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Former President Trump scowled into a camera during his arrest Thursday at the Fulton County Jail in Georgia. The mugshot, released by the Sheriff’s Department, was instantly in circulation around the world and Trump posted it on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, with his own caption: “ELECTION INTERFERENCE” (The Hill). He also posted it on Truth Social (The Hill).
Trump made history as the first sitting or former president to be fingerprinted, photographed and released on bond as a criminal defendant (The Hill) — and he described the experience as “terrible” (The Hill). It’s his fourth time this year as a target of felony charges.
Trump is making every effort to transform his legal woes into a PR gift. Conservative antipathy toward the Justice Department and FBI has helped fill Trump’s presidential campaign coffers, inspired conservative sympathy for his assertions of innocence, muzzled Republican naysayers in Congress and diverted media attention from other GOP presidential candidates.
PULL QUOTE HERE IN BOLD “The trials are the message,” Democrat Sidney Blumenthal, a writer and former adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton, wrote last week in a column for The Guardian. “Trump’s battle with the law will engulf the general election.”
Trump blames his legal predicament — 91 criminal charges across four cases — on politically biased state and federal prosecutors and has pleaded not guilty. Following a more than two-year investigation in Georgia, he stands accused of being the head of a “criminal enterprise” that conspired to overturn his electoral defeat in the state in 2020.
His booking in Fulton County, described by Georgia law enforcement officers as the same routine used with all accused nonviolent defendants, was accompanied by traffic blockades, a heavy police presence and supporters drawn to the Atlanta location to show their support for the former president.
The former president covered 10 percent of his $200,000 bond himself on Thursday and used an Atlanta bonding company for the rest, CNN reported. He agreed as a condition of his freedom that he will not publicly target co-defendants or witnesses using public statements and social media.
Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) has proposed an ambitious Oct. 23 start date for Trump’s trial in a case with 18 other defendants; arraignments are expected early next month. Trump’s lawyers on Thursday used a court filing to oppose an autumn trial (The Hill).
CNN analysis by Stephen Collinson: Trump turns the unthinkable into reality in 2024 campaign.
👉 Morning Report’s Kristina Karisch is on leave.
▪ CNN: Trump replaced his Georgia lawyer before surrendering in Fulton County on 13 criminal charges. He hired white collar defense lawyer Steven Sadow, who has previously challenged the state’s racketeering law. “Prosecutions intended to advance or serve the ambitions and careers of political opponents of the president have no place in our justice system,” he said in a statement.
▪ The Hill: Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows surrendered Thursday in Georgia under a $100,000 bond, charged with violating the state’s anti-racketeering act and solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer.
▪ The Washington Post: Bond was set at $100,000 on Thursday for former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, a Trump ally, in Georgia’s 2020 election conspiracy case.
LEADING THE DAY
Photo —-LeadingDay-International-crash: https://thehill.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2023/08/LeadingDay-International-crash_082423_AP_Uncredited.jpg
© The Associated Press / AP photo | Wagner Group mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin was presumed killed on Wednesday in a plane crash in Russia. People on Thursday removed a body bag from wreckage near the village of Kuzhenkino.
The mystery deepened on Thursday surrounding the presumed but unconfirmed death of Wagner Group mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash on Wednesday. His reported death inspired a Russian roadside memorial heaped with red flowers and candles burning in the shape of crosses. Russian President Vladimir Putin eulogized the man who staged the biggest challenge to his 23-year rule, a former aide he now says had made “mistakes.”
Russian media cited anonymous Wagner Group sources who said Prigozhin was dead.
Whether Putin is behind a possible explosion that downed the private jet about 100 miles outside of Moscow is unclear, but in Western intelligence circles, it is suspected. Ten people were aboard the plane, including three crew.
Reuters: What does Prigozhin’s presumed death mean for Putin?
A preliminary U.S. intelligence assessment concluded that the crash was intentionally caused, U.S. and Western officials said Thursday. One official said the initial assessment determined it was “very likely” Prigozhin was targeted and that an explosion is consistent with Putin’s “long history of trying to silence his critics” (The Associated Press and The Hill). The officials did not offer details about the cause of an explosion (CNN).
In his first comments about the crash, Putin said the passengers had “made a significant contribution” to the fighting in Ukraine. “We remember this, we know, and we will not forget,” he said in a televised interview with the Russian-installed leader of Ukraine’s partially occupied Donetsk region, Denis Pushilin.
Putin recalled that he had known Prigozhin since the early 1990s and described him as “a man of difficult fate” who had “made serious mistakes in life, and he achieved the results he needed — both for himself and, when I asked him about it, for the common cause, as in these last months. He was a talented man, a talented businessman.”
■ BRICS leaders representing five major emerging economies said on Thursday they will admit for membership six additional countries, setting the stage for a powerful counter to the West, a goal sought by China, among other players. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates will become BRICS members in January 2024, joining Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the group’s leaders said. The additional nations were invited during a three-day summit in Johannesburg.
■ Plans in Japan to dump contaminated, radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean prompted protests in Japan and sharp rebukes from China. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and international experts say the treated water meets safety standards(ABC News).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
© The Associated Press / Morry Gash | Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and former South Caroline Gov. Nikki Haley clashed during the GOP presidential primary debate on Wednesday.
The morning-after tallies of the first GOP presidential debate arrived at a consensus: Likely GOP voters did not reverse course as a result of the two-hour show in Milwaukee, which was broadcast by Fox News.
Analysts argued whether it was really a debate if the party’s leading candidate was absent. They opined that Trump was the real winner, albeit in absentia on Wednesday.
During the debate, 38-year-old Vivek Ramaswamy’s MAGA mind-meld, former Vice President Pence’s assertive interruptions and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s boldness on issues (federal spending, abortion, climate change) captured headlines. Former Gov. Chris Christie, a Trump critic and quick-thinking Jersey brawler, attempted without evident success to drain Ramaswamy’s batteries while repeating themes that the former president is a threat to his party and to democracy.
▪ The Hill: Republicans clash despite push to coalesce around 15-week abortion ban.
▪ The Hill: GOP talk of military action in Mexico sparks dire warnings.
▪ The Hill: Ramaswamy moves to capitalize on his big night at debate.
▪ The Hill: Mild-mannered Pence gets aggressive with Trump, Ramaswamy to spark campaign.
▪ Bloomberg News: Haley, in an interview with Bloomberg Television, floateda hike in the retirement age to curb rising U.S. debt. “We change retirement age to reflect life expectancy instead of cost-of-living increases. We do it based on inflation. We limit the benefits on the wealthy, and we expand Medicare Advantage plans,” she advocated.
So, who performed the best on Wednesday night? The Washington Post turned to debate watchers to get an answer. Viewers polled said they thought Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Ramaswamy won.
The next GOP debate takes place Sept. 27 in California, and the Republican National Committee is poised with higher hurdles to get on stage. The candidate field that was eight this week for debates is about to shrink. Trump has suggested he’s unlikely to face off with challengers, considering his commanding lead.
Based on the RNC’s polling requirements, Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota and Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas governor, are in jeopardy of not qualifying for the second debate, which will be televised by Fox Business (The New York Times).
■ Ukraine’s counteroffensive may yet surprise critics, by David Petraeus and Frederick W. Kagan, opinion contributors, The Washington Post.
■ With Prigozhin’s death, there’s no sign Putin is losing control, by Dov S. Zakheim, opinion contributor, The Hill.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will convene for a pro forma session at 2 p.m. Lawmakers return to Washington Sept. 11.
The Senate is out until Sept. 5 and will hold a pro forma session at noon.
The president is vacationing in Lake Tahoe, Nev. He has no public events on his schedule today and plans to return to Washington on Saturday with first lady Jill Biden.
Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will welcome the Las Vegas Aces to the White House to celebrate their 2022 WNBA Championship.
March on Washington 60th anniversary events are scheduled on Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial (The Hill and WTOP).
🎞️ Bargain! Sunday is National Cinema Day featuring $4 movie tickets at thousands of theaters. Find information HERE.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will speak about the economy today at the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium in Moran, Wyo., at 10:05 a.m.
© The Associated Press / Amber Baesler | Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, pictured last summer in Jackson Hole, Wyo., will speak today at the central bank’s annual economic symposium near the Grand Teton National Park.
➤ ICYMI: INTRIGUING READS
💣Nuclear war could end the world, but what if it’s all in our heads? by Sarah Scoles, The New York Times.
👟The mastermind behind your favorite shoes is about to disrupt the shoe industry. Again, by Lisa Jhung, Outside magazine.
🙏True crime, true faith: The serial killer and the Texas mom who stopped him, by Julie Miller, Vanity Fair.
© The Associated Press / AP photo | During the lengthy war of 1812, the British burned the White House.
And finally … Bravo to Morning Report Quiz winners! On Aug. 24, 1814, the U.S. Capitol went up in flames. We asked puzzlers and history buffs to dig deep for some trivia.
Going 4/4 with savvy guesses and Googling: Thomas Burnett, Richard Baznik, Keith Hopper, Robert Bradley, Luther Berg, William Grieshober, Lynn Gardner, Pam Manges, Jaina Mehta, Robert Moore, Terry Pflaumer, Stanley Wasser, Patrick Kavanagh, Paul Harris, Steve James, Phil Kirstein, William Chittam and Ki Harvey.
They knew that British forces invaded Washington intent on getting payback after Americans burned York in Canada.
The White House also was attacked and set aflame.
According to historians, it was a summer rainstorm that saved the Capitol from complete destruction.
Senators temporarily convened their session at Washington’s Blodgett’s Hotel (a favorite watering hole) just a few weeks after the Capitol fire.
🔥Red coats: Architect of the Capitol, mural by artist Allyn Cox of the British burning the Capitol in 1814.
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