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Week in politics: Trump's indictment; another mass shooting; American reporter detained

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

NPR's Ron Elving joins us now. Ron, good morning.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: There's going to be a little bit of speculation over the next few hours, days and months, maybe even here. What's the basis for it?

ELVING: We have only the most immediate and rudimentary basis for it, Scott. As Ryan was just telling us, we know about Tuesday. We know roughly 2 p.m. We have some of the ancillary plans. There will be cameras in the building. We don't know exactly where or whether we'll be in the courtroom. But what do we know about that night or the next day? What will Trump do? Let's remember, we still haven't seen the charges in this case. We hear there are around 30, but we don't know exactly what's going to be covered. Nor do we know what effect this will have on the authorities in Georgia, where more charges are pending, or the federal proceedings on the documents at Mar-a-Lago or the riot at the Capitol on January 6. That's all still up in the air. So I would sooner try to predict what effect the new rules in Major League Baseball...

SIMON: (Laughter).

ELVING: ...Are going to have than what's going to happen with all these indictments.

SIMON: Take us through the range of reaction among Republicans to the pending Trump indictment.

ELVING: First off, a blizzard of fundraising appeals went out from Trump - and many of his acolytes very much milking the moment, portraying the former president as a victim for the ages. And much of the outrage you hear around the country is truly spontaneous. It comes from the heart. There's a substantial fraction of the American public that wants this man back as their president and feel he's been treated unfairly. But a lot of the, shall we say, elected officeholders decrying this indictment are probably trying to stay in step with their primary voters and their small-dollar donors. And they themselves do not want a replay of the last three election cycles. That's '22, 2020 and 2018, all three of which were all about Trump and all three of which proved disappointing for the GOP.

SIMON: Let's move to other news of the week. This will sound harsh, but another week in America and another mass shooting - this week at the Covenant School in Nashville. For years, Ron, we've noted these events and asked if there are any political or legislative consequences. This occasion any different?

ELVING: Many want it to be, and they cannot believe it could be otherwise. Yet there is little sign that Congress will be any friendlier to gun control than it was 10 years ago after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut or just last year after the massacre at Uvalde, Texas. President Biden called for reinstating the ban on assault weapons that existed a generation ago, but which lapsed in 2003. And since that time, Republicans have shown no interest in reviving it.

And when you consider the horror of what happened in Nashville this week, you really come to an appreciation of how many major stories got obscured by the indictment in New York. The Senate voted to repeal the resolution that supported the war in Iraq two decades ago. Normally, that would be an enormous story. And just yesterday, a court in Delaware decided that the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News can go to trial and that Dominion has already established that the stolen election claims were false. That means the jury can focus right away on whether Fox reported those claims with reckless disregard of that falsity.

SIMON: Finally, let me ask you about - Russia has detained a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Evan Gershkovich, accusing him of espionage. Of course, this occurs at a time when relations are strained over the war in Ukraine and other issues. Ron, any sense of why Russia is doing this?

ELVING: Russian President Putin has not had the month that he wanted to have. His big summit meeting with Chinese President Xi did not yield all that Putin wanted. The fighting in Ukraine is piling up Russian casualties at a rate that even that long-suffering population cannot long abide. And then, just this week, also, the last hurdle was cleared for Finland to join NATO. Now, that roughly doubles the length of the border that Russia has with NATO countries. So this detention of an American reporter looks very much like hostage-taking, a chance to put pressure on the alliance and on the U.S. in particular.

SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving, thanks so much.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.