Contact Me By Email

Contact Me By Email

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

RIP - Jerry West, One of Basketball’s Greatest Players, Dies at 86 - The New York Times

RIP - Jerry West, One of Basketball’s Greatest Players, Dies at 86

He was a sharpshooting, high-scoring Hall of Fame guard for the Lakers and later an executive with the team. His image became the N.B.A.’s logo.

Jerry West, wearing a purple and hold Lakers uniform with the number 44, holds a basketball with both hands and prepares to shoot. Walt Frazier, wearing a white and orange Knicks uniform with the number 10, reaches up to block his shot.
Jerry West was guarded by Walt Frazier in the 1972 N.B.A. finals against the New York Knicks. When the Lakers won the championship that year, avenging their loss to New York in the 1970 finals, West spoke after the last game with a colossal sense of relief.Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated, via Getty Images

Jerry West, who emerged from West Virginia coal country to become one of basketball’s greatest players, a signature figure in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers and a literal icon of the sport — his is the silhouette on the logo of the National Basketball Association — died on Wednesday. He was 86. 

The Los Angeles Clippers announced his death but provided no other details. West was a consultant for the team in recent years.

For four decades, first as a player and later as a scout, a coach and an executive, West played a formidable role in the evolution of the N.B.A. in general and the Lakers in particular, beginning in 1960, when the team moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles and he was its first draft choice.

He won championships with several generations of Laker teams and Laker stars and was an all-star in each of his 14 seasons. But except for his longtime teammate, the great forward Elgin Baylor, who retired without a championship, there may have never been a greater player who suffered the persistent close-but-no-cigar frustration that followed West for the bulk of his career on the court.

During his tenure, the Lakers buzzed almost perpetually around the championship, but West had the misfortune to play while the Boston Celtics, with Bill Russell at center, were at the height of their indomitability — they beat the Lakers in the finals six times.

It wasn’t until the Lakers acquired their own giant, Wilt Chamberlain, that they triumphed, but even that took four seasons — and a seventh defeat in the finals, to the Knicks in 1970 — to accomplish.

The 1971-72 Lakers won 69 games, a record at the time — the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls won 72 and the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors won 73 — including a streak of 33 in a row that remains unequaled. When they avenged their loss to the Knicks, winning the 1972 championship, West spoke after the last game with a colossal sense of relief, recalling that his thirst for the ultimate victory began before he entered the pros. In 1959, his junior year at West Virginia University, his team made it to the national finals against California, only to lose by a single point.

“The last time I won a championship was in the 12th grade,” West said after he scored 23 points as the Lakers beat the Knicks 114-100 to capture the series in five games. He added: “This is a fantastic feeling. This is one summer I’m really going to enjoy.”

As the Lakers general manager, West succeeded more often. He led a team that included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy to a championship in 1985 — sweet revenge against the Celtics at last — and again in 1987 and 1988.

In 2000, as executive vice president (his role was as a super-general manager, with the authority over personnel), he won again, having acquired Kobe Bryant in a trade and signed Shaquille O’Neal as a free agent. West left the Lakers after that season, but the team built largely on his watch won two more championships in a row.

As a long-armed sharpshooting guard, West, who played from 1960 to 1974, is on anyone’s short list of the finest backcourt players in the history of the game. At 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 and well under 200 pounds, he wasn’t especially big, even by the standards of the day: His great contemporaries Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek and, a bit later, Walt Frazier were taller, brawnier men adept at posting up opposing guards. (Havlicek also played forward.)

But West, who routinely played through injuries — his nose was reportedly broken nine times — was a quick and powerful leaper with a lightning right-handed release, all of which allowed him to get his shot away against taller, stronger defenders.

He wasn’t the finest dribbler in the league, but he was among its finest passers, averaging nearly seven assists per game, and his nearly six rebounds per game was better than average for a guard. He had quick hands on defense, enormous stamina, a relentlessly active presence on the court — a quality now often described as a great motor — and superior court sense.

Excelling Under Pressure

He was probably best known, however, for excelling in tough situations and big games, for wanting the ball when the game was in the balance, and for making shots under pressure.

In the 1970 finals against the Knicks, West made one of the most memorable shots in league history. With the Lakers down by two and the clock ticking down, his buzzer-beating heave from beyond half court tied the game. The three-point shot was not yet in effect — the N.B.A. didn’t adopt it until 1979 — and the Lakers lost in overtime.

“If it comes down to one shot,” West said once, “I like to shoot the ball. I don’t worry about it. If it doesn’t go in, it doesn’t go in.”

West led the N.B.A. in scoring in the 1969-70 season with 31.2 points per game; he scored more than 30 points per game in four seasons; and he averaged 27 points during the regular season for his career, the eighth-highest figure in N.B.A. history and third-highest at the time of his retirement (behind Chamberlain and Baylor).

But he was even better in the playoffs, when he averaged more than 30 points a game seven times, including 40.6 in 1964. 

In the 1969 finals against the Celtics, he averaged 37.9 points, including 42 in the final game, in which he also had 13 rebounds and 12 assists and led a fourth-quarter comeback that fell, heartbreakingly, a bucket short. He was named the Most Valuable Player for the series, still the only time a losing player has been the finals’ M.V.P. Afterward the Celtics were agog with praise.

Bill Russell called West “the greatest player in the game,” and Red Auerbach, the renowned coach who was then the Celtics’ general manager, called West’s performance in a losing cause one of the most brilliant he’d ever seen.

“The guy I felt sorry for in those playoffs was Jerry West,” John Havlicek told the writer Terry Pluto for his book “Tall Tales: The Glory Years of the N.B.A.” (2000). “He was so great, and he was absolutely devastated. As we came off the court, I went up to Jerry and I said, ‘I love you and I just hope you get a championship. You deserve it as much as anyone who has ever played this game.’ He was too emotionally spent to say anything, but you could feel his absolute and total dejection over losing.”

Zeke From Cabin Creek

Jerry Alan West was born in Chelyan, W.Va., on May 28, 1938, and lived in several towns in the area southeast of Charleston along the Kanawha River, including Cabin Creek, the derivation of one of his later nicknames: Zeke from Cabin Creek. (With the Lakers, he was also known as Mr. Outside — Elgin Baylor was Mr. Inside — and Mr. Clutch.)

West was the fifth of six children of Howard and Cecile Sue (Creasey) West. His mother (her first name was pronounced Cecil) was a store clerk, and his father was a machine operator for an oil company and worked in the electrical shop at a coal mine. A fierce union man and a rigid disciplinarian, the elder West was portrayed in a 1960 article in The Saturday Evening Post, while Jerry was starring for West Virginia, as a “a salty man of strong convictions” and small-town country habits who was “inclined to brag more about his front porch — ‘biggest front porch in town, wouldn’t trade it for a pair o’ Missouri mules’ — than about his all-American son.”

Jerry West, who grew up shy and introverted — “an intelligent, intense, complicated young man of 21,” The Post wrote — was most affected by what he later said was a chilly household and the death of an older brother, David, in the Korean War. In a harshly introspective memoir, “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life” (2011, with Jonathan Coleman), West spoke of being beaten by his father and “raised in a home, a series of them actually, that was spotless but where I never learned what love was.”

He played basketball at East Bank High School, and when the team won the 1956 state championship, the town renamed itself West Bank for a day.

Over three years at West Virginia University, he averaged nearly 25 points per game, shooting better than 50 percent and grabbing more than 13 rebounds per game. He was twice named player of the year in what was then the Southern Conference and twice picked as a consensus all-American. He was paired in the backcourt with Oscar Robertson on the gold medal-winning American Olympic team in 1960.

In his 14 pro seasons, West was named to the all-N.B.A. first team 11 times. But injuries finally caught up with him.

“With my different noses, my wife has been married to nine different guys,” he said. He missed the 1971 playoffs with a torn knee ligament and agonized through his final season with a persistent abdominal strain.

He had had salary squabbles with Jack Kent Cooke, the Lakers’ owner, and after saying he would play a 15th year, he decided on retirement shortly before the 1974-75 season, a move that exacerbated an already strained relationship.

In the spring of 1975, West sued, saying Cooke had failed to honor a $1 million, five-year agreement that covered both a playing contract and post-playing years. The Lakers countersued, saying West’s abrupt last-minute reneging on his promise to play doomed the team to a poor season. (They finished at 30-52.) Both suits were dropped a year later after the two men reconciled — to some degree; they saw eye to eye on very little — and Cooke hired West as the Lakers’ head coach in 1976.

In his first season as head coach, West led the Lakers to the N.B.A.’s best record, 53-29, with Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s most valuable player, but they lost in the playoffs to the eventual champions, the Portland Trail Blazers, led by Bill Walton, who died last month. Two years later, the Los Angeles once again lost to the eventual champs, the Seattle SuperSonics.

West’s won-lost record over three seasons as coach was 145-101 — a creditable résumé, especially given that he’d had no previous coaching experience at any level. But it was not a rewarding experience.

Among other things, he had been through two troubling incidents. In one, Abdul-Jabbar broke his hand when he punched the opposing center, Kent Benson of the Milwaukee Bucks, after Benson had elbowed him in the stomach. Several weeks later came one of the most shocking and upsetting episodes in league history: On Dec. 9, 1977, when an on-the-court melee broke out between the Lakers and the Houston Rockets, the Laker forward Kermit Washington delivered a punch to the head of the Rockets’ Rudy Tomjanovich that nearly killed him.

Becoming an Executive

In a 2010 biography of West, Roland Lazenby wrote that “West is certain that talent supersedes coaching in the business of basketball,” and even though Cooke sold the team after the 1979 season and the new owner, Jerry Buss, wanted West to stay on, he didn’t care for being on the bench. West did, however, have an interest in player evaluation and in having an executive role on the team, and in 1982, following a season that had brought the Lakers, led by Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, their second championship in three years, Buss named him general manager.

West was an active team builder His draft picks included several players who became Laker stalwarts: James Worthy (No. 1 overall in 1982, ahead of Dominque Wilkins), A.C. Green in the first round in 1985, and, to replace Abdul-Jabbar, who retired after 20 years as the game’s dominant player, Vlade Divac in the first round in 1989.

In a six-player deal with the San Diego Clippers (now the Los Angeles Clippers) in 1983, West traded a popular guard, Norm Nixon, and added Byron Scott. When Magic Johnson retired in 1991 after revealing that he had tested positive for H.I.V., West sought to create another one-two punch on the order of Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson or Chamberlain and West.

In the space of a week in 1996, he finally managed it, trading Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for a recent draftee just out of high school — Kobe Bryant — and signing a big man who had recently become a free agent, Shaquille O’Neal. The result: Over 20 seasons, from 1982 to 2002, the Lakers reached the N.B.A. finals 10 times, winning five championships and missing the playoffs just once.

After leaving the Lakers, West spent five seasons, from 2002 to 2007, with the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that had never won as many as half its games in its seven previous seasons. In West’s second year at the helm, the Grizzlies were 50-32, the first of the three consecutive seasons in which they qualified for the playoffs.

He later joined the board of the Golden State Warriors, who were league champions in 2015 but who, after a record-setting regular season, lost in the finals the next year to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Following that defeat, West was reportedly involved in acquiring the all-star free agent forward Kevin Durant.

West’s first marriage, to Martha Jane Kane, whom he met in college, ended in divorce. He married Karen Bua in 1978. West had five sons: David Mark, Michael, Ryan and Jonnie. Complete information on his survivors was not immediately available. 

In recent years West’s personality became the object of some scrutiny. Both Lazenby’s biography and West’s own book depict him as a troubled perfectionist and a relentless, pitiless self-examiner — someone who, in West’s own words, was “aloof and inscrutable,” possessed of “a demon-filled mind” and unable to fully enjoy his many successes.

In 2022, the HBO show “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” portrayed West (played by Jason Clarke) as an irrationally relentless and tantrum-throwing executive still brooding over past disappointments. In a statement after the show’s premiere, a lawyer representing West demanded a retraction and an apology in a statement that described his characterization in the show as “deliberately false,” “egregious” and “cruel.”

HBO defended the show, saying in a statement, “The series and its depictions are based on extensive factual research and reliable sourcing.”

West acknowledged that he had complicated personality. “I am not a conventional person or thinker, not someone who walks a straightforward line,” he wrote. “I am too rebellious and defiant for that, always have been. I am, if I may say so, an enigma (even to myself, especially to myself), an obsessive, someone whose mind ranges far and wide and returns to the things that, for better or worse, hold me in their thrall.”

West added that he wrote the book to “explain the mystery of that person” who is suggested by the logo of the N.B.A., which was created in 1969 and has a peculiar murkiness to its history. It shows a figure in white silhouette against a red and blue background, a slender player facing forward in midstride, dribbling with his left hand, his body angled gracefully.

The league has never acknowledged officially that it is West. It resembles him enough, however, that some critics have grumbled that the logo is out of date, and that because the league is mostly Black, the figure should be identifiable as a Black star, like Michael Jordan.

In 2010, The Los Angeles Times interviewed Alan Siegel, the man who designed the logo. Of course it’s West, he said, but he hadn’t chosen West as the model; he chose a photo of West that captivated him.

“It was perfect,” Siegel said. “It was vertical and it had a sense of movement. It was just one of those things that clicked.”

As for West himself, he told The Times that he felt awkward commenting, but that if he was indeed the model, it would be flattering. He recalled that when he first saw Siegel’s drawing, he thought, “That looks like somebody familiar.”

Alex Traub contributed reporting.

Corrections were made on 

June 12, 2024

An earlier version of this obituary misstated when the Golden State Warriors won 73 games. It was the 2015-16 season, not the 2014-15 season.

An earlier version of this obituary misstated the year West’s West Virginia University team lost to California in the national finals. It was 1959, not 1958. 

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this obituary referred incorrectly to West’s career average of 27 points per game during the regular season. It is the eighth-highest figure in N.B.A. history, not the sixth-highest. 

How we handle corrections

Bruce Weber retired in 2016 after 27 years at The Times. During the last eight he was an obituary writer. He is at work on a biography of the novelist E.L. Doctorow. More about Bruce Weber"

Jerry West, One of Basketball’s Greatest Players, Dies at 86 - The New York Times

Opinion Justice Alito is right about today’s politics

Opinion Justice Alito is right about today’s politics

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. at the Supreme Court in D.C. in 2021. (Erin Schaff/Pool via Reuters)”

“I don’t agree with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s stances on political and legal issues. Or on ethics. He should recuse himself from cases surrounding former president Donald Trump’s campaign. But he’s right about the divisions in our nation today — and I wish more liberals and moderates in powerful positions shared his perspective.

“One side or the other is going to win,” he told liberal filmmaker Lauren Windsor,who was posing as a conservative activist and secretly recording the conversation.

He added, “I don’t know. I mean, there can be a way of working — a way of living together peacefully, but it’s difficult, you know, because there are differences on fundamental things that really can’t be compromised. They really can’t be compromised. So it’s not like you are going to split the difference.” The comments were first reported by Rolling Stone.

Today’s fissure between liberals/Democrats/blue states and conservatives/Republicans/red states is deep and, as Alito says, in some ways intractable. The average voter in California does not have totally different views from the average voter in Wyoming. But white Christian nationalist, anti-critical race theory, anti-transgender activists and voters in Texas do hold views that are irreconcilable with those of New York leftists who believe that colonialism, patriarchy and white supremacy are the foundations on which America has been built.

We are not just in a “culture war” over whether people should read the New York Times’s 1619 Project or use the term “Latinx.” States run by Republicans make it very difficult to join a labor union or have an abortion. They strip power from liberal elected officials and sometimes remove them from office. A person with views shared by many White born-again Christians (opposition to abortion and gender-affirming care, that Black people would be as well off as White people on average if they worked harder) will almost never be elected to a powerful job in a blue state.

Most important, key figures who shape Republican Party policy act as though conservatives are in an existential war with the left. That includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Justice Clarence Thomas, activist Christopher Rufo and Trump advisers Russ Vought and Stephen Miller. If Trump returns to the White House, he has made clear that his administration would treat federal workers, left-wing college professors and students, and others whom conservatives don’t like as enemies of the state.

I don’t want Democratic officials, news outlets, nonprofits or other nonconservatives to take actions as radical as these Republicans. The Biden administration should not list groups it would target if the president were to win a second term.

But I wish powerful institutions and individuals on the left and center understood that the country is in the middle of a nonmilitary civil war and acted with the focus and purpose that such a belief would entail.

You might say many people are treating the prospect of Trump winning in November with alarm. That’s true. But the problem isn’t just Trump. The banning of abortion in many states, diminishment of the Voting Rights Act, rollback of state criminal justice reforms and enactment of  widespread restrictions on talking about race in public schools and colleges all happened over the past three years while Trump held no office. Conservative activists and officials are daily attacking left-wing institutions and values. They use whatever power they have, from the Republican-dominated courts to state legislatures to congressional hearings, which led to the resignations of the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania.

Alito’s framing, with the use of the term “side,” was exactly right. There is a conservative side, much broader than just Trump alone. And it is looking to win, not compromise. Abortion was already pretty restricted in red states in 2021. But conservatives still pushed to get Roe v. Wade overturned — and did.

In contrast, Democrats act as though they are in a fight with Trump alone. In 2021, even as the Supreme Court was becoming more radical, Biden not only took the weakest approach possible (appointing a commission to study the issue) but also basically ignored its findings. He bragged about the relatively toothless gun-control bill he passed with Republicans in Washington, ignoring how state-level conservatives were weakening restrictions on gun rights in much of the country.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) refuses to even hold hearings about the controversies surrounding Alito and Thomas.

Many news organizations, including some liberal ones, depict politics as Trump vs. D.C. Democrats . They barely cover state politics, essentially ignoring where much political action takes place. The media still often grades politicians’ effectiveness based on their ability to work across party lines. But Republicans such as Vought accomplish their goals without any support from liberals.

I can’t prove that prominent Democratic politicians and other prominent figures on the center and left have a different perspective from Alito’s. Perhaps in private they too recognize that the country is in a deep conflict that one side has to win. I assume Biden supporters would argue that the president recognizes the deeper divide but thinks that the best way to address it is for him to win reelection, in part by being more conciliatory.

Here’s why I’m skeptical of that view. Democrats in very blue areas, such as Durbin, who don’t have to woo Republican voters, still don’t act with much urgency. They behave as though reaching an agreement with a conservative lawmaker is a huge achievement.

The media seem constantly surprised by the extremist actions of the Republican Party, such as nominating Trump for president again. But it’s not shocking that a political movement that believes it’s in a life-or-death struggle remains behind a man who has shown both deep commitments to the movement’s causes and a willingness to use any means necessary to win political fights.

There are two visions of America being advanced. Liberals are willing to compromise on some parts of theirs, but the most powerful conservatives aren’t looking to meet in the middle. The best way to lose a battle is to pretend it’s not happening — and unfortunately that’s what many prominent liberals and moderates are doing.“

Saturday, June 08, 2024

The G.O.P. Push for Post-Verdict Payback: ‘Fight Fire With Fire’

The G.O.P. Push for Post-Verdict Payback: ‘Fight Fire With Fire’

“Republican leaders in and out of government are publicly pushing to prosecute Democrats as legal retribution for Donald Trump’s felony conviction.

Stephen K. Bannon speaking into a microphone from a stage. He is wearing a black shirt.
Stephen K. Bannon was one of many Republican allies of former President Donald J. Trump who called for revenge prosecutions in response to his felony conviction last week.Rebecca Noble for The New York Times

Republican allies of Donald J. Trump are calling for revenge prosecutions and other retaliatory measures against Democrats in response to his felony conviction in New York.

Within hours of a jury finding Mr. Trump guilty last week, the anger congealed into demands for action. Since then, prominent G.O.P. leaders in and out of government have demanded that elected Republicans use every available instrument of power against Democrats, including targeted investigations and prosecutions.

The intensity of anger and open desire for using the criminal justice system against Democrats after the verdict surpasses anything seen before in Mr. Trump’s tumultuous years in national politics. What is different now is the range of Republicans who are saying retaliation is necessary and who are no longer cloaking their intent with euphemisms.

Stephen Miller, a former senior adviser to Mr. Trump who still helps guide his thinking on policy, blared out a directive on Fox News after a jury found Mr. Trump guilty of falsifying financial records to cover up a 2016 campaign hush-money payment to a porn actress. Mr. Miller posed a series of questions to Republicans at every level, including local district attorneys.

“Is every House committee controlled by Republicans using its subpoena power in every way it needs to right now?” he demanded. “Is every Republican D.A. starting every investigation they need to right now?”

“Every facet of Republican Party politics and power has to be used right now to go toe-to-toe with Marxism and beat these Communists,” Mr. Miller said, using the catchall slurs Trump allies routinely use against Democrats.

Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief strategist to Mr. Trump, said in a text message to The New York Times on Tuesday that now was the moment for obscure Republican prosecutors around the country to make a name for themselves by prosecuting Democrats.

Mr. Bannon was convicted in a federal prosecution for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena in the Jan. 6 investigation, and faces trial in September in a New York state court — before the same judge who oversaw Mr. Trump’s trial — in a charity fraud case.

“There are dozens of ambitious backbencher state attorneys general and district attorneys who need to ‘seize the day’ and own this moment in history,” Mr. Bannon wrote.

And Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee who is in contention to be Mr. Trump’s running mate, wrote on X that President Biden was “a demented man propped up by wicked & deranged people” and it was now time to “fight fire with fire” — using flame emojis to represent the fire.

Officials with the Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Seeking retribution through the justice system is hardly a new concept for Mr. Trump. In 2016, he echoed and encouraged chants of “lock her up” against his opponent, Hillary Clinton, whom the authorities had declined to prosecute for using a private email server while she was secretary of state.

While president, Mr. Trump repeatedly told aides he wanted the Justice Department to indict his political enemies. The Justice Department opened various investigations of Mr. Trump’s adversaries but did not ultimately bring charges — infuriating Mr. Trump and contributing to a split in 2020 with his attorney general, William P. Barr. Last year, Mr. Trump promised that if elected again, he would appoint a “real special prosecutor” to “go after” Mr. Biden and his family.

Now, it remains unclear whether calls for legal retribution will amount to much in the way of actual prosecutions, at least in the short term. Without control of the White House, people close to Mr. Trump are urging district attorneys and attorneys general in red states to start aggressively targeting Democrats for unspecified crimes.

A central tenet of their argument is that the four criminal cases in four different jurisdictions against Mr. Trump are illegitimate and nothing more than political weaponization of the justice system. They continue to put forward the theory, without evidence, that all four cases are the result of a conspiracy by Mr. Biden — implicitly or explicitly rejecting the notion that Mr. Trump has been charged with crimes based on evidence.

But based on their premise that the charges — and now convictions in the fraudulent business records case — are baseless and were invented for political reasons, they are arguing that Republican prosecutors not only should but can do the same thing to Democrats. In short, having accused Democrats of “lawfare” — or using the law to wage war against political opponents — Republicans are saying they should respond in kind.

Some veteran Republican lawyers have sought to dress up the need for such retribution as a matter of constitutional principle. Among those calling for eye-for-an-eye prosecutions is John C. Yoo, a University of California, Berkeley, law professor best known as the author of once-secret Bush administration legal memos declaring that the president can lawfully violate legal limits on torturing detainees and wiretapping without warrants.

“In order to prevent the case against Trump from assuming a permanent place in the American political system, Republicans will have to bring charges against Democratic officers, even presidents,” Professor Yoo wrote in an essay published by The National Review.

He added: “Only retaliation in kind can produce the deterrence necessary to enforce a political version of mutual assured destruction; without the threat of prosecution of their own leaders, Democrats will continue to charge future Republican presidents without restraint.”

Mr. Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill are less bothered about finding a high-minded constitutional rationale.

“President Biden should just be ready because on Jan. 20 of next year when he’s former President Joe Biden, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” said Representative Ronny Jackson, a Texas Republican and close Trump ally, in an appearance on the pro-Trump network Newsmax.

Mr. Jackson said: “I am going to encourage all of my colleagues and everybody that I have any influence over as a member of Congress to aggressively go after the president and his entire family, his entire crime family, for all of the misdeeds that are out there right now related to this family.”

Some of the rhetoric has gone even further.

“Not just jail, they should get the death penalty,” said Laura Loomer, a far-right and anti-Muslim activist with a history of expressing bigoted views, in a podcast appearance after the verdict. Ms. Loomer, a onetime Republican nominee for a House seat in Florida, is not officially part of the Trump campaign. Mr. Trump, however, has praised her as “very special,” invited her to travel with him on his private plane and has met with her at his private clubs.

On social media, there has been an explosion of violent rhetoric and threats against the judge in the New York criminal case, Juan M. Merchan, and the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, who brought the charges against Mr. Trump.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a close Trump ally who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter this week demanding testimony by Mr. Bragg and one of his top trial lawyers in the case, Matthew Colangelo.

Mr. Bragg’s office has not yet responded to the letter, but the demand appears to set the stage for an eventual subpoena and court fight. After the indictment last year, Mr. Jordan subpoenaed a former prosecutor in Mr. Bragg’s office, Mark Pomerantz, who eventually sat for a deposition about the investigation.

Mr. Jordan this week also proposed barring federal law enforcement grants from going to Mr. Bragg’s office and to the office of the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., where Mr. Trump is facing state charges over attempted subversion of the 2020 election.

Speaker Mike Johnson went on Fox News and called on the Supreme Court to “step in” and overturn the Manhattan conviction, granting Mr. Trump immunity from prosecution. In the Senate, a group of Trump allies signed a letter declaring that they will oppose major legislation and Biden administration nominees, although they tend not to vote for Biden policies and nominees anyway.

But the more extreme calls for not just oversight scrutiny and political obstructionism but revenge prosecutions are coming from former senior Trump administration officials and people close to the former president who are expected to play even larger roles in a potential second term. Their message is often apocalyptic.

There is no longer any room, they argue, for weaklings who fetishize decency and restraint.

Mike Davis, a former top Senate Judiciary Committee lawyer who is a close associate of Mr. Trump, is calling for an investigation of the investigators, similar to how the Justice Department under Mr. Trump used the special counsel investigation led by John Durham in a yearslong, unsuccessful attempt to find a basis to accuse high-level Obama administration officials of a crime because of the Russia investigation.

“The Republican attorneys general in Georgia and Florida and the county attorney in Maricopa County, Ariz., need to open investigations” into the prosecutors and investigators pursuing the indictments of Mr. Trump and his allies, Mr. Davis said. He added, “Then on Day 1, when he wins, President Trump needs to open a criminal civil rights investigation.”

Jeff Clark, a former Trump Justice Department official who has been indicted in the Georgia election case for his role in helping Mr. Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 vote in that state, has offered another suggestion. He has called for “brave” district attorneys in conservative areas to file lawsuits in federal court against people involved in criminal cases against Mr. Trump, under federal laws that allow people to seek monetary damages from government officials who violate their constitutional rights.

His theory is that the cases are a conspiracy to prevent Mr. Trump from effectively running for president. It remains unclear, however, why local criminal prosecutors would have legal standing to go into federal court and bring such lawsuits. A spokeswoman for Mr. Clark’s employer, the Center for Renewing America, a pro-Trump think tank, did not respond to a request for comment.

But there is no room on this issue for moderate or traditional Republicans, such as Larry Hogan, a former governor of Maryland and a star G.O.P. recruit to run for the Senate in the blue state. Mr. Hogan erred unforgivably in the eyes of the Trump team when he implored Americans “to respect the verdict and the legal process” regardless of the outcome.

Chris LaCivita, a top Trump adviser, addressed Mr. Hogan in a post on X: “You just ended your campaign.” And even though a victory by Mr. Hogan could make the difference between whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate next year, Mr. Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who is also the co-chair of the Republican National Committee, said on CNN that Mr. Hogan “doesn’t deserve the respect of anyone in the Republican Party.”

Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.

Maggie Haberman is a senior political correspondent reporting on the 2024 presidential campaign, down ballot races across the country and the investigations into former President Donald J. Trump. More about Maggie Haberman

Russ Vought's 'radical constitutionalism' plan for Trump's second term - The Washington Post

Russ Vought, the former president’s budget director, is laying the groundwork for a broad expansion of presidential powers.

Russ Vought at the White House in August 2020, when he was serving as director of the Office of Management and Budget. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

A battle-tested D.C. bureaucrat and self-described Christian nationalist is drawing up detailed plans for a sweeping expansion of presidential power in a second Trump administration. Russ Vought, who served as the former president’s budget chief, calls his political strategy for razing long-standing guardrails “radical constitutionalism.”

He has helped craft proposals for Donald Trump to deploy the military to quash civil unrest, seize more control over the Justice Department and assert the power to withhold congressional appropriations — and that’s just on Trump’s first day back in office.

Vought, 48, is poised to steer this agenda from an influential perch in the White House, potentially as Trump’s chief of staff, according to some people involved in discussions about a second term who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

Since Trump left office, Vought has led the Center for Renewing America, part of a network of conservative advocacy groups staffed by former and potentially future Trump administration officials. Vought’s rise is a reminder that if Trump is reelected, he has said he will surround himself with loyalists eager to carry out his wishes, even if they violate traditional norms against executive overreach.

Follow Election 2024

“We are living in a post-Constitutional time,” Vought wrote in a seminal 2022 essay, which argued that the left has corrupted the nation’s laws and institutions. Last week, after a jury convicted Trump of falsifying business records, Vought tweeted: “Do not tell me that we are living under the Constitution.”

Vought aims to harness what he calls the “woke and weaponized” bureaucracy that stymied the former president by stocking federal agencies with hardcore disciples who would wage culture wars on abortion and immigration. The proposals championed by Vought and other Trump allies to fundamentally reset the balance of power would represent a historic shift — one they see as a needed corrective.

“The president has to be able to drive the bureaucracy instead of being trapped by it,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who led the GOP’s 1994 takeover of Congress.

Vought did not respond to interview requests and a detailed list of questions from The Washington Post. This account of his plans for Trump’s potential first day back in office and the rest of a second term comes from interviews with people involved in the planning, a review of Vought’s public remarks and writings, and Center for Renewing America correspondence obtained by The Post.

The Trump campaign has distanced itself from the extensive planning. Campaign managers Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita said in a statement, “Unless a message is coming directly from President Trump or an authorized member of his campaign team, no aspect of future presidential staffing or policy announcements should be deemed official.”

But in a sign of Vought’s status as a key adviser, Trump and the Republican National Committee last month named him policy director for the 2024 platform committee — giving him a chance to push a party that did not adopt a platform in 2020 further to the right. Trump personally blessed Vought’s agenda at a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser for his group and saidVought would “do a great job in continuing our quest to make America great again.”

Some of Vought’s recommendations, such as bucking the Justice Department’s tradition of political independence, have long percolated in the conservative movement. But he is taking a harder line — and seeking to empower a presidential nominee who has openly vowed “retribution,” alarming some fellow conservatives who recall fighting against big government alongside Vought long before Trump’s election.

“I am concerned that he is willing to embrace an ends-justify-the-means mentality,” said Marc Short, formerly chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, who has said he won’t endorse Trump. Vought, Short added, is embracing “tactics of growing government and using the levers of power in the federal bureaucracy to fight our political opponents.”

Vought’s long career as a staffer in Congress and at federal agencies has made him an asset to Project 2025, an initiative led by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, to lay the groundwork for a second Trump term. Vought wrote the chapter on the executive office of the president in Project 2025’s 920-page blueprint, and he is developing its playbook for the first 180 days, according to the people involved in the effort.

“We’re going to plant the flags now,” Vought told Trump’s former strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, on his far-right podcast. “It becomes a new governing consensus of the Republican Party.”

From fiscal hawk to MAGA warrior

Vought was raised in Trumbull, Conn., the son of an electrician and a teacher and the youngest of seven children. Brought up in what he has characterized as a “very strong, Bible-preaching, Bible-teaching church,” he attended Christian camps every summer. He received a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian school in Illinois, and headed to Capitol Hill near the end of the Clinton administration.

Vought mastered the federal budget working for fiscal conservatives, including Sen. Phil Gramm and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, both Texas Republicans, while getting his law degree from George Washington University.

Years before the Freedom Caucus enforced right-wing ideology on Capitol Hill, Vought was the bomb-throwing executive director of the conservative House Republican Study Committee. His prime targets: big government and entitlement spending. He worked under Pence, then a congressman, who called him “one of the strongest advocates for the principles that guide us” in 2010.

That year, as the populist tea party movement was surging, Vought joined the Heritage Foundation’s new lobbying arm. From a Capitol Hill townhouse dubbed the “frat house,”Vought and his other brash, young male colleagues tormented Republican leaders by grading their fealty to fiscal conservatism.

“Russ was determined to make our scorecard tougher than others out there,” said Republican strategist Tim Chapman, who worked closely with Vought at Heritage Action. “He wanted to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

Joining the Trump transition allowed Vought to put his principles to paper. Later, Pence cast the tiebreaking vote for his confirmation in 2018 as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Vought ascended to the top post in 2019.

But instead of slashing spending as Vought and other budget officials recommended, Trump resisted significant reductions to domestic programs and backed trillions in emergency pandemic assistance. The national debt ballooned by more than $8 trillion.

Vought blamed Congress. And he stood by Trump throughout his tumultuous presidency, as a procession of other Cabinet officials balked at breaching what they viewed as ethical and legal boundaries. “A bunch of people around him who were constantly sitting on eggs and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s getting me to violate the law,’” was how Vought later described them at a Heritage Foundation event.

By contrast, Vought found workarounds to fulfill the president’s ambitions that tested legal limits and his own record opposing executive overreach and deficit spending.

When Congress blocked additional funding for Trump’s border wall, the budget office in early 2020 redirected billions of dollars from the Pentagon to what became one of the most expensive federal infrastructure projects in U.S. history. And it was Vought’s office that held up military aid to Ukraine as Trump pressed the government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, prompting the president’s first impeachment. Vought defied a congressional subpoena during the impeachment inquiry, which he mocked as a “#shamprocess.” The Government Accountability Office concluded that his office broke the law, a claim Vought disputed.

Near the end of Trump’s presidency, Vought helped launch his biggest broadside at the “deep state” — an order stripping civil service protections from up to tens of thousands of federal employees. The administration did not have time to fully implement the order.

After the 2020 election, as Trump refused to concede, Biden officials complained that Vought was impeding the transition. Vought rejected that accusation — but wrote that his office would not “dismantle this Administration’s work.” He was already planning ahead; bylaws for what would become the Center for Renewing America were adopted on the day of Biden’s inauguration, records show.

“There’s a marriage of convenience between Russ and Trump,” said Chapman, senior adviser at Pence’s group, Advancing American Freedom. “Russ has been pursuing an ideological agenda for a long time and views Trump’s second term as the best way to achieve it, while Trump needs people in his second term who are loyal and committed and adept at using the tools of the federal government.”

Vought testifies before the House Budget Committee about Trump's spending proposals in February 2020. Vought had wanted big cuts to domestic programs, but the president resisted. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Radical constitutionalism

Since Biden took office, Vought has turned the Center for Renewing America into a hub of Trump loyalists, including Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department lawyer later charged in Georgia with trying to overturn Biden’s victory in 2020. Vought called Clark, who has pleaded not guilty, “a patriot who risked his career to help expose voter fraud.”

“I think the election was stolen,” Vought said in a 2022 interview with Trump activists Diamond and Silk. He is no longer in touch with Pence, his longtime patron, who has said Trump’s efforts to overturn the vote disqualified him from serving as president again, according to people familiar with the relationship who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive topic.

The Center for Renewing America is among several pro-Trump groups incubated by the Conservative Partnership Institute, founded in 2017 by former senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). The center, a tax-exempt group that is not required to publicly disclose its donors, raised $4.75 million in 2023, according to its annual report.

As Vought and other Trump allies work on blueprints for a second term, he is pushing a strategy he calls “radical constitutionalism.” The left has discarded the Constitution, Vought argues, so conservatives need to rise up, wrest power from the federal bureaucracy and centralize authority in the Oval Office.

“Our need is not just to win congressional majorities that blame the other side or fill seats on court benches to meddle at the margins,” he wrote in the 2022 essay. “It is to cast ourselves as dissidents of the current regime and to put on our shoulders the full weight of envisioning, articulating, and defending what a Radical Constitutionalism requires in the late hour that our country finds itself in, and then to do it.”

In practice, that could mean reinterpreting parts of the Constitution to achieve policy goals — such as by defining illegal immigration as an “invasion,” which would allow states to use wartime powers to stop it.

“We showed that millions of illegal aliens coming across, and Mexican cartels holding operational control of the border, constitute an invasion,” Vought wrote. “This is where we need to be radical in discarding or rethinking the legal paradigms that have confined our ability to return to the original Constitution.”

Vought also embraces Christian nationalism, a hard-right movement that seeks to infuse Christianity into all aspects of society, including government. He penned a 2021 Newsweek essay that disputed allegations of bias and asked, “Is There Anything Actually Wrong With ‘Christian Nationalism?’” He argued for “an institutional separation between church and state, but not the separation of Christianity from its influence on government and society.”

Looking at immigration through that lens, Vought has called for “mass deportation” of illegal immigrants and a “Christian immigration ethic” that would strictly limit the types of people allowed entry into the United States. At a 2023 conference organized by Christian and right-wing groups, he questioned whether legal immigration is “healthy” because, in a politically polarized climate, “immigration only increases and exasperates the divisions that we face in the country.”

In a podcast interview last year, Vought said it’s appropriate to question whether immigrants “have any sense of the Judeo-Christian worldview that this country was founded on,” adding, “And that doesn’t mean we don’t give religious liberty, but it does mean — are they wanting to come here and assimilate?”

Vought’s views amount to a kind of Anglo-Protestant cultural supremacism, said Paul D. Miller, a Georgetown University professor who published a book critiquing Christian nationalism.

“The Civil War taught us that America is big and broad and strong enough to include non-Christians and non-Whites,” Miller wrote in an email to The Post. “It also should have taught us that the greatest threat to the American vision are racial and religious supremacists.”

Vought’s playbook for Trump’s first 180 days, the final phase of the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, has not been publicly released. But a review of his proposals so far suggests that a second Trump term could breach even more political norms than the first.

Vought argues that protocols intended to shield criminal cases from political influence, which were adopted in the wake of the Watergate scandal, have allowed unelected prosecutors to abuse their power. Even as Trump vows to “go after” Biden and his family without providing clear evidence of alleged crimes, Vought wants to gut the FBI and give the president more oversight over the Justice Department.

“Department of Justice is not an independent agency,” he said at a Heritage Foundation event last year. “If anyone brings it up in a policy meeting in the White House, I want them out of the meeting.”

Echoing Trump, Vought supports prosecuting officials who investigated the president and his allies. “It can’t just be hearings,” he told right-wing activist Charlie Kirk on his podcast. “It has to be investigations, an army of investigators that lead to firm convictions.”

Vought favors boosting White House control over other federal agencies that operate somewhat independently, such as the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces consumer protection laws, and the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates television and internet companies. Trump’s never-implemented order from his first term making it easier to fire government employees would allow the White House to excise policymakers who resist the will of the elected chief executive.

“It really concerns me, and I know it concerns Russ, that these agencies have turned on the very people they are supposed to serve,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who led a House panel that Vought pushed for on the alleged “weaponization” of government.

Vought also recommends reviving presidential “impoundment” power to withhold funding appropriated by Congress; the practice was outlawed after President Richard M. Nixon left office, but Vought calls that move “unconstitutional.” And he supports invoking the Insurrection Act, a law last updated in 1871 that allows the president to deploy the military for domestic law enforcement.

On abortion policy, Vought calls for Congress to outlaw the drugs used in medical abortions — a hard-line stance at odds with some Republicans, who are sidestepping an issue that has galvanized Democrats in recent elections.

“My personal story has fortified my beliefs,” Vought told antiabortion activists in 2020, describing how his younger daughter, now 10 years old, was born with cystic fibrosis. The chronic illness can cause severe digestive and breathing problems and require intense, daily treatment; patients’ average life span is 37 years, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Vought said in that speech that 87 percent of fetuses diagnosed with the disease are “tragically aborted” — though the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the ACOG and other health organizations told The Post they were not aware of any research of that nature.

Vought proposes in his Project 2025 chapter a new special assistant to the president to ensure “implementation of policies related to the promotion of life and family.” To Vought, that means curbing abortion — and boosting the birthrate. “The families of the West are not having enough babies for their societies to endure,” he wrote in a Center for Renewing America policy paper.

When Trump said this spring that abortion limits should be left to the states and was silent on a national ban, disappointing some antiabortion leaders, Vought urged them not to lose faith. “Trust the man who delivered the end of Roe when all the other pro life politicians could not,” he said.

Even fellow critics of the federal bureaucracy said some of Vought’s proposals would face legal challenges and other hurdles. Michael Glennon, a Tufts University constitutional law professor who wrote a book that Vought cites as a formative critique, said in an interview that the framers were wary of concentrating too much power in the presidency.

“If conservatives trash long-held political norms to move against liberals, what will protect them when liberals retake power?” Glennon asked.

Bannon, the former Trump strategist ordered this week to serve a four-month prison term for contempt of Congress, touted Vought and his colleagues as “madmen” ready to upend the U.S. government at a recent Center for Renewing America event.

“No institution set up within its first two years [has] had the impact of this organization,” Bannon said. “We’re going to rip and shred the federal government apart, and if you don’t like it, you can lump it.”

Caroline Kitchener, Aaron Schaffer and Jeff Stein contributed to this report."

Russ Vought's 'radical constitutionalism' plan for Trump's second term - The Washington Post