Tag Archive for: Presidential Politics

A Strange 2024 Election Is Taking Shape

The Republican conundrum with former President Donald Trump is now well documented. For whatever reason, every indictment makes him stronger and his nomination as the Republican candidate in 2024 seems likely, despite the fact that there hasn’t been a single primary vote cast.

Things can change, but history says it won’t.

So it looks like the Republican nominee will be on television every day, not because he is the nominee, but because his criminal trials are being broadcast on television. It doesn’t feel like putting your best foot forward.

But Democrats have their own strange problem for 2024. Seventy-five percent of Americans don’t believe Joe Biden should run for president, a number that includes a majority of Democrats. His diminishing capacity is obvious to everyone watching. No one is mad at people who suffer diminished capacity, but we do occasionally take away their keys so they don’t hurt themselves or someone else. America generally understands that Joe Biden shouldn’t have the keys to the country anymore. He needs to enjoy his family and take lots of naps without feeling like he’s neglecting more important things.

Throw in the growing probability that he will face an impeachment trial for soliciting and taking bribes while vice president, and Democrats, like the Republicans, have a real political problem.

But the Democrats’ problem seems more solvable. There is no hardened base of support for Biden within the grassroots like Trump. Virtually all Biden supporters support him simply because they haven’t been given a better option.

Given the general lack of enthusiasm for Biden and the obvious health issues that would give him a reasonable and even dignified off-ramp, it seems like an obvious decision to pass the baton to the vice president. After all, she is much younger, and being the bridge president to the next generation of leadership was one of Biden’s talking points in 2020. The problem with this plan, however, is his vice president.

As unpopular as President Biden is, Vice President Kamala Harris is even more unpopular. Despite Trump’s array of political and legal challenges, polls consistently have him polling ahead of Harris in a hypothetical race. The only time Harris seems to get any attention is when she is being laughed at for saying something intended to be profound but is decidedly not.

Remarkably, for a person in her position, she consistently talks like someone who is giving a book report on a book she never read. Beyond that, people just seem not to like her. She ran for president in 2020 but failed to get any traction.

So, if Harris is that unpopular, why not just pass the baton to someone else like Gavin Newsom (who wants it badly) or Pete Buttigieg (he’s gay! historic!). Well, that becomes a problem too because the Democratic Party cares about identity politics as much as anything. President Biden promised to select a black woman as his vice president and delivered on that promise by selecting Harris. But America doesn’t like her, not because she’s a black woman, but because she’s apparently unlikable.

In a world governed by identity politics, the various coalitions that hold the Democratic Party together would explode if it was decided that Biden would be pushed aside and the mantle would pass over the black, woman, heir-apparent in favor of a white man like Newsom or Buttigieg.

So if you’re on the Right and feel stuck with Trump when you believe anyone but Trump would beat Biden handily, a lot of Democrats feel your pain. They know Biden is a political liability, but they’ve painted themselves into a corner. Their rules are very clear. You can’t go with a better candidate if a black woman is next in line. It doesn’t matter how bad she is.

So, to avoid admitting there should be some things that matter more than group identity, it seems they’ll stick with Biden and hope for the best.

This sets 2024 up to be a race between “At least I’m not Biden” versus “At least I’m not Trump,” and few will feel good about it.


Joseph Backholm

Joseph Backholm is Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Black Americans Are Highlighting the Fatherless Epidemic. 2024 Candidates Should Too.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

“Too many fathers are MIA. Too many fathers are AWOL — missing from too many lives and too many homes.” This was a statement by a presidential candidate. Was it former Vice President Mike Pence, who made this declaration? Senator Tim Scott? Vivek Ramaswamy? No, it actually wasn’t said during the recent Republican presidential debate. It was said in 2008 by then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Only 15 years ago, there was wide-held, bipartisan agreement that fathers were important for children to thrive in society. Sadly, you will find no such statement in the Democratic platform today. Instead, it is silent on marriage and family as the foundation of society; it fights for the radical LGBTQ agenda (which often intentionally leaves out fathers through its push for same-sex marriages), and it opposes school choice, including vouchers that enable parents to be able to take their kids out of failing public schools and allow them to attend private schools.

Conversely, the Republican platform fully supports natural marriage, nuclear families, and abstinence until marriage, recognizes that “[p]arents,” not the government, “are a child’s first and foremost educators,” and supports homeschooling, private schools, vouchers, and tuition tax credits.

During the Republican presidential debate on August 23, candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said:

“The word ‘privilege’ gets used a lot. Well, you know what? I did have the ultimate privilege of two parents in the house with a focus on educational achievement, and I want every kid to enjoy that. So part of the problem is we also have a federal government that pays single women more not to have a man in the house than to have a man in the house — contributing to an epidemic of fatherlessness — and I think that goes hand in glove with the education crisis as well, because we have to remember, education starts with the family, and the nuclear family is the greatest form of governance known to mankind.”

Thankfully, as a result of Ramaswamy’s passionate and well-received speech, Fox News featured at least two segments regarding the importance of nuclear families and fatherhood. On the August 29 segment of “Special Report with Bret Baier,” reporter William La Jeunesse interviewed a young mother who talked about how difficult it was for her to not have her father when she was growing up — wishing she had more stability. In contrast, her husband grew up in a traditional family and said that his father gave him and his siblings a lot of confidence. He went on to say that there is a big difference between his friends who were raised by their fathers and those who were not.

The “Special Report” segment revealed that in 1960, 5% of babies in the United States were born out of wedlock, whereas today about 40% of babies are born out-of-wedlock. Additionally, in the United States almost 30% of children are raised by a single parent. Worldwide, only 7% of children are raised by a single parent. Fatherlessness directly increases a child’s likelihood of living in poverty, having a teen pregnancy, abusing drugs or alcohol, dropping out of school, and going to prison.

Tragically, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, fatherlessness affects black children much more than any other race: half of all black children are being raised by a single parent — 46% percent of them by their mom and 4.5% by their dad. On her August 29 show, Laura Ingraham interviewed Madeline Brame, an African American who had been a loyal Democrat for 40 years because she says that was how she was told she was supposed to vote because she is black. But she changed her party affiliation to Republican in 2020 because she has conservative values: God, nuclear family, and country.

Project 21’s Horace Cooper, author of “How Biden’s Policies Harm Blacks,” was the second guest on August 29’s “The Ingraham Angle.” He observed that President Biden’s policies, including Bidenomics, put African Americans back in chains and compares the Big Government to a deadbeat dad. He says the best advice he can give is:

“Don’t partner with a deadbeat dad (Uncle Sam/Big Government/the check). This deadbeat dad does not care about your child. In fact, this deadbeat dad will push you to abort your child. This deadbeat dad is going to see that you live in the most corrupt and dangerous community possible. This deadbeat dad doesn’t put your interests first, it puts the Green Agenda first, the LGBTQ agenda first. Black Americans have found, under Biden, that their issues are going to the back of the political bus, and more and more black Americans realize the deadbeat dad is not the answer for them.”

More and more African Americans disapprove of Biden’s policies. A May ABC News-Washington Post poll found that just 52% of black respondents approved of Biden’s performance as president, down from 82% when he took office in 2021. In addition, “27% of black voters said they would probably or definitely vote for former President Donald Trump or lean toward him, over double his support in 2020. Trump won just 12% of the black vote in the last presidential election.”

As an increasing number of Americans — across racial lines — see the disastrous effects that Big Government/socialist/Marxist policies have on the country — especially families — it is crucial for Republican candidates in the coming year to speak as much as possible about the importance of fathers and the nuclear family which is, as Ramaswamy said, “the greatest form of governance known to mankind.”


Kathy Athearn

RELATED ARTICLE: A Strange 2024 Election Is Taking Shape

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Polls Show Trump Looming Large over GOP Primary Field, Despite Indictments

Former President Donald J. Trump is dominating the GOP primary field, according to several polls. A Wall Street Journal survey published Saturday shows that Trump is the top presidential pick for 59% of Republican voters, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in second place at 13%. None of the other Republican contenders polled higher than single digits.

This follows an Economist/YouGov poll showing Trump at 51% among Republicans and DeSantis at 14%. Both surveys also found that if Trump weren’t running, DeSantis would be the likely Republican second choice, with The Wall Street Journal poll placing the Sunshine State governor at 35% support as a second choice and the Economist/YouGov poll placing him at 28%. Both polls also showed Trump as the Republican nominee beating incumbent Joe Biden, though not by a wide margin.

Trump is, of course, currently engaged in several legal battles, most stemming from his claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulently tampered with. The former president has multiple criminal charges and four indictments leveled against him, and at least one major criminal trial looming. The most recent indictment stems from alleged election interference in Georgia. Trump and 18 others — including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — were arrested in Fulton County last month after voluntarily turning themselves in, yielding Trump’s now-famous mugshot, the first taken in connection with any of the four indictments. Trump and his allies have been released on bail.

But according to The Wall Street Journal, most Republicans see the indictments as politically-motivated persecution. All Republican respondents said they were aware of the indictments, with 87% responding that they were following news of the indictments. Regarding Trump’s alleged “hush money” payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels, 79% of Republicans said the indictment was politically motivated, with 61% saying the case had no merit.

Eighty-one percent of Republicans said the indictment against Trump for allegedly taking classified government documents when leaving the White House was politically motivated, with 67% saying the case had no merit. Eighty percent of Republicans classified the indictment against Trump for allegedly attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results as politically motivated, with 70% saying the case had no merit. And a stunning 82% of Republicans said the Georgia indictment is politically motivated, with 71% saying the case has no merit.

As many pundits have noted, the indictments against Trump are unprecedented, as no former U.S. president has ever been indicted after leaving the Oval Office. But the criminal charges against Trump have only made Republicans more likely to vote for him. Forty-eight percent of Republican voters told The Wall Street Journal the indictments have made them more likely to vote for Trump, with 36% saying the indictments have had no effect on how they plan to vote, and a paltry 16% saying the indictments have made them less likely to vote for Trump. Furthermore, a whopping 78% of Republicans said that Trump’s actions after the 2020 election “were a legitimate effort to make sure votes were tallied accurately.” Only 16% said Trump’s actions were an “illegal” attempt to interfere in a legitimately-conducted election.

Despite his popularity among Republicans, several Democrats are attempting to keep Trump off the 2024 ballot, arguing that a Civil War-era clause in the 14th Amendment prohibits Trump from holding office again for having allegedly “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has even stated that Trump doesn’t need to be convicted of insurrection or rebellion for the clause to apply.

However, when a Florida lawyer filed a lawsuit to bar Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg dismissed the case. The lawsuit alleged that Trump was an insurrectionist, citing the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and was thus unfit to hold office. Without addressing the constitutional question, Obama-appointed Rosenberg tossed the case out on lack of standing, arguing that the plaintiffs could not show they had been in any way harmed by the events at the Capitol and stating that “an individual citizen does not have standing to challenge whether another individual is qualified to hold public office.”


S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

A Travesty of Justice’: Donald Trump Booked as Inmate No. P01135809 in Atlanta

As he departed an Atlanta-area jail Thursday night, former President Donald Trump derided his fourth indictment as a form of “election interference” designed to thwart his presidential campaign and stifle constitutionally protected free speech rights.

“This is a very sad day for America,” said Trump as he left the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, where he voluntarily surrendered to authorities over allegations that his questioning the controversial outcome of the 2020 election violated the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. In a short period, Trump went through booking as Inmate No. P01135809 and paid a $200,000 bond.

“We have every right — every single right — to challenge an election we think is dishonest,” he said, noting Hillary Clinton and Stacey Abrams had denied the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 Georgia governor’s election, respectively. “What has taken place here is a travesty of justice,” said Trump.

The charges display “the continued weaponization of the justice system against a political opponent,” said Rep. Byron Donald (R-Fla.).

The indictments are intended to disadvantage Trump’s 2024 presidential bid to oust Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the 45th president said. In all, Democratic prosecutors have filed 91 charges against Trump spread across four indictments:

  • A local indictment of 34 counts handed down by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in March that Trump falsified business records when paying off pornstar Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Critics say punishing federal election violations belongs exclusively to federal authorities and that the statute of limitations has lapsed;
  • A federal case brought by Biden administration Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith in June for 37 felonies, claiming Trump illegally retained classified information after leaving the White House and attempted to obstruct justice. This led to the first-ever government raid on the home of a former president;
  • Another four-count federal indictment which Smith issued in August, alleging that Trump illegally attempted to sway the 2020 presidential election; and
  • The Atlanta indictment charging Trump with 13 election-related charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to impede the January 6 congressional proceeding, and a conspiracy against the right to vote, and an attempt to obstruct and impede the certification of the electoral vote. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis pressed a total of 41 charges against 19 defendants, whom she says she plans to try as a group.

“What they’re doing is election interference,” said Trump. “This is their way of campaigning.”

Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, proposed the federal trial over the 2020 election begin on January 2, 2024 — 13 days before the Iowa caucus. The New York City trial will follow on March 25, the heat of the presidential primary season.

The latest case could also chill Trump’s ability to campaign, as it threatens to jail him if he makes any “direct or indirect threat,” including via social media. Smith claimed a remark Trump made on Truth Social — “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!” — could intimidate witnesses. Trump’s campaign said the post came “in response to the RINO, China-loving, dishonest special interest groups and Super PACs.”

At age 77, nearly any conviction on “any count could be a terminal sentence,” said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley.

If the criminalization of political differences does not end, any Republican could share Trump’s fate, the president said. “If somebody else got in other than me, they’ll go after him just as viciously as me,” Trump told Tucker Carlson on Wednesday evening. “These people are sick.”

Trump’s remarks came at 8:55 p.m. Eastern Wednesday night — five minutes before eight other Republican presidential hopefuls held their first debate. Trump opted instead to appear on episode 19 of “Tucker on X,” formerly “Tucker on Twitter.”

Trump and Tucker’s tête-à-tête represented a revenge of sorts from both men against Fox News, which observers say has aggressively moved leftward since pivoting away from Trump and firing Carlson in April. Its ratings have plunged, with the news channel briefly losing its position as the leading network in cable news to MSNBC. Fox News viewership dropped 49% this July compared to July 2022. The audience for Tucker’s replacement, Jesse Watters, still lags behind his predecessor by 700,000 viewers.

Trump skipped the debate, in part because it would be held “at a network that isn’t particularly friendly to me, quite frankly.” His “Tucker on X” interview tweet was seen by 252 million people within less than 36 hours — 16 times higher than the 12.8 million people who watched the Fox News debate. Trump dominates the Republican field, leading his nearest competitor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, by 41 points, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls.

“If you’re elected president again, what’s your number one priority?” asked Carlson.

“The first thing I would do is seal up the border good-and-tight, except for people who want to come in legally,” Trump replied. “You can do numerous things at the same time,” including deporting “hundreds of thousands” of criminal aliens admitted into the United States by the Biden-Harris administration, improving security, and completing the border wall promised in the 2016 election. “Terrorists are pouring into our country,” he said. Border agents encountered 591 people on the U.S. terror watchlist in July. “Last month, we had 149 countries represented from places that many people never even heard of, coming into our country,” said Trump.

Trump also proposed a number of electoral reforms to prevent future voter fraud. “We should go back to all paper ballots, voter ID, same-day voting,” said Trump. “Anytime you have mail-in ballots, you’re going to have massive cheating in your election,” something he said the Democrats’ must resort to after their policies fail.

“Who wants open borders? Who wants high taxes? Who wants high interest rates? Who wants not to be able to use a gas stove?”

Fox News moderators Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum did not ask a single question about immigration, legal or illegal, which voters rank as their third most important issue.

If he avoids a criminal conviction, Trump feels confident about his ability to defeat Joe Biden in a 2020 rematch. “I think he’s worse mentally than physically. … He looks like he’s walking on toothpicks, then you see him at the beach, he can’t lift the chair,” Trump said. “You’re waiting for him to collapse, and he almost always does.”

He also criticized Biden for vacationing at Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach as forest fires consumed Maui. “The beach doesn’t represent what the president’s supposed to be doing. He’s supposed to be working. He’s supposed to be getting us out of that horrible, horrible war that we’re very much involved in with Russia and Ukraine,” Trump said, adding “That’s a war that we should end immediately, not because of one side or the other; because hundreds of thousands of people are being killed.”

Kamala Harris’s mental acuity is “almost as bad as” Biden’s, Trump said. “She speaks almost in rhyme. …. ‘The bus will go here, and then the bus will go there, because that’s what buses do.’ It’s weird.”

The 46-minute-long interview gave Trump the opportunity to address such idiosyncratic issues as whether Jeffrey Epstein killed himself. (“I think he probably committed suicide,” said Trump. But the former president allowed that Epstein “knew a lot on a lot of people,” and “A case could be made either way.”)

When asked if he was convinced the FBI and CIA informed him of all their activities during his term as president, Trump replied, “No, I’m not.” He vowed to control intelligence agencies, citing his firing of James Comey as director of the FBI. “If I didn’t fire Comey, maybe I wouldn’t be talking to you,” he said, referring to the Russian collusion investigation as “a coup.” But, he said, taking on the Deep State touched off yet more massive resistance to the popular will, including his present legal troubles.

“When I fired Comey, it was like throwing a rock into a hornet’s nest.”


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Biden DOJ Imports Ukrainian-Style Corruption

A third felony indictment targeted former President Donald Trump Tuesday, as U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Special Counsel Jack Smith persuaded a D.C.-based grand jury to indict Trump on four felony counts for his actions to contest the results of the 2020 election. Trump already faces felony indictments from Smith in a Florida federal court for retaining classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for buying a former mistress’s silence. Both the process of indicting a former president and the charges themselves savor more of Ukrainian-style corruption than they do of American-style peaceful transition of power.

In the third indictment, Trump has been charged with four crimes: “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States,” “Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding,” “Obstruction of and Attempt to Obstruct an Official Proceeding,” and “Conspiracy against Rights.” But not everyone is convinced by the evidence presented. “I felt that the Mar-a-Lago indictment was strong. This is the inverse,” said law professor Jonathan Turley. “It’s 45 pages of First Amendment protected activity broken up by four captions listing conspiracy statutes that do not apply,” summarized lawyer and retired colonel Kurt Schlichter.

In fact, “It is far from clear that any law was broken,” agreed National Review’s (NR) Dan McLaughlin (who said in the same paragraph that “the Senate should have convicted him in his impeachment trial”). “But crimes,” he added, “are supposed to be about the law — which has to be plain enough to govern us all.” Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy, also no Trump fanboy, said Smith “extravagantly stretched these statutes” to try and cover Trump’s behavior, and he tellingly stopped short of charging Trump with inciting a riot on January 6, 2021. “If you’ve got evidence that Trump committed incitement, then charge him with incitement,” McCarthy said. To dive deeper into the faults of the indictment, the NR editors compiled an excellent though lengthy analysis.

As many wiser heads have already noted, the exercise of jailing political opponents is a trademark of oppressive regimes with little respect for the rule of law — not an ordinary feature of American political life. In fact, it bears a striking resemblance to Ukraine’s recent history — a history which relatively few Americans know.

Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union as the autocratic federation dissolved in 1991. However, Ukraine inherited its culture of corruption and maintained close economic and political ties to Moscow for years. Had history unfolded differently, Ukraine could have resembled the neighboring Russian puppet state of Belarus. That began to change with what is known as the Orange Revolution of 2004.

In Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election, the pro-West opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko challenged the pro-Russia incumbent prime minister Viktor Yanukovich (like many parliamentary systems, Ukraine has both a popularly elected president and a prime minster chosen by the largest parliamentary coalition). At first, Yanukovich narrowly won in a run-off election, amid allegations of vote rigging and intimidation. After massive street protests, the country’s Supreme Court vacated the election results, and Yushchenko won the second run-off election. Yushchenko and Yanukovich remained the two most important figures in Ukrainian politics for the next decade.

Yanukovich won back the job of prime minister in 2006 after a minor party switched coalitions, and in 2007 President Yushchenko dissolved the parliament to stem his waning influence there. Naturally, his opponents challenged this move as unconstitutional, but when the matter came before the Constitutional Court, Yushchenko charged three of the judges with corruption and had them dismissed. This only served to drive his popularity even lower. By the 2010 presidential election, Yushchenko’s coalition had split, and his former ally Yulia Tymoshenko jumped in to make it a three-way race, and Yushchenko finished in a distant third place, while Yanukovich won.

Newly elected President Yanukovich then had his new rival, Tymoshenko, arrested in 2011 and sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of office, behavior loudly condemned by Western powers. The European Union foreign office said “justice was being applied selectively in Ukraine under political motivation,” while the Obama White House responded, “The charges against Mrs. Tymoshenko and the conduct of her trial … have raised serious concerns about the government of Ukraine’s commitment to democracy and rule of law.”

In 2014, Yanukovich’s efforts to steer Ukraine away from the West and back towards Russia sparked widespread protests, leading him to flee the country (his successor as president, Petro Poroshenko, continued the pattern of corruption). Moscow then invaded and annexed Crimea and supported irregular forces in the eastern Donbas region, eight years before its attempt to invade the rest of Ukraine — and that brings us up to the present.

Does any of this sound vaguely familiar to you? Contested elections thrown to the courts, allegations of vote rigging, mass street protests, and a political opponent imprisoned due to political, selective application of justice — these are symptoms of innate Ukrainian corruption, but they also appear in the U.S.

In fact, the Ukrainian people got so fed up with the endless corruption of their political class that in 2019 they elected as president a TV star with no political experience. (I could have sworn I’ve read this script somewhere before.)

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s fledgling, corrupt business world offered an enticing prospect to unscrupulous foreigners looking to make a quick buck (or rather millions of bucks). In 2014, Hunter Biden, who has no experience in energy business, joined the board of a Ukrainian oil company called Burisma and collected a monthly income of up to $50,000, nearly equal to the U.S. median annual salary.

At the time Biden joined Burisma’s board, his father, Vice President Joe, led the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy, and Burisma was under investigation for corruption. Soon after, then-Prosecutor General Victor Shokin, the official investigating Burisma was fired. Joe Biden boasted in 2018 that the Poroshenko administration fired Shokin because he threatened to withhold $1 billion in foreign aid unless they did so.

As Joe Biden told the story, “I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in’ — I think it was, what, six hours? — I looked, and I said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a —–, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid.”

Shokin was succeeded as Ukraine’s Prosecutor General by Yuriy Lutsenko, who had been convicted of embezzlement and abuse of office in 2012 and implicated in a poisoning attempt against Yushchenko. During his tenure as prosecutor general, he obstructed the investigation into Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman who failed to register as a foreign agent while working for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine and was later convicted on money laundering charges. It’s good to know the sort of character President Biden described as “solid.”

In an ironic twist, President Trump was impeached (the first time) for a phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky he made as part of an effort to uncover evidence of the Biden family’s corrupt dealings in that country. The notion that a sitting president would use his official position to dig up evidence of crimes by his chief political rival seemed beyond the pale to a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives at the time. By contrast, no member of the Biden family has yet suffered any consequences for their corrupt dealings in Ukraine or any other foreign nation.

Corruption in American politics has ebbed and flowed throughout her 247-year-long history, and election tampering has too. Yet few observers would dispute that both are currently at a high tide. What other conclusion is there when, recent events in American politics mimic those of a fledgling democracy still struggling to wriggle free of Soviet-era corruption?

Fortunately, by construction and longstanding tradition, the U.S. legal system is stronger than that of Ukraine’s. There are still officials willing to stand up to defend equal justice before the law, due process, the peaceful transfer of power, and fundamental human rights. The public still, by and large, values and expects government officials to abide by these principles. So, it’s conceivable that a political prosecution that would succeed in Ukraine’s judicial system will fail — or even backfire — in the U.S. But no free and open system of government can withstand the constant abuse of those who wield power in it forever. Sooner or later, the abuse must cease, or freedom will.


Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

FACT CHECK: Does Zelensky Respect ‘Religious Liberty’ in Ukraine?

An edited clip of former Vice President Mike Pence seemingly telling Tucker Carlson that decaying American cities are “not my concern” instantly went viral, but Pence’s most controversial statements at the Family Leader Summit, about Ukraine’s respect for “religious liberty,” have passed without comment.

The moment came when Carlson asked if the former vice president, who made a return visit to Ukraine in June, had pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky about his “treatment of Christians within Ukraine.” Pence replied, “I raised [the issue] with the leader of the Orthodox Church when I was visiting Kyiv and asked him about concerns about religious liberty. He assured me that the Zelensky government in Ukraine was respecting religious liberty.” (You can watch the exchange here.)

Pence’s answer seems definitive, but those who cherish religious liberty need to identify its verbal sleight-of-hand: Pence met with the “leader of the Orthodox Church” whom Zelensky’s discriminatory policies benefit, not the Christians they harm.

Is Zelensky’s government “respecting religious liberty” in Ukraine? Let’s examine the facts.

Which “Leader of the Orthodox Church” Is Which?

Two major churches in Ukraine call themselves Orthodox. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), the historic body founded in 989 A.D., has perhaps 10,000 churches. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), a coalition of breakaway parishes and formerly unrecognizedgroups which the Patriarch of Constantinople declared autocephalous in January 2019, has an estimated 7,000 parishes. Pence met with Metropolitan Epiphaniy of the OCU, whose news service announced the meeting at the famous golden-domed sanctuary. Metropolitan Onufriy of the UOC would likely have given Pence a difference assessment about the Ukrainian government’s respect for “religious liberty.”

Zelensky Discriminates against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

During his exchange with Pence, Carlson noted, “The Zelensky government has raided convents, arrested priests, has effectively banned a denomination — a Christian denomination, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, within Ukraine — has persecuted Christians.” That nearly echoes the words of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which reports that from February through the end of April, Zelensky’s “[g]overnment and local authorities took several measures targeting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC).” Government agents “searched places of worship and other UOC facilities, issued notices of suspicions against clergymen, and placed several of them under house arrest.” Since the beginning of the conflict, seven regional councils have banned all “activities of the UOC,” overstepping their legal authority.

Ukraine’s Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has introduced numerous bills to redistribute church property from the disfavored UOC to the favored OCU, some with Zelensky’s personal approval:

  • Draft law No. 8221 — which bears the Orwellian title, “On ensuring strengthening of national security in the sphere of freedom of conscience and activities of religious organizations” — would forbid any church from using the title “Orthodox” unless it is (in the words of the state news agency, UKRINFORM) “subordinated to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU);
  • Bill No. 7403 strips the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of its tax-exempt status;
  • Draft Resolution No. 8012 transfers the historic monastic properties of the Kyiv Pechersk and Pochaiv Lavra — a sacred site in Orthodox history — from UOC to the OCU; and
  • Draft law No. 8262 bars the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) from using state property.

Some UOC parishes have had their property “transferred” to the jurisdiction of the OCU by people who do not belong to the parish. “[V]illagers who are not parishioners of the UOC church organize a meeting of the territorial community. At such meetings, they simply declare: We are Orthodox, and we believe that there will be only an OCU in our community,” reports the independent weekly newspaper Fakty i Kommentarii.

Zelensky’s government revoked the citizenship of 13 UOC clerics near the first of the year.

In a smaller act of aggression, earlier this month the Rada amended the state labor code to change the date of Christmas, which the UOC traditionally celebrated on January 7 due to its use of the Julian Calendar, to December 25, the revised date the OCU allowed last fall and formally adopted this spring. Since 2017, the government had recognized both dates for Christmas; now, in theory, an observer of the traditional date might not be able to get the day off work to attend church. The bill — personally introduced by President Zelensky— also changed two other national holidays associated with religious feasts to the OCU’s date: the Protection of the Mother of God (to October 1 from October 14) and the Baptism of Rus, considered independence day (July 15 from the 28).

Evicting Monks Quietly, so Tucker Carlson Won’t Report It

The most visible sign of the Zelenskygovernment’s dispute with the UOC is the historic Kyiv Pechersk and Pochaiv Lavra. Zelenskyofficials placed the monastery’s abbot, Metropolitan Pavel, under house arrest from April 1 until June 29; he presently resides in the Lukyanivska pre-trial detention center, which Radio Liberty described as “infamous for its terrible conditions, with detainees enduring cold, crowding, and crumbling walls.”

The government originally aimed to evict the monks from the historic monastery by March 29, less than three weeks after the March 10 announcement. Although the eviction order remains tied up in court, Ukrainian government authorities began sealing buildings at the monastery. Eventually, monks and a large number of faithful Christians protected some of the property, but not before the National Reserve sealed buildings 68, 69, 70, 71, and 115. Officials have not sealed any additional buildings since July 6, and the official who oversees the National Reserve, Oleksandr Tkachenko, resigned two weeks later.

High-ranking officials in Zelensky’s party have acknowledged that seizing possession of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra could be complicated, since then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych extended the UOC’s lease for another 49 years on July 17, 2003 — 20 years ago this month. But the deputy leader of Zelensky’s Servant of the People faction in parliament, Yevgenia Kravchuk, believes the government will get the historic monastery in its clutches gradually, particularly since “the majority of the deputies” in the Ukrainian government support Zelensky’s proposal. For now, she wants the government to bide its time.

“It is very important not to show physical aggression. All this can create a false picture of some religious oppression. Then various foreign conservative journalists, such as Tucker Carlson, believe me, will do a separate report on it,” Kravchuk warned. Then American voters “can start asking their congressmen, referring to the so-called religious persecution in Ukraine.”

Religious Liberty ‘an Invalid Argument’: Zelensky’s Deputy

“Some say: ‘Let’s not interfere in religious matters.’ But this, it seems to me, is now an invalid argument,” said Zelensky’s deputy, Kravchuk. Some Ukrainian Orthodox Church priests and faithful are “not yet ready to fully transition to OCU,” but “[w]e have to go through it.”

What is behind this drive to dispossess the Ukrainian Orthodox Church? “The main thing is the political leadership of President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has repeatedly stated that Ukraine needs spiritual independence,” said Kravchuk. Indeed, Zelenskygave a speech last December 1 promising to create “spiritual independence. We will never allow anyone to build an empire inside the Ukrainian soul.”

Some officials have already paid the price for resisting religious discrimination. Olena Bohdan led Zelensky’s State Service for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience (DESS), which oversees the government’s religious policies — until her findings contradicted the state line that the UOC was aligned with Moscow. Bohdan combed through UOC church documents and concluded that the UOC had removed everything establishing its “subordination and dependence” upon Moscow. Zelenskythen fired her. Bohdan told Radio Liberty she lost her job because, while she tried to act “from the standpoint of constitutional principles,” she was pressured “to find a way to disband the UOC.”

Is the UOC Controlled by Russia?

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church severed ties with the Russian Orthodox Church over the invasion of Ukraine, which it wholeheartedly opposed. “War is the worst sin in the world. It forces us to look at another person not as an image of God, but as an enemy to be killed. Therefore, there is no excuse for those who start wars,” said Metropolitan Onufriy. The church has taken concrete steps to underscore its independence from Russian church authorities and, as noted, Bohdan documented the UOC’s separation from the Patriarchate of Moscow.

The Zelensky government justified expelling UOC monks from the historic monastery on the grounds that the monks secretly aid Russia — but Zelensky’s “proof” of UOC’s Russian collusion underwhelms. Last November 22, National Police pilfered through monks’ private quarters, searched 350 monastery buildings and visitors’ quarters, checked the identities of 850 people on the grounds, and administered polygraphs to 50 people (including some monks). They found a few thousand rubles (1,000 rubles is worth $11 U.S.) and a handful of pamphlets containing sermons by the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill, possibly brought by pilgrims from Russia. (Imagine if Americans visited the monastery, and the government busted the monks because they found dollar bills and a book by Billy Graham.) They also claim someone overheard one of the monks singing a song that discussed “awakening the Russian world” (Russkiy mir), a concept akin to Manifest Destiny — but Bohdan said the lyrics were so ambiguous, they may have asked “for Russia to wake up and stop its armed offensive on Ukraine.” The UOC has condemned the Russkiy mir notion, as Met. Onufriy declared, “We do not build any ‘Russian world;’ we build God’s world.”

Things became more heated after a missile fell on Transfiguration Cathedral in Odessa. “The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has had nothing in common with your understanding for a very long time,” UOC Archbishop Viktor Bykov of Artsyz wrote to Moscow Patriarch Kirill, likening him to an abusive father. “We condemn this maniacal aggression of the Russian Federation against our independent country.”

Yet even the most anti-Russian clerics agree Zelensky’s government tramples on their unalienable rights. A group of more than 300 UOC priests who support autocephaly condemned “Russia’s Satanic aggression against Ukraine,” while slighting the Zelensky government’s “flagrant violations of the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Ukraine who are the clergy and believers of the UOC.”

Ukrainian Government Demanding UOC Cease to be Orthodox?

Zelensky’s government is pressuring the UOC to take a step that could effectively eliminate it from the communion of the Orthodox Church. After Bohdan’s ouster, DESS demanded the UOC cut all ties with Moscow by declaring itself autocephalous; on July 25, officials reiterated their demand for the “the complete and unconditional rupture” of communion. Typically, other national Orthodox churches grant autocephaly to a church body; it is not asserted unilaterally. And there are never two autocephalous churches in the same territory. If the UOC declares independence, it could lose communion with all other Orthodox churches, a necessary element of Orthodox ecclesiology. Meanwhile, the churches associated with Constantinople maintain communion with the OCU, effectively rendering it the nation’s only Orthodox body.

Eastern Europe has Little Sense of ‘Religious Liberty’

Though the concept of religious liberty has patristic roots, it arose in the West from the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 — a treaty that had no impact on Eastern Europe. The entire region has varying degrees of toleration for church authorities. Thus, none of this should suggest Russia would impose Western-style conscience rights in Ukraine beyond those respected in Russia today. Authorities say Russian troops have destroyed hundreds of Ukrainian churches, tortured evangelical pastors, and repressed the OCU and sects such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Ukrainian Christians have seen the government expropriate and redistribute their property for decades. After decades of trying to eradicate all religion, in 1946 Soviet authorities tried to liquidate Ukraine’s Byzantine Catholic parishes — former Eastern Orthodox churches that submitted to papal authority in 1596 after Catholic Poland conquered the nation — by closing or transferring its remaining 4,119 churches and chapels to the Orthodox Church. The communists did this throughout the USSR, because the official Orthodox hierarchy at the time reported to or belonged to the KGB. The UOC’s reaction to the invasion shows those days have ended. Drawing on his history of persecution, the current leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, has said no Ukrainian “should be persecuted for belonging to some church structure.”

The Verdict

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government has pressured Ukrainian Orthodox Church clergy and laity to affiliate with the OCU, raided UOC monasteries, attempted to evict monks on flimsy evidence, interfered with the internal operations of a church, legally impeded traditional Orthodox Christian observances, and openly favored one faction over another.

Mike Pence met with the benefactor of Zelensky’s religious discrimination, who told him everything’s fine. That statement drew less attention than a “gotcha” moment during the Family Leader Summit, but it should be more concerning for those who value religious liberty, or truth.

Unfortunately, this assurance is false.


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Beyond Dobbs: Trump, GOP Rivals Back National Pro-Life Protections

President Donald Trump has been called many names, but he would like to add one more: abortion terminator.

“We terminated Roe v. Wade,” declared the 45th president on the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision on Saturday. He and other GOP presidential hopefuls also advocated expanding protections to unborn children at all levels of government while addressing the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority policy conference.

“There of course remains a vital role for the federal government in protecting unborn life” in a post-Dobbs America. “Every child, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of God, and that is why I have asked Congress to prohibit late term abortion of babies,” he said. “We will defeat the radical Democrat policy of extreme, late-term abortion.”

The former president told the fired-up crowd, during his four years in office, “I got it done.” His record of life-protecting executive actions includes:

  • Trump appointed three of the six justices who handed down the Dobbs ruling, clarifying that the Constitution never contained the unalienable “right” to abortion liberal justices claimed to discover in 1973;
  • Trump introduced the HHS Protect Life Rule, which prevented Title X funds from going to offices that carry out abortions, such as Planned Parenthood — a policy supported by 60% of Americans;
  • He expanded President Reagan’s Mexico City Policy into the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy, which protected U.S. taxpayers from funding abortion or entities that promote abortion overseas — a policy supported by 78% of Americans;
  • Trump’s Justice Department sued the University of Vermont Medical Center in 2020 for forcing a woman to participate in an abortion — a policy supported by 77% of Americans; and
  • President Trump promised to “veto any legislation that weakens existing Federal protections for human life” and sign federal legislation safeguarding unborn children capable of experiencing pain from abortion.

Trump’s forward-looking agenda followed a May 8 meeting with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) after media outlets reported the president believed all future pro-life legislation should be left at the state level. “The purpose of the meeting was simply to encourage the president to stay strong on the issue of the sanctity of human life,” including the federal level, Perkins told his “Washington Watch” audience two days after the meeting. “I’m pleased to say that the president understood.”

Congress and the next president must take action at the federal level to protect life, Trump’s erstwhile partner-turned-rival Mike Pence told the conference. “Some will come up to this podium and say that the Supreme Court returned the decision back to the states, and nothing more should be done at the federal level,” said Pence during a speech on Friday. “The cause of life is the calling of our time, and we must not rest or relent until we restore the sanctity of life to the center of law in every state in this country.”

“Every Republican candidate for president should support a ban on abortion before 15 weeks as a minimum nationwide standard,” said Pence — a sentiment shared by fellow presidential candidate Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

“A minimum ban of 15 weeks on the federal level will help us get to a place where there are fewer late-term abortions, and fewer and fewer abortions,” said Scott. “The radical Left has lost so much faith in America that they’ve lost faith in life itself, but we are here to tell them that life is good — and we are proud to be Americans.”

National pro-life leaders have encouraged presidential hopefuls to embrace the issue of life and expose Democratic candidates who cannot name a single pro-life policy they would enact. “Any candidate who wants to qualify from our perspective of being a candidate has to at least be for the 15-week limit [on abortion]. Otherwise, we will not support you,” Dannenfelser told the Townhall for Life, organized by FRC, last Wednesday night. “You tell me: Can you win the presidency without the pro-life movement?”

Her co-panelist, Senator Graham, introduced a bill protecting children conceived after 15 weeks — the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act (H.R. 8814) — with Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) last fall. Nearly three out of four Americans (72%) believe abortion should not be allowed after 15 weeks — including 60% of Democrats, 70% of registered independents, and 75% of women — according to a Harvard/Harris poll supervised by former Clinton strategist Mark Penn.

Trump’s most significant opponent for the Republican Party presidential nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, told the audience on Friday that he has spent his tenure in the governor’s mansion “promoting a culture of life. That means signing the heartbeat bill into law. That protects unborn children when there’s a detectable heartbeat,” a process that science notes begins by six weeks gestation.

Polls taken in 20172019, and 2022 found a majority of all Americans support heartbeat bills.

“A 15-week ban still includes [94%] of all abortions, so it may be a starting point, but it’s not an end point,” noted Ryan Bomberger, the founder and chief creative officer of The Radiance Foundation, at the opening panel of the Pray Vote Stand Summit in Atlanta last September.

This weekend’s conference also heard from Republican presidential hopefuls such as talk show host Larry Elder, Ohio-based businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, businessman Perry Johnson, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Christie, who once advocated a national ban on the abortion of pain-capable babies, now says he “would not be for the federal government being involved in the issue of abortion in any way.”

After the conference, Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison slammed Trump for allegedly endorsing “a national abortion ban” during his speech. But the Democratic Party has also promised to nationalize the abortion issue.

“We are not going to stop until Roe v. Wade is the law of the land once again,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) last week to commemorate the Dobbs anniversary. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) added, “Democrats will never, never stop fighting to protect” abortion-on-demand.

The pair have advanced or voted for sweeping, top-down legislation such as H.R. 8296, the so-called “Women’s Health Protection” Act, which passed the House of Representatives by a near party-line vote last July. The bill would strike down nearly all 1,381 pro-life protections enacted by state legislatures in the 50 years since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, including:

  • prohibiting sex-selective abortions;
  • barring many abortions after viability;
  • preventing abortions on babies 20 weeks or older, who are capable of feeling pain;
  • disallowing abortions undertaken without parental consent or notification;
  • prohibiting telemedicine abortion drug prescriptions, which involve no in-person medical examination;
  • banning unlicensed individuals from carrying out abortions;
  • allowing pregnant mothers to receive scientifically accurate information about their babies’ development, or to see an ultrasound or hear the child’s fetal heartbeat; and
  • allowing pro-life medical professionals the right to refuse to participate in an abortion.

The dueling approaches to abortion grow out of the two parties’ contrasting platforms. The most recent Republican Party platform endorses “state and federal efforts against the cruelest forms of abortion,” including discrimination-based abortions, due to the child’s sex or disability status, and dismemberment abortions. It also calls on Congress to adopt a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution clarifying that “the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.”

The Democratic Party platform promotes taxpayer-funded abortion until the moment of birth, vowing to “codify the right to” abortion, which it euphemistically calls “reproductive freedom.”

Abortion motivates voters in both parties’ bases, and reclaiming the White House in 2024 will take the entire Republican Party constituency, said Trump. “Together, we’re warriors in a righteous crusade to stop the arsonists, the atheists, globalists, and the Marxists — and that’s what they are — and we will restore our republic as one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.


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Propaganda versus Grace

Political Spiritual Warfare Is an Opportunity to See the Goodness of God’s Grace

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Joe Biden and the Reality Test

According to recent polls, President Biden is stuck in the political doldrums. A recent average of several national surveys shows him holding a slightly less than 42% approval rating.

Close observers of presidential politics offer a host of reasons for this sustained ennui. The analyses are copious and a good number offer provocative and perceptive insights into the president’s enduring inability to generate enthusiasm for himself and his presidency.

I think a lot of them are missing something. It has less to do with public opinion than public judgment.

Opinions can change often depending on new information and changing circumstances. But public judgment is something more settled. As explained by political scientist Will Friedman, the term “public judgment” is meant to suggest “that people have thought and felt their way forward on an issue in a reasonably well-rounded, fair-minded way.”

The public’s judgment on Joe Biden seems to be calcifying, and it bodes poorly for his reelection.

That inflation has hit America hard is indisputable. Costs of everyday items from the cost of groceries to gas has bumped-up dramatically in the past couple of years. America’s standing in the world, especially with respect to China, is wobbly, at best. The non-stop, insistent drumbeat of “transgender rights” and the normalizing of homosexuality has gotten old. The hectoring of the liberal elites, speaking of all who disagree with their inspired cultural dicta with disdain, has reached an “oh, just clam up” phase. And Joe Biden is presiding over this confection of yuck.

The perception of American decline is now firmly rooted in the minds of most citizens. In April, Pew Research published a study showing that “sizable majorities of U.S. adults say that in 2050 — just over 25 years away — the U.S. economy will be weaker, the United States will be less important in the world, political divisions will be wider and there will be a larger gap between the rich and the poor.”

The joint perceptions of wisdom and strength are also essential in leaders. In these categories, the American people are skeptical of our president. A March 2023 Gallup survey found that only 37% of Americans believe “leaders of other countries respect Biden.” This is about the same percent that thought the same thing of Donald Trump during his final year in office — the difference being that Biden ran for the presidency based on his years as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

Yet more than two years into Biden’s foreign policy, “confusion abounds, with a troubling disconnect between the administration’s stated priorities and its conduct,” according to Kori Shake, formerly of the National Security Council and now a senior fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Shake notes that the 2022 Defense Department budget included “$109 billion in spending on issues such as homelessness, climate change, and public health research that do not boost military power and that should be the responsibility of other government departments.”

Ordinary Americans do not follow the intricacies of international events or the minutiae of economic forecasts, but they are observant. Their gut feelings might not reflect meticulous research but that does not mean they are not correct. As William F. Buckley famously said, “I should sooner live in a society governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the 2,000 faculty members of Harvard University.”

My conclusion about the gathering judgment of my fellow citizens could be off the mark. If it’s not, President Biden’s political future appears dark. And that might well be the best thing for the future of our country.


Rob Schwarzwalder

Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University’s Honors College.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Trump Townhall Underscores Life as a 2024 Issue

The Trump administration was, decidedly, the most pro-life in our history. During his debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016, former President Trump graphically described the brutality of the abortion procedure. A signal achievement was his appointment of three Supreme Court justices who support the Constitution as it was written, underscoring the sanctity of unborn life.

So, when President Trump’s spokesman recently said that “President Donald J. Trump believes … [abortion] is an issue that should be decided at the state level,” I was deeply concerned. That’s why, earlier this week, I joined Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, for a meeting in Florida to discuss the important topic directly with the former president.

Our sense of alarm has been growing. After last summer’s Supreme Court decision returned the power to defend life to the people, a number of Republicans heaved a sigh of relief. Many of them were glad to see the end of the fictional constitutional right to abortion, but some seemed more glad to kick the life issue back to the states than take any further action. More concerned with political consequences than protecting the unborn, their eagerness to abandon the pro-life cause was striking.

That’s not what they were saying before the Dobbs decision, which returned to them the power to defend life. Since the mid-1980s, the GOP has called for the right of the unborn to live to be recognized as the most fundamental of human rights. Overwhelmingly, Republican lawmakers have supported a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution and called upon legislators and judges in the states to respect human personhood in the womb, where life begins. Science tells us that personhood begins in the womb. For years, Republicans at the federal level have taken a stance in defense of life, and presidential administrations have defended it. So what has changed now?

None of these proposals would prevent states from enacting pro-life legislation, whether protecting the unborn after they can feel pain, after a certain point in gestation, protecting American taxpayers from funding abortion, or anything else. I was a state legislator in Louisiana for many years and authored a number of pro-life measures. And no one is more committed to a constitutional understanding of the limits of the federal government and the broad authority of the states than me. Yet personhood in the womb is not just a state issue — it is the most profound of all human rights issues. It merits federal consideration — and protection.

During our meeting in Miami, Mr. Trump reaffirmed his commitment to protecting children who can feel pain and are actually sucking their thumb in their mother’s womb. His horror at late-term abortion and the incredible idea that some so-called “unwanted” children could be left to die after birth remains unchanged. That’s why we met with him: To encourage the former president to stay strong on the issue of the sanctity of human life. And I can report that Mr. Trump has not changed his position. He remains committed to his strong presidential track record of defending the unborn to the fullest extent of the executive branch’s authority.

During his Wednesday town hall in New Hampshire, he said of his pro-life record, “I am honored to have done what I did.” President Trump noted several times during the event that pro-abortion activists are radical. And radicals are unreasonable and never satisfied. This is why, in last November’s elections, Democrats spent at least $320 million in advertising to attack the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade. The Biden administration has authorized nearly half a billion dollars of taxpayer funds that can be used to subsidize abortions and abortion businesses. Republicans spend only a fraction of this amount celebrating unborn life.

I deeply appreciate the pro-life, pro-family policies that President Trump’s administration advanced. As we move into the 2024 presidential election cycle, my role will not be to endorse in the primary election but to work with the candidates, like President Trump, to ensure the issues impacting faith, family, and freedom are understood and advanced. My focus will be ensuring that the sanctity of human life, upholding the true, God-given purpose of human sexuality, and the myriad policies that affect the family — ranging from religious freedom to tax policy — remain front and center.

It is encouraging to see that Mr. Trump remains committed to defending the little ones in the womb. But how much more heartening it is to know the God Who gives us the privilege of protecting them and their mother from the abortion industry. That’s a high calling, and we’ll never retreat from it.


Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of Family Research Council and executive editor of The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Pro-Life Leaders Meet with Trump to Reinforce Federal Strategy

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has shared the details about his meeting with former President Donald Trump amid media reports the Republican front-runner had backed away from the pro-life issue ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Last month, a Trump campaign spokesman told The Washington Post that Trump believes abortion “should be decided at the state level,” touching off media speculation that the candidate would take no federal action to protect life during a second term. Perkins met the 45th president alongside Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser on Monday afternoon.

“The purpose of the meeting was simply to encourage the president to stay strong on the issue of the sanctity of human life. And I can report that the former president, Donald Trump, has not changed his position,” Perkins told listeners of “Washington Watch” on Tuesday.

“There was some mischaracterizations of some things that he had said,” Perkins added.

The four leaders found common ground talking about the Republican Party platform, which Perkins has helped craft for the last four election cycles.

“We support state and federal efforts against the cruelest forms of abortion,” says the most recent Republican Party platform (emphasis added). The GOP’s guiding document also calls on Congress to pass a plethora of pro-life legislation ending abortions based on a child’s sex or disability diagnosis, as well as dismemberment abortions, and to adopt a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.”

The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision does not preclude abortion-related legislation at the federal level. “It’s a states issue, but it’s also a federal issue,” Perkins explained. “The court said this is in the hands of elected officials, not judges.”

“I talked about that with him. And I said, ‘Look, that’s the standard. It was there before Roe was overturned. Why should it change?’” said Perkins. “When a baby feels pain and is sucking his thumb in his mother’s womb, that ought to be a place we can draw the line. We’ve got 67% of Americans who agree that abortion across the board should be outlawed after that.”

“I’m pleased to say that the president understood that,” Perkins told his audience.

Trump remains the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, holding a commanding a 29-point lead over his nearest challenger, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), according to the RealClear Politics average of national polls.

Perkins also noted that Trump was not the only — or even the first — presidential hopeful he had briefed on pro-life, pro-family issues.

“I’ve sat down with a couple of them already. This will be my third” candidate consultation meeting, Perkins revealed. “I will meet with any presidential candidate to have a discussion about the issues, and where they should be on these issues to connect with what we call SAGE Cons,” a term coined by pollster George Barna meaning Spiritually Active Governance Engaged Conservatives.

Perkins, a former elected official, made clear meeting with Trump did not constitute an endorsement in the 2024 presidential race. “I will not be endorsing a presidential candidate in the primary. I will be sitting down, talking with any and all” candidates who “want to talk about the issues that matter,” he said, specifying the sanctity of human life, human sexuality, tax policy that impacts the family, and religious freedom — “anything that touches the family.”

Democrats eked out a better-than-expected midterm election in 2022 in part by flooding the zone with abortion-related messaging portraying Republicans as extreme — largely without GOP pushback. That makes it pivotal for would-be office holders to grasp the issue thoroughly, said FRC Action Vice President Brent Keilen. “We have to remember that the science hasn’t change. And so the policies that the Republican Party has stood for over the last decades that were based and are based off of the science, should not change, either.”

While some in the GOP have advocated a states-only response to abortion, Democratic leaders have already tried to impose their permissive views on the entire nation. “Republicans are pushing for this to go back to the states,” said Keilen. “That is not at all what the Democrats are pushing for.”

The House of Representatives, then controlled by Democrats, passed the “Women’s Health Protection Act” by a near party-line vote last July. The bill would strike down most of the 1,381 pro-life protections enacted by state legislatures between 1973 and the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, including:

  • prohibiting sex-selective abortions;
  • barring many abortions after viability;
  • preventing abortions on babies 20 weeks or older, who are capable of feeling pain;
  • disallowing abortions undertaken without parental consent or notification;
  • prohibiting telemedicine abortion drug prescriptions, which involve no in-person medical examination;
  • banning unlicensed individuals from carrying out abortions;
  • allowing pregnant mothers to receive scientifically accurate information about their babies’ development, or to see an ultrasound or hear the child’s fetal heartbeat; and
  • allowing pro-life medical professionals the right to refuse to participate in an abortion.

The Democratic Party platform calls for taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand without restriction until the moment of birth as a matter of “health, rights, and justice.” Adopting that position has forced the U.S. to join a handful of rogue human rights abusers that place no federal limit on abortion, including North Korea and China. President Trump, who famously campaigned to “Make America Great Again,” “believes such a position is unworthy of a great nation and believes the American people will rebel against such a radical position,” Dannenfelser said.

“That is the standard position of the Democrat Party that is only supported by about one in five Americans, so you have 80% of the country, according to recent polling, that opposes” Democratic orthodoxy, said Keilen. Only 19% of Americans believe abortion should be permitted “in all cases, with no exceptions,” according to a 2022 Pew Research Center poll. “That doesn’t even get into the Born-alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which we have not been able to get passed, which would afford those protections to a baby who survives a failed abortion,” Keilen added.

“If you message on this well, the vast majority of Americans are with you on this issue,” said Keilen.

Eyeing a massive wedge issue, GOP leaders have encouraged Republican candidates to attack Democratic extremism. “We are the pro-life, pro-woman, pro-family party, and we can win on abortion. But that means putting Democrats on the defense,” said Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel after the initial Trump brouhaha.

Days later, Trump attacked “the extreme late-term abortionists in the Democrat Party, who believe in abortion-on-demand in the ninth month of pregnancy, and even executing babies after birth.” That rhetoric echoes Trump’s successful strategy in the 2016 presidential campaign. During the third and final debate on October 19, Trump said under Hillary Clinton’s policy, “you can take the baby out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day, and that’s not acceptable.”

That off-the-cuff remark became a revelation to pro-life leaders. “At that moment, I said, ‘He’s going to win this. He is going to secure the votes of pro-life voters.’ And he did,” said Perkins. “What’s more than that is: He actually followed through. … His policies were unprecedented when it came to advancing human life.” Trump named three of the six justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade last June, supported the Hyde Amendment, and signed numerous measures partially defunding abortion businesses such as Planned Parenthood.

After the latest media flare-up, Trump signaled his openness to signing the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” introduced by Graham, which protects babies from abortion after 15 weeks. “We’ll get something done” in a second term, Trump promised.

“Going forward, I think he’s going to be very clear on this. That’s my hope. That’s what I believe to be the case,” Perkins said.

“And we will not back up from this issue one bit,” Perkins assured his listeners. Effective promotion of pro-life protections, at any level of government, “will be the benchmark of how we evaluate conservative Bible-based candidates for office.”


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Biden Tanks under ‘Brutal’ Polling as Reelection Campaign Struggles to Lift Off

If Joe Biden’s team drew up a nightmare scenario for his reelection announcement, even they couldn’t have predicted something this awful. A string of crises, policy failures, and negative polling have all combined to make the rollout a complete dud by most pundits’ standards — and the idea of a second term unimaginable by most voters. Is two years already too much? The majority of Americans seem to be saying yes.

Until recently, the White House had managed to keep the storm clouds of China, an out-of-control southern border, inflation, and the Biden family’s questionable financials from breaking over an already shaky approval rating. That changed this week, as “brutal” poll numbers were released on everything from the president’s mental fitness to how he’s handling the job.

Monday’s rock bottom approval rating (36%) marked the lowest of Biden’s presidency, sending “shockwaves” through the Democratic Party, a former Clinton pollster said. “When he drops here from 42 to 36 in approval in this poll, that’s all [the] Democrats who are jumping ship and saying, ‘I don’t approve of the presidency he’s doing,’” Mark Penn insisted on “America’s Newsroom.” As for the numbers being an anomaly, Penn argued this has been coming “for a long time.” “Look,” he pointed out, “the Harris polling showed the same thing. People question his fitness for continued office. Most Democrats didn’t want him to run. But this poll has to send shockwaves. … He just announced for presidency. You’re supposed to go up when you announce, not down.”

A whopping 63% of Americans now believe Biden lacks the “mental sharpness” to be president, the ABC News/Washington Post survey shows, compared to just 32% who think he does. Just last year, a little over half (54%) were concerned. But, with another year’s worth of rambling statements, memory loss, and situational unawareness, even the friendly media can’t tamp down concerns.

Adding to the bad news, another 68% say he’s too old for a second term — while the age of his stiffest competition, Donald Trump, at 76, weighs a lot less heavily (44%) on people’s minds. MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle addressed the elephant (donkey?) in the room with Biden himself, pointing out — quite bluntly — that “there’s not a Fortune 500 company in the world looking to hire a CEO in his 80s.” So why, she asked, “would an 82-year-old Joe Biden be the right person for the most important job in the world?”

Relying on stale talking points, Biden made the argument that most Democrats were banking on to win him a second term: the 45th president. “We cannot let this election be one where the same man who was president four years ago becomes president again.”

That strategy worked in 2020, when people hoped Biden would have time to accomplish things worth running on in four years. Now, without a single policy success to his name and fires raging across his foreign and domestic agendas, Democrats are betting the farm on the hatred for his old nemesis and a laundry list of social extremisms.

Turns out, that’s not a very compelling argument when families can barely afford groceries and our enemies threaten nuclear war with the world. Add to that the two-year onslaught of wokeness Biden is fueling in educationsportscorporate America, and health care, and it’s no wonder Democrats are looking for the exits. Fifty-five percent of his own party doesn’t want him to run again, and, as Penn explained, “they’re looking at a potential Titanic at this point unless it changes.”

In a head-to-head with Trump, the former president has a clear, seven-point lead (49-42%) — well beyond the poll’s margin of error. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), widely considered the second most potent GOP candidate, enjoys the same comfortable advantage (48-41%). Obviously, the MAGA-bashing isn’t working. Biden’s problem, unfortunately for Democrats, is Biden.

FRC Action Vice President Brent Keilen pointed out, “The 2024 election will be about turnout, and turnout is determined by voter enthusiasm. The fact that only 18% of Americans strongly approve of President Biden’s work indicates he will have a difficult time motivating voters to turn out,” he told The Washington Stand. “The voters are looking for real leadership, and they don’t think they’re currently getting that.”

Even at the highest levels of the Democratic Party, the fears about Biden are real. Democratic strategist Donna Brazile admitted to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that the negative numbers “kept me up.” With his support tanking among reliable voting blocs like black, Hispanic, independent, and suburban women voters, Brazile worries that the entire 2020 coalition “is fragmented.” “That should concern them. The second thing that should concern them, of course, is that they are still unable to get a real good strong message to the American people [on] … where they want to take the country.”

On that point, Brazile is wrong. Americans understand exactly where Biden wants to take the country — to open borders, rampant crime on our streets, sky-rocketing prices, loan default, government dependence, medically-mutilated children in the name of “gender ideology,” war with China, the end of parental and women’s rights, religious targeting, and socialized, one-party rule.

As Family Research Council’s Quena Gonzalez pointed out, that jig is up. “Joe Biden ran as a centrist, the moderate choice, but he’s governed far to the left of the electorate. Most Americans want Washington, D.C. to balance the budget, protect our borders, and leave us alone. Instead, Biden has been beholden to those in his party who despise America, love abortion, embrace radical gender ideology for kindergarteners, and resent the Constitution, the Supreme Court, Republicans in Congress — and anyone else who stands in the way of their dystopian ideas.”

“From reversing himself on the right of Americans to believe in one-man, one-woman marriage to siccing the FBI on parents who show up at school board meetings, President Biden has lashed himself to the most extreme wing of his party,” he told TWS. “He’s borrowed trillions of dollars that our great-grandchildren will still owe, and he’s driving the nation’s economy off of a cliff. Americans should continue to pray for our leaders, including President Biden, that they would fear God and lead us well. But from the looks of the polls, perhaps most Americans are beginning to simply pray that God will bless and keep the president — far away from us.”


Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Experts: Trump Indictment Highlights ‘Disturbing’ Double Standard of Justice

Former president Donald Trump was indicted Tuesday on 34 felony counts by a Manhattan-based grand jury, in what Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton on “Washington Watch” called an “unprecedented indictment” of a former president. “The two-tiered system of law that is unfolding here is disturbing and just outright wrong,” said former Congressman Jody Hice, who now serves as FRC’s senior advisor to the president, on “Washington Watch.”

Representative Bob Good (R-Va.) on “Washington Watch” said the “conviction in search of a crime” is a plain attempt to prosecute a political opponent, “like we’re a third world country, or a banana republic, or a communist totalitarian state.” Good pointed out that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg campaigned by “saying he was going to go after President Trump … bragging about how many times he’d filed suit against President Trump before he ran for office. And now he’s trying to make good on that and deliver to his radical left base.”

“They went after this president for some seven, eight years now. And this is what they’ve come up with, a false business charge?” demanded Good.

Professor Phill Kline, who was formerly the attorney general of Kansas, agreed. “This [case] is not being brought because Mr. Trump is a big threat on the loose to America, even though these charges force him to face life in prison. … He’s being charged because the DA doesn’t like him.”

“They’ve turned this president every which way but loose,” said FRC president and “Washington Watch” host Tony Perkins. “Fifty congressional investigations, impeached twice by a Democrat-led House,” he recounted. “Of course, nothing stuck to him because, at the end of the day, there was nothing there.”

This opinion is not exclusively held by those immersed in the details; the crowd outside the Manhattan courthouse reportedly held the same view. Reporter Jarrett Stepman, who was present in Manhattan when the indictment was unsealed, said the sense “from the crowd, even before this came down,” was that the Trump indictment “was essentially a political charge … because of his governing philosophy, because of who he was.”

“This standard [that] is being held to now former President Donald Trump,” Stepman added, “wouldn’t be held to other people.” Days after taking office, Bragg announced he would not prosecute marijuana misdemeanors, public transportation fare evasion, most trespassing charges, unpaid traffic fines, “any violation, traffic infraction, or other non-criminal offense,” resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, prostitution, and outdated offenses.

“To be clear, President Trump’s immoral behavior of the past really set in motion these wheels of political attacks that have been churning for years now,” said Perkins.

But, Perkins added, “if [Trump] would have governed the way he is alleged to have lived prior to being president, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, because the Left would have loved him. But he governed as a conservative, and he put people around him unlike any other Republican president in modern history, who actually advanced a conservative agenda.” Perkins said the Left has made him a target because “he represents a movement.”

“Unfortunately, we have seen increasing weaponization of government against political enemies,” Kline agreed. “You see that with the Department of Justice now and how they’re treating different potential investigative targets based on really their political opinions and positions that they have taken. So, we are creating a two-tiered system of justice in this country.”

“It’s also about scaring folks like you, and me … and every average day Americans and activists who are conservative, Republican, or frankly, dissident liberals,” added Fitton. Last week, IRS agents visited the home of Matt Taibbi, one of the liberal journalists reporting on the Twitter files, while Taibbi was testifying before the House Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. “They must fear — rightly so — their personal liberties [are] at stake or at risk as a result of this authoritarian, this totalitarian instinct among the Left to use the powers of prosecutors, all government bodies to try to jail their opponents.”

Hice said that the injustice of this situation should bother Christians, even if Trump’s immoral lifestyle offends them. “God loves those who stand for justice,” he said, “and this is a time where the two-tiered system … is becoming so blatantly obvious to every American citizen.”

“It doesn’t matter your points of view on whatever it is, the law should be applied to everyone,” Hice continued. “Where crimes have been committed, then there should be consequences. But where there is the strong arm of government simply going after political opponents, that is injustice.”

Perkins agreed. “We addressed this when this [scandal] came up, when the president was running for office back in 2016. This does not measure up to the standard by which we like to see as Christians in this country. In fact, I was not an early, early supporter of the president for these very reasons.” But now, he added, former president Trump is being made “a target because of his policies and the way he governed.”

“All of us have fallen and come short of the glory of God,” said Hice, and “every single one of us one day will stand before God, and we’ll give an account of our lives.”

“We understand the love and the grace of God to reach out and forgive us and transform us through giving his Son,” Hice continued, “so let’s keep that hope in mind. … And at the end of the day, God will have the final word over each of our lives. But until then, we are here in a world trying to stand for justice.”

“I can’t vouch for everything the president did,” Perkins said. But now that a man who “took the heat in advancing policies that we advocated for” is under attack, Perkins said he feels an obligation to defend “the rule of law and the fact that there is a disparity here in the justice that he is being denied.”

“I think we need to be passionate. We need to be engaged,” said Perkins. “But I do think we’ve got to be very careful that we do not breach this line of inciting and calling for political violence against our political opponents. I think that’s where we completely lose it as a country.”

Fitton echoed the same concern that the indictment of a former president and current presidential candidate will erode America’s bedrock institution. “This is a rigged prosecution for a rigged election,” he said. It “not only is designed to thwart the exercise of President Trump’s First Amendment rights, but to thwart our right to govern ourselves.”

“Bragg isn’t running the country, and we have to remind him of that. Congress should remind him of that,” said Fitton. He urged Congress to “figure out how much U.S taxpayer money at the federal level is being used by Bragg and anyone else” in New York City and “defund New York to the extent practical. If New York and the justice system up in New York wants to undermine our republic … taxpayers should have nothing to do with it at the federal level.”

“This isn’t ordinary, in terms of our nation’s history,” Fitton warned, to “have an entire movement who’s rejecting the American way, the protection of law, equal protection of the law, respect for election systems, and elections generally. … We don’t use criminal law to just go after our political opponents just because they’re our political opponents.”


Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Trump Indictment: ‘The Only Way You Can Explain This Is Politics’

This Thursday, following weeks of rumors swirling about a potential indictment by a New York grand jury, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg led the indictment of former U.S. President Donald Trump. The indictment centers on more than 30 counts related to business fraud over alleged hush money paid to a pornography actress known as Stormy Daniels with the intentions of hiding a prior affair while he campaigned president in 2016.

Conservative thinkers, regardless of their personal support for Trump’s 2024 presidential bid, have widely decried the indictment as being politically motivated, observing that the Manhattan district attorney has a spotty record of pursuing more serious criminals.

“Anybody else other than Donald Trump would never be charged with this in Manhattan,” asserted Andrew McCarthy, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, in an interview on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.” “The pattern of Alvin Bragg, as long as he’s been the district attorney, has actually been the opposite of that. It’s to take actual, real criminal activity by hardened offenders and basically deflate it from serious felonies down to misdemeanors or even not pursue it at all here.”

McCarthy added, “In Trump’s case, he’s taking something that’s a trivial, stale misdemeanor at best — and whether he’s got the proof of that remains to be seen — and he’s trying to inflate it into a felony that could result in a four-year prison sentence. So, the only way you can explain this is politics.”

Some commentators have raised speculation about how political maneuvering behind the indictment may play into Democratic strategy related to the 2024 election. Before the indictment, Twitter CEO Elon Musk said, “If this [an indictment] happens, Trump will be re-elected in a landslide victory.” Meanwhile, after news of the indictment broke, conservative pundit Ann Coulter stated, “They’re trying to make [Trump] our nominee. Would they do that because they think he’d be tough to beat or easy to beat?”

Regardless of the intended outcome, it appears that many operatives on the Left are eager to see the former president in handcuffs. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), former Democratic Speaker of the House, stated, “The Grand Jury has acted upon the facts and the law. No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence. Hopefully, the former president will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right.” Pelosi received many replies retorting that the American legal system is built on the basis of those accused being treated as innocent until proven guilty.

McCarthy summarized the progressive weaponization of the mechanisms of government against political opponents, saying, “First, it’s the history of the progressive movement, particularly in its late 20th century and early 21st century ascendancy and iteration that it uses. Basically, it uses the levers of power as a penalty and uses processes in a punitive way. That’s sort of how it operates, and we’ve seen it in a bunch of different scenarios.” He went on to add, “And secondly, unlike prosecutors in the federal government, prosecutors in the state government, district attorneys, and also even state attorneys general are elected officials. They are not appointed, and they’re not vetted by the Senate to make sure that they won’t use their powers in a partisan way.”

McCarthy concluded, “I think it’s better to look at Alvin Bragg as an elected progressive Democrat in Manhattan than it is to look at him as a law enforcement official. His actions make much more sense if you see him that way.”


Joy Stockbauer

Joy Stockbauer is a correspondent for The Washington Stand.



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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserve. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Project 2025 Aims to Equip the Next Conservative Presidential Administration on Day 1

This week, at Family Policy Alliance’s SoConCon Social Conservative Policy Conference, I sat down with Paul Dans, director of the 2025 Presidential Transition Project at The Heritage Foundation. In this conversation, we explore Project 2025, which seeks to “build on four pillars that will, collectively, pave the way for an effective conservative administration: a policy agenda, personnel, training, and a 180-day playbook.”

JOY STOCKBAUER: Can you tell us a bit about what Project 2025 is?

PAUL DANS: Project 2025 is the conservative movement coming together to ensure that the next conservative president is ready to go Day 1. We’re assembling policies and aligned, trained staff to hit the ground running come January 2025.

STOCKBAUER: So is this project focused mostly on individuals who already have presidential administration experience, or are you more focused on equipping newcomers?

DANS: The way we’re going to change Washington is bringing new blood into Washington. This entire project is really aimed towards America — that is, everywhere outside of the beltway. We want new folks to come in and serve, essentially, but to do that, they need to know how this game is played and the rules of the road. That’s what we’re hoping to do. We’re going to identify talent, and then we’re going to teach you essentially what our core group of beliefs is. We’re going to train you in the way that agencies function and how you function within a government agency. And, finally, we’re going to put you to work helping to draft some of the transition plans on an agency-by-agency basis. You’ll be under consideration for these jobs, and you’ll know what to do if you get them.

But we need to have an entire army of conservatives coming to Washington. There’s a group of us who have served in the past, but our aim is to really go forth and multiply and to bring people who have ever wanted to do this work, people who are successful in other areas of life, and bring them and say, “This is possible to do, but you need to start thinking about it now. It’s too late to start thinking about this in November 2024.”

STOCKBAUER: Can you speak a bit to how this has historically worked? When a conservative president has been elected to office, how have they traditionally found a staff?

DANS: In the past, the transition effort has really been the second thought for the candidate. It typically starts in the spring or even summer of election year. The candidate has his or her own team going at this while, at the same time, they have a second team trying to win the election. Over time, obviously, we look at what the Democrats and liberals have done. If nothing else, they’re extremely prepared and organized. The level of complexity in the government demands that we start much, much earlier.

Heritage, for its part, we’re going on our 50th year and our organization you might think of a little bit as a mothership for the conservative movement just by breadth and size of Heritage — but Heritage did get on the map initially in 1980 by providing then President-elect Reagan with a policy book, agency-by-agency prescriptions of how a successful presidency could look. It was called “Mandate for Leadership.” And in 1980, Heritage was in its infancy, so the majority of that book, 400 contributors or so, came from outside of Heritage. And that’s proved a very helpful mechanism for a future president to kind of get on board, and Heritage has done that every four years.

But the realization with this election is that our republic is in such dire straits and the work here to be done is so great that not any one organization can do this alone. Our new president, Dr. [Kevin] Roberts, recognized that if we’re going to win in Washington, we have to do this and come together as a movement. We’ve been very excited when we’ve initially announced our conception and groups like FRC jump right on board. We’ve had a tremendous [amount of] help coming together with 50 of the most persuasive and respected conservative movers and really saying, “This is how we’re gonna pool our resources, we’re really gonna make sure we have top flight candidates in place to make the change.”

We want to have conservatives together and bring the candidates to our worldview instead of chasing after candidates. So, ultimately, we will deliver a product that will be so helpful to them that he or she can’t help but say “Thank you” and work with us.

STOCKBAUER: Do you have any words of advice for recent college grads or young professionals hoping to be part of a conservative administration in 2025? There are still years to go — what’s the best way to prepare to work in a presidential administration?

DANS: Project 2025 is built on four pillars. First is a policy book that we’re writing with many folks from Family Research Council as contributors and authors. That’s coming out next month, in April. So anyone really interested in this, I commend you to take a look at the book and see if this really strikes your fancy.

Our second pillar is a personal database, kind of akin to LinkedIn or Facebook. We want every potential applicant to curate his or her own page and upload their resume, list their social media, take some background diagnostic tests, and make yourself known to us. This will allow our 50 membership organizations to endorse people for various positions and review and vet people. The more active you are in creating a profile, the better you’re gonna stand out. I encourage anyone to go to Project2025.org and sign up. Our database will be going live in several weeks.

Three, we have online training, so that’s a wonderful ability to start learning about how Washington works by taking the online courses. They’re free on Project2025.org. We’ll be looking at your profile at the courses you complete according to your interests, so that’ll be a good interaction to further distinguish yourself.

Four, we’re ultimately gonna help people who have taken the courses and stood out to get planted on transition teams. There you can learn from more senior people in the movement and learn what goes on in the various agencies. If you’re a lawyer or law student, you can work on drafting regulations. If you’re just a college student, you might work in economics or research or whatever your field. That will allow you to gain familiarity with an agency. At the end of the day, this really is a community effort and we need to have one another’s backs.


Joy Stockbauer

Joy Stockbauer is a correspondent for The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.