It’s about more than one dinner and a man named Trump

A now 19-year-old white man who targeted shoppers in a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket in May simply because they were Black, according to authorities, this week pleaded guilty to murder charges and one charge of domestic terrorism motivated by hate. In his not even 20 years on this earth, this gunman, who casts serious doubt on the onetime hope of optimists that young people would save us, was nurtured by racist lies and fueled by conspiracies of “replacement.”

The white supremacist (and I won’t say his name), who murdered 10 human beings and wounded three others, was on a mission, and he seemed proud to livestream his heinous actions. He can live his life, something he denied his victims, and if spared the death penalty on federal charges, he will spend the rest of it in prison.

His beliefs, however, are not going anywhere. In fact, they are having a moment.

White supremacy, antisemitism, misogyny and all kinds of hate are being lifted up by some of those who want to lead the country and ignored or dismissed by others who, at the very least, are afraid of alienating the haters — people who would destroy everything America is supposed to stand for. After all, they could be voters.

It’s not a shock that former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump welcomed Kanye West, Nick Fuentes and a dude named Jamal to his Mar-a-Lago dinner table. Nor is it surprising that the few Republicans who have spoken out, at times tepidly, against Trump’s supper are being praised as heroes, proving the definition of that word has diminished over time.

In a dreary reminder that there is no bottom to GOP delusions, the usual suspects have continued to infantilize a 76-year-old man, blaming those around Trump rather than the man himself, as though what transpired at his Florida compound was a lapse in judgment, just a faux pas.

I know white guys are given the benefit of the doubt well past their sell-by date; they pretty much originated the term “youthful indiscretion” as a ready-made excuse. But to ask anyone to ignore Trump’s well-documented history, his both-sides wink at the deadly Charlottesville, Va., “Unite the Right” rally and his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol (both of which were graced with Fuentes’ presence), should be a step too far, even for the former president’s No. 1 apologist, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Remember, once upon a time, Trump also claimed he didn’t know who former Klan grand wizard David Duke was.

Knowing all that, it’s not that hard to imagine the conversation at Trump’s dinner from hell.

Local News Roundup: A local graduate among those killed at UVA, Tepper and Rock Hill come to an agreement, Juneteenth officially a holiday in Charlotte

The shooting at the University of Virginia hits the Charlotte area as one of the victims, Devin Chandler, was a graduate of Hough High School in Cornelius. Chandler was a member of the UVA football team, and his former high school team plans to wear decals on their helmets for the rest of the season.

The Carolina Panthers and Rock Hill have settled a legal dispute over a proposed headquarters and practice facility. Rock Hill will receive $20 million in the bankruptcy settlement. GT Real Estate Holdings, David Tepper’s real estate company, was set to build an $800 million facility. York County also filed a lawsuit but is not named in the settlement deal.

The city of Charlotte has adopted Juneteenth as a holiday. It commemorates the dates in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Texas were informed that they were free. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021.

And after being benched earlier this season, Baker Mayfield is back as the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers with P.J. Walker injured. The team is 3-7, two games out of the lead in the NFC South, and travels to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters dive into those and other topics this week on the local news roundup.

GUESTS:

Claire Donnelly, WFAE health reporter

Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter

Nick Ochsner, WBTV’s executive producer for investigations & chief investigative reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Reporters’ Roundtable

We have a lot to talk about at the Reporters’ Roundtable as we examine the top stories of the week. We have another building explosion in Montgomery County. Former President Trump runs again. Democrats keep control of The Senate… but Republicans have control of The House. The University of Virginia mourns the deadly shooting of members of its football team. HBCU bomb threats and the juvenile suspect and a Black man beaten by sheriff’s deputies in a Georgia jail.

Which party has a game plan for the future? We’re about to find out

Democrats get way too giddy about immediate gains and take their eyes off the ball, while Republicans excel at playing the long game. Overused sports metaphors aside, that has been the conventional wisdom because there’s a lot of truth in it.

Want proof? After Barack Obama’s historic 2008 presidential win, it was Republicans who ignored predictions of a “blue” future. They went to work. While Sen. Mitch McConnell did not ultimately succeed in his wish to make Obama a “one-term president” in 2012, he and his party delivered a 2010 midterm “shellacking” — to use Obama’s own word — that won control of the House and gained seats in the Senate.

In 2014, the GOP won that Senate majority McConnell craved, and the country still lives with the result — a solid conservative block on the Supreme Court, one that overturned Roe v. Wade and seems intent on rolling back voting rights and other signature issues claimed by today’s Democrats.

Few who watched McConnell’s block-and-delay strategy, one that shaped that court, would argue with his coaching skill and foresight. But after last week’s anemic midterm GOP showing, the wisdom of Republican guile and “Democrats in disarray” is looking a lot less conventional.

It’s Democrats who are being credited with thinking ahead.

So, was the blue team taking notes, or did Republicans get a little too cocky? Why did some of those best-laid plans backfire?

Fighting unwinnable battles in an American culture war

As usual, Michelle Obama stole the show. The former first lady returned to the White House to unveil the official Obama portraits that will forever hang on its walls, and she used the special occasion to deliver remarks that hit the perfect tone.

“For me, this day is not just about what has happened,” she said last week. “It’s also about what could happen because a girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolley Madison. She was never supposed to live in this house. And she definitely wasn’t supposed to serve as first lady.”

All over the world, you could hear young girls and women, particularly those of color, cheering.

She referenced the sentiments of her “hope and change” spouse in saying, “if the two of us can end up on the walls of the most famous address in the world, then, again, it is so important for every young kid who is doubting themselves to believe that they can, too.”

Now, whenever the former first lady speaks simple truths, a few trolls find fault with her words, seeing in them victimization, not the obvious celebration intended by the speaker. But then, those naysayers were the ones who never appreciated the style and class the Obamas brought to the people’s house while navigating the uncharted role of “the first.”

Michelle Obama’s speech was not about how bad we were but how far we’ve come, and isn’t that something Americans can point to with pride?

Apparently not.

The first Black president and first lady — an inspiration for so many who had felt left out — are merely ammunition for those who insist on fighting a “culture war” they feel they’re losing.

Two systems of justice? Bet on it

You can be sure the FBI and the Department of Justice dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” on the search warrant before they went looking for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the home of the former president of the United States, and hit the jackpot. Though I wasn’t there, I’m confident that no agent busted down doors or shot around corners.

According to reports, though not to the hysterical hyperbole employed by Donald Trump on the campaign trail, this was a professional operation, approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department and the federal judiciary.

Still, thanks to Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a special master must sort through and review 13,000 documents and items seized from Mar-a Lago before the investigation can continue. The ruling came after even Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr — who judged Cannon’s ruling “deeply flawed” — eventually came to the conclusion that the federal government had no choice but to act in the face of Trump’s defiance.

More delay, more court review, it seems, before the public gets any closer to finding out why a private citizen who used to be president took classified government documents to his private club or what national, perhaps damaging secrets Trump and company held on to despite entreaties to do the right thing.

I get it, though. I understand why the former president and his followers — the crowd current President Joe Biden accurately labels “MAGA Republicans” — believe that the rules apply only to some, while others get to make them up as they go along. Just look at the excuses they make for his behavior, and the twists and turns of spine and morality necessary to turn violent Capitol rioters into “patriots.”

To realize there really are different and inequitable systems of justice in a country that swears it isn’t so, look no further than the case of a woman who was given none of the protections or attention that those with wealth and power take for granted.

Breonna Taylor was defenseless. In fact, as we’ve found out from a guilty plea by someone tasked with enforcing the law, the search that ended in Taylor’s death was based on lies.

Former Louisville detective Kelly Goodlett late last month pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge, admitting she helped falsify the warrant and conspired with another officer to concoct a cover story when the March 2020 killing of this young Black woman belatedly made national news.

I relate much more to Taylor’s plight than Trump’s, having been seen more than once during my growing-up years as more perp than citizen minding my own business by law enforcement patrolling my working-class Black neighborhood. Then again, I would think that most Americans struggling to get through each day would find more similarities with the emergency room technician who wanted to be a nurse than a former president who refuses to accept defeat in a presidential election.

Yet, one search garners the headlines and boiling outrage, while the other earns little more than a mention, unless you’re a friend or family member or anyone interested in an American system of justice that works fairly.

Black Issues Forum: Biden MAGA GOPers, Student Debt and Black Women Athletes

President Joe Biden uses bold language to call out MAGA Republicans, and his student debt relief package marks another promise kept. Serena Williams evolves from tennis while Black women athletes on the Duke volleyball team continue to fight for respect. Journalist Mary C. Curtis, attorney Harold Eustache and UNC student Greear Webb join host Deborah Holt Noel to share their perspectives.

What the DOJ Should Do About Trump

After an FBI search of Mar-a-lago last week, it was revealed that Donald Trump is being investigated for federal crimes including violating the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and criminal handling of government records. How can the Justice Department do its job with the former president calling the investigation a hoax and his supporters demonstrating a willingness to respond violently? Who should be worried here?

Guest: Ankush Khardori, contributing writer for New York magazine’s Intelligencer and contributing editor at Politico Magazine.

What do the census, voting rights and democracy have in common?

Emails made public by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School recently showed that officials under President Donald Trump tried whatever they could to rig the system for redistricting purposes. It and other government documents detailed clashes between the administration and the bureau’s experts in areas that had the potential of affecting the count and who gets elected. Mary C. Curtis sits down with Kelly Percival, with the Brennan Center’s Democracy to discuss what this all means.

The state of democracy one year after January 6

Talked about the state of democracy one year after January 6 with Charles Blow and Ohio State professor Hasan Kwame Jeffries on BNC’s ‘Prime.’