Aug 18, 2023 - Podcasts

The campaign and court collision for Trump

This week saw former President Trump's fourth indictment, this time in Fulton County, Georgia. And for this racketeering indictment, Trump's tweets are coming back to haunt him.

The big picture: Just as things are heating up for the 2024 election cycle, the former president has five trials scheduled between now and May. We take a look at why these indictments seem to be happening all at once and what to expect from the upcoming GOP debate.

Guests: Axios' Zachary Basu and Marina Franco.

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


NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It's Friday, August 18th.

I'm Niala Boodhoo.

Today: the physical and mental toll of heat on farmworkers. Plus: your stories of parenting through the ADHD drug shortage.

But first, the campaign - court collision for Donald Trump. Our weekly politics State of Play is today's One Big Thing.

NIALA: This week saw Trump's fourth indictment, in which the former president's tweets came back to haunt him. Axios' Zach Basu is here to explain that, as well as why these indictments seem to be happening all at once, and what to expect from the coming GOP debate next week. Hey Zach!

ZACH BASU: Hey there.

NIALA: So, first, you reported this week that 12 of the 161 overt acts named in the RICO charges in Georgia were actually tweets sent from Trump's account.

Can you explain how these tweets are part of now a state case of racketeering charges?

ZACH: Yeah, so there's been a bit of a misconception here with a lot of people thinking that Trump is being charged for his tweets. And plenty of the tweets in a vacuum seem pretty innocuous, like telling people to tune into an election fraud hearing in Georgia, on the TV network OAN. But the important thing to understand is that these tweets and these overt acts are not necessarily crimes in and of themselves. Prosecutors see them as evidence in this sprawling conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election, in which dozens of people coordinated using tweets, text messages, emails, meetings, et cetera, to carry out the alleged scheme. The analogy that I've been using is, it's not illegal to rent a car. It's not illegal to buy a ski mask. But if you're taking those actions as part of a scheme to rob a bank, they might show up as overt acts in a conspiracy indictment. And that's how prosecutors are viewing some of these Trump tweets.

NIALA: So, of course, Georgia is one of four indictments in around four months for crimes that happened around two years ago. Why is all of this happening now and why didn't it happen sooner?

ZACH: Sure. I mean, the first thing to understand is that criminal investigations take a long time, especially when you look at something like the federal January 6th case or the racketeering indictment in Georgia. These investigations are massive in scope, with hundreds of witnesses testifying, some of them after lengthy legal challenges like Mike Pence or Lindsey Graham, and of course, there are extraordinary sensitivities and risks surrounding the prosecution of a former president. So the idea that prosecutors are going to be able to indict Trump two years ago without doing their full diligence, is just unrealistic and probably irresponsible. And the second thing to understand about Trump's argument that this is election interference by the Democrats is that the window to indict him without affecting an election is pretty narrow. This country is always, effectively always, in an election cycle. And remember Trump declared he was running for president again, just days after last year's midterms, way before any of his rivals and two full years before the 2024 election. And you know, just days later, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel in order to insulate the investigation from politics but, of course, that does not stop Trump or Republicans from claiming that all four of these prosecutions are witch hunts.

And then on the Democratic side, I think a lot of top officials are wary of being too aggressive with their messaging. Trump is innocent until proven guilty.

And President Biden in particular has completely avoided any mention of the prosecutions, not wanting to give any more ammunition to these claims that he's weaponizing the Justice Department.

NIALA: Finally, Zach, the first Republican presidential primary debate will be next week in Milwaukee, hosted by Fox News. As we talk about how big this field is, what are you going to be watching for?

ZACH: The one thing I think everyone's watching for is whether Trump shows up. He's got this massive lead in the polls. So there are some serious downsides to showing up on a debate stage where the other candidates are incentivized to just take shots at you, especially someone like Chris Christie, who has staked his entire candidacy around one viral moment confronting Trump at the debate like he did to Marco Rubio in 2016. if Trump doesn't show up, our former colleague Elena Treen over at CNN has reported that he's planning some counter-programming, including a potential interview with Tucker Carlson. And then the other big wild card, of course, is that Trump is required to turn himself in to be booked at the Fulton County jail by next Friday. That jail is open 24/7, so maybe he'll choose Wednesday night at 9pm to create yet another big media spectacle.

NIALA: Zach Basu, part of Axios's politics team and writes the daily Sneak Peek newsletter. Thanks, Zach.

ZACH: Thank you.

NIALA: In a moment, the mental effects of heat on America's farmworkers.

Welcome back to Axios Today, I'm Niala Boodhoo. This summer, scorching heat is taking a toll on farmworkers – and not just their physical health, but their mental well-being, too. Extended sun and heat exposure is associated with memory issues, problems sleeping, and increased suicidal behavior.

It's a problem that especially impacts Latinos, as they make up the majority of farmworkers in the U.S. – and now advocates are pushing for better protection. Axios Latino and Telemundo's Marina Franco is here with more – Marina, what exactly do we know about how prolonged heat exposure affects farmworkers?

MARINA FRANCO: Well, what most talk about or most hear about are the physical impacts that they have in terms of people having heat stroke, fainting while at work, related physical problems in terms of heart rate. But what we don't discuss is, there is a growing body of research that is looking at the mental health impacts of outdoor work, specifically, hours on end under the sun. And there have been studies that have found, issues with memory, issues with anxiety, restlessness, which then causes sleep issues, and most recently suicidal ideation increasing.

NIALA: Do we know why heat causes those effects on people?

MARINA: From the studies themselves and from other psychiatrists, it's likely due to the fact that when under the sun for extended periods of time, the same way that we get fatigue we just feel very, very tired physically, that is because our body is trying to regulate our temperature, and the same thing is happening mentally, it's as if our body slows down overall, and obviously that includes our brain and brain power.

NIALA: Right now there isn't any federal regulation requiring employers to provide outdoor workers with breaks or time to hydrate. Are there any protections that exist on a local level?

MARINA: Yes, very, very few, but there are. Washington, Oregon, and California have comprehensive rules demanding at least a certain amount of breaks to drink water or be under the shade every couple of hours. And those states are particularly important because there's a lot of farm work done in those states. But, more locally there's still a lot of work to be done. Especially for example in Florida, which is also a major farmwork state, there is no state regulation about this. Activists have been working for at least two years to get some sort of regulation for at least to get shade breaks every two hours. And in Miami Dade County, there is a proposed ordinance for those sort of breaks it passed on a first measure at the county level, but there needs to be a second vote, and that's pending in September.

NIALA: Marina, what do advocates say about what else they think workers need or how hard they think it will be to accomplish, creating better workplaces?

MARINA: One of the things that we hear most from defenders and activists is that farmworkers should be seen as more than just laborers, they should be protected as the whole of their personhood, and that of course means, taking into account the difficulties that they face because farm workers are essential workers. That didn't stop during the pandemic because groceries still needed to be resupplied right? So, it's very key for them to have access to healthcare, access to information about how to protect themselves from workplace accidents and mental health care as well.

NIALA: Marina Franco is a reporter for Telemundo and one of the co-authors of Axios Latino. Thanks, Marina.

MARINA: Thank you.

NIALA: Finally today: We asked you earlier in the week if your family is feeling the effects of the ADHD medication shortage, especially parents, with the school year around the corner or already underway.

Here's some of what you told us:

JENNESS SIMLER: Hello. My daughter was recently diagnosed with ADHD. And after running out of her prescription and getting a refill this last time, I had to call over 20 pharmacies to find just a 30-day supply. Many of the pharmacies, due to the regulation of these drugs, wouldn't even tell me if they had it in stock. The worst part is that she can tell that I can't find it and it's fueling that anxiety. It's fueling her fear that she will not be able to do what she needs to do in school and socially and other places to accomplish all the things that her bright little mind wants to do.

NIALA: And Kimberly in San Clemente, California, wrote in to tell us she has a teenage daughter whose diagnosis and dosage took a long time to get right. Lately, Kimberly says, her daughter has to worry about whether their local pharmacy will have her meds in stock, and Kimberly's concerned about the mental toll that is taking on her daughter.

Thanks to all of you for sharing your stories, and remember you can always text me at (202) 918-4893.

That's it for this week. Axios Today is produced by Fonda Mwangi, Lydia McMullen-Laird and Robin Linn. Our sound engineer and producer is Alex Sugiura. Alexandra Botti is our supervising producer.

Aja Whitaker-Moore is Axios' executive editor, and Sara Kehaulani Goo is Axios' editor in chief. Special thanks as always to Axios co-founder Mike Allen.

I'm Niala Boodhoo. Stay safe, enjoy your weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday.

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