Morning news brief
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
Early in Donald Trump's 2016 presidential run, he boasted that he could bend Republican voters to his will. Remember this?
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DONALD TRUMP: I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It's, like, incredible.
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Trump survived multiple scandals and impeachments when he was president. And now, after two indictments and a possible third, Trump is still the undisputed front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.
MARTÍNEZ: White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez is here to tell us all about this. Franco, he's been called the Teflon Don, but let's fact-check this. Is it really true that Donald Trump gets a bump when he gets indicted?
FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: I mean, for the most part, yes, or at least as it relates to the Republican primaries. In March, A, several weeks before the first indictment, Trump had just 43% of the vote in Republican polling, according to a RealClearPolitics average. But a day after he was charged in a hush money scheme to an adult film actress, his numbers had jumped to 50%. Two months later, he was indicted for mishandling classified documents. His polling average jumped again. And polls, of course, go up and down, and they did dip a bit, but not much. And they're back up now as Trump warns that he could be indicted over January 6.
MARTÍNEZ: These strike me as the kind of scandals that would derail pretty much any other political campaign. So why is Donald Trump different?
ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, that's right. I mean, many politicians try to avoid or downplay these kind of scandals, even a small one. But Trump has really embraced his legal problems. He's turned them into part of his case, also, to return to the White House. I talked to Doug Heye. He's a longtime Republican strategist. He told me that the indictments have helped Trump keep attention and also helped shape the narrative of the primary.
DOUG HEYE: The bizarre thing about this indictment, or any of these indictments, is it reinforces one of Trump's core messages - that the system is rigged against you and me and him, and so anything that comes from this - it becomes more proof not of Trump's wrongdoing, but of the system being rigged.
ORDOÑEZ: He adds that Trump has had help from his rivals. Instead of attacking him, they've largely rushed to his defense. And that's because Trump has so much support from the base, and criticizing him isn't a risk they're willing to take yet. So instead, you hear them echo Trump's claims that this is politically motivated, which all just lends more credibility to his message.
MARTÍNEZ: All right. So for all of Trump's resilience, I mean, is there anything at all that does wind up sticking to him?
ORDOÑEZ: Well, A, we should emphasize that the polls we're talking about are Republican primary polls. And it's one thing to win the Republican nomination. It's another to win the general election. So while the indictments may have boosted Trump's chances with Republicans, it could hurt him with independents and swing voters. The general election is a long way away, but his legal troubles have appeared to hurt him with those voters. And we did see that before in the midterms. And a recent NPR poll found that a majority of Americans, including 52% of independents, believe he's done something illegal. And that's why some Republican leaders and some Republican donors are worried about Trump's long-term prospects in the general election, even though he's been dominating the primaries.
MARTÍNEZ: That's White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez. Thanks a lot for your reporting.
ORDOÑEZ: Thanks, A.
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MARTÍNEZ: The ACLU and some parents in Oklahoma have filed a lawsuit to stop a religious charter school from opening in that state.
FADEL: The all-virtual Roman Catholic school would be funded by Oklahoma taxpayers. A state board approved the plan. Opponents say government funding for a religious school is clearly unconstitutional, and the case could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
MARTÍNEZ: Reporter Beth Wallis with StateImpact Oklahoma has been following this story. Beth, how did the state board justify approving public funding for a religious school?
BETH WALLIS, BYLINE: So St. Isidore is the patron saint of the internet, and the St. Isidore of Seville statewide Catholic virtual charter school would be a K-through-12 all-virtual school. It was approved by Oklahoma's Statewide Virtual Charter School Board in a split 3-to-2 vote. And actually, our state's attorney general has called the legitimacy of that vote into question due to the timing of the vote and whether a newly appointed board member had officially started his term, so still some validity of the vote questions standing there. But the reasons that those board members give who voted yes - they say it was a vote for religious liberty. School choice is also a really hot topic in Oklahoma, as with a lot of the rest of the country. And by school choice, I mean subsidizing more private education with public dollars. This wave of school choice policy has really hit Oklahoma, and St. Isidore is certainly a part of that.
MARTÍNEZ: Now, the ACLU and others say that this violates the separation of church and state. What's the main argument there?
WALLIS: So the plaintiff's lawyers argue that students whose identities might conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church could potentially be discriminated against. Dan Mach is the director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. He says the schools would be in violation of numerous state laws.
DAN MACH: Among other things, these basic rules, which apply to anyone seeking to start a charter school, bar these schools from discriminating and prevent them from imposing religious views on students. Yet the state board approved the application by a 3-to-2 vote on June 5 against the legal advice even of the state's Republican attorney general, who has unequivocally said that the approval of this school is unlawful.
WALLIS: You know, and in its application, St. Isidore even said that it would be evangelizing to students. I'd also say the lawyers definitely point out they're worried that students with certain disabilities won't be receiving an adequate level of support that they need, especially because St. Isidore will have no in-person component to help those students who might need that. Other virtual schools in Oklahoma have that hybrid model for those students.
MARTÍNEZ: So what are the supporters of the charter school saying about the lawsuits?
WALLIS: Well, they're definitely hoping that it'll eventually end up at the Supreme Court and that the conservative majority will be on their side. Our state superintendent of public instruction, Ryan Walters - he's been an ardent supporter of school choice. He's also a nonvoting member of that charter school board. He says St. Isidore's establishment is a move to, quote, "end atheism as the state-sponsored religion." He sees the suit as an attack against religious liberty. The school is supposed to open next fall, though obviously there are a lot of legal challenges, and that could throw the timeline out the window.
MARTÍNEZ: All right. Beth Wallis is a reporter with Oklahoma StateImpact. Beth, thanks for your reporting.
WALLIS: Thanks so much.
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MARTÍNEZ: The nation of Kenya has offered to send a thousand police officers to Haiti and lead a multinational effort to support the Haitian police.
FADEL: This comes just days after the U.S. State Department ordered most American citizens to leave Haiti after the kidnapping of an American nurse and her daughter. Gang violence has been widespread in Haiti since the country's president was assassinated two years ago.
MARTÍNEZ: For more on this, we're joined now by Jacqueline Charles, correspondent with the Miami Herald. Jacqueline, why has the offer come from Kenya and not Haiti's neighbors like the U.S., maybe, for example?
JACQUELINE CHARLES: Well, the U.S. has said that they do not want to lead a force, even though they support this. They have written a resolution that's been before the U.N. Security Council now for about nine months. The U.S. had been hoping that Canada would step up and lead, and though Canada hasn't publicly said no, they also haven't raised their hands. So it's been nine months since the Haitian government requested international help with a specialized force to come in and to help the Haitian national police. We've seen Jamaica say that they're willing to help field some sort of multinational force. But again, up until now, no one has said that, yes, we will lead it. So this development with Kenya comes after months of discussions and debates at the U.N. and Kenya also saying that, you know, African nations should take more of a leadership role in helping Haiti address this security humanitarian crisis.
MARTÍNEZ: What about the country of Haiti? How are they responding?
CHARLES: Well, you know, whenever you talk about foreign intervention, it's always controversial in Haiti - right? - given the history, you know, in terms of the U.S., you know, back in the early 1900s. But when you talk to the average Haitian, they just want help. They recognize that in a country of 12 million people with only 3,500 police officers on the streets throughout the country on any given day, that that's just not going to cut it. In the last couple of weeks, we've seen a resurgence in gang violence. Even before this kidnapping of the American couple, you saw dozens of families basically fled, took up residency in front of the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince because they had basically been pushed out of their homes by gangs. They have since left, but they are still homeless. They're now at a school, sleeping there. We've got a number of kidnappings, even before this American couple. A very prominent doctor who worked in the Ministry of Health - he has been kidnapped. We have a journalist who has been held now for over a month. So people basically feel a sense of desperation and really in need of help. And at this point, let it come from where it can come from.
MARTÍNEZ: You mentioned how it's going to be an international group led by Kenya. What other countries are going to help out?
CHARLES: Well, like I said, we've already had Jamaica that has volunteered in a couple of other Caribbean countries. But yesterday, Antonio Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general, who's been pushing for, quote-unquote, "a robust force," has asked for regional countries, Haiti's neighbors, to also step up, because what you're talking about is a thousand police officers from Kenya. But what the U.N. also recognizes that - what Haiti needs is military muscle. When you look at these gangs, they are heavily armed. They control at least 80% of Port-au-Prince. You really need assets. The country doesn't have any helicopters. It doesn't have any planes. So it really needs the ability to go in there and to secure infrastructure and also to root out these gangs. So the Kenya model right now - it's a start, but it's going to take a couple of other steps, and we're going to see, you know, how this shakes out, who else says, yes, we'll go in.
MARTÍNEZ: And when might these police officers arrive in Haiti?
CHARLES: That is unclear. Kenya is going to send an assessment team in the coming days and weeks to Haiti, and then we will have a better idea in terms of what is needed and how they're going to build this multinational force.
MARTÍNEZ: All right. Jacqueline Charles covers Haiti and the Caribbean for the Miami Herald. Jacqueline, thanks a lot.
CHARLES: Thank you.
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MARTÍNEZ: An update from the Women's World Cup in New Zealand and Australia - Team USA played Portugal to a scoreless tie. That means they finish as the runners-up in Group E to the Netherlands, which crushed Vietnam 7-nil. But it is enough for the United States to advance to the round of 16 knockout stage where they will most likely face Sweden next. Check out npr.org for more details. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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