Joe and Jill Biden land in Hawaii to survey wildfire devastation – live

Last modified: 12: 19 AM GMT+0

The Bidens are accompanied by the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Deanne Criswell

That does it for today’s liveblog. Here are some of the big events from the day:

  • Joe and Jill Biden visited the town of Lahaina today. They took an aerial tour of the devastation and met with residents, officials and emergency responders.

  • Federal prosecutors are objecting to the April 2026 trial date proposed by lawyers for Donald Trump in the case accusing the former president of scheming to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Defense lawyers said that the far-off date was meant to give prosecutors time to review the 11.5m pages of potential evidence.

  • Donald Trump’s bond in the sweeping Georgia racketeering case has been set for $200,000, according to court filings at Fulton county court.

  • Texas senator Ted Cruz, a former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, appeared on Monday to fall for one of the oldest internet hoaxes, sharing a supposed picture of a shark on a flooded highway in Los Angeles with the remark: “Holy crap.”


Joe Biden just finished speaking from downtown Lahaina, near the banyan tree that has come to symbolize the devastation from the wildfires and the steadfastness and resilience of the community. “Today it’s burned but it’s still standing,” Biden said of the tree.

During his remarks Biden emphasized that the recovery and rebuilding on the island will be done with respect for Hawaiian traditions. He also shared his connection to Daniel Inouye, a US senator from Hawaii who Biden said was a source of support after he lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972.

“Danny Inouye helped bring me back,” he said.

The president also spoke to the federally sponsored recovery efforts that are currently under way. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has given out tens of thousands of blankets and meals to displaced people and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is working with Lahaina residents to get them from temporary shelters into temporary housing.

Biden stressed to Hawaiians that the US ‘grieves with you” and promises help ‘for as long as it takes.’


Joe Biden just completed an aerial tour of the wildfire-ravaged land on Maui. Biden landed at Kapalua airport in Maui’s westside and was greeted by Hawaii governor Josh Green and his wife Jaime Kanani Ushiroda Green as well as local officials including Maui county mayor Richard Bissen.

The group will be making their way to the Lahaina Civic Center, where Biden will hold a community event.

Follow the live coverage of Biden’s visit on Hawaii News Now.


Joe Biden lands on Maui

Joe and Jill Biden have landed on Maui to survey the devastation wrought by recent wildfires. The Bidens are accompanied by Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema).

While on the island, the first couple will also meet with first responders and be briefed by state and local officials about the response.

Stay tuned to the Guardian’s live blog for updates on the Bidens’ visit.


Federal prosecutors object to Trump attempt to delay trial

Federal prosecutors are objecting to the April 2026 trial date proposed by lawyers for Donald Trump in the case accusing the former president of scheming to overturn the results of the 2020 election, the Associated Press reports.

Defense lawyers said that the far-off date was meant to give prosecutors time to review the 11.5m pages of potential evidence. But prosecutors said much of that material includes duplicate pages or information that is already public like Trump’s social media posts.

Prosecutors wrote:

In cases such as this one, the burden of reviewing discovery cannot be measured by page count alone, and comparisons to the height of the Washington Monument and the length of a Tolstoy novel are neither helpful nor insightful; in fact, comparisons such as those are a distraction from the issue at hand – which is determining what is required to prepare for trial.


As part of the agreement, Donald Trump “shall perform no act to intimidate any person known to him or her to be a codefendant or witness”, the court filing shows.

The former president cannot make a “direct or indirect threat of any nature” against any codefendant, including through “posts on social media or reposts of posts made by another individual on social media”.

Trump is also prohibited from communicating about the case with any codefendants in the Georgia case except through his lawyer.

NEW: Trump's bond in the Fulton County prosecution is set at $200,000, along with far more extensive witness intimidation restrictions than were set for former Trump election lawyer John Eastman.

— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) August 21, 2023


Trump agrees to $200,000 consent bond in Fulton county criminal case

Donald Trump’s bond in the sweeping Georgia racketeering case has been set for $200,000, according to court filings at Fulton county court.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tamar Hallerman:

Breaking: Former President Donald Trump's bond set for $200,000 in Fulton County

— Tamar Hallerman (@TamarHallerman) August 21, 2023


Trump's legal team at Fulton county courthouse to negotiate terms of bond and release - report

Donald Trump’s legal team has arrived at the Fulton county courthouse where they are expected to meet with district attorney Fani Willis’s office, CNN reported, citing sources.

Trump’s lawyers Todd Blanche, Jennifer Little and Drew Findling will be doing the negotiating, according to one source.

Trump and several of his codefendants in the Georgia racketeering case are expected to work out the terms of their bond today with the Fulton county DA’s office, the report said.

Court filings show Willis has reached a $100,000 bond agreement with former Trump lawyer John Eastman, and a $10,000 bond for bail bondsman Scott Hall.


Texas senator Ted Cruz, a former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, appeared on Monday to fall for one of the oldest internet hoaxes, sharing a supposed picture of a shark on a flooded highway in Los Angeles with the remark: “Holy crap.”

Holy crap.

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 21, 2023

California does indeed face potentially catastrophic flooding thanks to Storm Hilary, but users of X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, were swift to point out that the image Cruz reposted is in fact wholly crap.

Had Cruz checked Snopes before posting his remark, he might have noted the site’s description of previous uses of the shark-on-a-highway picture, including in relation to his own state.

Cruz did not delete his post. Hours later, he wrote:

I’m told this is a joke. In LA, you never know … And everyone please stay safe from the storm or otherwise.

It was not Cruz’s first flirtation with social media ridicule. In 2017, the senator’s account on the service then known as Twitter “liked” a tweet showing pornographic material. Cruz appeared to blame a staffer.

“It was not me, and it’s not going to happen again,” he said.


Donald Trump holds a commanding lead over his Republican primary rivals, according to the latest Morning Consult poll, with the former president beating his closest rival, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, by 44 points.

NEW: Tracking the 2024 GOP Primary:

Trump: 58%
DeSantis: 14%
Ramaswamy: 10%
Pence: 6%
Haley: 3%
Scott: 3%
Christie: 3%
Hutchinson: 1%
Burgum: 0%
Suarez: 0%
Hurd: 0%
Someone Else: 1%
*Aug 18-20, 2023

We survey thousands of GOP primary voters every day:

— Morning Consult (@MorningConsult) August 21, 2023


Scott Hall, a bail bondsman who was charged with racketeering and six criminal conspiracy counts relating to a scheme to access voting machines and data in rural Coffee county, has reached a bond agreement with Fulton county district attorney Fani Willis, court filings show.

In a “consent bond order” listed on the Fulton county court website, Hall agreed to a $10,000 bond, that he will “report to pre-trial supervision every 30 days” and that is barred from communicating with the other 18 defendants in the case.

Hall, Cathy Latham and Misty Hampton “aided, abetted, and encouraged” employees from the data solutions firm SullivanStrickler to access voting equipment inside the Coffee county board of elections registration office, according to the indictment handed down by Willis.


Trump plans unprecedented harsh restrictions on immigration if he is elected in 2024 - report

Donald Trump plans to introduce sweeping new restrictions on immigration and the border if he wins the 2024 presidential election, according to a report.

During his tenancy in the White House, Trump built part of a border wall, established strict wealth and health tests for prospective immigrants, and limited asylum. But the former president’s plan would go much further, potentially making it tougher for millions of foreigners to enter or stay in the US, Axios writes.

Under Trump’s plans, ideological screening would be ramped up for people legally applying to come into the country, the report says. US law has blocked communists from entering for decades, but it has rarely been enforced, and Trump wants to enforce the law to reject applicants who are deemed “Marxists”, Axios says. Trump would also expand his “Muslim ban” idea to block more people from certain countries from entering the US, according to the report.

Under a new Trump administration, the US Coast Guard and Navy would be sent to form a blockade in the waters off the US and Latin America to stop drug-smuggling boats, it says. He will also designate drug cartels as “unlawful enemy combatants” to allow the US military to target them in Mexico, it says, and extend the floating barriers along the Rio Grande.

The former president intends to end birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrations, according to the report. He would also allegedly seek to complete his border wall.

Trump adviser Stephen Miller told Axios:

For those passionate about securing our immigration system …… the first 100 days of the Trump administration will be pure bliss – followed by another four years of the most hard-hitting action conceivable.


Donald Trump has already recorded an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that the former president plans to use as counterprogramming for the first Republican presidential primary debate on Wednesday, NBC News reported, citing sources.

It is unclear how and when the interview will be aired. Carlson has been releasing interviews on X, formerly known as Twitter, since he was fired from Fox News earlier this year.

Trump senior campaign adviser Jason Miller told the news channel that the former president will be at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the night of the debate, which will air at 9pm eastern time on Wednesday.


Georgia judge orders $100,000 bond for former Trump lawyer John Eastman

John Eastman, a former adviser to Donald Trump who was charged for his alleged role in helping the former president try to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, has agreed to a $100,000 bond in the case, court filings show.

In a “consent bond order” listed on the Fulton county court website, Eastman and prosecutors agreed to a $100,000 bond on the charges Eastman is facing, which include racketeering, criminal conspiracy and filing false documents. Eastman’s $100,000 bond order is the first to appear on the Fulton county court website.

Under the terms of the order, Eastman “shall report to pre-trial supervision every 30 days”, and “shall perform no act to intimidate any person known to him or her to be a codefendant or witness in this case or to otherwise obstruct the administration of justice”.

From CNN’s Kaitlan Collins:

The consent bond order for John Eastman has posted, including a $100,000 bail.

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) August 21, 2023


In Montana, a judge ruled in favor of young people who allege that the state’s promotion of fossil fuels violates their right to a “clean and healthful environment”, which is guaranteed in the state’s constitution.

This case is one of several constitutional climate lawsuits filed on behalf of young people and brought by the nonprofit law firm Our Children’s Trust. There are also four pending lawsuits in other states. One of those cases, brought by Hawaii youth plaintiffs, is set to go to trial in June 2024, attorneys announced this month.

The judge’s ruling, if upheld, will compel Montana to consider climate change when deciding whether to approve or renew fossil fuel projects. But it will not stop the state from allowing new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Read the entirety of the Guardian’s explainer on the Montana decision here.


Trump's rivals respond to GOP frontrunner's refusal to join debate

Donald Trump’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination reacted in mostly muted fashion to his declaration that he will skip all the party’s primary debates, not just the first in Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Andrew Romeo, a spokesperson for Ron DeSantis, Trump’s closest if distant rival, insisted:

No one is entitled to this nomination, including Donald Trump. You have to show up and earn it.

Among Trump’s Republican rivals, notwithstanding a warning from the rank outsider Will Hurd that “kissing his butt is not going to help you win”, reaction to Trump’s debate avoidance plans remained muted at best.

Mike Pence, formerly vice-president to Trump, echoed the chairperson of the Republican National Committee when he told ABC News:

One thing I realised about him is it’s not over till it’s over. So I’m actually still hoping he shows up.

Vivek Ramaswamy, the biotech entrepreneur who has gone from wide outsider to contender for second place, aimed a warmup barb at DeSantis when he said:

We don’t need another career politician beholden to the donor class sitting in the White House. Cronyism leads to corruption. The choice for GOP primary voters: Do we want Super Pac puppets? Or patriots who speak the TRUTH?

According to Axios, James Uthmeir, DeSantis’s new campaign manager, used a memo to donors and supporters to warn that the Milwaukee debate would be other candidates’ “biggest chance yet to grab headlines by attacking the governor, so we know they will try their best”. Uthmeir also offered a touch of optimism.

“We all know why our competitors have to go down this road,” he said.

Because this is a two-man race for the Republican nomination between Governor DeSantis and Donald Trump.


Donald Trump Jr confirmed he will travel to Wisconsin to attend the first Republican presidential primary debate, even though his father, Donald Trump, said he will not be there.

The Trump campaign told the Hill that Trump Jr will be in Milwaukee as a “surrogate” in support of his father’s reelection bid.

We're excited to see all of our friends in Milwaukee who want to Make America Great Again!!! #Trump2024 #MAGA

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 21, 2023

Larry Hogan, the former Republican governor of Maryland, said No Labels would “very likely” launch a third-party “alternative” if Donald Trump and Joe Biden are the nominees for their parties in the 2024 presidential election.

“f Trump and Biden are the nominees, it’s very likely that No Labels will get access to the ballot and offer an alternative,” Hogan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

If most of the voters don’t want A or B, we have an obligation to give them C, I mean, for the good of the country.

An “overwhelming majority” of Americans are “completely fed up with politics”, said Hogan, who serves as the national co-chairman of No Labels.

They think Washington is broken. And so, even though this normally is not something that we consider and talk about seriously because it hasn’t happened in the past, this is something that could happen.

Today is the cutoff for required set by the Republican national committee (RNC) for candidates who want to take part in Wednesday’s primary debate.

To qualify for the 23 August debate, candidates need to have reached at least 1% in three high-quality national polls or a mix of national and early-state polls, between 1 July and 21 August, and a minimum of 40,000 donors, with 200 in 20 or more states. Candidates must also sign a pledge promising to support the party’s ultimate nominee.

At least nine candidates appear to have made the cut so far for the first Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee, according to a New York Times tracker. Seven candidates have definitely qualified, and they are:

  • Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida

  • Doug Burgum, governor of North Dakota

  • Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey

  • Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina

  • Mike Pence, former vice president

  • Tim Scott, senator for South Carolina

  • Vivek Ramaswamy, entrepreneur

Asa Hutchinson, former governor of Arkansas, said on Sunday that had also met the qualification criteria. Donald Trump, who has said he will not take part in the debate, could qualify but he has not signed the loyalty pledge.

But there are two candidates, Miami mayor Francis X Suarez and the businessman Perry Johnson who have said they met the criteria but whose claims have not been corroborated by the RNC.

Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, are currently on the way to Maui to comfort survivors of the devastating wildfires that ripped through the western part of the Hawaiian island nearly two weeks ago.

The Bidens, who are pausing their vacation in Lake Tahoe, will take a helicopter tour of the burned-out areas. They will then visit Lahaina, a historic town of 13,000 people that was virtually destroyed by the flames, to see the wildfire damage first-hand and meet with first responders.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden depart Reno, Nevada, to survey the damage in Maui, Hawaii.

— The Recount (@therecount) August 21, 2023

The president will deliver remarks “paying respects to the lives lost and reflecting on the tragic, lasting impacts of these wildfires on survivors and the community,” a White House official said.

“I know how profoundly loss can impact a family and a community and I know nothing can replace the loss of life,” Biden said in a statement ahead of the trip.

I will do everything in my power to help Maui recover and rebuild from this tragedy. And throughout our efforts, we are focused on respecting sacred lands, cultures, and traditions.

Biden has faced criticizm among some Republicans and others for his initial response to the Maui fires, after he went several days without speaking about the tragedy while on vacation at his Delaware beach house. The White House said Biden has been leading a “whole of government” effort to help Hawaii recover.


Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants in a sprawling racketeering case have until this Friday to surrender to authorities in Atlanta and to be booked at the notorious Fulton county jail, also known as “Rice Street”.

The sprawling detention center has a reputation for troubled conditions for inmates. Last month, the justice department launched a civil rights investigation into dilapidated and unsanitary conditions at the jail, as well as violence against detainees. The investigation was sparked in part by the death of LaShawn Thompson, who according to his family was found “eaten alive by insects and bedbugs” in a filthy cell in September 2022.

The Fulton county jail suffers from problems with overcrowding, overflowing toilets and faulty air conditioning, according to the Washington Post. Fulton county sheriff Patrick Labat, who oversees the jail and has pushed for funding to replace it, said:

What you’ll see in these wheelbarrows are shanks. Right now, they total over 1,100 shanks. These are pieces of the building that have been ripped apart, fashioned into knives, fashioned into deadly weapons.

Trump and his co-defendants, including Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for the ex-president and former New York City mayor, and Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, will be treated like everyone else should they surrender there, according to the local sheriff.

That means they will undergo a medical screening, be fingerprinted and have mug shots taken, and could potentially spend time in a holding cell at the jail, according to a New York Times report.

Razor wire lines the outside of the Fulton county jail.
Razor wire lines the outside of the Fulton county jail. Photograph: Dustin Chambers/Reuters


Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy said Donald Trump’s decision to skip the first GOP primary debate this week could benefit Joe Biden.

“Unfortunately by skipping the debates, Donald Trump may actually be helping Joe Biden because he’s giving Joe Biden an excuse for not debating Donald Trump,” Doocy said on the Fox News program.

That’s one of the things that [Republican National Committee chairwoman] Ronna McDaniel told the former president when she was trying to get him to do the first debate. But he said, ‘Nope, not going to do it.’”

“I don’t know how that would be, though. How could Joe Biden rationalize not going against Donald Trump?” asked co-host Brian Kilmeade.

Doocy replied:

Because if Donald Trump says, ‘Everybody knows me, I don’t need to do it,’ then Joe Biden does, ‘Everybody knows me! I’m the president.’


Joe and Jill Biden board plane to Hawaii

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have been pictured boarding a plane in Reno to travel to Hawaii to inspect damage wrought by wildfires that have killed more than 100 people.

The president, who is spending the week on Lake Tahoe in Nevada with his family, will meet with survivors of the fires as well as with emergency workers and state and local officials, according to his aides.

US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden walk to board Air Force One at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Reno, Nevada.
US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden walk to board Air Force One at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Reno, Nevada. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
US President Joe Biden waves while boarding Air Force One at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Reno, Nevada, as he departs for Hawaii.
US President Joe Biden waves while boarding Air Force One at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Reno, Nevada, as he departs for Hawaii. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images


Despite his decision not to show up to the first Republican primary debate this week, Donald Trump's legal predicaments will be center stage.

Fox News moderators Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum have signaled that they plan to press the GOP candidates on their positions on the former president’s alleged crimes, the Washington Post reported.

GOP voters seeking an alternative to Trump will be looking for a canddiate who addresses the totality of the crimes he stands accused of and how they could harm the Republican party’s chances of winning back the White House, veteran Republican strategist Mike Murphy told the paper.

If they roll over and purr, then they are kittens, not candidates. How do you beat the lion without engaging him?

Another GOP strategist said the decision about how much to focus on Trump was a fraught one.

If he’s not there and you’re talking about him, are you just yelling into space?

Donald Trump’s former vice-president, Mike Pence, also said he was unaware of any standing order for declassifying documents.

Asked about the report, he told ABC’s This Week:

There is a process that the White House goes through to declassify materials. I’m aware of that occurring on several occasions over the course of our four years but I don’t have any knowledge of any broad-based directive from the president.

Pence, now challenging his former boss for the Republican presidential nomination, added:

That doesn’t mean it didn’t occur. It’s just not something that I ever heard about.

Asked if Mark Meadows, as Trump’s chief of staff, should have been aware of any such broad declassification order, Pence said:

I would expect so.

Former Trump chief of staff says he has no knowledge of ex-boss declassifying information

The former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told investigators he had no knowledge of Donald Trump either talking about or declassifying confidential information, it was reported on Sunday, potentially skewering the ex-president’s defense in his classified documents case.

Meadows’s alleged admission to the special counsel Jack Smith, reported by ABC News, suggests Trump made no blanket declassification of secret papers later seized from his Mar-a-Lago resort by FBI agents, leading to 40 criminal counts against him.

Trump, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, has insisted without proof he gave automatic clearance to every government document he took to Florida at the conclusion of his administration in January 2021. But his lawyers have not yet presented the defense in court and doing so could open the possibility of Meadows being called as a witness to contradict it, ABC said.

According to ABC, Meadows also told Smith he was not involved in packing the boxes, did not witness Trump or anybody else doing so, and claimed he was unaware the former president was taking anything with him.

If true, it would be extraordinary that one of Trump’s closest aides had absolutely no knowledge of anything to do with the retention of the documents. It might also suggest Trump knew what he was taking and planned and executed the operation himself.


On the latest Iowa poll, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver writes that the results are not consistent with the view that Donald Trump’s nomination is more-or-less inevitable.

That Sezler poll is good for Trump, but it's not consistent with the view that his nomination is more-or-less inevitable.

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) August 21, 2023

It's hard to know what the conventional wisdom is exactly I guess. Trump is "only" at 68% at prediction markets, which to me seems low, but lotta folks here are treating him as ~99%, which is definitely too high.

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) August 21, 2023

Joe Biden is considering meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of next month’s G20 summit in New Delhi, according to an Axios report.

A meeting between the two leaders could give a push to the talks the White House has been holding with the Saudi government for a deal that includes US security guarantees for Riyadh, and normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, the report said.

Such a deal would be a historic breakthrough in Middle East peace. But Biden would likely have to pass at least parts of it through Congress, where many Democrats hold highly critical views of bin Salman, also known as MBS, due to the kingdom’s human rights record and the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greets President Joe Biden with a fist bump after his arrival at Al-Salam palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 15 July 2022.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greets President Joe Biden with a fist bump after his arrival at Al-Salam palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 15 July 2022. Photograph: Bandar Aljaloud/AP


Poll after poll appears to show Donald Trump strengthening his position in the Republican presidential primary after every indictment.

The former president’s lead among likely Republican caucusgoers grew five points after his latest indictment in Georgia, according to the latest Iowa poll by Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom.

In the day before a grand jury indicted Trump for allegedly attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state, Trump led his closest rival Ron DeSantis 38% to 20%.In the days after the 15 August indictment, Trump’s lead grew to 43% over DeSantis’ 18%.

But a broader Republican survey suggests that the indictments have actually dented Trump’s advantage in the primary, according to a report in the Atlantic.

According to a study by a group of university researchers, pollsters have been asking the wrong questions to assess how the indictments have affected Republican voters. Most polls have asked respondents directly whether the indictments have changed their attitude about Trump or their likelihood to vote for him. This type of query leads to biased answers, the study said.

Researchers instead asked respondents to assess their view of Trump as if they did not know he had been indicted.

Suppose you did not know about the indictment. How would you have answered the following question: How likely are you to vote for Donald Trump?

The poll based on the counterfactual framing found that the indictments slightly hurt Trump’s standing in the party, reducing by 1.6& the likelihood that Republicans would vote for him.


Trump to surrender at Fulton county jail this week

Donald Trump is expected to surrender in a Fulton County jail this week for charges relating to racketeering and conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

Law enforcement officials are anticipating that the former president will voluntarily turn himself in no earlier than Thursday.

Fulton county district attorney Fani Willis has given Trump and his 18 co-defendants until Friday noon to surrender. But defendants “can turn themselves in at any time,” a spokesperson for the Fulton county sheriff’s office has said.


Former vice-president Mike Pence refused to say if Donald Trump should be barred from returning to the White House if he is convicted on any of 91 criminal charges against him.

“I think that he’s to be left to the American people,” Pence told ABC’s This Week, on Sunday.

Let’s have the former president have his day in court. Let’s maintain a presumption of innocence.

Trump faces charges concerning federal and state election subversion, retention of classified information and hush-money payments to a porn star. He also faces civil cases involving defamation, alleged rape and his business affairs, contributing to a schedule of trials in the election year.

Pence and other qualifiers for the first debate in Milwaukee on Wednesday – a contest Trump will skip for an interview with Tucker Carlson – have backed a Republican National Committee pledge requiring support for the nominee.

The latest Iowa poll offered some glimmers of hope for Donald Trump’s rivals, with a majority of likely Republican caucus-goers saying that they have not made a final decision on who they will vote for.

The survey showed 52% said their minds were not made up and that they could be persuaded to support another candidate.

The contest may be “closer than it may first seem”, said prominent pollster J Ann Selzer, who conducted the poll. Some 63% of likely Republican caucus-goers said they support Trump as their first or second choice in the caucuses, compared to 61% who said the same for the former president’s closest rival, Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

Selzer said the other Republican candidates have the opportunity to gain on Trump and turn people who are actively considering them into firm supporters, but “there’s a lot of work to be done”.

New poll shows Trump's lead grew after Georgia indictment

Donald Trump continues to hold a dominant lead over the rest of the GOP field in Iowa, the site of the nation’s first presidential caucuses, with 23 points ahead of his closest competitor, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, according to a new poll.

The survey by the Des Moines Register, NBC News and Mediacom of likely Republican caucus-goers, was conducted before and after Trump’s latest indictment in Georgia, and shows the former president’s lead over DeSantis increased after his latest charges.

In the poll, 42% of likely Republican caucus-goers say Trump is their first choice out of 14 GOP presidential candidates, compared with 19% for DeSantis. In third place is South Carolina senator Tim Scott, at 9%.

Trump’s early advantage in the first nominating contest is the largest Republican caucus lead recorded by the poll since the 2000 contest won by George W Bush.

The Iowa Republican caucus is set for 15 January 2024.


It is unclear if Donald Trump plans to skip all the debates for the Republican primaries, or just the first one.

A second debate is scheduled for 27 September at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California, to be aired on Fox Business.

A Trump adviser told CNN that the former president could still decide to participate in a later primary debate, despite his Truth Social post on Sunday.

Trump has told a number of allies that he does not want to debate at the Reagan library. Though the library has hosted GOP presidential debates before, including a 2015 debate that Trump participated in, the former president complained that Fred Ryan, the publisher and CEO of the Washington Post, is the chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees.

Donald Trump’s decision to spurn the debate on Fox News in favor of an online interview with the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson marks a new level of hostility with the network.

Fox News executives and hosts have reportedly been begging Trump to take part in the debate. Last month, the Fox News president, Jay Wallace, and CEO, Suzanne Scott, went to Bedminster to convince Trump to attend, and came away thinking he could still participate.

But Trump has been openly attacking Fox News since the launch of his presidential campaign, in part because of its positive coverage of his 2024 rival and Florida governor Ron DeSantis, and has privately lashed out at the Fox Corporation chairman, Rupert Murdoch.

Donald Trump’s Republican rivals had been actively preparing for the former president to take part in this week’s GOP primary debate, concerned his absence might make them appear like second-tier candidates.

Trump’s main rival, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, ran weekly debate prep sessions for several weeks with an eye toward drawing clear contrasts with Trump, AP reported. Former vice president Mike Pence hosted mock debate sessions with someone playing the part of the former president.

A super Pac supporting DeSantis released an ad saying:

We can’t afford a nominee who is too weak to debate.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, one of the few candidates willing to directly take on Trump, accused the former president of lacking “the guts to show up” and said he would be “a coward” if he didn’t.

On Sunday’s edition of State of the Union, Republican US senator Bill Cassidy said to him it seemed like the classified documents case was “almost a slam dunk”.

“I’m not an attorney,” said Cassidy, who’s a gastroenterologist. But, while referring to an audio recording of Donald Trump discussing military secrets that he had not declassified at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club in 2021, Cassidy remarked: “The mishandling of the federal documents … seems … a very strong case.

They have a tape recording of him speaking of it. If that is proven, then we may have a candidate for president who has been convicted of a crime. I think Joe Biden needs to be replaced, but I don’t think Americans will vote for someone who’s been convicted. So, I’m just very sorry about how all this is playing out.

Cassidy joined six other Senate Republicans who voted to convict the former president when Trump was impeached after his supporters staged the US Capitol attack on 6 January 2021.

Trump had more than enough votes to be acquitted at his impeachment trial despite the lack of support from Cassidy, whom the former president has previously dismissed as a “Rino”, the acronym meaning “Republican in name only”.

Cassidy is in his second six-year term in the Senate and is not up for re-election until 2026.

Bill Cassidy in Washington DC in April.
Bill Cassidy in Washington DC in April. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

Trump should drop out of 2024 presidential race, says Republican senator Bill Cassidy

Donald Trump should drop out of the 2024 race for the White House because polling shows the former US president trailing Joe Biden as he grapples with more than 90 pending criminal charges, according to Republican US senator Bill Cassidy.

Cassidy’s comments to State of the Union host Kasie Hunt were not the first time he has denounced Trump. About two months earlier, he went on CNN and predicted that Trump would lose if his party nominated him to run for the Oval Office again, citing the poor performance of his endorsed candidates during the 2022 midterms.

Cassidy said of his fellow Republican and the ex-president during CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday:

Obviously, that’s up to him … but he will lose to Joe Biden, if you look at the current polls.

The Louisiana senator added that it would do their party no good if Trump “ends up getting the nomination but cannot win a general [election]” against the Democratic incumbent Joe Biden.

Alluding to a Republican presidential candidates’ debate scheduled Wednesday in Milwaukee that Trump intends to skip, Cassidy said: “I want one of them to win.” But he passed on an opportunity to single out any of the expected debate participants as someone he supported.


For months, Donald Trump suggested he would not attend the Republican primary debate on Wednesday, arguing he was well known to the American public and that it did not make sense to give his GOP rivals a chance to attack him.

“Why would I allow people at 1 or 2% and 0% to be hitting me with questions all night?” he said in an interview in June with Fox News host Bret Baier, who will be serving as a moderator at the Milwaukee debate.

Trump has also repeatedly criticized Fox News, the host of the GOP debate, insisting it is a “hostile network” that he believes will not treat him fairly.

The former president also said earlier this month that he would not sign a pledge to support the Republican nominee if he loses the GOP presidential primary – a requirement for appearing in the debate.

“Why would I sign it?” Trump said in an interview on the conservative cable network Newsmax.

I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president. So right there, there’s a problem.

Offering “free advice” to his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, the former Texas congressman Will Hurd said:

If Donald Trump is leading in the polls, and he’s your opponent, then kissing his butt is not going to help you win.

Hurd has not qualified to debate in Milwaukee but he is one of the few candidates prepared to attack Donald Trump in strong terms, not least over scheduled trials that include civil cases over defamation and a rape allegation and investigations of his business affairs.

On Sunday, Hurd told the MSNBC host Jenn Psaki: “Things are improving and changing.

Had a great time in Des Moines [Iowa] yesterday or this week at the Iowa state fair. And what people want is someone who’s willing to be honest. What people want is folks that are not afraid of Donald Trump and who are going to articulate a vision for a future and talk about the issues of the day that are impacting them, and not just focusing on Donald Trump’s legal baggage.

Hurd was recently booed in Iowa but he said people in the first state to vote also told him “thank you for being honest”.

He said:

Here’s what we’re learning. There’s a good chunk of people that are never going to vote for Donald Trump, and there’s folks that like Donald Trump, voted for him twice, still like him as a person, and don’t think he has a chance in a rematch against Joe Biden.

Hurd said that showed Trump was “afraid to go on the debate stage and answer for being a proven loser. The last time he won was in 2016. He doesn’t want to have to defend his poor record, he doesn’t want to have to defend all of these issues he’s dealing with. These legal issues are self-inflicted wounds.

And that’s what I’m looking forward to talking about: not only his problems but articulating what the GOP needs to be doing, so we prevent a trend that has been happening for the last 20 years. And that’s losing the general election popular vote.

Republican presidential candidate Will Hurd spoke at the Iowa state fair on Friday.
Republican presidential candidate Will Hurd spoke at the Iowa state fair on Friday. Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/AP

Donald Trump’s team has two overarching priorities for the first Republican primary debate on Wednesday, according to several sources briefed on the situation: to starve the other Republican presidential candidates of attention, and to publicly humiliate Fox News, which is hosting the event with the RNC, because he has been displeased with some of its recent coverage.

The former president has told allies he intends to shun the event and that his sit-down interview with the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, which he taped in recent days, could be released around the same time.

Trump had also considered swaggering into the debate at the last minute – without prior warning – betting that would almost certainly cause the news coverage to be about his surprise visit and not the other candidates’ answers. But he has since soured on that option, people briefed on the matter said.

The Trump team had explored whether Trump could do the ultimate counter-programming by scheduling his surrender to authorities, after the Fulton county district attorney charged him with conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, to take place at the same time.

But even though the political team had pushed for him to be booked at the Fulton county jail on Wednesday, his legal team has been opposed. Trump’s lawyers thought Thursday was a more realistic option and intend to finalize logistics with the district attorney’s office on Monday, the people said.

Trump to skip Republican primary debate as his lead over GOP rivals grows

Good morning, US politics blog readers. In a post on Truth Social on Sunday, Donald Trump confirmed he will skip the first GOP primary debate on Wednesday, amid reports he is weighing up several options in an attempt to upstage the opening event in the Republican party’s nominating contest.

“The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had,” the former president wrote on his social media platform.


For weeks, Trump has asked his aides privately and rally crowds publicly whether he should attend the debate or engage in counter-programming efforts in a boastful display of his political strength even after being criminally charged four times. The response has overwhelmingly been for him to skip the debate.

A CBS poll released on Sunday showed Trump holding his largest lead over his rivals despite his recent legal troubles. The former president was the preferred candidate for 62% of Republican voters. His closest rival, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, was at 16%. All the other candidates were in single digits.

The GOP frontrunner’s absence from the stage in Milwaukee on Wednesday creates a new layer of challenges for the other candidates, who will aim to use the debate a chance to pitch themselves as the main alternative to Trump.

To qualify for the 23 August debate, candidates need to satisfy polling and donor requirements set by the Republican national committee (RNC). They must have reached at least 1% in three high-quality national polls or a mix of national and early-state polls, between 1 July and 21 August, and a minimum of 40,000 donors, with 200 in 20 or more states. Candidates must also sign a pledge promising to support the party’s ultimate nominee.

So far, the candidates expected to appear on Wednesday are DeSantis, South Carolina senator Tim Scott, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, North Dakota governor Doug Burgum and former vice-president Mike Pence.

Here’s what else we’re watching today:

  • 11.40am eastern time. President Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, will depart Reno, Nevada, to travel to Maui, Hawaii, arriving at 5.10pm. They will meet with federal, state and local leaders; see the damage from wildfires and recovery efforts; and meet with survivors and first responders.

  • 12.15pm. Attorney General Merrick Garland will travel to Fargo, North Dakota, to visit the US attorney’s office for the district of North Dakota and meet with federal, state and local law enforcement leaders.

  • 11.25pm. The Bidens will leave Maui to return to Reno.

  • The Senate and House are out.


Abené Clayton (now) and Léonie Chao-Fong (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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