Insane Thursday Reads, with Bunnies

Painting by Janie Olsen

Painting by Janie Olsen

Good Morning!!

Well, now we know why Trump was obsessed with low water toilets. It turns out he was trying to flush torn up documents in the White House bathrooms.

Axios: Haberman book: Flushed papers found clogging Trump WH toilet.

While President Trump was in office, staff in the White House residence periodically discovered wads of printed paper clogging a toilet — and believed the president had flushed pieces of paper, Maggie Haberman scoops in her forthcoming book, “Confidence Man.”

Why it matters: The revelation by Haberman, whose coverage as a New York Times White House correspondent was followed obsessively by Trump, adds a vivid new dimension to his lapses in preserving government documents. Axios was provided an exclusive first look at some of her reporting.

Haberman also revealed to Axios that Trump claims to be keeping in touch with one of his favorite dictators, Kim Jong Un. 

Haberman reports Trump has told people that since leaving office, he has remained in contact with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — whose “love letters,” as Trump once called them, were among documents the National Archives retrieved from Mar-a-Lago.

The book will be published in October. Read more about it at Axios.

More on Trump’s destruction of documents:

The Washington Post: National Archives asks Justice Dept. to investigate Trump’s handling of White House records.

The National Archives and Records Administration has asked the Justice Department to examine Donald Trump’s handling of White House records, sparking discussions among federal law enforcement officials about whether they should investigate the former president for a possible crime, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Full Moon Hare, by Andrew Bailey

Full Moon Hare, by Andrew Bailey

The referral from the National Archives came amid recent revelations that officials recovered 15 boxes of materials from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida that were not handed back in to the government as they should have been, and that Trump had turned over other White House records that had been torn up. Archives officials suspected Trump had possibly violated laws concerning the handling of government documents — including those that might be considered classified — and reached out to the Justice Department, the people familiar with the matter said.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a politically sensitive request. The two people said the discussions about the matter remained preliminary, and it was not yet clear whether the Justice Department would investigate. The department also might be interested in merely reclaiming classified materials. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

The New York Times: Archives Found Possible Classified Material in Boxes Returned by Trump.

The National Archives and Records Administration discovered what it believed was classified information in documents Donald J. Trump had taken with him from the White House as he left office, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The discovery, which occurred after Mr. Trump returned 15 boxes of documents to the government last month, prompted the National Archives to reach out to the Justice Department for guidance, the person said. The department told the National Archives to have its inspector general examine the matter, the person said.

It is unclear what the inspector general has done since then, in particular, whether the inspector general has referred the matter to the Justice Department.

An inspector general is required to alert the Justice Department to the discovery of any classified materials that were found outside authorized government channels.

The Washington Post Editorial Board: Opinion: Documents weren’t the only things Trump tore up while in office.

Former president Donald Trump liked the feel of tearing things up — figuratively, as he did with laws and norms of public service; but also literally, as he did with documents that he was required to preserve under the Presidential Records Act. Having refused to give his elected successor a smooth and orderly transition, Mr. Trump then skulked away to Mar-a-Lago in Florida with 15 boxes of official documents and mementos that should have gone to the National Archives.

The Post reported this past weekend that Mr. Trump routinely destroyed briefing papers, schedules, articles, letters and memos, ripping them into quarters or smaller pieces, leaving the detritus on his desk in the Oval Office, in the trash can of his private West Wing study or on the floor of Air Force One. Mr. Trump’s aides were left to retrieve the pieces and piece them back together, sometimes hunting through special “burn bags” intended for classified material to find torn documents that needed to be reassembled and preserved. Recently, the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection received documents from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) that appeared to have been torn apart and taped back together.

Mr. Trump broke the law. After President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation, Congress passed a number of laws intended to preserve the integrity of documents and other materials from Nixon’s presidency, and made the laws applicable to all future presidents. The Presidential Records Act of 1978 ended the practice of records belonging to former presidents and declared that the United States shall “reserve and retain complete ownership, possession, and control of presidential records.” The law requires a president to “take all such steps as may be necessary” to make sure the records are preserved — an important pillar of accountability in a democracy and also essential for historical understanding of the presidency….

Mr. Trump, who mercilessly attacked Hillary Clinton for using a private email server, turned out to be a slovenly steward of the people’s property. He regarded himself as above the law, but he was not. What’s left of the jigsawed and taped-up pages might not provide the thoroughgoing record of his presidency that the law demands, but they are a wrenching testament to his penchant for wanton destruction.

Wild Rabbit, photo by Julian Rad

Wild Rabbit, by wildlife photographer Julian Rad

Here’s another bonkers story that The Washington Post broke yesterday: Giuliani asked Michigan prosecutor to give voting machines to Trump team.

In the weeks after the 2020 election, Rudolph W. Giuliani and other legal advisers to President Donald Trump asked a Republican prosecutor in northern Michigan to get his county’s voting machines and pass them to Trump’s team, the prosecutor told The Washington Post.

Antrim County prosecutor James Rossiter said in an interview that Giuliani and several colleagues made the request during a telephone call after the county initially misreported its election results. The inaccurate tallies meant that Joe Biden appeared to have beaten Trump by 3,000 votes in a Republican stronghold, an error that soon placed Antrim at the center of false claims by Trump that the election had been stolen.

Rossiter said he declined. “I said, ‘I can’t just say: give them here.’ We don’t have that magical power to just demand things as prosecutors. You need probable cause.” Even if he had had sufficient grounds to take the machines as evidence, Rossiter said, he could not have released them to outsiders or a party with an interest in the matter.

Legal scholars said it was unusual and inappropriate for a president’s representatives to make such a request of a local prosecutor. “I never expected in my life I’d get a call like this,” Rossiter said….

Giuliani’s team called Rossiter around Nov. 20, 2020, Rossiter said, as it worked to overturn Trump’s defeat to Biden. The direct appeal to a local law enforcement official was part of a broader effort by Trump’s allies to access voting machines in an attempt to prove that the election had been stolen. That effort extended to a recently disclosed draft executive order for Trump’s signature to have National Guard troops seize machines across the nation.

Jacqueline Alemeny, one of the reporters on the WaPo story, appeared on MSNBC yesterday.

Raw Story: ‘This story is fairly shocking’: WaPo reporter breaks down latest ‘bonkers’ reports on Trump’s final days as president.

Antrim County prosecutor James Rossiter told the newspaper that Giuliani and others called him around Nov. 20, 2020, and pressed him to hand over the voting machines so they could be examined for fraud, as part of an ongoing scheme to undo Trump’s loss in Michigan, and journalist Jackie Alemany explained the significance of her colleagues’ findings to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Painting by Scott Gustafson

Painting by Scott Gustafson

“Well, it’s amazing, first of all, we are continuing to find so much new information that has yet to be uncovered, which is exactly what the Jan. 6 committee is doing,” Alemany said. “But this story especially is just fairly shocking because it shows them actually trying to implement some of their plans that we’ve seen sketched out in executive orders to seize voting machines. Here is a situation where they dialed in on a specific county and found a reason to do so despite it being obviously quite unconstitutional.”

“Even in the conversations I’ve had just in the past few months there are still a lot of people involved with this effort who believed that these voting machines needed to be seized to be protected so they could prove fraud,” she added. “These people are true believers.””That’s why those clips that were just played are so important for everyone to remember, especially when this investigation might potentially lead to whether or not this was negligence or actually intentional behavior,” Alemany said. “But it is clear that the former president knew exactly what was wrong with doing these things. He called up Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton on ripping up documents, taking classified information, accepting gifts, mischaracterizations because he knew it was politically damaging and gave the appearance of being corrupt. That’s what I think ultimately the DOJ is going to have to do if they decide ultimately to investigate the 15 boxes taken from Mar-A-Lago, which is what the archives has asked them to do according to our reporting yesterday.”

More on the Trumpist efforts to seize voting machines from Betsey Woodruff at Politico: Read the emails showing Trump allies’ connections to voting machine seizure push.

Leaked emails obtained by POLITICO reveal the connection of two outside Trump allies — Washington lawyer Katherine Friess and Texas entrepreneur Russell Ramsland — to the failed push to seize voting machines as part of a desperate bid to overturn the 2020 election.

The emails show then-President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and another former military officer workshopping the draft of a Trump executive order to seize voting machines. The emails between Flynn, retired Army Col. Phil Waldron and others provide new details about the events that preceded the assault on the Capitol last Jan. 6.

It is unclear if the Capitol riot select committee has obtained the emails. POLITICO is publishing them here, solely redacting the senders’ and recipients’ email addresses. We are also publishing two draft versions of the executive order that would have directed authorities to seize voting equipment. CBS News previously reported on the contents of the emails and published one of the drafts.

All three emails were sent to multiple people, including Friess, who appears to have lobbied for a variety of clients, including groups linked to Puerto Rico and the telecommunications industry. Friess’ visibility into the efforts to overturn the election results on Trump’s behalf has drawn comparatively little scrutiny. She did not respond to requests for comment. Ramsland, Waldron, Flynn and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani — also a central player in the election subversion effort — also did not respond to requests for comment.

Head over to Politico to read the emails.

Bunny Graces, by Belinda Cooper

Bunny Graces, by Belinda Cooper

At The Religion News Service, a report on how right win Christians and the January 6 insurrection: New report details the influence of Christian nationalism on the insurrection.

A team of scholars, faith leaders and advocates unveiled an exhaustive new report Wednesday (Feb. 9) that documents in painstaking detail the role Christian nationalism played in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and calling it an unsettling preview of things to come.

Christian nationalism was used to “bolster, justify and intensify the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” said Amanda Tyler, head of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, which sponsored the report along with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Tyler’s group is behind an initiative called Christians Against Christian Nationalism.

The organizations touted the report as “the most comprehensive account to date of Christian nationalism and its role in the January 6 insurrection,” compiled using “videos, statements, and images from the attack and its precursor events.”

The report, written chiefly by Andrew L. Seidel, an author and director of strategic response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, details Christian nationalist rhetoric and symbols that cropped up at events that preceded the insurrection, such as the Million MAGA March and Jericho Marches that took place in Washington in Dec. 2020 and Jan. 2021.

Christian nationalist symbols and references, Seidel writes, were ubiquitous at those gatherings, as well as the insurrection itself: flags with superimposed American flags over Christian symbols; “An Appeal to Heaven” banners; prayers recited by members of the extremist group Proud Boys shortly before the attack or by others as they stormed the Capitol.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Seidel highlighted what he called the preponderance of “openly militant” rhetoric that conflated religion and violence. He pointed to William McCall Calhoun Jr., a Georgia lawyer who reportedly claimed on social media that he was among those who “kicked in Nancy Pelosi’s office door” on Jan. 6. (Calhoun later claimed in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he did not personally enter any office.)

What are your thoughts on all this insanity? What other stories are you following today?


22 Comments on “Insane Thursday Reads, with Bunnies”

  1. bostonboomer says:
  2. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      • Enheduanna says:

        Yep. Dump himself hasn’t got a moral bone in his body.

        Lordy that gorilla thing he does with his mouth is the most repulsive thing I’ve ever seen. He’s beyond grotesque.

      • quixote says:

        The Big Dump is about white men on top. Fundamentalist religions (not just the Xtian ones) are about men on top. Putin is about white men on top. Corporations are about keeping all the money, especially for themselves, who are (I know we’re all surprised) white men. White supremacists’ real name would be white male supremacists.

        And (another surprise. not.) they all work together. Almost like they can tell they’re all on the same side even when some of them mouth words about loving your neighbor or being on the side of the workers or law-and-order or whatever.

        What is so goddamn hard about seeing what they’re about? They’re all just defending the current caste system. Why do so many reports still, still!, pretend the mismatch between words and deeds have anything to do with anything?

        /*endless screaming*/

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. dakinikat says:

    Love the bunnies!!

  6. djmm says:

    Can one imagine trying to restore the flushed documents to their original condition so that they could be preserved? Did The National Archives try or did this document destruction work???

    Love the bunnies!

  7. NW Luna says:

    Flushing documents down the toilet — of course that’s something Trump does. And he always had someone else who had to do the shitty work (haha) of unplugging the toilet.

  8. NW Luna says:

    Cute bunny pics!

  9. djmm says:

    The Daily Beast has a horrifying article of an Oklahoma plan to track pregnant women considering abortion. Just when you think these people cannot get worse…

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/oklahoma-republicans-want-to-track-women-considering-abortions?ref=home

    • quixote says:

      Just what governments do when women aren’t actual people. (See, eg, El Salvador.) Women have to be breeding machines if embryos have rights and women don’t. Next step: force the machines to work.

      This is why it was always such a disaster to let those misogynists call themselves “pro-life” in the teeth of all the evidence that they were merely pro keeping women barefoot, pregnant, and behind plows.

      If people hadn’t let themselves be lulled by all the talk about baybeez!, they might have woken up a bit earlier to the fact that it was just an attempt to go back to owning women.

      Meanwhile, here we are.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes. We are headed back to the way it was when I was young–before the women’s movement.

        • NW Luna says:

          Yes. Those young ‘feminists’ who say that paid rape (prostitution), pandering to the male gaze and and undergoing painful expensive procedures so their pudenda look like children’s are ’empowering’ had better wake the hell up.

        • quixote says:

          I don’t know, bb. I’ve been thinking about your comment, and I swear it has a different flavor now. Yes, they (“they”) were trying to lock women into boxes then and now. But it feels to me like then they knew, no matter how much they tried not to, that they were doing it to human beings.

          Now? It feels like they’ve crossed a line into assuming women are some different order of being. More like cattle or comfort animals. I’d say it’s distinctly worse. And the only thing that’s changed that much is the world blanketed in violent, vicious, hate-filled porn.

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. palhart says:

    Adore the Bunny Graces painting. I have a sculpture of 3 nude graces a NC artist fabricated.

  12. NW Luna says:

    Those “possibly marked as classified” documents …. Yep, they are indeed classified.
    Lock. Him. Up!

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/02/10/trump-records-classified/