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First the Debate, Then a Supreme Court Ruling: Trump’s Big 24 Hours

First the Debate, Then a Supreme Court Ruling: Trump’s Big 24 Hours

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When Donald J. Trump returned to the green room after Thursday night’s debate, he flashed two thumbs up to waiting advisers who greeted him with a standing ovation for his performance against President Biden.

The former president and his team were still basking in the glow of Democratic recriminations, hand-wringing and second-guessing on Friday morning over Mr. Biden’s lackluster showing, when the Supreme Court handed Mr. Trump a second political gift in less than 24 hours.

The high court ruled that prosecutors had overstepped in their use of an obstruction law to charge a rioter who had stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The decision could have sweeping consequences for hundreds of defendants charged with crimes that day. Of course, the most prominent person indicted partly on an obstruction charge is Mr. Trump himself, though his case could continue even after the narrowing of the law.

“BIG WIN!” Mr. Trump posted on his social media site, Truth Social, after the court ruling.

The one-two burst of successes reinvigorated Mr. Trump’s campaign almost exactly one month after he became the first major party nominee ever convicted of a felony. Mr. Trump was headed on Friday to a campaign event in Virginia, a state that has not chosen a Republican president for two decades but that Trump advisers now claim could be on the battleground map in 2024.

Mr. Biden was campaigning in North Carolina, trying to put a state in play that Democrats haven’t won since 2008.

On Thursday night, Mr. Trump sought to minimize the seriousness of the Jan. 6 attack and parry away questions about his role in the violent riot at the Capitol. He also defended Jan. 6 defendants, suggesting that some of them had been wrongly charged, a position the conservative-dominated Supreme Court appeared to affirm.

“What they’ve done to some people that are so innocent, you ought to be ashamed of yourself,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Biden at the debate. “What you have done, how you’ve destroyed the lives of so many people.”

Mr. Trump tried to turn around the ugly and deadly events that transpired, remarking on the “great border,” “lowest taxes” and “lowest regulations” that day.

“On Jan. 6, we were respected all over the world,” Mr. Trump claimed.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue its final rulings of the current session on Monday, when a decision is likely on Mr. Trump’s claim that he is immune from prosecution on charges that he plotted to subvert the 2020 election.

Of course, the calendar is not all good for Mr. Trump. He is scheduled to be sentenced after his conviction in New York of falsifying records to cover up a hush-money payment made to a porn star. He will be sentenced on July 11.

Mr. Biden, for his part, sought to turn the page on a shaky debate performance that he hoped would be quickly forgotten.

“I know I’m not a young man, to state the obvious,” Mr. Biden said onstage at a rally in North Carolina. “I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to. I don’t debate as well as I used to.”

Perhaps the best news of the day for Mr. Biden came when Nielsen released its ratings. While the debate was on track to be the most-watched telecast of the year outside of sports, with roughly 50 million viewers, it was about two-thirds of the viewership for the first debate in 2020.



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