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Joe Biden Sees the Potential in Kamala Harris

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Kamala Harris

Only a few days after Joe Biden ‘s search for his runner this spring, his closest friends and advisors began debating how he looked for someone to emulate his remarkably close relationship with Barack Obama. The perspective changed at the start of the pandemic and, following George Floyd ‘s assassination, demonstrations put a new set of concerns to the forefront of the national and presidential consciousness. He came under pressure to select and quickly chose a Black woman but also to return to the political path to do anything to get the Democrats back to mind. Nevertheless, his biggest priority – that he could meet someone with whom he could work smoothly and whose dream suited his – remained unchanged, according to a number of Democrats who met with him personally during the summer. Yet it wasn’t that she was Opponent’s Opponent, like his friends, when he revealed Tuesday that he had selected Kamala Harris. When Harris picked meant a certain dream not only for his administration but for what follows.


It took him some time to get there. The self-imposed deadline for selecting Biden was skipped many days earlier this month. Wrestling with its decisions, each of the contenders’ gloomy news reports turned into a chaotic storm. His advisors and associates leaned on each other and on him to support and pressure their favourite candidates. Many argued that he would use the pick to shore his left political flank; others argued that appealing to the suburban core was more necessary. By the outset of the Democratic convention this month, his moment was gone. Yet his poll lead over Trump stayed wide enough to see room for a decision not driven by short-term politics.

Though either he or his assistants are not going to say it publicly, the soon-to-be 78-year-old Biden had obviously a chance to affect the Democratic Party ‘s future through his pick. None expect him to be re-elected, which means that his choice may be the most important VP choice of decades. He knew that and he felt the weight. Not only is Harris the first Black woman to take part on a major party ticket, but she may be the first female to run for president on 2024 at the age of 55. It will be commonly viewed as a node to the future – more so than its possible inclusion of any of the candidates older than Harris or of someone who did not serve in state offices. (Some around Biden still chaste over Obama ‘s decision in 2008. Biden was viewed as too old for a presidential candidate … in 2016.)

This was often missed during her own presidential run was the ideal alignment or competing with Biden’s political style and philosophy of Harris. It was easy to miss if you focused on her argument with him. (In addition, some of his aides still find it hard to get around 14 months later — just recently Biden was caught up in a warning that was “DO NO HOLD GRUDGES”). Yet Harris and Biden are both coalition makers willing to look for the Democratic Party core. By choosing her, Biden supported the long-term viability of this political brand over established activist-style, even as the left side gains strength.

And while Harris wasn’t known for the electrification of large crowds on the road, she also succeeded at working small rooms and talking to senators one by one – a sign of the way Biden views his political abilities.

“I remember how the kids felt so much in Detroit, how important they felt, as did our members of her town-hall,” Randi Weingarten, the influential chairman of the American Teachers’ Federation, who called “Electrifying” Harris’ choices, spoke extensively to Biden’s VP selection committee, and forecast to me last December – when Harris’s presidential campaign had won.

Of course, there were also shorter-term concerns: If elected, the pair will almost definitely have to monitor one of the biggest health and financial recoveries in history, and four years in the Senate gave Harris a hand on Susan Rice, the national security advisor to Obama’s administration, who was widely considered to come second.

“The blend of hope about what this country wants to thrive and succeed, not just on a granular basis but also in terms of energy and the capacity to communicate with people who have been through it,” said Ilyse Hogue, the influential president of the pro-choice advocacy organization NARAL. Harris, once attorney general and the district attorney for San Francisco before she had been elected Senator, “understands deeply how the government works and how political mechanisms are functioning for the benefit of the people, not the powerful,” said Weingarten.

Yet Biden, of course, called the effort itself. The Biden squad were still manoeuvring to prevent a repeat: on Tuesday nights, before Biden told Harris she had become his bird, the campaign revealed that the vice-president ‘s teams would consist of a group of Obama / Biden veterans and not of the candidate’s own workers. Yet Biden also saw in her a campaign-proven choice to help not just improve the much-needed turnout amongst Black voters, but also to inspire the well-educated suburban women who eventually backed him in the primary or who are only learning from Trump right now.

On Tuesday, Obama’s political strategist David Axelrod wrote that his work found that Harris was one of Day 1’s most competent at serving—an argument which he also made at her own interviews, and to which Biden was particularly attracted. Harris, too, has ties with many of the party’s biggest contributors and anticipates her potential to bring Mike Pence down in conversation — a confrontation that will actually be much more critical than normal considering the lack of daily elections this fall.

Nonetheless, as one seasoned Democrat close the Biden team told me, referring to Biden’s large vote gap and Trump’s deep unpopularity and national treatment, “this election is about Trump. This alternative did not matter in short-term politics one way or another.

Biden ‘s plan had little short-term. Following numerous rounds of interviews with each of his prospects and associates, he spent weeks considering the details given to him by his selection committee and his final findings the weekend and diving into his pasts with 160-item questionnaires. And he learned of colleagues from all over the country who also has their own favourites — many of the Californians and leading contributors, but even prominent party leaders like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schuman, support Harris.

Biden’s other voice, Obama’s, was also welcoming. The former president has long been open to his admiration for Harris, and some of his top former assistants made Biden allies no secret of their affection for her to whom Obama once gave the post of general attorney. This is one reason why Biden decided to return to Harris during the summer, a senior democrat close to Obama says. “In any talk about another girl, the question was always: her or Kamala? Why she’d be better than Kamala? “In his own speech on the evening of Tuesday, Obama said that Biden” walked this decision, “choosing” his own judgement and character.

The choice was also not quite as clear as it seemed back to Biden’s supporters, given the fact that many high-ranking party officials I have talked to over the past few weeks have still referred to her as “Vice-President Harris.” Until the last hours, some of the other candidates also begged their friends and political colleagues to vote positively on their behalf, according to Democrats who understood the discussions, as they talked with team members of Biden. But Biden’s four representatives who knew Harris was a finalist always felt that he would make a different decision — may be Rice and Karen Bass, the president of the Congressional Black Caucus — as they gave him their final materials last week. When the Associated Press reported the news on Friday that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer had gone to the Delaware to visit Biden, some in Biden’s nearest inner circles muttered loudly so that they would have gotten even closer than they expected to Biden’s top pick.

Harris was not a choice of consensus. For months the Biden camp rumbled that Jill Biden was especially angry at Harris after shocking everybody by publicly criticizing Biden’s record on race and taking part last year on the stage of debate. Others maintained that concern has overblown and Biden constantly reminded allies behind the scenes that Harris is close to Beau, his 2015 friend. But, for a few senior officials who had Biden’s attention on and off during the process, the recollection of that night was perfect. By the conclusion of the process, complaints from former senator Chris Dodd – a personal associate of Biden and a member of his selection committee – to Harris were known enough to make him realize he had to set up his defence behind the scenes. And while Harris has been at the front lines of the Democrats’ call to overhaul the police in recent months, over the years, her experience as a federal prosecutor has put her into conflict with several criminal justice reform critics, including

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New Voter ID rules raise concerns of fraud, ballot rejection

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Voters in Florida and Georgia who wish to vote by mail in the governor’s elections next year will need to take one more measure to guarantee they get a ballot: providing registration.

In 2020, only two states had ID requirements for voters requesting a mailed ballot. This year, Republicans across the country have focused on mail voting, imposing new restrictions on a process that grew in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to data collected by the Voting Rights Lab, legislation requiring extra registration for postal voting was passed in Arizona, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas, in addition to Florida and Georgia.

Republicans, capitalising on former President Donald Trump’s unfounded accusations of massive irregularities in last year’s White House race, argue that registration is needed for mailed ballots to prevent fraud and increase voter trust. There is no suggestion of systematic voter irregularities in 2020. Multiple arguments by Trump and his supporters were dismissed by courts, a group of federal, state, and local election authorities declared it the most stable election in U.S. history, and Trump’s own attorney general said he saw nothing that would affect the result.

Critics argue that adding ID criteria to receive a mailed ballot is not only inappropriate, it also provides another way for electors to make an error that would prevent them from voting absentee. They claim that identification is now needed when registering to vote and voting in person for the first time.

When ID is still required to cast a mailed vote, as is now the case in Georgia, critics argue that further ballots would be refused. It is also predicted to disproportionately impact poor, black, and college-age citizens, who are more likely to be without an ID or to have one with an incorrect address.

“Every additional provision you introduce would result in further ballot rejections, people who mistakenly refuse to comply or do not comply correctly with those requirements,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the democracy programme at NYU’s School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, which advocates increased voter access.

Democrats are particularly concerned about a Republican measure in Michigan that would require voters to demand a printed copy of their ID while seeking a mailed ballot. While the state’s Democrat governor is likely to block any voting restrictions, the state has a special mechanism that might cause this and other voting bills to become law if enough voters vote for it and the GOP-controlled Legislature passes it.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, has rebuffed Republican suggestions that IDs are more stable than the new system, which depends on comparing a voter’s signature on ballot applications or return envelopes to the signature on file at the election office.

“There is no evidence that this move prevents or discourages fraud,” said Benson. “It also makes it more difficult to spot fraud since those attempting to fraudulently request an absentee vote simply need to provide a copy of a false ID, while forging a signature is even more difficult.”

Republican Mike Shirkey, the majority leader of the Michigan Senate, has said that voters support ID requirements and that it is important to ensure that eligible voters are Michigan citizens. “The only way to do so is with a state-issued ID,” he said.

Benson reported that 130,000 of Michigan’s 7 million eligible voters do not have a state ID or driver’s licence. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, a Democrat, stated that one-quarter of his city’s Black people do not own a car, and more do not have home printers.

“If your family has a car, a phone, and a printer copier at home, these bills aren’t so bad,” Duggan said. “This is what is wrong: They have crafted a series of bills that make life much more difficult for a wealthier family without laptops or a vehicle to vote than most families. This is the essence of voting suppression.”

Voter ID provisions have long been a source of contention in the election wars, with previous campaigns focusing on laws governing in-person voting. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states had ID standards for voting at polling stations as of 2020.

Most accept a variety of nonphoto authentication, such as a bank or utility bill. Many states permit electors to sign an oath under penalty of perjury stating that they are who they want to be.

Democrats also stated that ID standards are acceptable as long as various means of identification are approved and electors have the ability to sign an affidavit if they do not have an ID or fail to carry it to the polls. Democrats in Congress are pushing federal bills this year that would require an affidavit in any state that has a voter ID law.

The additional ID provisions for requesting or submitting mailed ballots are new this year. Just Alabama and Wisconsin previously needed registration to submit a mailed vote.

To submit a postal ballot, Florida residents would need to include their driver’s licence number, state ID number, or the last four digits of their Social Security number, according to a newly signed rule. Those wishing to vote by mail in South Dakota must have a copy of a photo ID or a notarized oath.

When seeking and returning an absentee ballot in Georgia, voters must have their name, date of birth, address, and driver’s licence or state ID card number.

Georgia state Sen. Brian Strickland, a Republican whose district is south of Atlanta, told reporters last month that the requirement was intended to step away from relying on local election officials to fit voter signatures on file to applications and ballots, which he characterised as a “not workable operation.”

“This was a major complaint from both sides,” Strickland said.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said he has long backed an ID provision. He claims he has been sued by both Democrats and Republicans over signature matching, and that the procedure is arbitrary.

“When it comes to photo ID, it’s really objective,” he said.

In reaction to Democratic challenges, court settlements in many states have ensured electors that they will have the ability to correct issues caused by a lost or mismatched signature.

The Georgia law is now being challenged in court, with one arguing that the ID provision increases the risk of fraud and identity theft. According to a federal complaint brought by a coalition of county election board members, candidates, and others, the requisite personal identity details can be easily compromised, opening the door for ballots to be submitted and cast using voters’ names and information without their consent.

Georgia state Sen. Jen Jordan, a Democrat representing a metro Atlanta district, said the law is based on myths shared by Trump and his supporters and would hurt voters.

“At the end of the day,” Jordan said, “we shouldn’t forget the bill’s roots, the meaning behind it, and how many of these proposed clauses can be used to invalidate the will of the voter.”

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Pennsylvania Senator played a central role in Trump’s Oust Acting Attorney General conspiracy

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Pennsylvania Senator played a central role in Trump's Oust Acting Attorney General conspiracy

Pennsylvania Senator played a central role in Trump’s Oust Acting Attorney General conspiracy

 

The presence of the congressman emphasised how far the former president was willing to go to reverse the election, and Democratic lawmakers have started to call for investigations into such attempts.

He also took a back seat to higher-profile loyalists in President Donald J. Trump‘s circle when Representative Scott Perry joined his colleagues in a months-long effort to undo the outcome of the presidential election, endorsing “Stop the Steal” events and supporting an attempt to overturn millions of legally cast votes.

But Mr. Perry, an outspoken Republican from Pennsylvania, played a major role in the turmoil that took place this month at the top of the Justice Department, when Mr. Trump considered firing the acting attorney general and only backed down when top department officials threatened to resign en masse.

It was Mr. Perry, a member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, who first made Mr. Trump aware that, according to former administration officials who met with Mr. Clark and Mr. Trump, a comparatively unknown Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, the acting civil division director, was sympathetic to Mr. Trump’s view that the election had been stolen.

Mr. Perry introduced Mr. Clark to the president, whose openness to electoral fraud conspiracy theories provided Mr. Trump with a welcome change from the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, who stood by the election results and consistently defied the president’s attempts to reverse them.

The previously unreported position of Mr. Perry, and the quiet conversations that followed between Mr. Trump and Mr. Clark, underscored how much the former president was able to use the government to subvert the election, appealing to more junior and comparatively unknown figures for assistance as he was rebuffed by ranking Republicans and cabinet members.

The presence of Mr. Perry is also likely to increase criticism of House Republicans who continue to advance Mr. Trump’s baseless and thoroughly debunked accusations of electoral fraud, even after the inauguration of President Biden this week and as Congress prepares for an impeachment trial that will investigate whether the Capitol riot was triggered by such speaking.

It is uncertain when Mr. Perry, who serves the region of Harrisburg, met Mr. Clark, a resident of Philadelphia, or how well they knew each other prior to Mr. Trump’s introduction. It was only in late December that Mr. Clark told Mr. Rosen about the introduction brokered by Mr. Perry, who was among the thousands of people feeding Mr. Trump the false expectation that he had won the election, former Trump administration officials said.

Yet Mr. Trump is extremely unlikely to have met Mr. Clark otherwise. Department officials were surprised to learn that Mr. Clark had been personally called by the president on many occasions and that the two had met in person without alerting Mr. Rosen, the officials said. The policy of the Justice Department stipulates that the president initially talks on all matters with the attorney general or the deputy attorney general, and then, if allowed, a lower-level official.

As the deadline for Congress to affirm the election of Mr. Biden approached, Mr. Perry and Mr. Clark debated a proposal to have the Department of Justice send a letter to Georgia state legislators informing them of a voter fraud investigation that could invalidate the results of the state’s Electoral College. Former officials who were briefed on the proposal said that hundreds of voter fraud investigations nationally by the department had not turned up ample instances of fraud to change the election result.

The proposal was also discussed with Mr. Trump by Mr. Perry and Mr. Clark, setting off a chain of events that almost led to the ouster of Mr. Rosen, who had declined to send the letter.

The political fallout was rapid after The New York Times published the specifics of the scheme on Friday. In a letter on Saturday, Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told the Justice Department that he will investigate Mr. Trump and Mr. Clark’s attempts to use the agency “to further Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election results.”

“The majority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, said it was “unconscionable that a leader of the Trump Justice Department would conspire to subvert the will of the people.” He called on the inspector general of the department, Michael E. Horowitz, to investigate “this attempted sedition.

According to a person briefed on the investigation, Mr. Horowitz has already opened an investigation into whether Trump administration officials illegally pressured Byung J. Pak, who unexpectedly resigned this month as the U.S. attorney in Atlanta after being pressured to take steps related to the election. Mr. Durbin is also investigating the matter.

Mr. Trump also attempted to compel officials from the Justice Department, including Mr. Rosen and the acting solicitor general, Jeffrey Wall, to file a complaint before the Supreme Court that, according to an individual briefed on the request, would contest Mr. Biden’s victory.

A brief was also drawn up by one of Mr. Trump’s outside attorneys for the department to file with the court. Department officials and White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone told Mr. Trump that, for many reasons, the proposal would fail, including the fact that the department did not have the grounds to appeal the result, the individual said.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the fight between Mr. Trump and officials from the Justice Department over the Supreme Court filing.

Another example of the disposal of impeachment managers is the episode with Mr. Clark and Mr. Perry, where they put together their argument that Mr. Trump should again be barred from taking office.

Mr. Clark declined to comment on Mr. Perry’s relationship, and he categorically refused to formulate any scheme to remove Mr. Rosen. He said that there had been “a candid discussion with the president of options and pros and cons” that The Times had wrongly portrayed, but he declined to provide details. Because of “the strictures of legal privilege,” he refused to say anything more about his interactions with Mr. Trump or lawyers from the Justice Department.

Asked if his discussions with the president had violated the policy of the department regulating communication with the president, he said that, as part of their duties, senior lawyers at the agency offered legal advice to the White House. All my official communications were law-compliant,” he said.”

The acting head of the Civil Division was appointed in September by Mr. Clark, a member of the Conservative Federalist Society. He also managed the environmental and natural resources division of the department, where he had served under President George W. Bush.

To repeated requests for comment, neither Mr. Perry nor his top aides replied.

Some Senate Republicans have become increasingly concerned, like Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, that if they do not interfere and separate themselves from Mr. Trump, the chaos wrought by the former president might damage the political fortunes of Republicans for years to come. The episode is an unwanted reminder that even though Mr. Trump is no longer in office, negative details about his presidency will continue to surface.

And the position of Mr. Perry in the discussions could further exacerbate tensions in the House, where Republicans were already livid by Democratic lawmakers for fanning the flames before the Capitol riot, with some members of the rank-and-file calling for the dismissal of legislators who led attempts to overturn the election.

Mr. Trump’s pressure on the Department of Justice, including any plans he may have considered to oust Mr. Rosen, also raises legal concerns for him.

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Trump turns to the ethics counsel for his defence, Trial Ahead,

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Butch Bowers

Butch Bowers

Butch Bowers is used in ethics lawsuits to protect elected officials. But nothing quite like this has ever faced him.

It is up to Donald Trump to rise up and defend Bowers, a South Carolina election and ethics lawyer, as the Senate soon plunges into an impeachment trial unlike any other, centred on allegations that the former president incited the mob that rampaged through the U.S. On Jan. 6 at the Capitol. The stakes are immense for Trump, the first president twice impeached: if convicted, he may be barred from ever holding public office, ending any chances of mounting another bid for the White House in 2024.

After other legal allies passed on the case, Trump turned to Bowers, a familiar figure in Republican legal circles. That’s a dramatic departure from his first impeachment trial in 2020, when he was standing in his corner with a stable of influential lawyers, including Alan Dershowitz, Jay Sekulow, who represented him in the Russia investigation, and Kenneth Starr.

The first impeachment trial turned on allegations that Trump had illegally sought assistance from Ukraine for his reelection campaign. He was cleared by the Senate of those charges. The new trial could depend on broader legal issues, including “whether the Constitution even allows the Senate to take post-impeachment action,” said Sekulow, who is not involved in Trump’s legal defence.

Sekulow said he did not expect Bowers, who has years of experience defending elected officials and political candidates, including former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, to be hampered by never having defended a current or former president in a Senate trial against a failed impeachment attempt that morphed into an ethics investigation.

Sekulow said Friday, “He’s an excellent lawyer with a tremendous reputation who understands the law and politics.”

Bowers was suggested to Trump by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and told Fox News he sees him as Trump’s team’s “anchor tenant.” Jason Miller, Trump’s strategist, who also ran Sanford’s government and congressional campaigns, said Bowers “will do an outstanding job defending President Trump.”

A message seeking comment was not responded to by Bowers.

His plan for Trump’s defence is vague, but a simple choice is to challenge the legitimacy of the trial. Many Senate Republicans, the jurors he would have to convince, have indicated they have reservations about whether an impeachment trial for an ex-official is constitutional, even though it has happened before.

Meanwhile, the nine House managers investigating the case would almost certainly concentrate on linking Trump’s comments to supporters at a rally before the riot to the violence that soon followed, including urging them to “fight like hell.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will forward the impeachment article to the Senate on Monday, triggering the trial’s first step.

Opening arguments will start on Feb. 8, the week. On Friday evening, after reaching an agreement with Republicans who had pushed to delay the proceedings, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer revealed the timeline to give Trump a chance to assemble his legal team and plan a defence.

While maybe nothing compares to the legal and political swirl of a Senate impeachment hearing, both in Washington and in guiding elected officials through the fray, Bowers has experience.

He worked as a lawyer for Sanford and another former governor, Nikki Haley, leading her through an inquiry into whether she had broken the law of state ethics.

Ultimately, an ethics commission cleared Haley. The lawyer “works hard, has an eye for detail and knows the law,” said Rob Godfrey, a former Haley advisor who partnered closely with Bowers during his representation of the governor.

Bowers worked for Sanford when, following revelations that Sanford had vanished from the state, state lawmakers considered impeaching him, leaving no chain of command for five days, to visit his lover in Argentina in 2009. The attempt never made it out of committee.

The Associated Press inquiries into the other trips to Sanford found that despite the low-cost travel laws of the state, he had flown on commercial airlines in high-priced seats and had used state aircraft for personal and political trips.

At the time, Bowers stated that the governor would be acquitted, arguing that the allegations were non-criminal and “limited to minor, technical matters.” Sanford continued to pay the highest fine of ethics in state history, $74,000, as well as almost $37,000 to cover the investigation’s costs.

Joel Sawyer, the long-time spokesperson for Sanford, said the strengths of Bowers lie in his cool nature and ability to investigate legal arguments without thinking about pomp and politics.

“If Donald Trump lets Butch be Butch and doesn’t try to make him someone he’s not, it’s going to be a great fit for Butch in terms of making nutty legal arguments and searching for television cameras,” Sawyer said. “If Trump wants him to be Rudy Giuliani or Sidney Powell 2.0, it won’t be good for anybody.”

In a battle over excessive donations, a 2016 lawsuit that ended with the then-lieutenant governor having to pay more than $70,000 in fines and reimbursements, Bowers represented Gov. Henry McMaster, a loyal Trump ally. Bowers and McMaster, a lifelong fixture of GOP politics in South Carolina, both shared office space at one point.

As well as a former South Carolina sheriff who pleaded guilty to embezzlement and corruption in office, Bowers was also a prosecutor for former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and the South Carolina Election Commission in lawsuits over voter ID rules. In 2018, in her successful defamation suit against Missouri’s athletics director, he was a counsel for University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley.

Bowers worked as a special advocate in the United States on voting issues. Under President George W. Bush, the Department of Justice was Florida’s legal counsel for the 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain, and chaired the South Carolina Election Commission from 2004 to 2007. Bowers graduated from Tulane University School of Law in 1998 with degrees from the University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston.

State Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a former South Carolina Democratic Party president and long-time associate of President Joe Biden, who has faced Bowers in court many times, said he expected the “understated” Bowers, also a South Carolina Air National Guard colonel, to make decisions not based on personality in the case, which Harpootlian said was in contrast to Trump’s previous attorneys.

“Harpootlian said, “Trump would not be able to make Butch someone that he is not.

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