Thursday Open Thread

Good Morning!!

This will be another brief post, because I’m still really struggling with sciatic nerve pain. Here are the stories I’ve been looking at this morning.

After last night’s vote in the Senate ended voting rights legislation for now. Louisiana’s Foghorn Leghorn was thrilled.

Ari Berman at Mother Jones: GOP States Are Shredding Voting Rights and Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema Are Now Complicit.

For the fifth time during the last year, Senate Republicans blocked Democrats on Wednesday from passing sweeping legislation that would roll back GOP efforts to make it harder to vote.

Their justification: there is no GOP effort to make it harder to vote.

“The big lie on the other side is that state legislatures controlled by Republicans are busily at work trying to make it difficult for people to vote,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this week.

That, of course, is exactly what Republicans have been doing.

Nineteen states passed 34 new laws in 2021 reducing voting access, according to the Brennan Center, which catalogued at least 16 different ways Republicans have sought to restrict voting rights, including making it more difficult to vote by mail and easier to remove voters from the rolls, cutting the number of early voting days, erecting new barriers to voter registration, and reducing the number of polling places.

Of course, it’s in McConnell’s interest to deny this. More surprising was how Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who co-wrote the Freedom to Vote Act precisely to counter these GOP voter suppression bills, claimed that no voters would be disenfranchised after he and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) announced they would side with Republicans to block a change to the Senate rules that would have allowed his bill to pass.

Hugo Lowell at The Guardian:

The former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack that Donald Trump hosted secret meetings in the White House residence in days before 6 January, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The former senior Trump aide also told House investigators that the details of whether Trump actually intended to march to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse rally would be memorialized in documents provided to the US Secret Service, the sources said.

The select committee’s interview with Grisham, who was Melania Trump’s chief of staff when she resigned on 6 January, was more significant than expected, the sources said, giving the panel new details about the Trump White House and what the former US president was doing before the Capitol attack….

The secret meetings were apparently known by only a small number of aides, the sources said. Grisham recounted that they were mostly scheduled by Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and that the former chief usher, Timothy Harleth, would wave participants upstairs, the sources said.

Harleth, the former director of rooms at the Trump International Hotel before moving with the Trumps to the White House in 2017, was once one of the former first family’s most trusted employees, according to a top former White House aide to Melania Trump.

But after Harleth sought to ingratiate himself with the Biden transition team after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election in order to keep his White House role, Trump and Meadows moved to fire him before Melania Trump stepped in to keep him until Biden’s inauguration.

Grisham told the select committee she was not sure who exactly Trump met with in the White House residence, but provided Harleth’s name and the identities of other Trump aides in the usher’s office who might know of the meetings, the sources said.

NPR: Experts see ‘red flags’ at nonprofit raising big money for Capitol riot defendants

Josephine Harvey at HuffPost: Eric Trump Pleaded The Fifth More Than 500 Times In Deposition, Court Filing Says.

Eric Trump and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg invoked their Fifth Amendment rights more than 500 times when questioned by the New York attorney general’s office for its investigation into the company’s finances, according to a Tuesday court filing.

“Eric Trump then invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to more than 500 questions over six hours,” the filing says of an Oct. 5, 2020, interview with former President Donald Trump’s son.

Weisselberg reportedly did so during an interview on Sept. 24, 2020: “After answering a number of preliminary questions, Allen Weisselberg invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to more than 500 questions over five-and-a-half hours.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office argues that these instances demonstrate that the men were aware of potential criminal liability in the case….In her motion to compel Tuesday, James argued that Donald Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, should be forced to testify under oath as part of her office’s ongoing civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s business dealings.

James’ motion seeks a court order enforcing testimonial subpoenas issued to the three Trumps, as well as the production of documents that have been withheld since they were subpoenaed in 2019.

NPR: Experts see ‘red flags’ at nonprofit raising big money for Capitol riot defendants.

In right-wing media, Cynthia Hughes has become one of the most prominent public faces representing families of the people held in jail, awaiting trial for allegedly attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Cynthia, you’re a true patriot,” former Trump adviser Steve Bannon told Hughes on his “War Room” podcast, where he included her in a roundup of “People of the Year.”

Hughes, who lives in New Jersey, has become a regular on Bannon’s show, where she and Bannon describe the 1/6 defendants as “political prisoners.” On New Year’s Eve, Bannon even pledged to send Hughes 1,000 coins from his new cryptocurrency venture, the “Let’s Go Brandon” or FJB coin.

Bannon’s promised crypto contribution added to the considerable pool of donations amassed by Hughes’ group, the Patriot Freedom Fund – close to $900,000 as of early December, the group claimed. There are many online fundraisers for Capitol riot defendants, which have collectively raised millions from the small, but notable minority of Americans sympathetic to the Capitol riot defendants. Most fundraisers go directly to individual defendants.

Patriot Freedom Fund, by contrast, is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation, and describes itself as a kind of central hub – soliciting donations from the public to then provide services to families, including cash grants, gifts, and legal aid. And they have asked for big donations. “We need somebody to drop us $500,000 today – today, Steve – because we need to have our own attorneys on these cases,” Hughes said on Bannon’s show in November 2021.

The group’s pitch has attracted prominent supporters on the right, including Republican U.S. Senate candidate and “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance, as well as the conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who announced a $100,000 donation last year. Bannon has also promised that a portion of “transaction fees” from the “Let’s Go Brandon” coin will go to the Patriot Freedom Project. And a former Trump administration official, Rachel Semmel, who previously worked in the White House Office of Management and Budget, is also volunteering with the group.

Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post: The media wants to paint Joe Biden as a failure. He won’t let that happen.

President Biden, while marking the end of his first year in office on Wednesday, met a press corps anxious to paint him as a failure. While conceding that his voting rights bill and Build Back Better package have both stalled, Biden stuck to one core theme: The economy and the effort to crush the pandemic are improving because of his administration.

Many of the questions from reporters verged on self-parody. Fox News’s Peter Doocy comically asked why Biden is pulling the country so far to the left. (Disclosure: I’m an MSNBC contributor.) The right-wing outfit Newsmax asked about his mental fitness for the job. It seemed everything was his fault, from Republicans’ refusal to support virtually any proposal to the fight between airlines and telecom companies over 5G.

Biden, for the most part, remained a “glass half full” president. “I’m not going to give up and accept things as they are now,” he said. “I call it ‘a job not yet finished.’” He stressed that the situation with covid-19 is improving. On school closures, he emphasized that 95 percent remain open.

He also seems to have heard complaints from Democrats, who have practically been begging him to focus more on his legislative successes. He started the news conference with a lengthy and passionate recitation of the low unemployment, widespread vaccination and infrastructure investment he achieved during his first year. “It’s been a year of challenges but also enormous progress,” he declared, conceding the nation should have done more testing earlier in the omicron surge. He also vowed to spend more time telling the country what he’s done and stressed the need to contrast his ambitions agenda with the stand-pat Republicans.

On inflation, he shifted attention to the Federal Reserve, which is responsible for price stability. He nevertheless took credit for untangling supply chains. Instead of austerity, Biden’s solution is a more vibrant economy.

Read the rest at the link. It’s hard to believe that Rubin used to a conservative Republican.

That’s all I’ve got. I hope I can do better on Saturday. Take care everyone!

17 Comments on “Thursday Open Thread”

  1. dakinikat says:

    I really wish we could get rid of all the Trumps. They’re like a plague all by themselves.

  2. quixote says:

    Aw, bb. 😥 so sorry to hear the nerve pain is still being obnoxious. That kind of pain is the worst. Hope it settles down soon!

    • NW Luna says:

      I really hope the pain resolves! Can they give you a short pulse of steroids to help? Sounds like none of the neuropathic pain meds are working for you.

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. NW Luna says:

    JJ and anyone liking medieval stuff may appreciate this!

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. dakinikat says: