Trump clinches GOP nomination for third consecutive U.S. Presidential election, setting up rematch with Biden

Donald Trump, whose single turbulent term in the White House transformed the Republican Party, tested the resilience of democratic institutions in the U.S. and threatened alliances abroad, will lead the GOP in a third consecutive presidential election after clinching the nomination on March 12.

With wins in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington state, Mr. Trump surpassed the 1,215-delegate threshold needed to become the presumptive Republican nominee. He’ll formally accept the nomination at the Republican National Convention in July, by which point he could be in the remarkable position of being both a presidential candidate and convicted felon. Mr. Trump has been indicted in four separate criminal investigations and his first trial, which centers on payments made to a porn actress, is set to begin March 25 in New York City.

Mr. Trump’s victory in the GOP primary ushers in what will almost certainly be an extraordinarily negative general election campaign that will tug at the nation’s already searing political and cultural divides. He’ll face President Joe Biden in the fall, pitting two deeply unpopular figures against each other in a rematch of the 2020 campaign that few voters say they want to experience again.

About 38% of Americans viewed Mr. Trump very or somewhat favourably in a February poll conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs, compared to 41% for Mr. Biden.

Mr. Trump is attempting to return to the White House after threatening democratic norms in the U.S. He refused to accept his loss to Mr. Biden in 2020, spending months grasping at baseless conspiracy theories of election fraud that were roundly rejected by the courts and his own attorney general. His rage during a rally on Jan. 6, 2021, helped rile up a mob of supporters who later violently attacked the U.S. Capitol in an effort to disrupt the congressional certification of Mr. Biden’s win.

Only in the wake of the insurrection, with storefronts in the nation’s capital boarded up and military vehicles parked on streets to prevent further violence, did Mr. Trump accept the reality that Mr. Biden would become president. He has since called Jan. 6 “a beautiful day” and aligned himself with those have been imprisoned for their actions — many for assaulting police officers — labeling them “hostages” and demanding their release.

Mr. Trump has been ambivalent about other basic democratic ideals during his 2024 campaign. He has not committed to accepting the results of this year’s election and, during a December interview on Fox News, suggested he would be a dictator for the first day of a new administration. He has aligned himself with autocratic leaders of other countries, most notably Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.

Editorial | Narrowing field: On 2024 U.S. presidential election’s Republican primaries race

Such alliances are a departure from the longstanding posture of the U.S., which has focused on strengthening democracies abroad. But a Trump election could upend U.S. support for Ukraine after its invasion by Russia. And it could have dramatic implications for NATO.

During his years in the White House, Mr. Trump often derided the transatlantic alliance as antiquated and lamented that some countries weren’t spending enough on their own defense. He has maintained that critique this year, causing a stir on both sides of the Atlantic in February when he told a rally crowd that he once warned members that he would not only refuse to defend countries that were “delinquent,” but that he “would encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to them.

Legal trouble

Mr. Trump becomes the GOP’s standard-bearer at a time of profound legal trouble, raising the personal stakes of an election that could determine whether he faces the prospect of time behind bars. He faces 91 felony charges in cases that span from the New York hush money case to his efforts to overturn the election and his hoarding of classified documents.

While the New York case is moving forward this month, there’s significant uncertainty about the trajectory of the other, more serious cases, raising the prospect that they may not be decided until after the election.

Also Read | What are the charges against former U.S. President Donald Trump?

The Republican Party’s rules for its convention do not address what might happen if the presumptive nominee is convicted of a crime. A conviction wouldn’t bar Mr. Trump from continuing to run, though a felon has never been a major party nominee or won the White House.

If he were to win in November, Mr. Trump could appoint an attorney general who would dismiss the federal charges he faces, a remarkable possibility that would undermine the Justice Department’s traditional independence from the White House.

In addition to the criminal cases, Mr. Trump owes in excess of $500 million in fines and interest after a judge in New York ruled he had engaged in a scheme to inflate his net worth to obtain favorable financing. He was ordered to pay $355 million, plus interest, in that case — adding to the $88.3 million he already owed writer E. Jean Carroll after he was found liable of defamation and sexual abuse.

Mr. Trump, so far, has deftly used the legal cases as a rallying cry, portraying them as a plot hatched by Democrats to keep him out of power. That argument proved powerful among GOP primary voters, with whom Mr. Trump remains a deeply popular figure.

He now enters the general election phase of the campaign in a competitive position, with voters frustrated by the current state of the economy after years of sharp inflation, despite robust growth and low unemployment, as well as growing concern about the influx of migrants across the southern border. As he did with success in 2016, Mr. Trump is seizing on immigration this year, deploying increasingly heated and inflammatory rhetoric in ways that often animate his supporters.

The 77-year-old Mr. Trump is aided by Mr. Biden’s perceived weaknesses. The 81-year-old president is broadly unpopular, with deep reservations among voters in both parties about his age and ability to assume the presidency for another four years, though he is not much older than Mr. Trump.

Mr. Biden is also struggling to replicate the coalition that ushered him into the presidency four years ago as some in his party, particularly younger voters and those on the left, have condemned his handling of Israel’s war against Hamas.

Trump’s headwinds

While those dynamics may play in Mr. Trump’s favour, he faces stiff headwinds in winning support beyond his base. A notable chunk of GOP primary voters backed his rivals, including Nikki Haley, who ended her campaign after the Super Tuesday races but has not endorsed Mr. Trump. Many of those voters have expressed ambivalence about backing him. He’ll have to change that if he wants to win the states that will likely decide the election, such as Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — each of which he lost in 2020.

It remains unclear how Mr. Trump’s legal cases will resonate in the general election, particularly among suburban voters, women and independents. Mr. Trump’s role in appointing the justices who overturned the constitutional right to an abortion could prove a liability in swing states, where women and independent voters are especially influential. He’s also made a string of racist comments, including an assertion that his criminal indictments boosted his support among Black Americans, that aren’t likely to win over more moderate voters.

Still, Mr. Trump’s speedy path to the nomination reflects more than a year of quiet work by his team to encourage states to adopt favorable delegate-selection rules, including pushing for winner-take-all contests that prevent second-place finishers from amassing delegates.

That helped Mr. Trump become the presumptive nominee much earlier than in recent presidential elections. Mr. Biden didn’t win enough delegates to formally become his party’s leader until June 2020. During his 2016 bid, Mr. Trump won the needed delegates by May.

This year, Trump handily dispatched his Republican primary rivals, sweeping the early-voting states that typically set the tone for the campaign. The field included a range of prominent Republicans such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Ms. Haley, his former U.N. ambassador, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Mike Pence, who was Mr. Trump’s vice president.

At one point, DeSantis was ahead of Mr. Trump in early state polls. But he wilted in the national spotlight, failing to live up to sky-high expectations, despite $168 million in campaign and outside spending. DeSantis dropped out of the race after losing Iowa — a state he had staked his campaign on — and endorsed Mr. Trump.

In the end, Ms. Haley was Mr. Trump’s last challenger. She only won the District of Columbia and Vermont before ending her campaign.

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Biden vs Trump | What do Super Tuesday results mean for U.S. and India?

As U.S. democrats and republicans each hand U.S. President Joseph Biden and former U.S. President Donald Trump wins in the Super Tuesday votes, a rematch between the two seems likely. What does that mean for U.S. Foreign Policy, for geopolitics and for India? We will weigh up the differences.

Hello and Welcome to WorldView at The Hindu with me Suhasini Haidar. We will also speak to former U.S. National Security Council official Lisa Curtis up ahead.

But first the U.S. crossed a major milestone in its election year calendar- with Super Tuesday on March 5- a day that comes exactly 8 months before the Presidential election, due on November 5 this year.

“They call it Super Tuesday for a reason……that nobody has been able to do for a long time” said Trump.

President Joseph Biden did not give a speech on Super Tuesday, saying in a statement that the results gave Americans a choice between going forwards with him or backwards with Donald Trump. In his State of the Union speech in U.S. Congress, he took a further swipe at Trump.

“Now my predecessor a Republican said to Putin “Do whatever you want”. A former President bowing down to a Russian leader is outrageous dangerous and unacceptable”

Clearly global events and foreign policy will be a key part of this year’s US elections, and it is important to keep an eye on how the race goes for that reason.

Now there’s less buzz about this election for a number of reasons:

1. Both contenders have been Presidents for 1 term each- Trump from 2016-2020 and Biden from 2020-2024

2. At 81 Biden is the oldest U.S. President, and at 77 Trump is the second oldest in the race- and concerns about their mental and physical health overshadow other concerns

3. Neither candidate has any major challengers- and one should probably have appeared by this point in the race. Trump’s last rival Nikki Haley bowed out of the race this weeks, winning only 2 state elections- Vermont and DC.

Even so a lot does hinge for the world on what the result will be- So what are the differences between them on 5 key global issues

CHINA AND INDO PACIFIC Will continue with the Indo-Pacific Policy and Quad to challenge China More likely to fight China with Trade measures, tariffs and sanctions
RUSSIA Says he is committed to helping Ukraine fight Russia, more military supplies, target Putin Silent on Putin, he is likely to pull funding for Ukraine, make European allies pay more
MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT Continue support for Israel, but push for less Palestinian civilian casualties, and against Gaza occupation by Israel Will support Israel even more, unlikely to factor civilian casualties or Gaza, but could broker another deal like the Abraham accords- esp. with Saudi Arabia
NATO AND US INVOLVEMENT ABROAD Will push for strengthening NATO, adding more members, and US engagement in all geopolitical conflicts More hands off on conflict, won’t want US boots on the ground abroad, Has already demanded NATO pay its share, and earlier threatened to pull out
GLOBALISM AND MULTILATERALISM Continue strong engagement with UN and other multilateral organisations on climate, AI and cyberwarfare, nuclear and other future challenges Campaign slogan to “Reject Globalism” and likely to make fighting radical Islamic terror, Iran, restore “American leadership”. Would defund or withdraw from UN organisations and agreements

What are the key issues for India when it comes to Biden vs Trump policies?

Both sides have prominent candidates who happen to be Indian-American- US VP Kamala Harris is on the ticket, and while former Governor and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has bowed out, Trump has kept Vivek Ramaswamy, who dropped out earlier and even Tulsi Gabbard, who is not of Indian origin but identifies as a Hindu-American as possible running mates.






Earlier I spoke to Lisa Curtis, who was the Deputy Assistant to President Trump at the US NSC, and now is the Director for Indo Pacific Security Programme- and began by asking her how much would hinge on 

Q: How much would change?

A: If you’re talking about a country like India, for example, I think that we would not see major changes. There’s been bipartisan support over the last 20 years, whether it’s Republican or Democrat, favouring building up the relationship with India, building up India’s capability so that it can play a stronger role in the Indo Pacific and help with that balancing with China.

Q: In 2018, India did accept the Trump administration demand to zero out oil imports from Iran, but in 2022 refused to agree to the Biden administration’s initial demand to cut oil imports from Russia….What kind of expectations would the next US government have on future conflicts from India?

A: I think the Biden administration has been incredibly patient with India on the issue of India support to Russia, you know, increasing its energy imports from Russia, taking a neutral stance at the UN and other such policies. And you also have the issue of the plot to assassinate Sikh activists in the United States…

Q: The alleged plot…

A: Yes, alleged, and the fact that these two issues, have not really disrupted the US-India relationship says something about the foundation of that relationship and how much has been invested over the last several years. When it comes to the Trump administration, I think Iran is an issue he would be tough on. On Taiwan, there wasn’t any expectation that India would send warships or get involved militarily. I think there’s an understanding that well, India could provide diplomatic support to Taiwan, humanitarian support and may even allow the US some kind of basing or logistics support. With the Trump administration, I think it’s difficult to say. President Trump did have very high expectations from India on supporting Afghanistan.

WV Take: The election of the US President this year doesn’t ignite as much interest for a number of reasons- esp. the fact that the candidates have already been in the position before, and whoever wins will only get one term- 4 years in office, and has a limited ability to take forward their policies this point on. While India has a good record of dealing with both, there’s no doubt that there is more predictability with President Biden, as opposed to the social media surprises that President Trump dealt out- a Trump administration however will take less of an interest in concerns about India’s democracy, human rights and press freedoms. The most significant part of their policies for India will no doubt be how US ties with China fare, as that will decide many developments in the region.

WV Reading Recommendations :

1. The Internationalists: The Fight to Restore American Foreign Policy After Trump by Alexander Ward

2. America in Retreat Foreign Policy under Donald Trump by Mel Gurtov

3. Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by Maggie Haberman

4. Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

5. A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy by Nancy L. Rosenblum and Russell Muirhead

6. The Persuaders: At the Front Lines of the Fight for Hearts, Minds, and Democracy by Anand Giridharadas

7. Open Embrace: India-US Ties : India-US Ties in a Divided World by Varghese K. George

Script and Presentation: Suhasini Haidar

Production: Gayatri Menon & Kanishkaa Balachandran

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Trump’s last Republican rival Nikki Haley ends US presidential election campaign

Nikki Haley ended her long-shot challenge to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Wednesday, ensuring the former president will be the party’s candidate in a rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden in November’s election. 

Haley, the former South Carolina governor and Trump‘s ambassador to the United Nations when he was president, made the announcement in a speech in Charleston a day after Super Tuesday, when Trump beat her soundly in 14 of 15 Republican nominating contests.

“The time has now come to suspend my campaign,” Haley said. “I have no regrets.”

Haley lasted longer than any other Republican challenger to Trump but never posed a serious threat to the former president, whose iron grip on the party’s base remains firm despite multiple criminal indictments.

The rematch between Trump, 77, and Biden, 81 – the first repeat U.S. presidential contest since 1956 – is one that few Americans want. Opinion polls show both Biden and Trump have low approval ratings among voters.

The election promises to be deeply divisive in a country already riven by political polarization. Biden has cast Trump as an existential danger to democratic principles, while Trump has sought to re-litigate his false claims that he won in 2020.

Haley, 52, drew support from deep-pocketed donors intent on stopping Trump from winning a third consecutive Republican presidential nomination, particularly after she notched a series of strong performances at debates that Trump opted to skip.

She ultimately failed to pry loose enough conservative voters in the face of Trump’s dominance. But her stronger showing among moderate Republicans and independents highlighted how Trump’s scorched-earth style of politics could make him vulnerable in the Nov. 5 election against Biden.

Haley put emphasis on foreign policy

Drawing on her foreign-policy experience as U.N. ambassador, Haley said throughout her campaign that the United States must help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression, a position at odds with Trump.

There was no indication Trump would moderate his message. “He’ll continue to focus on the issues that matter: immigration, economy, foreign policy,” Karoline Leavitt, press secretary for the Trump campaign, said late on Tuesday.

Biden has his own baggage, including widespread concern about his age. Three-quarters of respondents in a February Reuters/Ipsos poll said he was too old to work in government, after already serving as the oldest U.S. president in history. About half of respondents said the same about Trump.

Key issues

As in 2020, the race is likely to come down to a handful of swing states, thanks to the winner-take-all, state-by-state Electoral College system that determines the presidential election. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are all expected to be closely contested in November.

The central issues of the campaign have already come into focus. Despite low unemployment, a red-hot stock market and easing inflation, voters have voiced dissatisfaction with Biden’s economic performance.

Biden’s other major weakness is the state of the U.S.-Mexico border, where a surge of migrants overwhelmed the system after Biden eased some Trump-era policies. Trump’s hawkish stance on immigration – including a promise to initiate the largest deportation effort in history – is at the core of his campaign, just as it was in 2016.

Voters expect Trump would do a better job on both the economy and immigration, according to opinion polls. Republican lawmakers, egged on by Trump, rejected a bipartisan immigration enforcement bill in February, giving Biden an opportunity to argue that Republicans are more interested in preserving the southern border as a problem rather than finding a solution.

Democrats are also optimistic that voter sentiment on the economy will shift in Biden’s favor if economic trends go on rising throughout 2024.

Trump may be dogged by criminal charges throughout the year, though the schedule of his trials remains unclear. The federal case charging him with trying to overturn the 2020 election, perhaps the weightiest he faces, has been paused while Trump pursues a long-shot argument that he is immune from prosecution.

While most Republicans view his indictments as politically motivated, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling, about a quarter of Republicans and half of independents say they won’t support him if he is convicted of a crime before the election. Biden has said Trump poses a threat to democracy, citing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters seeking to reverse Biden’s 2020 victory.

Abortion, too, will play a crucial role after the nine-member U.S. Supreme Court, buoyed by three Trump appointees, eliminated a nationwide right to terminate pregnancies in 2022. The subject has become a political liability for Republicans, helping Democrats over-perform expectations in the 2022 midterm elections.

Abortion rights advocates have launched efforts to put the issue before voters in several states, including the battleground of Arizona.

Haley thwarted

Haley had been among the first Republican contenders to enter the race in February 2023, but she was largely an afterthought until garnering attention for her standout debate performances later in the year.

Through it all, she was reluctant to completely disavow her former boss, having served as his U.N. ambassador. Trump showed no such reticence, frequently insulting her intelligence and Indian heritage.

Only in the last months of her campaign did Haley begin to forcefully hit back at Trump, questioning his mental acuity, calling him a liar and saying he was too afraid to debate her.

In the final weeks of the campaign, she became the standard-bearer for the anti-Trump wing of the party, a dramatic evolution for someone who just months earlier praised the former president in her stump speeches.

Still, she said that as president she would pardon Trump if he were convicted in any of the criminal cases he faces, a position she has never abandoned.


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Super Tuesday’s key takeaways: A Biden-Trump rematch and warnings for both

Super Tuesday yielded no surprises, with US President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump emerging the biggest winners in the biggest single day of voting in the US primaries. But there were cautionary signals for both candidates as the 2024 campaign season heads for a battering phase in the leadup to November’s presidential election.

Hours after the polls closed in California on Super Tuesday, the two candidates heading for a foreseen presidential rematch set the tone of their campaigns ahead of the November vote.

It was predictable and dismaying for the electors who matter most in the 2024 US presidential election: undecided voters in key swing states.

The Democrat incumbent, President Joe Biden, warned of an “existential” national threat and “darkness” if his Republican rival wins the White House race.

“Four years ago, I ran because of the existential threat Donald Trump posed to the America we all believe in,” Biden wrote in a statement. “Tonight’s results leave the American people with a clear choice: Are we going to keep moving forward or will we allow Donald Trump to drag us backwards into the chaos, division, and darkness that defined his term in office?”

The Republican Party’s quasi-nominee, who is now all but certain to face the man who ousted him from the White House four years ago, delivered a characteristic victory speech at his Mar-a-Lago beach club in Florida.

In a rambling address to cheering supporters, Trump aired his belief that the US is a “third world country” when it comes to elections and called Biden “the worst president in the history of our country”.

The scripted speeches, predicted headlines and low voter turnout made the biggest day in the 2024 US primary elections a “Stupor Tuesday”. The overriding message after a day that saw 15 states and one US territory select their candidates was clear: many Americans are not enthused by the rematch.

But not everything was predicted and predictable on Super Tuesday. Behind the inexorable Biden v. Trump face-off were key takeaways that will be examined in the lead-up to the November election. 

What’s next for Nikki Haley and her supporters 

Nikki Haley, Trump’s only Republican rival, did not win enough delegates on Super Tuesday to take her anywhere close to the 1,215 needed to secure her party’s presidential nomination.

The 52-year-old former UN ambassador did however snap Vermont, her lone state victory after last week’s Washington DC primary win.

But while her performance was not substantial enough to deny Trump the Republican nomination, it was significant enough to deny him a clean sweep of states.

That’s where the demographics of Haley’s supporters matter, and it’s an electorate that will be much discussed in the months leading up to the November election.

“Her entire campaign centred around those more urban areas where there is a higher concentration of college-educated, university-educated people,” explained FRANCE 24’s Fraser Jackson, reporting from Washington.

Trump’s triumphant showing on Super Tuesday underscored a development that has been in the making over the past few years: the Grand Old Party (GOP) has been taken over by his culturally conservative, blue-collar, non-urban supporters.

But that still leaves a very important demographic up for grabs in the November vote.

“She [Haley] has been polling about 20 to 40 percent of the GOP voters in this primary. That is still a significant chunk of people,” explained Jackson. “That’s a significant chunk of people who say that they don’t want Donald Trump.”

The results in Vermont, a state represented in the Senate by icon of the US left Bernie Sanders, showed that there exists a stubborn chunk of Republican voters who are not as enthusiastic about Trump as expected.

“It’s going to be in those margins that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have to vie for those Nikki Haley voters, to try to pull them to their side,” said Jackson. “And that’s what we’re going to be watching for the next couple of months.”

The question, though, is not just about Haley’s plans after her Super Tuesday drubbing, with pundits debating whether she will endorse Trump.

It’s a matter of whether her supporters are enthused enough about the Democratic candidate to cross party lines.

Biden’s Gaza problem

The Democratic incumbent may have won the Super Tuesday primaries, but that’s because he hardly faced any competition with just a handful of long-shot candidates on the ballots.

In a telling surprise, it was a long-shot candidate that provided some spark in an overwhelmingly dull primaries night. That’s when Baltimore businessman Jason Palmer won the US territory of American Samoa, denying Biden a lone Democratic contest on Super Tuesday.

Residents of American Samoa, as in other US territories, vote in primaries. They do not however have representation in the electoral college, a critical factor in America’s aged, creaky democratic system.

Biden’s biggest problem came from his party’s left, with a protest vote against the US president’s support for Israel drawing the attention of the establishment party’s advisers and strategists.

Exactly a week before Super Tuesday, voters in the Michigan primary delivered a warning shot to Biden, when more than 100,000 people, or 13 percent of all voters, marked their ballots “uncommitted” to show their opposition to the president’s position on the Gaza war. 

A week later, the uncommitted figures were also noteworthy. In Minnesota, with almost 90 percent of the expected votes counted, 19 percent of Democrats marked their ballots “uncommitted” to show their opposition to Biden’s perceived disregard for the Palestinians in Israel’s war against Hamas

The “uncommitted” vote was on the Democratic ballot in six other Super Tuesday states – Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Support in those states ranged from 3.9 percent in Iowa to 12.7 percent in North Carolina, with more than 85 percent of the votes counted in each of those states, according to Edison Research.

The nearly 13 percent mark in North Carolina was significant, noted Jackson. “That is something to watch, because North Carolina is a state that the Democrats are hoping to flip this election,” he explained. “It could be a real battleground state.”

Georgia on their minds

With Biden and Trump sweeping Super Tuesday, the next stop to watch is Georgia, with both candidates heading to the Peach State over the weekend.

While the southeastern US state holds its presidential primaries on March 12 – their official reason for having duelling events there – in reality Georgia is on their minds because of its importance in November’s general election.

On Saturday, Biden plans a visit to the Atlanta area, a rich source of Democratic votes, while Trump will be in the Georgia city of Rome. The events will be their first general election split-screen moment in a key battleground state.

In the 2020 election, Biden beat Trump in Georgia by a miniscule 0.23 percent of the vote and Trump’s efforts to overturn Biden’s win there has since led to the former president’s indictment by the Fulton County district attorney for election interference.

Georgia will again be a critical swing state in the expected rematch between Biden and Trump in November, and so Saturday’s visits by both men will likely be the first of many between now and the general election.

(With Reuters)

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Biden and Trump sweep Super Tuesday primaries; put pressure on Haley to end her campaign

U.S. President Joe Biden from the Democratic Party and his Republican predecessor Donald Trump have swept in their parties’ presidential nomination primaries held in 15 states across the country, paving the way for a rematch between them in November and putting pressure on Indian-American candidate Nikki Haley to quit.

After Super Tuesday’s election results, Mr. Trump, 77, is hoping to establish a commanding lead in the delegate count and vanquish his only Republican opponent, Ms. Haley.

Seeking his re-election, Mr. Biden, 81, swept almost all the Democratic primary states.

He lost to Jason Palmer in American Samoa.

OPINION | Narrowing field: On 2024 U.S. presidential election’s Republican primaries race

“Joe Biden isn’t facing any major competition in the primary cycle, and has won all the Democratic contests so far tonight, CNN projects, as he gears up for a likely rematch with Mr. Trump in November,” CNN said.

Ms. Haley, 52, the former U.S. envoy to the U.N. failed to make a mark Tuesday even as she showed strong support in the states of Vermont, where she won.

That victory, however, will do little to dent Mr. Trump’s primary dominance.

Mr. Trump prevailed in most of the Super Tuesday states: California, Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Utah, Minnesota, Colorado, Arkansas and Maine.

Super Tuesday is an important phase of presidential primaries when the early contests are over, and voters from multiple states cast ballots in primaries timed to occur on the same date. Almost all the results were one-sided in favour of Trump except for Vermont, where the winning difference was about one per cent.

More than a third of all the Republican delegates were at stake on Super Tuesday, the biggest haul of any date on the primary calendar.

To win the presidential nomination of the Republican party, either of the two candidates needs 1,215 delegates, who are elected during the primaries. Before Super Tuesday, Mr. Trump had 244 delegates in his kitty, while Ms. Haley had 43.

Speaking from Palm Beach, Florida, Mr. Trump claimed that “we have a very divided country,” and vowed to unify it soon.

“This was an amazing night and an amazing day, it’s been an incredible period of time in our country’s history,” Mr. Trump said at his election night watch party at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

“We have a very divided country. We have a country [where] a political person uses weaponisation against his political opponents,” he said.

He compared the state of the U.S. political system to “third-world countries”.

“Never happened here. It happens in other countries, but they’re third-world countries. And in some ways, we’re a third-world country.” Talking up some of his achievements from his time in office, notably the half-built border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Mr. Trump claimed he delivered “the safest borders in the history of our country” and went on to rail against what he described as “migrant crime”, without citing any evidence.

Also Read | AI chatbots’ inaccurate, misleading responses about U.S. elections threaten to keep voters from polls

“And so the world is laughing at us, the world is taking advantage of us,” he said.

He goes on to describe his aims to make the U.S. “energy independent and energy dominant”.

“All the… tragedy, you will not have to think of it. All of the problems we have today, we would not have had any of them,” he said.

“You would only have success and that is what ultimately going to unify this country and unify this party,” he added.

‘Trump driven by grievance and grift’: Biden

Earlier, Mr. Biden touted the work his administration has accomplished in its first term in office while issuing a stark warning that a second Trump term would mean a return to “chaos, division, and darkness.” “Four years ago, I ran because of the existential threat Donald Trump posed to the America we all believe in,” Mr. Biden wrote in a statement, highlighting progress under his administration on jobs, inflation, prescription drug prices, and gun control.

He then warned that if Mr. Trump returns to the White House, the progress his administration has made will be at risk.

“(Mr. Trump) is driven by grievance and grift, focused on his own revenge and retribution, not the American people,” Mr. Biden noted.

‘Haley getting nowhere’: Trump

Ms. Haley, the former South Carolina governor, said she has not made a final decision as to whether or not she would endorse her ex-boss Mr. Trump if she ends her presidential bid, but her campaign is receiving a lot of feedback on the subject, sources familiar with recent discussions tell CNN.

People who are close to Ms. Haley have different opinions. Some believe that it would be good for her to back Mr. Trump because she would be viewed as a team player. Others ardently oppose her endorsing him because that would give Ms. Haley the freedom to be critical of Mr. Trump and build her own movement. They have shared those opinions with Ms. Haley and her campaign in recent days and weeks, sources said, CNN said.

Ms. Haley herself has recently said she is not focused on endorsing anyone because she is focused on winning herself.

Mr. Trump, however, in an interview on Tuesday bashed Ms. Haley, saying she was angry because her campaign is “just getting nowhere.” CNN reported earlier this evening that Mr. Trump’s team is aware he won’t cross the delegate threshold tonight to become the presumptive Republican nominee, but the hope is that he secures enough delegates to ensure he does meet that milestone as early as next Tuesday, March 12.

Mr. Trump’s campaign is also hoping that a definitive win in Super Tuesday will effectively force Ms. Haley to drop out of the race.

“President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump romped through the opening contests of Super Tuesday, piling up wins in states including Texas, the second-largest delegate prize of the night, as they moved inexorably toward their parties’ nominations and a rematch for the White House in November,” The New York Times reported.

“Former president Donald Trump and President Biden are dominating Super Tuesday contests with roughly one-third of the delegates at stake that will determine the Republican and Democratic party nominations. Voters in 15 states are participating in primaries or caucuses,” The Washington Post said.

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US Supreme Court unanimously rules Trump can remain on 2024 ballot

The US Supreme Court on Monday unanimously restored Donald Trump to 2024 presidential primary ballots, rejecting state attempts to hold the Republican former president accountable for the Capitol riot.

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The justices ruled a day before the Super Tuesday primaries that states cannot invoke a post-Civil War constitutional provision to keep presidential candidates from appearing on ballots. That power resides with Congress, the court wrote in an unsigned opinion.

Trump posted on his social media network shortly after the decision was released: “BIG WIN FOR AMERICA!!!”

The outcome ends efforts in Colorado, Illinois, Maine and elsewhere to kick Trump, the front-runner for his party’s nomination, off the ballot because of his attempts to undo his loss in the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold expressed disappointment in the court’s decision as she acknowledged that “Donald Trump is an eligible candidate on Colorado’s 2024 Presidential Primary.”

Trump’s case was the first at the Supreme Court dealing with a provision of the 14th Amendment that was adopted after the Civil War to prevent former officeholders who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office again.

Colorado’s Supreme Court, in a first-of-its-kind ruling, had decided that the provision, Section 3, could be applied to Trump, who that court found incited the Capitol attack. No court before had applied Section 3 to a presidential candidate.

Some election observers have warned that a ruling requiring congressional action to implement Section 3 could leave the door open to a renewed fight over trying to use the provision to disqualify Trump in the event he wins the election. In one scenario, a Democratic-controlled Congress could try to reject certifying Trump’s election on Jan. 6, 2025, under the clause.

The issue then could return to the court, possibly in the midst of a full-blown constitutional crisis.

While all nine justices agreed that Trump should be on the ballot, there was sharp disagreement from the three liberal members of the court and a milder disagreement from conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett 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 said they agreed that allowing the Colorado decision to stand could create a “chaotic state by state patchwork” but said they disagreed with the majority’s finding a disqualification for insurrection can only happen when Congress enacts legislation. “In doing so, the majority shuts the door on other potential means of federal enforcement. We cannot join an opinion that decides momentous and difficult issues unnecessarily, and we therefore concur only in the judgment,” they wrote.

The court did not delve into the politically fraught issue of insurrection in its opinion Monday.

Both sides had requested fast work by the court, which heard arguments less than a month ago, on Feb. 8. The justices seemed poised then to rule in Trump ‘s favor.

Trump had been kicked off the ballots in Colorado, Maine and Illinois, but all three rulings were on hold awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision.

The case is the court’s most direct involvement in a presidential election since Bush v. Gore, a decision delivered a quarter-century ago that effectively handed the 2000 election to Republican George W. Bush. And it’s just one of several cases involving Trump directly or that could affect his chances of becoming president again, including a case scheduled for arguments in late April about whether he can be criminally prosecuted on election interference charges, including his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. The timing of the high court’s intervention has raised questions about whether Trump will be tried before the November election.

The arguments in February were the first time the high court had heard a case involving Section 3. The two-sentence provision, intended to keep some Confederates from holding office again, says that those who violate oaths to support the Constitution are barred from various positions including congressional offices or serving as presidential electors. But it does not specifically mention the presidency.

Conservative and liberal justices questioned the case against Trump. Their main concern was whether Congress must act before states can invoke the 14th Amendment. There also were questions about whether the president is covered by the provision.

The lawyers for Republican and independent voters who sued to remove Trump’s name from the Colorado ballot had argued that there is ample evidence that the events of Jan. 6 constituted an insurrection and that it was incited by Trump, who had exhorted a crowd of his supporters at a rally outside the White House to “fight like hell.” They said it would be absurd to apply Section 3 to everything but the presidency or that Trump is somehow exempt. And the provision needs no enabling legislation, they argued.

Trump’s lawyers mounted several arguments for why the amendment can’t be used to keep him off the ballot. They contended the Jan. 6 riot wasn’t an insurrection and, even if it was, Trump did not go to the Capitol or join the rioters. The wording of the amendment also excludes the presidency and candidates running for president, they said. Even if all those arguments failed, they said, Congress must pass legislation to reinvigorate Section 3.

The case was decided by a court that includes three justices appointed by Trump when he was president. They have considered many Trump -related cases in recent years, declining to embrace his bogus claims of fraud in the 2020 election and refusing to shield tax records from Congress and prosecutors in New York.

The 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore case more than 23 years ago was the last time the court was so deeply involved in presidential politics. Justice Clarence Thomas is the only member of the court who was on the bench then. Thomas has ignored calls by some Democratic lawmakers to step aside from the Trump case because his wife, Ginni, supported Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results and attended the rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters.


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Biden sees backlash over Gaza, Trump faces GOP holdouts in Michigan primaries

While Joe Biden and Donald Trump are marching toward their respective presidential nominations, Michigan’s primary on Tuesday could reveal significant political perils for both of them.

Trump, despite his undoubted dominance of the Republican contests this year, is facing a bloc of stubbornly persistent GOP voters who favor his lone remaining rival, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and who are skeptical at best about the former president’s prospects in a rematch against Biden.

As for the incumbent president, Biden is confronting perhaps his most potent electoral obstacle yet: an energized movement of disillusioned voters upset with his handling of the war in Gaza and a relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that critics say has been too supportive.

Those dynamics will be put to the test in Michigan, the last major primary state before Super Tuesday and a critical swing state in November’s general election. Even if they post dominant victories as expected on Tuesday, both campaigns will be looking at the margins for signs of weakness in a state that went for Biden by just 3 percentage points last time.

Biden said in a local Michigan radio interview Monday that it would be “one of the five states” that would determine the winner in November.

Michigan has the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the nation. More than 310,000 residents are of Middle Eastern or North African ancestry. Nearly half of Dearborn’s roughly 110,000 residents claim Arab ancestry.

It has become the epicenter of Democratic discontent with the White House’s actions in the Israel-Hamas war, now nearly five months old, following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack and kidnapping of more than 200 hostages. Israel has bombarded much of Gaza in response, killing nearly 30,000 people, two-thirds of them women and children, according to Palestinian figures. 

Democrats angry that Biden has supported Israel’s offensive and resisted calls for a cease-fire are rallying voters on Tuesday to instead select “uncommitted.”

FRANCE 24’s UN correspondent Jessica Le Masurier reports from New York

Jessica Le Masurier reports from New York 2024 © FRANCE 24

The “uncommitted” effort, which began in earnest just a few weeks ago, has been backed by officials such as Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, and former Rep. Andy Levin, who lost a Democratic primary two years ago after pro-Israel groups spent more than $4 million to defeat him.

Abbas Alawieh, spokesperson for the Listen to Michigan campaign that has been rallying for the “uncommitted” campaign, said the effort is a “way for us to vote for a ceasefire, a way for us to vote for peace and a way for us to vote against war.”

Trump won the state by just 11,000 votes in 2016 over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and then lost the state four years later by nearly 154,000 votes to Biden. Alawieh said the “uncommitted” effort wants to show that they have at least the number of votes that were Trump’s margin of victory in 2016, to demonstrate how influential that bloc can be.

“The situation in Gaza is top of mind for a lot of people here,” Alawieh said. “President Biden is failing to provide voters for whom the war crimes that are being inflicted by our U.S. taxpayer dollars – he’s failing to provide them with something to vote for.”

Our Revolution, the organizing group once tied to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has also urged progressive voters to choose “uncommitted” on Tuesday, saying it would send a message to Biden to “change course NOW on Gaza or else risk losing Michigan to Trump in November.”

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., a Biden backer who held several meetings and listening sessions in Michigan late last week, said he told community members that, despite his disagreements over the war, he would nonetheless support Biden because he represents a much better chance of peace in the Middle East than Trump.

“I also said that I admire those who are using their ballot in a quintessentially American way to bring about a change in policy,” Khanna said Monday, adding that Biden supporters need to proactively engage with the uncommitted voters to try and “earn back their trust.” 

“The worst thing we can do is try to shame them or try to downplay their efforts,” he said. 

Trump has drawn enthusiastic crowds at most of his rallies, including a Feb. 17 rally outside Detroit drawing more than 2,000 people who packed into a frigid airplane hangar. 

But data from AP VoteCast, a series of surveys of Republican voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, reveals that his core voters so far are overwhelmingly white, mostly older than 50 and generally without a college degree. He will likely have to appeal to a far more diverse group of voters in November. And he has underperformed his statewide results in suburban areas that are critical in states like Michigan. 

Several of Trump’s favored picks in Michigan’s 2022 midterm contests lost their campaigns, further underscoring his loss of political influence in the state. Meanwhile, the state GOP has been riven with divisions among various pro-Trump factions, potentially weakening its power at a time when Michigan Republicans are trying to lay the groundwork to defeat Biden this fall.

Both Biden and Trump have so far dominated their respective primary bids. Biden has sailed to wins in South Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire, with the latter victory coming in through a write-in campaign. Trump has swept all the early state contests and his team is hoping to lock up the delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination by mid-March.

Nonetheless, an undeterred Haley has promised to continue her longshot presidential primary campaign through at least Super Tuesday on March 5, when 15 states and one territory hold their nominating contests.

As Haley stumped across Michigan on Sunday and Monday, voters showing up to her events expressed enthusiasm for her in Tuesday’s primary — even though, given her losses in the year’s first four states, it seemed increasingly likely she wouldn’t win the nomination.

“She seems honorable,” said Rita Lazdins, a retired microbiologist from Grand Haven, Michigan, who in an interview Monday refused to say Trump’s name. “Honorable is not what that other person is. I hate to say that, but it’s so true.”


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Haley challenges Trump on her home turf in South Carolina as the Republican primary looms

With two weeks to go before the South Carolina Republican primary, Nikki Haley is trying to challenge Donald Trump on her home turf while the former President tries to quash his last major rival for the nomination.

Mr. Trump, turning his campaign focus to the southern state days after an easy victory in Nevada, revved up a huge crowd of supporters at a Saturday afternoon rally in Conway, near Myrtle Beach, by touting his time in office, repeating his false claims that the 2020 election he lost was rigged, maligning a news media he sees as biased against him and lobbing attacks on Haley and President Joe Biden.

In his rally speech, Mr. Trump insulted Ms. Haley by using his derisive nickname for her, “Birdbrain,” and lavished praise on South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who endorsed him early. Mr. Trump claimed that he selected Ms. Haley to serve as his ambassador to the United Nations in 2017 and represent America on the world stage only because he was motivated to make McMaster — her second-in-command — the governor of South Carolina.

Also read: Trump deploys his playbook against women who bother him

“She did a job. She was fine. She was OK. But I didn’t put her there because I wanted her there at the United Nations,” he said. “I wanted to take your lieutenant governor, who is right here, and make him governor.”

“I wanted him because I felt he deserved it,” Mr. Trump added

Mr. Trump, who has long been the front-runner in the GOP presidential race, won three states in a row and is looking to use South Carolina’s Feb. 24 primary to close out Haley’s chances and turn his focus fully on an expected rematch with Biden in the general election.

Ms. Haley skipped the Nevada caucuses, condemning the contest as rigged for Mr. Trump, and has instead focused on South Carolina, kicking off a two-week bus tour across the state where she served as governor from 2011 to 2017.

Speaking to about a couple hundred people gathered outside a historic opera house in Newberry, Ms. Haley on Saturday portrayed Mr. Trump as an erratic and self-absorbed figure not focused on the American people.

She pointed to the way he flexed his influence over the Republican Party this past week, successfully pressuring GOP lawmakers in Washington to reject a bipartisan border security deal and publicly pressed Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel to consider leaving her job.

“What is happening?” Ms. Haley said. “On that day of all those losses, he had his fingerprints all over it,” she added.

Ms. Haley reprised her questions of Mr. Trump’s mental fitness, an attack she has sharpened since a Jan. 19 speech in which he repeatedly confused her with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Haley, 52, has called throughout her campaign for mental competency tests for politicians, a way to contrast with 77-year-old Trump and 81-year-old Biden.

Editorial | Narrowing field: On 2024 U.S. presidential election’s Republican primaries race

“Why do we have to have someone in their 80s run for office?” she asked. “Why can’t they let go of their power?”

A person in the crowd shouted out: “Because they’re grumpy old men!”

“They are grumpy old men,” Ms. Haley said.

Ms. Haley continued the argument when speaking to reporters afterward, citing a report released Thursday by the special counsel investigating Mr. Biden’s possession of classified documents. The report described Biden’s memory as “poor.”

“American can do better than two 80-year-olds for president,” Ms. Haley said.

Bob Pollard, a retired firefighter, said he cannot support Trump because “he’s a maniac,” adding that Mr. Trump’s campaign, in which he speaks frequently of “retribution” and his personal grievances, has “turned into a personal vendetta.”

Harlie O’Connell, a longtime South Carolina resident who backs Ms. Haley, said she plans to support the eventual GOP nominee but prefers it is someone younger.

“It’s just time for some fresh blood,” O’Connell said.

Her husband, Mike O’Connell, drew a contrast between the candidates’ approach to foreign policy and said he wants the U.S. to continue assisting Ukraine in its war with Russia, as Haley has pledged.

“We need to encourage friendships and not discourage them,” he said of international relations.

Mr. Trump, in his remarks and a social media post on Saturday, criticized foreign aid generally and a plan in Congress to provide nearly $100 billion in aid for Ukraine and Israel. He also repeated his praise for foreign strongmen, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “very smart, very sharp,” describing Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as ”one of the toughest guys,” and saying Chinese President Xi Jinping is smart because he ”controls 1.4 billion people with an iron fist.”

In one very personal attack, Mr. Trump repeatedly questioned why Ms. Haley’s husband Michael Haley, who is deployed on a yearlong stint in Africa with the South Carolina Army National Guard, hasn’t been on the campaign trail. Mr. Trump, whose own wife, Melania Trump, has not joined him as he campaigns, asked: “What happened to her husband? Where is he? He’s gone. He knew. He knew.”

Ms. Haley responded sharply in a post on X, saying: “Michael is deployed serving our country, something you know nothing about. Someone who continually disrespects the sacrifices of military families has no business being commander in chief.”

Mr. Trump also ramped up his attacks on the media, maligning the press at least a half-dozen times, with the crowd registering their agreement with boos.

He wrapped up with an at times apocalyptic vision of the country, listing ills from dirty, crowded airports to looming nuclear war and, if he loses the election, predicting the stock market would crash like it did in 1929, touching off the Great Depression. He referred to his supporters who were prosecuted for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as “hostages” who have been “unfairly imprisoned for long periods of time.”

He made his extended lament while speaking over an instrumental song that QAnon adherents have claimed as their anthem.

In Conway, people began lining up to see Mr. Trump hours before the doors opened to the arena where he was set to take the stage later.

Organizers set up outside screens for an overflow crowd to watch.

The city sits along the Grand Strand, a broad expanse of South Carolina’s northern coast that is home to Myrtle Beach and Horry County, one of the most reliably conservative spots in the state and a central area of Mr. Trump’s base of support in the state in his past campaigns.

Tim Carter, from nearby Murrells Inlet, said he had backed Mr. Trump since 2016 and would do so again this year.

“We’re here to stand for Mr. Trump, get our economy better, shut our border down, more jobs for our people,” said Carter, a pastor and military veteran who runs an addiction recovery ministry.

Cheryl Savage from Conway, who was waiting on the bleachers to hear from Mr. Trump, said the former president is “here to help us.” Savage said she backed Ms. Haley during her first run for governor in 2010 but now feels she is hurting herself by staying in the race.

“He deserves a second term,” Savage said, of Mr. Trump. “He did a fantastic job for four years.”

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Discord over two-state solution opens rift between the US and Israel

US President Biden and Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu held their first phone call in nearly a month on Friday following the Israeli PM’s rejection of a Washington-backed call for Palestinian sovereignty, with Biden and Netanyahu appearing to be at odds on the issue of a two-state solution to follow the war in Gaza. FRANCE 24 spoke to David Khalfa, co-director of the North Africa and Middle East Observatory at the Jean Jaurès Foundation, to shed more light on the situation. 

US President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the first time since December 23 on Friday, a day after the Israeli PM reiterated his opposition to the idea of Palestinian statehood and a post-war future for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank backed by the US.

Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel “must have security control over all the territory west of the Jordan [River]”, saying he had made this clear to Israel’s “American friends”.

“This is a necessary condition, and it conflicts with the idea of [Palestinian] sovereignty,” Netanyahu said in a televised news conference.

Seeking a more permanent solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict that forms the backdrop of the current war between Israel and Hamas, the United States has pushed Israel for steps toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Read moreFrom 1947 to 2023: Retracing the complex, tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict

US authorities have called for a reformed Palestinian Authority, which currently governs semi-autonomous zones in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, to govern Gaza after the war. The Gaza Strip is currently ruled by Hamas, which ousted the Fatah government of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in 2007 after a landslide victory in parliamentary elections.

Despite the Israeli premier’s open resistance, Biden said Friday after their phone call that Netanyahu might eventually agree to some form of Palestinian statehood, such as one without armed forces.

“The president still believes in the promise and the possibility of a two-state solution” for both Israelis and Palestinians, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in a briefing after the call, adding that Biden “made clear his strong conviction that a two-state solution is still the right path ahead. And we’re going to continue to make that case.”

The United States does have some leverage over its main Middle East ally, given that Israel has been the main beneficiary of US foreign aid since World War II, receiving more than $260 billion in military and economic aid. Whether Netanyahu – who said this week that “a prime minister in Israel should be able to say no, even to our best friends” – can be convinced remains to be seen, however.

FRANCE 24: Are we witnessing a turning point in US-Israel relations?

David Khalfa: The US-Israeli bilateral relationship is said to be “special” because it is based on shared values and strategic interests. However, relations between America and Israel have never been idyllic.

It is an ardent relationship between two friends and allies, but one that has known periods of tension. In fact, these tensions go back a long way: we could easily see this in the presidencies of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter or, more recently, Barack Obama.

Even Donald Trump, described by Netanyahu as “Israel’s best friend”, did not hesitate last October to call Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant a “jerk” or to criticise the Israeli prime minister in the wake of Hamas’s October 7 massacres.

The establishment of a Palestinian state is backed by the US and Saudi Arabia, and even by some of the Israeli ruling class. Can Netanyahu continue to resist it?

In the short term, yes. Binyamin Netanyahu will do absolutely anything to stay in power, and his strategy is very clearly to wage war for as long as possible because he knows he is unpopular and facing multiple charges (for corruption, bribery and fraud). He is therefore trying to buy time, hoping to win back public support by assuming the role of warlord.

Netanyahu is a shrewd and calculating politician, but he is weakened by his Faustian alliance with the far right, which opposes any prospect of a two-state solution to the conflict.

Moreover, he is old and on borrowed time, and will sooner or later have to step down. Beyond the national unity discourse fostered by the war and the trauma of October 7, the Israeli population has largely withdrawn its support for him. Polls show his popularity plummeting, even among moderate right-wing voters.

But the Gulf states’ offers to normalise relations with Israel in return for substantial progress towards the establishment of a Palestinian state will outlast Binyamin Netanyahu (Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said it would recognise Israel if a Palestinian state is established). This is even more so as the leaders of the petrostates are young and will probably remain in charge for decades to come.

Finally, it should be noted that the Israeli political configuration will change profoundly after Netanyahu’s departure. The centre, embodied by Benny Gantz (a centre-left MP who has repeatedly challenged Netanyahu for the premiership), is likely to take over with the right and far right serving in the opposition.

By refusing Biden’s proposals, is Netanyahu betting on Trump winning the 2024 election?

Absolutely, but it’s a risky bet. After all, relations between Binyamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump, whose temperament is extremely volatile, are now very cool. The former US president feels that Netanyahu betrayed him by recognising Biden’s electoral victory in November 2020.

Next, let’s remember that the $14.5 billion in additional emergency aid promised to Israel by Joe Biden has still not been endorsed by the Senate because the Republicans are opposed to it for purely political reasons, which have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but everything to do with the polarisation of US politics.

Any Democratic proposal is a pretext for systematic Republican obstruction, even if it means putting their immediate political interest ahead of the US strategic alliance with Israel. Conversely, if Trump comes to power, the Democrats are likely to adopt an identical strategy of systematic obstruction.

Could Washington’s $3 billion in annual military aid to Israel be at stake?

There is a pro-Israel tradition that goes beyond the White House to the Pentagon, where most US strategists believe that the alliance with Israel is, first and foremost, in the US interest.

But even if US aid is not called into question, the conditions under which it is granted are likely to become more complicated, as we are witnessing a politicisation of American military support for the Hebrew state, an issue which up until now had avoided any real debate in the United States.

The Republicans are turning towards isolationism and the Democrats towards progressivism: in the medium term, changes in the US political game will lead Israel to make more concessions if it intends to maintain a high level of US diplomatic and military support.

Israelis are more dependent than ever on military aid due to their recent focus on high-tech weapons, while urban fighting in Gaza demands artillery munitions of all kinds – including “low-tech” ones such as tank shells – which are not made in Israel.

This gives the United States leverage over Israel’s conduct of the war. The setting up of humanitarian corridors in Gaza, the increase in humanitarian aid and the scaling back of Israel’s offensive on the Palestinian enclave were all achieved under pressure from the US administration – contrary to what Netanyahu would have his people believe.

This article was translated from the original in French.

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Rundown: The Trump legal cases to watch in 2024

This year promises to be a busy one for the Trump legal team, with the former US president facing accusations of wrongdoing – ranging from the civil to the criminal to the unconstitutional – in multiple states and jurisdictions. Here is a look at the four criminal indictments (and others) that Donald Trump will be facing in 2024, even as he vies to retake the presidency in November. 

Donald Trump has been charged with a total of 91 felony counts in four criminal indictments, with the former president facing possible prison sentences in each case. 

  • Special Counsel Jack Smith charged Trump with four counts related to federal election interference for his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential vote (trial set for March 4)
  • Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted Trump on 34 felony counts involving the falsification of business records to conceal hush money payments (trial set for March 25)
  • The special counsel unsealed 37 felony charges related to mishandling classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate (trial set for May 20)
  • Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis brought a total of 41 counts against Trump and 18 others related to election interference (trial requested for August 5).

As his legal team exercises its options for legal challenges, appeal and delays, trial dates are subject to change. 

Trump is also awaiting a verdict in a far-reaching civil fraud case in New York that could see the dismantlement of his business empire. Attorney General Letitia James has requested that Trump be banned from real estate dealings and from operating businesses in the state. 

Adding to his legal woes are individual challenges filed in more than a dozen states alleging that Trump is ineligible to run for president under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies anyone who has “engaged in insurrection” against the United States after having sworn an oath to support the Constitution as “an officer of the United States”. Trump’s legal defense has argued that a president is not “an officer of the United States” and so the 14th Amendment clause does not apply to him. After the Colorado Supreme Court disqualified him from the 2024 state ballot in December, Trump asked the US Supreme Court to reverse the decision; if the high court agrees to hear the case, its ruling would affect all such outstanding cases at the state level. 

Trump denies wrongdoing in all of the charges he faces.  

Federal election interference: four counts

Special Counsel Jack Smith unveiled four felony counts against Trump related to his attempts to overturn the results of the presidential election, including his actions during the January 6, 2021, assault on the US Capitol: 

  • conspiracy “to defraud the United States by using dishonesty” to obstruct the work of the federal government in certifying the results of the presidential election;
  • conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, i.e., “the certification of the electoral vote”;
  • obstruction of an official proceeding regarding same; and
  • conspiracy to prevent others from exercising their constitutional right to vote and to have their votes counted.

Smith’s August 2023 indictment focuses on the attempt to substitute fake electors and pressure then vice president Mike Pence not to certify the results of the 2020 election. The indictment also recounts Trump’s infamous call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump asked him to “find 11,780 votes” that would win Trump the state.

The indictment notably avoided charging Trump with inciting an insurrection or “seditious conspiracy”, thereby sidestepping what could have been a First Amendment free-speech defense. It accuses Trump instead of fraudulently pushing claims he knew to be untrue after numerous members of his entourage told him the 2020 election was legitimate.

Trump and his legal team argue the case is politically motivated, an attempt to undermine his 2024 bid for the presidency. His lawyers have also argued that Trump is immune from prosecution because his actions that day were taken as part of his official role as president – the now infamouspresidential immunity” argument. 

Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who is presiding over the case, has rejected that argument, saying the office of the president “does not confer a lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass”. Chutkan “has consistently taken the hardest line against Jan. 6 defendants of any judge serving on Washington’s federal trial court”, according to the AP.

The most serious of the four charges carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison but is subject to a judge’s discretion.

Read the full indictment here.

Falsifying business records in New York: 34 felony counts

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg brought 34 felony counts against Trump in April 2023 for falsifying business records “to conceal criminal conduct” from voters in the runup to the 2016 election. The falsified records “mischaracterized, for tax purposes, the true nature” of payments made to tabloids to suppress damaging information about Trump as well as hush money paid to conceal his extramarital affairs.

While falsifying business records is a misdemeanor under NY law, it becomes a felony if the records were falsified as part of committing separate crimes, in this case violations of NY election laws, exceeding caps on campaign contributions or making false statements to tax authorities. The indictment alleges that Trump representatives organised a “catch and kill” scheme to pay off tabloids that were preparing to run stories damaging to Trump. Trump “then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws”, Bragg’s statement said.

This indictment marked the first time a former US president has ever been charged with a crime.

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in 2018 – among them a $130,000 payment he made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels through a shell corporation – and served a three-year prison sentence, most of it under house arrest. Bragg’s indictment also alleges that Trump asked Cohen to try to delay the payment to Daniels until after the 2016 election, saying that “at that point it would not matter if the story became public”.

Cohen has since testified against Trump in a separate civil fraud case filed by NY Attorney General Letitia James (see below).

Trump faces up to four years in prison for each count if convicted on fraudulent bookkeeping charges, but a judge could impose these sentences to be served consecutively.

Read the full indictment here.

Mishandling classified documents: 37 felony counts 

Trump was indicted in June 2023 on 37 felony charges related to the removal and retention of classified documents, including 31 violations of the Espionage Act. The documents were stored haphazardly in unsecured areas of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and residence, including in a ballroom, a bathroom, his bedroom and a storage room. On at least two occasions, Trump shared some of these documents – including a “plan of attack” and a “classified map related to a military operation” – with individuals who did not possess a security clearance.

The FBI opened a criminal investigation into the unlawful retention of classified material at Mar-a-Lago in March 2022 and a grand jury subpoena ordered Trump to return all documents with classified markings. According to the indictment, Trump then “endeavored to obstruct the FBI and grand jury investigations and conceal his continued retention of classified documents” by, among other things, suggesting his attorney hide or destroy the requested documents and instructing others to conceal them. 

“Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States, and they must be enforced,” said Special Counsel Jack Smith, who led the investigation. “Violations of those laws put our country at risk.”

Trump faces up to 10 years in prison for each count of “willfully” retaining national defense documents under US espionage provisions and up to 20 years for each count of obstructing justice for refusing to turn over the documents.

Read the full indictment here.

Election interference in Georgia: the most complex case

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charged Trump and 18 others – including Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows – with 41 counts related to conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election, including impersonating a public official, forgery and pressuring public officials to violate their oaths.  

The charges, 13 of which are against Trump, include violations of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, often used to target organised crime. The use of the RICO act was an unusual move that alleges the defendants were part of a “criminal enterprise” focused on keeping Trump in office and allows each defendant’s statements to be used against the other accused.

The Georgia indictment is arguably the most complicated of the criminal cases Trump is facing: it details 161 separate acts across seven states that were allegedly part of a sweeping conspiracy to overturn the election. Some of the defendants, which include fake GOP electors, are accused of illegally accessing voter data, sharing that stolen data with other states, and of breaching voting machines.

Some of Trump’s co-accused have already pleaded guilty, agreed to testify and promised to cooperate with the prosecution. Perhaps even more ominously for Trump, a RICO conviction in Georgia carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

Read the full indictment here

In addition to the charges outlined above, Trump is facing both civil and criminal cases related to his business dealings as well as allegations of sexual abuse.

  • Trump Organization found liable for fraud; trial verdict expected

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed suit against Trump, the Trump Organization and his three adult children for fraud in September 2022 alleging that Trump systematically inflated his assets and net worth to reap tax benefits and persuade banks to offer Trump entities better terms. James’s office documented more than 200 examples of misleading valuations, among them 23 assets whose values were “grossly and fraudulently inflated”.

In a pretrial summary judgment in September 2023, Justice Arthur Engoron found that Trump and his sons Donald Jr. and Eric inflated the value of Trump assets by between $812 million and $2.2 billion. The overvaluations included Trump’s Florida property at Mar-a-Lago, his penthouse apartment in Trump Tower as well as various golf courses and commercial buildings.

Trump inflated the value of Mar-a-Lago by more than 22 times, according to some estimates, placing its worth between $420 million and $1.5 billion. One independent assessor found its market value to be closer to $27 million while some Palm Beach realtors say it could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. James has argued Trump’s valuation of the property does not take into account the restrictions on its deed, including the stipulation that it cannot be sold or used as a private residence. 

Justice Engoron reportedly took particular exception to the overvaluation of the former president’s Trump Tower penthouse by as much as $207 million, based on the claim that it is almost three times larger than it actually is. “A discrepancy of this order of magnitude by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades can only be considered fraud,” Engoron wrote.

The judge rejected Trump’s argument that his real estate holdings are not overvalued because he could always find a “buyer from Saudi Arabia” to pay the inflated prices.

Engoron also ordered the cancellation of certificates allowing some Trump entities, notably the Trump Organization, to do business in New York and ordered a receiver to be appointed who will manage the dissolution of Trump companies. James has requested that the former president and his sons be removed from managing the Trump Organization.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified against his former boss in late 2023, saying he and others were specifically told to overvalue Trump’s assets.

“I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets, based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected,” Cohen told the court, saying he and former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg would “reverse-engineer the various different asset classes” to increase the value of those assets to “whatever number Trump told us to”. 

The case went to trial in October and closing statements were delivered in January 2024. James was seeking $370 million in penalties and asking that Trump be banned from any real estate dealings and from operating businesses in the state of New York.

Read the full lawsuit here.

  • Trump found liable for sex abuse, defamation of E. Jean Carroll

A jury unanimously found Trump liable in May 2023 for sexually abusing and defaming prominent columnist E. Jean Carroll in the late 1990s, awarding her $5 million in damages in a civil case. The federal trial included testimony from two other women who also say Trump sexually assaulted them. 

A second defamation trial, in which Carroll is seeking $10 million in damages, began in mid-January.

  • Trump Organization convicted of criminal tax fraud 

The Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp., both sub-entities of the Trump Organization, were convicted in December 2022 on all 17 counts for tax crimes including conspiracy and falsifying business records. The Trump Organization was eventually fined the maximum penalty of $1.6 million; the company has said it will appeal. 

The Trump Organization, which is now run by Trump sons Donald Jr and Eric, was accused of hiding much of the compensation it paid executives between 2005 and 2021. Longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg lived rent-free in a Trump building in Manhattan while he and his wife drove Mercedes-Benz leased by the Trump Organization. Weisselberg admitted to not paying taxes on $1.7 million in remuneration during his testimony, adding that he and others also conspired to falsify W-2 tax forms. Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in prison in January 2023 and agreed to pay $2 million in fines.

Following the verdict, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said he didn’t think the $1.6 million fine went far enough. “Our laws in this state need to change in order to capture this type of decade-plus systemic and egregious fraud,” he said outside the courtroom.

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