On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Growing Republican resistance to Trump
National political correspondent David Jackson reports. Plus, the January 6 House committee finds gaps in White House phone records, Canadian truckers continue to block a border bridge as protest, closing arguments are set in Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the New York Times and Shaun White says goodbye to the Olympics.
Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Friday, the 11th of February 2022. Today, Trump’s potentially fading popularity with the GOP. Plus, Canadian truckers continue to protest COVID mandates on the border and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- The Saint Paul Police Department says the raid that killed 22-year-old Amir Locke was not going to be a no-knock search warrant until the Minneapolis Police Department insisted. Locke was shot and killed by police after they stormed into an apartment where he was sleeping earlier this month.
- We now know how Bob Saget died. The comedian passed away from head trauma after accidentally hitting the back of his head.
- And the NBA trade deadline brought a blockbuster deal yesterday. Ben Simmons heads to the Brooklyn Nets along with other pieces as James Harden is now a Philadelphia 76er.
The House Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol has found gaps in the official White House phone records and they’re during periods when it’s known that former President Donald Trump was contacting associates. Sources told the New York Times and CNN yesterday that official phone records obtained by the committee are mostly empty of calls by the president and other senior staff during the hours when the insurrection was taking place. The pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol last year, claiming falsely that Trump won the election and beat President Joe Biden. These latest reports complicate the committee’s efforts to understand Trump’s role in the riot. Little is known about the former president’s whereabouts during the attack, though aids have said he was mostly watching on television. That news also came on the same day that Trump was again accused of violating the Presidential Records Act by destroying documents while in office and hiding others at his Mar-a-Lago Resort after leaving office.
According to an excerpt from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s upcoming book on the Trump presidency, White House staff sometimes found printed paper clogging a toilet. That suggests Trump may have been flushing documents. Separately, the National Archives says it retrieved 15 boxes of presidential records from Trump’s residence in Florida. Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House must preserve all memos and papers related to the president. Prior reporting, including from The Washington Post has found that Trump often violated that act while in office telling aids to destroy documents. In a letter yesterday to the National Archives, House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney pushed for Trump to be held accountable. For his part, in a statement, Trump called reporting in Maggie Haberman’s book untrue. He also said he did not obstruct the National Archives from obtaining official documents from his presidency.
Over the past week alone, prominent Republicans have pushed back on former President Donald Trump. That includes Senate GOP leader, Mitch McConnell, and Trump’s own former vice president, Mike Pence.
But there are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress that I possessed unilateral authority to reject electoral college votes. And I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election. President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president. Under the constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election.
So to find out more on where Trump stands with the Republican Party heading toward 2024, Producer PJ Elliott caught up with National Political Correspondent David Jackson.
What’s happening with the GOP when it comes to President Trump? Is he still the pseudo leader or things starting to shift?
He is the leader, but there are signs that things could shift down the line. I mean, specifically we’re hearing more and more Republicans speak out publicly against President Trump. Last week, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump was wrong to suggest that he, Pence, could have somehow changed the results of the election. Remember Trump tried to pressure Pence into setting aside some electoral votes, but Pence refused. Pence hasn’t talked about that much, but last week he came out and said Trump was wrong, which is the most striking criticism of Trump we’ve seen from him.
Also, over the weekend, the Republican National Committee issued a censure of two Republican House Members who are on the January 6th investigating committee, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. And that move drew a lot of criticism from a lot of Republicans, some of whom even liked Trump, but they believed that this particular move is too divisive for the party. It gave Mitch McConnell a chance to tee off on Trump. He said that January 6 was a bad thing and we shouldn’t be criticizing fellow Republicans who want to investigate it. But even guys like John Cornyn and John Thune, that resolution set off a host of political Republicans. And even though they didn’t mention Trump by name, they’re obviously referring to him when they said that, just give up this hatred of those who’ve criticized the president.
So what about polling numbers? What do they show about Republicans wanting Trump to run for office again?
That’s another thing. There are signs that things could be changing. Trump remains very popular in polls. I mean, he has approval ratings in the 80s and the 90s from Republicans in various polls. But what you’re starting to see is that more and more people, more and more Republicans don’t believe he should run for president again in 2024.
How important are the midterms for Trump’s future in politics?
Well, very important because they’ll be the best gauge we have of just how much control he does have over the Republican parties. He’s planning to get very involved in Republican primaries, as well as the general election in November. He’s backing a lot of candidates, some of whom are quite controversial. So the question here is whether his support will be enough to get some of these guys over the finish line. And if they lose, then obviously his political stock is going to suffer and more Republicans will come to oppose him. In the fall election, there’s a real question as to whether a very Trumpy candidate can win in places like Georgia and Ohio. And if those candidates do in fact lose to the Democrats, that will hurt Trump’s political stock even more.
You can check out all of David’s work with a link in today’s episode description.
For the fourth straight day yesterday, Canadian truckers continue to block the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Windsor, Ontario with Detroit. The move comes as part of protests across Canada against certain COVID-19 restrictions. The Biden administration is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to use federal powers to end the blockade, which is starting to affect the flow of auto parts and other products between the two countries. AP reporter Tom Krisher has more.
Honda has been affected. Stellantis has been affected. Ford’s had to take shifts off and even close a plant. So pretty much every automaker is being affected, or at least the ones that have operations that straddle this big border and the commerce that goes over the Ambassador Bridge. A lot of auto parts will go over the bridge have something done to them, and then they’ll come back across to be finished. And this is really upsetting that whole free flow of parts. And of course, we’re already short of parts due to COVID, due to the global semiconductor shortage.
Honda today will stop production during its day shift at its Ontario plant. And GM sent a shift home early yesterday on the Michigan side due to parts shortages.
Closing arguments are set today in the defamation trial that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is bringing against the New York Times. The AP’s Tom Hayes has more from New York.
Palin was on the witness stand today telling a jury about her dismay over a New York Times’ editorial from 2017 that made a direct link between her political action committee’s rhetoric and a mass shooting in Arizona in 2011. That was the one where former representative Gabby Giffords was shot in the head. Other people there were killed, including a young girl. Palin said she felt powerless to defend herself against that accusation by The Times that turned out to be false. So she felt that her only recourse was to file a defamation suit that has now gone to trial.
Palin took the stand today and was very calm and cool. And her descriptions of her reaction to this Times editorial. She described herself as the David against their Goliath, this mega media company that has such a big audience. And again, she felt her only recourse in this was to sue them and seek unspecified damages.
It is an uphill battle for her. It’s a high bar where the plaintiffs have to prove that there was actual malice in what The Times did or extreme recklessness. An editorial page editor James Bennet has testified that he had no intent to try to harm Palin. He’s described it as an honest mistake that he regrets and The Times went to great pains to try to correct it immediately and admit that they were wrong, but again meant no harm against Palin.
Shaun White’s legendary snowboarding career has come to an end. The 35-year-old tried for his fourth gold medal in the men’s halfpipe earlier today, but he was wiped out on the final run and finished fourth in the event. White’s Olympic career began back at the 2006 games in Italy. After his fifth and final Olympics, he told NBC Sports “Snowboarding, thank you. It’s been the love of my life.”
In women’s hockey, USA is through to the semi-finals after beating the Czech Republic. They’ll play the winner of Finland and Japan. And the men’s team will take on Canada later today after the Americans dominated China 8-0 in their first preliminary round game.
Nathan Chen won gold for team USA in men’s figure skating. And star Russian skater Kamila Valieva is in Olympic limbo after a positive doping test. As for the medals, the US now has four golds at these games, two off the leader, Germany. And the stars and stripes have 10 medals overall, four behind leaders, Austria. You can stay up on all the latest from Beijing with USA TODAY Sports.
And you can find 5 Things on whatever your favorite podcast app is. That includes Apple Podcasts, Spotify, your smart speaker, and more. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show. And I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.