Election Updates: Trump surrogates denounce some Jan. 6 prosecutions; Biden goes to Hollywood. – The New York Times

A chronicle of Donald Trump's Crimes or Allegations

Election Updates: Trump surrogates denounce some Jan. 6 prosecutions; Biden goes to Hollywood. – The New York Times

Speaking on Saturday at the same convention center in Detroit where Trump supporters tried to interfere with the counting of absentee ballots in 2020, Donald Trump repeated his unsubstantiated claims that the last presidential election was stolen from him, and he again sowed doubt about the integrity of the upcoming one. “We need to watch the vote. We need to guard the vote. We need to stop the steal,” Trump said.

Although Donald Trump agreed to debate President Biden on CNN this month — and for months before called for Biden to debate him as soon as possible — he sought this weekend to downplay the upcoming debate’s import. Trump has argued that the debate’s rules, which his campaign agreed to, were designed to hurt him and that he had no choice to accept the invitation lest he risk accusations of being unwilling to debate.

Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, downplayed the violence perpetrated by the convicted criminals who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, signaling support to former President Donald J. Trump who had said he would consider pardon for the Jan. 6 perpetrators. “I do think there’s a strong case for many of the defendants to be pardoned because they didn’t engage in acts of violence,” Mr. Cotton said.

Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, defended President Biden’s criticisms of the Supreme Court, claiming Justice Clarence Thomas engaged in “a grift” for accepting things from wealthy billionaires and attacking Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., as “brazenly political” for flying flags that signal his partisan leanings. “There’s a crisis on the court,” Mr. Murphy said.

Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who is a contender to be former President Donald J. Trump’s running mate, on Sunday described left-wing protesters as “street militias” who had not been prosecuted enough. He also said that prosecutors were unfairly charging “every grandma and MAGA hat who was within a country mile of the Capitol” on Jan. 6, 2021.
As Mr. Cotton was interviewed on CNN, Senator Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican who is also a vice-presidential contender, made similar arguments on ABC News. With less inflammatory phrasing than Cotton used, he distinguished violent Jan. 6 rioters who should be imprisoned from people who “came into the Capitol because the doors were open,” while also calling Democrats weak on crime.
“Anyone who injured a law enforcement officer or committed acts of violence on Jan. 6 at the Capitol should be prosecuted and face severe consequences,” Mr. Cotton said, before accusing prosecutors of casting too wide a net and saying, “That’s unlike Democrats, who won’t prosecute violent protesters, for instance from Democratic street militias outside the homes of Supreme Court justices or defacing statues of veterans right across from the White House.”
He appeared to be referring to several largely peaceful demonstrations outside the justices’ homes in 2022 after the leak of the ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, and to vandalism of statues near the White House this month by some members of a pro-Palestinian protest.
Both Mr. Cotton and Mr. Scott said that some Jan. 6 defendants were being held in pretrial detention for longer than the sentences they would face if convicted. Most defendants have been released while awaiting trial, and the minority in custody have largely pleaded guilty or violated pretrial conditions.
Mr. Cotton’s CNN interviewer, Jake Tapper, asked him about the contrast between how he talked about the Jan. 6 rioters — distinguishing between violent and nonviolent members of the crowd — versus other protesters, whom he has denounced more broadly.
“You have a very hard-line stance on law and order, but here you’re talking about, oh, maybe pardoning them if they didn’t engage in violence,” Mr. Tapper said. “That’s not the language you use when you’re talking about the Black Lives Matter protesters or others.”
Mr. Cotton, who has called for the National Guard to crack down on left-wing demonstrations and called those protesters “lunatics” and “hooligans,” responded by claiming that “many” Black Lives Matter protesters had been violent. He said he was “simply calling for the same standards to be used” for them and the pro-Palestinian protesters on college campuses as for Jan. 6 rioters.
Mr. Scott and Mr. Cotton were also asked whether they supported legislation to ban bump stocks after the Supreme Court ruled last week to strike down the Trump administration’s ban. Mr. Trump enacted the restrictions after a gunman used weapons equipped with bump stocks — which allow semiautomatic weapons to fire at close to the rate of machine guns — to kill 60 people and wound hundreds more at a music festival in Las Vegas in 2017. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
They both deflected, accusing the Biden administration and Democrats of failing to combat crime and pivoting to argue that illegal immigration was increasing violent crime.
Both Mr. Cotton and Mr. Scott referred to the killing last year of Rachel Morin, a mother of five, noting that a migrant (“a savage degenerate from El Salvador,” Mr. Cotton said) had just been arrested in the case. Neither discussed the Las Vegas shooting that prompted the bump-stock ban, which was carried out by a white American. Data does not support claims that migrants are causing a surge in crime.
“We’re going to focus on the priorities of the American people, and what the priorities of the American people are today is to focus on closing our southern border,” Mr. Scott said in response to the question about bump-stock legislation.
Mr. Cotton, responding to the same question, said, “I would suggest before we infringe on the rights of law-abiding American citizens, we should crack down on violent crime” and “close our border.”
A third vice-presidential contender, Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota, appeared on Fox News on Sunday. He was not asked about Jan. 6 or about the bump-stock ruling. But, like Mr. Cotton and Mr. Scott, he cast President Biden’s border policies as a life-or-death threat, referring to the recent arrests of several men with ties to the Islamic State and claiming “the possibility of a 9/11-type terror attack happening in our country has gone up dramatically.”

Reporting from Detroit
Former President Donald J. Trump, courting Black voters at a church on the west side of Detroit on Saturday, sought to harness animus toward migrants crossing the border, sanitized his track record on race and sold himself as the best president for Black Americans since Abraham Lincoln.
As he spoke to roughly 200 people, Mr. Trump largely ignored his history of racist statements and his decades of calls for tougher policing that have fueled his three presidential campaigns.
Instead, during short remarks before a panel with Black residents of Detroit at the city’s 180 Church, Mr. Trump tried to cast Mr. Biden as anti-Black, focusing intently on the president’s role in shepherding the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a sweeping bill that criminal justice experts have said laid the groundwork for mass incarceration that disproportionately hurt America’s Black communities.
Mr. Trump, at one point, seemed determined to ensure that Mr. Biden’s role in the crime bill would be the event’s main takeaway. He falsely accused Mr. Biden of coining the term “super predators” and then insisted that those in the audience should not forget Mr. Biden’s role, as a U.S. senator, in championing the bill and helping pass it.
“He was the one with the super predators,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Biden. “So just please remember that if you’re going to vote Democrat — because you shouldn’t vote Democrat.”
Mr. Trump’s visit was part of a larger effort by his campaign to chip away at Democrats’ traditional support among Black voters as he seeks to reverse his 2020 loss to Mr. Biden.
Though Black voters have overwhelmingly favored Democrats since the civil rights era, recent polls have shown the party losing some of their support. A New York Times/Siena College poll of battleground states in May showed 23 percent of Black voters supporting Mr. Trump, a record level. Mr. Trump won just 8 percent of Black voters nationally in 2020.
As he tries to appeal to Black voters, Mr. Trump often cites his record as president, but the reality is more complicated than what he often presents.
In Detroit, Mr. Trump highlighted the funding bill that he signed for Black higher education institutions, which Congress passed. And he celebrated his role in the First Step Act of 2018, his signature criminal justice reform bill.
But critics have said that Mr. Trump’s frequent pro-police rhetoric while president often undercut his work on criminal justice reform. And while he often takes credit for a low Black unemployment rate during his presidency, he frequently overstates his role in it and ignores other economic indicators.
Saturday’s round table in Detroit brought out a more diverse crowd, and a larger share of Black attendees, than is typical of a Trump campaign event, even as a significant number of the roughly 200 people in the crowd were white.
Angelo Brown, 61, a Black independent voter, said he had come to the event because he was still unsure which candidate he would vote for. And, he added, “the chances of an independent getting in there, you know, are almost zero.”
Though he did not support Mr. Trump in the previous two elections, Mr. Brown, who is retired, said he was open to a candidate who would help improve the economy and would bring about an end to the war in Ukraine.
At the church, Mr. Trump stuck to the themes that have animated his outreach to Black voters. He again tried to seize on pessimism over the economy by blaming Mr. Biden for inflation and high rents.
Mr. Trump also sought to stoke resentment toward immigrants, arguing that Mr. Biden had enabled the surge of migrants crossing into the United States, which he said had hurt the economic prospects of Black Americans. And he falsely claimed that “100 percent” of the job growth under the Biden administration had gone to illegal immigrants.
“They’re coming into your community, and they’re taking your jobs,” Mr. Trump said, repurposing an idea that successfully motivated his base of white working-class voters in 2016.
Mr. Trump’s appeals to Black voters in recent months have been aggressive and direct — but sometimes clumsy.
Shortly before Mr. Trump arrived at the church, his campaign started a renewed outreach effort for Black Americans, “Black Americans for Trump,” which included endorsements from Black politicians, former professional athletes and entertainment figures like the model and singer Amber Rose and the rapper Kodak Black, whom Mr. Trump pardoned.
This year, Mr. Trump has hawked gold sneakers to young men of color and suggested that Black people related to him more after his mug shot was taken in Atlanta last year. He told a group of Black Republicans that Black people like him because he, too, had been unfairly targeted by the criminal justice system. And he has frequently accused Black prosecutors investigating him of “reverse racism.”
After the church event, Mr. Trump spoke at a convention hosted by Turning Point Action, an arm of Turning Point USA, an increasingly influential conservative group that courts young voters. Turning Point’s founder, Charlie Kirk, has been criticized for statements and social media posts with anti-immigrant or racist views.
The juxtaposition of the two events reflects the extent to which the Trump campaign is trying to knit together a mixed — and at times conflicting — coalition that expands beyond his conservative base as he looks to pick up battleground states he lost in 2020, including Michigan.
“It’s an honor to be here,” Mr. Trump said at the church after he took the stage. “It’s a very important area for us.”
Such a sentiment was markedly different from the years in which Mr. Trump has denigrated Detroit, a majority Black city, which he previously referred to as one of America’s “most corrupt political places” while making broad and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
And during his 2020 campaign, as Mr. Trump was frequently trying to stoke suburban fears around violence and crime in cities, he said in an interview that living in Detroit and other cities was “like living in Hell.”
Jasmine Harris, Mr. Biden’s Black media director, criticized Mr. Trump for sanitizing both his past comments “denigrating and disrespecting Black Americans” and his record while in office.
“We haven’t forgotten that Black unemployment and uninsured rates skyrocketed when Trump was in the White House,” Ms. Harris said in a statement. “And we sure haven’t forgotten Trump repeatedly cozying up to white supremacists and demonizing Black communities to his political benefit — because that’s exactly what he’ll do if he wins a second term.”
Mr. Trump’s speech at the Turning Point event, in front of thousands of people, took place in the same convention center where his supporters had tried to interfere with the counting of absentee ballots in the 2020 election.
During his remarks, Mr. Trump repeated his blatantly false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, and he again sowed doubt about the integrity of the upcoming election.
As has become standard. Mr. Trump, who turned 78 on Friday, attacked Mr. Biden’s cognitive abilities. But as he argued that he is more mentally fit to be president, he referred to his White House doctor, Ronny Jackson, as “Ronny Johnson.”
Building on his comments about the economy at the church, Mr. Trump accused Mr. Biden of an “inflation-causing spending spree.” He then seemed to attack Mr. Biden’s commitment to Ukraine with an aside about Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I think Zelensky is maybe the greatest salesman of any politician that’s ever lived,” said Mr. Trump, who this year tried to block efforts to provide more aid to Ukraine. “Every time he comes to our country, he walks away with $60 billion.”
Simon J. Levien contributed reporting.

Reporting from Washington
Two Republican senators refused on Sunday to commit to whether their party would support legislation banning bump stocks after the Supreme Court struck down a Trump-era ban on them on Friday.
The Trump administration had banned the devices, which allow semiautomatic rifles to fire at speeds rivaling those of machine guns, in 2018, the year after a gunman used one in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had overstepped its authority with the ban, prompting President Biden to call on Congress to limit the devices.
But on Sunday, neither Senators Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, and Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, responded to those efforts and instead emphasized what they see as a need to crack down on criminals rather than guns.
“Before we infringe on the rights of law-abiding Americans citizens, we should crack down on violent crimes,” Mr. Cotton said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’ve introduced numerous bills that would extend sentences for gun felons, but the Democrats won’t join me because they don’t believe in harsh criminal penalties.”
He added that a blanket federal ban on bump stocks is not a priority for his party because it might infringe upon the right to bear arms.
Mr. Scott, a fervent defender of former President Donald J. Trump, responded to the question of bump stock regulation by discussing crimes and border security ahead of the November elections.
“We’re trying to focus on the priorities of the American people,” Mr. Scott said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And what the priorities of the American people are today is to focus on closing our southern border.”
Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, said on CNN that Republicans should join his party in passing legislation that would codify a ban on bump stocks. The Supreme Court’s majority opinion, in shutting down the Trump-era ban, opened doors for Congress to regulate the attachment by modifying the legal definition of machine guns.
“It’s really scary that we’ve lost Republicans’ support for banning machine guns,” Mr. Murphy said. “This is a Republican administration that banned bump stocks. At the time, Republicans in the Senate and the House were supportive of it.”