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    ‘A deranged fringe movement’: what is Maga communism, the online ideology platformed by Tucker Carlson?

    In the last few years, a self-styled political movement that sounds like a contradiction in terms has gained ground online: “Maga communism”.Promoted by its two most prominent spokespeople, Haz Al-Din, 27, and Jackson Hinkle, 24, Maga communism comprises a grab bag of ideas that can seem lacking in coherence – ranging from a belief in the power of Donald Trump’s followers to wrest power from “global elites” to an emphasis on masculine “honor”, admiration for Vladimir Putin and support for Palestinian liberation.The two have been repeatedly kicked off social media platforms for spreading disinformation. Hinkle, for example, was booted from Instagram earlier this year – shortly after claiming in a series of posts that Ukraine was behind the terrorist attack on a concert hall in Moscow, despite Islamic State claiming responsibility for the act.Hinkle and Al-Din have been ridiculed by critics as pseudo-intellectual, cravenly opportunistic grifters who have carved out an intentionally provocative niche designed to siphon followers away from other highly online political communities.“If you look at their policies, like what they actually propose, it’s clear that this is a deranged fringe movement that doesn’t really have a great deal of articulation,” said Alexander Reid Ross, a lecturer at Portland State University and author of Against the Fascist Creep, which explored how rightwing movements co-opt the language of the left. “It seems ludicrous, but I would say it’s really a symptom of the erosion of rational political life.”Until recently, Al-Din and Hinkle’s reach seemed limited to corners of the internet largely populated by young men attracted to their messages on masculinity and US foreign policy. But with their inflammatory and often misleading posts about the Gaza war, and as they rail with increasing frequency against what they view as American imperialism, their footprint is growing.“Deranged” or not, Hinkle and Al-Din’s “movement” is attracting recognition in increasingly high places on the right. Hinkle’s defense of Putin’s foreign policy has earned him an invitation on to Tucker Carlson’s show and praise from Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Hinkle and Al-Din have also forged international alliances with the likes of the Russian ultranationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin, whom they met at a conference in Moscow earlier this year.The founder of Maga communism cultivates a militant aesthetic when he addresses his followers via livestream from his home.His beard is carefully coiffed, and he often wears an oversized black blazer and black collared shirt. Behind him, swords are mounted on the wall, “to symbolize the war I am waging to defend the message I believe is true amidst mountains of lies”, Al-Din, 27, who streams on Kick and YouTube under the name “Infrared”, said in a phone interview.Both Haz and Hinkle say they support Trump not out of admiration for the man, but out of the belief that his followers represent the most significant mobilization of the American working class in decades.They subscribe to social conservatism in a way that appeals to the growing numbers of gen Z males who believe feminism is harmful to men, and cast issues such as transgender rights, the climate crisis and racial justice as neoliberal distractions.“It’s not that we’re against women. We just perceive that the discourse, culture and the political sphere have seen a huge decline in the notion of honor,” Al-Din said. “One of the reasons for that is the decline in basic masculine virtues, the rise of a kind of effeminization, especially of men.” Hinkle has regularly made anti-trans comments on his own social media, making declarations such as: “We need to protect our youth from trans terrorists and propagandists.”“They’re firmly embedded in a corner of social media that is the most vitriolic, terminally online, troll culture,” said Reid Ross.View image in fullscreenHinkle and Al-Din’s links to communism are tenuous at best, but they may be opportunistically emphasizing the label to tap into shifting attitudes. Polling has indicated that members of gen Z, even gen Z Republican voters, are more open to socialist ideas compared with previous generations. In a video debunking Maga communism published last year, the Marxist economist Richard Wolff noted that there’s precedent for nationalist movements co-opting communist rhetoric, particularly during times of social upheaval and economic hardship.“If you’re a political movement and you want to get supporters at a time when socialism is attracting more and more interest, well, you might be tempted to grab hold at least of the name,” Wolff said, noting that this was a strategy most famously used by Adolf Hitler during his rise to power.“It’s provocative,” Hinkle said of his movement’s name, smirking, in a 2022 interview with the comedian Jimmy Dore. “But that’s why it’s trending on Twitter right now.”According to an infographic regularly recirculated by Hinkle, proposed Maga communist policies include “dismantling big tech”, banning “antifa street terrorism”, ending “woke academia” and subsidizing gyms in every community. They also propose exiting Nato; deporting the Obamas, Bushes and Clintons to the International Criminal Court; ending “open borders”; and “putting banking into the hands of the people”.Hinkle and Al-Din also claim they’re anti-imperialists and cling to the enduring myth of Trump as the more dovish candidate. Their band of online followers see themselves as pitted against “the unipolar world” and “western hegemony”, and they often support authoritarian nations that the US sees as its adversaries, such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Al-Din, for example, told the Guardian that he has a “profound” admiration for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in part due to his “resilience in defending the honor and history of Korean civilization”.Neither Hinkle nor Al-Din have typical Maga backgrounds, and they both take a tepid view of Trump, whom they praise as the figurehead of the Maga movement but not necessarily an enduring one.“We have a saying, as Maga communists, which is that when you go to McDonald’s, you don’t go for the clown, you go for the burger,” Al-Din said in an interview. “Trump is the mascot of the movement.”View image in fullscreenBefore Hinkle was a cigar-smoking Maga communist who supports fossil fuels, he was a denim-clad Bernie bro and an environmental activist. He founded a successful ocean clean-up club at his high school in San Clemente, California, organized a student walk-out to protest gun violence after the 2018 Parkland shooting, was invited to speak at a congressional briefing in Washington DC about decommissioning nuclear power plants, and took a knee at his graduation to protest racial injustice. “He’s the kind of guy that gives you hope about the future,” one environmental activist leader once told the Los Angeles Times about Hinkle.In 2018 and 2019, immediately after graduating high school, Hinkle ran (unsuccessfully) for San Clemente, California, city council, and campaigned against homelessness and corruption.By 2020, Hinkle was still entrenched in progressive politics, identifying as a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. But he was also starting to flirt with various personalities considerably outside the progressive mainstream, getting a boost after interviewing the then Democratic presidential candidate Representative Tulsi Gabbard on his YouTube show, The Dive with Jackson Hinkle. (He was kicked off YouTube for spreading disinformation and now streams on the fringe platform Rumble.)Al-Din is the son of Lebanese Muslim immigrants and grew up near Dearborn, Michigan. When he was in college at Michigan State University, he says, he was a full-fledged Marxist. While he claims he’s never voted in a presidential election, he says he was probably most sympathetic toward Bernie Sanders.When Trump won, Al-Din says, he concluded that the left was “out of touch with actual working people”. Put off by what he calls the left’s association with “so-called alternative sexualities and fringe countercultural tendencies” and lack of patriotism, he started developing the set of ideas he called Maga communism.“We were just telling these leftists, these crazy-looking septum-piercing purple- haired leftists, that when you go up to working class Americans and tell them they have to hate their country, and they have to hate being American, you are aiding the enemy, you are not helping, you’re not helping fight imperialism,” said Al-Din.Despite Al-Din’s background, Trump’s anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric didn’t bother him, he says. “The whole thing about the Muslim ban, I mean, I really couldn’t care less,” he said in reference to Trump’s 2017 executive orders barring travel to the US from majority Muslim countries. “I didn’t really find anything significant about that at all.”Hinkle and Al-Din’s paths didn’t cross until July 2021, when Hinkle was getting attention online for promoting conspiracy theories rejecting a report that the Syrian government had engaged in chemical weapon attacks. He was invited to appear on a show on the topic hosted by the leftwing streamer Vaush. (Vaush later published the clip with the title Debating the Slipperiest Conspiracy Theorist I Have Ever Met.) It attracted Al-Din’s attention, and the two began messaging.Later that year, Al-Din visited Hinkle in LA and pitched him on what he calls his take on Marxism-Leninism: Maga communism, which envisions harnessing the populist, nationalist fervor of Trump’s base in pursuit of a working-class revolution.The following year, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine offered the perfect opportunity for Hinkle and Haz to promote their new gospel. The conflict animated online armies on both the far left and far right, who expressed strong criticisms of Ukraine’s political system and voiced concerns about the expansion of Nato.“The media lied to you every day for two straight years about Covid,” Hinkle wrote on Twitter/X, days after Russia’s invasion. “Why would you believe anything they’re telling you about Russia & Ukraine?”Most recently, Maga communism has glommed onto the Palestinian cause – to the chagrin of much of the movement – which has also helped to amplify its reach.If Al-Din is the thought leader behind Maga communism, then Hinkle is its salesman. In the six months since 7 October, Hinkle has enjoyed a surge in visibility by pivoting into generating pro-Palestine content online. That’s included sharing gruesome images of dead children among rubble in Gaza, posting AI self-portraits in combat gear with the caption “FREE PALESTINE” and hawking coffee mugs with the words “Zionist Tears”, sold at $16.99 a pop. His followers on X leapt from less than 500,000 to more than 2.5 million in just six months, and he has a premium account, meaning he’s entitled to a share of ad revenue according to the level of engagement on his posts.Al-Din has a much smaller following on X – just shy of 90,000 – but these days, his posts often garner hundreds of thousands, even a million, views, significantly more than he was netting prior to 7 October. Al-Din told the Guardian he makes about $5,000 a month via streaming. Hinkle declined to say how much he made from his platforms; according to the New York Times, he made $550 last September via X.Al-Din and Hinkle’s position on the Israel-Gaza conflict makes them outliers in the broader Maga movement, which has largely rallied behind Israel. Trump and his allies have cast pro-Palestinian protests in the US as another manifestation of “wokeness”. Trump recently described protesting college students as “raging lunatics and Hamas sympathizers”.While some other young leaders on the far right, such as the white nationalist livestreamer Nick Fuentes, oppose Israel for explicitly antisemitic reasons, Al-Din and Hinkle insist that their position on the conflict is grounded in their broader “anti-imperialist” stance, shared by more prominent conservatives such as Tucker Carlson, who has also criticized US support for Israel. Hinkle and Fuentes have been allies in the past; Hinkle and Al-Din have previously streamed on Fuentes’ platform Cozy.tv, and Hinkle said he had gotten dinner with Fuentes last September. They fell out shortly after following an argument about class politics and the country-folk artist Oliver Anthony’s viral song about the working class.But despite Hinkle and Al-Din’s high-profile support for Gaza, the pair were recently jeered at a pro-Palestine event at Emory University. The event was co-hosted by Cair (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and was to feature the political activist Norman Finkelstein. The Emory law student Grayson Walker, the showrunner for Al-Din’s Infrared show, was a co-organizer, and added Al-Din as a speaker at the last minute.In his bizarre speech, Al-Din berated members of the audience, saying that they were responsible for spreading “imperialist and Zionist propaganda and slander against my comrade Jackson Hinkle” and were “just as culpable in the crimes of the Zionists as those who give their dollars and money to them”. The audience booed him and shouted “shame on you”, after which Cair abruptly canceled the event and put out a statement.“Today, we unwittingly damaged the movement for Palestinian liberation by allowing a rogue actor to hijack an event intended to highlight the Palestinian genocide,” Cair said in a statement. “A student co-organizer commandeered this platform by inserting hateful and divisive guests into the program,” it continued, adding that the organizer, Walker, had “greenlighted a deeply problematic speech”. (Hinkle and Al-Din later claimed they’d been “canceled” by “the Zionists” and used a homophobic slur to refer to the pro-Palestinian students at Emory.)Al-Din and Hinkle see Israel as part of a “globalist” deep state network, while rejecting the notion that such terminology relies on antisemitic dog-whistles. They see Ukraine as part of that same network, as well as Nato, the European Union, and the Biden administration. “We are fighting to win over the hearts and minds of the Maga common man,” Al-Din told the Guardian. “Israel is just as much connected to the same multinational corporations and special interests that Maga despises.”Al-Din and Hinkle have been suspended or banned from a number of platforms for spreading disinformation, mainly about the Russia-Ukraine conflict or about the war in Gaza. A recent profile of Hinkle by the New York Times cited research indicating that a network of bots or inauthentic accounts may be responsible for amplifying some of his most incendiary posts. In January, Hinkle’s account on X was ranked third for posts flagged with “community notes”; his posts have been repeatedly flagged as disinformation by watchdogs.Last month, Hinkle posted a video that he claimed showed Israelis “panicking” as Iran’s missiles reached Israel. Online sleuths verified that the video was actually of pop star Louis Tomlinson’s fans near the Four Seasons hotel in Buenos Aires.Asked by the Guardian about charges that he spreads disinformation, Hinkle said he “rejected the question”.Despite Hinkle’s apparent penchant for sharing disinformation about contentious world events, he’s landed some high-profile media appearances in the last six months. He appeared on former the CNN host Chris Cuomo’s show and Alex Jones’ Infowars to pitch Maga communism. Jones, who often goes on red-faced rants about communism, appeared relatively open to what Hinkle had to say.“Most of the Maga movement understands that the resources, the land and the means of production of the United States of America should be in the hands of the Maga working class,” said Hinkle. Jones called the idea “very interesting”. Last month, Jones also changed his tune and began referring to Israel’s war in Gaza as a “genocide”.Hinkle and Al-Din have also continued to expand their international reach. In February, they attended a conference in Moscow hosted by a Bulgarian oligarch who has been placed under US sanctions. At the event, called “The International Movement of Russophiles”, Hinkle met Dugin, the ultranationalist philosopher, and the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. During the conference, Hinkle became the first American appointed to the Russophiles’ executive board. Weeks later, Dugin wrote approvingly of Hinkle, Al-Din and “the emergence of Maga communism” in a blog for Arktos, a far-right publishing house based in Budapest.View image in fullscreen“These individuals are allies of conservative Tucker Carlson but are also Marxists who support Trump and advocate the ‘Make America Great Again’ (Maga) slogan,” Dugin wrote. “Together, they are committed to dismantling liberal dominance.” Last year, Hinkle appeared on the Russian state broadcaster VGTRK and claimed “Joe Biden is controlled by a satanic cabal of DC deep-state leadership.”Reid Ross says Hinkle and Al-Din occupy an overlap in the left-right venn diagram that is probably rooted in an “anti-imperialist” ecosystem that has proliferated online in the last decade.Last year, Hinkle spoke at an event at the Reflecting Pool in Washington DC called “Rage Against the War Machine”, which was promoted by Tucker Carlson and hosted by the Libertarian party and the People’s party, which was briefly affiliated with Cornel West. The event drew together a curious amalgam of far-right and far-left personalities – including Matthew Heimbach, one of the organizers of white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, and the former Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Participants rallied under the banner of pacifism; reports from the event suggested overall messaging supported Russia’s war on Ukraine.A Discord server – essentially a chat room – called “IGG MECHA-TANKIES”, linked to Al-Din’s show Infrared, has about 5,000 members and offers some insight into the movement’s internal dynamics. The general chat is awash with pseudo-intellectual posturing and armchair historical analysis. Members often feature obscure quotes by Bolshevik revolutionaries in their bios, Russian flags, or pictures of a young Kim Jong-un as their profile pictures.Joseph, who joined the Infrared community two years ago, described the appeal of Maga communism (he declined to share his last name due to privacy concerns). He’s 19, a resident of Kentucky, and works overnight shifts in a factory making air vents for luxury cars.“I was always sympathetic to Maga, but I’d also liked some of what Bernie Sanders had been saying around the time of his campaign,” Joseph said. But, he said, he found himself feeling alienated from leftist spaces because he considers himself socially conservative.The emphasis on hyper-masculinity in these kinds of ultra-nationalist or conspiracy-based movements, experts say, often draws in vulnerable men who may crave affirmation or a sense of belonging. “The thing about Haz [Al-Din] and his success as this great leader is that he really understands the cultish aspect of fascist leadership,” said Reid Ross. “Haz has an intensity that makes him seem like a huge believer.”Their support for Trump does not translate into loyalty to the GOP. Al-Din told the Guardian that his end goal was to “reclaim” the century-old American Communist party, whose numbers have dwindled to 5,000 and which he says has become co-opted by “liberals, federal agents and Democrats”.An animated propaganda video, made by one of Al-Din’s followers, projects a dystopia where the US government is persecuting known communists. Al-Din escapes from Washington DC with a cache of weapons stolen from antifascists, seeking refuge with midwestern farmers. The video ends with a communist uprising against the government, led by Al-Din, cast as revolutionary folk hero. More

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    Biden campaign releases De Niro-voiced video ad warning Trump has ‘snapped’

    Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has released a high-profile new video ad they are calling Snapped, which attacks Donald Trump as a candidate who will stop at nothing to grab power again.The aggressive, 30-second spot is voiced by an old Hollywood foe of the former president, the actor Robert De Niro, and will be distributed nationally.Against a backdrop of dramatic orchestral music and news images from Trump’s presidency, the De Niro voiceover begins: “From midnight tweets, to drinking bleach, to teargassing citizens and staging a photo-op, we knew Trump was out of control when he was president, and then he lost the 2020 election and snapped.”In relevant photographs, Trump is shown on his phone on Air Force One and at the podium in the White House briefing room in a notorious press conference in 2020 when he suggested that being treated internally with bleach might combat Covid-19. Then he is shown posing with a Bible outside what’s known as the Church of the Presidents, near the White House, after nearby demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality, following the murder of George Floyd in May, 2020, had been violently cleared by the authorities.Then it goes on to show the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, when extremist supporters of Trump, encouraged by the then president, broke into US congressional chambers to try, ultimately in vain, to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory over him.De Niro continues that Trump was “desperately trying to hold on to power”. Then adds: “Now he’s running again, this time threatening to be a dictator, to terminate the constitution.”Footage of Trump shows him warning there will be a “bloodbath” if he does not win in 2024, and additional images showing a mob carrying pro-Trump and election-denying flags clashing with police.“Trump wants revenge and he’ll stop at nothing to get it,” the voice of De Niro continues.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionThe US president then says in his voiceover: “I’m Joe Biden and I approve this message”. The closing image is Biden walking towards a doorway and saluting the troops that guard him. More

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    ‘Thrilled to be back’: Trump swaps courtroom for Bronx in play for Hispanic and Black voters

    Even for a man known for his bombast, Donald Trump’s foray into one of the poorest, most diverse and staunchly Democratic parts of America, New York city’s South Bronx, on Thursday night was an offensive move of breathtaking audacity.His rally in the crucible of hiphop, where 95% of the population is Black or Hispanic and where 35% live below the poverty line, was like voluntarily stepping into the lion’s den. Being Trump, he declared it a historic victory.“When I woke up this morning I wondered whether it will be hostile or will it be friendly. It was a lovefest!” he said towards the end of his 90-minute speech.Just a few blocks away from Crotona Park – the location of Trump’s first campaign rally in New York state since 2016 – is the congressional district of his nemesis, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Trump notoriously told AOC to “go back” to the country where she came from – a bold line to take with a woman born in the Bronx.Yet despite arriving in a New York borough that is home to some of his fiercest critics in the Democratic party, Trump strode onto the platform on a balmy evening as though he were returning to his own personal playground. “Right here in the Bronx, I’m thrilled to be back in the city I grew up in, the city I spent my life in,” he said.What he pointedly didn’t say was that he wasn’t just turning up in New York after a long absence. He has of course spent the best part of the past six weeks holed up in a frigid courtroom just 10 miles south of Thursday’s rally site, his eyes often closed, while a jury considers whether to convict him of falsifying business records to cover up an alleged affair with Stormy Daniels.In five days’ time he will be back in the Manhattan criminal courthouse for closing arguments, after which the jury will be sent out to decide his fate.View image in fullscreenAOC goaded Trump remorselessly over his ongoing legal afflictions. In comments made before the rally, she said that the only reason the event was happening at all was because he was trapped in the city for the duration of the trial.“The man practically has the legal version of an ankle bracelet round him,” she said.By all accounts, the experience of enduring 20 court days of People v Donald J Trump has been excruciating for Trump. He has been forced into a world where he has no control, where people do not fawn over him, where he looks “haggard and rumpled”, as the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman memorably portrayed him.On Thursday night that shriveled Trump was gone, to be replaced by a more familiar figure: Trump as the architect of the best economy on Earth; the most successful businessman and deal-maker ever … and the “hottest”, to boot (his description).In epic meanderings that have become increasingly common at Trump rallies, he took several trips down memory lane, as though nostalgia has become his balm for legal agony. He listed at length his triumphs as a real estate developer in New York, so much so that at times it seemed the city’s legendary skyline was built by his own fair hands.He swung between lavishly praising New York city, and denigrating it as a metropolis in decline. It was both the greatest city in the world that had spawned heroes like Teddy Roosevelt, Frank Sinatra and Babe Ruth; and a Third World catastrophe littered with discarded needles, drugged-out homeless people, buckling sidewalks and lunatics pushing innocent bystanders onto the subway tracks.The Trump campaign had billed the Bronx rally as an opportunity to display to the world how well the former president is doing with Hispanic and Black voters. A ripple of recent polls have indicated that his fortunes with these two heavily Democratic-leaning voting groups may be starting to improve.“Who said we are not going to win New York? We are going to win New York City!” he prophesied, before going on to make a naked play for the majority-minority vote of the South Bronx. He claimed to have lifted 6.6 million people out of poverty when he was in the White House, comparing that with the “disaster” of Biden’s economy in which African American earnings had slumped almost 6%.“African Americans are getting slaughtered. Hispanic Americans are being slaughtered. The biggest negative impact of the millions and millions of illegals coming into this country is against our Black population and our Hispanic population who are losing their jobs, housing, losing everything.”View image in fullscreenTrump’s prediction that he will win New York is fanciful, political observers have no doubt. The last time a Republican president won in the Bronx was Calvin Coolidge in 1924. Trump lost to Joe Biden here in 2020 by a thumping 84% to 16%.Which is not to say that something is not happening. The crowd at Crotona Park was unquestionably more diverse than your typical, almost exclusively white, Trump rally.Up to a quarter of the thousands of people who came to hear him (the New York City Parks Department said Trump’s campaign had a permit for up to 3,500 people) were Hispanic or Black. Some of the supporters wore their Make America Great Again politics proudly on their sleeves.“I’m a Black dyed-in-the-wool Republican,” read one T-shirt. A group of three Hispanic women waiting for the secret service to screen them at the start of the evening chanted “Trumpito!” “Trumpito!” as they danced to the official theme song of Trump Latinos.Theo Diakite, 29, an African American who lives close to the park, said he was drawn to the rally out of curiosity. He has never voted in his life, but this year is feeling tempted to back Trump.He has noticed that other people in his neighborhood share that curiosity. “There are a lot of people who were firm against him in 2020, but are now not so sure.”When Diakite told his dad, a lifelong Democrat, that he was going to the Trump rally he expected a tongue-lashing. To his surprise, his father replied: “Yeah man, I’ve been very disappointed about what’s been going on these past two years.”Anson Paul, 30, a Black personal fitness trainer from the South Bronx who voted twice for Barack Obama, was wearing a red Maga hat backwards. That was a sign of the times, he said.“In 2020 I wouldn’t have worn a Maga hat – it was too crazy, people could have assaulted me.” Now, he said, things were changing.“We’re still in the minority, but people in the Bronx are waking up to Donald Trump.”Tiana Diaz, 43, was born and raised in the South Bronx in a family of Puerto Rican descent. She said she was proud to sport a pink Make America Great Again hat, having voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.For Diaz, Trump’s legal troubles in the courtroom merely strengthened her adulation for him. It reminds her, she said, of why she turned to him in the first place – the sense that everybody in the “system” was out to get him.“I have a BS radar, and I knew it was all bullshit,” she said. “That trial is just plain BS.”Democratic organisers and union leaders staged their own counter-rally at a separate corner of Crotona Park. It was a small gathering of only about 200 people, according to reports, but it carried a punchy title: “Trump isn’t welcome in the Bronx”. More

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    Who does RFK Jr pose the bigger threat to: Joe Biden or Donald Trump? – podcast

    Last week it was announced that Donald Trump and Joe Biden would finally hit the debate stage for a rematch. While voters contemplate which of the pair stands to lose more by going head to head, another candidate is working hard to try to join them – Robert F Kennedy Jr. The controversial independent candidate doesn’t even have the backing of his famous political family, but he’s polling nationally stronger than any third-party candidate has in decades.
    This week, Jonathan Freedland speaks to political analyst David Corn about which of the two frontrunners should be more worried by RFK Jr’s presidential campaign

    How to listen to podcasts: everything you need to know More

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    Senate Democrats to investigate Trump’s reported big oil ‘deal’

    Powerful Senate Democrats have launched an investigation into an alleged quid pro quo offer from Donald Trump to fossil fuel executives.At a meeting at his Mar-a-Lago home and club last month, the former president reportedly told oil bosses he would immediately roll back dozens of environmental regulations if elected, and requested $1bn in contributions to his presidential campaign. It would be a “deal” for the executives because of the costs they would avoid under him, he reportedly said.On Thursday morning, the chairmen of two Senate committees each sent letters to eight oil companies and top fossil fuel trade group the American Petroleum Institute.The letters from Sheldon Whitehouse, the Senate budget committee chairman, and Ron Wyden, the Senate finance committee chair, accused the companies of engaging in a quid pro quo with Trump and requested additional details about the meeting.“As Mr Trump funnels campaign money into his businesses and uses it as a slush fund to pay his legal fees, Big Oil has been lobbying aggressively to protect and expand its profits at the expense of the American taxpayer,” wrote the senators. “And now, emboldened by impunity, Mr Trump and Big Oil are flaunting their indifference to US citizens’ economic well-being for all to see.”Reached for comment, Andrea Woods, a spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute, said the investigation is an “election-year stunt to distract from America’s need for more energy, including more oil and natural gas, to power our economy and combat persistent inflation”.She added: “API meets with candidates and policymakers to discuss the need for sound energy policies, and this meeting was no different.”Last week, Jamie Raskin, who chairs the House oversight committee, also launched a House oversight investigation into the companies about the reported offer. But unlike Whitehouse and Wyden, Raskin does not have the power to subpoena companies if they do not reply to his inquiry, because Republicans control the House of Representatives.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionTrump has continued to ask oil companies for campaign funding amid scrutiny of his relationship with the fossil fuel industry. On Wednesday he attended a fundraiser luncheon hosted by three oil bosses at a five-star hotel in Houston, including two from companies reportedly represented at the Mar-a-Lago meeting. More

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    Trump’s ‘unified Reich’ video was a message not a mistake | Margaret Sulivan

    We’ve been here before. Donald Trump says or does something outrageous, and then walks it back slightly. But his message as a would-be authoritarian – or far worse – gets through.The latest iteration was a video shared this week on his Truth Social account that (by featuring would-be headlines) promised a “unified reich” if Trump wins a second term as president.The word “reich”, of course, is closely tied to Adolf Hitler, who called his Nazi empire the “Third Reich”. You don’t have to be a student of world history to understand that instantly.Despite the outcry in some quarters – including the Biden White House – about the video, the Trump campaign took no immediate action to remove it. It stayed up for 15 hours, amid mild excuses.That approach was all too familiar. Send the message and then downplay it as unimportant.After Trump hosted the prominent antisemites Nick Fuentes and Kanye West at Mar-a-Lago, he characterized the dinner as “quick and uneventful”.The 2017 white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia? Trump saw “very fine people on both sides”.A few years later, during the fall of the 2020 presidential campaign – following the social justice protests that roiled American cities – Trump issued some instructions to the white supremacist Proud Boys group. His words should have been disqualifying: “Stand back and stand by.”Unsurprisingly, the extremist group took it as intended; this was clear encouragement from the then president. They celebrated on social media – and stood by.Because with Trump, there’s always more of this horror to come.His campaign speeches these days ring with Nazi rhetoric as he claims that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” and that his political opponents are “vermin”.And, yet, he slams any Jewish American who supports Biden. Last month, he opined that any Jewish person who would vote for his rival “doesn’t love Israel” and “should be spoken to”.He always gives himself just enough of an out, as when he claimed he didn’t know who the Proud Boys were, or that a junior campaign staffer didn’t notice the “unified reich” reference when posting the video.But these halfhearted walk-backs don’t deny the message.They are signals – dog whistles – that indicate Trump is more than willing to associate himself with some of history’s most despicable characters and movements.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotion“How many times will we have to debate if the Nazi imagery is intentional or accidental?” wrote Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the non-profit Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “It is never accidental,” responded Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a scholar of authoritarian “strongmen” throughout history.For the most part, exhausted Americans yawn. They shrug off the latest outrage as regrettable but harmless, just another case of Trump being Trump. The Wall Street bigwig and Republican mega-donor Ken Griffin even told Bloomberg News recently that he might change his mind and support Trump because the former president would “exude a level of strength” that would help to stabilize the world in trying times.The “strongman” pose, in other words, is working: an authority figure is the one to deal with a chaotic world. Just don’t look too carefully at where the chaos originates. As Trump claimed during the 2016 campaign, the world is in crisis and “I alone can fix it.”Much of the mainstream media covered this week’s “unified reich” posting as if this were just part of a typical campaign. “Trump’s latest flirtation with Nazi symbolism draws criticism,” one headline in the Hill put it. Yes, and so did President Obama’s decision to wear a tan suit.Despite all of Trump’s misdeeds – the criminal indictments, the abhorrent words, the sordid relationships, the clear plans to dismantle democratic guardrails – he rolls on undaunted.With the “unified reich” video, as with all the earlier outrages, you’ll hear no apology, no disavowal, no expression of regret. And certainly no promise that this will never happen again.It will happen again. After all, it’s working.
    Margaret Sullivan is a Guardian US columnist writing on media, politics and culture More

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    Nikki Haley says she will vote for Donald Trump in 2024 election

    Nikki Haley, who emerged as Donald Trump’s most enduring rival and trenchant critic during the Republican primary elections, has said she intends to vote for the former US president in November.Haley was speaking at the Hudson Institute thinktank in Washington on Wednesday, her first public appearance since dropping out of the race in March. She was asked whether Joe Biden or Trump would do a better job on national security issues.The former ambassador to the UN and South Carolina governor ran through a list of priorities when choosing a president, ranging from the need to back allies and hold enemies to account, to supporting capitalism and freedom while reducing the national debt.“Trump has not been perfect on these policies,” Haley said. “I have made that clear many, many times. But Biden has been a catastrophe. So I will be voting for Trump.”The 52-year-old added by way of caveat: “Having said that, I stand by what I said in my suspension speech. Trump would be smart to reach out to the millions of people who voted for me and continue to support me and not assume that they’re just going to be with him. And I genuinely hope he does that.”Haley joins the US Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, the former attorney general William Barr and Chris Sununu, the New Hampshire governor, in the ranks of one-time Trump foes who will nevertheless support him as the party nominee.During a bruising primary campaign, she said Trump had “lost any sort of political viability”, showed “moral weakness” and is “thin-skinned and easily distracted”. She argued that America needs to move on from his “chaos”. Trump fired back and recently dismissed reports that he might consider Haley as his running mate.Haley’s U-turn provoked a swift backlash. Sarah Longwell, a political strategist and publisher of the conservative Bulwark website, tweeted: “So when Nikki Haley said, ‘It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him.’ She really meant, he can treat me and my voters like garbage and I’ll still fall in line and support him.”Joe Walsh, an ex-Republican congressman, added: “This isn’t complicated: Nikki Haley believes Trump is unfit. And she believes he should never be back in the White House. But if she said that publicly, her career as a Republican would be over. So, as expected, she decided to not be truthful. To keep her career as a Republican.”Although she dropped out of the primaries in early March, Haley has continued to draw up to 20% in the contests, a clear warning sign for Trump’s campaign. The former president has dismissed the idea of trying to appeal to Haley’s voters, where Biden said in Atlanta this weekend: “Let me say, there’s always going to be a place for Haley voters in my campaign.”skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionTrump has also been endorsed by former Republican primary opponents including Doug Burgum, the North Dakota governor, Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur, and the South Carolina senator Tim Scott.Earlier in the event at the Hudson Institute, attended by several foreign ambassadors, Haley was fiercely critical of far right Republicans who favour “America first” isolationism, though she did not mention Trump by name. She praised the House speaker Mike Johnson for pushing aid for Israel and Ukraine through Congress.“A growing number of Democrats and Republicans have forgotten what makes America safe,” she said. “A loud part of each party wants us to abandon our allies, appease our enemies and focus only on the problems we have at home.“They believe if we leave the world alone, the world will leave us alone. They even say ignoring global chaos will somehow make our country more secure. It will not. This worldview has already put America in great danger and the threat is mounting by the day.” More

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    Another provocative flag flown at Samuel Alito residence, report says

    Another type of provocative flag that was flown during the breach of the US Capitol by extremist supporters of Donald Trump on 6 January 2021 was reportedly flown outside a summer residence of US supreme court justice Samuel Alito – following a similar, prior incident outside his main residence.Last summer, the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, which originates from the Revolutionary war and has in recent years become a symbol of far-right Christian extremism, was flown outside Alito’s summer home in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.According to photographs obtained by the outlet and interviews with multiple neighbors and passersby, the flag was flown last July and September. The newspaper reported that the flag was visible in a Google Street View image from late August. It remains unclear whether the flag was flown consistently throughout last summer.The New York Times report comes just days after it reported that an upside-down American flag was flown outside Alito’s Virginia home just days after the January 6 Capitol riots.The Appeal to Heaven flag, also commonly known as the Pine Tree flag, was spotted among other controversial flags waved in Washington on 6 January 2021 when rioters and insurrectionists stormed the US Capitol, encouraged by Trump, then the president, over the false belief that the 2020 election had been won by him and not the actual victor, Joe Biden.The Capitol attack was aimed at stopping the official certification by Congress of Biden’s victory, which was delayed by the violence but finally happened in the early hours of the following morning.The Pine Tree flag was originally used on warships commanded by George Washington during the Revolutionary war. It has since been adopted by Christian nationalists who advocate for an American government based on Christian teachings.The first report of the Stars and Stripes being flown upside-down outside an Alito residence provoked outrage about the further politicization of the supreme court, but Alito simply said his wife had done it and it was displayed only briefly.The Guardian contacted the supreme court for comment on the latest report but did not receive an immediate response. More