The Bad News for Trump Piles Up

Plus: Warnock wins, over-the-counter Narcan closer to reality, San Francisco backtracks on killer robots, and more...


Donald Trump's 2024 presidential campaign is off to a scandalous start. Most people would expect nothing less from the erratic former president, of course. But things are going ghastly even by Trump standards, it seems.

For starters, Trump companies were just found guilty of tax fraud. On Monday, The Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp. were found guilty of 17 criminal counts in total, including criminal tax fraud and conspiracy. Trump was not charged in the case, though prosecutors did allege in court that he was aware of the criminal schemes.

It seems unlikely that the conviction will affect Trump's political standing, however. People cheering the ruling are probably already prone to think that Trump's a crook, while Trump fans can write the case off as more political persecution. And anyone on the fence could plausibly chalk it up to unsavory business dealings that went on without Trump knowing.

But Trump has unquestionably invited his own share of controversy in the past few weeks. For instance, last weekend, he suggested that we must terminate "all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution."

"So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION?" he posted to Trump social media network Truth Social. "Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution."

The comment came in response to Matt Taibbi reporting about Twitter's decision to suppress an article about Hunter Biden's laptop.

Many Republicans condemned Trump's Constitution comment (as did Twitter CEO Elon Musk, tweeting "The Constitution is greater than any President. End of story").

On Monday, Trump walked it back, posting: "The Fake News is actually trying to convince the American People that I said I wanted to 'terminate' the Constitution. This is simply more DISINFORMATION & LIES, just like RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA, and all of their other HOAXES & SCAMS."

"What I said was that when there is 'MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION,' as has been irrefutably proven in the 2020 Presidential Election, steps must be immediately taken to RIGHT THE WRONG," he wrote on Truth Social "Only FOOLS would disagree with that and accept STOLEN ELECTIONS. MAGA!"

The Constitution controversy comes on the heels of Trump hosting a dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and rapper Ye (formerly known as Kanye West), who has recently been on a spree of antisemitic statements. (Republican leaders also denounced this.)

Meanwhile, we've seen a host of other bad developments for Trump's personal legal troubles. For instance, "Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith subpoenaed local election officials in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin for their communications with Trump and his allies as part of the department's investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election," noted Axios.

In addition, an appeals court denied Trump's request for a special master to oversee documents taken from Mar-a-Lago. The Supreme Court said the House Ways and Means Committee could obtain his tax returns, and a federal judge said former White House lawyers have to testify to a grand jury about Trump's moves to overturn the 2020 election.

So far, it's seemed that almost nothing Trump does can or will diminish conservative support for him. Perhaps that will continue to hold true. But some suggest that there is a breaking point, and we're getting closer to it.

"Trump in 2022 is not positioned equivalently to Trump 2016," said Philip Bump at The Washington Post. "For one thing, Trump is no longer a blank slate onto which his supporters can project their maximal expectations. He is a known quantity, including being known as an anchor to his party's electoral chances."

The 2022 midterm elections, in which Trump-backed candidates and 2020 election deniers largely tanked, provides a pretty strong impetus for Republican leaders and tastemakers to turn against Trump.

Meanwhile, a lot of other GOP candidates have taken up Trumpian themes—sometimes without as much baggage as Trump brings and with a veneer of sanity and respectability, and sometimes with even wilder abandon. Which is to say that Republicans who think Trump goes too far and those who think he doesn't go far enough both have alternatives.


In defense of algorithms. Algorithms get a horrible rap these days, with many in Congress itching to ban or restrict their use by tech platforms and the chattering classes accusing them of everything from driving political polarization to encouraging extremism, ruining people's mental health, spreading fake news, and swaying elections. In Reason's latest cover story, I aim to counter this hysteria.

Algorithms, especially those used by search engines and social media, have become a strange new front in the culture war. And at the heart of that battle is the idea of control. Algorithms, critics warn, influence individual behavior and reshape political reality, acting as a mysterious digital spell cast by Big Tech over a populace that would otherwise be saner, smarter, less polarized, less hateful, less radicalAlgorithms, in this telling, transform ordinary people into terrible citizens.

But the truth is much more complex and much less alarming. Despite the dire warnings found in headlines and congressional pronouncements, a wealth of research and data contradicts the idea that algorithms are destroying individual minds and America's social fabric. At worst, they help reveal existing divides, amplify arguments some would prefer to stay hidden, and make it harder for individuals to fully control what they see online. At best, they help make us better informed, better engaged, and actually less likely to encounter extremist content. Algorithms aren't destroying democracy. They just might be holding it together.

Read the whole thing here.


Over-the-counter Narcan closer to reality. The antidote to opioid overdose may soon be available without a prescription. From The Wall Street Journal:

Emergent BioSolutions Inc., maker ofNarcan, a nasal-spray form of naloxone, said Tuesday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked an application it submitted for an over-the-counter version of its widely used opioid-reversal nasal spray.

The company said it had been working on the application for several months. Emergent said the FDA's priority review gives the drug an expected approval date of March 29, 2023, putting it first in line for approval ahead of competitors that have announced their planned foray into the market.


Warnock wins. Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock will be back for another term. Warnock, a Democrat, beat Republican candidate Herschel Walker in Tuesday's runoff election. That means Democrats now have 51 Senate seats.


China relaxes Zero COVID rules following protests. "China rolled back rules on isolating people with COVID-19 and dropped virus test requirements for some public places Wednesday in a dramatic change to a strategy that confined millions of people to their homes and sparked protests and demands for President Xi Jinping to resign," reported the A.P. "The latest announcement from the National Health Commission is the second easing of rules following a Nov. 11 change that fueled hopes the Communist Party would scrap its 'zero COVID' strategy. Experts warn, however, that because millions of elderly people still need to be vaccinated, it will be mid-2023 or later before restrictions can be lifted completely."

No killer robots in San Francisco. After approving the use of killer robots by San Francisco police, city officials reversed course this week, following major outcry from locals and attention from across the country. "On Tuesday, the board voted to remove text pertaining to robots and use of lethal force, according to Natalie Gee, the chief of staff for the board's president," reported CNN.


• "A compromise defense policy bill released Tuesday night would end the Pentagon's policy requiring troops to receive the Covid vaccine — and kicking out those troops who refuse it," reported Politico.

• The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in a case involving North Carolina election rules. "The justices will take up what both sides agree could be a fundamental, even radical change in the way federal elections are conducted," said The Washington Post.

• A state judge hit pause on Oregon's new gun regulations.

• Aaron Thomas Mitchell, the former U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent accused of sexually assaulting a teen girl, "was caught on police video saying what appears to be a threat against his accuser," NBC News noted.