Another week, another Trump flirtation with fascism

Gun Rights

Another week, another Trump flirtation with fascism

Trump’s Truth Social account reposted a video about a second term showing a fake newspaper that referred to a ‘unified reich’

Welcome back to the Stakes, our weekly US politics newsletter. I cover democracy issues, and I’m filling in for Adam Gabbatt this week as Donald Trump flirted with a third term in office (yes, that’s illegal) and posted a video promising a “unified reich” (yes, that’s Nazi-adjacent language). Weird how these anti-democratic “gaffes” keep happening! We’ll get into why that might be, after a look at what else is happening in US politics.

Here’s what you need to know

  1. Trump rests, but doesn’t get any rest

    On the 20th day of the hush money trial in New York, Trump declined to take the stand and the defense rested. Trump had falsely claimed he wasn’t allowed to take the stand: he was, and he chose not to. Outside the courtroom, he said although the defense would rest quickly, he himself would not be resting. “I don’t rest. I’d like to rest sometimes, but I don’t get to rest.”

  2. Biden’s Israel problem

    The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor applied for arrest warrants for leaders of both Israel and Hamas, and Joe Biden is not pleased. He called the warrant application “outrageous” and said: “We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.” His strong backing of Israel here comes as the progressive left continues to pressure him to end US support for the Israel-Gaza war.

  3. That’s not the way the flag goes

    An upside-down US flag – a symbol of those who believed the 2020 election was stolen – flew outside the home of supreme court justice Samuel Alito’s home shortly after the January 6 insurrection in 2021. Alito blamed his wife, saying she did it as part of a dispute with a neighbor, but many observers saw it as the latest example of the politicization of the high court.

Too many coincidences

Another week, another few instances of Trump flirting with fascism.

On Monday, Trump’s Truth Social account reposted a video about a second Trump term which included a fake newspaper with reference to a “unified reich”. The term means “empire” in German and is indelibly associated with Hitler’s rule, which the Nazis called the Third Reich.

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Biden’s campaign seized on it, saying Trump was telegraphing how he’d lead “as a dictator over a ‘unified reich’”. Trump’s campaign defended themselves by arguing it was all a mistake, saying a staffer reposted the video but didn’t see the words.

But the video remained on Trump’s page for 15 hours, long after media outlets had reported on it, and stayed up even after the Trump campaign had acknowledged it in its statement.

This pattern isn’t new for Trump: he will often use fascist language or nods to extremist groups, then claim it was a mistake or that the left and the media are twisting a narrative.

Like claiming he would be a “dictator on day one”, but only for a day. Or promising a “bloodbath” if he lost the election, which his campaign later declared was a reference to the auto industry. Or calling his political opponents “vermin” – something Hitler also did – and saying immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of the US.

Most recently, just days before the Truth Social video, speaking at the National Rifle Association’s convention, Trump floated the idea of a third term. US presidents are limited to two terms by the 22nd amendment to the constitution, which was passed in 1951 a few years after Franklin D Roosevelt won his fourth term.

“You know, FDR 16 years – almost 16 years – he was four terms. I don’t know, are we going to be considered three-term? Or two-term?” Trump asked the NRA crowd, some of whom responded “three!”

He has previously said he wouldn’t try for a third term – which is good, because it’s not clear how he could unless he figures out how to suspend or override the constitution – and if that were to happen, who knows what comes next.

Regardless, the prospect of “Trump forever” is clearly on voters’ minds when they’re deciding who to elect this year, a sign that his ongoing authoritarian bent is spooking at least part of the undecided electorate.

“I wouldn’t put it past him, now that he owns the RNC, to say: ‘Don Jr is going to do the next term, and he’ll get two,” said one focus group attendee who was quoted by Bloomberg.

“‘And then Barron will get two.’ And we’ll just have some fake monarchy.”

Worst week

Arizona’s fake electors. Eleven of them were arraigned on Tuesday in the state’s case against the people who falsely signed documents saying Trump won the state, and the Trump allies who drummed up the idea.

Among the 11 were Christina Bobb, an attorney who is now the Republican National Committee’s senior counsel for election integrity; Rudy Giuliani (last week’s “worst week” winner); former Arizona Republican party chair Kelli Ward and her husband, Michael; and Anthony Kern, a sitting state senator.

Giuliani, 80, is so far the only one charged who was required by the court to post a bond, for $10,000. The former New York City mayor led the attorney general’s office on a cross-country chase, which culminated at his birthday party – after taunting the AG on social media – where court officials served him the charges. He later complained that the summons was not delivered to him “stylishly”, though it’s more stylish than usual to serve charges by crashing an 80-year-old’s birthday bash.

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Biggest lie

Trump. The former president was in my home state last Friday for a fundraiser where he again told a whopper: that he won Minnesota in the 2020 election.

Obviously, he falsely claims nonstop that he won the entire election in 2020. But the Minnesota claim is a bit newer, as he tries to make the case that the state’s voters should swing to him.

“I thought we won it in 2016. I thought we won it in ’20 – I know we won it in 2020,” he said, according to NBC.

The 2020 election in Minnesota was not close: Trump lost by more than 233,000 votes, though he was closer in 2016, losing to Hillary Clinton by less than 45,000. Could he win the state in 2024? If he did, it would almost certainly mean Biden lost spectacularly nationwide: Minnesota is a Democratic stronghold for presidents, and the last Republican who won it was Richard Nixon in 1972.

Elsewhere in US politics

The majority of Americans – nearly three in five – wrongly believe the US is in an economic recession, and many blame Biden, an exclusive new poll for the Guardian revealed. You can also take our quiz to see if you know how the US economy is faring.

Two states have required schools to show an animated video in sex ed classes called Meet Baby Olivia, created by an anti-abortion group to show fetal development. Carter Sherman reports on the latest front of the anti-abortion movement.

A Republican concerned about election fraud in 2020 found no fraud once he took over his county’s elections after winning office, Alice Herman reports from conservative Hillsdale county, Michigan.

Words fail us

“If I put my name on something, I really believe it”: Rudy Giuliani, who declared bankruptcy and owes massive legal fees and debts from various civil and criminal lawsuits, on his new coffee line, which he called “smooth, rich, chocolatey and gentle on your stomach”.

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