Today’s topic comes from the Gret state of Lousyana, where many things are backward, including our Senators and most of our Congressional Representatives. There’s so much news that sometimes something important can sneak up and slap you and ya momma. I had no idea that Higher Education institutions worldwide were increasingly targeted for ransomware and malware attacks. This is especially true since many universities had to go exclusively online during the Covid-19 shutdowns. Now you know too!
Our first attack in this state was last November at a Historically Black College in New Orleans. Xavier is one of the premier universities in the state. The second big hit came at the beginning of March at Southeastern Louisiana University, where I taught for a few years while finishing my doctorate. Friday, the University of New Orleans got hit. The cybersecurity folks shut down everything. I lost access to my students while posting some graded items and assignments. My first thought was, why would anyone target universities in a poor state like Louisiana? Evidently, that was on the minds of a few reporters at the Times-Picayune as I talked to one of their reporters yesterday who had found my Facebook post and my frantic efforts to figure out how to return to pre-internet reality. Why HBC Southern near Shreveport and not the one here in New Orleans or over in Baton Rouge? Would we lose three weeks of everything like SELU? Michael Richmond is the director of technology services for the accounting and technology firm Postlethwaite & Netterville.
Richmond said there isn’t enough information publicly available to tell exactly what kind of attack Southeastern would be facing — whether that be someone accidentally falling for a phishing scam and causing a ransomware attack or some sort of intentional, targeted attack intended to gather specific information.
When it comes to ransomware and phishing scams, Richmond said, the attack is about gathering information valuable to the victim and holding it ransom until they’re paid off, or selling that information off. In the case of a higher education institution, that information could be personal or financial student data.
Higher education has suffered from rising cyber attacks in recent years — the most common type being ransomware attacks, according to Forbes. These attacks cost universities an average of $112,000 in ransom payments, though experts say ransom demands can go into the millions.
Xavier University in New Orleans was hit by a cyber attack last November. The group responsible said it obtained personal data belonging to students and faculty, which it then leaked on the dark web. An email from the university sent to students and faculty after the incident said they’d notify those who might have had their data stolen.
“It can happen to anybody,” Richmond said. “It’s one of the things we see across higher ed, because the collaborative nature [of universities] and the services they provide is counterproductive from a security standpoint. It’s very difficult to walk that fine line between the collaborative nature and cybersecurity.”
A decrepit old abandoned house located in a swamp in Louisiana.
If there is one entity with documentation on everything there is to know about me, it is UNO. I imagine that’s the same for many faculty, staff, and students. But UNO is also a research university. Some of their work includes quite sensitive information, including one program that focuses on shipbuilding for the US Navy and another that partners with ATT to make progress in three-dimensional simulations.
I went down the rabbit hole, and you’re coming with me if you’d like. Cyberattacks on Universities all over the world are on the rise. The first source of documented information I found came from the UK, home to some of the most prestigious and oldest universities. “Ransomware attacks are hitting universities hard, and they are feeling the pressure. Cyber criminals are targeting universities with ransomware attacks that are costing millions of pounds, while IT departments are feeling overstretched.”
Schools and universities are facing an unprecedented level of ransomware attacks as incidents continue to severely impact the education sector.
The warning comes from Jisc, a not-for-profit organisation that provides network and IT services to higher education and research institutions. Jisc’s ‘Cyber Impact 2022’ report suggests there’s an increased threat of ransomware attacks against education.
According to the report, dozens of UK universities, colleges and schools have been hit with ransomware attacks since 2020, causing disruptions for staff and students, and costing institutions substantial amounts of money. In some incidents, Jisc says impact costs have exceeded £2 million.
And the attacks keep coming, as the report details how two universities and a further education and skills (FES) provider were hit by separate ransomware attacks during March 2022.
The institutions aren’t specified, but the report says each incident caused a significant impact as systems were taken down to prevent further spread of malware, and to safely recover and restore data. In one case, a third party was called in to help the organisation fully recover from the incident.
The report suggests that one of the reasons universities have become such a common target for ransomware attacks is because of the pandemic-induced sudden shift to remote working for staff and students that inadvertently left institutions open to attack.
For example, the switch to remote education led to a big rise in the use of remote desktop protocol, which can provide ransomware attackers with a route into networks.
Ransomware is another major challenge facing colleges and universities today. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that locates valuable data on a target system and holds it for a ransom sum. Colleges and universities hold a large amount of valuable student data, and they also conduct valuable high-level research, which is why so many hackers use ransomware to target them.
A ransomware attack can have devastating consequences for any university. Ransom sums for these attacks can be extremely high and are often financially devastating. Additionally, these attacks compromise valuable data and can even shut down your systems for an extended period of time, making it very difficult to conduct normal operations. On top of that, ransomware can negatively affect a university’s reputation for years to come.
The rougarou, the Cajun cryptid said to haunt Louisiana’s wetlands, is the mascot of a conservation effort for its traditional habitat.
So, a small state with many tight-fisted legislators that would instead do constant tax cuts than infrastructure improvement and protection is just ripe for out-of-date system protections. In our case, the state cybersecurity folks helped UNO to reopen some systems this morning. I have contact with my students now and access to my Moodle class support system and the Zoom classroom structure, which I may have to use and keep everyone at home. I’m not entirely sure if we have physical access to the internet in classrooms.
On Friday I applied for the open presidential position at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, my alma mater. I announced on Jim Engster's Talk Louisiana Show this morning. I appreciate your support and comments. It's a "Long Shot" candidacy. My 15 Point Plan for Day 1.
Kathryn Huff, UNO’s finance instructor, said all her students have her personal phone number and the first thing she’ll do Monday morning is collect alternative email addresses to use while the email network is down.
Students will have to submit paper copies of their work for now, rather than uploading it to Moodle, the popular education platform used to access recorded lectures and monitor grades.
In addition to potential exposure of personal records, Huff hopes she and others quickly regain access to their research and papers loaded into the system over the years.
Nunez Community College spokesperson, Jason Browne, said classes will meet remotely Monday, but the school anticipates a return to normal operations by Tuesday.
Chemin-a-Haut State Park Cypress Cathedral Tree
I am part of this story. I can only imagine the frustration of students. There have been attempts to grab money from student debit accounts with a university or student loans using the old round-up methods devised by in-house hackers in financial institutions back in my banker days. Now, these attacks can come from anywhere.
UNO relayed the news after 6 p.m. Friday evening and said it would provide updates via social media and Privateer alerts, but the school community is raising questions about possible compromises to personal and financial information.
“I wish they’d be more direct,” said Shelby Oliver, a graduate student in the sociology department. Oliver said that although not being able to communicate with all of her instructors is worrisome, she’s mostly concerned about what type of information has been threatened to trigger the response.
State police said “more information may be forthcoming when all forensic investigative efforts are complete.”
Anyway, these kinds of things bring out Miss Marple in me. Perhaps your alma mater has been breached or will be?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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Yesterday was a busy news day for the Trump investigations. We learned about a sealed ruling from Judge Beryl Howell ordering a large group of close Trump aides to testify in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s January 6 grand jury. Their claims of “executive privilege” aren’t going to protect them anymore.
A federal judge has ruled that a number of former officials from President Donald J. Trump’s administration — including his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows — cannot invoke executive privilege to avoid testifying to a grand jury investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The recent ruling by Judge Beryl A. Howell paves the way for the former White House officials to answer questions from federal prosecutors, according to two people briefed on the matter.
Judge Howell ruled on the matter in a closed-door proceeding in her role as chief judge of the Federal District Court in Washington, a job in which she oversaw the grand juries taking testimony in the Justice Department’s investigations into Mr. Trump. Judge Howell’s term as chief judge ended last week.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers had tried to rebuff the grand jury subpoenas issued to more than a half-dozen former administration officials in connection with the former president’s efforts to remain in office after his defeat at the polls. The lawyers argued that Mr. Trump’s interactions with the officials would be covered by executive privilege.
Prosecutors are likely to be especially eager to hear from Mr. Meadows, who refused to be interviewed by the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Mr. Meadows was a central player in various efforts to help Mr. Trump reverse the election outcome in a number of contested states….
Other officials whose grand jury testimony Judge Howell compelled in her order vary in significance to the investigation, and in seniority. They include John McEntee, who served as Mr. Trump’s personnel chief and personal aide; Nick Luna, another personal aide; Robert C. O’Brien, who was national security adviser; Dan Scavino, who was a deputy chief of staff and social media director in the White House; John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence; Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s speechwriter and adviser; and Ken Cuccinelli, who served as acting deputy secretary of homeland security.
Trump is expected to appeal the sealed ruling. Legal experts say a criminal investigation usually overcomes executive privilege, as it did when the Supreme Court forced President Richard Nixon to hand over tapes his Oval Office conversations.
By Alexander Yanin
Trump has been using his Truth Social social media site to whip up anger among his cult followers, obviously hoping they will use threats and violence to intimidate anyone who tries to hold him accountable for his many crimes. Dakinikat wrote about this yesterday.
Donald Trump’s history of suggestive allusions to endorsing violence by his supporters is well chronicled. But rarely have his comments been this unvarnished at such a fraught time.
With his potential indictment looming in Manhattan, the former president on Thursday criticized those who have called for his supporters to remain peaceful.
“EVERYBODY KNOWS I’M 100% INNOCENT, INCLUDING BRAGG,” Trump said on Truth Social, referring to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “BUT HE DOESN’T CARE. HE IS JUST CARRYING OUT THE PLANS OF THE RADICAL LEFT LUNATICS. OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED, AS THEY TELL US TO BE PEACEFUL!”
Trump later Thursday posted an article featuring a picture of himself with a baseball bat next to a picture of Bragg. And early Friday morning, he explicitly mentioned the prospect of violence: He questioned why Bragg would charge him while knowing “that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country.”
While not explicitly urging his supporters to get violent, the seeming message here is that a peaceful response might be insufficientand he is warning of the unrest that his supporters could unleash if he’s charged.To label it a dog whistle would be an understatement. Trump is standing next to a tinderbox and casually lighting a match.
Truth Social is the social media site Trump launched after being banned from Twitter following the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. A late 2022 study found that only 2 percent of Americans use it, but its users were disproportionately right-leaning, and Trump’s messages on it are often amplified elsewhere. In a little over two hours Thursday, Trump’s post was shared more than 4,000 times and liked more than 14,000 times.
So far there haven’t been any large protests in response to Trump’s urging, but Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg has been getting hundreds of threats.
The FBI and NYPD are investigating a letter containing a death threat and white powder that was mailed to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office is investigating former President Donald Trump, law-enforcement sources told NBC News.
The letter was addressed to Bragg and said, “ALVIN: I AM GOING TO KILL YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!” the sources said. It contained a small amount of white powder.
There were no evacuations or injuries, officials said.
Cat Face, by Susan Stone
It was the latest in what a senior law enforcement source described as “several hundred threats” aimed at Bragg and his office in recent weeks. A couple dozen of the messages were considered to be directly threatening serious harm to Bragg, the source said.
Bragg sent an email to his office acknowledging the difficult week.
“I know it hasn’t been easy,” he wrote in the email, with all of the “press attention and security around our office,” and thanked everyone for their “strength and professionalism during this time.”
“We will continue to apply the law evenly and fairly,” he wrote.
In a statement, the DA’s office said the letter “was immediately contained and that the NYPD Emergency Service Unit and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection determined there was no dangerous substance.”
Former President Donald Trump’s fury at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg could land him in hot water, legal experts warned on Thursday.
Trump has repeatedly attacked Bragg, who is reportedly nearing a potential indictment in his investigation of the 2016 hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, calling him an “animal” and calling for his supporters to “protest” his widely anticipated arrest. The former president early Friday morning warned of “potential death & destruction” if he is charged in the case, and pushed back on calls for his supporters to remain “peaceful.”
Amid his relentless all-caps attacks on Bragg, Trump shared an article from the far-right outlet National File that included an image of Trump holding a baseball bat next to an image of Bragg’s head.
Norm Eisen, a former Democratic special counsel during Trump’s first impeachment, called the post a “sickening threat” and a “call for violence.”
“Threatening a prosecutor is a crime in NY. In fact MULTIPLE crimes,” he tweeted, listing several statutes that he thinks Trump may have violated:
“Harassment in the first degree NYPL 240.25; menacing in the second degree NYPL 120.14; stalking in the fourth or third degree NYPL 120.45 & 120.50 And that’s just for starters….”
Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who served on special counsel Bob Mueller’s team, compared the post to a photo longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone posted of a judge overseeing his Mueller probe trial in crosshairs while he was on bail. Weissman tweeted that a judge may need to impose a similar gag order on Trump as the judge did in Stone’s case after the post.
About a dozen House Republicans, led by Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), and two Democrats toured the D.C. jail Friday to inspect the conditions under which 20 men charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot are being held, and the two parties emerged with sharply different versions of what they saw.
The lawmakers met with some of the defendants, 17 of whom have been charged or convicted of assaulting police officers, and “they told us stories,” Greene said afterward.
Greene and Republicans from the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability organized the jail tour because of complaints from Jan. 6 defendants and their families, some of whom hold a nightly vigil outside the giant brick building on D Street SE. Greene said among the allegations she heard were,“Stories of being denied medical treatment, stories of assault, stories of being threatened with rape.”
The two Democrats who joined the tour said the jail conditions were unremarkable. They said jails are not supposed to be luxury hotels, and that the tour was a political stunt. Democrats have long accused Greene and Republicans of misleading the public about the mistreatment of Jan. 6 defendants in jail….
It appears these inmates are very well treated–they even have computer tablets!
Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), who also visited, said there was a full medical team available 24 hours a day in the jail and that the claims of different treatment for the Jan. 6 defendants was “completely a lie.” He said he was “surprised at how much open space there was, they were able to interact freely with members of Congress.”
Garcia said each of the defendants have two computer tablets, one for entertainment and one for legal work, can text their families and contact their attorneys whenever they want. “They’re being treated very fairly and appropriately,” Garcia said.
The D.C. jail is notorious for its poor treatment of inmates. Still, Greene and committee chair James Comer (R-Ky.) have suggested they’re only interested in the plight of rioters being mistreated due to their politics.
Cat with carnations, Mary Stubberfield
After touring the facility for about two hours with about a dozen colleagues, including two Democrats, Greene told reporters the visit confirmed her view that there’s a double standard.
“There’s a very different treatment for pretrial Jan. 6 defendants,” she said.
The two Democrats from the committee, Reps. Robert Garcia (Ca.) and Jasmine Crockett (Texas), agreed that Jan. 6 defendants received different treatment ― except they said it was better treatment.
“The conditions in the Jan. 6 area are the best conditions in this whole facility,“ Garcia told HuffPost, saying the group can spend most of the day with each other, outside of their cells and away from the general jail population, with access to tablets for entertainment.
“They can text their family any time of the day,” Garcia said. “And they’re here because they committed serious crimes and harm, mostly to law enforcement.”
Today, Trump will likely continue his efforts to incite violence among his cult followers when he presides over a campaign rally in Waco, Texas.
Staring down a possible indictment, a defiant Donald Trump is hoping to put on a show of force Saturday as he holds the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign in a city made famous by deadly resistance against law enforcement.
The former president will gather with supporters at an airport in Waco, which will mark the 30th anniversary of the Waco massacre next month. In 1993, an attempted raid by law enforcement of a compound belonging to the Branch Davidians, a religious cult, resulted in a shootout that led to a 51-day siege, ending in a blaze that left dozens dead.
The rally comes as Trump has berated prosecutors, encouraged protests and raised the prospect of possible violence should he become the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges. Some of his recent rhetoric has echoed language he used before the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters seeking to stop the transfer of power….
By Olga Suvorova
Trump’s campaign insisted the location and timing of the event had nothing to do with the Waco siege or anniversary. Instead, a spokesperson said the site was chosen because it was conveniently situated near four of the state’s biggest metropolitan areas — Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio — and has the infrastructure to handle a sizable crowd.
“This is the ideal location to have as many supporters from across the state and in neighboring states attend this historic rally,” said Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung.
The city is part of McLennan County, which Trump won in 2020 by more than 23 points. The airport where the rally is being held is 17 miles from the Branch Davidian compound….
But the timing will give Trump an opportunity to demonstrate his continued popularity with the GOP base and to portray himself as the victim of a politically motivated “witch hunt” as he campaigns for a second term in the White House.
This reminds me of Ronald Reagan announcing his run for president at the Nashoba County Fair in Mississippi, not far from the site of the 1964 murders of civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.
I highly recommend this essay by Joyce Vance at her Substack site, Civil Discourse: Why Waco?
Why is Donald Trump holding the first rally of his 2024 campaign in Waco, Texas, on Saturday?
There’s a little history there that you may recall.
The Branch Davidians were led by David Koresh and were headquartered at Mount Carmel Center ranch in the community of Axtell, Texas, northeast of Waco. In 1993, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) obtained a search warrant for the compound from a federal judge, as well as arrest warrants for Koresh and other members of the group. There was evidence the group was stockpiling illegal weapons and had explosive devices.
The planned execution of the search warrant was disrupted when Koresh’s brother-in-law, a mail carrier, learned of the search from a reporter who, tipped off to the search warrant, stopped him to ask for directions to the compound. By the time federal agents arrived to execute the warrant, the Branch Davidians were armed and on alert. A gunfight broke out—each side subsequently accused the other of starting it. Four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians died.
Next, there was a siege that lasted for 51 days, from February 28 to April 19. Federal agents attempted to negotiate with Koresh to end the standoff or at least to permit the children inside to leave. Koresh refused. Ultimately, then-Attorney General Janet Reno approved the use of tear gas to force the Branch Davidians out of their compound. Agents went in on April 19, 1993. The compound became engulfed in flames—how and who was responsible has been the subject of dispute.
Hold that Tiger, by Jeannette Lassen
Vance provides an excellent history lesson–read more details at the link. Today Waco continues to be an obsession for right wingers.
Over the past three decades, Waco has become a touchstone for far-right anti-government, Christian-nationalist white supremacists who likely know little about the Branch Davidians and their motivations. And here is Trump, holding a rally on their sacred ground to launch his 2024 campaign right in the middle of the 30th anniversary of the siege. Going to Waco sends a clear message to anti-government groups, and it should send one to the rest of us as well. It’s too important to miss. Trump is willing to embrace far-right extremism, and everything it brings along with it, to restore himself to power.
That means embracing violence. Only two years after Waco, on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, leaving 168 people, including 19 children at an on-site day care, dead and more than 500 people injured. McVeigh acknowledged before his death that he set off the Oklahoma City bomb in retribution for Waco and another incident, Ruby Ridge, where U.S. marshals attempted to arrest Randy Weaver, an anti-government defendant who had failed to show up for trial on weapons charges, leading to a standoff in which a federal agent and members of Weaver’s family were killed.
McVeigh was not alone. Waco has become a permanent part of the mythology of American white supremacist groups. It is embedded in the ideology of militia groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Alex Jones, who notoriously promoted fake claims about the deaths of children at Sandy Hook, has also fanned the flames of Waco. Trump crony Roger Stone dedicated one of his books, The Clintons’ War on Women, to the Branch Davidians who died at Mount Carmel.
We’ll find out in the days and weeks to come how successful Trump is in spurring his followers to commit violent crimes on his behalf. We can only hope that the legal system will somehow bring Trump down. Otherwise we are in big trouble in this country.
Please take care of yourselves this weekend. It has been a stressful week for those of us who follow politics.
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It’s hard to read and watch the news these days without getting PTSD from the shock and awe of the meltdown of Orange Caligula and watching the incredible number of folks with Personality Disorders taking front and center in MAGGot land. It’s on the national and local headlines all over the country. The attacks on schools and libraries continue. It appears the only strategy they have to try to stop the next few generations from rejecting all that hate and stupidity. Meanwhile, the reality of gun violence, insufficient obstetric care in most of the country, and climate change reality gets shuffled to the back page. Yesterday’s post was jarring on many levels for me. Nobody can ever really prepare you for the performance of right-wing Republicans.
Marjorie Taylor Greene says outrageous and invalid things under our legal system. Yesterday, The Guardian reported that MTG announced, “Alvin Bragg must be arrested ahead of expected indictment of ‘innocent former president’ Trump.” How off-the-wall is that? And, like all Republican projections, this is a call for a Banana Republic-style political move. Lock up all your political enemies!
In a social media post on Wednesday, Ms Greene called for the DA to be taken into custody.
“Now it’s time to arrest Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg for prosecutorial misconduct after hiding hundreds of pages of exculpatory evidence!” she wrote. “Bragg is on the verge of indicting an innocent former President and top Presidential candidate against the opposing ruling party.”
She then veered into a conspiracy theory, claiming the DA was “breaking the law” and “trying to incite civil unrest with his Soros funded political war.”
“Hold him accountable!” she wrote.
How do they even come up with this shit?
Yesterday’s post contained some of the most outrageous Truth Social Farts I’d seen by Trump. He called out a lynching party on the highly qualified, educated, and respected Black D.A. of Manhattan. It’s not any better today. This is from the New York Times. “Trump, Escalating Attacks, Raises Specter of Violence if He Is Charged. In an overnight post, the former president stepped up his attacks on the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, and warned of “potential death and destruction” if he is indicted.”
Will law enforcement let him incite an insurrection and lynch mob again? When does calling out for this stuff become enough to lock him up?
In an overnight social media post, former President Donald J. Trump predicted that “potential death and destruction” may result if, as expected, he is charged by the Manhattan district attorney in connection with hush-money payments to a porn star made during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The comments from Mr. Trump, made between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on his social media site, Truth Social, were a stark escalation in his rhetorical attacks on the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, ahead of a likely indictment on charges that Mr. Trump said would be unfounded.
“What kind of person,” Mr. Trump wrote of Mr. Bragg, “can charge another person, in this case a former president of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting president in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a crime, when it is known by all that NO crime has been committed, & also that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our country?”
“Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely hates the USA!” the former president wrote.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Bragg did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an email to his staff last week, Mr. Bragg wrote that the office “will continue to apply the law evenly and fairly, and speak publicly only when appropriate.”
Glenn Thrush and Alan Goldman write this analysis in the New York Times. “Trump Inquiries Present a Stress Test for Justice in a Polarized Nation. Attorney General Merrick Garland and other prosecutors have sought to demonstrate that politics should not infect the justice system. Those efforts face a steep challenge as the Trump investigations move ahead.”
Even in the absence so far of any charges against Mr. Trump, Trump, political polarization runs so deep, and mistrust of federal law enforcement is so ingrained on the right, that efforts by Mr. Garland and others to offer assurances that justice is being dispensed without regard to politics are often drowned out by powerful counterforces. Among the strongest of those forces are allies of Mr. Trump who have sought to undercut the legitimacy of the Justice Department in general and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in particular.
The Justice Department “has been a remarkable backstop,” said Lindsay M. Chervinsky, a presidential historian and senior fellow at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. “But the department is being given a role that it was never really designed to have — defending American democracy.”
In some ways, the confluence of Trump-focused inquiries is putting the criminal justice system through a public stress test unlike any in American history.
This is from emptywheel. “HAPPY CRIME-FRAUD EXCEPTION DAY, FOR THOSE WHO CELEBRATE.” You know who the criminal is when two judges find this rarely used, and usually in mob cases, crime-fraud exception for attorneys.
For the US political world, though, today marks crime-fraud exception day, the day that at least one of Trump’s attorneys will be obliged to testify about how Trump lied to his lawyers to try to get away with hoarding stolen classified documents.
Because Evan Corcoran (and possibly Georgia attorney Jennifer Little) will testify today, I thought it a good day to update the list of attorneys who were or have been witnesses or who may be subjects in one or more investigations into Trump.
Since the Stormy Daniels payment may lead to Trump’s first indictment, Michael Cohen gets pride of place at number one on this list, a reminder that for seven years, Trump lawyers have been exposing themselves to legal jeopardy to help him cover things up.
The following lawyers have all — at a minimum — appeared in subpoenas pertinent to one or another of the investigations into Donald Trump, and a surprising number have testified before grand juries, including at least three with (Executive Privilege) waivers. To be clear: Many have no legal exposure themselves, but are instead simply witnesses to the efforts made to keep Trump in line before they were replaced with lawyers who were willing to let Trump do whatever he wanted, legal or no. But some of these lawyers have had legal process served against them, and so may themselves be subjects of one or multiple investigations.
Michael Cohen (hush payment): convicted felon whose phones were seized April 9, 2018
Rudolph Giuliani (Ukraine, hush payment, Georgia, coup attempt): phones seized in Ukraine investigation April 28, 2021, received subpoena for billing records in fundraising investigation around December 2022
John Eastman (Georgia, coup attempt): communications deemed crime-fraud excepted March 28, 2022; phone seized June 22, 2022
Boris Epshteyn (stolen documents, coup attempt, Georgia): testified in Georgia grand jury; phone seized in September after which he retroactively claimed to have been doing lawyer stuff
Sidney Powell (fraud, coup attempt, Georgia): Subpoenas sent in fraud investigation starting in September 2021; testified before Georgia grand jury; appeared in November subpoena
Jenna Ellis (coup attempt and Georgia): Rudy’s sidekick, censured by CO Bar for lying serial misrepresentations, on June and November subpoenas
Kenneth Cheesbro (fake elector, Georgia): included in June and November subpoenas
Evan Corcoran (stolen documents): testified before grand jury in January, testifies under crime-fraud exception on March 24
Christina Bobb (coup attempt, Georgia, stolen documents): interviewed in October 2022 and appeared before grand jury in January, belatedly asked for testimony in Georgia
Stefan Passantino (coup attempt obstruction and financial): included in November subpoenas, alleged to have discouraged full testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson
Tim Parlatore (stolen documents): appeared before grand jury in December 2022
Jennifer Little (Georgia and stolen documents): ordered to testify under crime-fraud exception
Alina Habba (stolen documents, NYS tax fraud): testified before grand jury in January
Bruce Marks (coup attempt): included in November subpoena
Cleta Mitchell (coup attempt and Georgia): included in November subpoenas
Joshua Findlay (coup attempt): included in June subpoenas
Kurt Olsen (coup attempt): included in November subpoenas
William Olson (coup attempt): included in November subpoenas
Lin Wood (coup attempt): included in November subpoenas
Alex Cannon (coup attempt, financial, stolen documents)
Eric Herschmann (coup attempt, Georgia, financial, stolen documents)
Justin Clark (coup attempt and financial): included June and November subpoenas
Joe DiGenova (coup attempt): included in June and November subpoenas
Greg Jacob (coup attempt): grand jury appearances, including with Executive Privilege waiver
Pat Cipollone (coup attempt): grand jury appearances in summer and — with Executive Privilege waiver — December 2
Pat Philbin (coup attempt and stolen documents): grand jury appearances in summer and — with Executive Privilege waiver — December 2
Matthew Morgan (coup attempt): included in November subpoenas
Tim Parlatore is the latest addition to this list, based off someone’s decision to reveal Parlatore’s testimony to the stolen documents grand jury in December. As ABC reported, Beryl Howell ordered him to testify after he belatedly revealed that investigators he hired had found four documents with classification marks in a box brought back to Mar-a-Lago after the August 2022 search (he emphasizes that he did so without a subpoena, but this was an effort to stave off a finding of contempt).
So read this excellent piece about All the Ex-President Lawyers. Contempt charges anyone?
And, it’s not just the MAGA/Freedom Caucus crazies that are after U.S. Democracy. They’re definitely the sideshow. This is from Sherrilyn Ifill writing at Slate. “The Republican Plan to Make Voting Irrelevant.”
On Tuesday, it was reported by NBC News that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to recover at a rehabilitation center after his fall at a restaurant in Washington earlier this month. McConnell spoke with fellow Republican Senators over the phone from the facility and “sounded like Mitch,” according to Senate Minority Whip John Thune.
The news brought to mind McConnell’s exceptional instincts as a political calculator, and in particular his past cynical and perhaps prescient deliberations concerning his own health. In 2020, amid reports that McConnell had visited Johns Hopkins in Baltimore after concerning photos were published showing intense bruising on one of his hands, the Kentucky Republican began a campaign to pressure the GOP-controlled Kentucky Legislature to change that state’s law to remove from the governor—who is a Democrat—the authority to select a candidate to fill the unexpired term of a departing U.S. senator. The ability of the governor to appoint a nominee to fill the unexpired term of a senator without restrictions is the law in 35 states.
But McConnell urged, and the Kentucky Legislature took the step of changing that state’s law—overriding the veto of the governor to do so—in a way that assured that Republicans would maintain control of McConnell’s seat should it become vacant.
This effort—to remove powers from elected representatives who are Democrats—has become the new method of disenfranchising voters and maintaining perpetual Republican political power. And it is being undertaken with alarming frequency and speed across the country. This may be the most dangerous and efficient structural attack on our democracy. Its threat, and pernicious ingenuity, lies in its ability to make voting itself irrelevant. Voters may turn out in high numbers and elect their candidates of choice, but if the official is not one whose views align with those of the Republican Party, they may find that their powers of office are removed by antagonistic GOP-controlled legislatures.
We have seen this phenomenon most readily applied to so-called progressive prosecutors who have run successfully on platforms of criminal justice reform across the country. Progressive prosecutors have refused to prosecute low-level marijuana possession crimes, have embraced diversion programs, have opened conviction integrity units to review prior prosecutions for violations of law, and have prosecuted police officers for brutality. For embracing these and other reforms, progressive prosecutors have been confronted with an array of efforts to remove their power. Prosecutors who prosecute or investigate the wrong kinds of criminal suspects in the eyes of Republican legislators have also received this treatment.
Aramis Ayala became the first Black elected prosecutor in the state of Florida when she was elected in 2016 as state’s attorney for Orange and Osceola counties. One of her early announcements was that she would no longer pursue death sentences in capital cases. She argued that seeking the death penalty in homicide cases was draining the coffers of the county, in addition to many other flaws. Indeed, one study found that Osceola County had more prisoners on death row than over 99 percent of U.S. counties. The Republican attorney general of Florida and, subsequently, Republican Gov. Rick Scott and then Gov. Ron DeSantis removed from Ayala all first-degree murder cases and transferred them to a prosecutor in a different circuit.
Go read this piece. MTG and her antics should not detract us from the real danger Republicans still pose.
One more from Slate. Never in my lifetime did I expect to see any school official fired because three prudish parents couldn’t handle their kids seeing Michelangelo’s David. “An Interview With the School Board Chair Who Forced Out a Principal After Michelangelo’s David Was Shown in Class.” WTAF?
On Thursday, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that the principal of a local charter school, the Tallahassee Classical School, was forced to resign after three parents complained about an art teacher showing a picture of Michelangelo’s 16th-century sculpture of David. “Parental rights are supreme, and that means protecting the interests of all parents, whether it’s one, 10, 20 or 50,” the chair of the school’s board, Barney Bishop III, told the paper. To figure out exactly how this happened, I called Bishop, who is also, according to his biography, a consultant, a lobbyist, an “outspoken advocate for the free enterprise system,” and an Eagle Scout. Our conversation has been edited for clarity.
Dan Kois: Why did the board make the decision to remove the principal of the school?
Barney Bishop III: Well, like all the reporters I’ve talked to today, the premise that you’re operating from is incorrect. We didn’t remove her. She resigned. She’s an at-will employee by contract, as are all our teachers. I went to her last week and offered her two letters. One was a voluntary resignation, and another a letter that said if she decided not to resign, I was going to ask the board to terminate her without cause. Without cause. We have the right to do that under the contract.
So it’s safe to say she resigned under pressure from the board.
As I said in the Tallahassee Democrat, based on counsel from our employment lawyer, I’m not going to get into the reasons. But this wasn’t about that one issue. That’s not the entire truth, and she knows it. The fact is, I have been working with her since she became principal, and I have supported her as principal. But as I saw how things were going, how decisions were being made, I made the decision this was the best thing for the school.
Believe me, this many of them hammering on Abortion rights kept at it for nearly 50 years, and look where we are today. They won’t stop. They’ve been at “multiculturalism” and are now decrying a weird take on “woke,” which means we don’t want anything that is WHYTE CHRISTIANIST NATIONALISM.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I’m gonna fight ’em all A seven nation army couldn’t hold me back They’re gonna rip it off Taking their time right behind my back And I’m talking to myself at night Because I can’t forget Back and forth through my mind Behind a cigarette
And the message coming from my eyes Says, “Leave it alone”
Don’t wanna hear about it Every single one’s got a story to tell Everyone knows about it From the Queen of England to the Hounds of Hell And if I catch it coming back my way I’m gonna serve it to you And that ain’t what you want to hear But that’s what I’ll do
And the feeling coming from my bones Says, “Find a home”
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The grand jury hearing evidence of former President Donald Trump’s alleged role in hush money paid to Stormy Daniels will not meet about the case for the remainder of the week, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.
The grand jury is meeting Thursday to consider a different case, the sources said. The grand jury news was first reported by Business Insider.
The grand jury is expected to reconvene Monday to consider the Trump case, at which time at least one additional witness may be called to testify, the sources said.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Brag’s general counsel responded to House Republicans Thursday, telling them compliance with their requests for information would interfere with a legitimate law enforcement investigation.
General counsel Leslie Dubeck noted the House inquiry only resulted from former President Donald Trump’s social media post.
“Your letter dated March 20, 2023 (the “Letter”), in contrast, is an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution,” Dubeck wrote. “The Letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene. Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry.”
and from Politico:
NEW: DA Alvin Bragg's office rejected GOP inquiries into his office's ongoing grand jury proceedings related to Donald Trump, calling them "unlawful" requests.
For now, those of us obsessively watching for signs that Trump could finally face consequences for his long life of crime can shift our attention to Jack Smith’s Washington DC grand jury. Recapping the big news from yesterday:
A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that a lawyer representing former President Donald J. Trump in the investigation into his handling of classified material had to answer a grand jury’s questions and give prosecutors documents related to his legal work.
The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was a victory for the special counsel overseeing the investigation and followed Mr. Trump’s effort to stop the lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran, from handing over what are likely to be dozens of documents to investigators.
The behind-the-scenes fight shed new light on the efforts by prosecutors to assemble evidence about whether Mr. Trump committed a crime in defying the government’s efforts to reclaim classified materials he took after leaving the White House.
The litigation — all of which has taken place behind closed doors or under seal — centers on whether prosecutors can force Mr. Corcoran to provide information on who knew what about the continued presence of classified material at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s residence and private club in Florida, after the government had demanded its return last spring.
In particular, prosecutors have been focused on a document that Mr. Corcoran drafted last spring stating that a “diligent search” had been conducted at Mar-a-Lago and that no further classified material remained there — an assertion that would be proved false. Prosecutors have been seeking to learn what Mr. Trump knew about that statement, according to people briefed on the matter.
You’ll recall that on Friday Judge Beryl Howell found that Trump likely committed a crime through Corcoran, and that behavior could not be protected by attorney-client privilege.
….[I]n seeking to obtain as much information from Mr. Corcoran as it could, Mr. Smith’s office invoked the crime-fraud exception in a filing to Judge Beryl A. Howell, who sits in Federal District Court in Washington. Prosecutors working for Mr. Smith wanted Judge Howell to set the attorney-client privilege aside and compel Mr. Corcoran to give them what they wanted.
On Friday, Judge Howell issued a ruling saying that the government had indeed met the threshold to invoke the crime-fraud exception and that prosecutors had made a preliminary case that Mr. Trump had violated the law in the documents case.
Judge Howell’s finding that “the government had made a prima facie showing that the former president committed criminal violations” did not mean prosecutors necessarily had enough evidence to charge Mr. Trump. Rather, it was enough to justify setting aside attorney-client privilege and requiring Mr. Corcoran to divulge information about his interactions with Mr. Trump.
Legal experts were stunned at how quickly the appeals court dealt with the Trump camp’s appeal of Howell’s ruling. Some are suggesting that this might be because Trump is still hiding important government documents, and thus there could be national security considerations in this case.
4) The appeals court set one filing deadline at midnight, the next six hours later, and ruled twelve hours after that. Multiple legal experts said today that it was so extreme, they wondered if there were immediate national security implications behind Corcoran’s testimony.
6) Moreover the DOJ appears to have *sought* a timetable in which they had to stay up all night to file a response to Trump’s appeal, just to avoid having to push back Corcoran’s testimony by a single day – in a probe that’s been going on for a very long time.
We can only hope that Trump hasn’t shared these documents with foreign governments.
Corcoran did show up at the courthouse today, but his testimony isn’t scheduled until tomorrow–unless he appeals to the Supreme Court. Politico’s Kyle Cheney reported that other activities at the courthouse this morning.
UPDATE: Joe Biggs’ attorney Norm Pattis just asked Corcoran if he’d accept service of a subpoena to Trump for testimony in the Proud Boys trial. Corcoran told him he “wasn’t authorized” to accept it, Pattis says.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ′ administration is moving to forbid classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades, expanding the controversial law critics call “Don’t Say Gay” as the Republican governor continues to focus on cultural issues ahead of his expected presidential run.
The proposal, which would not require legislative approval, is scheduled for a vote next month before the state Board of Education and has been put forward by the state Education Department, both of which are led by appointees of the governor.
The rule change would ban lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity from grades 4 to 12, unless required by existing state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students can choose not to take. The initial law that DeSantis championed last spring bans those lessons in kindergarten through the third grade. The change was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel.
DeSantis has leaned heavily into cultural divides on his path to an anticipated White House bid, with the Republican aggressively pursuing a conservative agenda that targets what he calls the insertion of inappropriate subjects in schools.
A Florida House of Representatives committee on Wednesday advanced an anti-trans bill that is so broad and so extreme that it could also prevent people from getting treated for breast cancer. https://t.co/HsHPzcAtNQ
A Florida House of Representatives committee on Wednesday advanced an anti-trans bill that is so broad and so extreme that it could also prevent people from getting treated for breast cancer.
The bill passed the Healthcare Regulation Committee by a vote of 12–5 and now heads to the House for a vote. The measure is one of the cruelest in the country to target transgender and LGBTQ rights and care. It bans gender-affirming care for minors and would force them to medically detransition, or stop receiving treatments such as hormone therapy. But the bill’s vague wording has larger repercussions as well.
The text defines gender clinical interventions as “procedures or therapies that alter internal or external physical traits,” including surgeries that change “primary or secondary sexual characteristics.” During the debate, Democratic Representative Christine Hunschofsky pointed out that this could prevent people from getting treatment for breast cancer, as the overly broad language could apply to mastectomies.
Bill sponsor Randy Fine—who prior to being a Republican representative was a gambling industry executive, not a doctor—was surprised to learn that young people can get breast cancer.
By the same definition, people who need prostatectomies to treat prostate cancer could also be denied treatment. The bill also bans hormone treatments, which could potentially affect care for menopause, stunted growth, and birth control.
Read more at the TNR link.
DeSantis is getting some pushback in Florida, including from Disney and a 100-year-old woman.
Disney will host a major summit on gay rights in Orlando | Miami Herald@ and we thought Ron DeSantis had put an end to this WOKE, behavior at Disney. Perhaps the mouse is mightier than the Florida rat… https://t.co/BAwJCbx19c
The Walt Disney Company will host a major conference promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the workplace in Central Florida this September, gathering executives and professionals from the world’s largest companies in a defiant display of the limits of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign against diversity training.
Disney’s decision to host the conference this fall comes amid a yearlong dispute between the company and the Republican governor, who signed a law that ended decades of autonomy at the Disney resort. It was seen as punishment over the company’s opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation, known widely as the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits any discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms before fourth grade. Disney has had a longstanding relationship with Out & Equal, the organization behind the event, and is listed on its website as one of its most generous sponsors
The Florida resort has committed to hosting the conference this year and next, which will coincide with the presidential election campaign in 2024. DeSantis is widely expected to challenge former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.
Wow!! 100-year-old Grace Linn stood up to Ron DeDantis and demanded Florida STOP banning books at a Martin County School Board meeting!
As she races to stockpile campaign money and post an impressive, statement-making first-quarter fundraising number, Sinema has used a series of Republican-dominated receptions and retreats this year to belittle her Democratic colleagues, shower her GOP allies with praise and, in one case, quite literally give the middle finger to President Biden’s White House.
And that’s before an audience.
Speaking in private, whether one-on-one or with small groups of Republican senators, she’s even more cutting, particularly about Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, whom she derides in harshly critical terms, according to senior Republican officials directly familiar with her comments.
Sinema’s sniping spree has delighted the Republican lawmakers, lobbyists and donors who’ve taken in the show, giving some of them hope that she can be convinced to caucus with the GOP, either in this Congress or in the case she’s re-elected as an independent.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who Sinema has assiduously courted, remains skeptical, however. Believing she remains a Democrat at heart, McConnell has focused on trying to recruit a non-controversial Arizona Republican into the race, somebody who could attract the moderate GOP voters and independents Sinema would need to win the purple state as an independent.
It’s entirely possible, however, that such a Republican doesn’t run or can’t clear a primary in Arizona’s MAGA’fied state party. Former Gov. Doug Ducey has made clear he’s not interested, first-term Rep. Juan Ciscomani is likely to accrue more House seniority and the most attainable option, Karrin Taylor Robson, just lost the gubernatorial primary to Kari Lake. With near-total name identification among Arizona Republicans and the affection of one Donald J. Trump, Lake would enter the Senate race as the odds-on favorite to be the GOP nominee.
There’s much more nasty stuff at the Politico link.
I was really hoping for a Trump indictment in New York, but that’s not going to happen this week. I wonder how things are progressing in Georgia? What do you think about all this? What other stories have captured your interest?
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.