Monday Reads: Deep State Doo-Doo EditionPosted: December 13, 2021
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I’m having one of those bad tech weeks. After replacing and updating my cellphone, I started work only to find that my camera no longer works, which isn’t a good situation for a professor still highly reliant on Zoom. The internal camera and mic are messed up completely. Fortunately, an old headset can get me talking, but I just had to order a new computer. I tried resetting, and no dice. So, I’m in for a long period of installing and updating. Not exactly what I had planned for the end-of-year budget or festivities. I’m a nervous wreck from all this, and we’ll see what I’m up to doing today.
So, is it just me, or is it getting to be a Jungle out there?
The January 6 committee is voting this week to indict Mark Meadows, who renigged on his cooperation after incriminating himself. This is from Politico: “Meadows Jan. 5 email indicated Guard on standby to ‘protect pro-Trump people,’ investigators say. The context for the message is unclear, but it comes amid scrutiny of the Guard’s slow response to the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol.”
It’s unclear who Meadows, the former White House chief of staff to Donald Trump, relayed the information to or whether it was the result of any insight provided by the Defense Department. But the exchange is of high interest to congressional investigators probing whether Trump played a role in the three-hour delay between the Capitol Police’s urgent request for Guard support and their ultimate arrival at the Capitol, which had been overrun by pro-Trump rioters. The comment also aligns with testimony from former Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who said that in a Jan. 3 conversation with Trump, the then-president told him to “do whatever was necessary to protect the demonstrators that were executing their constitutionally protected rights.”
The description of the message is part of a 51-page document released Sunday by the select panel a day before it is set to vote to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress. The full House is expected to vote to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress on Tuesday.
In other messages described by the committee, Meadows appears to have asked members of Congress to help connect Trump with state lawmakers shortly after his defeat in November.
“POTUS wants to chat with them,” Meadows said, according to documents obtained by the Jan. 6 committee and described publicly Sunday evening.
The messages also describe numerous contacts with members of Congress about Trump’s efforts to recruit state lawmakers and encourage them to help overturn the election results. They also included questions about Meadows’ exchanges with members of Congress as they pressed him urgently to issue a statement telling rioters on Jan. 6 to exit the Capitol.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol released a report on Sunday that laid out its case for a contempt of Congress charge against Mark Meadows, the chief of staff to former President Donald J. Trump, presenting evidence of Mr. Meadows’s deep involvement in the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
In the 51-page document, the committee said it wanted to question Mr. Meadows about an email he had sent a day before the attack advising that the National Guard would be used to defend Trump supporters. The panel said it also wanted to ask him about an exchange with an unnamed senator about rejecting electors for Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Mr. Meadows had been cooperating with the committee’s investigation, but he refused to appear for a scheduled deposition last week or to turn over additional documents, citing Mr. Trump’s assertion of executive privilege. The committee, which is controlled by Democrats, is slated to vote on Monday to recommend a contempt of Congress charge against him for his refusal to cooperate with its subpoena. That charge carries a penalty of up to a year in jail.
Before coming to loggerheads with the panel, Mr. Meadows provided more than 9,000 pages of records to the committee. The information they contained raised additional questions, the panel said.
Among the emails and text messages that Mr. Meadows turned over were the following, the panel said:
A Nov. 7 email that discussed an attempt to arrange with state legislators to appoint slates of pro-Trump electors instead of the Biden electors chosen by the voters. Mr. Meadows’s text messages also showed him asking members of Congress how to put Mr. Trump in contact with state legislators.
Text messages Mr. Meadows exchanged with an unidentified senator in which he recounted Mr. Trump’s view on Vice President Mike Pence’s ability to reject electors from certain states. Mr. Trump “thinks the legislators have the power, but the VP has power too,” Mr. Meadows wrote.
A Jan. 5 email in which Mr. Meadows said the National Guard would be present at the Capitol on Jan. 6 to “protect pro Trump people.”
Emails from Mr. Meadows to Justice Department officials on Dec. 29, Dec. 30 and Jan. 1 in which he encouraged investigations of voter fraud, including allegations already rejected by federal investigators and courts.
Text messages Mr. Meadows exchanged with members of Congress as violence engulfed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in which lawmakers encouraged him to persuade Mr. Trump to discourage the attack, as well as a text message sent to one of the president’s family members in which Mr. Meadows said he was “pushing hard” for Mr. Trump to “condemn this.”
Text messages reflecting Mr. Meadows’s private skepticism about some of the wild public statements about allegations of widespread election fraud and compromised voting machines that were put forth by Sidney Powell, a lawyer working with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer.
The committee also said it had a number of questions prompted by Mr. Meadows’s new book, “The Chief’s Chief,” and cited it as evidence that his refusal to testify was “untenable.”
This is from The Raw Story link in the tweet above.
Donald Trump’s allies — including Meadows, his White House chief of staff — were frantically covering up the former president’s reaction to the Jan. 6 insurrection as the mob was attacking police and invading the U.S. Capitol, and Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent said the report shows some of the topics Meadows was afraid to testify about.
“We know from press accounts, such as this Post report, that Trump watched the violent assault unfold on TV and ignored many frantic pleas that he step in,” Sargent wrote. “One Trump adviser told The Post that Trump was enjoying the spectacle of his followers fighting on his behalf.”
The problem is with voters willing to back Trump.
Those are people who value slogans more than the ability to govern the country.
That means ambitious GOP politicians are right to imitate Trump’s tactics of inciting outrage and demeaning anyone, including Republicans, who stand outside the cult.
It also means that Republicans are indifferent to the corruption in the Trump White House that has been detailed in numerous books.
Those books agree Trump tried to overturn the presidential election.
Those books say he bullied his own vice president and tried to intimidate Justice Department officials.
This is contemptible. Yet today’s Republican voters still tell pollsters they will support Trump for the party’s 2024 nomination.
The self-destruction of the party is evident in the GOP’s voting record in Congress.
In the last year, every congressional Republican voted against a bill to help the country recover from the economic damage caused by COVID-19.
Republicans also overwhelmingly opposed an infrastructure bill favored by most Americans.
Now the GOP is opposed to President Biden’s Build Back Better bill to lower taxes for the middle class and help with child care.
Last month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) apparently shrugged off a question about a Republican agenda to help the country move forward.
A donor at a private dinner asked McConnell about what kind of platform the GOP might actually propose, according to Axios.
McConnell, Axios reported, replied by essentially dismissing the idea that the GOP should even consider doing such a thing, when it could instead make hay just by hitting Democrats.
Republicans in the Senate, led by Utah’s Mike Lee, recently threatened a government shutdown to oppose the Biden administration’s mandate that larger businesses must require their employees to either get vaccinated or have weekly COVID-19 tests.
Opposing a mandate for vaccination is legitimate. Allowing a deadly vaccine hesitancy to grow among Republicans to score political points is worthy of scorn.
That indifference to public good leads to the conclusion that the GOP wants to collapse faith in government to gain support for a coup attempt in 2024.
Well, that about sums it up!
I’m really not sure what to do about these two. It is dangerous performance art or something worse.
David Leonhardt writes this for the New York Times: “America’s Anti-Democratic Movement. It’s making progress.”
The main battlegrounds are swing states where Republicans control the state legislature, like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Republicans control these legislatures because of both gerrymandered districts and Democratic weakness outside of major metro areas. (One way Democrats can push back against the anti-democratic movement: Make a bigger effort to win working-class votes.) The Constitution lets state legislatures set the rules for choosing presidential electors.
“None of this is happening behind closed doors,” Jamelle Bouie, a Times columnist, recently wrote. “We are headed for a crisis of some sort. When it comes, we can be shocked that it is actually happening, but we shouldn’t be surprised.”
Here is an overview of recent developments:
I still don’t understand how working-class voters–used in this sense–don’t seem to include women or people of color but anyway, check out the actions from those states. It’s an appalling set of anti-democratic laws and moves.
Here’s an interesting read from Eleanor Eagan writing for American Prospect: “The Trump Officials Still Running Biden’s Justice Department.”
We are rapidly approaching the one-year anniversary of January 6, and Attorney General Merrick Garland has yet to give any sign that his Justice Department is independently investigating former President Trump and his fellow instigators. This is, by far, Garland’s most high-profile failure when it comes to accountability for the prior administration, one that more observers have begun to notice. But it is not the only one.
The Revolving Door Project has identified two Trump political officials who remain in senior career roles at the Department of Justice, in the Federal Programs Branch and the solicitor general’s office, after being hired under suspicious circumstances. From their perches, both have played a part maintaining Trump’s legacy in the courts. Their presence and power point to the danger of Garland’s refusal to “look backward.”
The first official is Alexander Haas, the current director of the DOJ Civil Division’s Federal Programs Branch. Haas joined the department in January 2017, the first month of the Trump administration. He nominally left his job at law firm King & Spalding for a career position as an assistant U.S. attorney in the DOJ. Just one month later, however, he already had a new gig as chief of staff and special counsel to Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Chad Readler.
It’s not just the timing that’s unusual here. Almost without exception, chiefs of staff to assistant attorney generals are political appointees. On paper, however, Haas appears to have remained an assistant U.S. attorney, with his stint in the Civil Division front office a temporary detail. If he was going to be transferred into a political role so quickly, why was he not hired into that position to begin with? Was there some reason it was preferable that he be hired as a career official?
Whatever the category listed on his HR paperwork, Haas was indistinguishable from any other political appointee. At the Trump DOJ, he worked closely with Readler—a man whom the Alliance for Justice described as exhibiting a “diehard advocacy for right-wing causes” when he was subsequently nominated and confirmed to a seat on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals—on some of the Trump administration’s most horrendous cases. For example, in Garza v. Hargan, Haas defended the Trump administration in a case challenging the federal government’s refusal to allow a 17-year-old ICE detainee access to an abortion.
In 2019, Haas became the director of the Federal Programs Branch, a career position. But while his political title was gone, his actions did not follow. In 2020, Haas defended the Trump administration’s efforts to truncate the 2020 census, a move that civil rights groups labeled a backdoor effort at disenfranchisement. Haas also put his name to a Justice Department complaint against Melania Trump’s former adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff for publishing her tell-all memoir. Legal experts decried the filing as “legally unenforceable” and “a complete abuse of the Justice Department’s finite resources.”
That ain’t good! Go figure things out Ms. VEEP.
So, that’s out for me! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?