Apr 7, 2023 - Podcasts

The historic nature of Trump's indictment

Given how much the word "historic" has been thrown around this week, for our Friday State of Play conversation, we catch up with Axios' co-founder Mike Allen about the former president's criminal indictment.

  • Plus, the generosity of religious Americans.

Guests: Axios' Mike Allen and IUPUI's Dr. David King.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Fonda Mwangi and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Friday, April 7th.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Today, the generosity of religious Americans. But first, the historic nature of former President Trump’s indictment - is our One Big Thing.

The historic nature of former President Trump’s indictment

NIALA: Given how much the word “historic” has been thrown around this week, I wanted to catch up with Axios Co-Founder Mike Allen about the former president’s criminal indictment.

Full disclosure: we recorded today’s podcast earlier than usual, because I’m actually taking some time off for the Easter holiday - and will be doing the podcast from the UK all next week, where I’ll be attending the Skoll Foundation’s World Forum.

So here’s Mike with his thoughts for our Friday State of Play, Trump edition.

MIKE ALLEN: Hello, Niala.

NIALA: First, you have spent most of your career in Washington covering presidents as far back as George W. Bush. How do you think this week ranks in terms of the history books?

MIKE: There's no comparison of any sort. Somebody was saying that this is the biggest indictment in the history of indictments, so, uh, how do you top that? But what's fascinating, Niala, is it wasn't a singular event. This is a beginning of months, probably years of Trump, crime, drama. It's almost as if the Trump show meets court TV.

NIALA: So, you know, we often say journalists do a first draft of history. Given what you've said, how much can we say how much this indictment or future ones are going to have an effect on the 2024 presidential election?

MIKE: This is helping Trump. Nobody even really disputes it. Uh, not even the people who are running against him or want to run against him. In fact, Niala, I have reporting that some people who are thinking about running against him may be a little gun shy because he's gone up so much in polls doing so well in fundraising. But of course, whoever gets the Republican nomination, fair to say that if you were to pick a demographic group that's gonna decide the 2024 general election, a big part of it's gonna be women voters, suburban women voters in particular. And there's nothing to say that a standard bearer who's been under arrest is something that's gonna appeal to those voters. Of course, obviously quite the opposite, and that's what's fascinating about what's about to play out.

So now the Manhattan case is very extended, so the next time Trump has a court date, and we don't know whether he'll personally be there or not, but December 4th. And then the prosecutors have asked that a trial be in January, and then what's in February, the Iowa caucuses. So this is running right up to the Republican primary process, and then you've got two or three, four other cases out there that also could, uh, move ahead. And I'm told by legal experts that federal cases tend to move a lot faster.

So due reporting this week about evidence that federal prosecutors have in the documents at Mar-a-Lago case, the Washington Post astonishing reporting. The investigators have surveillance footage of boxes being moved around in Mar-a-Lago after a subpoena had been served. And reporting from The Post that Trump himself looked through some of these documents with the apparent effort to keep some of them or decide what he could keep. Also reporting that numerous people have told him, duh, you can't keep these over a long period of time. He's been told that this would be dangerous, proving to be so.

NIALA: So is it likely that we may see movement on these other cases even before the Manhattan case goes to the next step?

MIKE: Federal prosecutors in particular are conscious of the electoral calendar. They don't want something hanging out over an election. And so some people think that maybe summer is about when you probably would see a federal indictment if they're gonna try and get the trial done before the election. Pure speculation that for sure, the federal prosecution could happen faster. And of course, as your listeners know, still true. Every legal expert thinks that these other cases, if they were to be brought against the former president, much more problematic for him than the New York case.

NIALA: Mike, what do you think people are missing in all the conversation or news coverage from this week?

MIKE: You just watch the body language of former President Trump, these people were saying, oh, this is gonna be so great for him and for sure it plays with his supporters. But you look at him scowling, you saw how he was responding to this. This is someone who across their adult life has been all about being in control, always maneuvering, always thinking they can outsmart the other guy. And this is a case, Donald Trump has lost control.

NIALA: That’s Axios’ Co-founder Mike Allen. Thanks Mike.

MIKE: Niala, Happy Easter and Bon Voyage.

NIALA: After the break, a spotlight on Muslim, Jewish and Christian giving.


The generosity of religious Americans

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today! I’m Niala Boodhoo.

This week - where Ramandan, Passover and Easter coincide - marks the intersection of some of the holiest days of the year for religious Americans.

In 2021, Americans gave almost $486 billion to charity - that’s according to Giving USA. The vast majority of that giving was religious in nature. And a lot of those donations are happening - right now.

Dr. David King is the director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at IUPUI and is here with the big picture. David, thanks for being with us.

DR. DAVID KING: Thanks so much for the opportunity.

NIALA: Can you share with us what we know about Americans when it comes to religious giving? How much Americans give?

DR. KING: Yeah. Well we know from a variety of sources that, religious Americans give more, they give more often and naturally they give more to religious organizations, but they give more broadly to a variety of organizations as well. We know that religiosity, uh, is one of the best predictors of giving and volunteering that we have.

NIALA: And do people tend to give more money during religious holidays? Like, I'm just thinking as we're in this confluence of Easter, Passover, and Ramadan, if we might see more people giving because of those holidays.

DR. KING: Yeah, definitely. So, I mean, I think that's true across, um, religious observances. So we see that, you know, in seasons like Passover and Easter, uh, we see it definitely at the end of the year, around the Christmas season as well.

But particularly for Ramadan, that's a marked moment for giving within the Muslim tradition. And so it's a particular focus, uh, for Iftar dinners, you know, particular fundraising efforts. In many ways religious giving during the month of Ramadan for Muslims is oftentimes seen as, most valuable or even most pronounced. And so you'll see, really the vast majority of giving happen within the Muslim context in this, you know, particular season.

NIALA: So in preparation for this conversation, you actually sent me some research from the Fetzer Institute that I thought was so interesting because it looks at people who consider themselves to be spiritual. There's this growing category of spiritual, not religious in America. How much do those people also think giving is an important part of their lives?

DR. KING: So the categories around spiritual and religious are oftentimes not unique to one another in the sense that many people might be religious, but not spiritual, but many might be spiritual and religious. So the terms themselves are difficult for us to pin down. But noting that that spirituality versus someone with no religious or spiritual tradition is more likely to give. And that's oftentimes because they're focused in on those meaning questions, but also because they're in conversation and in community with others, they see those needs that they're confronted with and want to give and, and to do their part.

You know, a lot of times we can think about sort of differences between conviction and community. Uh, and so in many ways it's the beliefs and the practices that guide us to give. Whether it's zakat during the month of Ramadan, whether it's tithing or tzedakah within the Jewish tradition. But at the same time as or more important is that community engagement. So oftentimes it's being part of a spiritual or religious community, you're around others who sort of can help, promote some positive social peer pressure into why we might want to give and volunteer. It brings us together. And so it is a combination of those beliefs and practices and communities that push us towards giving and religious and spiritual communities, uh, in many ways do that best of all in our society together.

NIALA: Dr. David King is the director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at IUPUI. Thanks for being with us.

DR. KING: Thanks so much.

NIALA: That’s all for this week. Axios Today is produced by Fonda Mwangi and Lydia McMullen-Laird and Robin Linn. Our sound engineer is Alex Sugiura. Alexandra Botti is our supervising producer. Sara Kehaulani Goo is Axios’ editor in chief. Aja Whitaker Moore is Axios’s Executive Editor.

I’m Niala Boodhoo. Stay safe, enjoy your weekend - and holiday for those who are observing - and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

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