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10 Things in Politics: Trump's legal jeopardy has GOP worried

Business Insider logo Business Insider 5/21/2021 bgriffiths@insider.com (Brent D. Griffiths)

Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics, your weekday look at the biggest stories in DC and beyond. Sign up here to receive this newsletter.

Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com or tweet me at @BrentGriffiths.

Here's what we're talking about:

One thing to look out for today: President Joe Biden welcomes South Korean President Moon Jae-in to the White House at 12:35 p.m. ET. They are expected to hold a joint news conference at 5 p.m.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Donald Trump. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images Donald Trump. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

1. THE LOOMING QUESTION: Political insiders are only starting to grasp the increasingly real possibility that former President Donald Trump and his namesake company could face criminal charges. Their jitteriness is linked to New York Attorney General Letitia James' recent statement that her office was joining the Manhattan district attorney in investigating the Trump Organization on suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.

Insider asked Republican strategists and lawmakers what this meant for their party.

Here's a peek at what they said:

Privately, Republican operatives acknowledged the ramifications of an indictment: Publicly, GOP lawmakers mostly ducked, dodged, and weaved when my colleagues asked what it would mean for a former president to face a criminal indictment.

  • "That's your question, seriously?" House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said when asked how it would affect the party. "You guys are crazy."
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., Trump, and New York Attorney General Letitia James. Drew Angerer/Getty Images; Getty Images; Joshua Rashaad McFadden/Getty Images © Drew Angerer/Getty Images; Getty Images; Joshua Rashaad McFadden/Getty Images Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., Trump, and New York Attorney General Letitia James. Drew Angerer/Getty Images; Getty Images; Joshua Rashaad McFadden/Getty Images

Who's who in the investigation: These are the prosecutors primed to pepper the former president with history-making civil and criminal inquiries.

Democrats think their colleagues are deluding themselves about Trump's invincibility. "It's not a subjunctive about whether he's going to be in trouble with the law," Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat of Pennsylvania, said. "It's a reality."

  • But they also urged prosecutors to be overly cautious about how the prosecutors' work might be perceived: "During the course of a criminal investigation, it's usually the proper role of the prosecutors and the investigating agency to shut up and wait and make their case in court," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who is also a former US attorney and Rhode Island attorney general.

More on what this could mean for the midterm elections.

a group of people standing in front of a large crowd at night: Celebrations in Gaza after the cease-fire. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters © Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters Celebrations in Gaza after the cease-fire. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

2. Biden hails cease-fire between Israel and Hamas: In a roughly four-minute televised statement, Biden said his administration would coordinate with the Palestinian Authority to send aid to the Gaza Strip for reconstruction following Israeli airstrikes. The president added that in the past 11 days he spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu six times.


Video: Legal jeopardy intensifies for Trump and ally Matt Gaetz (MSNBC)

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A truce after the worst violence in years: Egypt led the talks that produced the agreement, which took effect at 2 a.m. local time. "Both sides claimed to have come out on top, with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz pointing to 'unprecedented' military achievements and a senior Hamas figure claiming 'victory,'" The Washington Post reports. Netanyahu is already facing criticism from far-right politicians over the deal.

  • The latest on the ground: "Palestinians rallied by the thousands early Friday after a cease-fire took effect in the latest Gaza war, with many viewing it as a costly but clear victory for the Islamic militant group Hamas over a far more powerful Israel," the Associated Press reports.

3. Democrats ponder going it alone as the Capitol riot commission looks unlikely: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says there may need to be some changes to the bipartisan agreement as an increasing number of GOP senators come out against the proposal. Should the commission bill fail, Democrats could move forward on their own with a select committee or continue their current smaller investigations into the riot, Politico reports. There's disagreement among senior Democrats on how to proceed.

Don McGahn wearing a suit and tie: Don McGahn, then the White House counsel, with Trump at a meeting. Reuters © Reuters Don McGahn, then the White House counsel, with Trump at a meeting. Reuters

4. From Mueller to McGahn, a multitude of Trump-era mysteries are poised to come roaring back into the headlines: Trump may be out of the White House, but we're still learning more about what happened behind closed doors during his term. A major step will unfold soon. The Biden-led Justice Department has until Monday to decide whether it wants to appeal a federal judge's order to release a legal memo on how then-Attorney General Bill Barr decided not to charge Trump with obstruction of justice.

There's also a coming hearing with the former White House counsel Don McGahn.

5. Labor Department is reportedly unable to help the 3.5 million workers set to lose their unemployment benefits: The Biden administration has exhausted its options in finding ways to deliver the extra $300 in weekly pandemic-related unemployment benefits to Americans in the 22 GOP-led states that are set to cut them this summer, CNN reports. The department could make a public statement as soon as today.

Democratic lawmaker calls on labor secretary to resign if he knew about abuse: Rep. Seth Moulton said Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, a former Boston mayor, should resign if he knew of domestic-violence allegations against Dennis White when he appointed White as Boston's police commissioner in February, The Boston Globe reports. Walsh has denied having any such knowledge. Two top officials have said in affidavits that he was aware of the allegations.

6. White House expected to resume infrastructure talks today: Negotiations come at a critical juncture as more Democrats are pressuring Biden to move ahead without Republican support. Senate Republicans increased their previous offer of $568 billion, but some in the administration are dismayed they did not budge more, the AP reports. The White House's hopes for a bipartisan deal on infrastructure have cooled, but it has not abandoned the effort.

Richard Blumenthal, Kamala Harris, Judy Chu, Joe Biden, Grace Meng, Mazie Hirono, Don Beyer posing for the camera: Joe Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act on Thursday. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images © NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images Joe Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act on Thursday. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

7. Biden signs a bill meant to curb the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes: The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act directs the Department of Justice to expedite the review of suspected coronavirus-related hate crimes, provide guidance to state and local governments to improve public reporting on hate crimes, and raise awareness about hate crimes during the public-health crisis. "Hate can be given no safe harbor in America," Biden said.

8. CNN's Chris Cuomo advised his brother Gov. Andrew Cuomo on how to handle sexual-harassment allegations: Cuomo, the news anchor, was brought into "strategy calls" with Andrew Cuomo and his aides to iron out a communications strategy in the wake of the litany of sexual-harassment allegations, The Post reports. CNN called Cuomo's involvement "inappropriate" and vowed he would not participate in such conversations again. The breach in journalistic ethics is not expected to lead to any discipline.

9. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Greenland. And no, the US isn't buying it: Blinken says the US is not pursuing the purchase of Greenland after Trump floated the possibility in 2019, saying he was there to strengthen diplomatic relations with "our Arctic partners, Greenland and Denmark." Foreign Minister Pele Broberg echoed the sentiment, saying Blinken's visit was "not considered a real-estate deal."

10. Prince Harry blames Princess Diana's death on a "culture of exploitation and unethical practices" by the media: Prince Harry and Prince William blasted media coverage after a BBC investigation revealed that Martin Bashir used deceitful means to gain access for his famous interview with Diana in 1995. "It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC's failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia," William said in a statement. Harry went further than his brother, blaming the media directly for his mother's death.

Today's trivia question: What government job did Clara Barton make history in before later founding the American Red Cross? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.

  • Yesterday's answer: President Woodrow Wilson "delivered" what is considered the first State of the Union address via telegraph from Paris, where he was negotiating the end to World War I. Wilson wired his nearly 3,800-word speech.

That's all for now! Have a great weekend.

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