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This week in Tortoise: The Trump hangover

Monday 18 January 2021


On Wednesday, it ends. Except it doesn’t. The riot at the US Capitol Building demonstrated that, while the handover of power to Joe Biden may technically take place this week, we are still not done with the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

The Trump hangover is the subject of this week’s Tortoise File.

“We’re not out of this time,” Chuck Hagel, the former US defence secretary, tells Basia Cummings in today’s Slow Newscast. He also describes the Capitol Hill insurrection as a “coup”: “We are now assembling intelligence over the last week – emails and messages sent between these groups and political leaders – that the president of the United States incited these people to move to take action against the United States… The intent was to overthrow the government.”

Hagel was explaining why he and nine other US defence secretaries wrote an open letter just two days earlier reminding the military not to interfere in the outcome of the election.

Fiona Hill, the Russia expert who worked for Trump, helps understand what prompted all living US defence secretaries to warn that the President was a threat to US democracy: “He did try to manipulate the military into supporting his efforts to stay in power.” And the legal expert Randall Eliason, who last November argued against indicting Trump, now makes the case for the Department of Justice convening a grand jury investigation and the possibility of a prosecution for the crime of seditious conspiracy. “That,” Eliason says, “carries a maximum prison penalty of 20 years in prison.”

The File continues tomorrow with the thriller-like story, told by Giles Whittell, of the “Trump hunters”, the state prosecutors who are going after the outgoing president.

Professor Cynthia Miller-Idriss follows mid-week with a look at Continuity Trump, i.e. the various pro-Trump groups that will persist in America and outside of it.  

And Tortoise’s data team examines a range of polls to ask what they reveal about a potential Trump run in 2024.

Joe Biden becomes the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday. Our ThinkIn that evening will dissect his Inaugural Address, take stock of his administration and its challenges, and ask if Trump’s departure marks the end of an era or the start of the sequel.

I hope you got a chance to listen to Sensemaker on the Spotify Daily Drive. It’s a different kind of news bulletin: not a volley of information, but one story told in depth. Do let us know what you think.

Meanwhile, Covid. On Thursday, we’re holding the Global Health Summit to examine what we are learning from this pandemic – and the other health challenges facing the world. Join us and guests including Dr Halima Begum, Dr Clare Gerada and Bryony Gordon for a day of ThinkIns and discussion.

As for this week’s other ThinkIns:

Quite a week. We hope you’ll join us as we try to make sense of it.

Allbest.

James Harding,
Editor & co-founder