Friday Reads: Wherefore art thou Rule of Law?

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I turned on the TV last night to catch a “whoa” look on Chris Hayes’s face as he read the breaking news. The look said it all. We’ve grown accustomed to the depths to which former AG Barr and all those involved in the Trumpist family and Republican Crime syndicate had gone to subvert our institutions. It amazes me that so many folks with a sworn duty to our Constitution could so easily set it on fire.  It did not surprise me that the ‘s Justice Department’s Katie Benner broke the story along with support from others.  Michael Schmidt had actually been the target of an earlier discovery of Trump’s justice department stalking reporters while finding a Judge to cover it up.  Last night we found out those antics extended to key Democratic Congressmen, staff, and even a juvenile family member of one of them.

This is the shocking headline: “Hunting Leaks, Trump Officials Focused on Democrats in Congress. The Justice Department seized records from Apple for metadata of House Intelligence Committee members, their aides and family members.”

As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.

All told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, then the panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman, according to committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry. Representative Eric Swalwell of California said in an interview Thursday night that he had also been notified that his data had been subpoenaed.

Prosecutors, under the beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry.

But William P. Barr revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.

The zeal in the Trump administration’s efforts to hunt leakers led to the extraordinary step of subpoenaing communications metadata from members of Congress — a nearly unheard-of move outside of corruption investigations. While Justice Department leak investigations are routine, current and former congressional officials familiar with the inquiry said they could not recall an instance in which the records of lawmakers had been seized as part of one.

Moreover, just as it did in investigating news organizations, the Justice Department secured a gag order on Apple that expired this year, according to a person familiar with the inquiry, so lawmakers did not know they were being investigated until Apple informed them last month.

Prosecutors also eventually secured subpoenas for reporters’ records to try to identify their confidential sources, a move that department policy allows only after all other avenues of inquiry are exhausted.

The subpoenas remained secret until the Justice Department disclosed them in recent weeks to the news organizations — The Washington Post, The New York Times and CNN — revelations that set off criticism that the government was intruding on press freedoms.

We found out that the main Congressman stalked by Former AG Barr and Trump was the man Trump constantly called “Shifty Schiff”. Congressman and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who immediatlely asked if any of the targets were Republican.  No answer has been provided by anyone on that.  At the moment, it looks like the use of government resources and the DOJ to hunt down political opponents.  The legal community is as stunned as the media.

Raw Story‘s Bob Brigham writes this: “‘William Barr was truly out of control’: Legal experts stunned by Trump’s DOJ spying on Democrats.”

“Prosecutors, under the beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry,” the newspaper reported. “But William P. Barr revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.”

There are plenty of places to read about this.

The continuing fall out from the destructive Trumpist years continue. This is from Reuters and Linda So: “Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers ”  This, too, is not surprising.  Any of us that have been stalked by forced birthers have experienced this.

Note: This story contains offensive language

Late on the night of April 24, the wife of Georgia’s top election official got a chilling text message: “You and your family will be killed very slowly.”

A week earlier, Tricia Raffensperger, wife of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had received another anonymous text: “We plan for the death of you and your family every day.”

That followed an April 5 text warning. A family member, the texter told her, was “going to have a very unfortunate incident.”

Those messages, which have not been previously reported, illustrate the continuing barrage of threats and intimidation against election officials and their families months after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s November election defeat. While reports of threats against Georgia officials emerged in the heated weeks after the voting, Reuters interviews with more than a dozen election workers and top officials – and a review of disturbing texts, voicemails and emails that they and their families received – reveal the previously hidden breadth and severity of the menacing tactics.

Trump’s relentless false claims that the vote was “rigged” against him sparked a campaign to terrorize election officials nationwide – from senior officials such as Raffensperger to the lowest-level local election workers. The intimidation has been particularly severe in Georgia, where Raffensperger and other Republican election officials refuted Trump’s stolen-election claims. The ongoing harassment could have far-reaching implications for future elections by making the already difficult task of recruiting staff and poll workers much harder, election officials say.

In an exclusive interview, Tricia Raffensperger spoke publicly for the first time about the threats of violence to her family and shared the menacing text messages with Reuters.

The Raffenspergers – Tricia, 65, and Brad, 66 – began receiving death threats almost immediately after Trump’s surprise loss in Georgia, long a Republican bastion. Tricia Raffensperger started taking precautions. She canceled regular weekly visits in her home with two grandchildren, ages 3 and 5 – the children of her eldest son, Brenton, who died from a drug overdose in 2018.

“I couldn’t have them come to my house anymore,” she said. “You don’t know if these people are actually going to act on this stuff.”

In late November, the family went into hiding for nearly a week after intruders broke into the home of the Raffenspergers’ widowed daughter-in-law, an incident the family believed was intended to intimidate them. That evening, people who identified themselves to police as Oath Keepers – a far-right militia group that has supported Trump’s bid to overturn the election – were found outside the Raffenspergers’ home, according to Tricia Raffensperger and two sources with direct knowledge of the family’s ordeal. Neither incident has been previously reported.

“Brad and I didn’t feel like we could protect ourselves,” she said, explaining the decision to flee their home.

Brad Raffensperger told Reuters in a statement that “vitriol and threats are an unfortunate, but expected, part of public service. But my family should be left alone.”

You may read more at the link if you can stomach it.  And more fall out with links via memeorandum.

Julia Carrie Wong / The Guardian:
Revealed: rightwing firm posed as leftist group on Facebook to divide Democrats  —  FEC investigation failed to uncover link to Rally Forge, a firm with close ties to Turning Point USA  —  digital marketing firm closely linked to the pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA was responsible …

Ryan J. Reilly / HuffPost:
‘Traitors Need To Be Executed’: ‘Stop The Steal’ Organizer Indicted In Jan. 6 Conspiracy Case  —  Alan Hostetter, a police chief turned yogi, was indicted along with Three Percenter extremists in a conspiracy to attack the Capitol.  —  Alan Hostetter was “in the middle of nowhere in Arkansas” when he hit the record button.

Los Angeles Times:
Former O.C. police chief, five others indicted on Capitol riot conspiracy charges

Jeff Schogol / Task & Purpose:
Racism didn’t exist in the military before Biden, US Senator says with straight face  —  ‘Growing mistrust between the races and sexes where none existed just six months ago’  —  A White senator from the South told America’s first Black defense secretary on Thursday that President Joe Biden’s …

We’ve just got a potpourri of Trump-inspired attacks on our Democracy.  It’s disgusting and frightening!  Ronald Brownstein–writing for The Atlantic–has this analysis: “Democracy Is Already Dying in the States.  Republicans around the country are proving Joe Manchin wrong.”

In places such as Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, and Montana, the most restrictive laws approved this year have passed on total or near-complete party-line votes, with almost all state legislative Republicans voting for the bills and nearly all Democrats uniting against them, according to an analysis of state voting records provided exclusively to The Atlantic by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU.

That pattern of unrelenting partisanship has left many state-level Democrats incredulous at the repeated insistence by Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, that he will support new federal voting-rights legislation only if at least some Republican senators agree to it.

Manchin is “acting like Republicans and Democrats are working together on this stuff, and Republicans in Arizona have completely shut the Democrats out of the [legislative] process,” Katie Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state there, told me in an interview. Similarly, Jennifer Konfrst, the Democratic whip in the Iowa House of Representatives said, “It is unfathomable to me that we would look at this issue and say we have to bring Republicans along, in this political climate, in order to make true change. I don’t see anywhere where Republicans are inviting Democrats along, or inviting Democrats to the table. Why are some Democrats saying ‘I won’t do this unless it’s bipartisan?’”

n its latest tally of state voting laws, the Brennan Center says that since January, 14 states have passed 24 laws restricting voting access. (That’s not likely to be the final tally, because the center also reports that dozens of other restrictive bills are still pending across another 18 states.) Of the new restrictions that have already passed, the Brennan Center qualifies 17 in nine states as “highly restrictive,” imposing the greatest barriers to participation. In all of those nine states, Republicans hold unified control of both the state legislature and the governorship, except for Kansas, where the GOP-legislature overrode Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of their voting changes.

Every state-legislative Democrat casting a ballot voted against 13 of those 17 laws, according to the Brennan analysis. A single Democratic state House member in Arkansas and Montana, and a single state senator in Wyoming, voted for three of the other bills. The only bill Brennan classifies as restrictive that drew meaningful Democratic support was a second bill in Arkansas, narrowing the forms of identification voters could use at polling places, which a significant number of Democrats from both legislative chambers backed.

Apart from that Arkansas voter-ID bill, the other 16 restrictive Republican measures won support from just two of the 509 state House or Assembly Democrats who voted on them, and just one of the 207 Democratic state senators. No Democrat co-sponsored any of these restrictive bills, the Brennan Center found.

Meanwhile, no more than a single Republican in either legislative chamber voted against any of these bills, other than two measures in Montana (one of which was opposed by two Republican state House members; the other by two GOP state senators) and an absentee-voting bill in Arkansas (that six in the state House opposed). Of the 1,143 state House or Assembly Republicans who voted on these restrictive bills, just 12 voted no (including the six on that one Arkansas bill); among state Senate Republicans, just seven of 458 voted no on any of these measures, the Brennan analysis found. “This was overwhelmingly a Republican partisan push and effort in the states,” says Wendy Weiser, the vice president for democracy at the Brennan Center.

Keep reading that too if you can stomach it.

We’re a group of voices over here out of many who see all this as the continuing march to an authoritarian regime.  We may have only a few months or years of Joe Biden’s time to cancel all of this.  There are many who think that current AG Merrick Garland may not be up to the job.  I certainly hope that’s not true but some of this latest stuff seems to be radical and there’s not a time for his subtle approaches.  Even, the usual  Nixonists agree.

Well, it’s time for your thoughts and shared reads. I’m getting overwhelmed by all of this. It seems ominous at the very least. I still believe we may see another attempt at insurrection in August.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

I pulled up behind a Cadillac
We were waiting for the light
And I took a look at his license plate
It said, “just ice”
Is justice just ice?
Governed by greed and lust?
Just the strong doing what they can
And the weak suffering what they must?
Oh, and the gas leaks
And the oil spills
And sex sells everything
Sex kills

11 Comments on “Friday Reads: Wherefore art thou Rule of Law?”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Best news!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The DOJ story is one more reason I’ll never buy Apple products. WTH is their excuse for giving up those records?

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. roofingbird says:

    I believe Greene self validated her statement.

    • quixote says:

      The more I think about her statement, the more it develops. What about lions, then? And hyenas? And hippos!? Deadliest animal to humans of all. To say nothing of fire ants. All bioweapons, I guess. Cooked up by… by… the Sumerians? In a pyramid??