Supreme Court justices steer clear of insurrection question in Trump ballot case
WASHINGTON — After supporters of then-President Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, ominous fencing was erected to protect surrounding buildings.
One of the buildings that needed protecting was the grand marble structure across the street from the Capitol: the Supreme Court.
But during oral arguments today over Colorado’s effort to kick Trump off the Republican primary ballot, the justices asked little about a key question in the case: Was Jan. 6 an insurrection?
Canceled appearance at caucus site sparks frustration among Trump supporters
An anticipated Trump appearance at a caucus location in Henderson, Nevada, that didn’t unfold as expected led to logistical problems and grumblings among caucusgoers.
“Unfortunately, because of traffic, he did not show up,” caucus site supervisor Howell Shaw said.
Shaw, who told the agitated crowd of caucusgoers that he wanted to “apologize for the wait,” said a ballroom near the caucus site filled up with about 400 people expecting Trump to speak. They weren’t formally checked in to caucus, Shaw said, meaning their IDs weren’t checked to make sure they were registered Republicans.
Shaw said that after the “very special guest” didn’t arrive following a Secret Service sweep, all 400 people went from the ballroom to check in, making for some disgruntled caucusgoers waiting in line.
NBC News spoke to a few caucusgoers who got frustrated by the delay and left the line.
Biden campaign says confusion has erupted over ‘Trump’s caucus’
Ahead of Trump’s visit to Nevada and expected victory in the state’s caucuses, Biden-Harris Nevada campaign manager Shelby Wiltz criticized the former president and state Republicans in a statement earlier today, arguing the decision to hold caucuses in addition to the state-mandated primary is causing “confusion across the state.”
“Once again, Donald Trump proves he cares more about himself than allowing Nevada voters to make their voices heard. Trump’s caucus has caused confusion across the state — but he doesn’t care as long as he can sell an empty ‘victory,'” Wiltz said. “Trump’s manufactured electoral chaos is in stark contrast to the Democratic primary, where Nevada’s diverse communities delivered an overwhelming and clear message: Nevada supports Joe Biden.”
The Thursday GOP caucuses are run by the Republican Party, while the primary earlier this week was run by state officials. The Republican primary was mandated by state law, but delegates will be awarded only for the winner of the caucuses.
House GOP leaders say Hur report shows Biden is ‘unfit for the Oval Office’
House Republican leaders said in a statement today that the special counsel’s report on Biden’s handling of classified documents “exposes a two-tiered system of justice” and shows that Biden is “unfit” for office.
Speaker Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, both of Louisiana, Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota and GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York called Hur’s findings “deeply disturbing” in their joint statement, which Johnson posted on X.
“Not only does it demonstrate the President’s recklessness, but exposes a two-tiered system of justice that is indicting one President with politically motivated charges while carrying water for another amid similar allegations,” they said.
“A man too incapable of being held accountable for mishandling classified information is certainly unfit for the Oval Office,” they added.
Republicans skip Nevada in ad spending
Republicans have spent barely any money on campaign ads in Nevada since November, even though the GOP caucuses are there today.
Part of the reason is that there’s no competitive race — Haley was on the ballot in Tuesday’s primary, which doesn’t award delegates to the Republican National Convention, and Trump is the lone active candidate on the ballot in today’s caucuses.
His campaign spent $10,000 on digital ads in the state, according to AdImpact, but neither Haley nor her allies has spent even a cent.
“Nevada, it’s such a scam,” Haley told a local Fox station yesterday. “We knew months ago that we weren’t going to spend a day or a dollar in Nevada because it wasn’t worth it. And so we didn’t even count Nevada.”
Meanwhile, Democrats have ramped up spending in the state, which is expected to be a battleground in the general election.
Biden’s campaign has spent $500,000 on ads there, while the DNC has spent an additional $177,000.
RNC chair comments on Hur report amid questions about her future
Ronna McDaniel, who could soon step aside as the RNC’s chairwoman, seized on the special counsel’s comments about Biden’s memory, suggesting in a statement today, as other Republicans have, that Hur’s decision not to prosecute revealed a “two-tiered justice system.”
“The special counsel’s report exposed two things: we have a two-tiered justice system, and our president is mentally unfit to lead,” McDaniel said. “Joe Biden’s mental decline is both sad and alarming, and putting a ‘sympathetic,’ ‘elderly’ man who can’t remember major events from his own life back in the Oval Office would undoubtedly make America less safe.”
Trump arrives in Nevada and celebrates Virgin Islands win
“Great news! As we are landing in Nevada, getting ready to go to Caucus, word just came that we overwhelmingly won the Virgin Islands Caucus,” Trump wrote. “I have just called to thank those involved. They are celebrating, and having a great time — They deserve it! This has been a very Big Day for your Favorite President, the Republican Party, and Democracy!”
In a second post on the social media platform around 7:30 p.m. ET, he said he had plans to watch the vote with his team, writing, “Should be really good!!!”
Neither Trump nor Haley campaigned in the Virgin Islands, though Haley made several virtual appearances by video in the days and weeks leading up to the caucuses. She will not appear on the ballot in the Nevada caucuses.
As Nevada holds its Republican caucuses tonight, with Trump likely to win by a wide margin, the contest is expected to provide the first insight into how all-important Latino voters are viewing the election.
Biden says Israel’s military response in Gaza has been ‘over the top’
Biden, speaking to reporters at the White House tonight, offered one of his most pointed criticisms of the Israeli government since Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack, characterizing the country’s military operations in the Gaza Strip as “over the top.”
Biden added that his administration was working to secure a pause in the fighting.
Biden has expressed support for Israel while increasingly putting pressure on Netanyahu to scale back Israeli military operations in Gaza. Biden’s backing of Israel has been a point of contention among key voting blocs as he seeks re-election.
Biden says he ‘should have’ overseen transfer of docs
Biden said tonight after the special counsel’s report that he regretted not overseeing the transfer of material that was in his offices.
“I should have done that,” he said.
“I didn’t know how half the boxes got in my garage until I found out staff gathered them up and put them together and took them to the garage in my home,” he added.
The comment came after a reporter asked tonight how Biden would have handled classified documents differently following the release of Hur’s report, which said Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.”
Biden confuses Mexico’s president with Egypt’s el-Sissi
Addressing the U.S. response to the Israel-Hamas wear, Biden said, “As you know, initially, the president of Mexico, Sissi, did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in.”
Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the president of Mexico.
Biden hits back at special counsel over claim he couldn’t remember when his son died
Biden tonight pushed back against the special counsel’s suggestion that he had trouble remembering the timing of his son Beau’s death because of brain cancer in 2015.
“Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself it wasn’t any of their damn business,” Biden said in remarks from the White House.
“I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away,” he added.
Hur’s report indicated that Biden struggled to remember “even within several years” the timing of his son Beau’s death.
Biden to deliver national address Thursday night hours after special counsel report
Biden is set to deliver remarks tonight. The White House did not provide any details about the subject of his speech.
Special counsel’s assessment of Biden’s mental fitness triggers Democratic panic
Biden sidestepped any criminal charges as the investigation into his handling of classified documents concluded, but the political blowback from the special counsel’s report today could prove even more devastating, reinforcing impressions that he is too old and impaired to hold the highest office.
Hur’s portrait of a man who couldn’t remember when he served as Barack Obama’s vice president or the year when his beloved son Beau died dealt a blow to Biden’s argument that he is still sharp and fit enough to serve another four-year term.
In deciding not to charge Biden with any crimes, the special counsel wrote that in a potential trial, “Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview with him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
Trump wins Republican caucuses in Virgin Islands
Trump has won the Republican caucuses in the U.S. Virgin Islands, NBC News projects, continuing his dominant march toward the GOP presidential nomination.
The victory is Trump’s third in as many contests — following the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary — and it deals another loss to his last well-known challenger, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Trump is expected to net all four delegates that the Republican National Committee plans to allocate from the territory at this summer’s convention in Milwaukee.
Democrats go after Hur and dismiss GOP attacks on Biden’s age
A source close to the Biden-Harris campaign said today that GOP attacks on the president’s age are nothing new and that voters have elected him anyway.
Democrats are also going after Hur.
“Hur, a lifelong Republican and creature of DC, didn’t have a case against Biden, but he knew exactly how his swipes could hurt Biden politically,” Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, said on X.
Some Democrats point out that Hur was appointed U.S. attorney during the Trump administration. Hur, though, was also appointed special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland, whom Biden appointed.
Republican lawmakers call for invoking the 25th Amendment against Biden after Hur report
Several Republican lawmakers are calling for the invocation of the 25th Amendment after Hur’s depiction of Biden’s memory in a report released today.
The 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which says the vice president assumes the powers of the presidency if the incumbent is unable to fulfill his or her duties, is an appropriate step given the lapses in Biden’s memory, several Republican members of Congress said.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., posted, “The Special Counsel’s report exposing that Joe Biden’s mental decline is so severe that he can not stand trial means he is unfit for office.” She continued, “We must demand either the 25th amendment be invoked or impeachment.”
Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Rick Scott, R-Fla.; and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga., echoed her sentiments in similar posts on X.
Many others called Biden’s fitness to serve into question but stopped short of calling for the 25th Amendment to be invoked.
Biden, 81, had difficulty remembering the timing of his son Beau’s death, as well as a debate about Afghanistan, Hur’s report said.
Trump’s push to remake the RNC could get messy
As Trump works on locking up the Republican presidential nomination, he’s setting his sights on remaking the Republican National Committee in his own image. But it’s a task that is likely to come with some political peril, and it may not happen without a fight.
Trump has said in recent days that he’s looking for change at the RNC, which could mean Ronna McDaniel’s stepping aside as chairwoman. The Trump campaign has openly signaled that if she does, its preferred pick for a successor is North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley, a veteran operative with deep ties to the party’s establishment who is currently the RNC’s general counsel.
It’s those establishment ties that could prove to be a complicating factor.
Trump says he was subject of ‘selective prosecution’ in a ‘two tiered’ justice system
In a statement and a Truth Social post, Trump compared the Hur report to his classified documents case and argued he was being treated unfairly by the justice system.
“This has now proven to be a two-tiered system of justice and unconstitutional selective prosecution!” Trump wrote in his statement in all caps. “The Biden Documents Case is 100 times different and more severe than mine.”
Trump argued that Biden’s retention of classified documents was “outrageously criminal.” He addressed the report’s comments on Biden’s age, saying that when Biden took the documents in question he was in his “mental primetime.”
He also urged special counsel Jack Smith, whom he called “Deranged” in his social media post, to drop the case against him, and repeated past claims of election interference.
White House pushes back on ‘inappropriate criticisms’ of Biden’s memory
White House spokesman Ian Sams pushed back against the characterization of Biden’s memory in the special counsel’s report.
“The inappropriate criticisms of the President’s memory are inaccurate, gratuitous, and wrong,” Sams wrote on X.
Sams pointed to a letter White House counsel Richard Sauber and Biden’s personal counsel Bob Bauer issued to Hur on Monday, which asked Hur to review comments about Biden’s memory before he finalized his report.
“The report uses highly prejudicial language to describe a commonplace occurrence among witnesses: a lack of recall of years-old events,” they wrote.
The letter refers to Biden’s October interview in the probe, saying it was preceded by “calls with heads of state, Cabinet members, members of Congress, and meeting repeatedly with his national security team” in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct. 7.
The letter also suggests that Biden was asked for particulars about the work of his staff, which Sauber and Bauer said the president was unlikely to remember in detail.
“The president’s inability to recall dates or details of events that happened years ago is neither surprising nor unusual, especially given that many questions asked him to recall the particulars of staff work to pack, ship, and store materials and furniture in the course of moves between residences,” they wrote.
Trump addresses Virgin Islands Republicans in new video
Trump addressed Republican caucusgoers in the Virgin Islands by video today, saying: “I want to say a very special hello to my friends in the United States Virgin Islands. It’s a very, very special place and even more special today and tonight, because this is the day you’re going to be caucusing, and you’re going to caucus for me, and I appreciate it.”
Voters are caucusing there today in a contest with four delegates to the Republican National Convention at stake.
At a news conference at Mar-a-Lago before he headed to Nevada, a state with its own GOP caucuses today, Trump accused his lone remaining major opponent, Haley, of “playing it very hard” in the Virgin Islands. She has not visited the territory, but she did several virtual events, including one this week.
Biden points to ‘stark differences’ between his probe and Trump’s
In his first on-camera remarks after the Hur report was released, Biden said that the special counsel “made clear the stark differences” between this probe and that of Trump.
“Special counsel acknowledged I cooperated completely. I did not throw up any roadblocks. I sought no delays,” Biden said at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference, noting that he took part in a lengthy interview in the probe in October shortly after the Hamas attacks in Israel.
Biden referred to Trump’s indictment, saying the former president, by contrast, refused to return classified documents that were in his possession over an extended period and allegedly made efforts to obstruct justice by destroying evidence.
“That’s the distinction, among others. Bottom line is a special counsel in my case decided against moving forward any charges. This matter is now closed,” Biden said.
Haley says ‘double standard’ in Biden and Trump classified docs
Haley said on X today that a special counsel’s decision not to prosecute Biden for retaining classified documents revealed special treatment of Biden compared with Trump, who was charged over his handling of classified materials after he left the White House.
“The double standard is glaring. Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump were reckless with classified documents,” Haley wrote. “If Biden’s defense is old age and forgetfulness, Trump can easily make the same claim. Trump should quickly hire Biden’s lawyers.”
Voter concerns about Biden’s age echoed in special counsel report
Biden managed to avoid any legal consequences in connection with his handling of classified documents, but special counsel Robert Hur’s report echoed concerns about his age and memory that voters have expressed.
In declining to prosecute Biden, Hur’s office said he “would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” The report suggested that, by the reasonable doubt standard, a jury might have difficulty convicting Biden “of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.”
The report also said in interviews with Biden, he “did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended.” He also “did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died.”
Republicans quickly seized on the language report online, with strategists like Trump adviser Jason Miller saying on X, “If Biden’s (current) mental state is so bad he can’t be prosecuted, per the Special Counsel’s rationale, how can he run the country?”
An NBC News poll released this week found 62% of registered voters have “major concerns” about “Joe Biden not having the necessary mental and physical health to be president for a second term.” An additional 14% said they have moderate concerns about Biden’s mental and physical health.
Special counsel says there’s evidence Biden ‘willfully retained and disclosed classified materials,’ but he won’t be charged
WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Hur has declined to prosecute Biden for his handling of classified documents, but he said Biden’s practices “present serious risks to national security” and added that Biden portrayed himself as an “elderly man with a poor memory” who would be sympathetic to a jury.
“Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen,” the report said, but the evidence “does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
About a month after he left office as vice president, in a recorded conversation with his ghostwriter in February 2017, Biden remarked that he “just found all this classified stuff downstairs,” the report said. Biden was believed to have been referring to classified documents about the Afghanistan troop surge in 2009, which Biden opposed.
Biden’s memory, Hur’s report said, “was significantly limited” in his interviews with the special counsel last year.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the latest House Republican to retire
McMorris Rodgers has served her Spokane-based district, Washington’s 5th, since 2005, including six years in House Republican leadership as chair of the conference. Most recently, she has chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee.
She is the 18th House Republican to announce her retirement from the chamber this year.
McMorris Rodgers was a supporter of Trump, and she told local media that she planned to object to the certification of his election loss on Jan. 6, 2021. But after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, she reversed course and supported certification.
Although Washington is a blue state, McMorris Rodgers’ district is fairly red. Trump won it by 10 points in 2020.
Biden campaign plans to hit Trump on guns ahead of NRA forum
The Biden campaign is preparing to highlight Trump’s “commitment to siding with the gun lobby over keeping Americans safe” as the former president delivers a keynote speech at tomorrow’s NRA forum, according to plans first shared with NBC News.
The Democratic National Committee will launch a billboard campaign reading “get over it,” aiming to underscore how Trump has responded to gun violence in the past. The billboard references the former president’s reaction to a school shooting in Iowa earlier this year, where he said that people “have to get over it, we have to move forward.”
“If Trump is allowed back in the Oval Office, he’s promised a new plan to arm teachers and allow universal concealed carry permits across the country. More guns, not less,” said Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler. “That’s Donald Trump’s plan to make us safe. We simply cannot allow his extreme agenda in the White House that will cost more American lives.”
The Biden campaign also plans to work with former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot at an event in 2011, as well as Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention organization, to fact-check the former president and respond to his speech.
Trump blasts Haley before heading to Nevada
Trump told reporters outside his Mar-a-Lago resort that he was about to head to Nevada to celebrate an expected victory in the state’s GOP caucuses.
“All polls indicate we’re in the 90s. Maybe more than that,” he said.
The former president also dinged Nikki Haley, who participated in Tuesday’s Nevada primary instead of today’s caucuses, meaning she isn’t eligible to earn any Republican delegates.
“I don’t know why she continues but let her continue,” he said, adding, “I think she hurts herself but I think she hurts the party, and in a way hurts the country.”
“She did very poorly in Iowa … she did poorly in New Hampshire … and in Nevada, she lost to ‘no name,’” Trump said, referencing the fact that more voters selected “none of these candidates” in the primary than voted for Haley.
Supreme Court signals it’s unlikely to let Colorado kick Trump off the ballot
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today signaled deep skepticism that Colorado had the power to remove Trump from the Republican primary ballot because of his actions trying to overturn the 2020 election results.
A majority of the justices appeared during the two-hour argument to think that states do not have a role in deciding whether a presidential candidate can be barred from running under a provision of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment that bars people who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.
Justices raised concerns about states reaching different conclusions on whether a candidate could run and several indicated that only Congress could enforce the provision at issue.
Haley won’t win. But it makes (some) sense for her to stay in.
It’s obvious why Haley would abandon her presidential bid now.
She’s all but certain to lose. Just ask her: she can’t identify a state where she’s likely to beat Trump.
She risks being seen as either a nuisance or an impediment to Trump — a Dean Phillips-style afterthought or a serious threat to the GOP’s hopes of ousting Biden — neither of which makes her stronger in the future.
And she could incur the wrath of Trump and his base in a way that permanently damages her standing.
The upsides of continuing to campaign may be less clear, but they are just as present.
The conventional wisdom is that Haley wants to be viewed as the clear alternative if an intervention — divine or criminal — prevents Trump from carrying the GOP flag in November. There’s a lot of Disney-level wish-upon-a-star thinking baked into that conventional wisdom, most of it conjured by the anti-Trump establishment types who have hated him since he first appeared on the electoral scene.
But there are two related rationales that make a lot more sense.
First, there’s a long modern history of runners-up in one Republican primary winning the nomination the next time it’s available: in the last half century, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney moved up from second fiddle to first. There’s even some precedent for participation-trophy winners forcing their way onto the ticket — think Bush in 1980 — though Trump’s process for picking a No. 2 is anyone’s guess.
More broadly, Haley is building a network of donors and voters every day.
Whatever she wants to do in the future — whether it’s run in 2028 or simply have influence in politics — she is expanding her footprint. Her platform is higher, and it reaches a wider audience, because she is in the race. After all, who would have predicted that the candidate of Americans for Prosperity would also appear on Charlamagne tha God’s Breakfast Club and Saturday Night Live in the span of a week?
That network-building is a major reason candidates tend to run until they don’t have enough money to put gas in the campaign bus.
Haley’s calculations may change if she loses her home state of South Carolina later this month. But for now, she has enough incentive — and cash — to stay in the race.
So, she keeps on running.
Why Trump and Haley aren’t appearing on the same ballot in Nevada
Nevada is typically a major, hard-fought stop on the path to the Republican presidential nomination — except this year, the fight is off.
Nevada Republicans are holding caucuses today, which will be used to allocate delegates to the national convention. Trump is running virtually unopposed after Haley didn’t put her name on the caucus ballot.
Instead, she participated in Tuesday’s state-run primary, which is mandated under state law but had no delegates at stake. In a stinging rebuke, more people chose to vote for “none of these candidates” than for Haley, even though she was the only candidate on the ballot.
So, why the split?
Amid the national Democratic Party’s attempts to reorganize the presidential nominating calendar after the 2020 election, Nevada enacted a law in 2021 that required the state to hold “a presidential preference primary” if multiple candidates file. The primary must be held the first Tuesday of February and be run by the state.
The law, which was passed by a Democratic-controlled Legislature and signed by the then-Democratic governor, was in part an attempt to secure the state’s spot at the front of the 2024 presidential nominating calendar. And it came as Democrats were looking to move away from caucuses like those both parties had long used in Nevada, de-emphasizing those contests in favor of higher-turnout primaries.
But the state GOP pushed back and is holding caucuses. From the point of view of the national Republican Party, that is the only recognized contest for the purpose of awarding delegates.
For the GOP, 26 delegates are at stake, a bit more than 1% of the total delegates up for grabs nationally. The at-large and congressional district delegates are awarded proportionally.
Democrat holds a slim lead in the special election for George Santos’ former seat
A Newsday/Siena College poll released today found that former Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat, leads Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip by four percentage points in a special election in New York’s 3rd Congressional District, which was previously represented by ousted GOP Rep. George Santos.
In a head-to-head between Suozzi and Pilip, 48% of likely voters said they would vote for Suozzi and 44% said they would vote for Pilip. Seven percent said they don’t know who they’ll vote for. Suozzi’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error.
Pilip and Suozzi are vying to replace Santos in a special election taking place on Tuesday, Feb. 13, where immigration and the border has become a focal point.
The survey also showed that 47% of voters said they have a favorable view of Suozzi, while 45% of likely voters said they have an unfavorable view of him.
Meanwhile, 41% of voters said they have a favorable view of Pilip, while 43% have an unfavorable view of her.
Forty-nine percent of voters said Pilip would do a better job handling the influx of migrants into the U.S., while 40% of voters said Suozzi would do a better job handling this issue.
In the district, Trump has a slight lead over Biden in a hypothetical general election matchup, with 47% of those surveyed saying they would vote for Trump and 42% saying they would vote for Biden.
This poll was conducted from Feb. 3 to Feb. 6 among 694 likely voters in New York’s 3rd District. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
Jockeying begins to replace Ronna McDaniel at the RNC
LAS VEGAS — As Ronna McDaniel considers whether to step down from as chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Drew McKissick — who is her co-chair, as well as the chair of the South Carolina GOP — is actively placing phone calls to other RNC members about replacing her if she resigns.
Three sources familiar with his calls said he is lobbying for support and gauging interest from the RNC’s body of 168 members responsible for formally selecting the party chair.
If McDaniel resigns, “he certainly wants to be the next chair,” said an ally of McKissick, Robin Armstrong, the RNC committeeman from Texas. “He is the chair of the South Carolina party. He’s currently the co-chair [of the RNC]. I think it’d naturally be the next thing for him to step up as chair of the RNC.”
One of the sources said McKissick spoke with Trump this week about the prospect of becoming chair. The Trump campaign did not reply to a request for comment.