This week in politics: Trump indictment rattles nation; DeSantis v. Democrats; Devon Archer testifies

A somber-faced Donald Trump walked into a federal courtroom for the third time since announcing he wants to be president again — this time on charges that allege he tried to steal the 2020 election.What this means for the Republican front-runner, who pled not guilty to all four counts, is juggling court appearances from New York to possibly Georgia, and a presidential campaign for the foreseeable future.For the rest of us it means something more.The country has held presidential elections through social upheavals, massive political protests, world wars, pandemics and a civil war.

But the 2024 contest will be an unmatched stress test on U.S.

democracy as the federal government seeks to prosecute a former head of state vying for a return to power.America has never been here before.This artist sketch depicts former President Donald Trump, right, conferring with defense lawyer Todd Blanche, center, during his appearance at the Federal Courthouse in Washington, Thursday, Aug.

3, 2023.

Special Prosecutor Jack Smith sits at left.

Trump pleaded not guilty in Washington’s federal court to charges that he conspired to overturn the 2020 election.Florida Gov.

Ron DeSantis, still looking to chip into Trump’s enormous primary lead, tried to inject new life into his campaign by taking on big name Democrats.DeSantis started with Vice President Kamala Harris, who he asked to join a conversation about the state’s controversial Black history guidelines.

She declined, but California Gov.

Gavin Newsom eagerly raised his hand for a debate on the differences between GOP and Democratic-led states.Congressional Republicans saw some air leak out of their balloon in terms of their wide-ranging investigation into the business dealings of Hunter Biden.They brought in a former business partner of the younger Biden for a closed-door testimony, who said President Joe Biden never talked business when his son put the then-vice president on the phone with foreign executives.This will matter as House Republicans talk openly about impeaching President Biden over this and as Trump applies pressure to put action behind behind their words or face primary challengers.And the Biden administration got some bad news when Fitch Ratings downgraded the nation’s credit rating one notch to AA+ from AAA, which is the opposite of the economic picture White House officials have painted in recent weeks.Story continuesNow thrice indicted, Trump forges ahead on 2024 trailDaniel Demoura, 32, of Boston, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, is seen outside the E.

Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse on Aug 3, 2023.

Former President Donald Trump is set to be arraigned on four charges related to the 2020 election.

Federal prosecutors are accusing Trump of undermining American democracy by organizing a wide-ranging conspiracy to steal the 2020 election that prosecutors allege fueled a brazen and historic insurrection at the U.S.

Capitol.Trump’s third indictment had all the “House of Cards” drama one might expect, whether inside or outside the historic E.

Barrett Prettyman U.S.

Courthouse in Washington.There was a 20-second staring contest with Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith, who stood about 15 feet away from Trump while protesters on both sides faced off, using drums and microphones to bombard each other with their viewpoint of the case.“This is a very sad day for America,” Trump said at Reagan National Airport, before leaving for New Jersey.Aug.

1, 2023: Nadine Seiler holds a sign outside the E.

Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington.

Former President Donald Trump was indicted on four charges in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in relation to interference in 2020 election.Politically speaking Trump is still the top dog in the GOP primary yard, but legally he faces a maximum of 55 years in prison on the allegations that he, along with six co-conspirators, made efforts to overturn the last presidential race.The former president is doing all he can to survive: claiming election interference, demanding the trial be moved to friendlier territory, and suggesting on a radio program how it “would be very dangerous,” if he went to prison.But the immediate question—and worry for Trump’s legal team—has to be if any of the six co-conspirators will flip and decide to cooperate with Smith’s investigation to avoid facing criminal charges of their own.DeSantis v.

Newsom: NIT or 2028 preview?FILE: California Gov.

Gavin Newsom is threatening Florida Gov.

Ron DeSantis with legal action for sending migrants to other states.The first GOP presidential debate is Aug.

23, but Ron DeSantis is looking for a reboot and thinks a sideshow with Gavin Newsom will help.The 44-year-old Florida governor trails Trump by more than 35 percentage points, according to new national polling.

Taking on one of the most liberal leaders in the country on crime, border security and the economy could give DeSantis a boost with base conservatives.This could work for Newsom too given that he also wants to run for president some day but has ruled against challenging President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination.In recent weeks, the 55-year-old California governor has jousted with Fox News hosts, and has paraded an idea to pass a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the purchase of assault weapons; mandating universal background checks; and raise the federal minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21.Given how much voters don’t want to see a Trump v.

Biden rematch, this collision could be a preview of a future presidential debate.

The Trump campaign cast differently, however, saying it is equivalent to college basketball’s National Invitation Tournament, which is for the teams that do not qualify for NCAA championship tournament.”Basically the NIT,” said Jason Miller, a Trump senior adviser.Fitch downgrades U.S.

creditFitch Ratings didn’t mince words when downgrading America’s credit rating and cited a “steady deterioration in standards of governance” over the last two decades, especially when it comes to fiscal and debt matters.The rating agency, for example, called out the “limited progress” U.S.

leaders have made in tackling the rise of Social Security and Medicare costs, which threaten to bankrupt the two programs by 2035.White House officials have lashed out, arguing it doesn’t reflect improved economic metrics with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen saying Fitch’s decision is “arbitrary and based on outdated data.”What a lower credit rating means for you is raised interest rates on treasury bonds, which in turn can push up rates on everything from mortgages to corporate bonds.Witness undercuts GOP assertions in Hunter Biden probeDevon Archer, Hunter Biden’s former business partner, arrives on Capitol Hill to give closed-door testimony to the House Oversight Committee in the Republican-led investigations into President Joe Biden’s son, in Washington, Monday, July 31, 2023.

(AP Photo/J.

Scott Applewhite) ORG XMIT: DCSA113House Republicans promised Devon Archer, a fellow board member of Hunter Biden at the Ukrainian energy firm Bursima, would be a blockbuster witness and make their bribery allegations against Joe Biden “more credible.”But a transcript of the roughly five-hour closed-door testimony released by the panel didn’t have a smoking gun moment that Rep.

James Comer, R-Ky., the committee’s chairman, had hyped.”I think you have to understand that there was no business conversation about a cap table or a fee or anything like that,” Archer told the committee.

“It was, you know, just general niceties and, you know, conversation in general about the geography, about the weather, whatever it may be.”What Archer did make plain was that Hunter Biden, who is entangled in his own legal troubles, used his famous last name as a way to sell himself in business.”Given the brand, I think he would look to, you know, to get the leverage from it,” Archer said, later adding that Hunter Biden tried to give the “illusion of access to his father.”Trump to House GOP: Impeach, or elsePresident Donald Trump and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California leave the U.S.

Capitol in 2018.Hunter Biden is one of the main reasons Republican lawmakers are throwing around the “i-word” about President Biden as of late.Speaker Kevin McCarthy said as much at a recent news conference when he asserted how if the Biden administration doesn’t give members certain information in terms of the younger Biden, “then we would go to an impeachment inquiry.”As Congress goes into its August recess, some GOP lawmakers are warning against that saying it would boost Democrats ahead of the 2024 election, but that hasn’t stopped Trump from holding those Republicans hostage with a threat of a primary challenge.”Any Republican that doesn’t act on Democratic fraud should be immediately primaried and get out,” Trump said at recent rally in Erie, Pennsylvania.

“We got a lot of good, tough Republicans around.

People are going to run against them and people are going to win.”This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Week in politics: DeSantis v.

Newsom gives 2024 a sideshow debate

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