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Donald Trump and the October surprise
Trump’s payment of $130,000 to Daniels to silence her allegations of an affair with him could become the first such scandal to result in an indictment, the Times noted. But it does have precedent in one respect: “It can trace its lineage to skullduggery in 1968 and 1980,” the paper reports.
"The scandal that has ensnared Donald J. Trump, the paying of hush money to a pornographic film star in 2016, is in a rare class: an attempt not to bring to light an election-altering event, but to suppress one,” the Times noted. “The payoff to Stormy Daniels that has a Manhattan grand jury weighing criminal charges against Mr. Trump can trace its lineage to at least two other episodes foiling an October surprise.
“The first was in 1968, when aides to Richard M. Nixon pressed the South Vietnamese government to thwart peace talks in the closing days of that election. The second was in 1980. Fresh revelations have emerged that allies of Ronald Reagan may well have labored to delay the release of American hostages from Iran until after the defeat of Jimmy Carter.”
Those situations are distinct from Trump’s hush-money scandal because “the chicaneries of 1968 and 1980 were left to historians and partisans to sort out and debate decades later, " the report noted. The allegations about the Nixon and Reagan campaigns have only recently surfaced.
The charges against Trump “may seem trivial when compared to the prior efforts to fend off a history-altering October surprise,” the Times said.
“This month, a former lieutenant governor of Texas came forward to say that he accompanied a Reagan ally to the Middle East to try to delay the release of American hostages from Iran until after the 1980 election. And notes discovered in 2016 appeared to confirm that senior aides to Mr. Nixon worked through back channels in 1968 to hinder the commencement of peace talks to end the war in Vietnam — and secure Mr. Nixon’s victory over Hubert H. Humphrey.
“Hold on,” Anna Chennault, Mr. Nixon’s emissary to the South Vietnamese, told Saigon government officials, as she pressed them to boycott the Paris peace talks. “We are gonna win.”
Last year, Biden nominated Denver International Airport CEO Phil Washington to serve as FAA administrator. A spokesperson for Washington at the airport did not immediately comment.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg late Saturday confirmed Washington's withdrawal first reported by Reuters.
"The partisan attacks and procedural obstruction he has faced are undeserved, but I respect his decision to withdraw and am grateful for his service," Buttigieg said on Twitter.
The agency has faced numerous safety questions in recent months after a series of close-call safety incidents and the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this week delayed a vote on his nomination citing outstanding questions by some lawmakers. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent, had not announced whether she would support him and Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, also was still considering how to vote, a spokeswoman said this week.
Sen. Ted Cruz, ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, said late Saturday that it has been clear since his nomination that "Mr. Washington lacked the aviation experience necessary to run the FAA ... The Biden administration must now quickly name someone to head the FAA who has an extensive aviation background, can earn widespread bipartisan support in the Senate, and will keep the flying public safe."
Cruz and other Republicans had said Washington, who retired from the U.S. Army in July 2000, needed a waiver from rules requiring civilian leadership to head the FAA. The Transportation Department's general counsel said Washington was fully qualified and did not need a waiver.
Cruz noted Washington has only about two years of experience as an airport CEO and criticized Washington's inability to answer some aviation questions at his confirmation hearing.
The White House insisted Washington was fully qualified. Cantwell had said he would shakeup the agency saying "we feel that industry and FAA got too cozy."
A White House official had earlier told Reuters "politics must not hold up confirming an administrator to lead the FAA, and we will move expeditiously to nominate a new candidate for FAA administrator."
The official said "an onslaught of unfounded Republican attacks on Mr Washington’s service and experience irresponsibly delayed this process, threatened unnecessary procedural hurdles on the Senate floor, and ultimately have led him to withdraw his nomination today."
Washington was originally nominated in July but did not get a hearing from the Commerce Committee until March 1.
The FAA has had a number of recent safety issues.
In January, the FAA halted all departing passenger airline flights for nearly two hours because of a pilot messaging database outage, the first nationwide ground stop of its kind since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
On Wednesday, the FAA issued a safety alert to airlines, pilots and others about the "need for continued vigilance and attention to mitigation of safety risks" after a series of high-profile near collisions.
Six serious runway incursions have occurred since January that prompted the agency to convene a safety summit last week.
Some industry officials think the White House could name acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen as a new nominee. Nolen, who was named head of the FAA's aviation safety office, has been the acting FAA administrator since April 2022 and has received backing from many Republicans in Congress.
Washington had won support from a wide range of groups, including a number of aviation unions and a group of family members of some killed in a 2019 fatal Boeing 737 MAX crash.
The FAA has been without a permanent administrator for almost a year.
This was the second major Bide nominee to withdraw in recent weeks. Gigi Sohn, his pick for a key fifth seat on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), withdrew dealing a setback for Democrats who have been unable to take control of the telecom regulator for more than two years.
(Reporting by David Shepardson, editing by Deepa Babington and Marguerita Choy, Robert Birsel)
Trump's strategy of 'attack and threaten' is unchanged — but his words are more dangerous now: analysis
Donald Trump has once again responded to his legal problems by attacking those who would prosecute him. But this time, that poses a new and greater danger, a Washington Post analysis suggests today.
Trump’s preemptive announcement that he would be indicted for his role in 2016 hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels enabled him to “make himself the center of attention of both the legal and political worlds, offering a window into his campaign strategy while highlighting the dangers he poses to the stability of the country,” the Post reported.
“In typical fashion, Trump didn’t wait for the grand jury to speak, calling on his followers to stage protests in an echo of what he had tweeted ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol (‘Be there. Will be wild.’)," the Post noted. “On Friday morning, the former president posted an even more troubling message on Truth Social, calling Bragg ‘a degenerate psychopath’ and warning of 'potential death and destruction' if he is indicted in connection with what he termed ‘a false charge.’”
But after what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, everything is different, the analysis suggested.
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“In the past, statements like that were not taken seriously enough. But after his lies about the 2020 election, the storming of the U.S. Capitol and everything else he has done to undermine the integrity of the voting process, that’s no longer possible. No one today discounts the possibility of violence surrounding the former president or instigated by him.
“His call for protests prompted law enforcement officials in New York to erect security barriers around the criminal court complex. His declarations on Friday led House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to warn that Trump’s ‘reckless, reprehensible and irresponsible’ rhetoric could ‘get someone killed.’”
Don’t expect Trump’s approach to change soon, according to the Post analysis.
“A Republican who supports him said that, under these circumstances, there is only one political strategy for Trump: attack, attack, attack. The former president will continue to try to turn every legal investigation into a political fight, as he has done since he became president. He will play victim and demand that his party defend him against the Democrats, the legal system, the left and the media.”
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