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Analysis: Is the GOP’s extremist wing now too big to fail?

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Analysis by Ronald Brownstein
Updated 2:48 PM ET, Sun February 14, 2021

(CNN) — Congressional Republicans have crystallized an ominous question by rejecting consequences for Donald Trump over the January 6 riot in his impeachment trial and welcoming conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia into their conference: Has the extremist wing of the GOP coalition grown too big for the party to confront?

Sanctioning Trump or Greene offered the party an opportunity to draw a bright line against extremist groups and violence as a means of advancing political goals. But the vast majority of congressional Republicans conspicuously rejected the opportunity to construct such a barrier through their decisions to oppose impeachment or conviction for Trump over his role in the US Capitol attack and to support Greene during the recent Democratic effort to strip her of her committee assignments.
Those choices unfolded against a backdrop of recent polls that found a stunningly high percentage of rank-and-file Republican voters endorsed anti- small-d democratic sentiments, including the belief that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.”
    In a survey released last week by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, not only did a majority of GOP voters endorse that statement, but nearly one-third of them also embraced the convoluted QAnon conspiracy theory Greene has espoused alleging that Trump is defending the nation against a global ring of influential child sex traffickers.
    Voters sympathetic to these conspiracy theories and the use or threat of violence as a political tool, says Daniel Cox, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who supervised the poll, have become “a really important faction that the Republican Party is going to have to address. There is a part of the GOP that is really buying into this stuff.”
    While Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has called conspiracy theorists like Greene a “cancer” on the party and denounced Trump’s role in the riot, the recent decision by House Republicans to accept the Georgia Republican into the conference, and the overwhelming refusal by House or Senate Republicans — including McConnell — to sanction Trump, suggests the party has very limited appetite at this point for any serious effort to excise that disease. And that could provide more oxygen to the White nationalist extremist groups that have viewed Trump as a galvanizing figure and already gained strength during his presidency.
    Through their inactions on Trump and Greene, Republicans “are normalizing, they are mainstreaming, what counterterrorism experts would say is violent extremism: that it is acceptable to use inflammatory rhetoric and encourage violence to achieve your ends and … it is acceptable to engage in public life through conspiracy theories,” says Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary for threat prevention in the Department of Homeland Security for Trump who resigned and opposed his reelection.
    The fact that threats from Senate Republicans to tie up legislative business helped persuade Democrats to withdraw their demands for witnesses at Trump’s trial only underscores how difficult it will be to resist the infiltration of extremist ideas and tactics into the political system so long as the GOP is determined to avoid confronting it.
    That deference inside the GOP “is a sign, a recognition, that this ideology, this belief, this tribalism is the ascendant part of the Republican coalition,” says longtime Republican consultant Michael Madrid, who became a staunch Trump critic over the past four years. Elected Republicans bowing to Trump and Greene, he says, “are feeding the beast” of the growing party faction drawn to extremist beliefs and tactics.
    “I don’t think most of them believe it; but they know that’s where the party is at,” Madrid adds. “They have fed the monster for so long that even when it turns on them, when the barbarians are literally at the gate … when they were the targets and they were prey, they still will not turn on it. That’s how dangerous is the societal threat that we are facing.”

    Sympathizing with the rioters

    The exact share of the GOP coalition responsive to extremist White nationalist beliefs or the use of violence to advance political goals is impossible to measure precisely. But polling and other research suggests that the best way to think about it may be through concentric circles radiating out from hard-core believers willing to commit violence themselves to a much broader range of GOP voters who might not become violent personally but express sympathy or understanding for those who do.
    The inner circle are the extremists actively participating in potentially violent White nationalist extremism. Neumann recently told me that number might total about 75,000 to 100,000 people.
    But polling has found a larger group of Republicans expressing sympathy for the attack on the Capitol — and a much larger group than that expressing sympathy more generally for the belief that the threats to American society as they define it have grown so great that force or violence is justified to respond to them.

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    One-sixth to nearly one-fifth of Republicans have praised the January 6 attack in polling from PBS NewsHour/Marist and Quinnipiac. That’s a far higher percentage than among the public overall (just 8% in the Marist survey and 10% in Quinnipiac.) In the American Enterprise Institute poll, about 3-in-10 Republicans said they believed the QAnon conspiracy theory.
    The share of Republican voters who express support for the use of force to advance their political goals in general is considerably larger. In the American Enterprise Institute survey, 55% of Republicans agreed that “we may have to use force to save” the “American way of life.” Roughly 4-in-10 agreed with an even more harshly worded proposition: “If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves even if it requires taking violent actions.”
    The share of Republicans who “strongly agree” with that sentiment — about 1 in 8 — is smaller and may be another measure of the share of the party coalition willing to personally consider violence. But even so, Republican opinion on these questions dramatically stands out from other Americans. Big majorities of Democrats and independents rejected both propositions.
    “It’s pretty shocking,” says Cox, the director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life. “When you look at those kind of statements, and realize how extreme that they are, it is absolutely concerning that they find a significant amount of support [among Republicans].”
    The institute’s new survey is far from the only study to document the spread of anti-democratic ideas, conspiracy theories and tolerance for violence within the GOP coalition. The institute’s results almost exactly mirrored the findings of a national 2020 survey by Vanderbilt University political scientist Larry Bartels. Bartels found 51% of Republicans agreed with the statement that “we may have to use force” to save “the traditional American way of life.” In his study, just over 4-in-10 backed an idea similar to the second American Enterprise Institute question: the belief that “A time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands.”
    Even more Republicans, of course, have consistently told pollsters they accept Trump’s baseless claim that the election was stolen — even though his “evidence” was rejected by courts all over the country, including by many Republican judges. In the American Enterprise Institute poll, fully half of Republicans said the attack on the Capitol was engineered not by Trump supporters but by Antifa, a loose affiliation of leftist protesters — a claim utterly disproved by the evidence.
    And a huge share of Republican voters has seconded Trump’s apocalyptic warnings — delivered even in his speech on the morning of the Capitol riot — that Democrats were trying to steal “our country” and transform it into something unrecognizable. In a mid-January poll by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, two-thirds of Republicans said that when Trump leaves office “America as we know it will be over” and three-fourths described him as a “true patriot.”

    Bullying goes mainstream

    The sheer number of Republican voters aligning with all of those beliefs creates a huge headwind for those in the party who want to take a stronger stand against extremism and violence by isolating Greene and castigating Trump for inciting the attack.
    “It puts you in a difficult position to say in a full-throated way that this is wrong, and we reject it,” says Cox. “That’s what people are rightly worried about — that we need to come to a consensus that certain behaviors are well outside what is acceptable and need to be wholeheartedly rejected.” At this point, he adds, within the GOP, “we’re not seeing that.”
    Robert P. Jones, founder and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, agrees. All these findings about Republican voters’ tolerance for violence and conspiracy theories, he says, present “a chilling portrait of how far down the extremist tracks rank-and-file Republicans have gone with Trump.”
    While “there were numerous opportunities over the last four years for historically mainstream Republicans to throw the switch and find an exit ramp,” he adds, the attitudes Trump has solidified in the GOP base now make that much harder. “Trump and Trumpism is now a runaway train that is not going to be easily derailed within the Republican Party,” he says.
    Neumann, the counterterrorism expert, notes that by accepting Greene into their conference, Republicans have sent a clear signal to extremist groups that they do not consider it disqualifying to engage in extreme behavior such as her belligerent harassment of David Hogg, the teenage survivor of a school shooting and gun control activist.
    “They just legitimized a person that used tactics I would say 10 years ago, even five years ago, would have been abhorrent to the Republican Party,” Neumann told me. “But President Trump has made bullying a key figure of the Republican Party now, so they know they can’t condemn that behavior because they know the base loves it.”
    Another dynamic further complicates the situation for mainstream Republicans. The GOP voters most likely to justify violence and express extremist anti-democratic ideas tend to be those also most receptive to the views that studies have shown are the best predictor of support for Trump: hostility to the demographic and cultural changes remaking America.

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    As Bartels wrote in his study, “The strongest predictor by far of these antidemocratic attitudes is ethnic antagonism — especially concerns about the political power and claims on government resources of immigrants, African-Americans, and Latinos.”
    The new American Enterprise Institute study underlines his conclusion, according to previously unpublished data provided to CNN. In that survey, a striking three-fourths of Republicans agreed with the statement that discrimination against Whites is now as great a problem in the US as discrimination against Blacks and other minorities. Social scientists view agreement with that question as a measure of denial of the existence of systemic racism in American society.
    The big majority of Republicans who consider discrimination against Whites as great a problem as discrimination against minorities were far more likely than those who disagree to endorse anti-democratic ideas. More than three-fifths of those worried about discrimination against Whites agreed that “we may have to use force” to save “the traditional American way of life.” Among the Republicans who believe minorities face more discrimination than Whites, nearly three-fourths disagreed with that statement. Nearly half of the Republicans who see widespread bias against Whites say Americans must consider violent action; almost four-fifths of the other Republicans reject that idea.
    Perhaps not surprisingly, the American Enterprise Institute survey also found that anti-democratic and extremist attitudes had penetrated most deeply in the portions of the GOP coalition that have provided the most die-hard support for Trump, including Republican voters without college degrees and White Christian evangelicals. Nearly three-fifths of White evangelical Christian Republicans said Antifa was mostly responsible for the attack on the Capitol, Cox found.

    Tolerating extremism

    An online study of Trump supporters conducted by two political scientists also spotlighted the role of racial and cultural anxiety in the spread of anti-democratic ideas through the GOP coalition. Political scientists Rachel M. Blum, an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, and Christopher Sebastian Parker of the University of Washington have recruited Trump supporters to participate in an ongoing internet study of their attitudes.
    After the assault on the Capitol, they asked if protesters “went too far … causing lasting damage at home and abroad” or whether because “the election was stolen … it’s easy to understand why Trump supporters showed up to protest at the U.S. Capitol.” Trump supporters split in half on whether the protest was justified when the question noted the charges of fraud “in states like Pennsylvania and Georgia.” That result was stunning enough — but when the political scientists asked the same question while tying the fraud to “urban areas like Philadelphia and Atlanta, predominantly minority communities,” the share of Trump supporters who said they could “understand” the invasion shot up to nearly two-thirds.
    In all their actions of the past few weeks — or more precisely the inaction against Trump and Greene — GOP leaders have signaled their unwillingness or inability to confront those sentiments too forcefully. Blum says that what appears to be happening inside the GOP is “an internal renegotiation that has dramatically changed which coalition members matter.” The pre-Trump traditional Republicans are losing influence, she says, while the party is responding to the hard-core Trump voters motivated by a “sense of [cultural] threat, White grievance.” It is, she adds, “like George Wallace rose from the grave” and imposed his priorities on the GOP.
    These attitudes don’t suggest large numbers of Republican voters will pursue violent actions themselves; but, as the past few weeks show, they make it less likely that Republican leaders will clearly excommunicate such extremism.
    “Without drawing that bright line, you are ceding your party to this: a party of not living in facts, that bullying is acceptable behavior and that violence is acceptable behavior if you are trying to preserve your ‘way of life,’ whatever that means,” says Neumann. “This will result in more people, especially within the echo chamber they are living in, seeing people that they disagree with as a mortal enemy, which for some small percentage of them translates into ‘I have a justification for violence.’ “
    Madrid, one of the founders of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, agrees. The biggest challenge for the country, he argues, is not “the extremists” themselves but “the enablers” inside the GOP who are creating more oxygen for extremism to gain strength. The GOP’s situation, he says, resembles the dynamic in Northern Ireland with the Irish Republican Army during the years of their violent resistance to British rule.
    “They would go out and blow things up,” Madrid says. “You could ask Irish Catholics who would say, ‘I’d never be part of the IRA, but I kind of get what they are doing … They are on the right side; they’ve got a point.’ And that’s where we are already at in the Republican Party, and that’s what that polling data suggests.”
    This tacit acceptance of extremists and violence carries a clear political risk for the GOP: a continued loss of support among racially moderate voters in the white-collar suburbs who already moved steadily away from the party under Trump.
      But if conspiracy theorists and other extremists solidify, or even expand, their beachhead in the GOP, the risk for the country could be much greater. The growing racial and religious diversity that triggers the retreat from democratic values among a growing number of GOP voters will only accelerate in the next decade. If the Republican Party does not find more will to explicitly renounce the dark forces circling around Trump, persistent outbursts of White nationalist political violence could be the deadly drumbeat for the years ahead.
      “Clearly they think that’s where the base is and they can’t change it,” Neumann told me. “But I would argue we are at a moment where … if nobody steps up and tries to tell the truth and tries to lead people out of this echo chamber of stolen elections and [the belief that] violence is justified, that is catastrophic for the country. We will not survive as a democracy.”

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      Biden to take first limited steps on gun control, including on ‘ghost guns’ and pistol braces

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      By Kevin Liptak, CNN
      Updated 10:57 PM ET, Wed April 7, 2021

      (CNN) — President Joe Biden will take his first, limited actions on gun control Thursday, directing his administration to tighten restrictions on so-called ghost guns and pistol stabilizing braces that allow the weapons to be used more accurately, according to a senior administration official.

      The steps — which also include nominating a gun control advocate to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — fulfill a commitment Biden made in the aftermath of two deadly shootings last month to take “common sense” steps right away to address gun violence.
      But they fall short of the sweeping actions Biden promised as a candidate that must be passed by Congress, including a ban on assault weapons or enacting universal background checks. Senior administration officials framed the upcoming announcements as initial steps that would be followed by additional actions later on, including applying pressure on lawmakers to act.
        Biden said last month following a mass shooting in Colorado, “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future.” But he has acknowledged that passing a massive new infrastructure plan — and not new gun laws — is his top legislative priority.
          Biden will make the announcements Thursday from the White House alongside his attorney general, Merrick Garland, whose Justice Department will be responsible for drafting the proposed rules.
              The announcements will come as the President is expected to nominate David Chipman as the next director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a White House official told CNN. Chipman is a former ATF agent who serves as senior policy adviser at Giffords, the organization led by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who became a gun control advocate after being shot in 2011.
              The ATF has been without a permanent director since 2015.
              Biden also plans to announce new investments in intervention programs in violence-prone communities; a directive to the Justice Department to publish model “red flag” laws for states that allow the temporary removal of guns from people deemed at high risk of harming themselves or others; and a comprehensive report on firearms trafficking.
              Taken together, the actions amount to the first real steps by Biden’s administration to combat gun violence. Inside the White House, efforts to devise executive actions have been led by White House Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice and Office of Public Engagement Director Cedric Richmond, administration officials and gun safety advocacy groups told CNN.
              That included meeting with some of those groups and fielding ideas for steps that Biden could take on his own. Some advocates had been clamoring for steps earlier in the administration, pointing to Biden’s pledge to prioritize gun control during his campaign.
              But initial reaction from gun safety advocacy groups Wednesday evening was positive.
              “Each of these executive actions will start to address the epidemic of gun violence that has raged throughout the pandemic, and begin to make good on President Biden’s promise to be the strongest gun safety president in history,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement.
              “These much-needed executive actions will start saving lives right away, and our grassroots army of nearly 6 million supporters looks forward to standing behind President Biden as he urges the Senate to follow his lead and act,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement.
              While campaigning, Biden had said he would task his attorney general with instituting better enforcement of existing gun laws as a means of slowing gun violence. He also made a campaign pledge to send $900 million for community programs meant to combat violence, something the administration is sorting out how to fulfill.
              Following last month’s shootings, Biden called on Congress to take steps like reenacting an assault weapons ban, with Vice President Kamala Harris, who argued for executive actions on the campaign trail, telling “CBS This Morning” that “if we really want something that is going to be lasting, we need to pass legislation.”
              The Democratic-controlled House passed gun legislation that would expand background checks on all commercial gun sales last month, but the bills face tougher paths in the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim 50-50 majority and would need significant Republican support to overcome a legislative filibuster.
              Biden acknowledged during a news conference that his main legislative priority was passing an infrastructure package and that he believed careful timing was key to the success of any proposed bills.
              And he has acknowledged that his political capital is limited.
              “I haven’t done any counting yet,” he said in March when asked whether he believed he had enough votes to pass significant reforms.
              As the nation’s posture on guns has evolved, Biden has been front-and-center at most every stop along the way for more than three decades, from the triumph of a 10-year ban on assault weapons in 1994 to the disappointment of a failed push for universal background checks in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.
                Recent shootings in Georgia and Colorado had raised the question inside the West Wing over how much political capital Biden should expend on the matter, which has so often ended in frustration.
                This story has been updated with details about Biden’s executive actions and reaction to them.

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                Virginia lawmakers OK marijuana possession starting July 1

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                By Paul LeBlanc and Kay Jones, CNN
                Updated 9:45 PM ET, Wed April 7, 2021

                (CNN) — The Virginia General Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill legalizing simple possession of marijuana, becoming the latest state to modify its laws around cannabis use and possession that disproportionately jailed Black people for nonviolent offenses.

                The new law, which goes into effect July 1, allows anyone in the state 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. The law also “modifies several other criminal penalties related to marijuana, and imposes limits on dissemination of criminal history record information related to certain marijuana offenses,” according to a summary posted to the Legislature’s website.
                “Virginia led and made history once again today,” Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who cast the tie-breaking vote in the state Senate, said in a tweet.
                  “I was proud to cast the tie-breaking vote to legalize marijuana and bring long overdue justice, fairness, equity and opportunity to the people of our great Commonwealth.”
                    The bill had originally passed in late February, but Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam sent it back to the Legislature with a series of revisions, including a proposal to accelerate the timeline of its enactment to this July instead of 2024.
                        Still, the measure was met with fierce opposition from state GOP lawmakers Wednesday, including Del. Chris Head, who called it a “train wreck” during a virtual House floor speech.
                        “If this policy change is to be undertaken, it has to be undertaken prudently, and I understand the enormous pressure on the majority party to make this change right now. I understand that opposing immediate legislation and legalization is going to anger many of your constituents. And I understand that taking the time to do this right might possibly even lead to charges of racism,” he said.
                        “But we have to do this right. And doing it right takes time.”
                        Legalization advocates have long touted the righting of past criminal justice wrongs, eliminating illegal market activity and generating additional tax revenue when they’ve pushed for overhauling state cannabis laws.
                        “At the end of the day, economics talk and jobs talk,” Jessica Billingsley, chief executive officer of Akerna, which makes regulatory compliance software that helps states track cannabis sales from seed to sale, previously told CNN.
                          “I truly believe we’re going to see some very meaningful and important movement coming out of this as states and governors look for a way to bolster their economy.”
                          Cannabis sales in states that have legalized the plant for medical and recreational purposes totaled about $15 billion in 2019, and are expected to top $30 billion by 2024, according to data from BDS Analytics, which tracks dispensary sales.

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                          Biden’s planned pick for ATF director a fierce advocate for gun control

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                          By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
                          Updated 9:30 PM ET, Wed April 7, 2021

                          Washington (CNN) — David Chipman, President Joe Biden’s planned nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, has a long history at the agency and sports credentials in gun control advocacy sure to excite firearm safety groups.

                          If confirmed, Chipman will lead the agency that enforces gun laws at a critical point in Biden’s early tenure, as the President looks to take fresh action on the issue in the wake of two deadly shootings last month.
                          “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future,” Biden said last month. The President plans to announce new executive actions on guns Thursday, a person familiar with the plans said.

                            Longtime ATF special agent

                              Chipman, if confirmed, would return to the agency where he worked for 25 years as a special agent.
                                He lists “Violent Crime Reduction Strategist,” “Certified Explosives Specialist” and “Interagency Liason Specialist” among his specialties on his Linkedin profile, and Giffords notes his expertise includes ghost guns, the gun industry, law enforcement and assault weapons.
                                In the President’s first, limited actions on gun control Thursday, Biden will direct his administration to tighten restrictions on so-called ghost guns and pistol stabilizing braces that allow the weapons to be used more accurately, according to a senior administration official. Ghost guns are handmade or self-assembled firearms that don’t have serial numbers, and some can be fabricated in as little as 30 minutes using kits and parts purchased online.
                                The ATF has been without a permanent director since 2015.
                                In recent years, the bureau has become most visible in the aftermath of mass shootings around the US and at other crimes involving firearms. But the agency has a broader scope than just guns.
                                According to its website, ATF “protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products.”
                                “We partner with communities, industries, law enforcement, and public safety agencies to safeguard the public we serve through information sharing, training, research, and use of technology,” the bureau’s website states.

                                Gun control advocacy

                                After leaving the ATF in 2012, Chipman became a senior adviser at Everytown for Gun Safety, where he was “consulted frequently” by lawmakers considering gun control legislation, according to his Linkedin.
                                Chipman then served as senior vice president of Public Safety Solutions for almost three years before arriving at Giffords as a senior policy adviser in 2016.
                                It’s in these roles that Chipman’s voice as a fierce advocate for gun control was elevated, as he frequently wrote op-eds and made media appearances to advance the cause.
                                “As a former ATF special agent with more than 24 years of experience at the bureau, I know all too well how serious our gun violence problem is and how desperately the agency lacks for the law enforcement tools that are necessary to help curb this national epidemic,” Chipman wrote in a 2013 Politico op-ed.
                                The country’s gun safety laws, he wrote at the time, “make it all too easy for guns to fall into the wrong hands — and since Congress has failed to address these gaps legislatively, ATF must chart a new course to combat the scourge of gun violence. This requires strong leadership.”
                                More recently, Chipman voiced support for limiting high-capacity magazines in a 2019 interview with PBS NewsHour.
                                “Talking to any gun owner, a 100-round magazine is just not traditional. It’s not normal. And I can’t think of a purpose, beyond killing a lot of people, for having it,” he said. “So if the debate is, should it be 10 or what have you, it can’t be 100. And so I think there’s room where we can have progress, although we will not have perfection.”
                                  And in light of FBI records last summer showing US firearm background checks having skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic, Chipman told CNN at the time: “My biggest concern involves the potential number of first time gun buyers who, before March, did not think they needed a gun.”
                                  This story has been updated with additional details Wednesday.

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                                  Andrew Giuliani, former Trump aide and son of Rudy Giuliani, says he plans for to run for governor of New York

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                                  By Devan Cole, CNN
                                  Updated 12:16 PM ET, Wed April 7, 2021

                                  Washington (CNN) — Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, says he’s planning to run for governor of the heavily Democratic state next year.

                                  “I plan to run,” Andrew Giuliani, who served as an aide to former President Donald Trump, told the Washington Examiner in an interview published Wednesday.
                                  Giuliani’s gubernatorial bid could set up a high stakes, headline-grabbing showdown with Andrew Cuomo, should the embattled incumbent Democratic governor decide to seek a fourth term. But Giuliani would face a steep uphill battle in the heavily Democratic state, and his candidacy could help hand another win to the party as his proximity to Trump would likely be seen as a liability in a state where the former President is widely unpopular.
                                    “I believe I can win the race,” Giuliani told the Examiner. “I think I’m the right candidate, and this is the right time to help change New York State, and we’ve got a playbook that works.”
                                      “Outside of anybody named Trump, I think I have the best chance to win and take the state back, and I think there’s an opportunity in 2022 with a wounded Democratic candidate, whether it’s going to be Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo, whether it’s going to be a radical (attorney general), Letitia James, whether it’s going to be a no-name lieutenant governor, I think there’s a very, very real chance to win,” he said, according to the magazine.
                                            Asked if he expected Cuomo to seek reelection to a fourth term next year, Jay Jacobs, the state party chair and a close ally of the governor, demurred.
                                            “I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I think that he’s more focused on getting through his current troubles, then seeing where he’s going to go,” he said. “These investigations are going to be critical in all of that. It’s hard to tell. I’m sure that, given his druthers, he’d like to run for reelection.”

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                                            Stephen Breyer worries about Supreme Court’s public standing in current political era

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                                            By Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst & Supreme Court biographer
                                            Updated 9:07 PM ET, Tue April 6, 2021

                                            (CNN) — Justice Stephen Breyer, who may be nearing the end of his Supreme Court tenure, expressed concern on Tuesday about the standing of the high court and the possible erosion of public confidence in its decisions.

                                            In an expansive, two-hour lecture at Harvard Law School, Breyer bemoaned the common practice — by journalists, senators and others — of referring to justices by the presidents who appointed them and of describing the nine by their conservative or liberal approach to the law.
                                            “These are more than straws in the wind,” the 82-year-old Breyer said. “They reinforce the thought, likely already present in the reader’s mind, that Supreme Court justices are primarily political officials or ‘junior league’ politicians themselves rather than jurists. The justices tend to believe that differences among judges mostly reflect not politics but jurisprudential differences. That is not what the public thinks.”
                                              Breyer also warned against proposals to expand the size of the Supreme Court from its current nine members. Public trust was “gradually built” over the centuries, he said, and any discussion of change should take account of today’s public acceptance of the court’s rulings, even those as controversial as the 2000 Bush v. Gore case that settled a presidential election.
                                                “The public now expects presidents to accept decisions of the court, including those that are politically controversial,” he said. “The court has become able to impose a significant check — a legal check — upon the Executive’s actions in cases where the Executive strongly believes it is right.”
                                                  Some of Breyer’s most compelling opinions, it should be noted, have been written in dissent. In 2007, for example, he objected to an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts rejecting school integration plans in Seattle and Louisville. Roberts said districts could not consider a student’s race when making school assignments to reduce racial isolation throughout the school district.
                                                  “This is a decision that the Court and the Nation will come to regret,” wrote Breyer, whose father, Irving Breyer, was a long-serving school board member in San Francisco. Breyer still wears the wristwatch his father received upon his retirement from the district. Breyer said the Roberts opinion threatened “the promise of” the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.
                                                  Breyer said Tuesday that differences with his colleagues were based on their distinct views of the structure of the Constitution or how they interpreted statutes. He did not refer to instances in which his colleagues themselves have publicly questioned each other’s motives.
                                                    Breyer did allow that sometimes justices weigh public opinion or the future ramifications of a decision. And he acknowledged that the nine are products of their individual backgrounds and experiences.
                                                    Still, he said, “judicial philosophy is not a code word for ‘politics.'”

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