Week in politics: Biden attends G20 summit in India; impact of Georgia election case


President Biden is attending a summit in India while the Georgia election interference case continues to have repercussions.


President Biden is in India this weekend for a summit featuring leaders of 19 countries and the European Union – almost. Vladimir Putin from Russia and Xi Jinping from China will be notable absentees. Ron Elving from NPR joins us. Ron, thank you for joining us. Does President Biden have an opportunity at this summit to reassert American leadership on a range of issues?

ELVING: Yes, but an opportunity wrapped in a complex set of challenges. Modi is trying to make himself look close to the U.S., and this week he has been highlighting his relationship to Biden in a similar way to how he did with former President Trump. The U.S. wants to build relationships with India and other important states around China, including South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and even Vietnam, which Biden will visit on this trip.

SIMON: What about the president’s own leadership profile on a week in which we saw more polls saying that his leadership – as reflected, at least, in public approval ratings – is not rated highly as we enter an election season?

ELVING: These polls tell us Biden’s facing headwinds with the voters. The reason is higher prices for certain items, such as gasoline, housing and food. It’s frustrating because the Biden team believes that the economy will return to a low level of inflation, without the recession predicted just a few short months ago. It’s a remarkable feat if it’s true. Biden’s policies are blamed by a majority of Americans for making the economy worse. This is a reflection not only of the deep partisanship of Republicans against Biden, but also the feeling of the average American that certain things are now more expensive than they were a few years ago. The cost of purchasing a home is also higher due to rising interest rates and the historically low supply of houses on the market. Scott, people don’t live within the macroeconomy. People live in their household economies. And right now that’s his biggest problem, along, of course, with Ukraine and relations with China and Russia.

SIMON: And speaking of Russia, what kind of friend does Moscow have in Elon Musk?

ELVING: Musk is the kind of friend who is primarily a friend to his own interests. In a recent book, it was revealed that Musk refused to provide his StarLink technology to Ukraine during a critical moment of the war last year. This is akin to taking sides. This made it impossible to use Ukrainian drones and allowed Russian warships in the Black Sea to fire missiles at Ukraine. And that incident has not been forgotten.

SIMON: The election interference case out of Georgia – we and many others, of course, have referred to it as sprawling because the district attorney there brought charges against 19 people, including, of course, former President Trump. We have learned this week that it could have been even more sprawling.

ELVING: Yes. What’s the next step beyond sprawling. The report shows that the special grand jury investigating the aftermath of the 2020 Georgia election had recommended charges against not only the 19 people who were charged, but also 20 other defendants. This includes three senators and Republican Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, along with two former Georgia senators who are Republicans. These individuals were not charged. Michael Flynn, national security advisor and a list of Georgia Republican officials and Trump operatives were also charged. The Trump camp suggested that Georgia’s prosecutors were out of control. The report indicates the exact opposite. We’ll be facing an election season where there will be a number of trials. Trials will be held in Georgia, Washington, D.C., Florida, and perhaps even New York. And we have never had a situation such as this before.

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

ELVING: Thank you, Scott.

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