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This Week In Politics: Haley on SNL, Israel, Trump, Biden

Finn Courtney
An overview of data about both primary and general election polls.

Haley On SNL:

Republican presidential candidate, Nikki Haley, made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” this past week. As the pivotal South Carolina primary approaches on Feb. 24, Haley drew attention to how former President Donald Trump has not participated in debates and his ongoing legal challenges. 

Many candidates have appeared on SNL before, including Trump, Barack Obama and Chris Christie. During the skit, Haley played a South Carolina voter during a CNN Town Hall.

“My question is, why won’t you debate Nikki Haley?” Haley asked James Austin Johnson, who was playing Trump during the skit. 

Throughout the skit, Haley’s recommendation for mental competency tests for politicians over the age of 75 was also highlighted. 

When Haley questioned Trump’s age and mentioned the test, the actor responded by saying, “I took the test, and I aced it, okay? Perfect score. They said I’m 100% mental.” 

Haley also addressed her recent Civil War gaffe, when host Ayo Edibiri asked her what the cause was and humorously asked if it started with an “S” and ended in “lavery,” to which Haley responded should have been her initial response.

With the South Carolina Primary being 18 days away, both Haley and Trump are looking to engage with voters in unique ways and gain support.

Israeli Aid Package:

House Speaker Mike Johnson is looking to pass legislation providing $17.6 million in military aid to Israel in the upcoming week. This bill does not include additional funding to Ukraine. 

“The need to support our closest ally and our own forces in the region has never been more pressing, and many members of our conference have urged immediate action,” Johnson wrote in a letter to his fellow Republicans.

If the bill were to be passed, financial aid to Ukraine would be excluded. Supporting Ukraine has remained a priority for Biden since February 2022. 

Providing aid for Israel has gained bipartisan support, therefore placing stress on the administration 

“We cannot wait any longer,” Johnson said, during his appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “The House is willing to lead, and the reason we have to take care of this Israel situation right now is because the situation has escalated.” 

Johnson drew attention to the recent airstrikes by the United States after three American soldiers were killed in Jordan. 

“While the Senate appears poised to finally release text of their supplemental package after months of behind closed doors negotiations, their leadership is aware that by failing to include the House in their negotiations, they have eliminated the ability for swift consideration of any legislation,” Johnson said. 

The timing of the Israel Aid Bill comes at the same time that the Senate is looking to introduce a border security compromise and President Biden’s $106 billion request for Ukraine, Israel and multiple other issues. 

The House and Senate are slated to continue negotiations on the bill this week. 

Trump Trial Update:

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which is overseeing Trump’s trial on charges of plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, has decided to postpone the issuing of its decision, as well as the trial date.

The original March 4 date for the trial would have kept the case on an unusually swift track, in terms of the judicial system, that is. In December of 2023, when Trump first claimed immunity against the charges filed against him in front of the appellate court, the judges pushed the case along in a matter of a few short weeks. 

The process was slowed by Federal District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan’s decision to discard the March 4 trial date due to a lack of opinion issued by the court. The choice to postpone the trial date reflects the enormity of the case, the significance of the outcome, the consequence of the precedent it will set and the impact it will have on the upcoming presidential election. Political scientists and lawyers believe one reason for pumping the brakes on the case is so that such a monumental decision is not rushed.

Trump’s team hopes that the trial continues to be pushed until after the election, at which point Trump could win and assume the presidency. Even if an outcome is determined in the appellate court, it is likely that the losing party would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, a decision which, if they choose to hear the case, would only elongate the process. 

Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith, the attorney leading the prosecution against Trump in the case, hopes to prevent pushing the case until after election day in November, AP News shares.

Chutkan has not set a new trial date for the case as the judges continue to deliberate and write their opinions. The new date will reflect the time “if and when” the Court is ready to begin. In the meantime, Trump will use the postponement to his advantage as he continues to dominate the Republican party for the presidential election.

Biden Wins SC Primary:

Joe Biden handily won the Democratic primary election in South Carolina held on Feb. 3. The essentially unchallenged frontrunner collected 96.2% of the votes, with fellow candidates Marianne Williamson claiming 2.1% of votes and Dean Phillips earning 1.7% of votes, AP News reported. 

The results affirm the incumbent’s dominance among his competitors in the Democratic party. 

“South Carolina, we did it again,” Biden said in a video posted to X that night. “You did it for me again. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 2020, and now again in 2024. Now, let’s go win the whole thing. Let’s win it all.”

Biden’s win follows Trump’s win in the Iowa caucus, potentially foreshadowing a rematch of the 2020 general election. South Carolina’s Republican primary election will be held on Feb. 24, which will make the Palmetto State the first to have completed both of its primary contests in the country.

Biden will continue to look for similar command in upcoming Democratic primary elections in order to secure a spot on the ballot for Election Day in November.

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About the Contributor
Finn Courtney
Finn Courtney, Co-News Editor
Finn Courtney is a freshman Communications and Political Science double major and is entering his first year as one of the Co-News editors for 2024. With a passion for politics and sports, Finn's been a writer for as long as he can remember, was a four-year editor and leader on his high school paper and as a freshman has covered a variety of stories for The Villanovan, City of Basketball Love, and has been reposted in the Philadelphia Inquirer. When he's not typing up a story or filming with Villanova Television, you can surely catch him procrastinating on something, watching a Mets game (it's their year!) or trying to just live life to the fullest.
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