On September 28, 2008, Luis Sánchez Valle and Jaime Gómez Vázquez were indicted separately in Puerto Rican courts on multiple weapons-related charges. While those cases progressed, both were indicted separately by federal grand juries on similar charges. Both pleaded guilty to the federal charges, which carried less severe penalties, and both successfully petitioned the Puerto Rican trial courtsto dismiss the local charges on double-jeopardy grounds.
On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court will hear Puerto Rico v. Sánchez Valle, a case that experts believe could go a long way in determining if Puerto Rico's government has some of the autonomy of a sovereignstate or if it is completely under the territorial control of the US government.The question focuses on whether the constitutional protection in the Fifth Amendment ondouble jeopardy—which states that no one should be charged for the same crime twice under the same sovereign government—applies to those facing the same charges under federal and Puerto Rican laws. But the decision could also have much broader implications.
"[This case] may affect the federal government's defense of federal legislation and policies related to Puerto Rico across a broad range of substantive areas, including congressional representation, federal benefits, federal income taxes, bankruptcy, and defense," wrote Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., the US government's designated lawyer for Supreme Court hearings, in a brief arguing that Puerto Rico is not sovereign.
"[This case] may affect the federal government's defense of federal legislation and policies related to Puerto Rico across a broad range of substantive areas, including congressional representation, federal benefits, federal income taxes, bankruptcy, and defense."
The Puerto Rican courts dismissed the charges, but local prosecutors successfully appealed to the Puerto Rico Court of Appeals on grounds that the federal and local charges were charged under distinct sovereigns and the two men should be prosecuted in both jurisdictions. The Puerto Rico Supreme Court agreed to hear the dispute in both cases and consolidated them. It then ruled in March 2015 that for purposes of double jeopardy, the federal government and the Puerto Rico government aren't distinct: "The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is not a sovereign entity inasmuch as, being a territory, its ultimate source of power to prosecute offenses is derived from the United States Congress.”
"It is hard to overstate the legal, practical, and political implications of [the Puerto Rico Supreme Court's decision]," the lawyers wrote. "It strips Puerto Rico of the ability to enforce its own criminal laws without federal interference."
Unlike states and Native American tribes—which have their own inherent sovereignty under the Constitution—Puerto Rico is a territory, as it has been since the United States seized it from Spain in 1898. Some have argued that the island gained a level of sovereignty when it adopted its own constitution in 1952, making it something between a state and a territory. Others contend that any powers Puerto Rico's government has must come from the US Congress, and therefore it is not sovereign. This tension is at the heart of the statehood debate that has raged for decades in Puerto Rico, and the court's decision will have a lasting impact in determining Puerto Rico's actual political status.
"That will make it very difficult for advocates for [commonwealth status] to keep maintaining the position that in 1952 Puerto Rico became something other than a plain territory of the United States," says Efrén Rivera Ramos, a law professor and former dean of the law school at the University of Puerto Rico. "That's one of the central political issues here."
Rivera explains that the political divisions that drive Puerto Rican politics hinge on the island's status. On one side, statehood advocates argue that only statehood will give Puerto Rico parity in the eyes of the US Congress. On the other side, those who favor a version of the status quo want to maintain the semi-autonomy that exists today. A small minority advocate full independence.
If the court rules that Puerto Rico is not a sovereign entity, and that its power derives from the US Congress and not from the Puerto Rican people, then the argument in favor of the status quo will suffer a major blow, Rivera says. Arguments for maintaining the commonwealth status have already been undercut by the island's current economic disaster and massive emigration problem, which stem in part from the inequities it suffers under its territorial status. Their argument that Puerto Rico enjoys privileges beyond those of a US territory would receive another big blow if the Supreme Court ruled against them, making statehood (or full independence) a more attractive option to bring the island a degree of stability.
"As a practical matter, any statement the Court makes suggesting something beyond territorial status for Puerto Rico…is fraught with potential political ramifications."
"As a practical matter, any statement the Court makes suggesting something beyond territorial status for Puerto Rico—no matter how indirect or unintentional—is fraught with potential political ramifications," they wrote, adding that a decision hinting at more sovereignty for Puerto Rico will force the federal government to reconcile the way federal taxes are applied on the island, how Puerto Rico handles foreign affairs, and why Puerto Ricans aren't allowed to vote in federal elections, among other thorny constitutional issues.
Rivera, the law professor at the University of Puerto Rico, says the court's decision will be parsed in a million different ways by the island's political class and manipulated in support of a variety of arguments related to statehood, independence, or status quo.But, overall, it might help bring some clarity to the long-running debate about the island's true status.
"The one thing I see as positive with all these developments is that people are talking more about the issue," he says. "It's become a topic of general conversation in Puerto Rico, and debate. Many people are following this. This might be the beginning of some movement in some direction."
It's hard to overstate Donald Trump's impact on the 2016 race for the White House. The business tycoon symbolizes the shift from traditional presidential campaigns to the new uncampaign. Trump has had no need to pander for money, and he has been impervious to criticism—no matter how justified. He seems to only be strengthened by political gaffes that would doom other candidates. This year, he has dominated the news cycle repeatedly and ridden high in the polls. Chronicling all his wacky remarks, blunders, outrageous proposals, and, of course, crazy tweets of this past year would be nearly impossible. But we tried.
January 24: A friendly and relatively noncombative Trump delivers a speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, where he says he has "tremendous respect for the tea party."
January 26: Two days after his speech in Iowa, Trump talks to Fox News' Greta Van Susteren about a possible presidential run. After saying that 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney is "not a closer" and noting that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's name is a "very, very big negative" in his race for the White House, Trump explains that he's "very, very seriously considering" a run. "I could make America great again," he insists.
January 30: Trump's "run" is dismissed as a publicity gambit cooked up to promote his businesses and TV shows. Writing in the New York Times, Gail Collins includes him in a list of people, such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who are "feigning interest in the presidential race in order to promote their cheesy television shows."
March 1-5: Early indications suggest that Republican voters agree Trump isn't a serious candidate. A poll done by the Wall Street Journal and NBC finds that 74 percent of all Republican primary voters say they couldn't imagine voting for him. This is the highest negative among all the candidates.
March 6: Bushappears to be the odds-on favorite for the GOP nomination, and Trump's possible run is still not being taken seriously. Analyzing the potential candidacy of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, an opinion column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that Trump is 99.9 percent sure not to be nominated as the Republican candidate because he's "too despicable."
March 18: Trump announces that he is going to form an exploratory committee. "I have a great love for our country, but it is a country that is in serious trouble. We have lost the respect of the entire world. Americans deserve better than what they get from their politicians—who are all talk and no action!" Trump says in a statement.In it he announced that he has made "several key hires" in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina and that "additional advisers" are "based in New York."
March 19: The day after his exploratory committee is announced, his campaign is dismissed by political pundits and operatives. Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times writes that Trump is "flirting—again—with a contest he stands no chance of winning." Former New Hampshire GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen tells the Boston Herald that "I look forward to the day he quits the race, and I hope that he does so in complete disgrace...I don't want to give him an ounce of serious assessment or credibility as somebody who is a serious person in any way."
March 25: Washington Post writer Philip Bump reiterates the widespread doubts about Trump, writing that "very few people consider Donald Trump a real candidate for president."
April 17: A Trump spokesperson tells the Daily Caller that one of Trump's 10 staff members retweeted the Clinton tweet. "As soon as Mr. Trump saw the tweet he deleted it," the spokesperson says.
April 27: Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen argues that Trump being in the race makes everybody look better by comparison. "The man provides a utility that the party dearly needs," he writes. "He makes the other candidates seem reasonable."
May 16: Trump attends the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, an annual fundraiser for the state party that attracts national candidates during election cycles. "We have to make our country great again," he says. "We have to." During the speech, Trump tells the crowd that he will have an announcement that is "going to surprise a lot of people."
May 28: Trump has 4.5 percent support in the RealClearPolitics average of national GOP presidential polls, more than 10 points behind front-runner Bush, who leads the pack at 14.8 percent.
May 30: Referring to the Lincoln Dinner, theNew York Post's Kyle Smith writes, "Stop pretending—Donald Trump is not running for president." Smithcalls Trump's announcement tease a "bid for publicity" and cites his unpopularity within the GOP as a reason that he is not a serious candidate.
June 16: After slowly descending a golden escalator in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City, Trump announces his candidacy. "I am officially running...for president of the United States," he says. "I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created." Trump talks about how much money he has ("I'm not doing that to brag"), the American Dream ("the American Dream is dead"), and how the country is run by "losers." This is also the speech where Trump expands on his thoughts about Mexico and immigration:
The US has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems…When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you [referring to the crowd]. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
Trump also lays out in greater detail his controversial plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants. “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall,” he says.
The day he announces, conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin writes a post titled "The Trump Clown Show" and calls Trump a "huckster" who isn't serious about running for president. She adds that he's a "ludicrous figure with no chance to win," and that he's using a presidential campaign "purely as self-promotion and to air his obnoxious attitudes."
A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on
June 26-28: Two weeks after he announces his candidacy, Trump shoots to second in a national CNN poll of Republicans. Bush leads at this point with 19 percent, compared with Trump's 12 percent.
June 29: NBCUniversal, the network that jointly produced the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants with Trump, cuts ties to Trump. "At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values," the network says in a statement. "Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump."
In a statement Trump blasts NBC's decision: "If NBC is so weak and so foolish to not understand the serious illegal immigration problem in the United States, coupled with the horrendous and unfair trade deals we are making with Mexico, then their contract violating closure of Miss Universe/Miss USA will be determined in court...They will stand behind lying Brian Williams, but won't stand behind people that tell it like it is, as unpleasant as that may be."
July 1: Still dealing with the fallout from his comments about "rapists" coming across the border from Mexico, Trump utters one of the more memorable lines of the year. When CNN's Don Lemon tries to get Trump to distinguish between rape in Mexico and criminals who come across the border, Trump says, "Somebody's doing the raping, Don…Who's doing the raping?"
July 1:Macy's announces that it is cutting ties with Trump over his comments about Mexican immigrants.Only minutes after Macy's announces its decision, Trump releases a statement saying it was his decision to end the business relationship. "I have decided to terminate my relationship with Macy's because of the pressure being put on them by outside sources," he says. "While selling Trump ties and shirts at Macy's is a small business in terms of dollar volume, my principles are far more important and therefore much more valuable."
July 14: The Trump campaign tweets an ad that includes a photo of marching soldiers. After the photo's context is pointed out on the internet, the campaign deletes the tweet and says an intern didn't notice that the stock photo was of Nazi soldiers.
July 18: In a speech at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa where he received an enthusiastic reception, Trump says Sen. John McCain "is not a war hero" and is only considered a "war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured."
Political commentators and his GOP rivals rip Trump for the comments, and some consider Trump's insults a mortal blow to his campaign:
A headline in the New York Post later that day reads,"Trump campaign implodes after McCain war hero insult." It quotes several of Trump's GOP primary opponents condemning the remarks. Former Republican GOP candidate Mitt Romney tweets, "The difference between @SenJohnMcCain and @realDonaldTrump: Trump shot himself down."
July 20: Trump reaches first place in the RealClearPolitics poll averages, besting Bush for the first time.
July 20: South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, who entered the race on June 1, calls Trump a "jackass" on CNN in response to Trump's criticism of McCain. "What he said about John, I think, was offensive," Graham says. "He's becoming a jackass at a time when we need to have a serious debate about the future of the party and the country. This is a line he's crossed, and this is the beginning of the end of Donald Trump…I am really pissed."
July 22: Lindsey Graham releases a video titled "How to Destroy Your Cell Phone With Sen. Lindsey Graham." In the video, he uses a meat cleaver, a golf club, fire, a blender, a brick, and a toaster oven to destroy his phone. "Or if all else fails, you can always give your number to The Donald," he says. "This is for all the veterans," he adds before throwing the phone against a wall. The video has more than 2.1 million views on YouTube and might represent the high-water mark of the Graham campaign.
July 23: Trump visits Laredo, Texas, to warn about the danger of Mexican immigrants and refers to the personal danger he faces in traveling to the border. “I have to do it," he says. "I love this country.” He may not have been in such danger; Laredo enjoys a relatively low crime rate.
July 28: Ten days after the McCain episode, the average polls put Trump at 18.2 percent, nearly five points above Bush's 13.7 percent.
August 6: When Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly asks about his history of misogyny and crude comments about women at the first GOP presidential debate of the cycle, Trump says his use of the term "fat pig" and other crude references was only in reference to Rosie O'Donnell. "Frankly, what I say—and oftentimes it's fun, it's kidding, we have a good time—what I say is what I say," Trump continues. "And honestly, Megyn, if you don't like it, I'm sorry. I've been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn't do that." There is a mix of cheers and boos from the audience at the Quicken Loans Arena in Clevelandduring the exchange.
August 7: Referring to Megyn Kelly on the day after the debate, Trump tells CNN's Don Lemon "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever…" This prompts widespread criticism that Trump had suggested that Kelly was menstruating. Trump later says he was referring to Kelly's nose.
The same day, prominent conservative Erick Erickson disinvites Trump from the RedState Gathering, a three-day event full of hundreds of GOP activists, elected officials, and journalists. Event organizer Erickson—who has his own issues with misogyny—writes on his website that while he thought Trump was being treated unfairly by the Republican Party, his comments about Kelly were too much. "There are just real lines of decency a person running for President should not cross," he writes. "His comment was inappropriate."
August 12: Kelly announces she's taking a vacation. "It's been an interesting week, and a long six months, without a vacation for yours truly," she says on her nightly show. "So I'll be taking the next week and a half off."
August 14: When asked, Trump says there's "probably" a connection between his attacks and Kelly's time off, "but I wouldn't know anything about it." He adds, "People were very surprised that, all the sudden, she decided to go away for 10 days…Some people make those quick decisions."
A Fox spokeswoman says Kelly's vacation was pre-planned and "conspiracy theories about Megyn Kelly's vacation rank up there with UFO's, the moon landing, and Elvis being alive." She adds that "to imply otherwise, as Donald Trump and his campaign operatives have, is not only wildly irresponsible, but downright bizarre."
August 16:Trump tells NBC's Chuck Todd that he would deport all undocumented immigrants in the United States, including any US-born children. "We're going to keep the families together, but they have to go," he says.
During the same segment, Todd asks Trump whom he consults for military advice. "Well, I watch the shows," Trump says. "I mean, I really see a lot of great—you know, when you watch your show and all of the other shows and you have the generals and you have certain people that you like." When pressed, he names former UN Ambassador to the UN John Bolton and retired Army Colonel Jack Jacobs.
August 21: During a massive rally at a football stadium in Mobile, Alabama, Trump proclaims the Bible his “favorite book” in a none-too-subtle appeal to the religious right. “What’s my first favorite book? The Bible,” Trump says, according to Fox Business.
August 22: Trump's poll numbers drop after the first debate and the subsequent attacks on Kelly. By August 22, he's down to 22 percent in the polls, from his previous high of 24.3 percent. It is still more than double his next-closest competitor (Bush, 10.7 percent).
August 24: Trump resumes his attacks on Kelly:
I liked The Kelly File much better without @megynkelly. Perhaps she could take another eleven day unscheduled vacation!
August 25: Fox News' chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes, defends Kelly in a statement posted on the Fox website, in which he calls Trump's attacks on Kelly "unacceptable" and "disturbing."
Megyn Kelly represents the very best of American journalism and all of us at FOX News Channel reject the crude and irresponsible attempts to suggest otherwise. I could not be more proud of Megyn for her professionalism and class in the face of all of Mr. Trump's verbal assaults…Donald Trump rarely apologizes, although in this case, he should.
Trump throws Univision anchor Jorge Ramos out of a press conference after Ramos demands that Trump answer his questions regarding Trump's plan to remove all undocumented immigrants and their US-born children.
September 3: A Trump security guard punches a Latino protester in the face outside of Trump Tower in New York City after the protester tries to take back a sign the security guard had ripped from his hands.
September 8: Trump releases a short video on Instagram—his preferred venue for attack ads—describing Bush as "low energy."
A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on
September 9: An interview with Rolling Stone is published in which Trump mocks GOP presidential rival and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina's appearance. "Look at that face!" he says, as the reporter and his staff sit around a table watching TV news. "Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?...I mean, she's a woman and I'm not s'posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?"
September 16: During the second GOP debate, this time at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, Fiorina is asked about Trump's remarks. "I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said," Fiorina says, as the crowd erupts in applause. Trump smiles, and then awkwardly interjects: "I think she's got a beautiful face, and I think she's a beautiful woman."
Also during the debate, Sen. Rand Paul questions Trump's maturity and judgment in a discussion of whether Trump is capable of controlling the US nuclear arsenal.
"I think really there's a sophomoric quality that is entertaining about Mr. Trump," Paul says. "But I am worried, I am very concerned about having him in charge of the nuclear weapons because…his visceral response to attack people on their appearance—short, tall, fat, ugly. My goodness, that happened in junior high. Are we not way above that? Would we not all be worried to have someone like that in charge of the nuclear arsenal?"
Trump offers a classic Trump response: "I never attacked him on his look and, believe me, there's plenty of subject matter right there."
September 16-19: A week after his comments about Fiorina were published, Trump reaches his highest average poll numbers yet at just above 30 percent, more than 10 points over Ben Carson and crushing Bush.
October 8: Trump manages to insult right-wing firebrand Glenn Beck and former House Speaker John Boehner in one tweet:
Wacky @glennbeck who always seems to be crying (worse than Boehner) speaks badly of me only because I refuse to do his show--a real nut job!
October 16: Trump heaps some of the blame for 9/11 on George W. Bush: "You talk about George Bush, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time." The interviewer, Bloomberg's Stephanie Ruhle, pushes back and says, "Hold on: You can't blame George Bush for that." Trump presses on: "He was president, okay? Don't blame him or don't blame him, but he was president, the World Trade Center came down during his reign."
October 25: During a discussion on CBS's "Face the Nation" about the debt ceiling, Trump insults Republicans' negotiation skills and says they should use the debt ceiling for political leverage. "The Republicans don't know how to negotiate, to be honest with you," he says. "I'm a Republican. It's embarrassing to watch them negotiate."
October 26: A pair of polls puts Carson way ahead of Trump in Iowa, 31 percent to 19 percent in one poll and 32 percent to 18 percent in the other.
November 4: Though Trump has said in much of his campaign that he's different because he doesn't need or want big donors' money, Politico reports that he has, in fact, reached out to wealthy right-wing donors like Sheldon Adelson, Paul Singer, and the Koch brothers.
November 10: During the GOP debate in Milwaukee, Trump competitor and Ohio Gov. John Kasich says Trump's plan to deport more than 11 million people is a "silly argument." In response, Trump says it is possible, citing the work of former President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. The plan Trump champions was called "Operation Wetback," and it consisted of rounding up Mexicans near the border, taking them across the border, and leaving them there. Dozens died, families were displaced, and the operation is looked at today as an abomination.
November 12: During an attack on GOP rival Carson at a campaign rally at an Iowa community college, Trump blasts Iowa voters who still seem to support the retired neurosurgeon and motivational speaker. "How stupid are the people of Iowa?" he asks. "How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?" Trump's speech lasts more than an hour and a half and includes barbs against other candidates. He describes Rubio as "weak like a baby, like a baby." He says Democratic front-runner Clinton is "playing the woman's card, big league." While discussing Carson's anger management problem as a teenager, Trump compares Carson to a child molester: "If you're a child molester, a sick puppy, you're a child molester, there's no cure for that. If you're a child molester, there's no cure. They can't stop you. Pathological—there's no cure. Now, he said he was pathological." Trump also flips his belt up and down while questioning Carson's story that as a teenager he once tried to stab a friend.
During this same speech, Trump says he would "bomb the shit out of ISIS's oil camps":
November 13: A story in the Washington Post suggests the Republican establishment is extremely worried about Trump or Ben Carson winning the nomination, believing it would "virtually [ensure] a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency and [increase] the odds that the Senate falls into Democratic hands."
Once more, Trump's provocative remarks are seen as the beginning of his demise. A New York magazine blog post observes, "It's hard for entertainers to stay on top for long, and there are already signs that Trump is about to be replaced by his younger, crazier, and more outsider-y rival, Dr. Ben Carson. Trump seems increasingly distressed by his waning popularity, and [in Iowa]…he tried a notoriously desperate move: releasing a 'greatest hits' album."
November 16: Trump says the United States needs to conduct surveillance on, and perhaps close, some mosques. "I would hate to do it," he tells MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, "but it's something that you're going to have to strongly consider."
November 19: About a week after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Trump says he would "certainly implement" a database to track Muslims in the United States and adds that there "should be a lot of systems, beyond databases." One of those "systems" would be a wall. The comments cause an immediate uproar.
November 21:Trump claims he saw "thousands and thousands of people…cheering as [the World Trade Center] was coming down" in Jersey City, New Jersey. Media and law enforcement swiftly rebut the claims, but Trump continues to insist he saw what he says he saw.
The same day, at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama, Trump talks about Muslims again: "I do want databases for those people coming in…I want surveillance of these people. I want surveillance if we have to and I don't care. I want—are you ready for this, folks?…I want surveillance of certain mosques, okay?"
At that rally, a Black Lives Matter protester is attacked by Trump supporters.
November 22: While talking with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Trump repeats the claim: "There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations," Trump says. "I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down—as those buildings came down. And that tells you something."
The New York Times reports that a plaque at one of Trump's golf courses—in Lowes Island, Virginia—references a spot on the river that was known during the Civil War as the "River of Blood." It turns out that nothing ever happened at the spot that Trump's plaque says happened. When pressed, Trump challenges the local historians who deny his claims: "How would they know that? Were they there?"
November 29: Meet the Press host Chuck Todd presses Trump on his claims that Muslims celebrated on 9/11, but Trump insists he's right. Todd tells him that "nobody can find evidence" of what he was describing and says Trump is "feeding a stereotype" that is false. "You're running for president of the United States. Your words matter," he adds. "Truthfulness matters. Fact-based stuff matters, no?"
Trump responds, "Take it easy, Chuck. Just play cool. This is people in this country that love our country, that saw this by the hundreds—they're calling."
November 30: Trump floats the prospect of boycotting the December 15 CNN debate unless he's paid $5 million, which he promises would go to "the wounded warriors or go to vets."
December 2: Trump appears on the internet-based talk show of Alex Jones, a 9/11-truther and star of the conspiracy underworld. During the interview, Trump says he predicted the rise and ultimate danger of Osama bin Laden in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve. The claim is false. The book contains one reference to bin Laden. It refers to bin Laden as one of many threats the United States faces, explaining that even though Americans were told about bin Laden, the information was fragmentary and the public's attention quickly focused on another threat.
December 3: Trump employs a series of Jewish stereotypes in a speech given to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, DC. A sampling: "Look, I'm a negotiator like you folks; we're negotiators." "You just like me because my daughter happens to be Jewish." And, "You're not going to support me because I don't want your money."
He also decides that he will participate in the GOP debates and offers two explanations for his about-face: He is leading in the polls and sees skipping the debate as a risk, and he doesn't have the "kind of leverage I'd like to have in a deal, and I don't want to take the chance of hurting my campaign."
December 7: Five days after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, Trump calls for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." Trump's proposal spurs indignation among political opponents in both parties and from leaders around the world.
December 9: In a closed-door meeting in New York City with donors, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says the question of judgment "is a challenging question" for Trump and Carson.
December 13: Trump tells Fox News' Chris Wallace that he doesn't think Cruz is qualified to be president. "I don't think he has the right temperament. I don't think he's got the right judgment. You look at the way he's dealt with the Senate, where he goes in there like a, you know, frankly like a little bit of a maniac—you're never going to get things done that way."
December 14: On the eve of the fifth GOP presidential debate in Las Vegas, Trump hosts a rally that includes several protesters who are violently thrown out. In one case, a black man is surrounded, knocked to the ground and manhandled. One onlooker shouts, "Light the motherfucker on fire!"
December 15: During the GOP debate in Las Vegas, radio host and co-moderator Hugh Hewitt asks Trump what his priority is in terms of updating and maintaining the nuclear triad, referring to the United States' three delivery systems for nuclear missiles: submarine-based missiles, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, and bombs dropped from aircraft. It becomes pretty clear that Trump has no idea what the nuclear triad is, as he rambles through an answer that includes observations about Iraq in 2004, how the United States should not have gotten involved in Syria without nuclear power, and that nuclear proliferation is "the world's biggest problem." Hewitt tries a second time to find out his priority in the triad. Trump responds: "I think—I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me."
December 16: James Fallows describes the implications of Trump's triad answer in The Atlantic: "To put it in context, this is like applying for a position on The Apprentice and having no idea what 'the bottom line' is, or applying to be an airline pilot and not knowing how to interpret 'cleared to land'…If realities mattered in this race, what Trump has just revealed would be fundamentally disqualifying ignorance for someone seeking a position of command responsibility."
December 18: Trump tells MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski and Scarborough that he likes the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has nice things to say about him. Scarborough points out that Putin is "also it's a person that kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries." Trump coolly responds, "He's running his country and at least he's a leader."
Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson tells Fox News, "What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you're afraid to use it?" Later in the segment, conservative columnist Kurt Schlichter blasts Trump's ignorance on the issue: "My God! Is it too much that he know what the nuclear triad is? I mean, Katrina, the point of the nuclear triad is to be afraid to use the damn thing. You want to scare the hell out of the other side. Barack Obama is not doing it, and, frankly, my side will be more scared if Donald Trump gets his finger on the button."
December 20: On ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Trump continues to defend Putin's record of alleged involvement in the assassination of journalists and political opponents. "In all fairness to Putin, you're saying he killed people," he says. "I haven't seen that. I don't know that he has…If he has killed reporters, I think that's terrible…It's never been proven that he's killed anybody, so you know you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, at least in our country. He has not been proven that he's killed reporters."
December 21: At a campaign rally in Michigan, Trump brings up the fact that people got upset about his defense of Putin's record of killing journalists. Trump says he doesn't "like" that, and is "totally against that." He then adds his own thoughts about reporters. "By the way, I hate some of these people, but I'd never kill them. I hate 'em," he says as the crowd roars its approval. "Honestly, I'll be honest, I'll be honest, I would never kill them, I would never do that." He then pauses for comic effect before continuing, “No, I wouldn’t. I would never kill them, but I do hate 'em, and some of 'em are such lying, disgusting people—it's true." The crowd's applause and cheers grow even louder.
At the same rally, he also asks where Clinton was when, after a short commercial break, ABC News turned back to debate coverage before Clinton had returned to her podium. "I know where she went," he says. "It's disgusting, I don't want to talk about it—No, it's too disgusting, don't say it, it's disgusting."
But missing in the massive bill was any debt assistance for Puerto Rico, which is on the brink of insolvency due to more than $72 billion in debt. Despite some recent Republican proposals that would have provided short-term relief (along with strict financial oversight) for the largest US territory, in the end, lawmakers did not include any assistance that would permit the federal bankruptcy provisions that US cities and states are able to use.
"It is unconscionable that Congressional Republicans refused to include in the year-end spending bill meaningful provisions to allow Puerto Rico to restructure its debt," Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) said in a statement released Wednesday morning. "This would not have cost the taxpayer a dime, but could have helped solve what is rapidly disintegrating into a humanitarian crisis."
The island is facing a $957 million interest payment on January 1, putting its government in the position of having to choose between paying government workers, public university workers, and other school teachers, or paying its creditors. Unlike cities and publicly owned entities in the states, Puerto Rico cannot restructure debt under federal bankruptcy laws. Pedro Pierluisi, the island's nonvoting representative to Congress, introduced legislation in 2014 and 2015 that would offer Puerto Rico's government that option, but neither bill received any Republican support. Last week, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) introduced a bill that included a bankruptcy provision for Puerto Rico, but also included a financial oversight board that Pierluisi and others said was too heavy-handed. Duffy's bill is in committee.
In her statement, Velázquez listed the many efforts the Puerto Rican government has made to bridge its funding gaps, which include spending less on students, closing a total of nearly 160 schools over the last two years, increasing the local sales tax to 11.5 percent, and laying off 21 percent of its government employees since 2008. "Yet hedge funds continue demanding further, unreasonable austerity measures, rather than accepting a lower rate of return on their investments," she said.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), while calling for passage of debt restructuring for Puerto Rico Thursday, noted that 200,000 Puerto Ricans have served in the US military since 1917, and that at some point next year Congress will honor a mostly Puerto Rican infantry regiment with a Congressional Gold Medal for its service during the Korean War.
"It's shameful to think that Congress can at once recognize the extraordinary contribution of Puerto Ricans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and then do nothing for Puerto Rico when they turn to us for help in a time of crisis," he said on the Senate floor.
While discussing the budget bill with reporters on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also discussed Puerto Rico's problems. "We're concerned about ignoring the urgency of the situation in Puerto Rico, where American citizens are really in a situation that we must address," she said, according to Politico. "It won't cost the American people one thin dime to allow Puerto Rico to restructure their debt and their bankruptcy."
Deepak Lamba-Nieves, an economic development researcher at the Center for the New Economy, an economic think tank in San Juan, Puerto Rico, told Mother Jones Wednesday that the lack of congressional action raises the likelihood that on January 1 Puerto Rico will find itself in the unprecedented position of defaulting on its general obligation debts because the government has to, by law, "address the creditors' needs before [the needs of] its citizens."
"It could be a situation where you have a lot of strong lobbying happening from the hedge funds and the financial community," he says. "This means that the federal government has basically turned its back on over 3 million of its citizens."
Pierluisi acknowledged that there were two provisions in the spending bill for Puerto Rico's hospitals. One will reimburse the local hospitals that treat Medicare patients at the same rate as hospitals in the states, giving Puerto Rico's hospitals $618 million between 2016 and 2025. Another provision provides Puerto Rican hospitals with the same bonuses provided to other hospitals in the United States that implement broader use of electronic health care records under the HITECH Act. (Read about the problems with electronic medical records in this recent Mother Jones story.)
"In total, the omnibus provides nearly $900 million to benefit Puerto Rico hospitals and patients over the next decade," Pierluisi said in a statement. "Puerto Rico still confronts major disparities under federal health care programs, including the upcoming Medicaid cliff, but it is gratifying to take these two disparities off the list."
Pierluisi added that the help for hospitals "is largely eclipsed" by the lack of help for the debt crisis.
"Despite our best efforts, the omnibus does not include language empowering Puerto Rico to restructure any of its debt, as every US state is empowered to do," he said. "Honesty requires me to note that the objections to this provision came exclusively from Republicans."
Pierluisi closed his statement bysaying that a major reason for the current problems facing Puerto Rico is its colonial relationship with the United States.
"Because Puerto Rico is a territory, Congress has nearly complete power over us. We rely on the goodwill of men and women representing the 50 states" he said. "Often, such goodwill is not forthcoming. And sometimes, like today, our treatment can only be described as shameful."
The above exchange, edited together by MSNBC, might represent signs of life for the flagging campaign of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The early front-runner with the $100 million war chest saw his poll numbers peak in early July, but they've been declining ever since. A big reason for that has been withering attacks of Donald Trump, who has successfully branded Bush as "low energy" and too nice to make the tough decisions necessary to run the country.
So during Tuesday night's debate, Bush's successful parry of Trump's attacks got a lot of attention. When Bush told Trump that he wouldn't be able to "insult your way to the presidency, that's not going to happen," it was the debate's top moment on Facebook, according to the Hill.
Social-media engagement and internet trends might not tell us who's going to win the nomination, but they do offer some insights into who's succeeding in getting the attention of voters. The Google Trends team put together a series of graphics showing how Google search terms trended before, during, and after the debate. If that's any indication, Trump had the best night, with Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio following.
First, take a look at the most searched candidate leading up to the debate:
That might not be too surprising given all the media attention Trump gets, but polls have shown that media attention tends to coincide with Republican base support. When people search for Trump on Google, here's what they're asking:
The data also shows what issues people are searching for related to Trump. Take a look:
During the debate, Google tracked real-time search data. ISIS and the internet—the latter due to increased talk about encryption and law enforcement access to data, as well as Trump's proposal to shut down parts of the internet to thwart terrorists—led the way. But you can see that China, Russia, immigration, Trump, and the Kurds were on people's minds during the debate. This graphic charts interest in those topics from 6:20 p.m. ET, during the undercard debate, to the end of the main debate, just after 11 p.m. ET. Take a look:
The morning after the debate, Trump still dominated Google search traffic, with more searches than the rest of the field combined. Cruz and Rubio followed. Here's the pattern from early morning December 16:
When people are searching specific issues on Cruz, they're searching for his stance on gun control, immigration, ISIS, abortion, and Muslims. But as far as specific questions, here's what people were asking about the senator from Texas in the week leading up to Tuesday's debate:
And here are the top questions asked about Rubio for that same time frame:
People are also searching for information on Ben Carson, another outsider candidate who had surged in the polls but has seen a drop in support after the terrorist attacks in Paris. The top trending questions on Carson in the week before the debate don't necessarily reflect well on the retired neurosurgeon:
And let's not forget CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the main moderator of last night's debate. People were Googling questions about him, too:
The GOP undercard debate has almost solely focused on how to deal with ISIS and terrorism, with a lot of talk about how the overall religion of Islam factors into the situation. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham continually stressed that framing the fight against terrorism as a fight against Islam is counterproductive and dangerous. At one point, he even apologized to the Muslim world for Trump's anti-Islam rhetoric.
"To all of our Muslim friends throughout the world…I am sorry," Graham said. "He does not represent us."
Later in the debate, Graham laid blame for the rise of ISIS squarely at President Barack Obama’s feet, and then things got pretty interesting: "I miss George W. Bush," he shouted. "I wish you were president right now!"