and Senate chambers.

The venue has hosted some of South Carolina’s most significant political news moments, including Haley’s 2015 signing of legislation to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds and Gov. Henry McMaster’s 2021 signing of legislation prohibiting abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy. McMaster has vowed to seek a rehearing after the state Supreme Court recently ruled the abortion law unconstitutional.

Trump’s new campaign had already caused a lot of anger, especially when he had dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes, who doesn’t believe in the Holocaust, and the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who has made a lot of anti-Semitic comments. Trump also got a lot of flak for selling digital trading cards that showed him as, among other things, a superhero, a cowboy, and an astronaut.

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Criminal Investigations Still Pending

Simultaneously, he is the subject of several criminal investigations, including one into the discovery of hundreds of documents with classified markings at his Mar-a-Lago club and whether he obstructed justice by refusing to return them, as well as state and federal inquiries into his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

Still, Trump is the only one who has said he will run for president in 2024, and early polls show that he is the favorite to win the nomination of his party.

Stepanek, who must remain neutral as New Hampshire party chair, dismissed Trump’s slow start, which campaign officials say accounts for time spent putting infrastructure in place for a national campaign.

“There’s been a lot of anticipation, a lot of excitement” for Trump’s reelection in New Hampshire, he said. He claimed that Trump’s ardent supporters are still behind him.

“There are a lot of people who weren’t with him in ’15, ’16, then became Trumpers, then became never-Trumpers,” Stepanek explained. “But the people who backed him in New Hampshire, who helped propel him to victory in the New Hampshire primary in 2016, they’re all still there, waiting for the president.”

SOURCE – (AP)

 

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Supreme Court Restores Trump To Ballot, Rejecting State Attempts To Ban Him Over Capitol Attack

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Trump Facing 37 Felony Charges, Indictment Unsealed

Washington — On Monday, the Supreme Court overwhelmingly reinstated Donald Trump on the 2024 presidential primary ballot, rejecting state attempts to bar the Republican former President over the Capitol brawl.

The judges concluded a day before the Super Tuesday primaries that states cannot use a post-Civil War constitutional provision to exclude presidential candidates from appearing on ballots. That authority rests with Congress, the court wrote in an unsigned ruling.

On his social media network, Trump said shortly after the ruling was announced, “BIG WIN FOR AMERICA!!!”

The case constituted the court’s first direct ruling on a presidential election issue in a generation, dating back to Bush v. Gore in 2000. However, it is unlikely to be the last, as Trump is facing four distinct criminal charges and has another Supreme Court appearance scheduled for April.

The verdict puts a stop to efforts in Colorado, Illinois, Maine, and other states to remove Trump, the front-runner for his party’s nomination, from the ballot due to his plans to recoup his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, culminating in the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold expressed dismay with the court’s judgment, noting that “Donald Trump is an eligible candidate in Colorado’s 2024 Presidential Primary.”

Trump’s case was the first before the Supreme Court to address a section of the 14th Amendment created after the Civil War to prohibit former officeholders who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office again.

Donald Trump is facing four criminal indictments and a civil suit. You can keep track of all the cases here.

Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled, in a first-of-its-kind decision, that the provision, Section 3, may be applied against Trump, whom the court said incited the Capitol attack. No court had before applied Section 3 to a presidential candidate.

In their judgments on Monday, the judges avoided the politically charged question of insurrection.

The court ruled that states can disqualify applicants for state office. “But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency,” the court stated in its ruling.

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Supreme Court Restores Trump To Ballot, Rejecting State Attempts To Ban Him Over Capitol Attack

While all nine justices agreed that Trump should be on the ballot, the three liberal members of the court and conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett disagreed that their colleagues went too far in determining what Congress must do to disqualify someone from federal office.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson agreed that upholding the Colorado decision could result in a “chaotic state-by-state patchwork,” but disagreed with the majority’s conclusion that a disqualification for insurrection can only occur when Congress enacts legislation. “Today, the majority goes beyond the necessities of this case to limit how Section 3 can bar an oathbreaking insurrectionist from becoming President,” the three justices wrote in a unanimous judgment.

It is still being determined whether the verdict allows Congress to refuse to certify Trump’s or any other presidential candidate’s election if it believes they violated Section 3.

Derek Muller, a legal professor at the University of Notre Dame, said, “It appears no,” noting that the liberals objected to the majority opinion eliminating any other options for Congress to implement the rule. Rick Hasen, a legal professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, said that Congress’s boundaries could be clearer.

Hasen was among those who urged the court to resolve the issue so that Congress would not reject Trump under Section 3 when electoral votes are counted on January 6, 2025.

“We may well have a nasty, nasty post-election period in which Congress tries to disqualify Trump but the Supreme Court says Congress exceeded its powers,” he warned in an email.

Both sides had asked for quick action from the court, which heard arguments less than a month ago, on February 8. The justices were preparing to decide in Trump’s favour.

Trump had been removed from the ballots in Colorado, Maine, and Illinois, but all three verdicts were on hold until a Supreme Court decision.

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Supreme Court Restores Trump To Ballot, Rejecting State Attempts To Ban Him Over Capitol Attack

The lawsuit is the court’s most direct participation in a presidential election since Bush v. Gore, which effectively gave the 2000 election to Republican George W. Bush. And it’s just one of several cases involving Trump that could affect his chances of reelection, including a late April hearing on whether he can be criminally prosecuted on election interference charges, including his role in the January 6 Capitol attack. Trump has claimed ultimate protection from prosecution. The timing of the high court’s intervention has sparked speculation that Trump will be tried before the November election.

The hearings in February marked the first time the high court heard a case utilizing Section 3. The two-sentence rule, intended to prevent some Confederates from gaining office again, states that those who breach oaths to support the Constitution are forbidden from holding different posts, including congressional seats or acting as presidential electors. However, it makes no specific reference to the presidency.

Both conservative and liberal judges questioned the case against Trump. Their primary worry was whether Congress should intervene before states could invoke the 14th Amendment. There were also disputes over whether the provision covers the President.

The lawyers for Republican and independent voters who sued to remove Trump’s name from the Colorado ballot argued that there is ample evidence that the events of January 6 constituted an insurrection, which was incited by Trump, who had urged a crowd of his supporters at a rally outside the White House to “fight like hell.” They claimed it would be ludicrous to apply Section 3 to everything except the presidency or that Trump is somehow exempt. They contended that the provision does not require any enabling legislation.

Following the verdict, the President of the liberal-leaning organization that represented the voters cited the court’s silence on whether Trump incited the revolt. “They had the opportunity to exonerate Donald Trump, but they did not do so,” said Noah Bookbinder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

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Supreme Court Restores Trump To Ballot, Rejecting State Attempts To Ban Him Over Capitol Attack

Trump’s lawyers made various points on why the Amendment cannot be used to take him off the ballot. They claimed the January 6 disturbance was not an insurrection and that, even if it was, Trump did not go to the Capitol or join the rioters. They further stated that the Amendment’s text excludes the presidency and presidential contenders. They asserted that even if all of those reasons failed, Congress must approve legislation to resurrect Section 3.

The case was resolved by a court that included three Justices Trump chose as President. They have considered other Trump-related issues in recent years, rejecting his spurious accusations of fraud in the 2020 election and refusing to protect tax information from Congress and New York prosecutors.

The 5-4 judgment in Bush v. Gore, issued more than 23 years ago, was the last time the court became so involved in presidential politics. Only Justice Clarence Thomas remains on the bench from that time. Thomas has rebuffed requests from several Democratic senators to withdraw from the Trump lawsuit since his wife, Ginni, supported Trump’s effort to reverse the 2020 election results and attended the rally preceding Trump supporters’ assault of the Capitol.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Zelensky Warns ‘Millions Will Be Killed’ Without US Aid To Kyiv, As Ukrainian Troop Deaths Reach At Least 31,000

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Zelensky: “Millions” of people may die in Ukraine’s war with Russia if US senators do not support President Joe Biden’s $60 billion aid request for Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN on Sunday.

When CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked about US Senator J.D. Vance’s remark that the war’s outcome would not alter if Ukraine received the money, Zelensky said he was not convinced Vance “understands what is going on here.”

“Coming to the front line to see what’s happening, speaking with people, and then going to civilians to understand what will happen to them without this support is the key to understanding it.” He will understand that millions will be slain. “It is a fact,” Zelensky stated.

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Zelensky Warns ‘Millions Will Be Killed’ Without US Aid To Kyiv, As Ukrainian Troop Deaths Reach At Least 31,000

“Of course he doesn’t understand, God bless you don’t have the war on your territory,” he said.

Zelensky’s warning came only hours after the Ukrainian commander admitted to troop casualties for the first time at a conference in Kyiv, claiming that approximately 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the fight thus far.

Zelensky addressed the gathering and refuted Russian allegations of far more Ukrainian casualties. He also stated that “tens of thousands” of civilians have been killed in Ukrainian territories captured by Russian soldiers.

“It’s a huge loss for us. This war claimed the lives of 31,000 Ukrainians, including soldiers. Not 300,000. “Not 150,000, whatever (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is lying about,” Zelensky stated. “Every loss is a huge loss to us.”

CNN cannot independently verify the figures, which come on the same weekend that Ukraine marks two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

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Zelensky Warns ‘Millions Will Be Killed’ Without US Aid To Kyiv, As Ukrainian Troop Deaths Reach At Least 31,000

Throughout the crisis, Kyiv has been reticent to acknowledge how many soldiers have died. Former Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov stated in June 2022 that he estimated tens of thousands of Ukrainians had been slain since February of the same year.

Two months later, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, then-head of Ukraine’s armed forces, announced that 9,000 troops had been slain.

According to US sources, over 70,000 soldiers have been dead, with roughly twice that many injured.

Meanwhile, Russia has lost a staggering 87% of its active-duty ground forces before the invasion, according to a source familiar with a declassified US intelligence estimate delivered to Congress in December.

Zelensky’s remarks come as his country suffers setbacks on the battlefield and struggles to gain additional aid from Western partners. In the United States, isolationist Republicans have blocked a foreign aid package in the House of Representatives.

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Zelensky Warns ‘Millions Will Be Killed’ Without US Aid To Kyiv, As Ukrainian Troop Deaths Reach At Least 31,000

The Ukrainian leader stated that his country is waiting for Congress to act.

“They understand we need their help,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky also mentioned the prospect of attending a peace summit in Switzerland in the spring but cautioned that Russia might not be involved. He claimed that Putin “does not want to end this war.”\

SOURCE – (CNN)

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Alexei Navalny: Hundreds Chant Defiance As They Bid Farewell To Navalny

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Thousands of Russians ignored fear and turned out to say goodbye to opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

On February 16, President Vladimir Putin’s most vociferous critic died in jail.

Authorities had warned that any protest would be illegal. However, a large number of police officers stood by as the crowd yelled Navalny’s name or expressed their opposition to the Russian president.

Mr Putin’s supporters, relatives, and many international leaders have all blamed him for his death.

Russian authorities refute any such allegations, claiming Navalny died of natural causes. He was spending a lengthy sentence in an Arctic jail colony on fabricated charges.

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Alexei Navalny: Hundreds Chant Defiance As They Bid Farewell To Navalny

Russian authorities refute any such allegations, claiming Navalny died of natural causes. He was spending a lengthy sentence in an Arctic jail colony on fabricated charges.

It was believed that authorities would crack down on Friday’s funeral.

Indeed, on Friday morning, a large police presence was seen in Maryino, the Moscow neighbourhood where the funeral was placed and where Navalny had resided with his family for many years.

Despite the grey winter’s day and temperatures hovering slightly around freezing, Navalny’s team estimated that the queue of people stretched for well over 1km (0.6 miles).

However, none of the police officers, many of whom were wearing full riot gear, intervened when expressions of support for Navalny became overtly political.

Thousands screamed “No to War,” “Russia Without Putin,” and “Russia Will Be Free,” sentiments that have previously cost numerous Russians in jail.

The memorial service started shortly after 14:00 Moscow time (11:00 GMT) at the Church of the Icon of Our Lady Quench My Sorrows.

It came after much confusion and protests from Navalny’s team that the authorities were making arrangements difficult, including locating a hearse.

However, hundreds began to come hours before the proceedings began. Foreign dignitaries, including ambassadors from the United States, Germany, and France, later joined them.

The ceremony inside the church was brief; a photograph on social media depicted an open casket, which is usual in Russia, with mourners paying their respects. Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila, and father, Anatoly, were spotted sitting together.

People threw flowers and carnations onto the hearse as the church bell tolled and Navalny’s casket was hauled outside, shouting, “We won’t forget you!”

Following the service, several people approached Lyudmila and hugged her, saying, “Thank you for your son” and “forgive us”.

Navalny’s widow, Yulia; his daughters Daria, 23; Zakhar, 15; and his brother, Oleg, are all believed to reside overseas and were absent.

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Hundreds Chant Defiance As They Bid Farewell To Navalny

Yulia has lately stated that she will continue Navalny’s political activities, which may make it dangerous for her to return to Russia, where Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation has been branded an extremist organization.

While the burial occurred, she posted a heartfelt tribute on social media, praising Navalny for “26 years of absolute happiness”.

“I don’t know how to live without you, but I will try to do it so you – up there – can be happy and proud of me,” she said.

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation team took the initiative to provide live feeds of the burial proceedings without independent Russian media.

The YouTube channel from which Navalny frequently addressed his fans streamed footage from his funeral. More than a quarter of a million people tuned in all day.

The burial was finally held in Borisovskoye Cemetery around 16:00.

Navalny’s coffin was lowered into the ground to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s My Way and an orchestral version of the Terminator 2 theme song. “Navalny thought The Terminator 2 was the best film in the whole world,” his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on social media.

People continued to queue outside the cemetery as dusk fell, where a sign read: “Putin killed him but didn’t break him.”

“Now is not the time to be a coward. “Those people in our government are cowards because they are afraid of us,” one mourner told BBC Newshour. “We’re just humans with flowers and cemeteries. “That is all.”

By Friday evening, 45 people had reportedly been arrested throughout Russia for attending Navalny mourning rallies.

Overall, the brutal, broad crackdown that many had feared did not occur. In comparison, the authorities’ response to people leaving flowers at improvised memorials following Navalny’s death resulted in hundreds of arrests.

Police may seek out some people who attended today’s proceedings in the coming days. Earlier this week, it was claimed that surveillance cameras had been put around the cemetery.

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Hundreds Chant Defiance As They Bid Farewell To Navalny

Before the funeral, First Department, a group of lawyers and human rights defenders, warned that detentions after the ceremony “could not be ruled out” and advised mourners to “stay under the radar of security forces – do not use public transport or apply for paperwork in the days after the funeral.”

Online initiatives, such as a website where people can light a “virtual candle” for Navalny, have drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Today was the greatest opposition gathering in Russia since Navalny’s imprisonment in January 2021.
Many mourners may have felt it was their final opportunity to join with thousands of like-minded people.

Navalny organised protests and marches for nearly a decade that drew tens of thousands of people in Moscow and elsewhere.

With him gone, it’s still being determined who else could get the level of public support he did.

SOURCE – (BBC)

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