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    Ron DeSantis Calls Putin a ‘War Criminal,’ Clarifying Earlier Comment on Ukraine

    The Florida governor and presumed G.O.P. presidential candidate previously described the Russia-Ukraine conflict as a “territorial dispute” and did not mention the Russian president.Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida this week clarified his description of the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “territorial dispute” and said that Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, was a “war criminal” who should be “held accountable.”Mr. DeSantis, a Republican who is expected to announce a presidential campaign in the coming months, made his latest comments in an interview with the British broadcaster Piers Morgan, who shared them with The New York Post and Fox News, both owned by Rupert Murdoch.Last week, Mr. DeSantis made one of the most significant statements of the 2024 presidential campaign to date, to the influential Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has criticized the Biden administration’s approach to Ukraine. “While the U.S. has many vital national interests,” Mr. DeSantis said in his statement, “becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.”Mr. DeSantis did not mention Mr. Putin then and criticized President Biden’s policy as a “blank check” to Ukraine with no clear objectives, one that distracts from U.S. problems.The line about a “territorial dispute” was heavily criticized by foreign policy hawks, as well as Republicans in Congress and, privately, some Republican donors. It also put Mr. DeSantis’s views more in line with those of former President Donald J. Trump.But Mr. DeSantis used an apparently lengthy interview with Mr. Morgan early this week to clarify his statement to Mr. Carlson.“I think he is a war criminal,” Mr. DeSantis said of Mr. Putin, for whom the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant related to war crimes. “I don’t know about that route,” he said of the arrest warrant, “but I do think that he should be held accountable.”To Mr. Morgan, Mr. DeSantis insisted that his comment about a “territorial dispute” had been “mischaracterized,” but he acknowledged he could have been clearer.“Obviously, Russia invaded” in 2022, Mr. DeSantis said. “That was wrong. They invaded Crimea and took that in 2014 — that was wrong.”The change appeared not to have been lost on Mr. Carlson. Just hours after Mr. DeSantis’s new comments about Mr. Putin were made public, Mr. Carlson attacked what he said were people who give in to the news media, asserting that they are forced “to repeat whatever childish slogan they’ve come up with this week.” In a mocking voice, he said, “Vladimir Putin is a war criminal.”While he was a congressman from Florida, Mr. DeSantis faulted President Obama’s administration for not doing more, as Russia annexed Crimea.“What I’m referring to is where the fighting is going on now, which is that eastern border region, Donbas, and then Crimea,” Mr. DeSantis said. He added, “There’s a lot of ethnic Russians there. So, that’s some difficult fighting, and that’s what I was referring to, and so it wasn’t that I thought Russia had a right to that, and so if I should have made that more clear, I could have done it.”But he added, “I think the larger point is, OK, Russia is not showing the ability to take over Ukraine, to topple the government or certainly to threaten NATO. That’s a good thing. I just don’t think that’s a sufficient interest for us to escalate more involvement. I would not want to see American troops involved there. But the idea that I think somehow Russia was justified” in invading is “nonsense.”He added that he did not believe that the conflict would end with “Putin being victorious. I do not think the Ukrainian government is going to be toppled by him, and I think that’s a good thing.”Mr. DeSantis’s stance on Russia has been of significant interest to Republicans looking for an alternative to Mr. Trump. A large swath of Republican voters have come to say that the U.S. is providing too much support for Ukraine.The governor has a record as a congressman that has left different people believing he shares their foreign policy views, even when those people are on opposite ends of the spectrum.But his comments to Mr. Carlson were roundly condemned by a number of Republican senators, former Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming and prospective 2024 rivals like Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey. And the lack of initial criticism of Mr. Putin was noted, particularly as Mr. DeSantis, in his initial statement to Mr. Carlson, derided the notion of regime change in Russia. More

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    Sex, Lies and … Trump. What More Can You Ask For?

    One thing we can be sure of: If this Stormy Daniels thing hurts Donald Trump politically, it will be for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with sex.Nobody cares whether or not the two of them once had an, um, intimate assignation. Although I do enjoy recalling that Daniels has referred to it as “the worst 90 seconds of my life.”Right now, the most pressing question is whether Trump committed a crime during the 2016 presidential campaign when his people paid Daniels to keep quiet about their mini-affair, an affair Trump denies ever took place. His lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws and served more than a year in prison, but that apparently hasn’t caused Trump to question his own conduct.“The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair,” Trump tweeted a few years back. “Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.”We will stop here to note that our former president was a little off when it came to the word “role.” Only mentioning because it gives me an opportunity to recall that he once sent me a missive calling me a liar with “the face of a pig” in which he misspelled “too.”But about the sex. Our political history shows that while people are extremely interested in hearing about politicians’ bad behavior, they don’t base their votes on it.We’ve got a Republican presidential primary coming our way, and if Ron DeSantis is a big player, I think we can presume the Florida governor will win any morality standoff. This guy is apparently a very devoted husband. Whose wife, frankly, seems to be the brains behind his political career.DeSantis has been more or less following his party’s game plan, which is to change the subject when Trump’s legal problems come up and attack Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for presumably bringing the charges.“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair,” he said recently. “I just, I can’t speak to that.”Aha! The mention-by-attacking-the-mention approach! And the adding of “alleged” to all discussions of the affair. Much better than the DeSantis tactic of citing “people like our founding fathers” when it comes to exemplary private behavior. Once you get past George Washington it doesn’t take long before you are face to face with Thomas Jefferson’s four-decade entanglement with the enslaved Sally Hemings.The grand tradition of political sex scandals goes back a long way. The ancient Romans, after all, speculated about whether the emperor Nero and his mother had an incestuous … thing going. In early America, even deeply nonrambunctious John Adams was a target — people gossiped that he’d dispatched Gen. Charles Pinckney across the Atlantic to fetch four beautiful Englishwomen for them to share. (“I declare on my honor, if this be true, General Pinckney has kept them all four to himself and cheated me of my two,” Adams declared.)The people who are really affected by this sort of public gossip are the politicians who are the target, some of whom suffer greatly. Can’t believe Bill Clinton isn’t haunted by the fact that if one quote of his goes down in history, it’ll probably be, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”Or take my favorite subject, Grover Cleveland, who was the target of huge headlines claiming, inaccurately, that he’d fathered an illegitimate child. None of that bothered the citizenry — he won the popular vote for president in three straight elections. But the publicity tortured him, and for years his opponents enjoyed singing, “Ma, Ma, where’s Pa?”Not sure Grover ever totally got over it, even when his supporters got to retort, “Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha.”Now, publicity is never going to be an instrument of torture for Donald Trump. In fact, he’s reportedly all jazzed up about the possibility of doing one of the famous “perp walks” in which a suspect is paraded by Manhattan law officers past reporters after he’s arrested.And as we’ve seen, the American voters who liked Trump to begin with aren’t going to be turned off by a sex scandal. DeSantis’s support among Republicans actually seems to be dropping, maybe even sinking.There are way better lines of attack. Which do you think is worse for a president of the United States?A. Tried to bully a Georgia official into changing the election results.B. Ignored Justice Department demands that he return a pile of classified government documents he took with him when he left office.C. Incited his followers to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.D. No, no, I’m getting a headache.We haven’t even gotten to his advice to people who don’t love their children. That was part of a recent Trump video, in which he bragged that thanks to his reforms, farmers’ children wouldn’t have to pay inheritance tax on agricultural property.And Trump said he had also benevolently taken into consideration landowners who “don’t love your children so much.”Yes! “And there are some people that don’t,” he continued. “And maybe deservedly so, it won’t matter because frankly, you don’t have to leave them anything.”OK, Don Jr., this sort of thing might actually make you a sympathetic figure.The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram. More

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    Fox Argues Top Executives Weren’t Involved in Voter Fraud Broadcasts

    Lawyers for the company, which faces a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit, are pushing for a judge to rule in their favor before a trial.WILMINGTON, Del. — Fox Corporation executives, including Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, had no direct involvement in what aired on the company’s cable news channels, and therefore their company should not be found liable in a $1.6 billion defamation case, lawyers for Fox argued Wednesday in a Delaware court.The argument was part of Fox’s request for a pretrial victory. Dominion Voting Systems has accused both Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corporation, of defaming the business. Dominion says Fox’s shows repeatedly linked its voting machines to a vast conspiracy of fraud in the 2020 presidential election.Erin Murphy, a lawyer for both Fox Corporation and Fox News, said there was no evidence that corporate executives were involved in the Fox News shows in question. She said Dominion would need to show that they had directly participated in the broadcasts to meet the high standard needed to prove defamation.Ms. Murphy conceded that some of the executives had the power to bar certain guests from the shows, but said: “It’s not enough for them to show that they have the ability to step in. They have to have been involved.”Fox has asked that Fox Corporation be dropped from the lawsuit.Dominion must prove that Fox knowingly broadcast false information about the company, or was reckless enough to disregard substantial evidence that the claims were not true. Defamation cases have traditionally proved hard to win because of the First Amendment’s broad free speech protections. But legal experts say Dominion may have enough evidence to clear that high bar.Dominion, too, is asking for summary judgment; its legal team gave its arguments in Delaware Superior Court on Tuesday. The judge, Eric M. Davis, said he would make his decision by April 11. A jury trial is scheduled to start April 17.Judge Davis told both sides on Wednesday that he preferred for trial witnesses to appear in person rather than over a video link, setting up the possibility that Fox News hosts like Maria Bartiromo and Tucker Carlson could show up. He said Rupert Murdoch might also be compelled to testify in person, though he did not issue any decisions on the matter.Fox lawyers had submitted a letter to the judge on Monday asking that Mr. Murdoch and some other executives not be compelled to testify, saying that it would amount to “hardships” on the witnesses and that their testimony would “add nothing other than media interest.”After Fox finished its arguments, a lawyer for several media outlets, including The New York Times, asked the judge to review redactions that Fox had made to some of the communications it handed over, arguing that Fox kept too much confidential. Judge Davis said he would consider the request.Judge Davis also remarked on a lawsuit filed in Delaware on Monday by a Fox News producer, Abby Grossberg. She argues that Fox lawyers coerced her into providing misleading information in her deposition in the Dominion lawsuit.Judge Davis said the lawsuit had been originally assigned to him but then given to another judge in Delaware Superior Court.Fox News said in a statement on Wednesday: “Despite the noise and confusion that Dominion has generated by presenting cherry-picked quotes without context, this case is ultimately about the First Amendment protections of the media’s absolute need to cover the news.” More

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    The DeSantis Foreign Policy: Hard Power, but With a High Bar

    The Florida governor has never been the internationalist that some old-guard Republicans wanted or imagined him to be. A close reading of his record reveals how he might lead the U.S. abroad.When Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida made headlines recently by undercutting U.S. support for Ukraine, Republican hawks, many of whom cling to him as their only hope to defeat former President Donald J. Trump, wondered if they had misread him as an ideological ally.Mr. DeSantis ditched his previous backing for Ukraine to align himself with the increasingly nationalistic Republican base, which he will need to win the 2024 presidential primary if he runs. But he was never the committed internationalist that some old-guard Republicans had wanted or imagined him to be.Until now, Mr. DeSantis served as a Rorschach test for Republicans. There was, conveniently, something in his record to please each of the party’s ideological factions, and he had every incentive to be all things to all Republicans for as long as he could get away with it.Hawks had claimed Mr. DeSantis as their own for his fervent support of Israel and his denunciations of China, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela. And restraint-oriented Republicans had claimed Mr. DeSantis for his 2013 decision, as a congressman, to break with Republican hawks and oppose President Barack Obama’s requests to intervene militarily in Syria.Mr. DeSantis during a visit to Jerusalem in 2019. He has been a fervent supporter of Israel. Jeffrey Schweers – Usa Today NetworkYet, despite his policy shifts and inconsistencies — this week, he said he had failed to make himself clear on Ukraine and called President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia a “war criminal” — Mr. DeSantis’s worldview is not a mystery.Unusually for a governor, Mr. DeSantis, whose spokeswoman declined interview requests, has a long paper trail on foreign policy. A close reading of more than 200 of his speeches, votes, writings and television commentaries over the past decade, as well as interviews with his peers, reveal the makings of a DeSantis Doctrine.‘Just a Jacksonian’Tucked between the campaign boilerplate in Mr. DeSantis’s new book, “The Courage to Be Free,” is a short chapter describing how his service in Iraq, as an officer in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, reinforced his doubts about former President George W. Bush’s “messianic impulse.”“Bush sketched out a view for American foreign policy that constituted Wilsonianism on steroids,” Mr. DeSantis writes, referring to former President Woodrow Wilson’s idealistic liberal internationalism after World War I. He recalls his reaction to a line in Mr. Bush’s second inaugural address: “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.”“I remember being stunned,” Mr. DeSantis writes. “Does the survival of American liberty depend on whether liberty succeeds in Djibouti?”Mr. DeSantis’s analysis of Mr. Bush’s attempt to use the military to “socially engineer a foreign society” is the sort of thing one hears from conservative elites who call themselves Jacksonians, after President Andrew Jackson, the 19th-century populist. Though The New York Times could find no public record of the Florida governor describing himself as a Jacksonian, the word kept coming up in interviews with people who know Mr. DeSantis.“I think he’s kind of dead-center where Republican voters are, which is to say that he’s neither an isolationist nor a neoconservative, he’s just a Jacksonian,” said David Reaboi, a conservative national security strategist whom Mr. DeSantis has hosted at the governor’s mansion.Mr. Reaboi was referring to a 1999 essay by the academic Walter Russell Mead, “The Jacksonian Tradition and American Foreign Policy,” which is still in heavy circulation on the intellectual right. It defines a Jacksonian as having a narrow conception of the U.S. national interest: protection of its territory, its people, its hard assets and its commercial interests overseas.A Jacksonian does not dream of implanting “American values” on foreign soil. He or she believes that if the U.S. military is to be deployed, it should use as much force as necessary to achieve a quick, clearly defined “victory,” with as few American casualties as possible. A Jacksonian cares little about lopsided casualty counts — so long as they’re in America’s favor — or about international law.Unlike Mr. Trump, a fellow Jacksonian but one who operates on pure instinct and would never dream of suffering through a foreign policy treatise, Mr. DeSantis has read deeply and has formed a philosophy about America’s place in the world. But you will rarely hear Mr. DeSantis invoke abstract values to justify the use of force — as some of his potential 2024 rivals and current party leaders have done.He has not framed the Ukraine war as a battle for “freedom,” as former Vice President Mike Pence has done, or as a mission to defend the post-World War II international security framework, as Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, has done. If Mr. DeSantis is elected president, there is unlikely to be any more Biden-esque talk of “autocracies versus democracies.” In Mr. DeSantis’s framing, these are the idealistic mutterings of a “Wilsonian.”Tucked between the campaign boilerplate in Mr. DeSantis’s new book are ideas similar to those one hears from conservative elites who call themselves Jacksonians, after President Andrew Jackson, the 19th-century populist.Jordan Gale for The New York TimesMr. DeSantis’s former House colleagues could not recall him ever worrying about whether girls got an education in Afghanistan or whether democracy could be spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Instead, they recall him expressing a hard-nosed and narrow view of the American national interest.“After law school, Governor DeSantis didn’t take a Wall Street job or join a human rights N.G.O.,” said Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who served with Mr. DeSantis in the House and remains close to him. “He joined the military, which both reflected his worldview and probably further shaped it, as did his choice to serve six years on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”Mr. DeSantis favors a robust U.S. military. A President DeSantis would most likely increase military spending; as a House member, he spoke approvingly of Mr. Trump’s increase of the Pentagon’s budget.In Iraq, one of Mr. DeSantis’s jobs was to provide counsel to commanders on the rules governing the battlefield. He saw his role as being a “facilitator, not an inhibitor,” he writes in his new book. He chafed at what he viewed as overly restrictive rules of engagement..css-1v2n82w{max-width:600px;width:calc(100% – 40px);margin-top:20px;margin-bottom:25px;height:auto;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;font-family:nyt-franklin;color:var(–color-content-secondary,#363636);}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-1v2n82w{margin-left:20px;margin-right:20px;}}@media only screen and (min-width:1024px){.css-1v2n82w{width:600px;}}.css-161d8zr{width:40px;margin-bottom:18px;text-align:left;margin-left:0;color:var(–color-content-primary,#121212);border:1px solid var(–color-content-primary,#121212);}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-161d8zr{width:30px;margin-bottom:15px;}}.css-tjtq43{line-height:25px;}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-tjtq43{line-height:24px;}}.css-x1k33h{font-family:nyt-cheltenham;font-size:19px;font-weight:700;line-height:25px;}.css-1hvpcve{font-size:17px;font-weight:300;line-height:25px;}.css-1hvpcve em{font-style:italic;}.css-1hvpcve strong{font-weight:bold;}.css-1hvpcve a{font-weight:500;color:var(–color-content-secondary,#363636);}.css-1c013uz{margin-top:18px;margin-bottom:22px;}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-1c013uz{font-size:14px;margin-top:15px;margin-bottom:20px;}}.css-1c013uz a{color:var(–color-signal-editorial,#326891);-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;font-weight:500;font-size:16px;}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-1c013uz a{font-size:13px;}}.css-1c013uz a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.Learn more about our process.“It is unacceptable to send someone wearing our nation’s uniform to a combat zone with one hand tied behind his back,” Mr. DeSantis writes. “War is hell, and it puts the lives of our military personnel at risk if operations get mired in bureaucracy and red tape.”Mr. DeSantis’s Jacksonianism predates the presidency of Mr. Trump.In 2013 and 2014, Mr. DeSantis broke with Republican hawks who were encouraging Mr. Obama to intervene militarily in Syria. Mr. DeSantis rejected the idea of missile strikes to respond to President Bashar al-Assad’s use of gas. And he voted against an amendment that would have authorized Mr. Obama to train and equip vetted Syrian rebels, because “mujahedeen fighters in Syria are not moderates nor are they pro-American.”Contempt for the State Department and the United NationsMr. DeSantis has often cited the writings of the late conservative intellectual Angelo Codevilla — and in particular his 2010 book, “The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It.”Mr. Codevilla, whose book came out at the height of the Tea Party movement, describes a permanent “ruling class” in Washington that looks down on the rest of the country and “makes decisions about war and peace at least as much forcibly to tinker with the innards of foreign bodies politic as to protect America.”This ruling class — a phrase Mr. DeSantis has co-opted — includes both the Republican and Democratic Party establishments. In his telling, these elites have pursued an unpatriotic agenda: They have assigned the U.S. military unwinnable and therefore demoralizing missions, and have been too generous to foreigners.Mr. DeSantis is widely seen as the strongest potential challenger to former President Donald J. Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential primary race.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesThis mental model defines how Mr. DeSantis thinks about the State Department and international institutions like the United Nations.In a floor speech on Jan. 5, 2017, Mr. DeSantis called for defunding the U.N. until the Security Council revoked a resolution condemning Israeli settlements as violations of international law.Mr. DeSantis derides the foreign policy professionals at the State Department to such an extent that it’s difficult to imagine him meeting with them, let alone listening to their advice. Mr. DeSantis has complained that the State Department is “Arabist in outlook” and “all in” with the Muslim Brotherhood.To the right of Trump on IsraelIn the early days of the Trump administration, the most pro-Israel president in living memory wasn’t pro-Israel enough for Mr. DeSantis, who was still a congressman. On Jun. 1, 2017, Mr. DeSantis issued a statement condemning Mr. Trump for delaying a decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.Public records show that Mr. DeSantis took only three foreign trips as a House member and has taken one foreign trip as governor. All were to Israel.In March 2017, Mr. DeSantis flew to Israel and scouted potential sites for the U.S. Embassy to heap public pressure on Mr. Trump to keep his campaign promise. Mr. DeSantis later pushed Mr. Trump to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory — another controversial move.Mr. DeSantis has promised to be the “most pro-Israel governor in America” — a stance that helps him with both Jewish and evangelical constituents in Florida.Mr. DeSantis inserting a prayer for a safe Florida hurricane season in the Western Wall in Jerusalem during a visit in 2019. Jeff Schweers – USA TODAY NETWORKHe has used his powers as governor to pressure American companies to drop their boycotts of Israel. He took on Unilever over the decision by one of its companies, Ben & Jerry’s, not to sell ice cream in the occupied territories. Mr. DeSantis added Unilever to Florida’s “scrutinized companies” list, and Unilever reversed its decision. He used the same tactic against Airbnb — successfully pressuring the company to reverse itself over eliminating listings in Israeli settlements.As president, Mr. DeSantis would not be expected to dissuade Israel from annexing further land. He has referred to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria,” using the biblical names for the territory used by right-wing Israelis.During his first year in office, Mr. Trump briefly gestured at considering the Palestinian point of view. He even hosted the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, at the White House. It is hard to imagine Mr. DeSantis doing the same.In early 2018, when Mr. Trump was still aiming for what he called “the ultimate deal” between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Mr. DeSantis told the Heritage Foundation that a peace deal was not “worth spending capital on.”China superhawkAs governor, Mr. DeSantis has sought to restrict Chinese investments in Florida. His actions against the Chinese Communist Party suggest that as president, his China policy would be more comprehensively aggressive than Mr. Trump’s. But he seems to care less about trade issues than Mr. Trump did, and more about security concerns.Mr. DeSantis appears less likely to chase a Chinese trade deal, as Mr. Trump did for most of his presidency, and more likely to accelerate efforts to block Chinese investments in the U.S., especially in the high-tech and security sectors. (President Biden has kept Mr. Trump’s China tariffs.)In February, the DeSantis office announced a proposal to ban TikTok and “other social media platforms with ties to China” from state government devices.Mr. DeSantis has promised legislation to stop people or companies with China ties from buying “agricultural land and lands surrounding military bases,” and he plans to ban gifts to Florida universities from people or companies connected to the Chinese Communist Party.Political calculation and inconsistenciesMr. DeSantis’s recent statement that defending Ukraine was not a vital U.S. interest came after CNN unearthed comments he made in 2015 — which were circulated by people in Mr. Trump’s orbit — urging Mr. Obama to do more to defend Ukraine against Russia. As soon as Mr. DeSantis pivoted, the Trump campaign attacked him as a flip-flopping fake.If it was a politically calculated shift by Mr. DeSantis, it would not have been the first.On Sept. 9, 2013, Mr. DeSantis told Fox News that he accepted the Obama administration’s evidence that the Syrian government had gassed its people. But this, Mr. DeSantis argued, did not justify missile strikes against Syria, which he said risked escalating the conflict.Mr. DeSantis sounded different when the president firing missiles in response to Syrian gas was Mr. Trump. In a Fox News appearance on April 15, 2018, Mr. DeSantis said, “The strikes did what they were intended to do.”Nor has Mr. DeSantis been entirely consistent in his Jacksonianism. Speaking on a foreign policy issue that is politically potent in Florida, he can sound positively Wilsonian. He told the Venezuelan people in 2017, “We hear your cries of freedom.”Mr. DeSantis encouraged Mr. Trump — who ended up pushing unsuccessfully for regime change in Venezuela — “to apply additional pressure on the Maduro regime.” More

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    Your Thursday Briefing: U.S. Raises Interest Rates

    Also, China and Russia grow closer and the U.S. waits for news of a possible Donald Trump indictment.Jerome Powell, the Fed chair, signaled that officials were still focused on fighting inflation. T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York TimesThe Fed raises rates amid turmoilThe U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter-point as officials tried to balance the risk of runaway inflation with the threat of turmoil in the banking system.The decision was one of the most closely watched in years, and the conflicting forces had left investors and economists guessing what central bankers would do. The Fed raised rates to a range of 4.75 to 5 percent — matching last month’s increase in size — and the central bank projected one more rate increase in 2023 to 5.1 percent. Jerome Powell, the Fed chair, said that officials “considered” pausing interest rates because of the banking problems but noted that the economic data had been strong. He added that the American banking system was “sound and resilient.”He also called Silicon Valley Bank, which collapsed earlier this month, an “outlier,” trying to cast its problems as unique. He said it was not a reason to panic about the banking system, even as he acknowledged the need for better supervision and regulation.Context: This is the ninth rate increase in a year. The Fed has been rapidly raising its interest rate since March 2022, making borrowing money more expensive in hopes of cooling inflation.Markets: Wall Street stocks dropped as investors balked at the Fed’s decision.Journalists waited for updates outside of the criminal court in Manhattan.Anna Watts for The New York TimesAwaiting a Trump indictmentAmericans are awaiting news of a possible indictment of Donald Trump, which could come as early as today. Criminal charges against the former president have been hotly anticipated since at least Saturday, when Trump, with no direct knowledge, declared that he would be arrested on Tuesday.The grand jury in the case against Trump did not meet yesterday as expected, and it may still hear from another witness before being asked to vote on an indictment. Prosecutors have signaled that criminal charges against the former president are likely. The prospect that Trump, who is running for re-election, could face criminal charges is extraordinary. No sitting or former American president has ever been indicted. This case, which hinges on an untested legal theory, is just one of several criminal investigations he faces.Case details: The charges most likely center on how Trump handled reimbursing a lawyer for a hush-money payment of $130,000 to the porn star Stormy Daniels during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.While hush money is not inherently illegal, the prosecutors could argue that the payout was a federal crime because it was done by falsifying business records. It could also be considered an improper donation to Trump’s campaign — a violation of election law.Trump’s response: Trump has referred to the investigation as a “witch hunt” against him. Those who have spent time with Trump in recent days say he has often appeared significantly disconnected from the severity of his potential legal woes.What’s next: The timing of any potential indictment is unknown, and an arrest would not immediately follow. If Trump were convicted of a felony, he would face a maximum sentence of four years, but prison time would not be mandatory.President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin used the pomp of the visit to celebrate their close ties.Vladimir Astapkovich/SputnikChina-Russia versus the U.S.China’s leader, Xi Jinping, wrapped up a three-day summit in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin that showed the two superpowers aligned in countering American dominance and a Western-led world order.The summit demonstrated that Xi remains focused on shoring up ties with Moscow to gird against what he sees as a long U.S. “containment” effort to block China’s rise. The leaders laid out their vision for the world in a joint statement that covered an array of topics, including Taiwan and climate change — and often depicted the U.S. as the obstacle to a better, fairer world. They also endorsed an expanded role for China’s currency, the renminbi, a step that would tie Russia’s economy closer to China’s. A broader use of the currency among China’s allies, including in Iran and North Korea, could make it easier to conduct transactions without worrying about sanctions linked to the dollar.Ukraine: The two leaders did not reveal any progress toward achieving peace in Ukraine. Leadership: The two declared their admiration for each other’s authoritarian rule. Xi even endorsed Putin for another term. THE LATEST NEWSAsia PacificRhona Wise/USA Today Sports, via ReutersJapan beat the U.S. in the World Baseball Classic, 3-2. See the final moment.China approved its first Covid vaccine that uses mRNA — a technology considered among the most effective the world has to offer.A report analyzing a swab from Wuhan strengthens the case that illegally traded wild animals ignited the coronavirus pandemic.Around the WorldUgandan legislators debated the bill this week.Abubaker Lubowa/ReutersUganda passed a strict anti-gay bill that can bring punishments as severe as the death penalty and that calls for life in prison for anyone engaging in gay sex. Facing a hearing that could curtail his political career, Britain’s former prime minister Boris Johnson denied lying to Parliament about parties held at Downing Street during lockdowns.TikTok’s C.E.O. will testify before U.S. lawmakers today, as tensions over the Chinese-owned app come to a head.Analysts and residents say gangs have taken over most of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.The War in Ukraine The I.M.F. agreed to a $15.6 billion loan for Ukraine.President Volodymyr Zelensky visited troops on the frontline near Bakhmut.The Russian authorities in occupied Crimea reported a second day of drone attacks.A Morning ReadRenovations to a stained glass window in the Qibli Mosque inside the Aqsa compound.Afif Amireh for The New York TimesThe artisans who maintain the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem — known to Jews as the Temple Mount — are struggling to keep up with repairs after clashes. They are also bracing for more unrest: Ramadan is starting and Passover is just a few weeks away, raising worries that the larger numbers of visitors to the contested site will increase the possibility of clashes.“This takes months to finish, and in one minute, in one kick, all this hard work goes,” said one man who works in stained glass.SPOTLIGHT ON AFRICAHeavy winds damaged a road that connects two cities in Malawi.Thoko Chikondi/Associated PressA record-setting stormAs southeast Africa begins to recover from Cyclone Freddy, scientists are taking a closer look at whether the storm could be a sign of things to come on a warming planet.Cyclone Freddy lashed three countries, hitting Madagascar and Mozambique twice. When it moved inland last week, heavy rain and mudslides devastated Malawi, killing 438 people. The storm was remarkable for a couple of reasons. One is longevity. It lasted 36 days, by one measure, and underwent rapid intensification cycles at least seven times, quickly waning and then intensifying. Freddy is now the longest-lasting tropical cyclone in the Southern Hemisphere, and experts from the World Meteorological Organization are working to determine whether it is the longest-lasting storm in history.Freddy was also remarkable for its range. The storm traveled more than 4,000 miles from the northern coast of Australia to the southeast coast of Africa.Understanding the links between climate change and individual storms requires complex research, but scientists know in general that global warming is leading to bigger, wetter storms.“A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture,” said Anne-Claire Fontan, who studies tropical cyclones at the World Meteorological Organization. “We expect that tropical cyclones will bring more intense rainfall.” — Lynsey Chutel, a Briefings writer in Johannesburg PLAY, WATCH, EATWhat to CookDavid Malosh for The New York TimesA recipe for Ramadan: Qatayef asafiri, sweet stuffed pancakes drizzled with syrup.What to Read“Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs” by Kerry Howley explores how the erosion of privacy has fueled conspiracy theories and the national security state.What to WatchOur selection of five science fiction films includes a trippy Japanese time-loop and an Italian remake of the 2021 Australian film “Long Story Short.”Now Time to PlayPlay the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Exchange (four letters).Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.You can find all our puzzles here.That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — AmeliaP.S. Our visual journalists won 34 awards in the Pictures of the Year International Awards.“The Daily” is on the roots of the banking crisis.We’d like your feedback! Please email thoughts and suggestions to More

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    Former Iran Hostages Are Divided on Jimmy Carter and a Sabotage Claim

    A report about a covert effort to delay their release until after the 1980 presidential election drew anger, resignation and disbelief from the survivors of the crisis.They are the last survivors of an international crisis that hobbled Jimmy Carter’s presidency and may have cost him re-election. Many are now in their 80s.With the former president gravely ill in hospice care, some of the 52 Americans who were held hostage in Iran for 444 days are looking back on Mr. Carter’s legacy with a mix of frustration, sadness and gratitude.Many feel neglected by the government, which has paid them only about a quarter of the $4.4 million that they were each promised by Congress in 2015, after decades of lobbying for compensation, said their lawyer, V. Thomas Lankford. Some endured physical and mental abuse, including mock executions, during the hostage crisis. About half have died.Jimmy Carter preparing to address the American people from the Oval Office on April 25, 1980, on the failed mission to rescue the Iran hostages.Associated PressLast week, their ordeal was thrust back into the news with the account of a covert effort to delay their release until after the 1980 presidential election in a bid to help the campaign of Mr. Carter’s Republican challenger, Ronald Reagan.A former Texas politician, Ben Barnes, told The New York Times that he had toured the Middle East that summer with John B. Connally Jr., the former Texas governor, who told regional leaders that Mr. Reagan would win and give the Iranians a “better deal.” Mr. Connally, a former Democrat turned Republican, was angling for a cabinet position.Mr. Barnes, 84, said that he was speaking out now because “history needs to know that this happened.”He told The Times that he did not know if the message that Mr. Connally gave to Middle Eastern leaders ever reached the Iranians, or whether it influenced them. Mr. Connally died in 1993. Nor was it clear if Mr. Reagan knew about the trip. Mr. Barnes said Mr. Connally had briefed William J. Casey, the chairman of Mr. Reagan’s campaign and later the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in an airport lounge after the trip.The account stirred anger among some of the former hostages, while others dismissed his story of election sabotage as not credible. They are a diverse group that includes former diplomats, retired military officers and academics, and members of both major political parties.“It’s nice that Mr. Barnes is trying to soothe his soul during the last years of his life,” said Barry Rosen, 79, who was press attaché at the embassy in Tehran when it was overrun on Nov. 4, 1979. “But for the hostages who went through hell, he has not helped us at all. He has made it just as bad or worse.”Mr. Rosen, who lives in New York, said that Mr. Barnes should have come forward 43 years ago, given the decades of speculation about political interference.“It’s the definition of treason,” he said, “knowing that there was a possibility that the Carter administration might have been able to negotiate us out of Iran earlier.”Kathryn Koob, 84, of Waterloo, Iowa, who was the director of an Iranian-American cultural program when she was taken hostage, said, “If somebody wanted to be so cruel as to use us for political gain, that’s on their conscience, and they have to deal with it.”That Mr. Connally could have been engaged in political skulduggery was hardly shocking after Watergate, said John W. Limbert, 80, who was a political officer at the embassy when he was taken hostage.“It’s basically just confirmation of what we strongly suspected all along,” Mr. Limbert said. “We should not be surprised about this in American politics — people willing to stoop to anything.”He credited Mr. Carter with showing patience during the crisis, even if voters blamed him for mishandling the showdown with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Iranian leader whose followers stormed the embassy after the Carter administration admitted Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the deposed shah of Iran, to the United States for medical treatment.“He basically sacrificed his presidency to get us out alive,” Mr. Limbert said.But Kevin Hermening, a certified financial planner in Mosinee, Wis., who was a Marine Corps sergeant guarding the embassy, said that he did not believe Mr. Barnes’s account and that, even if it were true, the effort would not have influenced his captors.“The Iranians were very clear that they were not going to release us while President Carter was in office,” said Mr. Hermening, 63. “He was despised by the mullahs and those people who followed the Ayatollah.”And Don Cooke, 68, of Gaithersburg, Md., a retired Foreign Service officer who was vice consul at the embassy, called Mr. Barnes’s account “mildly amusing.”It suggested, he said, that there were “these other dark forces that were sabotaging our efforts to get these hostages free, and I just don’t buy that.”Mr. Cooke still blames Mr. Carter for the crisis. He said the president should have cleared the embassy of its personnel before he admitted the shah or have refused to allow the shah to enter the country.When Mr. Carter flew to Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany to greet the freed hostages, Mr. Cooke said he snubbed the former president, staying on the phone with his parents as Mr. Carter put a hand on his back. He handed the phone to Mr. Carter, who spoke to his mother.“The reason we were released was because Ronald Reagan was elected president,” Mr. Cooke said. “The Iranians were clearly afraid of Reagan. No question about that. And they had every right to be.”Ben Barnes, left, with Lady Bird Johnson and former President Lyndon B. Johnson in Austin, Tex., on Aug. 29, 1970.Ted Powers/Associated PressThe hostages were released on Jan. 20, 1981, minutes after Mr. Reagan took office.It was the end of an anguished chapter. Network news anchors had kept nightly counts of how long the hostages had been in captivity, accompanied by martial music and “America Held Hostage” graphics. People across the country tied yellow ribbons around trees in a show of support for the hostages.After months of fruitless negotiations, Mr. Carter had authorized a rescue mission in April 1980 that ended in disaster when a helicopter crashed into a plane in the Iranian desert. Eight service members were killed, and their charred bodies were displayed by Iranian officials.In the end, Mr. Carter did not pull off the pre-election “October surprise” that some in Mr. Reagan’s orbit feared. It was only after Mr. Carter’s defeat that his outgoing administration struck a deal that released billions of dollars of frozen Iranian assets.Those assets were “the weapon that kept us alive,” said Mr. Rosen, the former press attaché. Referring to Mr. Carter, he added, “I think the thing he did — and did absolutely right — was to free the American hostages without us getting murdered.”The Barnes account cast a new light on these long-ago events, troubling David M. Roeder, a retired colonel who was the deputy Air Force attaché at the embassy. Mr. Roeder said that he had repeatedly told his captors that if Mr. Reagan won, they would be dealing with a “much tougher person.”“I have come to the conclusion — perhaps because I want to — that hopefully President Reagan was unaware that this was going on,” said Mr. Roeder, 83, of Pinehurst, N.C.But, he added, “I gained a great deal more respect for President Carter because I’ve seen what he went through with us in captivity.” More

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    French governments’ long record of bypassing parliament: a brief history of article 49.3

    Emboldened by united trade unions, the tug of war between the street and the government over Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform had mostly taken on the form of strikes and demonstrations since mid-January.

    However, the government’s decision to bypass the lower chamber by invoking article 49.3 of the French constitution on Thursday 16 March has now sharply pitted Macron’s relative majority against opposition parties. On Monday 20 March, it survived a critical no-confidence vote by a mere 9 votes, precipitating the adoption of the bill and prompting thousands to pour into the streets in spontaneous protests.

    Meanwhile, an ever-growing majority of French people and protesters reject legislation, which would increase the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.

    Far from constituting an exception, 16 March marks the 100th time under France’s Fifth Republic that executive chose to draw on special powers to force through an unpopular measure. President Macron used the article once in his first term (2017-2022), and 11 times since the start of his second term, in June 2022. Introduced in the Fifth Republic’s Constitution in 1958 authored by Michel Debré, article 19 paragraph 3 of France’s Constitution – known widely as “49.3” – was intended to “rationalise” the parliamentary system and resolve crises and deadlocks by handing over the reins to the executive.

    Regardless of their affiliation, successive French governments over the last 20 years have almost systematically resorted to it to pass projects that profoundly modify the country’s welfare system or labour regulations – even if it means backing down afterwards under pressure from the street.

    An occupied square in Toulouse during the May 1968 movement.
    André Cros/Wikimedia

    May 68 was also a parliamentary crisis

    A key reference in the history of protest movements over the past 50 years, the crisis of May 68 did not just take place in the lecture halls and in the streets. It also inspired opposition to Gaullism, the political thought spawned by the leader of French resistance during World War II and former president Charles de Gaulle (1959-1969).

    Worn out by 10 years in office, de Gaulle hung to power by a threadbare majority, be it in public opinion or the national assembly. On 24 April 1968, a vote of no-confidence on public broadcasting reforms failed to succeed for lack of 8 votes. As the executive grappled with how it ought to respond to the demands of students and employees, the opposition issued a new no-confidence vote, which was discussed in a climate of extreme tension on 21 and 22 May.

    Then the leader of the non-communist left, François Mitterrand (who went on to become president from 1981 to 1995), spoke of a regime crisis which undermined the “system” in power and called for a political “alternative” that he was ready to embody. Although critical of the government’s management of the crisis, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (president from 1974 to 1981) and his Independent Republican group stood by the executive. The no-confidence vote failed, with 233 deputies voting in favour – 11 short of the 244 required.

    Above: Michel Debré, prime minister from 1959 to 1962, was the author of the constitution of France’s Fifth Republic. Below: then-president Charles de Gaulle.
    Wikipedia, CC BY

    The parliamentary win didn’t suffice to restore the legitimacy of the government, however, amid unrelenting student and workers’ protests. On 30 May, de Gaulle therefore followed the advice of his prime minister, Georges Pompidou, by triggering new parliamentary elections after having toyed for a time with the idea of a referendum over the reform.

    Tapping into fears of revolutionary disorder, the Gaullists secured an unprecedented majority in the legislative elections of 23 and 30 June 1968. But the victory was then, once again, precarious, and all too tied to that particular context. In reality, the civil unrest of 1968 dealt a severe blow to the government, prompting de Gaulle to resign 10 months later following the failure of the April 1969 constitutional referendum on government decentralisation.

    Mass protests

    Mass demonstrations rocked the executive again in 1984. Led by Pierre Mauroy (prime minister under François Mitterand from 1981 to 1984), the predominantly socialist government faced virulent opposition over the Savary bill, which aimed to create a unified and secular national-education system.

    The government had the majority needed to adopt the text, which was part of 110 proposals put forward by Mitterrand in 1981. However, it succumbed to the use of article 49.3 on 23 May 1984 to push the bill after a first reading in the National Assembly.

    Pressure on the street and in public opinion was such that Mitterrand eventually announced the withdrawal of the bill on 12 July 1984, resulting in the resignations of Education Minister Alain Savary and Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy.

    Two years later, Jacques Chirac took the same decision amid large-scale protests against the Devaquet bill, which sought to allow universities to select students and introduce competition within higher education.

    1995: The mother of all protests against French pension reform

    Between 1988 and 1993, socialist governments only enjoyed relative majorities in the national assembly. But when they resorted to article 49.3 or faced no-confidence votes that sometimes nearly toppled them, it was never in a context of mass or radical protests over reforms.

    This changed in November-December 1995 with opposition to an austerity package known by the name of the then prime minister, Alain Juppé. Intended to tighten to public finances ahead of France’s adoption of the euro currency, the reforms would have – among others – raised employees’ contribution to retirement funds and aligned specialised retirement regimes with that of the general public.

    The bill provoked unrest on a scale unseen since 1968, even though the government held a large majority in the two assemblies. As in 1986, the government ended up withdrawing its bill on 15 December 1995 without consulting the national assembly.

    Demonstrators wave banners and a puppet at the effigy of Prime Minister Alain Juppé, on December 12, 1995.
    Derrick Ceyrac/AFP

    Socialist president François Hollande (2012-2017), too, made copious use of the article. To his great displeasure, the then Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron saw his framework bill deregulating work – including plans to extend night and Sunday work – shoehorned into law without a vote. Likewise, the labour law put forward by the Myriam El Khomri was forced through on the first reading (on 10 May 2016) and upon final adoption (on 21 July).

    Passing a law is not the end of the story

    Under Macron’s first mandate (2017-2022), Prime Minister Édouard Philippe resorted to article 49.3 once on 29 February 2020 to push through the pension bill which, at the time, intended to replace France’s special retirement regimes with a universal system. The government enjoyed the necessary majority to pass the text, but it wanted to bring a swift close to protests which, one year after the “gilets jaunes” movement, undermined its political and electoral base.

    On 16 March 2020, Macron nevertheless justified pausing deliberations over the reform on the grounds of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since taking up office, his uncompromising stance toward social demands has provoked the uproar of trade unions and undoubtedly contributed to the evolution of his electorate toward the moderate right.

    Elisabeth Borne’s government is not the first to use its authority in parliament to pass controversial reform and to try to put an end to a turmoil which, if it were to continue, would hurt the government’s reputation.

    However, a parliamentary victory acquired through Article 49.3 or the rejection of a no-confidence vote is not enough to regain legitimacy – Charles de Gaulle himself experienced this in May 1968. Several laws adopted in this way were not promulgated. Thus, in no way does the vote on Monday 20 March bring an end to a particularly delicate episode for the presidency of Emmanuel Macron. More

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    In Chicago Mayor’s Race, a Former Teacher Rises With Union Support

    CHICAGO — Brandon Johnson had a problem. In a crowded Chicago mayoral race full of established liberal politicians — a sitting congressman, the incumbent mayor, two City Council members — many voters had never heard of Mr. Johnson, a county commissioner from the West Side.But he had something those other contenders did not: the Chicago Teachers Union.Loved and loathed, the teachers’ union has emerged over the last dozen years as a defining voice on Chicago’s political left, putting forth a progressive vision for the city that extends well beyond its classrooms. After highly public fights with the last two mayors that led to work stoppages, union leaders see in Mr. Johnson a chance to elect one of their own, a former teacher who shares a goal of rebuilding Chicago by spending more on schools and social programs.Boosted by the union’s endorsement — and perhaps more critically, its money — Mr. Johnson, a paid C.T.U. organizer since 2011, faces Paul Vallas, a former public school executive who has far more conservative views on policing and education, in an April 4 runoff. With the two finalists coming from opposite ideological ends of the Democratic Party, the runoff will test whether voters prefer Mr. Vallas’s plan to crack down on crime, hire more police officers and expand charter schools, or Mr. Johnson’s call to spend more on public education and social services, add new taxes and look to neighborhood schools as an engine for broader social change.“Our school communities really are a microcosm of all of the political problems that exist,” said Mr. Johnson, who taught social studies to middle schoolers in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green public housing complex, and who frequently refers to the time a student raised her hand and told him that he should be teaching at a good school, not hers.“It was in that moment where I recognized how much our system has failed, where our students and our families can recognize quality, but do not believe that they deserve it,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview. “And so where I am today is the result of that moment.”Mr. Johnson, second from right, traveled to Selma, Ala., this month as a guest of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, seated, for the annual commemoration of Bloody Sunday. Andi Rice for The New York TimesMr. Johnson, who is on leave from his job with the teachers’ union, entered the field in October with low name recognition and a daunting path to electoral relevance. One early poll showed him with about 3 percent support. But as the weeks went by, he shot up in the polls, introducing himself to voters with 15-second TV spots and surprising competitors who focused their early attack lines on better-known candidates.Mr. Johnson, 46, who is Black, came in second in a first round of balloting last month. He performed especially well in liberal, mostly white wards along the city’s northern lakefront and in areas northwest of downtown with large Hispanic populations. Mr. Vallas, 69, who is white, came in first place, running up large margins around downtown and also carrying majority-white areas on the Northwest and Southwest Sides. Mr. Johnson’s rapid ascent was fueled by his gift for retail politics, a message that resonated with the city’s sizable bloc of liberal voters and large donations from labor unions. State records show that of the more than $5.6 million in contributions Mr. Johnson’s campaign reported between the start of 2022 and earlier this month, more than $5.2 million came from organized labor, including significant sums from the Chicago Teachers Union, the American Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and branches of the Service Employees International Union. Since last fall, the Chicago Teachers Union and its political action committee have contributed more than $1 million to the Johnson campaign.Stacy Davis Gates, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, which has more than 20,000 members, said there was no expectation that Mr. Johnson would be in lock step with the union if elected. But she said the possibility of having a mayor who understood the struggles of classroom educators and would listen to their concerns had motivated teachers to support him.“It’s been difficult for my members over the course of these few years,” said Ms. Davis Gates, whose union engaged in work stoppages in 2012, 2019 and, after a dispute with Mayor Lori Lightfoot over Covid-19 protocols, again in 2022. “They have not been respected or treated as the stakeholder that they are in this city,” Ms. Davis Gates added. “They’re looking for partnership.”Paul Vallas, a former public school executive who has far more conservative views on policing and education, will face Mr. Johnson in the April 4 runoff. Taylor Glascock for The New York TimesMr. Johnson’s close ties to the teachers’ union can be helpful: Liberal politicians covet the union’s endorsement, and in a 2019 poll reported by The Chicago Sun-Times, 62 percent of voters said they had a favorable opinion of C.T.U.But among Vallas supporters, Mr. Johnson’s C.T.U. ties have become a point of criticism. As a C.T.U. member and organizer, Mr. Johnson helped the union exert its influence and challenge the mayor on several issues.“He’s going to do what the union wants to be done,” said Gery Chico, who led Chicago’s school board when Mr. Vallas was the chief executive of Chicago Public Schools, and who has endorsed Mr. Vallas for mayor.As the C.T.U.’s political influence has grown over the last 12 years — first as a chief antagonist of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who oversaw school closures, then with Ms. Lightfoot, who fought with the union about work conditions and Covid reopenings — some have questioned its role in Chicago politics. In an interview in 2021, Ms. Lightfoot suggested that both the C.T.U. and the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which has endorsed Mr. Vallas and whose leaders often support Republicans, had moved beyond the traditional role of labor unions and become more overtly political, creating inevitable conflict.Mayor Lori Lightfoot conceded on Feb. 28 after failing to make the runoff in the first round of balloting.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesMr. Johnson, the son of a pastor, plans to end his membership in the teachers’ union if elected mayor. When asked whether there were areas where he expected to have to tell the union no, Mr. Johnson did not provide specific examples.If elected mayor, “my responsibility is to the entire city of Chicago,” he said. “And look, I’m getting new friends every single day. And I have a bunch of old friends that we will have to have hard conversations with.”Mr. Vallas has repeatedly criticized the C.T.U. and tied Mr. Johnson to the union’s reluctance to return to in-person instruction during the pandemic.“Brandon was in part responsible for the shutting down of one of the poorest school systems in the country, with devastating consequences,” Mr. Vallas said during a recent debate, adding that “if you look at the crime statistics, and you look at the violence, and you look at the dislocation and declining test scores, you can see the results.”During the campaign, Mr. Johnson has described a Chicago dogged by inequality, plagued by violence and constrained by schools that lack the resources they need. That worldview, he said, was shaped by his time in Room 309 of Jenner Academy in Cabrini-Green, where he taught from 2007 to 2010, a time when many of his students’ homes were being demolished as part of a citywide push to knock down public housing high-rises.“The children were waking up to bulldozers — literally just bulldozers staring at us all day long,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview in Selma, Ala., where he traveled this month as a guest of the Rev. Jesse Jackson for the annual commemoration of Bloody Sunday. “And there were families where their homes had already been dismantled, so we had students who were taking two buses and a train to come back to the school.”In Cabrini-Green, former colleagues said, Mr. Johnson was a rare Black male teacher at a school where almost all of the students were Black. He revived defunct basketball and flag football teams, gaining a reputation as a nurturing coach with a competitive streak. And he was known as an engaging but demanding teacher who asked students to dress up on days when they gave a presentation.“The discipline that he showed and the love that he showed for the kids, the kids respected him,” said Pat Wade, a school security officer and coach who worked with Mr. Johnson in Cabrini-Green. “And they worked hard because of what he gave to them. A lot of people can’t do that.”Mr. Johnson meeting with voters on the South Side this month.Jim Vondruska for The New York TimesMr. Jackson, a Chicagoan who has endorsed Mr. Johnson’s bid for mayor, emphasized the candidate’s record of working with children in a city where many young people lack opportunity and are caught up in the criminal justice system.“These troubled youth in Chicago,” Mr. Jackson said, “he represents a face of hope for them.”But Mr. Johnson has faced criticism for his views on crime, the biggest issue in the campaign. In 2020, he described defunding the police as a political goal and supported a County Board resolution to “redirect funds from policing and incarceration to public services not administered by law enforcement.”As a candidate, Mr. Johnson has tried to distance himself from questions about defunding, and he has called for hiring more police detectives as well as increased funding for mental health services.Mr. Johnson said he saw similarities between the criticisms he has faced on policing and those leveled against Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black mayor, 40 years ago.“This is not new to the city of Chicago: Yet another attack on a Black man as an elected leader who is committed to investing in people,” Mr. Johnson said. But just as his ties to the teachers’ union have been seized on by his political opponents, skepticism about Mr. Vallas’s endorsement from the police union could provide an opening for Mr. Johnson.Scott Lewis, a North Side resident, said he agreed with Mr. Vallas that crime was out of control. But he still planned to vote for Mr. Johnson.“Compared to the others, he seems a little too cozy with the F.O.P. for my taste,” Mr. Lewis said of Mr. Vallas. “The police do have an important role, but I think reform is important.”Robert Chiarito More