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    Under Pressure From Trump, Arizona Republicans Weigh Response to 1864 Abortion Ban

    Facing mounting pressure to strike down a near-total abortion ban revived last week by Arizona’s Supreme Court, Republican state legislators are considering efforts to undermine a planned ballot measure this fall that would enshrine abortion rights in the Arizona Constitution, according to a presentation obtained by The New York Times.The 1864 law that is set to take effect in the coming weeks bans nearly all abortions and mandates prison sentences of two to five years for providing abortion care. The proposed ballot measure on abortion rights, known as the Arizona Abortion Access Act, would enshrine the right to an abortion before viability, or about 24 weeks. Supporters of the measure say they have already gathered enough signatures to put the question on the ballot ahead of a July 3 filing deadline.Republicans in the Legislature are under tremendous pressure to overturn, or at least amend, the 1864 ban. Former President Donald J. Trump, the national standard-bearer of the Republican Party, directly intervened on Friday, calling on Republican legislators, in a frantically worded post online, to “act immediately” to change the law. A top Trump ally in Arizona who is running for the Senate, Kari Lake, has also called for the overturning of the 1864 law, which she had once praised.Abortion rights have been a winning message for Democrats since the Supreme Court, with three justices appointed by Mr. Trump, overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. And even though it is an objectively unpopular aspect of his White House legacy, Mr. Trump has repeatedly bragged that he is personally responsible for overturning Roe.Republicans in Arizona, however, have already resisted efforts to repeal the 160-year-old law and are bracing for the potential for another floor battle on the ban that is looming for the Legislature, which is set to convene on Wednesday. The plans that circulated among Republican legislators suggest the caucus is considering other measures that would turn attention away from the 1864 law.The presentation to Republican state legislators, written by Linley Wilson, the general counsel for the Republican majority in the Arizona State Legislature, proposed several ways in which the Republican-controlled Legislature could undermine the ballot measure, known as A.A.A., by placing competing constitutional amendments on the ballot that would limit the right to abortion even if the proposed ballot measure succeeded.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Arizona Democrat says enshrining abortion rights in constitution best remedy to 1864 ban

    Repealing the 1864 near-total abortion ban that Arizona’s state supreme court recently ruled was enforceable would have little effect because “the damage is done”, the Democratic congressman Ruben Gallego said on Sunday.“Any initiative they pass right now wouldn’t even take effect for quite a while,” the US House member and Senate hopeful told NBC News on Sunday, referring to the 90-day delay such a maneuver would undergo before taking effect. He also said a repeal would be vulnerable to being neutralized by future iterations of the state legislature, remarking: “It could just get overturned later by another state house or state senate.”Gallego instead maintained that codifying abortion rights in Arizona’s constitution through a public referendum was the best countermeasure available for the state supreme court decision clearing the way for authorities to enforce a ban with exceptions for medical emergencies – but not for rape or incest.“The only protection we really, really have is to codify this and put this on the ballot and enshrine” the abortion rights once granted federally by the US supreme court’s landmark Roe v Wade decision in 1973, Gallego added. “Protect abortion rights.”His comments came five days after the rightwing court’s ruling allowing enforcement of a ban that pre-dates Arizona’s statehood by nearly five decades.The law has not immediately taken effect but is bound to supersede a separate 15-week abortion ban that the state passed separately.An Arizona state lawmaker quickly moved to repeal the 1864 ban but has so far been blocked from advancing his proposal by fellow Republicans.The ruling in question was made possible thanks to the removal of abortion rights at the federal level in 2022 by a US supreme court counting on three conservative justices appointed during Donald Trump’s presidency.The elimination of federal abortion rights have driven Democratic victories in elections ever since. And confronted with the reality that most in the US support at least some level of abortion access, Republicans who cheered the reversal of Roe v Wade scrambled to distance themselves from the Arizona supreme court’s 9 April ruling.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionThat includes Kari Lake, the Republican who in the fall plans to run for the Arizona US Senate seat held at the moment by the independent Kyrsten Sinema.“This total ban on abortion the Arizona supreme court just ruled on is out of line with where the people of this state are,” Lake – who is endorsed by Trump – said in a video on Thursday. “This is such a personal and private issue.”Lake had previously expressed her approval of Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban after the US supreme court eliminated Roe v Wade – and before she lost the state’s 2022 gubernatorial election to her Democratic rival, Katie Hobbs.And Gallego has seized on that change of position, telling MSNBC recently: “Arizonans aren’t dumb. They know that Kari Lake is lying and is willing to say anything she can to win and to hold power, and they will not trust her with this.”Gallego’s campaign has helped a coalition of reproductive rights groups collect signatures aiming to put a referendum on Arizona’s ballot for the November elections proposing to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution.The proposed constitutional amendment would establish a fundamental right to abortions up to about the 24th week of pregnancy, with exceptions to protect lives and physical or mental health of pregnant people.Ballot initiative campaign organizers say they have about 120,000 more signatures than needed to get the issue before voters in November. But that cushion is necessary because those opposed to the campaign have the right to scrutinize and challenge the validity of those signatures.An Iraq war veteran who served with the US marines, Gallego’s first term in the House began in 2015 and he has been representing his current district since early 2023.Both he and Lake are heavily favored to advance out of their respective parties’ Senate primaries in July to run in November for a seat being left vacant by Sinema, who chose to not seek re-election. More

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    Arizona abortion ruling is a win Kari Lake didn’t need in key Senate race

    On a recent Tuesday morning, at a retirement community on the western edge of Phoenix’s sprawling desert metropolis, Kari Lake beamed at the graying crowd and introduced her guest, the Montana senator Steve Daines, the Republican charged with winning back the party’s Senate majority in Washington.His presence sent the message that establishment Republicans were fully behind Lake, a former TV news anchor in Phoenix whose embrace of election denialism and fealty to Donald Trump made her a darling of his Maga movement but probably cost her the 2022 race for Arizona governor, a loss she has never formally conceded.Now, as the likely Republican nominee for an open Senate seat in Arizona, Lake, 54, is attempting something of a rebrand, vowing to be less “divisive” as she strains to win back the very voters she alienated with her scorched-earth campaign for governor two years ago.“Let me be clear, we win Arizona, we win the United States Senate,” Daines told attendees, a mix of local Republican officials and sun-seeking transplants. “It’s as simple as that.”The race, however, is not simple at all. The contest to replace Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic party last year to become an independent before deciding not to seek re-election, is expected to be one of the most competitive – and expensive – of the election cycle.Lake’s likely opponent, the Democratic congressman Ruben Gallego, is also courting voters in the political center, softening the combative approach that made him popular with the constituents of his liberal Phoenix district. With just under seven months until election day, most surveys show Gallego, 44, with a narrow lead over Lake.The Senate race was roiled this week by the Arizona supreme court’s decision to uphold a territorial-era law that bans nearly all abortions in the state, all-but ensuring the issue will dominate the political debate in an electoral battleground with a strong libertarian bent.A court-the-center playbook has powered sweeping statewide victories for Democrats in the years since Trump won the 2016 election. Joe Biden won Arizona’s 11 electoral votes in 2020 while the state sent two Democrats to the Senate and elected a Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, who defeated Lake in 2022.View image in fullscreenEven knowing the risks of running to the right in a purple state, Lake has not sought to distance herself from Trump – she has promised, as her first act in the Senate, to introduce legislation to “build the wall”. But she has attempted to move her message beyond her baseless claims of election fraud, despite ongoing litigation related to her effort to overturn her defeat in 2022. She has also sought to walk back her position on abortion, which she once called the “ultimate sin”.Meanwhile, Gallego, speaking to a crowd of retirees in the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear last week, is hoping his efforts to work across the aisle in Congress and a yet-to-be-unveiled roster of Republican and independent endorsements will end in a decisive victory.“We don’t have to explain to them who Kari Lake is,” Gallego said. “We have to explain to them who I am.”Democrats hope to harness outrage over the decision to allow enforcement of the pre-statehood abortion ban.On Friday Gallego appeared alongside Vice-President Kamala Harris at an event in Tucson to hammer Republicans for their anti-abortion record.The ruling was so seismic even staunchly anti-abortion Republicans like Lake raced to distance themselves. Meanwhile, fury over the 160-year-old law, which has not yet taken effect, amplified signature-gathering efforts to put abortion rights on the ballot this year, a move Democrats hope will mobilize young and otherwise disengaged liberal voters.Gallego, meanwhile, has made abortion rights a centerpiece of his Senate campaign since its onset. At the Goodyear event, the Democrat vowed as senator to abolish the Senate filibuster to codify Roe v Wade, which the supreme court overturned in 2022, eliminating the federal right to abortion.“If we believe it’s right, then we need to do everything we can to enshrine that right,” he said.Strategists in the state believe Lake will probably have a harder time than Gallego appealing to Arizona’s coveted slice of independent voters and moderates.“Congressman Gallego has to introduce himself to voters and talk about his legacy of service,” said Stacy Pearson, an Arizona-based Democratic strategist. “[Lake] has to convince voters that she was just kidding 12 months ago, and isn’t really supportive of a ban that predates light bulbs.“It’s hard for a candidate to shake off the stench of death after a statewide loss,” she added, “much less when that candidate was supporting the very abortion ban that has women’s hair on fire in Phoenix today.”View image in fullscreenLake, like Trump, has spent the days since the decision trying to find safe political ground on the abortion issue. She quickly denounced the 1864 law as “out of line” with the people of Arizona and called on the legislature to “come up” with a solution.But Democrats are unwilling to let voters forget Lake’s words from 2022, when she told a conservative podcast host: “I’m incredibly thrilled that we are going to have a great law that’s already on the books” and referred to the civil war-era ban by its number in Arizona state code.With a spotlight on her retreat, Lake on Thursday released a five-and-a-half-minute video. “The issue is less about banning abortion and more about saving babies,” she said, as she emphasized her support for policies that would support mothers and reduce taxes on families.On her website, Lake says she opposes a federal abortion ban.Lake’s spectacular jump from the anchor desk into the heart of Trumpworld politics shocked many viewers – and voters. And it is part of her pitch. In Sun City West, the ex-journalist told attendees they were being “lied to” by an “unAmerican” press corps. Instead, she asked them to trust her. After years of reporting across Arizona, Lake said she was uniquely qualified to represent the state.“I understand the people of Arizona probably better than anybody in politics right now in this state because I’ve had the opportunity to be invited into your homes to cover the big issues,” she said.Attendee Donna Burrell, 70, of Sun City Grand, said she was torn over who to support in the state’s Republican primary in July. Burrell had been leaning toward Lake’s main primary opponent, a conservative county sheriff, Mark Lamb, but Lake impressed her.“She didn’t seem so angry and in-your-face,” Burrell said. “When I came here today, I really liked her.”The Republican base is firmly behind Lake, who leads Lamb by a wide margin. But Mike Noble, a Phoenix-based pollster who is tracking public opinion on the race, predicted Lake would struggle to broaden her appeal, especially with independent voters, a significant share of whom, he said, place stolen election claims in the same category as the “earth is flat” conspiracy.Earlier this month, Lake chose not to defend her claims of a stolen election, asking an Arizona court to move directly to the damages phase of a defamation lawsuit. The case was brought by Maricopa county’s top election official, Stephen Richer, a Republican whom Lake accused of allowing fraud to taint the results of the 2022 gubernatorial election she lost, claims he said unleashed a barrage of threats against him and his family.Richer said Lake’s decision amounted to an admission that her “lies were just that: lies”. Lake said she conceded nothing and compared herself to Trump, casting them as twin victims of a legal system that will “ stop at nothing to destroy us”.On the campaign trail, Gallego presents himself to voters as a results-driven veteran committed to the defense of America’s democratic institutions.In Goodyear, he recalled being on the House floor when a mob of Trump supporters breached the US Capitol. He said his combat instincts kicked in and he began instructing lawmakers how to put gas masks on and prepare to fight if it came to that. Lake, he warned, was only fueling those forces.“You’re not a leader, if you’re exploiting people’s fear,” Gallego said. “That’s what she’s doing right now.”Meanwhile, Lake’s attempts to reconcile with Republicans she attacked during her 2022 race have been mixed. Outreach to Meghan McCain, the daughter of Senator John McCain, the popular Arizona Republican senator who died in 2018, was met with the response “no peace bitch”. At a campaign rally during her run for governor, she told the late senator’s supporters to “get the hell out”, a comment Lake later said was made “in jest”.And at the end of the event in Sun City West, a woman waved a piece of paper which she claimed provided evidence of ballot-rigging in the 2020 election. “I need your help,” she shouted as Lake and Daines quickly left the stage.At Gallego’s town hall, held earlier this month in a traditionally Republican part of Phoenix’s West Valley that has experienced soaring growth in the past decade, Democrats scrounged for extra seating to accommodate the crowd.“I was pleasantly, pleasantly surprised that we could get this big of a turnout in a very red part of the county,” said Barbara Valencia, a member of the local Democratic party who has known Gallego since the early days of his political career. She was confident Arizonans would gravitate toward Gallego the more they learned about his story – a Harvard-educated combat veteran raised by a single mother from Colombia.“He’s very grassroots, from the ground up,” she said.Since launching his campaign more than a year ago, Gallego has made his goal to visit every corner of the state, including each of Arizona’s nearly two dozen federally recognized tribal nations, to reach voters outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Before the West Valley event, Gallego visited leaders of the Kaibab Paiute Indian Tribe in northern Arizona, which required flying into southern Utah and driving two hours south.View image in fullscreenYet despite recent Democratic successes, Gallego must also contend with stormy presidential-year politics. Biden, who will be at the top of the ballot, is unpopular in Arizona, trailing Trump in several swing state surveys. Inflation has proven an intractable problem for the president, while his handling of record migration at the US-Mexico border has drawn bipartisan criticism.Some Democrats in the state are worried about the party’s outreach to Latino voters, a critical part of their electoral coalition that has shifted toward Trump in recent years.“We need to mobilize the Hispanic vote,” said Judy Phillips, a Democrat who attended Gallego’s town hall in Goodyear and is Hispanic. “If they don’t hear the good things from the candidates, they’re going to get sucked in by the lies.”But early indicators are on his side. A poll conducted by Noble’s firm in February, before Sinema bowed out of the race, found that Gallego led Lake by double digits with suburbanites, independents and Hispanic voters. Sinema has not made an endorsement in the Senate race.Arizona Republicans, Noble quipped, choose to nominate unpopular candidates who cannot win general elections “not because it is easy, but because it is hard”.At her event, Lake sought to scare off moderate Republicans from defecting with a warning about her opponent. Gallego, she said, was trying to “trick the people of Arizona” into believing he was a consensus-building, “middle-of-the-road” Democrat.“It couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said, citing his past criticism of Trump’s border wall. Daines, the Montana senator, chimed: “She’s not running against an astronaut, Mark Kelly. She’s not running against Kyrsten Sinema. She’s running against a true radical far-left activist.”Defining Gallego while also trying to change her own reputation in the state will require considerable resources, analysts say.“Lake’s miniscule war chest isn’t enough to really let that sink into voters,” said Barrett Marson, an Arizona-based Republican consultant. “She will need the help of national groups to really paint Ruben as a liberal lion.”Gallego’s campaign is already running biographical ads on local and cable TV, including one focused on his deployment to Iraq with a Marine Corps unit that sustained some of the highest casualties of the war. With his record, the Democrat is targeting the state’s large veteran population.It is an open question whether her support from Republicans in Washington will translate into a significant financial investment. But her core supporters are giving. Last week, Lake’s campaign announced that she raised what it claimed was a record $1m at a fundraising event at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort.View image in fullscreenIt is yet another sign, Marson said, that Lake and Trump “will live or die together” in Arizona this November.Gallego, meanwhile, announced that his campaign raised $7.5m in the first three months of 2024, a notable haul that leaves him with $9.6m cash on hand. Lake has yet to announce her first-quarter fundraising numbers, but the stakes are high. She began the year with much less money than Gallego and it remains unclear what, if any, damages she will have to pay in the defamation suit.Much can – and almost certainly will – change before election day. But as the contours of the high-profile Senate race come into focus, political observers now believe abortion will be a defining issue of the Arizona election. And here, they say, Gallego has the advantage.“We’ve got those crossover voters that will never register as Democrats but who are also not Maga,” said Pearson, the Democratic strategist, referring to Trump’s rightwing movement. “And this is an issue that takes those voters – Arizona’s defiant, libertarian, Republican voting bloc – and pulls them right over to the Democrats.” More

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    Republicans in swing state Wisconsin unenthused by Trump: ‘A bad candidate’

    Terri Burl has come full circle.The local Republican party official was a founding member of Women for Trump in her corner of rural Wisconsin eight years ago when the then New York businessman’s run for president was little more than a joke to political pundits.Burl twice campaigned enthusiastically for Donald Trump’s election but, after he lost the presidency to Joe Biden in 2020, she feared the chaos of his years in power had made him unelectable. The former social worker and substitute teacher switched her support to Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, and then Trump’s former UN ambassador Nikki Haley.But now Burl is back campaigning for Trump in Oneida county.“I don’t feel excited. But I have a bunch of ‘Never Trump’ friends and this is my argument to them: I say, you better vote for Trump or you get Biden,” she said.“Not only that. If you don’t vote for Trump, and then he doesn’t win, he’s going to come back in four years. The boogeyman will be back. He’ll be 82 years old. Is that what you want? Just let him have his four years and then you won’t have to put up with him anymore.”That lack of a ringing endorsement is heard among many Republicans who once voted enthusiastically for Trump, a reflection not only of doubts about the man himself after his first term in the White House but of a discernible lack of enthusiasm for a rematch of the last election.To win, Trump is probably going to need to take Wisconsin, one of the closest swing states of recent elections. In 2016, he won the state by less than 1% of the vote and then lost it four years later by an even narrower margin.Trump’s vote tally rose in 2020 but he was defeated by a jump in turnout, most of which went to Biden. Voters who stayed home in 2016, mostly because they didn’t like Hillary Clinton, came out four years later later because they wanted Trump out of the White House.Seven months out from this year’s presidential election, opinion polls say Wisconsin is still a toss-up and turnout again looks to be key. If Democrats vote in large numbers again, Trump is going to need his support to hold up in Oneida and other rural counties in the upper reaches of the state.At a rally in the Wisconsin city of Green Bay on Tuesday, Trump once again railed against his defeat four years ago and repeatedly claimed he was robbed by ballot fraud. But he also recognised the danger of ambivalence among some Republican voters if it leads them to stay home on election day in November.“If you want to save America, then get everyone you know registered as Republican, as soon as possible, volunteer for our campaign and get out and vote in record numbers,” the former president urged the crowd.Some Republican activists on the ground in Wisconsin doubt that Trump’s four years out of office have been enough for memories of the chaos and confrontation of his presidency to fade sufficiently. They fear that the looming criminal trials and election campaign will bring it all screaming back to again drive voters to the polls in support of Biden.One Republican county chair, who did not wish to be named for fear of alienating Trump supporters, said the former president was a “bad candidate at this time”.“In 2016 he was the man to break the mould. In 2020 he had the advantage of the presidency. I fear this time will be more difficult than the polling says right now. We can count on the hardcore Trump supporters, and lots of voters don’t feel good about Biden’s age. Immigration is playing very badly for the Democrats. But Trump lost in Wisconsin four years ago because he alienated so many Americans they were motivated to vote against him,” he said.“I don’t think many Democrats are excited by Biden but my fear is that in the coming months Trump will remind them why they voted against him last time and now they have new reasons, like the supreme court ruing on abortion.”Burl had wanted to avoid this. She was a fervent Trump supporter from the moment he came onto the political scene. In 2016, Burl lived in a neighboring county where she was chair of the local Republican party and led the charge for Trump. She fell out with the party vice-chair, a close friend, who was so appalled by Trump that she voted for Clinton.Two years ago, Burl told the Guardian that she would back whoever the Republican nominee was this time but that “I hope it’s not Trump” because she doubted he was electable. She backed DeSantis for her party’s nomination but said she recognised that once Trump was in the 2024 Republican primary he was unstoppable.“As soon as Trump said he was going to come back in, DeSantis should have stayed out. DeSantis should have been smart. If he would have been on Trump’s side, he’s a young man, he could have run in four years. Maybe Trump would have made him vice-president. DeSantis was greedy. He ruined it for himself. He ruined it for us,” she said.One reading of Tuesday’s primary results in Wisconsin holds a warning for Trump. He won the Republican ballot, as expected. But 20% of the vote went to Haley, DeSantis and others who have dropped out of the race in what amounted to a show of dissent among voters the former president desperately needs.Biden faced his own protest vote in favour of “uninstructed” in the Democratic primary over his support for Israel’s war in Gaza. But the president’s camp in Wisconsin will take heart from the fact that he won nearly 89% of the Democratic vote to Trump’s 79% of Republicans in his primary race.Ambivalence was evident among some primary voters at Rhinelander’s polling station. A woman who gave her name only as Mari said she voted for Trump in 2016 and Biden four years ago. She can’t decide which way she will go this year.“I don’t care for Trump as a person. I like a lot of his policies but I don’t think he sets a good example for our country,” she said.But she has just as many doubts about Biden, who she describes as “past his prime”.Mari said that she thinks Biden will probably win in November but she is not alone in being frustrated at facing a rerun of the 2020 election.Jim Schuh, a bread company manager, feels obliged to vote for Trump as a Republican but is not enthusiastic about it after the former president’s first term in office.“I’m not a big fan of Trump but I think he wins because people are just so frustrated with Biden,” he said.Schuh, like many Republicans, singled out the immigration crisis, played up heavily in conservative news media, as a major issue that will defeat Biden in Wisconsin, even though the state is far from the US-Mexico border and few migrants make it the 1,500 miles to Rhinelander.“Trump is good on the border. He’ll build the wall,” he said.Burl now manages social media for the Oneida county Republican party and is gearing up to campaign hard for Trump whatever the challenges. But she said it will not be made any easier by the state of Republican politics.“I’m kind of mad at the Republicans about abortion. I don’t think the supreme court should have been involved. The minute they got involved, the Democrats can use that as fodder about Republicans. If you vote for Republicans you’re not going to get control of your own body. It motivates Democrats to go vote,” she said.“I can’t stand abortion but you can’t just totally ban it. There were Republicans who wanted a compromise.”Burl also thinks the antics of hard-right Republican members of Congress such as Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are undermining Trump’s campaign.“She’s such a wackadoodle. What do these people want? These are Republicans. I can’t even deal with these people. I can’t take them seriously. They’re ruining it for us because then everybody’s looking at them and saying, ‘Is this who you want to lead?’ They are damaging to the party,” she said.But Burl thinks that some of the issues Democrats hope will play in Biden’s favour are actually going to help Trump.The former president faces a string of criminal trials for charges ranging from inciting the January 6 riot at the Capitol to illegally handling classified documents and for financial fraud in New York.Democrats may calculate that if any of the cases come to trial before the election, they will remind voters of Trump’s failings. Burl suspects that in her part of the world the prosecutions will reinforce his claims to be a victim of an establishment conspiracy.Still she recognises that Trump has potentially fatal flaws, not least his belligerence and vindictiveness.“I’m still a Trumper but I still feel the same way about how he behaves, like on his Easter message. Instead of getting all angry and full rage, he could have said, ‘Let’s love our neighbours.’ He could have even been humble. He could have admitted he made made mistakes in how he treated people and said, ‘I do want to be better for the people of this nation.’ I would have loved something like that,” she said.Biden v Trump: What’s in store for the US and the world?On Thursday 2 May, 3-4.15pm ET, join Tania Branigan, David Smith, Mehdi Hasan and Tara Setmayer for the inside track on the people, the ideas and the events that might shape the US election campaign. Book tickets here or at theguardian.live More

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    Democrats bank on abortion in 2024 as Arizona and Florida push stakes higher

    Kamala Harris’s Friday visit to Arizona was planned before the state’s top court upheld a 160-year-old law that bans almost all abortions. But the news galvanized the vice-president’s message, one that has already yielded stunning victories for liberals since Roe v Wade fell nearly two years ago.That message is simple: abortion bans happen when Republicans are in charge.“Women here live under one of the most extreme abortion bans in our nation. … The overturning of Roe was without any question a seismic event, and this ban here in Arizona is one of the biggest aftershocks yet,” Harris said at the Tucson event. “Overturning Roe was just the opening act of a larger strategy to take women’s rights and freedoms … We all must understand who is to blame. Former president Donald Trump did this.”The ruling from the Arizona supreme court arrived on Tuesday, just days after a Florida supreme court ruling cleared the way for a six-week abortion ban, a decision that will cut off access to the procedure before many women even know they are pregnant. These back-to-back rulings roiled the United States, raising the already high stakes of the 2024 elections to towering new heights. Activists in both states are now at work on ballot measures that would ask voters to enshrine abortion rights in their states’ constitutions in November.Democrats are hopeful these efforts – and the potential threat of more bans under a Trump administration – will mobilize voters in their favor, because abortion rights are popular among Americans, and Republicans have spent years pushing restrictions. Democrats have made abortion rights a central issue of their campaigns in Arizona, which was already expected to be a major battleground, and Florida, a longtime election bellwether that has swung further to the right in recent years.For Joe Biden, who is struggling to generate enthusiasm among voters, turning 2024 into a referendum on abortion may be his best shot at defeating Donald Trump. But it remains an open question whether the backlash to Roe’s overturning will continue to drive voters in a presidential election year, when they may be more swayed by concern over the economy and immigration.“In public polls that might just ask: ‘What’s your most important issue?’ You’re going to see abortion in the middle, maybe even towards the bottom,” said Tresa Undem, a co-founder of the polling firm PerryUndem who has studied public opinion on abortion for two decades. “But when you talk to core groups that Democrats need to turn out, it’s front and center.”A recent Wall Street Journal poll found that Trump held double-digit leads when swing state voters were asked who would best handle the economy, inflation and immigration, but they trusted Biden more on abortion. A Fox News poll in March found that most voters in Arizona believe Biden will do a better job handling the issue of abortion, but it was less of a priority than the economy, election integrity and foreign policy.For Biden, abortion is “the best issue for him right now”, Undem said. “All of the data I’ve seen on this upcoming election, young people are not nearly as motivated to vote as they were in 2020. And so in places like Arizona, the total ban – and I don’t make predictions ever – I do think it is going to turn out young people, especially young women.”The Biden campaign has released two abortion-focused ads this week, including one that features a Texas woman who was denied an abortion after her water broke too early in pregnancy. (She ended up in the ICU.) Indivisible, a national grassroots organization with a local presence in states across the country, said volunteer sign-ups to knock on doors in Arizona spiked 50% following the state supreme court’s ruling. Its members in Arizona are helping to organize rallies in support of reproductive rights as well as events to collect signatures for the ballot measure.When Roe fell, abortion rights’ grip on voters was far from guaranteed. Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans’ longtime leader and an architect of the conservative supreme court majority that overturned Roe, brushed off outrage over its demise as “a wash” in federal elections. Although most Americans support some degree of access to the procedure, anti-abortion voters were more likely to say the issue was important to their vote than pro-abortion rights voters.The fall of Roe changed that. Anger over Roe was credited with halting Republicans’ much-promised “red wave” in the 2022 midterm elections, while pro-abortion rights ballot measures triumphed, even in crimson states such as Kansas and Kentucky. Last year, when Virginia Republicans tried retake control of the state legislature by championing a “compromise” 15 week-ban, they failed. Democrats now control both chambers in the state.“When Republicans offer compromises, I think a lot of voters are inclined not to see those as what the Republican party really wants long-term but what the Republican party thinks is necessary to settle for in the short term,” said Mary Ziegler, a University of California at Davis School of Law professor who studies the legal history of reproduction. “They know that Republicans are aligned with the pro-life movement and the pro-life movement wants fetal personhood and a ban at fertilization.”In the hours after the Arizona decision, several Republican state lawmakers and candidates with long records of opposing abortion rushed to denounce the near-total ban (which has not yet taken effect). The Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake, who once called abortion the “ultimate sin” and said Arizona’s impending near-total abortion ban was “a great law”, attempted to clarify her position on the issue in a meandering, five-minute-plus video. The ban she once favored – which passed in 1864, before Arizona even became a state or women gained the right to vote – is now “out of line with where the people of this state are”, Lake said.“The issue is less about banning abortion and more about saving babies,” she said, as instrumental music swelled against images of pregnant women and pregnancy tests. She repeatedly stressed the importance of “choice” – language associated with people who support abortion rights – while simultaneously invoking the value of “life”.Lake also emphasized that she “agrees with President Trump” on abortion. Over the course of his campaign, Trump has alternated between taking credit for overturning Roe – since he appointed three of the justices who ruled to do so – toying with the idea of a national ban, and insisting that states can decide their own abortion laws, as he did in a video this week.In that video, released on Monday, Trump declined to endorse a federal ban on the procedure, after months of teasing his support. On Wednesday, Trump criticized the Arizona law and predicted that state lawmakers would “bring it back into reason”. Florida’s six-week ban, he suggested, was “probably, maybe going to change”. He reiterated his criticism on Friday, posting on his social media platform that the Arizona supreme court went “too far” in upholding an “inappropriate law from 1864” and calling on the Republican-led state legislature to “ACT IMMEDIATELY” to remedy the decision. “We must ideally have the three Exceptions for Rape, Incest, and Life of the Mother,” he wrote. (The 1864 ban only includes an exception to save the life of the pregnant person.)“He’s simply trying to have it, I think, both ways,” Ziegler said of Trump.Come November, Democrats are counting on the real-world consequences of the bans overriding other concerns. “The economy is still important. Immigration is still important, but this is immediate,” said Stacy Pearson, an Arizona-based Democratic strategist.“A woman just wants to be in her OB-GYN’s office, having a conversation with her doctor about her medical care without concerns about whether or not old white men in cowboy hats were right in 1864,” Pearson added. “It’s nuts.” More

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    Trump boasts ‘We broke Roe v Wade’ as abortion dogs GOP election hopes

    Facing the press alongside the House speaker, fellow Republican Mike Johnson, Donald Trump bragged: “We broke Roe v Wade.”The former president made the stark admission about his dominant role in attacks on abortion rights at the end of a week in which the rightwing Arizona state supreme court ruled that an 1864 law imposing a near-total ban could go back into effect.Abortion rights were removed at the federal level in 2022 when a US supreme court to which Trump appointed three justices overturned Roe, which had stood since 1973. The issue has fueled Democratic wins at the ballot box ever since. This week, the Arizona ruling sent Republicans scrambling to minimise damage.Trump repeated his contention that the issue should rest with the states and there is no need for a national ban, a demand of the US’s political right. But he could not resist a boast on which his opponents are sure to seize.“We broke Roe v Wade,” Trump said. “Nobody thought was possible. We gave it back to the states and the states are working very brilliantly, in some cases conservative, in some cases not conservative, but they’re working. And it’s working the way it’s supposed to.“Every … real legal scholar wanted to have it go back to the states,” Trump claimed without offering evidence. “Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative. And we were able to do that … and now the states are working their way through it.“And you’re gonna, you’re having some very, very beautiful harmony, to be honest with you. You have, well, you have some cases like Arizona that went back to like 1864 or something like that. And a judge made a ruling, but that’s going to be changed by government. They’re going to be changing that. I disagree with that.”At the time of Trump’s remarks, the vice-president, Kamala Harris, was speaking in Arizona, hammering home Democratic attacks on Republican threats to reproductive rights. Her key message: Trump is to blame.“And just minutes ago, standing beside Speaker Johnson, Donald Trump just said the collection of state bans is, quote: ‘working the way it is supposed to’,” Harris said. “And as much harm as he has already caused, a second Trump term would be even worse.”Trump and Johnson appeared together at a time of intense legal jeopardy for the former president and great political danger for the House speaker that meant their intended message – a supposed need to focus on the canard of “election integrity” – seemed guaranteed to be drowned out.In New York on Monday, Trump will face trial on 34 of 88 pending criminal charges. The first ever criminal trial involving a former president will concern hush-money payments to an adult film star who claimed an affair.In Washington, Johnson must manage Congress with a tiny majority under pressure from an unruly Republican House caucus dominated by the pro-Trump right. The Georgia extremist Marjorie Taylor Greene has filed a motion to remove him.Opening the press conference at his Mar-a-Lago home, Trump exhibited his signature rhetoric on immigration, increasingly dehumanizing and vicious.View image in fullscreenJohnson said Republicans would seek to introduce legislation to “require proof of citizenship to vote”, claiming that if “hundreds of thousands” of migrants cast votes, it could affect the result of the elections.In reality, non-citizens voting is not even close to a problem.Some cities allow non-citizens to vote in municipal and non-federal polls. But non-citizen voting in federal elections is already illegal under a 1996 law. Offenders can be fined and jailed for up to a year. Deportation is possible.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionThe Bipartisan Policy Center points to research by groups on the right and left which says non-citizen voting is exceptionally rare, saying: “Any instance of illegally cast ballots by non-citizens has been investigated by the appropriate authorities, and there is no evidence that these votes – or any other instances of voter fraud – have been significant enough to impact any election’s outcome.”Nonetheless, Johnson has long shown willingness to back Trump’s claims about elections regardless of reality, playing a key role in supporting the former president’s attempts to overturn his defeat by Joe Biden in 2020.In a recent memoir, the anti-Trump Republican Liz Cheney said Johnson “played bait-and-switch” with colleagues to get them to support his legal efforts to have key state results thrown out while misrepresenting himself as a constitutional lawyer.Johnson said Cheney was “not presenting an accurate portrayal”. His legal work failed but even after the deadly January 6 attack on Congress by Trump supporters in early 2021, he was among 147 Republicans who voted to object to results in Pennsylvania and Arizona.On Friday, a statement released by the Trump campaign said Johnson had “agreed to hold a series of public committee hearings over the next two months … in advance of potential legislation to further safeguard our elections from interference”.Subjects of supposed concern included “mail-in voting processes and mail-ballot handling”, “voter registration list maintenance and how states will … prevent illegal immigrants and noncitizens from voting in the 2024 presidential election”; and “general preparations” for Trump’s rematch with Biden.Reporters raised other issues that have roiled Republican politics. Earlier, in Washington, Johnson oversaw passage of a bill to reauthorise the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or Fisa, including a key measure that allows for warrantless surveillance of American citizens. Trump and allies opposed the renewal, arising from his complaints about investigations of Russian election interference on his behalf in the 2016 race that sent him to the White House.Asked about the House bill, Trump said he still didn’t like Fisa and repeated his complaints about 2016. Johnson nodded behind him.Trump also opposes new aid for Ukraine, passed by the Senate but held up in the House. Johnson has said he wants to pass aid for Ukraine – but that could cause his downfall.At Mar-a-Lago, Trump kept the subject at arm’s length, verbally abusing Biden and claiming conflicts around the world would not have happened on his watch.He also castigated those prosecuting him criminally, including in the hush-money trial due to start in New York on Monday, over which he also complained about the judge. He was, he said, “absolutely” willing to testify in his own defence. More

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    Donald Trump and Mike Johnson hold ‘election integrity’ press conference – live

    Donald Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago that he would “absolutely” testify at his New York criminal trial, which is set to start next week. It is not, however, clear if he will actually do so.Asked if it was “risky” for him to testify, the former president responded, “I tell the truth.” Trump’s testimony has previously hurt him in court, and he was ordered by a jury earlier this year to pay millions to E Jean Carroll for defamation.Trump shared familiar grievances about his various criminal ongoing criminal trials before his “election integrity” press conference with House speaker Mike Johnson came to an end.Vice president Kamala Harris is now speaking in Tucson, Arizona to condemn the 1800s-era ban supported by the state supreme court this week:Donald Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago that he would “absolutely” testify at his New York criminal trial, which is set to start next week. It is not, however, clear if he will actually do so.Asked if it was “risky” for him to testify, the former president responded, “I tell the truth.” Trump’s testimony has previously hurt him in court, and he was ordered by a jury earlier this year to pay millions to E Jean Carroll for defamation.Trump shared familiar grievances about his various criminal ongoing criminal trials before his “election integrity” press conference with House speaker Mike Johnson came to an end.Donald Trump, speaking at Mar-a-Lago, was asked why voters should trust that he won’t sign a federal abortion ban, when he had previously indicated support. He responded:
    We don’t need it any longer, because we broke Roe v Wade … and we gave it back to the states.”
    He claimed he does not support the unpopular Arizona state supreme court ruling this week supporting a near total abortion-ban dating back to 1864. When asked whether he is “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, he did gave a meandering, unclear response.House speaker Mike Johnson says Republicans are introducing legislation to “require proof of citizenship to vote” despite the fact that it is already illegal for non-citizens to vote and there is no evidence of widespread migrant voting (or even many specific examples of this happening).Johnson hasn’t shared a ton of details about the mechanics of the legislation, but claimed that if “hundreds of thousands” of migrants cast votes, it could impact the result of the elections. Research has repeatedly shown that the systems in place have not allowed non-citizens to register or cast ballots.The former president has started his presser with his signature xenophobic rhetoric on immigration, which has become increasingly dehumanizing and viscous on the campaign trail. He has frequently called migrants “animals” and has said they are “poisoning the blood” of the US, echoing Nazi speech and the racist, far-right Great Replacement Theory suggesting the left is promoting migration to replace white people.Trump’s introductory remarks included misinformation tying migrants to crime.As we await the joint press conference of Donald Trump and House speaker Mike Johnson at Mar-a-Lago, here’s a refresher on some of the misleading and false information they have been promoting about non-citizens and voting:
    The two have said they are pushing legislation to ban non-citizens from voting – despite the fact that it is already illegal under federal law for people without US citizenship to cast a ballot.
    Trump has spread racist conspiracy theories on the campaign trail – claiming without evidence that migrants will try to illegally vote and steal the election for him, saying, “They can’t speak a word of English for the most part, but they’re signing them up.”
    As the Guardian’s democracy reporter Rachel Leingang reported: “There is no evidence of widespread non-citizen voting, nor are there even many examples of individual instances of the practice, despite strenuous efforts in some states to find these cases.”
    A study by the Brennan Center of the 2016 election found just 0.0001% of votes across 42 jurisdictions, with 23.5m votes, were suspected to be non-citizens voting, 30 incidents in total.
    The press conference is scheduled for 4.30pm local time. For more background, check out Leingang’s coverage from earlier this week:Donald Trump is set to meet House Republican speaker Mike Johnson in Mar-a-Lago on Friday where the two will hold a press conference on “election integrity”.Earlier on Friday, Johnson told reporters, “I don’t ever comment on my private conversations with President Trump, but I’m looking forward to going to Florida and spend some time with him.”Meanwhile, a senior Trump adviser told CNN that the two will “draw attention to” state proposals and lawsuits that would allow non-citizens to vote.Johnson’s meeting with Trump comes after the Republican speaker secured a crucial win in the House earlier on Friday after the Republican-led chamber voted to pass Fisa reauthorization. The legislation, which allows for warrantless surveillance of Americans by intelligence officials, is supported by Johnson but heavily opposed by hard-right Republicans and Democrats alike.The Wyoming Republican representative Harriet Hageman has also released a video address following the House’s passage of Fisa’s reauthorization.In her address, Hageman, who voted no, said:
    I was a no vote for the reason that the amendment that would have required the intelligence agencies to obtain a warrant to search the records of American citizens was not adopted.
    I truly believe that as members of Congress, it is our responsibility to ensure that all of these agencies are following the constitution and the protecting the civil liberties of American citizens yet that’s not what happened today.
    The Colorado Republican representative Lauren Boebert has released a video address following the House’s passage of Fisa’s reauthorization.In her address, Boebert said:
    … 86 Republicans betrayed you, the American people, today, saying the federal government does not need a warrant to start a query or illegally spy on you or tap your phones or whatever they want to do.
    Boebert went on to point to the Florida Republican representative Anna Paulina Luna, who objected to the legislation’s passage and requested a vote to reconsider the legislation. As a result, the bill will not be able to head to the Senate until the House votes on the motion.
    That bill cannot be sent to the Senate until we take another vote on the warrant amendment for Fisa on Monday. That means we need you, the American people, putting pressure on these 86 Republicans who sold you out today,” said Boebert.
    Here is the list of the 86 House Republicans who voted against Arizona’s Republican representative Andy Biggs’ amendment to Fisa’s section 702 which called for the prohibition of warrantless surveillance:The Minnesota Democratic representative Ilhan Omar has criticized the House’s passage of the reauthorization of Fisa.In a series of tweets on Friday, Omar, who voted against the legislation, wrote:
    Section 702 still allows the government to collect communications of non-Americans abroad without a warrant. This has enabled warrantless surveillance that disproportionately targets Muslim Americans, African Americans, and other minority communities.
    She went on to add:
    True reform of surveillance powers needs warrants for searches of Americans, strict rules against racial and religious profiling [and] oversight to protect civil liberties.
    Anything less continues a system used to unfairly target Americans under the guise of counterterrorism.
    The 273-147 bipartisan vote reauthorizing Fisa is a win for the embattled House speaker, Mike Johnson, and comes at a time when he faces direct challenges to his leadership.Johnson was seen on the House floor speaking to the far-right Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who last month filed a motion to remove Johnson from the speakership.Greene later told reporters she and Johnson spoke about “all sorts of things”, CNN reported.Johnson said he and Greene “agree on our conservative philosophy”, adding:
    We just have different ideas sometimes on strategy. The important part of governing in a time of divided government like we have is communication with members and understanding the thought process behind it, that they have a say in it.
    Johnson is also scheduled to meet with Donald Trump in Florida later on Friday.The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or Fisa, which gives the government expansive powers to view emails, calls and texts, has long been divisive and resulted in allegations from civil liberties groups that it violates privacy rights.Section 702 has faced opposition before, but it became especially fraught in the past year after court documents revealed that the FBI had improperly used it almost 300,000 times – targeting racial justice protesters, January 6 suspects and others. That overreach emboldened resistance to the law, especially among far-right Republicans who view intelligence services like the FBI as their opponent.Debate over Section 702 pitted Republicans who alleged that the law was a tool for spying on American citizens against others in the GOP who sided with intelligence officials and deemed it a necessary measure to stop foreign terrorist groups.One proposed amendment called for requiring authorities to secure a warrant before using section 702 to view US citizens’ communications, an idea that intelligence officials oppose as limiting their ability to act quickly.Another sticking point in the debate was whether law enforcement should be prohibited from buying information on American citizens from data broker firms, which amass and sell personal data on tens of millions of people, including phone numbers and email addresses.House conservatives who had blocked the Fisa bill earlier this week amid a push from Donald Trump allowed it to move forward on Friday after striking a deal with the speaker, Mike Johnson.Under the agreement, the new version of the bill would be a two-year reauthorization of section 702 of Fisa, cut down from the original proposed five years.This would mean that if Trump won the presidential election this year, the legislation would be up in time for Trump to overhaul Fisa laws next time around.The far-right Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, speaking to CNN earlier today, said:
    We just bought President Trump an at bat. The previous version of this bill would have kicked reauthorization beyond the Trump presidency. Now President Trump gets an at bat to fix the system that victimized him more than any other American.
    The House passed a two-year reauthorization of the nation’s warrantless surveillance program that had stalled earlier this week amid Republican resistance and after Donald Trump had urged GOP members to “kill” the law.In a 273 to 147 vote, lawmakers renewed section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa), which is set to expire on 19 April, through 2026. The bill now heads to the Senate, which is expected to give it bipartisan approval.Section 702 allows the US government to collect the communications of targeted foreigners abroad by compelling service providers to produce copies of messages and internet data, or networks to intercept and turn over phone call and message data.But the law is controversial because it allows the government to incidentally collect messages and phone data of Americans without a court order if they interacted with the foreign target, even though the law prohibits section 702 from being used by the NSA to specifically target US citizens.The White House, intelligence chiefs and top lawmakers on the House intelligence committee have warned of potentially catastrophic effects of not reauthorizing the program.Friday’s vote marks the fourth attempt to pass the bill, which was blocked three times in the past five months by House Republicans bucking their party. Earlier this week, House conservatives refused to support the bill that the speaker, Mike Johnson, put forward.The Republican Ohio congressman Warren Davidson, has responded to the House vote to reauthorize Fisa, calling it a “sad day’.From Punchbowl news’ Mica Soellner:The House’s vote to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Service Act has passed.Following days of Republican infighting that has put House Republican speaker Mike Johnson’s leadership in a precarious position, Fisa passed with a vote of 273 yays and 147 nays in the Republican-led chamber.The vote marks a win for Johnson who has come under fire from hard-right Republicans including Georgia’s representative Marjorie Taylor Greene over his support for Fisa. Greene, who is opposed to Fisa, has repeatedly threatened to oust Johnson as he has “not lived up to a single one of his self-imposed tenets”.With the vote’s passage, the reauthorization of Fisa, specifically its amendments to section 702, allows for intelligence officials to extend their warrantless surveillance on electronic communications between Americans and foreigners abroad.Despite intelligence officials including the FBI director, Christopher Wray, arguing that a warrant requirement would “blind ourselves to intelligence in our holdings”, civil rights organizations such as the ACLU have criticized the legislation.“Given our nation’s history of abusing its surveillance authorities, and the secrecy surrounding the program, we should be concerned that section 702 is and will be used to disproportionately target disfavored groups, whether minority communities, political activists, or even journalists,” it said.A vote to amend Fisa’s section 702 to update the definition of foreign intelligence to help target international narcotics trafficking has passed.The amendment, introduced by Texas Republican representative Daniel Crenshaw, passed after 268 yays and 152 nays.A vote to amend Fisa’s section 702 to require the FBI to report to Congress on the number of queries conducted on Americans has passed.The amendment, introduced by Texas Republican representative Chip Roy, passed after 269 yays and 153 nays. More

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    Kari Lake Backs Arizona Lawmakers in Push for 15-Week Abortion Ban

    The Senate candidate and Donald Trump ally is supporting a handful of state Republicans who have backed away from a near-total ban that was upheld by the State Supreme Court this week.A handful of Arizona Republican legislators looking to overturn a 160-year-old state law that bans nearly all abortions have a new high-profile supporter: Kari Lake, a prominent Senate candidate and a close ally of Donald J. Trump.The state Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday that upheld the 1864 law, from before Arizona was a state, set off a political firestorm, with Democrats predicting it would cause women to turn out in droves in a key swing state to protect access to abortion rights.Now, some Republicans are looking for a way out of their political dilemma after their party blocked efforts to reverse the law. They see Ms. Lake, who is in a competitive race that could determine control of the Senate, as an important ally. Ms. Lake has called a handful of state legislators to offer her support in any effort to repeal the law and revert to the 15-week abortion ban that was in effect in Arizona, according to a person familiar with the outreach.The new stance is an abrupt about-face for many Arizona Republicans, who cheered when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022 and then pushed quickly for reinstating the near-total ban from 1864. Ms. Lake herself had praised the 160-year-old ban during her 2022 run for governor, calling it a “great law,” but on Tuesday condemned the court decision, saying it was “out of step with Arizonans.”Other Republicans followed suit.“It is time for my legislative colleagues to find common ground of common sense: the first step is to repeal the territorial law,” State Senator Shawnna Bolick posted on X. It was a departure for Ms. Bolick, who once signed onto a law that would require prosecutors to charge women who have abortions with homicide and voted for the 15-week ban in 2022, legislation that included a provision allowing the 1864 law to go into effect.The Republican backtracking reflects just how sharply public opinion has shifted on abortion since the Supreme Court’s consequential ruling, and how damaging the issue has been to their party. State laws on abortion enacted since Roe was overturned fueled strong showings by Democratic candidates in the 2022 midterms, and voters have turned out in force to protect abortion rights when they have been on the ballot, even in red states.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More