Thursday Reads


Good Morning!!

Yesterday Donald Trump was impeached for the second time, and this time ten Republicans voted yea. There won’t be a trial before Joe Biden is inaugurated, but one must be held after Trump leaves office. Furthermore, despite what James Comey says, Trump must be prosecuted for his crimes.

Grant Tudor and Ian Bassin at The Atlantic: Of Course America Prosecutes Its Executive-Branch Leaders.

Against the recent spectacle of an American president and his allies inciting an insurrection, such criminal misconduct by other chief executives appears almost quotidian. Illegally lining one’s own pockets is never good, but extorting public officials to manipulate election results is more than a difference of degree. One might assume, then, at this stage of things, that accountability for lawbreaking would be uncontroversial. And yet debate over the appropriateness of prosecutions for possible wide-ranging criminal behavior at the most senior levels of government is in full swing.

Various commentators have warned that prosecutions would “set a dangerous precedent” of punishing political opponents. Others have cautioned against the risk of creating martyrs or exacerbating polarization. After January 6, some changed their minds. But many others have not, speculating that the risks are still “just not worth it.” Even President-elect Joe Biden has made clear that he hopes to avoid “divisive” investigations. Although he has committed to a Justice Department that will operate with independence, “he can set a tone about what he thinks should be done,” as one adviser put it. And the president-elect has indicated that he “wants to move on.”

This would be a mistake. It not only contradicts the available evidence on how best to guard against the recurrence of serious transgressions, but also stands in odd contrast to how our own “laboratories of democracy”—the states—deal with misconduct by powerful executive-branch officials. Indeed, federalism provides the privilege to test government actions on a smaller scale in order to base more consequential federal decisions on evidence, not speculation. And the evidence from U.S. states is clear: When the rule of law runs its course, it typically prevails, and without precipitating a crisis.

ErpxvnLW8AMBuUhA chief reason states prosecute their most powerful public officials is that prosecutions help deter future lawbreaking. Insofar as the law is applied consistently—without regard for the profile of the person in question—prosecutions send clear signals. Beliefs about the probability of punishment operate forcefully on people’s decisions.

Criminal affirmance—the tacit condoning of dangerous behavior in the absence of prosecution—also sends a clear signal. Research shows that, especially with elite criminal behaviornot pursuing punishment works to undermine confidence in government by visibly carving out exceptions in the rule of law, and broadcasts to other powerful actors that criminality is rewarding. As Mary Ramirez, a former trial attorney with the Justice Department, observed in the aftermath of the 2009 financial crisis: “A petty thief that evades prosecution has virtually no impact on the rule of law, but a CEO that evades prosecution … is an advertisement.”

Read the rest at The Atlantic.

An example of prosecution of a former public official being prosecuted for crimes committed in office is taking place now in Michigan. AP: Ex.-Michigan Gov. Snyder charged in Flint water crisis.

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged Wednesday with willful neglect of duty after an investigation of ruinous decisions that left Flint with lead-contaminated water and a regional outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

The charges, revealed in an online court record, are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The charges are groundbreaking: No governor or former governor in Michigan’s 184-year history had been charged with crimes related to their time in that office, according to the state archivist….

Besides Snyder, a Republican who was governor from 2011 through 2018, charges are expected against other people, including former officials who served as his state health director and as a senior adviser.

The alleged offense date is April 25, 2014, when a Snyder-appointed emergency manager who was running the struggling, majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a regional pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction.

The corrosive water, however, was not treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in one of the worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history.

Despite desperate pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored, skunky water, the Snyder administration took no significant action until a doctor reported elevated lead levels in children about 18 months later.

Trump cannot be allowed to escape accountability for the damage he has done to the country, no matter how long it takes. In addition, Republican Congresspeople who aided and abetted Trump in his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election should also be punished, ideally by expulsion from the House and Senate.

Erom0rhXYAU_FvhDid some lawmakers go further by actually helping the rioters who attacked the Capitol on January 6? The Washington Post: Democrats demand investigation of whether Republicans in Congress aided Capitol rioters.

Even as Democrats on Wednesday impeached President Trump, they turned their attention to allegations that Republican members of Congress encouraged last week’s attempted insurrection, possibly providing help that enabled the mob who stormed the Capitol.

“Their accomplices in this House will be held responsible,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a speech during the impeachment debate, without mentioning specific members or allegations.

In the days since the Jan. 6 attack, immediately preceded by Trump’s remarks at a rally, a number of Democrats have pointed to speeches, tweets and videos that they have said raised questions about whether the attackers may have been inspired or helped by Republican members of Congress.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) said in a Facebook Live broadcast that she saw Republicans “who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day.” She said some of her GOP colleagues “abetted” Trump and “incited this violent crowd.” [….]

She and other Democrats sent a letter Wednesday asking congressional security officials to investigate what they called “suspicious behavior and access given to visitors” the day before the attack. The letter said that Democratic lawmakers and staffers “witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups” visiting the Capitol, which was unusual because the building has restricted public access since March, when pandemic protocols were enacted. Since then, tourists can enter the Capitol only when brought in by a member of Congress.

Among the visitors, according to the Democrats’ letter, were some who “appeared to be associated with the rally.” Sherrill and the other Democrats asked that any logbooks, videos and facial recognition software be examined to identify visitors and determine if they could be matched with those who stormed the Capitol.\Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said in an interview that “I do know that, yes, there were members that gave tours to individuals who participated in the riot.” She said an investigation is needed, adding, “What I don’t know is whether they were aware of what their plans were for the next day.”

More from Buzzfeed News: Capitol Police Officers Said They Wouldn’t Be Surprised If Members Of Congress Helped Plan The Attack.

After seeing one of their colleagues killed last Wednesday, Capitol Police officers are angry that Republican members of Congress refuse to submit to the security changes put in place since then, and say they wouldn’t even be surprised if some lawmakers helped organize the attack.

Officers told BuzzFeed News that members of Congress often see security as optional. Even after last week’s deadly attack, some Republican members refused to go through metal detectors, pushing their way past Capitol Police officers.

ErnfsHBXMAAtCed“Officers are fuming and there are mumbles of several walking off the job,” one officer with more than 10 years on the force told BuzzFeed News — just as Republicans took to the floor last night to rail against even basic security measures. At one point today, officers set up tables around the metal detectors in an effort to block Republicans from just walking by them.

One of the officers said it’s not unusual for members of Congress to bring dozens of people at once and insist that visitors be waved past security. Officers’ concerns were echoed by some Democrats who have been speaking out about the state of security at the Capitol, and the potential involvement of members in the planning of the insurrection….

Two of the officers who spoke to BuzzFeed News said it wouldn’t surprise them if lawmakers had been involved. “There are definitely some members who need to be held to account once an investigation shows the totality of circumstances,” one said, in a sign of how betrayed some officers feel in the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol.

Yesterday, massive numbers of National Guard troops were stationed at the Capitol and other sites in DC. The Washington Post: Security footprint grows in nation’s capital ahead of inauguration.

National Guard forces from a growing list of states moved into positions around Washington on Wednesday as authorities scrambled to understand the extent of threats surrounding President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and prevent a repeat of last week’s deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Federal officials led tabletop exercises to rehearse inauguration security and strengthen coordination among a massive patchwork of police, National Guard troops and federal personnel that is expected to fan out ahead of protests this weekend and the Jan. 20 transfer of power.

By next week, the D.C. police chief said, upward of 20,000 guardsmen were expected to be in place to guard against violence, days after supporters of President Trump smashed their way into the Capitol as lawmakers met to certify Biden’s electoral win….

Authorities have been operating in a heightened state of alert as the Secret Service orchestrates inauguration security and the FBI runs down possible threats in D.C. and state capitals.

On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray briefed local law enforcement across the country about the “state of play,” and the agency moved to establish new command posts nationwide.

Senior FBI and Secret Service officials also briefed Biden and some of his national security aides Wednesday, the transition team said. The officials are now expected to receive daily updates on security and operational plans.

EroCHDVVoAEcYqpEvidence suggests that the attack on the Capital last week was planned rather than spontaneous. Evan Perez at CNN: Investigators pursuing signs US Capitol riot was planned.

Evidence uncovered so far, including weapons and tactics seen on surveillance video, suggests a level of planning that has led investigators to believe the attack on the US Capitol was not just a protest that spiraled out of control, a federal law enforcement official says.

Among the evidence the FBI is examining are indications that some participants at the Trump rally at the Ellipse, outside the White House, left the event early, perhaps to retrieve items to be used in the assault on the Capitol.

A team of investigators and prosecutors are also focused on the command and control aspect of the attack, looking at travel and communications records to determine if they can build a case that is similar to a counterterrorism investigation, the official said….

The presence of corruption prosecutors and agents is in part because of their expertise in financial investigations. “We are following the money,” the official said.

Read more about the investigation at CNN.

More stories to check out, links only:

The Washington Post: Entire National Mall to close on Inauguration Day.

The Guardian: Revealed: walkie-talkie app Zello hosted far-right groups who stormed Capitol.

Vice News: ‘You’re Scared Now’: Watch Parler Videos Rioters Filmed Inside the Capitol.

ProPublica: “No One Took Us Seriously”: Black Cops Warned About Racist Capitol Police Officers for Years.

The Washington Post: QAnon reshaped Trump’s party and radicalized believers. The Capitol siege may just be the start.

Vice News: Desperate QAnon Believers Think Trump Spoke to Them in Morse Code.

Will Carless at USA Today: Armed ‘militias’ are illegal. Will authorities finally crack down if they show up at state capitals next week?

Peter Baker at The New York Times: A Preordained Coda to a Presidency.

The Washington Post: The president as pariah: Trump faces a torrent of retribution over his role in the U.S. Capitol siege.

The Washington Post: Trump is isolated and angry at aides for failing to defend him as he is impeached again.

Alan Blotcky at Salon: Our psychopath president has finally imploded: And all this was totally predictable.

Today will undoubtedly be another bit news day. Please feel free to post links on any topic in the comments. There is less than a week to go until Trump gets booted from the White House!

49 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:
  2. bostonboomer says:

    The Daily Beast: Trump Rants in Near-Empty White House: I’ll ‘Never’ Say Biden Won

    Two sources familiar with the matter said that in recent days, Trump is still going on and on behind closed doors about Dominion voting machine conspiracy theories and how he won in a landslide and therefore Biden is an illegitimate president. (None of the president’s claims there are true.) The president has also said that he’ll now make the polite-sounding public statements that his staff has drafted for him about a “smooth” transfer of power, but has repeatedly—sometimes unprompted—ruled out making any statements that Biden won, emphasizing that he will “never” admit such a thing. Biden’s decisive 2020 victory is “bullshit,” Trump has added, that “everyone” knows is a fiction.

  3. MsMass says:

    Those pictures of the massed nat’l guard perplexes me, and makes me ask-who the hell is in charge here? Before the storming of the capitol, last week, there was obviously a minimal presence of police behind the barricades and they were easily overrun. The pictures from last week should have looked more like what we saw yesterday.
    I agree with having a build up of security for yesterday’s events but there’s no large mob outside the window so the response seems way overblown. And I agree the security needs to be robust for the weekend and the inauguration. But that’s days away.
    Are those poor nat’l guards going to be sleeping on the floor all week, lacking most amenities and having little to do except sit around. I would think this would anger them and possibly fan disgruntlement with the government.
    Whoever decided on these deployments of security seems incompetent at best or willing to fuck it up for some agenda at worst.

  4. Enheduanna says:

    Wow these pipo are dummer than a bag of hammers:

    Bragging about their participation in the riot on dating sites….

  5. djmm says:

    Thank you for this important post.

    I had missed the opinion piece by Mr. Comey. Really, hasn’t he done enough damage to this country? Must he attempt more damage with his illogical musings?

    Without his improper rant when announcing there were (rightly) no charges against SOS Clinton and without his equally improper announcement that he was reopening the (bogus) investigation, there would have been no President Trump. I believe that tipped the scales for some and reduced Democratic turnout.

    About 400,000 Americans would be alive today and we would not have had armed insurrectionists at the Capitol.

    Btw, there is a video of a Rep. from Oregon opening a Capitol door to the insurrectionists. He should be added to the list of those being investigated.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think that video was from the Oregon capitol, right? I did see it.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Story about it at the WaPo: Rioters stormed the Oregon Capitol in December. Video shows a Republican lawmaker let them in.

        Weeks before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, another right-wing group stormed the state Capitol in Salem, Ore., trying to break into the building while legislators met for a special session on Dec. 21.

        The Capitol’s locked doors kept the crowd at bay — until Republican state Rep. Mike Nearman coolly walked through an exit and held the doors open as far-right demonstrators raced inside. Despite the efforts of police to keep them out, dozens of rioters eventually streamed into the building, attacking officers, damaging property and unsettling legislators.

    • NW Luna says:

      I haven’t seen an opinion piece by Comey either, but saw a mention that he thought Biden should pardon Trump. Is this really so? Pardoning someone for inciting insurrection would be a perversion of justice. Comey acts like a loose cannon.

  6. NW Luna says:

    Can’t have peons sharing a bathroom with royalty, apparently.

    The $3,000-a-month toilet for the Ivanka Trump/Jared Kushner Secret Service detail

    Many U.S. Secret Service agents have stood guard in Washington’s elite Kalorama neighborhood, home over the years to Cabinet secretaries and former presidents. Those agents have had to worry about death threats, secure perimeters and suspicious strangers. But with the arrival of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, they had a new worry: finding a toilet.

    Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job, according to neighbors and law enforcement officials. After resorting to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the nearby home of former president Barack Obama and the not-so-nearby residence of Vice President Pence, the agents finally found a toilet to call their own.

    The White House asked to borrow a van Gogh. The Guggenheim offered a gold toilet instead.
    But it came at a cost to U.S. taxpayers. Since September 2017, the federal government has been spending $3,000 a month — more than $100,000 to date — to rent a basement studio, with a bathroom, from a neighbor of the Kushner family.

    • quixote says:

      They have six (6) goddamn bathrooms. They don’t even need to share. Just let them use one and limit yourself to the incredible hardship of only using five.

      (And just to defend (the concept of) royalty for a second, *officially* true royalty shares the burdens of the citizenry during hard times. Sort of like the Queen Mother staying in Buckingham Palace during the Blitz. She had only a small staff of a few hundred but, still, she did remain in the same danger during the bombings.) These scum are power-mad, power-grabbing tyrants.

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Have read in several places that the panic buttons had been secretly removed ahead of the invasion from several Dem offices, including AOC’s.

      • quixote says:

        That is mega-bizarre…. The only reason to do that is if they (the Coup Klux Klan) planned on murdering them in their offices.


  9. bostonboomer says:

  10. bostonboomer says:

  11. bostonboomer says:
    • bostonboomer says:

      WSJ: Man Who Allegedly Threw Fire Extinguisher at Police Arrested on Federal Charges

      A retired firefighter from Pennsylvania was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers at the pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol as captured on video, U.S. officials said.

      Robert Sanford of Chester, Pa., faces three federal felony charges including assaulting a police officer after he was allegedly identified as the person who lobbed a fire extinguisher on the west side of the Capitol, at around 2:30 pm, as the mob crashed past a thin line of Capitol police officers and stormed towards the building on Jan. 6.

      In an affidavit filed in connection with Mr. Sanford’s arrest, an FBI special agent described the mob as “insurrectionists.” “The video was shot from an elevated position and showed an area of the Capitol with a large group of police officers surrounded on at least three sides by a group of insurrectionists,” the statement of facts said. It also described the object hitting all three officers in the head, including one who was not wearing a helmet.

      Around the same time, a radio dispatch captured by OpenMHZ, a platform that records radio chatter from law enforcement and life- safety services agencies, relayed an emergency code: “There is a 10-33 at the Capitol building. It has been breached.” The 10-33 code signifies an emergency in which an officer needs assistance.

      The extinguisher that Mr. Sanford allegedly threw is separate from the one that killed Officer Brian Sicknick, who was also struck in the head with a fire extinguisher during the unrest and died from his wounds, officials said.

      One of the officers who was hit, William Young, was evaluated at a hospital and cleared to return to duty, the charging document said. A friend of Mr. Sanford’s tipped off the FBI to his involvement, the document said, adding that he was around 55-years old and had recently retired from the Chester Fire Department.

    • dakinikat says:

      Glad to see Captain Sedition got caught. I can’t tell you how much I want to throw up every time I see that awful flag and knowing where it’s being waved. It violates the deaths of all the soldiers who died and were severely wounded in the Civil War fight for the country vs. out and out TRAITORS.

  12. palhart says:

    I agree with Tudor and Bassin, prosecute the bastards. from top to bottom. The Republican/Trump party, Maggats will resist any Biden actions to unite anyway. So why bother.
    I worry that Biden will try to be a lame “peace-maker” and forego showing strength and force which is the only route to take. Trump and his lunatic fringe aren’t likely to be persuaded to change, which is an understatement. Americans need to bind together and apply endless pressure for accountability, punishment, and strict enforcement of laws. For, if we don’t let law rule, our democracy will vanish, replaced by autocracy, and will take generations to re-establish if it’s possible with the lunatics Trump has unleashed.

    • MsMass says:

      Yes, I agree with you. If Biden takes the peacemaker role,someone else needs to take the heavier handed role and push for accountability.

      • palhart says:

        I’m assuming that Kamala Harris was in the Senate preparing to vote Jan. 6 and, being terrorized by the mob invasion, will gently push Biden to strongly support prosecutions and to not pardon Trump.

  13. NW Luna says:

    Note it’s the Congressional medal, and not the corrupted Presidential medal.

  14. NW Luna says:

  15. dakinikat says:

  16. dakinikat says: