Trump Could Use Putin to Skirt Prosecution

Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Send tips to [email protected] or tweet me at @BrentGriffiths.

  • It’s great to be joining you all again! I want to give a special shout-out to Jordan, Oma, Grace, Lisa, and everyone else who helped with the newsletter while I was on vacation.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

One thing to watch for: President Biden welcomes outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to the White House at 4 p.m. Eastern.

Former President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin

Former President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

1. GET-OUT-OF-JAIL-FREE CARD: It sounds like something out of a movie. But legal professors caution that there are very real risks if former President Donald Trump were to be indicted and flee to a country without an extradition treaty, especially nations like Russia where he has business ties.

Here’s what else my colleagues found:

Some legal experts worry about Trump absconding to Russia: Trump could petition Russian President Vladimir Putin for political asylum. Russian officials could agree to entertain Trump’s application, which would trigger an international standoff between two countries with an already fraught relationship. 

Other countries could still lead to headaches as officials would have to make formal requests to get Trump back: “It would be a very dicey situation for the US to be seeking extradition of a former president of the United States,” Shanlon Wu, a former federal prosecutor in Washington, DC told Insider.

  • There were more than 70 countries without an extradition treaty as of the end of last year: Trump, who is not charged and is free to leave the US, has done business in a number of them including China, Belarus, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia.

The Trump Organization faces a pivotal day today: Manhattan prosecutors gave Trump’s company a Monday afternoon deadline to make final arguments why it should not face criminal charges over its financial dealings, The Washington Post reports.

Here’s what an extradition fight would mean for Biden.

florida building collapse rescue efforts

Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building on June 26.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

2. More than 150 missing in Florida disaster: Rescuers recovered another four bodies from last week’s condominium collapse, meaning nine people have now died and 152 remain missing, the Miami Herald reports. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters that efforts will remain “a rescue mission for the indefinite future.”

3. US research on deadly viruses is clouded in secrecy: Americans have had no way of knowing what their own government was doing to protect them from some of the riskiest science since the development of the atomic bomb. The current focus on “gain of function” research in China — the term for when virologists alter viruses, potentially making them more deadly or transmissible — belies the secrecy that surrounds similar work in the US. 

The US has experienced a number of close calls unrelated to gain of function research. CDC employees have been accidentally exposed to Anthrax. Unsecured vials of smallpox turned up in a CDC storage room. Even the Pentagon’s biodefense lab had to shut down in 2019 after numerous containment failures.

4. US airstrikes on facilities used by Iranian-backed militias: The Pentagon said the targets were selected because they were used by Iran-backed militia groups conducting drone attacks against US personnel and facilities in Iraq. This is not the first time Biden has ordered strikes in the region.

Something to keep on the radar: Congress has recently shown bipartisan support for reining in war powers.

  • From Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut:

A tweet from Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut

A tweet from Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut

Chris Murphy/Twitter

5.  Key Republicans predict infrastructure deal will pass: Republicans struck an optimistic tone after President Biden’s weekend clarification that he will sign a bipartisan infrastructure deal. Biden said he did not mean to imply he would veto such an agreement if it passed without a separate bill with other measures championed by only Democrats, The Post reports. “I do trust the president,” Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” But there’s still uncertainty about the road ahead.

President Joe Biden and the chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell in front of a red revolutionary poster background with raised fists in the air and dollar signs surrounding them.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty; Thomas Trutschel/Getty; iStock; Skye Gould/Insider

6. Some economists worry that lawmakers will halt Biden’s stimulus: Biden and Fed Chair Jerome Powell are aiming for a recovery that favors workers over the wealthy. The growth is already explosive. And so is the backlash. Inside the battle over inflation, and a major shift in how the US responds to economic crisis.

7. Lawmakers are trading these stocks: Rep. Josh Gottheimer bought and sold Microsoft stock in rapid succession 12 times on May 18 — four of those trades may have been worth as much as $5 million. A spokesperson for the New Jersey Democrat said Gottheimer previously turned over control of his portfolio to a third party.

Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, and his wife, Ann Holland Scott, sold a massive stake of between $15 million and $75 million in Valterra Products Holdings LLC, a California-based company that manufactures products and parts for everything from RVs and buses to pools and spas.

Here’s what else members of Congress are trading.

2022 congressional candidates Omar Navarro, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Lauren Boebert with warped Qs and the Capitol building behind them on a purple background

John Sciulli/Getty Images; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Insider

8. At least 36 QAnon-supporting candidates intend to run for Congress: A Media Matters investigation linked candidates in 17 states to the movement. It said the 17 had either openly endorsed QAnon, made subtle references to it, or distanced themselves from it despite repeatedly displaying support on social media or in interviews. Almost all are running as Republicans. Experts say this shows how QAnon has evolved into a political force.

9. Bill Barr said he suspected Trump’s claims of election fraud were “bulls—“: Trump’s former attorney general said the then-president asked him “How the f— could you do this to me?” after Barr’s told the AP that the Justice Department had uncovered no evidence of election fraud.

The exchange is described by ABC’s Jonathan Karl in a book set to publish later this year. Barr told Karl that he expected Trump to lose the election, but investigated some of the fraud claims anyway because he knew the president would ask about it.

10. “Fast 9″ had the highest opening weekend since the pandemic: Vin Diesel’s plea to get America back to the movies may have worked. The latest installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise hauled in $70 million in box office receipts, the most of any movie released in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, per CNBC. This could be just the beginning for Hollywood, with other long-delayed blockbusters coming soon.

Today’s trivia question: Who is the only president to have played in the Men’s College World Series? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at [email protected].